Unless this is a minor hobby, I'd go with quickbooks.
Not only do you learn good accounting / business practices, but if you set it up properly, your taxes at year end will be a breeze.
QuickBooks is a very user friendly program and it is great for generating invoices, bookkeeping and reports that will help you see how your business is doing. There are many options to choose from according to your business needs. You can choose desktop or online to experience the Cloud which will help you to do all processings faster. Please let me know if I could be of assistance.
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I believe that all but the VERY small should have a bookkeeping system. QuickBooks is user friendly and if in the future you plan on hiring a bookkeeper, most know the program.
I would not recommend anyone start a business without at least the basics of bookkeeping, or hiring a bookkeeper right away. I have cleaned up too many messes of business owners who believe they can do it themselves.
In my opinion, you're better off starting with Quickbooks as doing your accounting on an excel spreadsheet can easily become quite cumbersome and reporting will have to be created, in most cases. Quickbooks has many useful built-in features, allows you to easily create professional looking forms and reports, and will grow with your business. Standardized charts of accounts can be quickly customized to suit your needs.
Hi Mike - There's lots of great answers here already as to why a cloud accounting solution will be more likely the better way to go. Here's a great comparison document to review many of the options mentioned: http://blakeoliver.com/small-business-cloud-accounting-software-comparison/
As for Xero, we are the global leader in online accounting software http://www.xero.com/us/accounting-software/ You can get a free trial of Xero and decide for yourself. An advantage over Excel is that by being able to access your data from anywhere - be it a PC, a Mac, a tablet, Android, iPhone, etc., you'll be able to connect all your banking, credit card and PayPal data to your accounting info, so that you can quickly reconcile your books which keeps everything up to date, for real time decision making about your cash flow, as well as generate invoices from client sites and get paid faster via our online payment options. Over 300 cloud providers integrate with Xero, including Harvest to further enable you to move your operation off desktop solutions and in to the cloud.
Lastly, if you're not already working with an accountant or bookkeeper, we highly recommend you do so as we know small businesses that do so are on average, substantially more successful when they utilize the skills and expertise of a financial professional. Here's a list of Xero advisors you might wish to consider: http://www.xero.com/us/advisors/?country=us&service=accountant.
A very good question...and you will receive many answers with may reasons. As a small business owner, professional accountant and an accounting software consultant, I cannot stress how important it is.
Having an accounting software is important on many levels...it assists in keeping your receivables and payable in order, creates financial reports AND if implemented correctly, captures business metrics that will provide you with information that will assist you in growing your company. To me, the business metrics are key in establishing your bench marks and your Key Performance Indicators. It is this information that you will look to, to assist you in growing your business.
Please be aware that accounting software is great to have and I highly recommend that you get yourself a bookkeeper, contract one if necessary...make sure they are good or you will pay for it in other ways.
A good bookkeeper will keep your year end fees down greatly. If you go to an accounting firm, they will charge you roughly 100/hour, maybe a little less and they generally do not care about small clients. Sorry, just being honest.
A good bookkeeper should run you between 40-65/hour. Since you are a small business, there may not be that much work, but at least it will be done correctly.
If you are knowledgeable in accounting, you could do it yourself. That being said, I am sure you would rather focus on growing your business then the admin. side.
Now...Quick books, and other software, is easy to setup and use but make sure that you use the software to setup some business metrics. Drop me a line and I can assist you in this if you would like.
You need QuickBooks or something like it. If you are not comfortable enough to use it, a bookkeeper or accountant in your area would be more than happy to help you with your books, and teach you for free how to create simple invoices to be mailed/emailed out.
As a business I always recommend handling your books on an actual accounting system. Doing your books through Excel can become tedious and more work than necessary. Quickbooks is definitely an option available to you, but is not the only option. There are tons of accounting systems out there. It seems as if you have a new business, which mean you probably have a small amount of transactions. For our clients like this, we suggest Wave Accounting. Once you start to grow your company a bit we then suggest our clients move over to Quickbooks or Xero. If you have any questions on the ones I mentioned in here, please do not hesitate to reach out.
I would say it depends on your business and also your payment methods.
I predominantly use PayPal to take payment and so make use of their tools (Money Requests). Any customer who wants to pay by check then I use excel to create an actual invoice. PayPal can do invoicing but I find Money Request easier.
I used to my accounting in excel exporting data from PayPal and my bank but now I use GoDaddy's free booking keeping program that imports my PayPal transactions automatically and to it I add my bank transaction via a manual file load (my choice it could be automatic) and that does all I need in terms of accounting.
I just give my accountant the end of year summary and he does my tax.
Bookkeeping can get complicated fairly quickly once you start handling returns, credits, transaction fees, etc. If you're going to be the only one handling your bookkeeping and accounting in the near future, then do what you feel most comfortable with -- an uncomfortable relationship between yourself and your accounting software means you probably won't use it at all, which is far worse.
If you're going to hire even a part-time bookkeeper at some point or have your taxes prepared for you, a well-kept company file in Quickbooks can make things much easier, but you'll need to educate yourself properly with the software to not make a mess of things.
For small and relatively simple needs, I would recommend a web-based solution like FreshBooks (www.freshbooks.com) which is far less complicated than managing a company file through the major accounting software packages out there like Quickbooks, Accountedge, etc.
As a small business owner and entrepreneur for 15+ years, I would HiGHLY recommend an accounting system for your needs.
If you intention is to grow (which I hope it would be!), the ability to generate reports and information for managing your business and year end reporting for the IRS will make your life much easier. In addition, just having a nicely formatted invoice presents your company is a professional way.
There are a number of wonderful and simple to use platforms including Quickbooks for small businesses. Most platforms now have moved to a cloud based platform.
Here are a couple solutions that I would suggest: www.getharvest.com and www.waveapps.com. They have simple to use formats and are FREE for their basic platform.
Hope this helps!