How to Choose the Best Accounting Software for Your Online Business

There are so many options available to choose from when it comes to your business bookkeeping. And you know you need to have a software that you work with to record your income and expenses. 

How do you even know which program to pick?

Start with making a list of the things you really want in your bookkeeping program. 

Once you have this list, then you can start researching the options that are available to you. You can also check out this post for the best paid bookkeeping programs and this post for the best free bookkeeping programs. 

Your bookkeeping software is something that won’t be easy to change to a new one if you find one you really don’t like. 

There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when you are looking at your bookkeeping system.

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Things like: 

  • Does it import all of my bank transactions? 
  • Does it help with inventory? 
  • Is the system cloud based? Or do you want something you only install on your computer? 
  • What is the help desk like if you need assistance? 
  • Can you send invoices and collect payments through the system? 
  • Does it fit in your budget?

What factors should you consider when it comes to picking your perfect accounting software?

Do you want an online or offline program? 

For your bookkeeping, both options are available. But you need to know which one you personally prefer. After you know which one you prefer, then you can move forward with selecting a software. 

There are some advantages to having one over the other, but you also have your own preferences. 

When you use an cloud accounting system: 

  • There is nothing to install on your computer. You can use it anywhere in the world from any computer. Just log in to the site and you can easily do your bookkeeping or check on something in  your bookkeeping. 
  • You never have to worry about upgrades or updates. The cloud system has them in place automatically already. 
  • The backup of your bookkeeping is stored in the system’s hardware and it’s not something you have to worry about, whether that be remembering to do it or making sure you have enough space to be able to do it. 
  • You can easily let another team member or accountant or bookkeeper have access to your system and they can see everything in your bookkeeping without having issues.

When you use a desktop based or offline software: 

  • You do not always need to have an internet connection to use the system. 
  • But it also means that you need to make sure you have space on your computer. 
  • You’ll have to download the files onto a jump drive to give to your accountant. 
  • Your team will have to use the computer you installed the program on to do your bookkeeping. 
  • You won’t be able to access the program from anywhere in the world. 
  • You’ll most likely have to record every transaction by hand instead of importing your bank feed. 

These days in the internet age, it is usually better to use an online cloud based bookkeeping system. It is very secure, with bank level encryption. And it just makes running your business and your business finances that much easier, for all involved. 

What is the cost of the program? 

 You most likely have a budget of what you want to invest for your bookkeeping program. 

I hate to break it to you, but the programs are most likely going to be more expensive than what you think you want to invest in the program. But this is a cost of doing business and something you really do need to invest in. 

It is a program that will not only make your taxes easier, but it will also make your business life that much easier too. 

Don’t choose the wrong package of the bookkeeping program just because you want the cost to be less. It will end up costing  you more in your business in the long run. 

What does your accountant and/or bookkeeper recommend? 

If you won’t even be the one using the software, then you should definitely consult those who will be using it. 

If you end up buying a software that your staff, accountant and bookkeeping can’t even use properly, you’ll most likely end up paying even more money to get the right software. 

I recently had a client who was thinking of working with me. During our initial call, she asked what I recommend and what I think she should stay away from. She ended up choosing the program I said to stay away from, and went with the wrong option that she needed for her business. We didn’t end up working together because she really just wasn’t ready to have someone else handle the money stuff for her, even though she didn’t want to do it for herself yet either. 

It’s still important to get the right software that can actually be used for your business. 

You don’t always know what you need when you don’t understand what the accounting terms actually mean. So ask for the advice and actually follow it. 

What support is available

Is there any support available for the software that you choose? How available is that support? 

Some programs only provide support if you buy a certain level. 

Others offer support, but only during certain hours and days of the week, not 24/7. You know that when you own your own business, you’ll be doing work in your business at all hours of the day and night, not necessarily during the specific time that support is available. 

How user friendly is the program

You definitely want the program to be user friendly and intuitive. 

You may not understand everything in the program right out of the box, unless you have an accounting degree and fully understand the accounting terms and principles. But you need something that you can learn and easily understand over time and use. 

The more unfriendly it is to use, the less you’ll end up using it and you’ll just waste your money paying for the program. 

Make sure what you are looking at is something you can learn to use and will able to adjust to using regularly. 

Will the program scale with your business? 

Is a program that only supports small businesses? Or will it continue to support your business as it grows over time? 

Many of the bookkeeping programs will support more and more businesses these days and will grow with you. 

But there are programs that may not grow with you. Make sure this is something you look into and consider when looking and deciding which program to use. 

Choosing your Bookkeeping Program

Not every bookkeeping program will work for every business or even every business person. 

You need a program that really does work for you and your business. When you ask for advice from a professional, heed that advice and don’t go against it, simply because you don’t like the price. 

Changing a bookkeeping program a few months down the road will be more costly than choosing a program that costs a little bit more each month. And it’s not always easy to change bookkeeping programs. 

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