Looking at bookkeeping software to alleviate your accounting headaches? Smart move. If you’ve already fallen down the Google rabbit hole searching for a solution, we deeply apologize for not reaching you sooner. Those pesky rabbits!
Fortunately, (and unfortunately) there are lots of bookkeeping software options. Which means there’s a lot of subpar solutions to sift through before choosing.
To keep cash flow running smoothly and your financial health a-OK, you’ll want to find reliable small business bookkeeping software that delivers on its promises. We want to help minimize your pros and cons comparison list, so we compiled a few top bookkeeping software considerations.
Think of this as your go-to checklist for finding a service. So, just for a minute, close your lengthy, color-coded comparison spreadsheet. After reading this piece, you’ll find selecting small business bookkeeping software doesn’t require a degree in research—it just takes a few key considerations.
1. How Easy Is It to Use?
Bookkeeping isn’t your job—it’s just one piece of your much bigger responsibility puzzle. Software is supposed to make managing your business easier, not harder. Like with most things, if it’s not simple and easy, you probably won’t stick with it. And not sticking with updating your business financials isn’t an option.
But most tech claims to be seamless and easy to use (even when it’s not), so how do you know you’re choosing the right solution? We have a few suggestions for determining a bookkeeping software’s true ease of use.
- Experiment with a free trial: If a company is confident in their solution, they usually provide a free trial. This opportunity allows you to get hands-on experience with the product before making a purchase. Click around. Experiment with invoicing. Look around the reports. You’ll know whether it feels intuitive or clunky, and if it’s the latter, keep shopping. The software you’re trialing may be a more sophisticated or enterprise solution—not what you need at your small business.
- Compare on review sites: Sites like Capterra, G2 Crowd, and Fit Small Business feature a nice mix of peer and expert reviews of software so you can get reliable professional opinions.
- Ask: Ask your colleagues or other small business owners what bookkeeping software they use or prefer.
2. What Are the Costs?
It doesn’t matter how easy the software is to use if you can’t afford it. Comparing costs is an easy way to narrow down your list. For starters, if the software doesn’t publicly list its pricing, you probably shouldn’t bother—it’s likely a more expensive custom pricing solution.
If you’re like most small business owners, you’re probably on a tight budget. You need bookkeeping software that’ll let you pay for what you need without locking you into a more expensive tier full of features you’ll never touch. À la carte bookkeeping software isn’t common, so you’ll likely have to purchase a solution with tiered pricing—just make sure the basic packages aren’t skimping on the essential features.
For example, Sunrise’s free account provides you with all the small business bookkeeping software essentials. You may be thinking, “What are the essentials, then?” Good question. On to the third consideration.
3. Which Features Do You Need?
Notice the italics? Need, not want. This consideration is probably the most important.
Most software competition is a battle of features. Features that, more often than not, you don’t need. But when you’re making side-by-side comparisons, you’ve likely been tempted to go with the more feature-rich option. I mean, it has more to offer—and more is better, right?
That logic is comparable to choosing Golden Corral for a seafood dinner because they have every cuisine you can imagine.
Take a step back and think about why you’ve decided to purchase bookkeeping software. Is it for deeper control of your invoices or the elegant reports? Is it for seamless integration with your bank and credit card accounts or for tax preparation capabilities? There’s no wrong answer here, but you need to decide your accounting priorities.
Write down your needs. This exercise is going to help you dramatically cut potential solutions from your list. Resist the urge to do a full feature comparison. It’s not about full features—it’s about needed features.
To help, here are a few of our zero-compromise features:
- Create and Send Invoices: If the solution doesn’t allow you to create and send invoices, drop it from your list. This ability is the most basic function of bookkeeping software.
- Account Integrations: The solution should enable you to connect your bank and credit card accounts so it can import and categorize all your expenses automatically. If the software forces you to do it manually, move on—there are better options.
- Cash Flow Tracking: The software should track income and expenses so you can stay on top of your cash flow.
- Detailed Reporting: Reports like profit and loss and balance sheets will make tax season simple. Don’t compromise on this feature or you’ll be stuck digging through year-old receipts and bank statements come tax time.
- Cloud Storage: Make sure the bookkeeping software securely stores your data in the cloud for easy access and reliability. Traditional accounting software may be an old-school favorite, but it’s an inconvenient solution for small businesses now and increasingly so in the future.
And that’s it, really. Keep it simple to avoid analysis paralysis. Determine the ease of use, check if it’s affordable, and see if it provides the features you need. If the bookkeeping software checks those boxes, feel comfortable with your decision to move forward. Now you can plug those pesky Google rabbit holes and get back to doing what you do best—growing your business.