I get asked about accounting software a lot. Is it worth investing in, and which one is the best? So I thought I'd share my thoughts on some of the most popular accounting software systems.
In all honesty, they're all pretty similar and do the same thing. The real difference lies in the user experience and any extra bells and whistles they offer. Oh, and the price!
I have certifications for both QuickBooks and FreeAgent, and the links to FreeAgent are affiliates, but everything included in this comparison is my honest opinion.
Not technically an accounting software, but I still prefer doing my own books on a good old-fashioned spreadsheet and saving my invoices and receipts in a folder on my computer (read more about how I do my own bookkeeping here).
Various publications keep heralding the death of spreadsheets, but they're still here, and they give you a lot of control over your books. More importantly, you'll know exactly what everything means because it's kept super simple.
QuickBooks is the software that I used to use frequently in my office job as an accountant. It's pretty easy to use once you get used to it, but it did take me some time to learn how to use it properly (although it was mostly for limited companies, which are more complicated than sole traders).
QuickBooks is great because you can do most financial tasks in it - including creating customised invoices and filing your tax return. You can also connect your bank account to it, so you don't have to spend ages entering all your transactions because it automatically imports them all for you.
But the best thing about QuickBooks is undoubtedly the fantastic free mobile app, which allows you to take photos of your receipts and upload them on the go, and automatically tracks your mileage.
Price: £3 per month for the first six months, £6 per month after that
FreeAgent is the software I get the most positive feedback about from the business owners I speak to who use it for their accounts - it's just really simple to use, no fuss or frills.
As with QuickBooks, you can connect your bank account, file your tax return and send invoices. You can also track the time you spend on work projects (handy if you're billing by the hour) and use it as a project management system, similar to Asana/Trello.
FreeAgent have excellent customer service as well - QuickBooks can be difficult to communicate with at times, and my experience with Xero is that you email them and hey ring you - no thanks! - whereas the FreeAgent advisors are so genuinely helpful and get back to you pretty fast.
Price: £9.50 (+VAT) per month for six months, £19.50 per month after that
Xero is the software I have the least experience with, but I do hear a lot of praise for it from small business owners.
It has A LOT of features - all of the ones I mentioned above, plus the facility to run payroll, keep track of inventory and generate project quotes.
Again, it's very straightforward and easy to use, which makes it more convenient for business owners who want to spend less time on accounting and more time on their business. You can also integrate it with different apps and the customer service is 24/7.
Price: £10 per month, plus a 30 day free trial
So there you go! I'd love to know which accounting software you use, and why. What are your thoughts?
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