People are inspired to set up small businesses for all sorts of reasons, but being able to deal with corporate accounts rarely features on this list. For many creatives, resellers and service providers, company accounts represent a daily headache rather than an attraction. The ever-evolving nature of tax laws doesn’t help, neither does the complexity of traditional financial software. Most of us would struggle to build even a basic Microsoft Access database, or set up macros in Excel.
One solution involves hiring an accountant and outsourcing everything to them. However, anyone who’s had a bad experience with an accountancy firm will understand the desire to keep financial affairs in-house. This is where being able to simplify accounts becomes important. Because who among us will have time to calculate the declining deduction percentages for bonus depreciation in property placed in service, once changes to Section179 take hold after 2020?
For anyone whose eyes have just glazed over, the following software packages can simplify accounts and streamline financial management:
Yes, it’s a bit of a cliché. And yes, Access is better for database management. But Excel deserves a mention for its blend of familiarity and processing power. You can run macros and create complex formulas, or simply type income and expenditure lists into a universally-compatible format. Excel’s crisp design makes it easy for beginners to understand, unlike its incomprehensible Access stablemate. It’s also great for supplying annual figures to an accountant if you’re not brave enough to do everything yourself.
Intuit QuickBooks Online
Many view QuickBooks as the best accounting tool available. It offers four tiers of subscription after a 30-day free trial, by which point anyone should be able to run reports and generate invoices. The Self-Employed plan is great for freelancers, while the Simple Start plan tracks sales for tax purposes. Advanced versions monitor inventory levels and generate payroll, yet QuickBooks remains an intuitive, user-friendly interface. It also offers time-saving automation and report-generating functionality, to simplify accounts management.
Wave has created a free desktop platform (and Android/iOS apps) aimed at startups and small businesses holding little or no inventory. Advanced services like payroll are paid-for extras, but the basic package is free. Instead of subscriptions, Wave makes money by levying credit card processing fees of 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. That’s the bad news. On the plus side, you can create a profile using an existing Google account, the interface is easy to navigate, and it automatically syncs with bank accounts.
For many entrepreneurs, invoicing is a constant worry. Hiveage offers a brilliant feature for creating stylish estimates and quotes. Documents are transformed into invoices once approved by a client. Everything involved in a particular project is tracked, from time and mileage to incurred expenses. Color-coded tabs instantly show which stage each invoice is at, while mobile apps condense the already-simple desktop interface even further. And Hiveage syncs with a dozen online payment gateways. Hiveage is already in use in 150 countries.
Quicken Home & Business
Software designed to simplify accounts is normally aimed at corporate audiences. Quicken is a rare hybrid, enabling people to manage their professional and personal finance in a single Windows-based package. The lack of cloud hosting or Apple support is the only real downside of this ingenious software tool. It emails payment reminders, stores important documents, downloads PDF invoices and imports bank data. Changes to the 2018 edition include 5GB of Dropbox file storage, and the option to add payment links to invoices.