Best accounting software for small businesses

By Joe Francis Updated 28th Oct 2019

For all businesses, looking after and keeping a record of all finances is crucial to the day to day operation of your company. Whether it is making sure invoices are sent out and paid on time, managing customer quotes, forecasting cash flow or keeping more detailed financial records for tax returns; accounting software allows you to solve all of these problems in one swoop.

Historically, looking after small business accounts used to be a lengthy and complicated task made up of spreadsheets, paper records and the need for accountants. Fortunately, with the reinvention of simple accounting software, designed to be available on any device at any time, with smooth user friendly interfaces, you no longer need to be an accountant to manage the finances of your business.

What is included in accounting Software?

Accounting software features have advanced significantly in the last 2 years as the market and competition have grown. Below is a list of the main options that are covered in accounting software.

  • Invoicing (Creation, Sending, Automation and Chasing)
  • Estimates / Quotes (all branded to your business)
  • Expenses Tracking (including photo storage of receipts on your phone and auto categorisation)
  • Accounting Reports (All exportable Including Dashboard views)
  • Cash Flow Management (Easily incorporates due invoices and bills to predict cash flow for short term future)
  • Third Party Access (e.g. give access to your accountant so you can both work off the same information)
  • Scheduled Payments (Schedule bill payments so that you don’t have to remember to pay them)
  • Schedule bill payments on their due date (keep every penny in your account for as long as possible)
  • Cloud Accounting (Access your accounts on mobile, desktop or tablet, anytime, anywhere)
  • Track inventory (Know what you have sold and when)
  • Track mileage
  • Complete information for Self Assessment / Tax returns
  • Time Tracking (Know how long you have spent on jobs / projects to help with invoicing)
  • Connections to Banks / Apps (Allowing you to collate all of your data into a single place)

Why do I need it?

Simplicity and efficiency!

Running a small business is hard enough without spending time on managing invoicing, payments and cash flow. Accounting software makes accounting so easy and allows you to spend more time on growing your business. If you are an electrician, be an electrician. If you own a restaurant, serve your customers delicious food.

Who is it for?

Accounting software is used in all businesses big or small, but in general we have concentrated on the features and services that are best for small to medium sized businesses (including freelancers). All of the services we have reviewed will scale as your business grows, and all offer enterprise level products for when your business grows beyond its current level.

What do I need?

This will come down to your business needs, but it is worth keeping our top 3 considerations at the front of mind when choosing your account software package.

  1. What do you need it for?

    What is the problem / issue you are trying to resolve? Could you combine and improve other processes as part of purchasing accounting software? Do you need accounts payable? Do you need it to track individual projects? Payroll?

  2. How much you are willing to spend

    Do you need all of the features you are paying for & will it create a time / cost saving for you?

  3. Will you need to use it on the move?

    If so, only consider packages that offer cloud based accounting with a mobile / tablet interface.

  4. How many people will be using it?

    Make sure to get enough access to cover all of the required users.

How much does accounting software cost?

Accounting software generally costs between £6 and £30 per month depending on the level of account selected. Most accounting software have special offers for new customers that often offer money off the first few months of service.

Free trials are available for most accounting software.

Some of our favourite features

Accounting software is great for looking after your basic accounting needs, but the way in which accounting software providers have advanced automation and the ability to sync and connect with many popular applications is where this software really comes into its own.

Most accounting software offer the ability to automatically connect to other popular applications such as Amazon, Shopify, Slack, Google Calendar or Paypal. Depending on your business type, it can be advantageous to ensure your accounting software connects to businesses that you already work with to bring all of your information into a single place.

As someone who regularly incurs expenses from work, simply taking a photo of a receipt in an app allows you to store it forever without ever need to worry about it. Not only that, if you connect with apps such as AutoEntry, you will be able to auto categorise your expenses and go completely paperless as a business. Expenses will never be the same again!

If, like us, you run a website that gets paid via Amazon, a simple connection to their systems can allow you to automatically track revenue and understand what your business is making quickly and easily without any of the leg work. Not only that, with awesome cash flow forecasting, you can predict what your bank balance will be in the near future.

The efficiency and information that accounting software allows you makes the monthly cost that we are always willing to swallow.

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