Small businesses often put off investing in bookkeeping until the money gets serious. Before the boom in small business, this was because accounting software was much too complicated, not to mention expensive, compared to a startup company’s needs. But that was years ago. Today, accounting software for small business is on top of every new entrepreneur’s list. These programs take care of the tedious stuff so that balancing your checkbooks doesn’t take too big a chunk of your time–and you can invest more time in making your business grow.
There are dozens of accounting programs out there, and while most will contain standard features such as invoicing, payroll, and inventory, they won’t all work for every business. One of the first things worth considering is whether your accounting software should be service-oriented or management-oriented. Service-oriented software offers more features that benefit the client, such as automatic invoicing and keeping contact details up to date. If you still have a manageable number of clients or simply want to focus on running the business, a management-oriented program might be more suitable–it focuses on convenience, with features such as payroll management and monthly budgets.
Accounts receivable and accounts payable features are standard, but their quality varies from one program to another. No matter what business you’re in, you want these features to be easily accessible. If you pay a lot of bills or are paying off a business loan, it helps to have your accounts payable status visible as soon as you open the program.
This brings us to another important feature: bank compatibility. Automating everything is only worth it if your software can work with your bank and vice versa. A good accounting program will allow you to write checks, set up automatic payments, deposit paychecks directly, and access your account online. You may want to check with your bank to see if they can help you choose a good program.
Finally, it’s important to look for ease of use and customer support. Accounting can be complicated and you’re bound to have a few questions as you find your way around the program. Look for one that has all the features you need at a glance. Look for feedback on customer service–other business owners can tell you if they’ve had problems getting support and security. It’s worth spending a bit of time to make sure you’re getting good service, especially if you’ll be trusting the program with your money.