At it’s most basic accounting is about keeping track of the money going in and coming out. Knowing this information helps households and businesses plan for the future. Accounting software is a tool to make the process easier. The first accounting software I ever used was a spreadsheet for budgeting in my personal life. I keep track of my pay and my expenses so that I could save for a down payment on a home.
While I use a similar approach for my small business, there is more information that I need to keep track of. In addition to knowing the transaction date and amount, I need to know where the transaction was made and what the transaction was for. It was easy to add these columns to my spreadsheet. I also wanted my receipts in case my taxes were audited. I put PDF copies of e-receipts in folder on my computer. Many store receipts use thermal printing technology which can fade with time. I started scanning my paper receipts so I could keep a digital copy of the information. In addition to my envelope of paper receipts, I now have a spreadsheet and a folder on my computer to search through. Hmm…
Accounting software can help simplify this process. You may still need to manually enter the transaction amounts and descriptions, but the dates and types can be selected at the touch of a button. In some cases an associated app lets you photograph the receipt and then it automatically fills in all the fields for you and links the photograph to the transaction. Generating reports, keeping track of totals, payroll and invoicing are also much easier this way.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of accounting software options to choose from. The Business Development Bank of Canada put together a list of some the options. See their article discussing how accounting software helps, what it does, and their list here: accounting software options
While I don’t know which one is best for your business, I can tell you what influenced my choice. When I began my business, it was a part time venture and cost was the biggest factor in my decision. Having a limited budget greatly reduced my options.
The next factor was matching the software to my device’s operating system. Not all MICROSOFT compatible programs are available for MAC and vice versa. What version of MICROSOFT Windows/ MAC OS are you using and how long will your inventory control software support it? For those of you who are using them, what about Android devices and Linux operating systems? Do you want an app to help you keep track of those pesky receipts?
It didn’t take long to shorten my accounting software list. I’m glad that first program I tried was both intuitive and easy to use. You may end up trying more than one before you find the one that works best for you.
Business News Daily has an article on choosing the right small business accounting software: choosing accounting software. It’s good food for thought if you haven’t made a decision yet.
Do you use accounting software in your personal or business life?