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Accounting software is much-needed tool today. Gone are the days of manually writing down copious amounts of figures in heavy, dusty logbooks, or using calculators to add up debits and credits. Our computers do this for us now. Accounting software makes the process of bookkeeping more efficient and accurate.
What else is different than in years past? Today’s newest accounting solutions are now cloud-based, and they provide many advantages.
No more shelling out a large amount of cash to purchase expensive business accounting software. Instead, you can pay for a web-based accounting service via a convenient subscription.
Online accounting services are used via the Internet rather than being installed on your organization’s computers. They allow you to access the information you need through an Internet browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari. You can access the service from anywhere you have an internet connection, and it will always look like the same wherever you use it.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about technology requirements, if you have the right operating system, backing up your accounting data, installing updates or dealing with maintenance issues. You get all this and more handled for you–And all for a convenient monthly or annual fee.
Just like any accounting software, cloud-based accounting services allow you to perform all the accounting tasks your business needs, and they include features you’re familiar with like an online general ledger, invoicing and accounts receivable capabilities, purchase histories, business inventories and much more.
And, because upgrades and data backup are managed by the accounting service vendor, cloud-based accounting services are an attractive option for small businesses.
Although these new solutions are cloud-based, you can still buy desktop accounting software if you wish. But due to their popularity, most small businesses are now using online accounting services. Because of their anywhere availability via the Internet, crunching numbers is now much easier than ever before.
What Do Online the Different Accounting Services Have in Common?
Each solution is different, but they all have the following features in common.
They are available via a subscription. Accounting software has always been expensive and needs to be updated every year. With the online version, you pay for only as many users as you need, and you can pay on a monthly or annual basis. Many offer a free trial that converts when you sign up for a service. They cost anywhere from $5 to $70 a month depending on what you require. You won’t be locked into a contract, and all the upgrades are provided. Another plus is that your data will automatically be backed up to a secure cloud.
They’re easy to navigate. Online accounting services try to make your job less taxing with intuitive, easy-to-navigate platforms where you can easily find the features you want. Toolbars, drop-down lists, fill-in-the-blank fields, buttons and icons, all help you enter the numbers for whatever calculations and financial forms you require.
They use language that you’re familiar with. Although we still refer to terms like credits, debits, and chart of accounts, online accounting solutions only use arcane financial language when absolutely needed. The developers are trying to use every-day language whenever possible. However, although centuries old, double-entry accounting is a process we all need to use, and it’s here to stay, the developers let the “wizards” handle the complex processes behind the scenes.
They provide mobile versions. If you’re on the road, traveling for business meetings, or even need to do a little work when you’re on vacation, you can access your web-based accounting services securely from your mobile devices.
You have the choice of different levels of service. Some of the best cloud-based accounting solutions provide more than one level of service at different prices. This way you can purchase just what you need and nothing more. If you need to switch to a different level, most allow you to do this easily.
You can integrate them with other solutions. As your business grows, you may find that you need to use a variety of cloud-based financial management solutions. In this case, many of the best cloud-based accounting solutions allow you to connect to other services that you may already be using.
Dashboards. Interactive home pages or dashboards will help you keep track of your finances by flagging tasks that need attention and providing visuals like graphs and charts to give you a high-level view of where you stand. They summarize data like income, expenses and cash flow in easy-to-read images, so you and your team can more easily comprehend data and can make decisions about what to do.
Which Solution is the Best for Your Business?
So, how do you decide which online accounting solution is best for your small business? You might not be able to find a perfect match, but because they are flexible and provided on a monthly basis, you can find the best one for you and tweak it along the way.
As mentioned, many offer a free trial, so you can “road test” them. Give them a try and consider the following questions when you do:
While you’re at it, we did some homework for you. Below are some of the top online accounting services for small businesses.
Consider these and take advantage of the free trials they offer. Don’t worry if these might not work for you five years from now. Assess them based on your needs for the upcoming year.
Remember, you aren’t purchasing the product. Instead, you’re signing up for a subscription that you can change or upgrade/downgrade as you need. In other words, you aren’t stuck with these like you are with regular accounting software programs.
No matter which online accounting solution you choose, you’ll have peace of mind because you won’t have to worry about security. Online accounting services have stringent security requirements to ensure that your data is safely protected from hackers and any kind of loss. Even if your physical office is destroyed, or an employee accidentally deletes information, your online accounting service will be able to retrieve your data for you.