Thursday, October 22, 2009

What: What program should you use to track your bookkeeping?

There are many different levels and options to choose from. It comes down to both your business needs and how your brain processes information. In this post I will run through the general options, giving pros & cons of each.

(I would like to add another post at some point that reviews specific programs. If you have an accounting program you would like me to review, please post in the comments!). Hopefully this will provide you a good starting point for making the best choice for you and your business!

Please share in the comments what program you use for your accounting and what you like/dislike about it.

{Pen & Paper}
Options: General Ledger paper book, #2 Pencil (or a trusty ol' Bic if you prefer)
Price: Inexpensive
Pros: If you are not computer savvy, this might be up your alley. It is all right in front of you, straight forward. Many people just work better in this way.
Cons: You will need some accounting knowledge to get it set up properly. Also, maintaining can be pretty time consuming if you have to hand write everything. Making changes and adjustments can also me difficult as you have to erase, rewrite and hand adjust every entry effected.

Options: Excel, Open Office, Accounting SPOT: Free, Inexpensive
Price: Free - Inexpensive
Pros: Spreadsheets can be very automated and easy to use when set up properly. Entry and adjustments are quick and easy to do. Can be set up to your specific needs and very versatile.
Cons: You will need some accounting knowledge to get it set up properly if you are doing it from scratch. Can mess up the functionality of the formulas if you aren't familiar with excel.

{Free Software}
Options: QuickBooks Simple Start, Outright, MicroSoft Office, For Mac: TinyBooks
ATTN: Outright has an option to download PayPal transactions. It is a great option, HOWEVER it is not currently working correctly for the Income items. I have contacted them and they are working on a solution. So, do not yet use that function.
Price: Free
Pros: Well, Free is a pro! Automated accounting programs make the process so very easy. They are set up and ready to use. Just plug data and review reports!
Cons: There are some limits and boundries to what free software will do for you. Although for many small business owners, there is plenty of function to meet your needs. You will need to review on a program by program basis to determine if it fits your needs.
Other comments: QB Simple Start is the only one of these programs I can vouch for from actual use. I have reviewed the others, but not used them. Please use your own research and judgment before making your choice.

{Purchased Software}
Options: QuickBooks, PeachTree, MicroSoft Office
Price: $90+
Pros: Very automated. The versatility of accounting software is usually beyond the needs of many of us small business owners. But, that is a good thing, because more often than not the program can be set up to work for your business in just the way you need.
Cons: Can get pricey. Can be confusing to set up (see my Etsy shop for help on this).

So, there is an overview of options for how you can track your accounting. Please post any questions in the comments, I'll respond asap. In the next installment, I will try to give you some direction when it comes to the dreaded and oh-so-complicated, TAXES.


Jujube said...

Thanks for the tips. I never think of book keeping (though I do not have a hugh flood of business)

A good habit to start anyway

katrina and the king said...

I love this first picture! Hi! :) I'm a new member there a way to get a SAS mentor to help you with your shop?

Laura said...

I've been using spreadsheets designed by MissSideburns, an Etsy seller. They really help me a lot.

Great post!

styler said...

i would add xero
which is an online software as a service accounting package.

it deal in multi currencies and also you can easily check if it;s right for you by taking it for a trial

one big advantage is that you can access your record from anywhere, you don't need specif software on your computer