Should I get accounting and payroll software?
As a one person business I am keen not to spend all my time doing admin - should I invest in some accounting software and a payroll programme or just use a spreadsheet and the HMRC free tools?
There are multiple options available to you, but yes, you should do the accounting in a program. If you start from now using accounting software, you'll have all of your history in one place and can generate reports to compare time periods. And many import your transactions, so if you know what they are for, it won't take long to post.
That doesn't mean you have to do the work yourself. If it's a fairly simple business, you can have a teenager or intern assist you as long as you understand the process yourself. You'll have to show them at first how to do the steps, and you should write written instructions for anyone assisting you to follow. Keep in mind if you have anything difficult, you should have someone who understands accounting assist you. It's worth it to pay for the work to be done right the first time.
You may think you don't need it now, but you'll be thankful down the road you used software. And your CPA will thank you too!
Most tax accountants prefer to work with a counting software at year-end. In addition, it allows you to view reports that can keep you abreast of where your money is being spent, what income you have, etc. I recommend QuickBooks desktop as the online version is subscriber and very expensive to maintain. Payroll, especially if it is just for 1-2 people, can easily be handled, and tracked, in Quickbooks desktop - the caveat being that you should add reminders to deposit necessary taxes on a timely basis.
Search Amazon.com for my book that walks you through setting up and maintaining a basic service business. "How To Do Your Own Small Business Bookkeeping."
I like QuickBooks with Enhanced Payroll. In Q4 (usually in December) you can buy this with an annual subscription included for less than $200 from places like Staples. Most accountants can import an accountant copy of QuickBooks' files and can help you quickly and easily (also inexpensively) tweak any issues you may have. The QuickBooks enhanced Payroll option includes direct deposit, electronic filing of tax forms, FUTA, State Unemployment, etc. and keeps you current with all payroll tables. Also, if you have a question, QuickBooks provides support included with the subscription fee. For each additional employee you may add its like $2 per month for payroll processing. The first employee (you) is included in the base subscription fee. Also, rather than renew each year at a higher price, you can purchase the new version of QuickBooks with Enhanced Payroll every 4th Qtr and then provide them with the new activation key over the phone on the expiration date (it has to be the day it expires or later) and you can maintain a solid solution at a very inexpensive price point (in my opinion).
I also concur with Joseph Scarano that you need to have an accountant/CPA review your information at a minimum annually, but preferably quarterly to make sure you are handling everything correctly. Usually after 1 complete cycle, you will have it down.
It all depends on the size of your business. If you spend a good part of your day doing the books then it is worth the investment. I just finished a short-term engagement at local company and all the bookkeeping functions are done via spreadsheet and paper. It was nuts. When I see $100K in A/R from an established client and the business owners says to me oh I need someone to go through and update the file there is something wrong.
Investing in accounting and payroll software is definitely a must for any business. But, the software is totally useless if you don't understand the basic principles of bookkeeping. You should hire a professional to oversee your work on a monthly or quarterly basis to insure that you are in compliance with taxes and provide meaningful financial statements so you know whether or not your business is profitable.
The average small business owner spends 6.8 hours a week on financial stuff, like bookkeeping and payroll. If you're a one-man show, you could likely spend your time doing more productive tasks to service and grow your business.
Kashoo offers a great cloud solution for bookkeeping. For those in Canada, http://www.easyrecordbooks.com is based on the Kashoo platform and provides a personal bookkeeper and payroll specialist to handle the paperwork so you can focus on your business.
If you have time & are numerate, managing your own books is a good way to stay close to your business performance/cashflow. However if your focussed on delivering the best experience for your customers & not good at numbers - you can also outsource the book-keeping to a Virtual Service for a fixed fee per month...its that easy !
Hello Tony, I am part of the Trainer/Writer Network of Intuit's QuickBooks Online product and I see great advantages in using a cloud based Accounting system such as QBO which already has Payroll (KeyPay) built in for up to 10 employees. The advantages of using an Accounting program (Database) rather than a Spreadsheet is that the key information such as Customers, Sales, Suppliers, Bills, Banking and Taxation are integrated so that changing one piece of information, such as paying a Bill will adjust other information automatically, QBO now has automatic bank feeds which allow you to create rules to detect information flows into your bank statements and automatically assign the appropriate tax code and ledger posting, cutting down the data entry required. You can also attach scanned or photos of receipts to transactions in the field using the mobile QBO App.
I would try out free options like Wave Accounting and see how it works for you.
A poster below recommended Xero and I have to agree with him. It is an economic way to have your books up to date and take care of that important aspect of business that most of us don't deal with correctly. I hired a friend who is an accountant and pay him by the hour. I pay him his regular wage, this way he knows this is not a favor, it's a job and I know that the more efficient I make my business and the less clutter and paperwork, the less hours he will spend there.
Don't take the shortcut, it will cost you more on the long run, spend now, but spend wisely and the advantage of this software is that there are no licenses, there are unlimited users and you can access anywhere, it is fairly simple to use. Hope this helps