Here’s a step-by-step approach to help you decide which program can best serve your business accounting needs:
1. Determine and create a list of the specific types of accounting functions you want to perform. At a minimum, the software should handle cash disbursement and cash receipts, post all charges to the profit-and-loss statement automatically, and offer a complete reporting package. Reports should include a detailed general ledger, balance sheet, income statement (profit and loss), and cash-flow statement, as well as specific function reports for payroll and job costing.
2. Don’t pay for features and functions you won’t use. The typical small business writes fewer than 100 checks per month, makes 10 to 20 bank deposits per month, and produces 20 to 100 invoices per month. It doesn’t take a major accounting program to handle these functions, and it’s not worth it to buy a program that has lots of features you won’t use and that end up making the program more difficult to operate.
3. The most important step is to talk with other people in businesses similar to yours about what accounting software they use and what they like or don’t like about it. There is no better source for finding out about a program than those who have been using it for a while.
National Association for the Self-Employed
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.