Small business owners must watch every penny. They also need accounting software that gives them quick, accurate results for all their business accounting jobs. For many years, Quickbooks by Intuit has served this need, but the growth of other software companies means that today’s small business owners have a variety of programs from which to choose. Finding the right small business accounting software can be challenging, but the research is well worth the effort if you can find an affordable and easy-to-use program that meets your needs.
Determine Your Accounting Needs
Not every small business owner has the same accounting needs. For example, some small businesses have only a single employee: the owner. These business owners may not need a full software suite that does payroll, accounts for hourly wages and performs similar tasks. Many small business owners simply make quarterly tax payments, so they need software that keeps track of designated tax funds in standalone categories.
Other small business owners do work that involves proprietary information or services rather than inventory. In those cases, a small business owner would not need a software program with a large inventory feature or OCR-reading capabilities.
Determining your software needs is the first step in acquiring the right program for your business.
Do Not Buy More Than You Need
The danger of bundled packages is that you may pay for many features you never use.
Producers tend to bundle software according to the most popular features, but that does not mean that you will use those features in your particular business. Before you purchase, be sure that you are not paying top dollar for a program that has all the bells and whistles but contains many things you will never use. Besides costing you more money, bundled software may be difficult to use because of all the options you are offered.
Instead, list your accounting needs in general categories such as “inventory,” “payroll,” or “online shopping,” and search for software based on those services. You can usually find an affordable and easy-to-use program that is much simpler than a large, bundled package with a little research.
Do Not Buy Less Than You Need
Just as buying a program with too many features is a bad investment, it is also unwise to purchase cheap software that does not meet your needs. If you have employees, a payroll feature may be a necessity. Many business software packages charge extra for figuring your employee payroll, however, and the cost of this service should be included in your pricing research.
Other programs offer bare bones accounting software but may not have necessary features such as price calculations or online shopping capabilities.
Take Advantage of Useful Features
There may be features you are not currently using that could boost your productivity. Read online reviews to discover what other business owners are saying about various features.
For example, if you are currently operating a website, you may be interested in a feature that allows you to take credit card payments. There are many programs that offer this feature, but not all are created equal. Checking reviews of the product before you buy can help you avoid a costly mistake and ensure that your customers information, as well as your own, is kept secure.
You may be able to take advantage of free trial offers to see if certain software programs fit your business model. If you decide to try a program, be sure you operate it doing your most common tasks to see if it fits well with your operating procedures.
Finding the right software for a small business does require a bit of work. However, once you find the right product, the time spent looking for the software will be repaid in increased productivity and reduction of stress on you, the business owner.
Byline: Aaron used a Sales and Use Tax Audit defense expert last year in addition to using software to complete his taxes.
© 2013, Aaron. All rights reserved.