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Why Web-based Accounting Software Can Be Ideal For Small Business Owners

Category: Accounting Software

“I own a small business and naturally don’t want a product that’s way too much for my needs. It’s not just about cost, although I’d certainly appreciate saving a few dollars here and there. I just don’t want to be drowned in features that I’ll have to spend lots of time learning, only to discover that I don’t really need them. I heard that web-based accounting software is the answer to my needs because they offer pare down versions of accounting software and only pack the bare necessities. Is this true?”
— Wynona

qnaYou’re right about one thing. As a small business owner you certainly don’t need to purchase expensive accounting software programs or spend hours swimming in complicated reports. Any accounting software will provide the basic applications for accounting tasks, such as a general ledger, the capability to create detailed invoices or view business inventory and purchase history.

Cloud accounting services—software stored and accessed online—is the most attractive option for small business owners. Tasks such as version upgrades and data backup are managed by the application vendor and you’ll get uninterrupted when you access the application from any compatible web browser.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to think about when choosing a web-based accounting softwareprogram. These tips are excerpted from this page that contains information on which criteria to use for evaluating accounting software.

Price is always the primary concern of small businesses.

  • Is this a freemium product? Will it remain free forever? Your needs might not go beyond what’s offered as a premium and it would be nice to get everything you need to get done without having to pay for it.
  • If it’s a freemium product but you need to pay for extra features, how much do these features cost?
  • Are the prices fixed? Is your recurring monthly subscription safe from price increase?
  • Are the add-ons priced reasonably? You might want to do more than just basic bookkeeping.
  • Does it have a free trial period? This is important if you want to check whether the systems is simple and easy to use.

Features. You will then want to make a quick check to see if the product has these:

  • Does it have all the basic bookkeeping functions and reports? Can you create journals, general ledgers and profit-loss statements with just a few clicks?
  • Does it allow quick and easy creation of estimates and invoices?
  • Can you track payments of due customer invoices?
  • How easy is expense tracking and mileage claims?
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You will also want to check for compatibility and integration.

  • Does the online accounting system support mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets?
  • Will it work with the software that you currently use? You might want to make sure you can do extra work on your data in spreadsheets.
  • Can you import your banking transactions into the system?
  • Is it possible to back up your online data into a device that you own (your laptop, for example)?
  • Should you decided to cancel your subscription, is it possible download your data from the online servers?

Here’s a good list of web-based accounting software to select from.Some of them are listed in this  quick comparison of the best accounting softwarefor small businesses:

FreshBooks is your most cost-effective choice if you run a small business. It allows small business owners to be up and running with invoices and estimates in just a few hours. You can set up late payment reminders so that your delinquent clients are reminded by email automatically. You can build tasks around projects and use this to log the time you’ve worked. This is very handy if you want to organize your activities around projects, and assign a cost to the time you’re spending on this project. And yes, FreshBooks is has a free trial period of 30 days, which is enough to let your explore all its functions. And it remains free forever for up to three clients. You only need to pay if your business grows and you need to add more clients.

Outright helps you tracks income and expenses, create reports, and it uses that data to give you an estimate of what you might owe in taxes. Outright does things for free, with a clean and uncluttered user interface that’s a joy to navigate.

FreeAgent. If you’re one among the many small business owners who don’t have accounting experience, you’re the person that FreeAgent was designed for. The program employs a simple interface and everyday language throughout, so rather than entering Accounts Receivable or Accounts Payable your transactions in FreeAgent are categorized under less confusing headings such as Work and Expenses. Although it’s simple, it has a lot of tricks up its sleeves. The big ace, however, is its time-tracking and project management tools.

QuickBooks Online Plus is an excellent choice for business that needs mobile access to sales and purchase tools and data, as well as payroll and basic time billing. It’s not as complete as the desktop version but is very easy to use, thanks to an intuitive interface. QuickBooks historically has been the easiest or one of the easiest accounting software programs to use. Its user interface simulates forms that most business people already know how to fill up.

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Lastly, you might want to check these pointers offered by the the US Small Business Authority offers on selecting the right software accounting system.

P.S. For further reading I recommend the following posts about: best accounting software for contractorssmall business accounting software, and free accounting software for small business.

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. No stranger to small business hiccups and drama, having been involved in a few internet startups. Prior to his for-profit ventures, he has had managed corporate communications for a Kansas City-based Children International unit.

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