If you are an owner or manager responsible for accounts and cash in a small business, you’re probably looking for a way to save money. Although you could purchase expensive software packages or do all of the math by hand, downloading free accounting programs online may make a lot more sense.
Tracking Accounts and Expenses
Businesses must be able to track accounts and expenses at all times in order to identify trends and reduce costs. If you are a CPA, you may want to keep the books by hand as a cheaper option than purchasing software, but bear in mind the amount of time required to research tax updates and calculate interest, among other things. Regardless of cost, however, your goal is to find a method of accounting that provides for the bookkeeping needs of your business. If you choose to use software, look for features such as local and cloud data backups, the ability to access information from multiple computers, data security and real-time updates of tax information.
Accounting Software for Businesses
Business accounting programs, such as QuickBooks, Quicken and Microsoft Money, are robust compilations of various software functions. Most packages include telephone support and yearly upgrades. Common features include:
- Online software updates: Install software patches or other updates with an Internet connection.
- Online tax rules updates: Update employee and sales tax information as necessary via the Internet.
- Mobile access from a PDA or SmartPhone: Get access to account information, invoices or any other necessary data remotely with an authorized device.
- Invoice templates: Create professional invoices for your customers.
- Alerts as bills become due: Don’t miss another payment – let the software let you know before you’re late.
- Budgeting templates: Let your software walk you through creating a budget, and start saving money.
Free Accounting Software Packages
There is a middle ground between doing all of your books by hand with bookeeping templates and purchasing a top-of-the-line accounting package. Quickbooks and Quicken both offer an online version of their software at no cost with many of the same features as the regular version of the software. Although Quicken only offers its personal money management software in an online version, Quickbooks actually offers a free online money program for small business. There’s no download, just click to sign up.
Small Business Accounting
There are a number of factors that can affect your decision as you choose a method of accounting for your business. Weigh the cost of the program, the time of setup or maintenance and the ongoing effort it will require against other factors, such as data security and ease of access, to determine which program will work best in your situation. Remember, you can always change your mind later.