Written by Angie Mansfield
It can be very confusing as a small business owner trying to sort out all the different choices for accounting software these days.
Between popular commercial programs, subscription-based online offerings, and industry-specific specialized software, the choice can quickly become overwhelming.
Here's how you can cut through the clutter and find the right accounting software for your small business >>>
Know the Lingo
Accounting software retailers, like many industries, have their own special language.
A couple of terms you should know before you start shopping are >>>
- Off the Shelf: A physical package you purchase at an office supply store or other retailer. This software requires a single, upfront payment, and then you own it outright. Some of these programs are customizable to suit your needs, and generally offer better security than other options.
- Online Accounting: This software is hosted on the internet, or in the cloud. You'll have to pay a monthly subscription for this type of accounting software, but the benefits generally include free support and upgrades, and being able to login from anywhere with an internet connection.
Know What You Need
The accounting software you purchase may change as your company grows and expands.
While a simple, off the shelf program might work for you in the beginning when you have just a few employees, you might need to upgrade once you start hiring more people.
Before shopping for your accounting software, make a list of things you need it to do for you (such as inventory control and payroll), and things you don't need (such as customer communication management for example).
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Now that you've got your list of required features, and have an idea of whether you'd rather buy a physical software program or subscribe to an online one, it's time to start comparing prices. You can search online, check with local retailers, even contact two or three local accountants to see if they have a recommendation.
Make sure that the software you're looking at provides the services you need -- and if you'll need support after the sale, take that into consideration too.
Check for Reviews
Once you've got a few software possibilities, look for online reviews to make sure it's going to do what you need it to. If you find a lot of complaints about the program, you'll know to steer clear of it, even if it is the most inexpensive one on your list.
Another great source for reviews is your personal network. Do you know other small business owners with companies similar to yours in size, or in a similar industry? Find out what software they're using, and how happy they are with it.
One of the most important decisions you'll make for your small business is which accounting software you'll use.
Take your time, weigh all of your options carefully, and get advice from trusted sources to help guide you to the right program for your company.
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