I am a CPA and I love technology. I love technology not just for the sake of technology, but for its ability to help business owners work smarter and have access to better, faster information. Until recently, most small businesses were presented with QuickBooks as their most cost effective bookkeeping option.
QuickBooks can be powerful in many ways, especially for a relatively inexpensive software. There is a lot of functionality to meet the needs all types of businesses and industries. But the reality is that you still need to really understand how it works to use it correctly.
I have seen too many small business owners get so tangled up in QuickBooks that they make input mistakes which result in completely incorrect financial reporting. Inaccurate reporting means they are managing their business with bad data and they don’t even know it until their accountant takes a look at the end of a quarter or year. In my opinion, QuickBooks works best for a business that either has an outsourced bookkeeper or has an in-house bookkeeper with the knowledge or time to master the software.
For many small businesses, the bookkeeper is the business owner or another staff member who just does not have the time or desire to learn the ins and outs of the software. Thanks to technology, there are much better solutions for these scenarios. Solopreneurs and micro businesses are much better served by some of the new “cloud” (web based) accounting software that is now available. These businesses have very specific, simple needs, but still want access to real-time, accurate information. The cloud solutions are simple, slick, easy to learn, and can be logged into from anywhere. In addition, they allow a business owner to give access to their accountant, so the accountant can oversee the books on an ongoing basis.
Most of the cloud software vendors are not trying to provide functionality for every possible type of business out there. They focus on key functions and make sure they are really good at it. If there is other functionality a business needs, they make it easy to connect to another software solution that provides that specific capability.
In addition to the above mentioned benefits, the cloud solutions are priced as very affordable options with monthly service fees. Users are not buying licenses and don’t need to worry about upgrades. They pay a monthly fee to use the software and that is it.
I haven’t bought into the cloud for larger companies just yet, but for small businesses I am there. My current favorites are FreshBooks for invoicing and time tracking and Xero for general accounting, invoicing, billing, and banking. I’m spending the time to get to know these products so that I can best advise my clients.
I still support desktops software like QuickBooks and Peachtree. I will always support the best solution for the specific business needs. Fortunately, the cloud is giving me more options and the ability to find the perfect fit.