Let’s be honest – a lot of people dread bookkeeping. It might be one of the things you find overwhelming, so you just avoid it. And sorting through all the software options out there? No thanks!
I’m here to help. Choosing the right bookkeeping system can save you tons of time, and understanding your numbers helps you make smarter business decisions.
Before we dive into exploring the different options out there, start by asking yourself these questions:
- How new and big is my business?
- What can I afford?
- What software do I know how to use?
- Do I need to integrate other software into my bookkeeping system?
- How much time can I afford to spend on my books?
Knowing these answers will help you pick the best system for YOU. And let me be clear – the right solution might come down to something as simple as you like the user interface or you like the weekly reminders that get sent to you.
Honestly, there’s isn’t a wrong way to figure all this out – but again, it’s important to figure out what’s best for your business!
Ready? Let’s get started!
Starting simple: what are the pros and cons of spreadsheets like the ones offered by Google Sheets or Microsoft Office?
If you’re just starting out and need a quick overview of your numbers, spreadsheets are PERFECT for you. They give you a conceptual look at your numbers that you can understand at the drop of a hat.
Maybe you’ve been in business for a while, but you honestly have NO clue what software to use, so you need an easy-to-navigate tool to figure out what your next bookkeeping tool will be. Spreadsheets are for you.
Big takeaway here – if you’re not even looking at the numbers yet and just trying to understand the basics, go back to the foundation – spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets aren’t for you if you’re not able to manually reconcile your expenses or you need a bit of a data mined from what your numbers are saying (think additional reporting). Spreadsheets are just the naked truth – any kind of analysis has to come from somewhere else.
So to recap, you should use spreadsheets if you are just starting out, aren’t sure what you need and don’t need to dive into the data your numbers are telling you. You need the quick and dirty details – no frills.
What are the pros and cons of FreshBooks?
FreshBooks is a great choice if you need to invoice clients and track reimbursables. Maybe you’re a consultant and your clients reimburse you for things like travel, or other expenses. Plus, it’s easy to set up, cost-effective and it integrates with QuickBooks, so you can get the benefit of two software systems!
FreshBooks is a great choice if you’re ready to move from spreadsheets into a proper bookkeeping software, but not yet ready for some of the more complex systems like Xero or QuickBooks Online.
Bottom line? FreshBooks is great if you are an invoice-based business and you need it to integrate with other technologies. It’s affordable and makes tracking easy.
It doesn’t offer some of the metrics that other softwares have available, so depending on the size of your business, that might be a dealbreaker. A very solid option for small business owners though!
Okay, next one.
What are the pros and cons of Wave?
Like FreshBooks, Wave is another fantastic software if you’re doing a lot of invoicing, plus it’s the only software I’m covering that has a free version so you can take it for a test drive and see if it suits your needs!
There are tons of add-ons (at an extra charge) like time tracking or payroll, and you can exclude transactions like your mortgage payments to make your life easier.
Wave might not be for you if you need to really do a deep data mine or you need a reconciliation done for you – looking at you, big businesses.
So in a nutshell, you should use Wave if you’re looking for a basic bookkeeping system that’s free, or if you’re a small business that needs to handle your accounting, invoicing, payments, payroll and receipts. It’s got great features, support and templates—just remember that some of the more advanced capabilities come at an extra cost.
What are the pros and cons of Xero?
So let’s get into Xero. It’s a clear, well-designed system that allows you to make sure all your transactions have not only been imported, but done properly, and when you need some more integration and detail.
Also – it’s free of ads. That might seem like a small detail, but trust me, it’s lovely when the annoyance of clicking through something or waiting for a video to end is a thing of the past.
So basically, you’ve been in business for a while, you need a reliable software that gives you more than the ABCs of bookkeeping, like being able to…
- See your bank tabs so you know everything is running smoothly
- Search for relevant transactions including transaction type, account, date, contact, tracking category
- Monitor your financial transfers
It’s not the best solution for bigger businesses that need a really detailed analysis of their numbers, but for small to medium-sized businesses , this is going to keep your bookkeeping simple and quick.
Sound like what you’re after? This might mean Xero is for you.
Last but not least – what about QuickBooks Online?
The user experience in QuickBooks Online is unparalleled if you’re someone who needs more detail and all your systems working together so you can extract info from your receipts, simplify payroll and automatically import your sales using just one system. It has an interface that is easy to navigate and use effectively.
Yes, it’s a bit of a pricier option and yes, they regularly increase their costs. A bummer, I know – BUT they have five different pricing options available so chances are you can find something right for you if what they have to offer is what you need!
So if you’ve got the money to spend and you need the nitty gritty of what your numbers are telling you every month, QuickBooks Online is your jam.
To sum it up…
There is a right digital solution when it comes to your books, and it might take a little time to figure out what exactly it is.
And when you’re figuring out what’s right for you, remember that your solution today, might not be the one that will last you forever.
Chances are your needs are going to change at some point down the road and you’ll need a more advanced software – which means you can’t forget about being able to export when you’re choosing!
Trust me, you do want to be using technology that you allows you to use today’s data to prepare for tomorrow.
Final thought? I know it’s hard to figure out which software is right for you, but doing the work is so worth it. Your bottom line will thank you for it once you find it.