As a business owner, you get to perform a variety of roles and wear many hats, whether you like it or not. Add "accountant" to the list, and your head might explode. The good news is that you don't have to take on even more responsibilities if you choose the right accounting software for your business.
There are plenty of helpful options out there that can keep track of money coming in and going out of your business, as well as manage invoices, payroll, expenses, sales tax, and other financial tasks involved in running a small business.
That said, the best accounting software for your small business won't have these red flags.
A complicated setup process.
If you're not sure about a piece of software, ask for help using it. An effective support system should be simple to operate and have an intuitive program.
If the monthly cost of your accounting software exceeds your specified budget, there should be a one-time fee for any further support you require configuring it or utilizing its features; this fee should be permanent (as opposed to being limited by the number of hours). Otherwise, it's going to be way too complicated and pricey for you.
This leads us to the following red flag.
The phone and email support are either poor or expensive.
Phone and email support are vital for small businesses. If they encounter problems in the accounting system, the service provider is expected to help them.
However, if you have to pay for it, you might as well use a free option or an in-person accountant who will charge monthly fees but offer a more personalized service than a web portal.
If the software costs thousands of dollars, it probably isn't worth it. Many small businesses can get by with free or low-cost solutions. The cost of software should be considered, but it shouldn't be a deal-breaker.
It would be best if you also steered clear of accounting software that ranks low because of various critiques on their customer service. Don't forget to read the reviews on different sites to see what each provider may be lacking.
There are too many upsells.
Just like any other software, accounting software has a variety of features that you can use to help your business run more efficiently. But many companies offer too many options and then try to upsell them as you go along, distracting you from what you really want and need.
There are also accounting firms that coax their users to spend more than unnecessary. Others promise a much smoother service with additional dollars, which can be costly to maintain for small businesses.
One thing to look for is if the accounting firm offers the most basic set of accounting features at an exaggerated price point. Usually, this means you’re not getting what you pay for.
If a company offers all kinds of bells and whistles but only has one or two basic packages available, it's probably not confident in the product itself, and that should also be a red flag for you.
It isn't easy to export data.
When it comes to exporting data, you want your software to be both powerful and easy to use.
The first thing you need to know is that there are two basic types of exporting: automated and manual. Automated exports occur when the software is set up in a way that allows users to select what they want from their account or business records and download it through email or another form of communication. Manual exports require users themselves to copy numbers from various texts across their system and paste them into another text file or spreadsheet program (like Microsoft Excel).
Automated exporting can be difficult for some companies because their accounting systems aren't set up properly for automatic data transfers.
It won't let you import time or expenses from a mobile device.
Accessing your accounting software while you're on the road is imperative as a business owner. Fortunately, almost every program on the market today allows you to do so. However, not all programs are created equal. Some let you import data from a mobile device in just a few clicks or seconds, while others make it more of a hassle. The best accounting software for your small business won't have this red flag!
If you're looking at new accounting software and want to ensure that their system can be accessed from any device, ask how easy it is for clients using an iOS or Android device. If there's only one way for them to get their data onto their computers (like through emailing attachments), we wouldn't recommend it.
Your accountant or employee won't be able to access the data.
Another red flag is if your accountant is unable to retrieve data. For example, if you are using a system that is too difficult to use, or your accountant cannot access the information they need to do their job, this could be a problem.
Accountants often need access to not only your accounting data but also payroll deductions, bank accounts, financial statements, and other information as well. So if there are restrictions on what they can see or access, it will make their jobs more difficult and more costly.
The mobile app is terrible—or nonexistent.
You'll want to ensure that the software you choose has a mobile app allowing you to access your company data from anywhere. This is especially important if you're often traveling or have multiple employees who need access to your company's finances.
If it does have an application and the user experience isn't great, then you're likely to give up on the program and stop using it altogether. Good UI design is key—if something is hard to navigate or figure out, it will frustrate users and make them less likely to stick with the program. If this is an issue with your preferred software, look elsewhere.
If it doesn't, this could be a deal-breaker—but not all is lost! Ask them what their plans are for one in the future if they don't offer an app. If they can't give you any details or seem unwilling to invest resources into creating one, consider moving on and looking at other options.
But what if they do offer one, and it still misses the mark? That's when it's time to take matters into your own hands: you can always build your own app using tools like Google Sheets and Apps Script, and FeederApp (for iPhones only).
It doesn't let you easily change accounts, classes, locations, and other elements.
The best accounting software will let you change all the elements that pertain to you. It will also allow a large amount of flexibility in terms of what accounts and classes you can use. You are free to create custom fields so that your organization is up-to-date with its financial data.
This feature allows for greater accuracy when it comes to reporting on your finances. Still, it also helps prevent unnecessary mistakes from being made during the process of making entries into your system.
It's not customizable.
Customization is the key to great accounting software. You can change the layout and colors, add or remove features, fonts, icons, reports, graphs, and even accounts and classes.
Customizations allow you to create an accounting system that is tailor-made for your small business needs. Customization also makes the software accessible, providing more flexibility for the business owner.
Your business might require a certain feature that isn't present in another software package you're considering—if so, then that's okay! But if the lack of a feature is going to cause problems for your business or render the product less useful in some other way (e.g., by making certain tasks more difficult than they should be).
The best accounting software for your small business will be simple to set up, utilize, and manage your company's accounts. It should also include the functionality and assistance required to run your company smoothly.
Information is your friend while looking for the best accounting software for your small business.
Knowing what you need in terms of accounting software isn't enough. You also have to know how to get it, which means doing your research and ensuring that you're asking the right questions.
- Ask your accountant or employee about preferences with particular types of accounting software. If they say something like "I love QuickBooks," then that would suggest QuickBooks might be a good fit for you too. But if they say, "I hate QuickBooks," it may be time to look elsewhere.
- Ask friends, family members, neighbors, fellow business owners, or even strangers at communities involved in small businesses (e.g., accountants). If they have strong opinions one way or another about an application and why it works so well for them (or doesn't), then consider what they say carefully as well when determining which platform would work best for yours!
You may think you have found the perfect small business accounting software, but there are still some critical red flags that can tell you whether or not it's the right choice for you. To sum it up, avoid software that is too expensive, provides a poor user experience, and doesn’t have all the features you need despite paying for it handsomely.
That is why considering Unloop for your small business accounting is worth noting. Our accounting services include bookkeeping and other services to help you, as a small business owner, focus more on the things that matter, like cash flow and customer service.
With our team of experts, you bet that tax season will be a breeze for your small business.
Book a call with Unloop today!