There are a lot of things I love about being a business owner, like pitching clients, collaborating with other entrepreneurs and watching my revenues grow, of course. That said, there are some things I could do without — and accounting would top the list.
Fortunately, there are a number of cloud-based accounting solutions that make life a lot easier for small business owners (and even some medium-sized businesses). They can simplify everything from invoicing, payables and receivables to keeping track of expenses, receipts and cash flows.
Here are some of the most popular cloud-based accounting software solutions that your SMB can utilize. Use this information for initial guidance and to get an idea of the features and benefits of the various platforms. As always, when it comes to your business finances, it’s important to discuss the options with your accountant, who may offer advice and have further requirements to integrate with their preferred application.
Quickbooks is the grand-daddy of small business accounting software. According to a recent study, the majority of SMBs in the U.S. that use accounting software choose Quickbooks, and its popularity in Canada is also very high. They offer four cloud-based plans:
- The Self-Employed plan is for freelancers, self-employed workers or sole proprietors. It lets you separate personal and business expenses, track mileage automatically, create and send invoices from your mobile device, manage and pay bills, and take snapshots of receipts.
- The EasyStart plan is for SMBs, and allows you to track income and expenses, send unlimited estimates and invoices from your mobile devices, download transactions from bank and credit card accounts, and access data on your phone, desktop or tablet.
- The Essentials plan is also for SMBs. It offers everything from the EasyStart plan and also lets you manage and pay bills, control multiple user access, set up automatically recurring invoices and schedule payments for later dates.
- The Plus plan provides everything from the previous two SMB options, but also offers the ability to create and send purchase orders, track inventory, track sales and profitability for each of your locations, and more.
You can seamlessly integrate your Quickbooks accounting with Quicken Payroll, allowing you to easily manage your staff’s payroll, create T4 slips and calculate payroll taxes. Quickbooks software also integrates easily with a number of other apps you might already be using, like Google Calendar and TSheets.
Sage One prides itself on being very user-friendly — working on your phone, tablet or desktop with bank-level security and constant updates. That keeps you compliant with the latest rules and regulations.
There are two software options to choose from:
- The Start package is for one user only and offers instant automatic backup, records income and expenses, does bank reconciliations and allows your accountant to access your data.
- The Accounting package is for unlimited users and offers all of the above, but also lets you create invoices, purchase orders and do multi-currency invoicing (useful if you have international customers).
Sage products are especially valuable for businesses who are working globally and want to keep a diverse team on the same page.
FreshBooks is a Canadian owned and operated business that has quickly caught on with small business owners who like its clean, easy-to-use interface and robust reporting. It’s designed to be simple and intuitive, and has features that automate the process of organizing expenses, tracking time and following up with clients — as well as creating invoices.
FreshBook’s pricing model is based on how many clients you have. The Lite version lets you bill up to 5 active clients, while Plus lets you bill up to 50 active clients and Premium lets you bill up to 500 active clients. Some of the features, regardless of the plan you choose, include:
- Ability to create unlimited customized invoices
- Online credit card payments
- Automatic late payment reminders and fees sent to clients
- Automatic expenses imported from your bank account
- Time tracking by project and clients
- Business insights with reports and easy to use dashboards
FreshBooks also integrates with apps like Google’s G Suite, Fundbox (which helps manage cash flow) and Shopify.
Xero is a New Zealand-based company that has three pricing tiers:
- The Starter package lets you send five invoices and quotes, enter five bills and reconcile twenty bank transactions.
- The Standard package lets you send unlimited invoices and quotes, enter bills and reconcile all your bank transactions.
- The Premium package offers the same as the Standard package but adds the ability to do multi-currency transactions.
In every case, Xero offers a number of great features. It lets you grant access to your team members and accountant, create reports and budgets anytime, connect to your bank accounts, and integrate with over 500 apps ranging from inventory management to time tracking.
Kashoo might sound like a sneeze, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. This Vancouver-based company offers a single low-priced monthly fee and a number of robust features, which include:
- The use of both their desktop and mobile apps
- Unlimited tracking of active clients
- Double entry accounting
- Multiple user access
- Credit card payments
- Multi-currency transactions
Kashoo also offers a number of online webinars and training videos to help small business owners who aren’t accountants ensure that they’re doing things right. However, they don’t offer the kind of integration with other apps and services that some other solutions do.