What’s the best accounting software for a start-up business

What’s the best accounting software for a start-up business

Your taste in software is highly individual and one size certainly does not fit all. The good news is that the options available to small businesses are expanding rapidly, especially since the advent of cloud based systems.

At one time Sage and QuickBooks ruled the marketplace and were the automatic choice for smaller ventures.  However, desk-top based software has emerged that adapts itself to niche markets better and web-based systems have opened up the playing field immeasurably wider.

It is not enough to simply keep track of money coming in and out of your business. Your accounting system needs to be responsive to the changes and challenges you face, and have the capacity to inform your business decision making daily.

Enjoying the services of a professional accountant is something that some micro businesses can’t afford. Even for larger businesses, keeping costs down means handling as much financial management in house as possible.

However, it is not an exaggeration to say this is an issue that can make or break your business, particularly in the formative months. Keeping your accounts up to date is the way of controlling your cash flow – the lifeblood of your organisation. If your accounts get in a mess, then chances are there are some holes appearing in your business which could sink you.

However, when you are running a new business, time is also a valuable commodity, so you need software to be as quick and easy to use as possible. The starting point is making a check list of what you need your software to do. Going “shopping” with a clear idea of what you want and don’t want will ensure that you’re not overwhelmed by the abundant choices on offer.

For example, do you want real-time entries, for invoices to be raised manually or automatically, for bills to be paid according to a calendar or cash flow? Or, do you need your accounting system to calculate and automatically pay VAT?

What sort of reports will you need to draw off from your accounts – expenses, reconciliations, monthly profit and loss figures, order book profile, how regularly your customers are buying from you? The priorities you have as a business are key to deciding which software would best suit your purposes.

Do you need something simple, that grows with you, performing advanced tasks such as data syncing and financial forecasting as and when you are ready for that? Do you need to link your accounting system directly to Point of Sale equipment and your bank accounts?

If this is all new to you, will the level of 24/7 customer support available sway your choice?

One of the features that small businesses need to put on their shopping list is share-ability. Even if you are doing your accounts on your own, at some point you may need to share them with a financial advisor, bank manager or business contact. If you need an accounting system that can be easily accessed by authorised third parties, then cloud based systems are particularly attractive.

Once you have a shopping list, time spent matching it to the right accounting software or web-based package will be one of the wisest investments you will ever make.