Bookkeeping: The Ugly Hat
Small business owners wear a wide variety of hats, many of which are ill-fitting for their skillsets. One of those often ugly and unwanted hats is bookkeeping.
In an attempt to make this hat less overwhelming, I set out to find an easier and cheaper accounting software program that could rival QuickBooks. I found a lot more options than I expected, so I took some time to try each on for size.
I looked at three options that are extremely simple to use and are barely intended for business usage, but if your business is very small, they might be worth considering.
I then looked at four options that were more comparable to QuickBooks capabilities. For these four, I considered the features as well as the price when determining their merit.
Let’s look briefly at the three options that are available if your business is small and simple:
None of these programs are capable of sending invoices, accepting payments, or doing inventory or payroll. They all can connect to your bank account and import transactions, as well as create basic reports to help you track your income and expenses.
The one perk that all five QuickBooks versions have over any other accounting software is much lower fees on receipt of payments. You can receive ACH (transfers from bank accounts) for FREE and credit card payments for 2.4% plus $0.25 per transaction. I have not found any other product out there that allows free ACH payments and 2.4% is the lowest credit card rate that I could find.
As I have made apparent, I am not a fan of QuickBooks. However, amazingly, they offer QuickBooks Accountant Online for free. I can send invoices, estimates, receive ACH payments and get the lower credit card rate. No charge. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I use it.
My opposition to QuickBooks is that the products are overly burdensome to their target market of small business owners. No one wants to wear that huge, impractical hat if they don’t have to. I want more people to be aware of competing products so that QuickBooks does not have such a monopoly. And then perhaps QuickBooks will wake up and realize they have gotten lazy and could be doing more to actually serve small business owners.
I did not spend a ton of time in any of these programs because I disliked all of their pricing structures.