by Mielle Sullivan, Janus Networks
Intuit Quickbooks 2010 — The Pro and Premium versions of this program are so feature rich they’re almost a whole business management suite. You can see a one page snapshot of your company’s finances, download your credit and bank transactions to integrate with Quickbooks, generate over one hundred business reports with one click, scan and deposit your checks from your office with Intuit Check solution, accept debit and credit cards within the program, track time and expenses to bill clients, organize and back up documents in the cloud, create email marketing campaigns and more. All this on top of creating invoices, printing checks, managing payroll and tracking sales & taxes.
The most obvious downside is the upfront cost: Pro is $199.95 for one user. A learning curve comes with its wide functionality. Also, most of the more complex features are only available through your desktop version, so if you prefer to work online you may prefer one of the following web-based programs.
Easy as Pie
LessAccounting — This product is specifically positioned as a simple, easy to use, web-based alternative to Quickbooks. The website says its creators “just needed to manage our contacts, money in, money out and reports. That was it!” It also has an optional mileage tracker and integrates with other online programs such as Shopify, Basecamp and Paypal. Free to $24/month based on the feature set you need.
Ledgerble — The simplest program I encountered, with only one payment option of $14/month. Create invoices in three clicks. The system will remember previous entries for minimal typing. Track your accounts and create simple custom reports you can drill into. Accounting zen.
Cash Flow Based
AcountingASAP — Another very easy to use program. This is a invoice-based accounting system, with a pricing structure based on the number of transactions (500 per month for $10). Make easy invoices with just a few clicks. It also tracks payments and inventory and generates simple reports. No deep feature set here, but one of the most affordable applications if you want multiple logins and don’t have a huge amount of transactions.
Pulse — Pulse shows you the cash flow of your business from a variety of different angles. It feels a bit like Google Analytics for your income. The reports are simple and immediately intuitive. Prices range from $9 to $24/month based on the number of users and amount of storage.
Cobalt — Cobalt ties all expenses and income back to a specific project, for easier organization and billing. The interface is simple and easy to use. It also includes a simple inventory or “stock” tracking system and a contact database that allows you to group together contacts. Cobalt creates a variety of reports that you can drill down into for more detail. Get unlimited users for $11.25 a month.
FreeAgent — This program is aimed at freelancers or any small service based business. It guides you through creating estimates, tracking time and monitoring payments. FreeAgent also offers a time tracking widget to log billable hours and create reports for invoicing. $20/month.
Merchant’s Mirror — Ever wish accounting was a little more fun and sexy? So does Merchant’s mirror. It tries to brush the drab away with colorful graphs in an interactive, customizable dashboard. A bit like Pulse, but with a few more options, color and vendor management for product oriented businesses. $15.95 monthly or $169.95 annually.
If You Need Extra Support
IAC-EZ — This program has a lot of the same functionality of many of the others on this list: an overall snapshot of your finances, easy invoice creation, a tax calculator. What really sets IAC-EZ apart is its accountant support and community forums. If you have trickier bookkeeping issues, this program is probably the one for you. $19.95/month.
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