Cloud Accounting Options for Non-Accountants


Sometimes I am asked by potential clients what is the best accounting software to use. My recommendations usually customized to the entrepreneur. If you have a brick-and-mortar business and have employees, then software with all of bells and whistles might be best. But if you are a business nomad like myself (my business goes where ever I go), then you might need a simple software option that is quick and easy to navigate. 99.9% of the time, I try to push people toward cloud options that are free. Why? First reason, THEY ARE FREE! Another reason I am a champion of free cloud options is the responsibility of maintaining a server and other IT requirements is placed on someone else. Unless you are an IT consulting firm, there is no need to bog yourself down with learning how to be the IT police.

I checked some cloud accounting options out for a client. I was really shocked at how some applications made the accounting process easy for the user. Maybe a little too easy for my liking.  Here are some of my top cloud-accounting software picks.

FreshBooks  is a freelancer’s dream! It has visual appeal and catchy quotes and fact littered throughout the site. It is the current leader in cloud accounting with over 5 million users. Pricing starts at $19.95 each month after the 30 day trial. It also features Accountant tab where user can find accountants, and were accountants can become FreshBooks certified. Currently, software support is available Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm (ET).

What I liked best about it:
The free webinar that teaches the user to become a master within 45 minutes.
-It is super easy to add expenses and such.
-The separate component for time tracking is included.
-They offer decent “refer-a-friend” program.

What made me say “WTF”:
-It doesn’t have an Android app.
-It puts a limit on the number of clients you can manage under the first tier.
-There is no Statement of Cash Flows report. It is critical to know where the money is going.

Outright claims to be the answer to the all-so feared “tax-time headache”. It offers a free account and also another subscription option for $9.95 per month. After you categorize your transactions, Outright automatically creates a cheat sheet for your Schedule C. It even calculates mileage deductions for you.

What I liked best about it:
-It’s tax oriented!
-It offers tax forms for those who do a lot of online retail sales.
-It allows you to generate reports quickly
-It has a blog that offers tips and advice.

What made me say “WTF”:
-It has connectivity to Facebook. Who wants have their financial data connects to the largest social media platform in the world?
-It has no billing platform.
-The tax headache solution is only offered with the paid subscription.

QuickBooks Online  has four software versions that you can access through Smart Phones. Each version also allows access for multiple users and exports data to Microsoft Excel.  This would be the type of software your accountant would want you to use! The Online Simple Start subscription allows users create invoices, print checks, and has over reports that would be useful in analyzing the business. It only cost $12.95 to maintain the subscription after the trial period of 30 days. Intuit also offer 24/7 support for no additional cost.

What I liked best about it:
-Connectivity to bank and credit card accounts online.
-Looks just like off-the-self QuickBooks software.
-Has a “To-Do” List to keep the users on track.
– There are introductory video for first-time users.

What made me say “WTF”:
-The “Create Budgets” function is part of the upgrade to the top tier subscription.
-It is very easy to mess up in accounts.

Wave Accounting is a Canadian based company that is currently expanding. Wave states on its website that it was “made for entrepreneurs, freelancers, consultants, and small businesses with less than 9 employees”. It offers a totally free accounting platform, however there is a cost for adding payroll (for less than $5 per employee) and a credit card platform.

What I liked best about it:
-Connectivity to bank and credit card accounts online.
-The Dashboard (first screen after signing in) has a graph of your financial progress.
-It has a built-in personal finance platform.
It is very difficult to make a mistake in the accounts.

What made me say “WTF”:
– There is no Statement of Cash Flows report.  Another culprit!
-The amount of ads on the platform. But it is free….

After poking around all of the software applications, I really didn’t like one more over the other. I have yet to find a perfect accounting software system, and I used to work in Corporate America. But my little investigation proved a point to me. No matter how good your accounting software may be, it can never replace your trusted, neighborhood accountant.

Have questions about picking the right software for your small business? Email me or call me to discuss what options are available to you.

Jéneen R. Perkins is a freelance accountant and consultant serving entrepreneurs, families and small businesses. She prides herself in being fluent in English instead of “Accountant-ese”.