Good financial planning and accounting practices are key to running a successful business. But they tend to be time-consuming and consequently often aren’t given the focus that they deserve.
New businesses may be able to get away with neglecting accounting for a short period of time. However, as they grow and the number of transactions and payments in and out increases, a lack of organisation is likely to become more of an issue.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how accounting tools can help growing businesses get their finances in order. We’ll also introduce six of the best accounting tools on the market.
What should you look for in an accounting tool?
No two accounting tools are the same. However, there are plenty of features that many of them share and that you should look for when choosing a tool. The specific features you choose to prioritise will depend on where exactly your business is in its growth cycle and what you need from your tool.
Here are some questions to ask when choosing an accounting tool.
Is it cloud-first?
Cloud-first tools are usually accessible on any device with an internet connection. They will often have dedicated mobile and desktop apps and you may be able to use some directly through a browser.
The fact that all the information is stored in the cloud means it is easy for business owners to give access to the tool to those in the company that need it, as well as to their accountant. The downside is that as the number of users with access to the tool increases, so too may the cost of the product.
Is it scalable and adaptable?
Scalable and adaptable tools grow with your business, ensuring your company won’t be held back by software that is no longer fit for purpose.
Many of the tools below offer different options for organisations at different stages of growth, from micro-businesses with one employee to medium-sized companies.That said, some tools will be more suited to small companies, and others to companies with more employees.
Does it integrate with your other tools?
No single tool on its own will fulfil all of your business needs. Because of this, it’s important that all your tools can communicate and work together; simplifying your processes.
Some of the accounting tools below, such as Microsoft Dynamics and Netsuite, are part of a larger set of enterprise products and may be best for companies already in their ecosystem.
What’s the UX like and is the user interface easy to use?
Employees are more likely to use tools that provide an excellent user experience and a simple user interface. The less time you have to spend getting those who work for you up-to-speed on new tools, the quicker you’ll start to reap the benefits they bring.
Of course, even the best and simplest tools will have a learning curve, especially for the more advanced features.
What is the support and community like?
Choosing tools with efficient support teams can ensure that should anything go wrong you’ll easily be able to get things up-and-running again. This is essential if you want to stop your tools getting in the way of your growing business. This is also a must for those who lack technical knowledge.
Things to look out for include telephone support, email support, and community forums. Additionally, some of the tools have resources sections that mention common problems and may allow you to find solutions quickly on your own.
Does the pricing work for your business?
Pricing is likely to be a key point of contention for many businesses, especially startups that aren’t yet generating a ton of profit. Our list has options that start at a few pounds a month and go to significantly more.
As you’d expect, the more comprehensive solutions cost more. In general, cheaper products will either offer fewer features, not allow as many users, or both. However, the extra fee for advanced products may not always be worth it for companies that aren’t yet at a size where they will be able to take advantage of the extra benefits.
Many of the tools below also offer different pricing and products for businesses at different stages of their development. This makes them scalable as companies should be able to simply upgrade their plan as they grow.
Best accounting tools for growing companies
Whilst these points are all helpful considerations, finding the best accounting tool for your growing company can still be a challenge. To help you on your way, we’ve pulled together our pick of the very best.
Let’s dive in.
Xero is a popular accounting tool. It is a cloud-first tool with solutions for invoicing, project tracking, inventory, expenses, and more. It’s used by hundreds of thousands of small to medium-sized businesses.
Xero also has a marketplace for finding accountants, as well as an API that allows companies to integrate Xero with the other tools they use. In fact, Xero works with over 600 third-party applications. The product has a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 on Capterra, suggesting its customers enjoy using the product. It also has a 4 star customer support rating.
Sage provides several business solutions, including an accounting tool called Sage Business Cloud Accounting.
It offers all of the core accounting features, such as tools for invoicing, expenses and cash flow management. Sage supports growing businesses through its different products, beginning with the “Accounting Start” solution which is aimed at micro-businesses and sole traders, and moving up to the regular “Accounting” level for larger companies.
Sage accounting has a 4 star review on Capterra, suggesting customers are generally happy with the service.
Quickbooks is an accounting platform that has been around since way back in 1983. It offers three different plans aimed at businesses of different sizes, with the most expensive plan offering support for up to 25 users.
All plans allow businesses to create invoices, track sales, and track taxes. The more expensive options offer extras including paying bills, generating quotes, and tracking profitability. This all comes together in an easy to use dashboard.
The software has a 4.5 star review on Capterra, with users pointing to the community forums and helpful support team as positives.
Microsoft Dynamics GP is an accounting software solution aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. It includes features for banking, managing cash, inventory, payroll and more. It works with other Microsoft products meaning it could be a great option for companies already in the Microsoft ecosystem.
The software has a 4.5 star rating on Capterra, although this relates to the entire Microsoft Dynamics software suite, not just the accounting software.
The software is cloud-based and scalable with the company saying it can empower businesses of all sizes, potentially making it a good choice for growing businesses. It has 16,000 customers so is a well-trusted solution. The platform has a 4 star rating on Capterra with reviews suggesting it is a powerful option for mid-sized companies.
To wrap up…
Choosing the right software for your business will save you time, make accounting easier and ultimately, save you money, so it’s worth investing time to find the accounting tool that best suits your business needs.
Hopefully, this article has given you lots of food for thought, but if you would like to dive deeper into this topic, you will be able to read more about this in our upcoming ebook on the 35+ best tools for growing businesses.