View Full Version : Accounting Software Recommendations?

08-25-2008, 08:05 PM
I know we have a thread going about whether to use accounting software or hire an accountant, but for those wanting to do their own account of even just be able to keep track of things for their account what software recommendations do you have.

The 800 lb gorilla is Quicken, but I've heard so many negative things about them that I wonder if there's something else better.

Online I've heard only good things about Mint (http://www.mint.com), which is really more of a personal accounting setup, but I imagine I could use it for business as well.

Do you use accounting specific software or maybe just have one of more excel files set up?

For the most part my accounting is pretty simple, but I expect it to start getting a little more complex in the near future requiring me to be a little more accountable for my accounting.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

08-26-2008, 08:15 AM
I tried Quickbooks for a while, but didn't really like it. I just wanted something really simple, and that program was more of a business accounting program. I just thought it was unnecessarily complicated.

08-26-2008, 12:37 PM
I've heard that, though I've also heard once you get the hang of it it isn't so bad. It's not the program I want to use though since I've heard more bad things about the company than I care for. I've heard good things too, but enough bad to make me want to see what else is out there.

08-26-2008, 03:44 PM
From a certified Intuit hater.

I hate their constant selling, their lack of support after just a few years, forcing unneeded updates if you want support, and on and on.

But, QuickBooks is the best you'll find. Nothing fancy, the basic PC based version will do fine.

Anyone who can't use it should not be in business. It's very easy to use and steps you through the setup for your type of business.

While I was selling tangible goods when I bought the 2005 Wholesaler and Manufacturer version, I don't need it now.

Here's what I do, that you will do.

I have a checking account and a PayPal account plus a regular merchant account. I track them all easily in QB. I reconcile all three monthly, just as you would any checking account. (Hopefully you would.)

I create a few Invoices for open account clients. Very few, and I enter payments under Receipts and then put into the bank account.

I mostly do Cash Receipts, as most of my sales are online. I have one product that I sell daily, often 4 or 5 a day. I just combine them into one receipt for PayPal, one for the merchant account. One time sales, never hear from them again, so no need for name, address, etc.

I also sell hosting on monthly, quarterly and annual PayPal subscriptions. I also set these up as cash sales, but do enter contact info. I also use the Recurring function to bring them back up on whichever schedule they subscribe to.

Payments are simply writing a check. I never write any, but when I pay for something with PayPal, I simply "write a check" on that account to whoever I'm buying from.

I also do sales tax reports as required. No big deal at all. If you sell taxable items, just mark them as such and it's tracked for you.

I no longer do payroll, but did for years. I have never used their services, just done it "by hand" then entered the figures into QB for the reports and balancing accounts.

That's pretty much it.

You are probably never going to do your own accounting completely. But with QB you will know where you stand and have reliable figures to present to your tax preparer.

Again, this is from an Intuit hater. I've used, sold and trained in the use of QB since V1 in the early 1990's. No inventory at all then, and payroll was an entirely different program. You had to leave QB to do QB Payroll.

Get the Simple Start $ 99.95 version. Anything else is a waste.

08-26-2008, 05:07 PM
I think QuickBooks is the best program for service-based businesses or those that don't use it to track inventory. It's fairly easy to use, and very "eye friendly". The main screen lays out all of the important areas you'll deal with, such as invoices, receipts, deposits, writing checks, etc. And what appears is customized to your business. Don't issue receipts, it doesn't show up. Don't do payroll? It won't show up.

If inventory tracking is an important thing, Peachtree by Sage has a lot more to offer you. Unfortunately the program isn't as "eye friendly" and you may have to fish around to find things.

Whatever program you use, stick to it. Don't decide to switch to Peachtree three years later, you're only going to have a ton of headaches.

08-26-2008, 05:46 PM
Thanks Pete and Evan. I had a feeling QuickBooks was the way to go, but thought I'd ask if there were alternatives. Intuit though is not my favorite company.

Evan there's no need for inventory. At the moment my business is all services, though I'm branching out into digital products, affiliate marketing, subscription based sites. All perhaps a little more complex than services, but nothing that requires inventory.

I shouldn't need need Payroll either, though I do plan on working with others more and outsourcing work. I assume in that situation I just need to fill out 1099s and for accounting purposes I could list it as a business expense.

08-26-2008, 07:41 PM
If you used a program such as Quicken or Microsoft Money to track your personal finances, for a small show, I'd recommend using their "Home & Business" versions. This would allow you to use the same file you're used to, but be able to track things on the business side.

Even though I personally use MS Money, I still prefer QuickBooks. Then again I manage the books for a few different operations, so I need to maintain them separately.

08-26-2008, 08:37 PM
I think I like Microsoft even less than Intuit so I'd sooner go with QuickBooks or Quicken. It's good to know the options though. I actually haven't been using anything for my personal finances sad to say. My guess is QuickBooks will be the way I go based on the recommendations here and my own thinking that it was probably the choice before starting this thread.

Seems to me though that someone could enter the accounting software market and do ok. The industry leaders don't seem to inspire the most confidence in their brands.

08-26-2008, 09:06 PM
Seems to me though that someone could enter the accounting software market and do ok. The industry leaders don't seem to inspire the most confidence in their brands.

Not so much.

You'd think Microsoft Accounting would be more popular, but it isn't. People are familiar, better or worse, with Microsoft products. The product is suppose to be easy to use, and they even offered it free! But it never took off, and has a very small percentage of the market.

08-26-2008, 09:55 PM
Maybe it's one of the markets where people have tried to play, but no one's been able to stick around. I'm always surprised though, because you hear so many complaints about Intuit. I think with every new release people are complaining about the changes. And Microsoft isn't exactly loved by many.

Then again the enemy we know is preferred to the enemy we don't know. Maybe it's a case of once you've been using one product for any length of time the desire to change decreases dramatically.

08-26-2008, 10:46 PM
Then again the enemy we know is preferred to the enemy we don't know. Maybe it's a case of once you've been using one product for any length of time the desire to change decreases dramatically.

That is the issue. I've been using QuickBooks and am comfortable with it. If that is what you've been using, as the majority of businesses do, then why switch? It becomes a royal pain.

The only people that USUALLY deal with figuring out an accounting program are those starting a new business or those without a formal accounting program.

08-26-2008, 11:31 PM
Makes sense. I think it's Seth Godin I'm paraphrasing, but it's trying to sell an accounting solution to people who don't have an accounting problem. If everything is working for you and it's more effort to change software than it is to deal with the occasional frustration with the company that makes the software you're using, you're not going to change.

08-27-2008, 06:41 AM
Seems to me though that someone could enter the accounting software market and do ok. The industry leaders don't seem to inspire the most confidence in their brands.

If they did, Intuit or Sage would buy them out. Sad, but true. They have the deep pockets to make small firms those "offers they can't refuse".

And Intuit, say and think what you will about them, is a Master Marketer. They have the small business world thinking they can't do business without them. Their TV ads have been extremely successful for them.

Actually, much better at marketing than at product development. They constantly over-promise and under deliver.

08-27-2008, 11:43 AM
I guess it's another reason we only see the 800 lb gorilla and no other products.

08-27-2008, 12:25 PM
I've been using Quickbooks for over 10 years. Once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to keep your books up to date. If you are running your payroll through Quickbooks, you pay a yearly fee to keep the tax information accurate. Also, if Quickbooks comes out with a newer version they sometimes require you to update otherwise your subscriptions will not work.

08-27-2008, 01:06 PM
Thanks. I shouldn't have to worry about payroll, but still good to know. Those required upgrades are one of the things I don't like about Intuit. You shouldn't have to upgrade to keep using your old software. It might not be supported anymore and you're not going to get the latest and greatest features, but a company shouldn't force you to spend money on their latest version in order to keep using their software.

08-28-2008, 07:58 AM
My brother used the first version, back in the early 90's for over 10 years. It did then what it does now, as far as basic accounting. No bells and whistles, but good basic bookkeeping, yes.

Only a crashed hard drive caused him to buy a new version. And he didn't really need it, just thought he'd do new installs on everything.

It's the payroll that forces upgrades. Other than that, there is no need for support, as it is fairly bullet-proof.

For what you are going to be doing, buy a used version off ebay that will work with your OS and keep moving on.

08-28-2008, 12:21 PM
Thanks Pete. Sounds like the negatives I hear about probably won't affect me at all them. Very good to know. Thanks for the eBay suggestion too.

09-08-2008, 10:00 PM
I highly recommend QuickBooks. We have used it in several small businesses of our own and currently use it in our Accounting/Bookkeeping business. I would suggest taht you contact a QuickBooks ProAdvisor in your area. They can set your company up correctly so that it works like your business functions. This is the key to using QB - get it set up correctly and it just flows. If you can't find someone locally, go to our website Hendersonville Accountant - Making accounting less taxing! (http://www.tnbizserv.com) and we can do it remotely. Good luck.

09-08-2008, 11:03 PM
Thanks kenlew. It seems rather unanimous to go for Quickbooks. I have used it before so I do know the basics and I know a few people who use it so I'm sure I can get help if needed. I'm pretty good with software too.