Learn about new accounting tools available for small businesses
Have you ever wondered what the term “cloud computing” means? Simply put, it means you use software that is not residing on your own computer. Instead, you access the program over the Internet. The benefit of this type of application is that you do not have to worry about installing or setting up the software, so you can’t get it wrong. It also means you don’t need a very large device to access all the functions of your business software, so you can do all your business documentation on a smartphone or a tablet. The accounting tools explained in this review are all available online, so you can zoom your accounting tasks up to the cloud.
You don’t have to be a qualified accountant to compile and file your accounts with FreshBooks Cloud Accounting. FreshBooks Cloud Accounting represents a collection of accounting tools for small businesses. All the documents the system produces for you will show your company logo and contact details once you have finished the initial setup of your account. The package starts with an invoicing module, which you can access from anywhere with an Internet signal, so you can compile your invoice from your smartphone directly after leaving a client’s premises. If you travel abroad for work, you can issue invoices in other currencies. You can even accept payments through the system via credit card or PayPal. This sort of facility would be particularly useful in situations where billing and payment occur together, such as in hotels and restaurants. You can email out your invoices straight from the system, and FreshBooks automatically logs late payments with invoice aging reports and can send reminders for overdue invoices. Consultants would benefit from the time tracking and expenses reporting facilities. A particularly neat feature of the expenses system is that you can take a picture of your receipts with your phone and store that image in the system. The system integrates with QuickBooks (see below) to enable you to finalize your accounts.
As the name suggests, Expensify specifically manages expenses. A key feature of the system is SmartScan, which enables images of receipts to be stored. As it specifically focuses on expenses, Expensify has a much more limited scope than other accounting tools on this list. However, its focus on one area of accounting and cost tracking means it covers that subject comprehensively. Expensify can handle expenses from several different countries, and that includes identifying local currencies and sales taxes. Expensify can feed data into other management and accounting tools, including QuickBooks, Xero, Netsuite, Dynamics Salesforce, and FinancialForce.
As a sole trader or small-business owner, you will likely appreciate that Wave was specifically designed to serve businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Much like FreshBooks, you can customize your invoice template with your own logo and contact details. You can also compile and send invoices from any device, such as a smartphone or tablet. A nice touch with Wave is that the electronic invoice carries a “Pay Now” button, which leads to a credit card payment processing system. Wave also includes payroll and accounts assembly features. This is probably the most comprehensive of all the accounting tools on this list, yet it is free.
4) Zuora Finance
If you don’t know what “chart of accounts” means, then Zuora Finance probably isn’t for you. Zuora’s presentation and use of accounting terminology suggests that it is aimed more at the professional accountant than the distracted small-business owner. If you run a small accountancy firm or if your partnership includes a qualified accountant, you might find this package appealing.
Probably the nicest feature of Hiveage is its dashboard. Navigation around the features of this collection of accounting tools is easily done via buttons with icons on them. Like other accounting tools on this list, Hiveage is heavily focused on invoicing and includes the ability to process credit card payments. The system handles multiple currencies and produces beautiful and easy-to-understand reports in tabular and graph form.
You probably noticed mentions of QuickBooks in the descriptions of FreshBooks and Expensify. QuickBooks is a comprehensive accounting package that is well known and trusted. QuickBooks Online offers access from remote devices. You can issue invoices and track payments through the system. The package also includes expense reporting and receipt scanning. The QuickBooks Online system doesn’t include payment processing, however, so if you haven’t already got a credit card processing merchant account with a bank, you will need to do some extra work.
Cloud-based accounting tools enable you to share your books with a widespread management team and a remote or even home-based accountant. Deciding which of these tools would be best for you depends on whether you already have a basic accounting package into which you would like to slot additional features or if you are looking for a fully comprehensive bundle of accounting tools.
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