The best things in life are free, but you still need caution when choosing free accounting software for small business. Let’s hear it from Jerry from Austin:
“I’m interested to try one of those “free” software products being peddled in the market to bring my books in order. But I’m wary with anything free as I know these have strings attached. Are they recommended at all considering I’m giving away sensitive data on my business?” – Jerry, TX
Hi, Jerry. I’m sure your issue about free accounting software for small business is also the concern of many small business owners out there. Yes, free accounting software doesn’t always mean good. Just like in any industry, free accounting software for small businesscomes in two forms: legitimate and scam. But first, it’s important to keep in mind why companies give their software for free.
First, take a look at this side-by-side comparison of the best accounting software for small businesses available today. They’re not free but the comparison will give you an idea of the features that people like you are willing to pay for. Also you might want to look at these criteria for evaluating accounting software before you finally decide that free software is what you really want.
They give it as a promotion. It’s an easy, simple, and best way to bait customers with free stuff. Think of it like the food sampling in the grocery where you’re given a small portion of a new, say, cookie brand. The company wants you to taste or sample their product in the hope that you’ll buy the whole package.
Small businesses are a critical entry market for vendors since these businesses will likely remain loyal for years (it’s hard to switch products midway). As they grow, so, too, does the vendors’ business. The free software is their investment for future sales from you.
Moreover, as competition gets intense, more top vendors are now offering free accounting software for small business for both on-premise and cloud or online accounting. You should review these offers to take advantage of various offers, but use some precautions to separate the chaff from wheat.
Just like our cookie example you’ll only get a portion to sample the accounting program to take home. You can have popular and basic functions like accounts payable and accounts receivable, payroll, and standard reporting, which can help you fast track bookkeeping.
Some vendors, usually the big ones, offer robust features to whet your appetite for more features. What is the best among these? My suggestion is to check the major free accounting software for small business, where the offer is likely professional, legitimate, and more loaded than cheap offers by fly-by-night vendors outside the U.S. These companies have a reputation to protect.
Be wary if the vendor asks for detailed personal data (other than your name and email) and credit card information. Legitimate vendors that offer free software don’t do this. You just need to subscribe to their mailing list in return for the download. Only give your credit card information when you’re about to buy the product.
First, check the major accounting software products out there. QuickBooks, Sage, Cougar Mountain, and Account Express are some of the big names for small and medium businesses.
Second, check for free offers among these big software products. Compare the features being offered and the terms. Some vendors offer a limited free version only (like a trial), while others give you an unlimited use of free software.
Third, make sure you can add on more features or modules later on the free software. This is critical in case your business demands more accounting requirements in the future. That’s why it’s best to stick to big brands since they often have a complete suite of financial and business systems that can match the pace of your company’s growth.
The best things in life are really free if you know where and what to look for. Free you’ll find this article from the US Small Business Authority useful for selecting the right software accounting system. We hope you find our tips useful and good luck!
P.S. For further reading I recommend the following posts about: how accounting software for small business can help you, best business accounting software features to look for, and comparing best accounting software for small business.
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