I was wondering what applications other people here use to manage their business finances. I looked at some programs such as Simply Accounting and QuickBooks, but both of their free versions are limited to 20 customers - and my suspicion is that if you enter a prospect into the program, it counts as a customer.
Before going out to spend money on an accounting system, I was wondering if people could recommend one over the other, or, of course, a free alternative.
I personally am located in Canada, and ideally, the software should be able to compute relevant taxes. However, I would be interested in seeing what packages are available anywhere (and perhaps I would send them an e-mail asking about support for the Canadian tax system).
EDIT I spoke to my accountant, and he said that there are 3 programs used here in Canada: Simply Accounting, QuickBooks, and MYOB. His office is going to provide me with a license for one of them (he wasn't sure which one off-hand, but will confirm with me on Monday) that I can access remotely.
However, he said that another of the three had an issue with upgrades - when a new version came out, you would essentially be forced to upgrade, because support for the older versions became non-existent. Has anyone else had this experience?
We manage our business finances with the software version of QuickBooks. It's not perfect but it has worked reliably for our software company as we have grown over the past 12 years.
The big plus with Quickbooks is that it allows us to easily exchange data with our accountant. I'd contact your accountant for a recommendation.
I use Quickbooks for Mac and I've been very happy with it. I would recommend spending the money to get a decent system in place since your finances are such a critical component of your business.
Others you might not have considered: MoneyWorks Gold. I am not affiliated with this company. I have fully demo'd this system and it works great and has some really nice features and a better cost of ownership long term. I currently use MYOB and it works without flaw for 2 years now. You need to consider your needs thoroughly to know what will work. Thankfully most provide demos.
I have been using QuickBooks Premier (for Windows) for about eight years now and have been very happy with it. I use it for bookkeeping, payroll and invoicing. Yes it's not cheap but I believe it's worth the money.
As part of cost consideration, expect to be upgrading every few years especially if you are using their online banking integration, merchant services or payroll features.
Another option you should consider is QuickBooks Online -- a friend uses it for his consultancy business and loves it. We will probably move to the online version as well at some point because the major limitation of QB is the fact that I can't easily access it while on the road.
Spend the money. Just do it.
I went two years into my business without correct bookkeeping systems in place, and it cost way more in the end to unscramble everything then if I had just ponied up the money.
I now use Quickbooks Online Edition in tandem with a bookkeeper/CPA, it's a great combo. You can still print out checks, yet give access to your bookie to do all the grunt expense/balancing work.
There are plenty of places to try and save money in a startup, your books are not one of them.
I have been out of the accounting business for four years now but QB was widely used by our clients. We liked it a lot as it is so easy to work with from a CPA’s point of view. In the past, QB had a Canadian version but I think that was phased out. (Your accountant would know.)
I use Quickbooks Pro for my business which for most small businesses works fine. The QB Pro reports function allows you to easily create and memorize specialized reports that are not part of the numerous standard ones that come with QB Pro.
For my nonfinancial clients (personal friends with businesses have also told me this, too), initially, learning QB was overwhelming because of all the tabs and various screens. However, most transactions use the same functions over and over and this becomes routine. Hopefully, your accountant can help set you up with what you decide to go with.
QB Pro out of the box goes on sale a lot at places like Office Max, Office Depot, Sam’s Club, Costco and even amazon.com.
Down here in Australia I used the small business version of MYOB. Works fine for what I need.
Have you considered using one of the hosted accounting systems? - specifically I have looked at Xero which seems reasonably respected here in the UK, although I'm sure there are plenty of others out there.
(NB At the risk of hijacking the question, I would be very interested to hear if any other readers have good or bad experiences with Xero or other similar hosted products.)