Investing in Accounting Software: A Smart Business Resolution

    March 18, 2004

With the start of a new year, most of us make some resolutions about how we want to improve our businesses or ourselves. Maybe we want to cut our overhead so we can take home more profit. Maybe we want to make next year’s tax season less of a stressful burden than this year’s. Maybe we just want to streamline our responsibilities so that we have more time to enjoy our success and to work on building it even higher. The way to make any of those resolutions happen for you is to start using accounting software in your small or home-based business.

The reality is that unlike larger companies and corporations, you probably lack the resources to have a full-time accountant on hand all the time. Instead, you might have opted for hiring a part-time or freelance accountant or bookkeeper to assist you, but even those hourly costs can add up quickly. Most of you, therefore, have probably been left to struggle with maintaining your own books which can be stressful and potentially unwise, particularly if you’re not familiar with business tax laws or if you’re not especially good with numbers.

Accounting software, on the other hand, is inexpensive and does all of the work for you so you save money and don’t put yourself at unnecessary risk.

Now is a great time to start thinking about purchasing accounting software because there are simply so many options available to choose from and lots of features that you can pick from so the program you select will truly fit the needs of your business.

The most basic accounting software programs allow you to balance your checkbook, keep track of expenses and revenue, and create budgets. In most cases, all that is required is for you to enter the proper numbers where required and the program does the rest so you minimize your chances of making a mistake.

However, since your needs may be more complex, you may need to look at more advanced accounting software programs. While these include all of the features of the basic software, they also include inventory tracking, cash flow management, payroll management, job cost estimators, invoice creation, and more. Obviously these are going to cost you a little more than the basic versions, but their added features may be well worth it to you in the long run.

To illustrate the difference, you can compare a few examples of the leading accounting software programs on the market. For example, at the basic end, you might choose Microsoft Money Standard or Quicken Deluxe. With Microsoft Money, the program can actually download your checking, savings, and investment information directly from your banks and financial organizations so that you don’t even have to worry about entering the wrong numbers anymore.

It will also walk you through a budget creation and will provide monthly reports of your spending so you can easily keep track of where your money goes which, as any business owner knows, is critical. Quicken Deluxe also provides these features, plus it allows you to download information about your 401(k) into the program, to manage everything for tax time, and more. The newest versions of these Microsoft Money Standard and Quicken Deluxe would run you $29.99 and $59.99 respectively.

At the other end of the accounting software spectrum, you’ll find QuickBooks Pro and Peachtree Accounting. At $279 and $199 respectively, these programs are significantly more expensive than the other two but they do come with a wide variety of business-related features that you may need.

For example, QuickBooks Pro allows you to pay bills, create customer invoices, track vehicle mileage, project cash flow, import Microsoft Excel data, customize prices, create professional-looking reports and forms. On the other hand, Peachtree Accounting helps you easily keep your general ledger up-to-date, create custom quotes, track payment statuses, create credit memos, write checks, track item details, and use multiple costing methods to track your inventory.

No matter which features your business needs, you can increase your accounting accuracy and decrease the time and stress involved in maintaining your books simply by investing in an accounting program. It would be one New Years’ resolution you’d be glad you made and kept.

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Cavyl Stewart is the author of “135 Hot Tech Tips for Small
Business Owners.” To Download your free copy, just visit: