The Best Software to Manage Business Finances

May 17, 2011 — 19 Comments

keyboardOptions abound when it comes to managing your business finances. I didn’t know a single thing about any of them when I started my business but I heard good things about Peachtree.

I was quickly overwhelmed so I gave it to a friend and bought Quickbooks. I think it’s more user friendly and it’s what I still use today.

Most bookkeepers and CPAs use Quickbooks and I’ve done well with it.

I recognize many more options though, including:

These aren’t the best or only solutions, so what do you think? What accounting software do you use and why?

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Justin Lukasavige

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  • http://www.roccocapra.com/ Rocco Capra

     *Plain ;)

  • Michael

    We should make it even more specific – what’s the best option for mac users? I’ve been looking at Billings, Books, and Freshbooks. Did you know that Quickbooks is no longer supported in Canada on the mac? It takes the main player out when considering which way to go. Also makes you think that any program filling the gap might also bail out in a couple of years for the same reason Quickbooks did. And why did they? Because there’s only 2.4 million businesses in Canada.

  • http://twitter.com/JesseLahey Jesse Lahey

    This is a much needed discussion, especially for those on Macs! I am using QuickBooks Pro 2010 on an old PC, but I would love to change to something else. I tried using QuickBooks for Mac about a year ago, but I found it to be buggy and not well thought through … apparently they redesigned it from the ground-up for Mac rather than building on what had proven to be successful on the PC. I also tried QuickBooks online but it was expensive, cumbersome (required multiple clicks for what should be quick tasks), and limiting. I am very interested in an online solution like FreshBooks, but I’m not sure it’s powerful enough for my business … some of those programs don’t let you reconcile bank accounts and/or don’t make it easy to keep track of out-of-pocket expenses that need to be reimbursed from clients.

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    I didn’t know Quickbooks on the Mac isn’t supported in Canada, Michael.
    That’s odd.

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    I’m all Mac, with the exception of one PC. It’s only there to run
    Quickbooks. Kind of a waste, huh?

  • Anonymous

    Another system to review is Xero (www.Xero.com). One of my coaching clients uses Xero, and it is really simple. It is easy to enter invoices and expenses, and the summary dashboard is very easy to customize. Xero is worth a look because of its simplicity and web-based functionality.

  • Anonymous

    In all honesty, Justin, your case illustrates why web-based software will eventually rule this area. The emergence of Macs as legitimate business computers and Google Chrome laptops will only accelerate this progression. QuickBooks is also overkill for a lot of businesses, especially those without major inventory requirements. I do like QB and use it with a management client, but many service-based businesses can use a less-featured system. 

    Jesse’s criticisms of QB (both desktop and online) are valid. Smart bookkeepers and CPA firms will learn to use different systems. Since many planning systems can import Excel files, the web-based programs will only need to export into Excel.

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    You’re right, Dallon. I think some bookkeepers and CPAs will find themselves
    left behind if they don’t get with the program and begin supporting some of
    the better options.

  • http://twitter.com/rustyfarrell Rusty Farrell

    As a small business with 6-12 employees and contractors, I have not been able to find a replacement for QuickBooks Pro (Windows version running on a Mac w/ Parallels). The alternatives are few if you are dealing with multiple clients, different rate schedules, time tacking, benefits management, etc. Don’t waste your time on the Mac version. It’s an afterthought!

    @rustyfarrell:twitter 

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    Same here, Rusty. I have a Windows computer just for QuickBooks. Drives me nuts but it’s easy.

  • http://www.bezaleel.net Kevin Landers

    Our accounting and payroll is handled in Quickbooks Pro. We have a Windows terminal server that we all access from our Macs. We have several clients in the same situation. We actually host their QuickBooks software for them so that they can access information from wherever they are. Our setup allows the program to work “seamlessly”. IE, it appears as a normal app running on their computer.

    We also use ConnectWise which is Windows only. Although it does provide a web app piece that we can access. It will eventually handle our billing. It also provides a customer portal where clients can login, access tickets, invoices, etc and make payments.

    When I first converted to Mac, I was *highly* disappointed with QB for Mac. It actually screwed up our check register (removed all check numbers). We had to immediately go back to Windows.

    We tried a lot of web apps. Most of them had functionality that was missing (such as reconciliations) that prevented us from using them. We even attempted QB Online, but at the time they did not support Safari.

    I have just grown to accept that I have to use QB Pro. :(

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    Seems like a lot of people have just accepted things when it comes to QuickBooks. It’s a shame.

  • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

    I’m using QB for mac 2012 and finding it works just fine. I also do the bookkeeping with a decent sized small business with it have been pleased so far. 

  • shawnjroberts

    I use Quickbooks for the Mac 2010.  I default into this software because it is what every place I have worked at has used.  I wanted to use the web version, but the interface was jarring and almost unusable to me.

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    I tried the online version too, Shawn. I wasn’t impressed.

  • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

    I’m on QuickBooks for Mac 2012. It’s all right, but there’s a lot I hate about it:

    • No account synchronizing.
    • Dumb keyboard shortcuts (like Cmd-D to delete instead of Delete or Cmd-Delete).
    • Buried simple commands (right-clicking things won’t reveal the same commands available from the menu).
    • Slow and awkward interface (having to hover over icons to select a specific account since I can’t switch opened accounts).
    • No integration with PayPal or Gmail.

    I would consider switching, but I don’t like the idea of paying regularly every month. My one-time $170 is probably enough and it’ll work with any CPA.

    Then again, my CPA told me that I kept good enough records that I only had to give her final reports, not my QuickBooks file.

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    I gave my CPA records for years but that means he never made entries for taxes. Not required, but I switched CPA’s and my new one HIGHLY suggested it. Cost me about $1,000.

  • rustyfarrell

    Nothing has changed in 2 years except the version of QuickBooks. We use QB Premier 2012 (Professional Services Edition). I may upgrade to 2013 soon. The only other tool added to the mix is Harvest. This is a great tool for tracking time when you have several folks on your team. The export to QB needs some work, but it works.

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    Thanks, Rusty. I’m always looking for something better but keep coming back to QB. I only buy it once every 3 years since the payroll is only supported for that long.