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What Business Accounting Software Do You Use?

Published: 13/01/2020

So many of us tend to have our business’s fiscal year match the calendar year. This means that, right about now, most of us start trying to figure out the quickest and least painful way to begin the slog that allows us to organize our documentation for the tax year.

As such, at this time of year, over the past few years, it’s been an unofficial tradition for PFRE to update its list of top small business accounting (SBA) software. There are a number of advantages to using this software over the DIY MS Excel approach, not the least of which is that they’re getting increasingly easy to use. Using such software also makes it easier on your accountant, which often reduces their time (and your cost) going through your numbers.

Anyway, the comments on previous discussions of this subject indicate that PFRE readers use a wide variety of the most popular small business software. Here’s a list of 2020 best picks as selected by researchers at BusinessNewsDaily.com:

Other top-rated SBA software that I found in my search include products from Sage and Kashoo.

So, what accounting software are you using these days and why?

Brandon Cooper

16 comments on “What Business Accounting Software Do You Use?”

  1. I use Quickbooks Pro because it's fairly intuitive. And being a non financial person, this makes keeping track of clients and doing invoicing easier.
    I also like that there is a way to customize your invoices so you can use your own custom stationary.

  2. I've been using Freshbooks for years running as a sole proprietor. I recently formed an S-Corp and my accountant wants me to move from Freshbooks to Quickbooks. I am hesitant to do so as I am unsure of the process porting history from Freshbooks to Quickbooks.

  3. I've used Quickbooks Pro for a couple of decades. It is probably the best but I'd give anything for an alternative. Because of another business I also have, I have subscribed to their payroll service for years. It's about $250 per year. Every couple of years they force you to upgrade to the latest version of QB. If you do not, your payroll will no longer work. I just have an immense dislike for the way the lock you in and force you to buy updates. Usually the updates are purely cosmetic, not much meat. Just not a fan of their business practices.

  4. I am still on the spread sheet method. I am quite tired of the subscription model of paying for software. So I don't even consider most of the available accounting programs, as they are subscription only.

  5. I would encourage all businesses to try every alternative to Quickbooks before starting to it. If there is something else that will work, use it. Quickbooks support is manned by the biggest bunch of SOBs you will ever meet, it's worse than both cable and cell phone support combined. They use deceptive business practices, lock your data up so migration is extremely hard, and will nickel and dime you. The software is buggy and lacks common sense items and reports. I tried to use their payroll option. To write a simple check for payroll, I had to purchase the payroll upgrade (expected), the time management upgrade (payroll without simple time tracking, WTF), and also upgrade my total subscription. In the end, I would pay QB more than I paid my employee.

    Don't use QB unless there is no other options. You have been warned.

  6. I for one use Quickbooks self employed. Fast, easy to comprehend and I have it as an app on my cell phone. I can email invoices on the job site to the client and it takes credit cards on my cell phone. Plus it it tracks my milage to and from jobs.

  7. I have been using Wave Financial (waveapps.com) for several years and have been very happy with it. I import my bank accounts to it and it is very easy to categorize items. You can also do both categorizing and you can set specific transactions to always be applied to a specific category. I would never go back to QuickBooks, even if you paid me! I have always been able to get my questions answered, and on a few occasions, because my accounting is a little more complicated, I just ask my accountant what I need to do. Simple to set up and begin using. This free software has never left me wishing I had something more. I'm saving money and time and am very, very happy!

  8. I have been using Quickbooks online for all accounting, bookkeeping, invoicing, collecting payment, payroll, etc for the last 4-5 years. Haven't experienced any major issues and it does everything I need.

    I've recently started using the mobile app for automatic mileage tracking, which is nice to eliminate another subscription (MileIQ).

  9. I use a (self developed) Google Sheet (spreadsheet) which has a great dashboard to track the health of my business showing net profit, unpaid invoices, project profitability, expenses by category, etc. It also allows me to create invoices and save them as pdfs.
    I'm actually looking at offering it out there for others to use so feel free to head over to http://www.mybusinessdata.net to take a look & sign up if it's of potential interest.

  10. I have been using AccountEdge (formerly MYOB) since 1992. The feature set is on par with QB but I prefer the UI a lot more. A company I managed used QB so I've had some experience with it.

    My general advice is to choose a real accounting package that does everything. You may not use some features in the beginning and others ever at all, but down the road you may find something like budget analysis extremely useful. If you think you might ever sell your business, having done all of your accounting on a spreadsheet is not going to look good. I also strongly suggest not using any package with subscription software or one that is "cloud" based. If you get audited 4 years down the road or discover there were some deductions that you could have taken and still can by submitting a revised tax filing, you will want to be able to access your data files without any restrictions. With online accounting, you are at the mercy of your internet connection working, their connection working, power on at both ends, that they have sufficient resources come tax time when everybody is accessing the system, that they don't fold up and go out of business all of a sudden, they don't decide to up your monthly/annual fee by 2x or 3x, they don't eliminate a feature that you rely on or that they redesign the entire interface and spring it on you one morning when you need to produce an invoice in a hurry before you leave for a job. Since you often input tax ID numbers, bank accounts, etc into an accounting program, if your online account is hacked, somebody could wind up with all of the information they need to empty your accounts. I've never had any pressing need to access my accounting program outside of the office. If push came to shove and I needed to create an invoice to be able to get paid while I was standing in somebody's office, I could log into my PayPal account where I have an invoice template ready to send. They could pay via PayPal or just print that invoice out, pay me with a check/cash and I'd fix it later.

    More convenience nearly always comes at the expense of security. Think about what you will do with the manure hits the windmill. Can you throw money at the problem by purchasing a new computer and reinstalling your accounting from a backup. This could mean buying an old computer so you can install a four year old version of the accounting software to help you get through an audit. If your online account has an issue, it's doubtful that the company is worried about you as an individual and it's not likely they could do anything to help you if they did. They have to fix the problem for everybody if it's a system-wide problem and if the problem is something that just relates to your account, it could take days of being on hold.

    See if a local college or Regional Occupational Program offers courses on accounting. Chances are that it will be based on Quickbooks, but you can also find courses that are more about accounting in general. It will give you the chance to chat with other business owners and the instructor. You can build your own local support group if you think you need it. Meetup.com has groups centered around accounting apps.

  11. Update: I just received a notice from Accountedge that they are dropping Mac support from MacOS Catalina onwards. They do have a Windows version that can run on a Windows box or on a Mac with Fusion/Paralells or other emulation.

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