Small Business Online Accounting Software

Best Online Accounting Tools for Small Businesses

Finding the perfect online accounting software for your business can be tricky with so many providers available to choose from. Here's our guide.

By Elizabeth Page

Long gone are the days of keeping paper accounting records, wading through mountains of receipts, and losing sleep over chasing an unpaid invoice. Even if you are a secret spreadsheet lover, modern accounting platforms and tools provide many more benefits to your business than just keeping track of numbers. They can help you see how your business is growing and they allow you to make sound business decisions. Providers such as Xero and Quickbooks are giving small business owners an easy-to-use and flexible platform for managing their business accounts, all at a budget-friendly monthly cost. 

Why use accounting software?

If you're used to a paper-based accounting system, you may be wondering why you should switch to online accounting software. After all, if something's not broken, why fix it? Right?

Save time

Get real-time business information

Pay and get paid quicker

Access anywhere

Choosing the right accounting software for you

There are many benefits to switching to a cloud-based accountancy system. But which do you choose? Life as business owner is often a juggling act of important decisions that need to be made. And when it comes to choosing an accounting package that suits your specific business needs, there are so many available that it can be tricky to assess which will work best for you. 

Before diving headfirst into demos with different software providers, it's important to consider the following:

  1. Keep in mind the size and complexity of your business operation as this is likely to determine which software features are most appropriate for your business. Most software providers offer a range of packages to suit the needs of small and simple business set-ups and also larger, more complex businesses.
  2. Your industry will also have a part to play. You may need a specialized software package that is designed to help businesses in your niche. 

Once you've shortlisted the most appropriate software providers for your business. You should make the following considerations:

Does it offer additional features that could benefit you?

First and foremost, does it offer all the features you need and could it streamline other parts of your business too. For example, if you're moving to a new accounting package and they offer a payroll solution too, would it be beneficial to move both into one solution? Accounts packages that offer a payroll module will calculate wages, statutory deductions such as PAYE and National Insurance contributions as well as assisting with auto-enrolment pensions.

Can it scale with your business?

If you're just starting out or running a rapidly growing business, it's important to think about whether the software provider offers what you'll need in the long run and what the associated costs are likely to be. Some software providers offer upgrades or bolt-on modules that you can purchase to assist in things which may not be needed initially, but will become necessary later. So, it's worth checking whether they'll be able to offer features that may support your growth and at what expense. 

Will you need training?

Depending on your knowledge and who will be using the software, you may need training. This can be pretty costly but tends to be cheaper in the long-run than the trial and error method. So when comparing packages ensure you review this cost as it's likely to vary between software provider.

How much is it going to cost?

The pricing of accounting packages can vary quite significantly, however it should be relative to the size and complexity of your business. Often, accounting software providers will offer a monthly subscription price or a slightly cheaper option which ties you in for a year or two. The monthly option may allow you to cancel at any time, but will cost more on a monthly basis. The annual option will more than likely save you some money in the long run, but also bear in mind that paying upfront may put a strain on your cashflow. If you need more specialized software, this can be more expensive, and you should be prepared to pay a premium for this. 

Best Online Accounting Software

Most cloud-based accounting providers offer free trials, so if you are still not sure, you can easily try the software before making a final decision. Below are some popular packages and their main features.


Try Intuit Quickbooks


Check out Xero


Find out More


Get Started with Kashflow


Try ClearBooks


Remember!

Using accounting software will generally make bookkeeping and accounting easier but you’ll still need a certain amount of financial literacy to get the most out of it. You may not want a sophisticated accounts package if you don’t understand how to use it. Or if you already have an accountant and just want somewhere to record transactions, a simpler package may be best for you. Speak to representatives of each provider before you commit to a platform, and only sign up for what your business needs.