Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Three (Generally) Free Online Accounting Software Applications

First, let me state that I am a huge fan of Quickbooks. Quickbooks is very easy to use as a small business with no or few employees. It is scalable to a larger business with 50 to 100 employees or more, depending on the complexity of the business' operations. There are a number of larger financial platforms that easily migrate from a Quickbooks platform. Most small and medium business CPAs are familiar with Quickbooks and can often access your data remotely. Quickbooks produces nice, easy-to read income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements - the three financial statements you need to review regularly to monitor your business and financial performance.

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 Last, but not least, Intuit -- and many online entities and community colleges -- offer Quickbooks tutorials. With that said, some entrepreneurs and owners of smaller companies or start-ups want an online solution that requires minimal effort on their part. So here are five free online applications I've either used or been made aware of.

Photo of FreshBooks' website
FreshBooks - FreshBooks is an online software application that is considered one of the best simple small business applications available. It focuses on making accounting as minimally intimidating as possible to encourage small business owners to track their business activities / accounting. According to the company website, FreshBooks now has over 5 million users. FreshBooks is easy to use from your computer, tablet or mobile phone (Android or iPhone).  Although FreshBooks started off as a free service for small entities, it now charges everyone. However, you can check it out for free - no credit card input required! - for 30 days.

Photo of Zoho Invoice site
Zoho Invoice - Another service is Zoho Invoice. Zoho offers a number of software applications aimed at small business owners, including a CRM service which I used for a company I previously owned. (I liked it.) Zoho Invoice uses a clean, well-designed template that includes a number of custom fields and data import options. Zoho Invoice is free for really small businesses, also known as micro businesses. If you need additional functionality, you'll need to choose from one of their very reasonable pricing plans.

Photo of Sage One site
Sage One - Sage One is the lower end accounting software application offered by Sage Software, a highly regarded accounting software provider that continues to gain in popularity among larger small businesses and medium-sized businesses. Sage acquired Billing Boss and revamped that offering to better serve the smaller small business customer.  While Billing Boss previously offered a free version with limited functionality, Sage One now offers a free 15 day trial. After that, you can choose one of their inexpensive pricing plans, starting as low as $9 per month.

These online accounting software applications have improved over time since I first became aware of them 2-5 years (or more) ago. So, although most no longer offer a free version, these online applications offer greater functionality, ease of use and ease of access at a highly affordable price. These applications are perfect for those small business owners who outsource to a bookkeeper once or twice a month to start with and grow. You get the accounting basics cheaply and simply. As you grow or increase your knowledge, you can move to the higher versions offering more functionality...or you can jump over to Quickbooks!


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