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Choose A Small Business Accounting Software For You - On Time Tech

How to Choose Small Business Accounting Software that's Right for You

As a small business owner in the Bay Area, you have to navigate challenges that larger operations don't and often with less help and expertise. Unlike autonomous corporations that can rely on allotted budgets and accounting departments, entrepreneurs need to be alert to everything going on with their revenue and expenses. Tracking all of this can prove to be a challenge, but many small business owners understandably want an in-house solution to keep close to their accounting.

Narrowing down your needs

Finding a solution to provide a robust small business accounting platform means comparing many complex individual software packages, and can be an overwhelming search. Finding small business accounting software that's right for your needs doesn't always mean the most widely used, or the most expensive. Every small business has unique circumstances and has unique needs for its accounting software. Weighing benefits between different options first means identifying exactly what you're looking for.

Accessibility and ease of use

Accounting software can record, organize, capture, document, and report data, but someone will still have to operate it and do the actual accounting. Accounting software comes in varying levels of complexity, but they all will require operation and input, and someone who at least has some basic knowledge of accounting, as well as the technical expertise to use the software. If this may be a learning experience for someone at your business, think about focusing on finding easier-to-use and well-documented software.

What features do you need?

How do you need accounting help? If basic check writing, balance tracking, and general ledgers are all you need, any accounting software should contain those. If you need more complex functions like job costing, payroll, inventory management, expense reporting, you need to keep a close watch for those features while choosing software.

Also, pay attention to 3rd party compatibility and more advanced features. Don't make assumptions about what features each software package offers, and ensure you're getting the tools you need.  If you want your accounting software to interface with point of sale systems, financial institutions, or any other systems you already use, you'll want to ensure that those are supported. Many accounting platforms will offer cloud storage and remote access, while some will be bound to the hardware they're installed on. Before you start looking, know exactly what features are right for your situation.

What's your budget?

The budget is important. You don't beat the competitive edge in the San Francisco area by compromising your own financial guidelines. Some accounting software is priced in subscription-style recurring, regular payments, whereas some are priced in single payments for the full software suite. Though up-front payments can be more attractive initially, read up on what payment includes with each package. Some software with recurring costs, even if high compared to one-time payments, can be beneficial due to continued support and customer service.

Accounting software can range from a hefty investment for a small business all the way down to freeware depending on your budget. Though in many cases more cost means more functionality, that's not always the case. By identifying what's most important to you in your accounting software, you can find something that serves your needs in a budget you can afford.

Weighing options

In addition to weighing features, cost, and ease of use you need to look carefully at the technical specifications of the accounting software. Ensure that your current hardware and OS are compatible with the software packages you are looking at, that way you can plan an upgrade into your budget if needed.

There are a lot of options out there for small business accounting software, and you need to look at multiple options to correctly assess the advantages and disadvantages of each. While this won't be an exhaustive list, we've compiled a few of the most popular ones based on specific priorities.


  • Wave Financial. Wave offers 100% free receipt scanning, invoicing, and accounting but has limited 3rd party support and isn't available to be used in all US states.
  • FreshBooks. Originally dedicated and powerful invoicing software, FreshBooks now handles most standard business accounting issues as well. While it does not provide payroll or inventory management, competitive introductory discounts and multi-tier pricing can make it fit most budgets.


  • NetSuite. Oracle's NetSuite is incredibly powerful financial software, with tons of features, reporting, and compatibility with the entire NetSuite product family. The software is highly technical, and for small businesses without an IT tech, it's likely a professional will have to setup the system and train your team on how to use it.


  • QuickBooks. Intuit's QuickBooks is the standard among professional accountants for a reason. While it isn't overly simplified and offers useful tools, there is a rich community with documentation and guides that can ease the learning curve. As many users will find themselves limited by the basic version, however, increased functionality with QuickBooks can push budget constraints.
  • Xero. Xero offers an easy-to-use app that utilizes cloud-based accounting software at reasonable prices. While it doesn't have a lot of features, it can be integrated with a 3rd party payroll provider, and there is a marketplace to purchase apps to expand its functionality.

Alternatives to in-house accounting software

If after refining your capabilities and needs, you decide that traditional accounting software doesn't quite cover everything you're after, there are other options. Customized solutions can fit specific needs with modern IT tools, and while there are a lot of customized software solutions out there, there are other ways to go for robust accounting solutions.

  • Traditional Accounting Firms. Though not necessarily a software solution, many accounting firms located right here in the Bay Area have a modern tech infrastructure to serve your accounting needs in real-time. Through shared cloud storage, shared apps, and remote access many firms can give you a high level of transparency and convenience utilizing your business' IT infrastructure.
  • Software as a service. Software as a service models involve paying a subscription cost to access cloud-based accounting software with full support and accountant services contained with the subscription. This can give you the control you want over your finances, while still offering you expert help that doesn't incur costly consultation fees. These services offer a huge variety of features, with some even offering a dedicated bookkeeper for each account.

Leveraging technology for success in small business

We conduct business more efficiently and successfully today because of IT solutions that improve our workflow, communication, and organization. As a small business owner, technology is your biggest defense against being outpaced by the big guys. Many options available for small business accounting software give you the same or better of a technological edge than the competition.

Accounting software can help organize and keep your business on pace, but it's far from the only IT solution out there that can make you more efficient and successful in business. If you have any other questions about accounting software or have any way in which On Time Tech services can help serve any other IT needs, don't hesitate to contact us today.


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