As I write this, I’m wondering how many readers there are for whom the phrase “ten key” holds any meaning. I’m referring, of course, to the ten-key calculator. Once upon a time, this was basically the only “technology tool” that you’d need to do you bookkeeping and accounting. That simple (by today’s standards) device, would pretty much get you through a day of bookkeeping, along with a big old ledger book and a pencil or two. Oh, and erasers too, lots of erasers. While the venerable ten key still exists, few people use them any more. Virtually all accounting and bookkeeping tasks are performed while sitting at a computer. In addition to the built in calculator programs on everyone’s desktop or laptop, more often than not, this work will be done using accounting software, which does most if not all of these basic calculations for you.
If you’re looking to save time and money by making your processes more efficient (and what owner of a small business isn’t looking to do that?), you may be considered investing in accounting software. I’m sure you already know that this will be a tremendous time-saver, especially if the program will import and sync transactions from your accounts, eliminating many hours of tedious, time-consuming data entry. It will eliminate, to a large degree, human error, and may also give you additional insight into your company’s financial strength, by generating reports, sales projections, tracking receivables, and more.
If you’re thinking that you’re not large enough of an operation, and that accounting software is too expensive for a small business, think again. There are a lot of options available, and many are much more affordable than you might imagine. Some of the latest products priced so low that even the smallest of businesses can reap the benefits of accounting software. But with all the choices available, how do you know which is the right one for your small business? Let’s look at the types of programs that are available on the market today.
- Small Business Accounting Software
There a several high quality products in this category that are ready to handle most of the accounting and bookkeeping tasks you’ll need to perform, right out of the box. The best known of these is undoubtedly Intuit’s QuickBooks software, which comes equipped with the tools and reporting functions necessary to track, organize, and make sense of your company’s financial data. There are also upgraded versions, and add-ons are available to provide additional functionality. These products tend to be reasonably priced, usually based on the number of user licenses you’ll need.
- Business Management Software
These are more expensive products, and they’re also more full-featured, typically loaded with additional functions you may need. You may want to investigate such programs if you’re looking for software that will not only handle basic bookkeeping, but can also manage inventory control, customer relationship management (CRM), purchasing, and even enterprise resource management (ERP). You’ll pay a premium for these products, and some of the functions may be redundant with other tools you’re already using, so these are not for everyone.
- Cloud Accounting Software
This category doesn’t refer as much to the functionality as it does to the manner in which it’s used. Cloud accounting software is part of a growing trend to move applications “to the cloud”, where they can be accessed remotely from any location. This can become even more powerful if it’s implemented as part of an overall cloud accounting solution, like we offer here at KYB (you didn’t think I would get through this topic without at least a little bit of self-promotion, did you?).
- Free Accounting Software
There may not be such a thing as a free lunch, but there are plenty of free computer programs available for a variety of functions, and accounting is one of those. If you’re running a small business with not too many complicated procedures, one of these may suit your needs. But you get what you pay for, so don’t expect the high-powered, multi-function tools that you’d get for a premium price.