At one point, small business owners had access to very little in the way of financial software. Today, however, you can easily find spreadsheet applications and tax calculators online. There are countless browser-based versions available on top of the many installed standalone applications you have to choose from.
While there’s no one best product that will fit everyone’s needs equally, the choice shouldn’t be that difficult if you know what you’re looking for. Make a list of the exact functions you need and then eliminate every option that doesn’t meet these requirements.
If you want a program that can calculate interest, for instance, then you shouldn’t shortchange yourself simply because a mobile calculator app could do the job. Once you’ve narrowed the field, the choice should be a little bit easier. You’ll next want to figure out whether you need a cloud-based tool or a local one.
Deciding Between Different Platforms
Small business accounting tools come in one of two different styles. Standalone packages are physically installed to persistent memory on a local computer device. If you remember running classic programs like ClarisWorks or Lotus Spreadsheet 1-2-3, then you might want to think of this category as the modern evolved version of these products.
In some ways, these programs can be more secure since they store all of your financial data on an attached hard disk or NAS module. Assuming that this storage has been properly encrypted, it can be nearly impossible for unauthorized individuals to gain access to it.
On the other hand, online encryption systems have gotten much better over the last several years. Cloud-based applications can now be considered a competitive option as a result. These programs run entirely in a browser window and store all of your data on a remote server.
That means you don’t have to install any software besides a modern browser, which you more than likely already have. It also means you’ll have instant access to your data on any device regardless of which one you originally saved it on.
Once you’ve picked what kind of app you’d prefer, you’ll be in a much better position to make a final selection. Narrowing the field down to one financial program may take only a few other considerations. For instance, you might want to consider an open-source solution.
Open-source Options for Small Business Owners
Chances are that you’ve heard a ton about open-source software lately. When a program is open-source, you’re given the freedom to audit the code behind it yourself.
Programmers can write their own extensions, but this normally isn’t of much interest to end-users. However, there are still some advantages to using an open-source solution even if you have no intent on writing your own code.
These programs generally have fairly generous licenses, meaning you might not have to pay anything to use them. In most cases, they respect your privacy as well. Considering the sensitive nature of accounting data, that’s probably of paramount importance.
Wrapping it Up:
Regardless of which choice you make, never forget that you can change the tools in the future. You’re never stuck with a single piece of software.