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SFR-small-biz-icons-accounting-softwareAs a small business owner, the demands on your time are never-ending. You understand the importance of being on top of the day-to-day administrative tasks, but it’s tough to give them your undivided attention between juggling customer demands and vendor issues and managing your operations and staff.

Accounting software programs can minimize the amount of time spent on administrative functions so you can focus on other aspects of your business. These systems are designed to ensure that your business financials are accurate, reliable, and easy to understand. They can also help speed up your cash flow, reduce costs, and improve your budgeting, which will improve efficiency and ultimately help your business grow.

Whether you’ve been operating without an accounting software program or your business has outgrown what you’re currently using, having the right program in place is essential to your success. This means choosing software that caters to your business needs and is geared toward the end-user. No matter how user-friendly the program is, if you aren’t comfortable with accounting and find it too complicated or time-consuming to make regular updates, you will not be making the most of your investment.

Opt for Ease and Efficiency

Selecting the right accounting software is an important decision. You’ll be using it to manage the administrative functions of your business on a daily basis and will most likely run it for a number of years. However, the process of choosing a program does not have to be complicated. Start by asking yourself a few basic questions:

  • Why do you need accounting software?
  • Which features does your business require?
  • How much are you willing to pay?

It may seem obvious, but the most important step is to get clear about the reasons why you need accounting software in the first place. For some businesses, spreadsheets or handwritten ledgers work well enough. However, if your business is quickly growing or you’re planning to expand, a manual accounting system can become inefficient and complicated.

The ease and efficiency of today’s software programs generally make them the better choice for most small to mid-size businesses. The key is choosing one that meets your specific needs today and will scale as your business grows. There are plenty of packages available, so it pays to invest the time in doing your research. Read online forums, ask colleagues or friends, and find out what other businesses like yours are using.

Choose the Features Best Suited to Your Business

Accounting software offers an array of technical functions and capabilities to help you better manage your finances. However, for many business owners, the most important features are time savings and ease of use.
Some of the time-saving features accounting software offers include:

  • Accounting tasks. Basic functions like invoicing, income and expense tracking, financial reports and reconciliation, and client and vendor management.
  • Automated processes. Automatic billing, recurring payments, past-due notifications, and other processes.
  • Tax preparation. Automatic tax calculations, multiple tax rates and tax reporting, and the ability to instantly email data and files to your accountant.
  • Payroll processing. Enter time sheets, calculate pay, and issue checks to employees.

Beyond the basics, choose accounting software that will handle the unique demands of your business. For example, manufacturers have different needs than professional services firms. They need to account for raw materials and processing costs as well as determine the value of finished products. There are different methods of doing this, and it’s critical to choose the right one for your business and use it properly.

Accounting software is not just about the numbers. By performing tasks ranging from payroll to day-to-day transactions, accounting software can integrate all parts of your operations and automatically input data from other systems, such as your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, point-of-sale (POS) system, customer relationship management (CRM) system, and credit card processing. This can help streamline your operations and make it easier to run your business.

Quickbooks vs. Sage50

When it comes to tracking financials, there is no substitute for accuracy, usability, or quality reporting. You can certainly find basic accounting solutions for little or no cost online, but business owners who are serious about financial management should invest in a serious software program. Intuit’s QuickBooks programs and Sage Accounting’s Sage50 (formerly Peachtree) top Summit Financial Resources’ list.

Both software programs are geared to the needs of small and growing businesses and offer all of the basic accounting functions you’ll need. However, they are slightly different products geared towards slightly different end-users. One may be better suited to a staffing firm, while a manufacturer with multiple warehouses and complicated inventory management may prefer the other.

The bottom line is you should look at both of them and decide for yourself. There are full feature overviews on the Sage and Intuit websites and reliable reviews online. You might also consider taking advantage of a free trial. This will give you and your team the opportunity to use the program before making a final decision.

On Your Desktop or In the Cloud?

The business world is clearly moving towards anytime, anywhere data access. But when it comes to accounting programs, there is a good deal of debate over the benefits of desktop versus online applications.

Each version has its strengths and weaknesses: desktop software may be ideal for businesses with a fixed office location or a small number of people who need access to the data; online may be a good choice for business owners who are comfortable with cloud computing or always on the go. Taking the time to understand the differences in accessibility, functionality, security, and fees will allow you to make an informed decision about what is right for your business.

Maximize Your Investment

At Summit Financial Resources, our goal is to make running your small business easier. As your resource for working capital financing, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of putting the right accounting software in place. It will empower you to do far more than track your financials or simplify tax prep: it will provide you with a fresh perspective on how efficiently your business is running.

However, your program is only as good as the time you invest in using it. If you only enter bills every two months, it will not be a useful tool for predicting cash flow. If you don’t keep your inventory up to date, it can’t help you identify your most profitable product lines and customers.

A good accounting system is a valuable a tool for analyzing the way you do business and for helping you do it even better. Use it properly and it will do the heavy lifting for you, so you can focus on what you enjoy most: growing your business.

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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.