Looking for suggestions and your experience with accounting software for startups?

Kailash Mathur Dynamic serial entrepreneur and leader

July 11th, 2019

I was speaking with a fellow entrepreneur and we were discussing accounting software? I am interested in learning about others experience with accounting software. Thanks.

Susan Heider Enrolled Agent

July 11th, 2019

While there are a lot of folks that are griping about Intuit's QuickBooks {QB} in my accounting and tax forums, I still firmly believe that it's still the best software. There are a lot of others out there (i.e. Xero) but I've used QuickBooks Desktop since it first came out over 25 years ago and it's all I use for both my personal and business record keeping. I have looked at other systems and still love and use the Desktop. I'm the (volunteer) Treasurer for our state genealogical society and have been learning QuickBooks Online because that's what they use. While I still prefer QuickBooks Desktop for a variety of reasons, QuickBooks Online might be an option for you if you have more than one individual that will entering data in the books or if you want to give your accountant or tax pro access. Whether you hire out or use a professional, a couple of things to be aware of as "the norm" out there in accounting software land. Most software will work well, whatever you choose as long as it's set up properly from day one. Try to do your best to determine which way the company will grow so that you know which software to buy. For instance, if you don't plan on doing payroll now, but will be doing that in a year, look for software that you can either add that on to or buy an updated version for that will include payroll. I buy a new version of QuickBooks Pro with Enhanced Payroll every year from Amazon. That version can run payroll for up to 3 different EINs and there is a nominal per employee cost over 1 employee... but it fits for what I need. One of the things that everyone raves about is how this app or that app can interface with QuickBooks (mostly with Online version) all of which come with an additional cost. If you see one that would really be helpful, use it but don't think you have to have them all because they may impact your wallet and take longer to deal with. Bookkeepers also love "bank feeds". Feeds from your bank and credit card companies can be interfaced with QB (online and desktop) and will enter the info that has processed through the bank or credit card. Bookkeepers love them because they know how to set them up, it takes minimal effort on their part to get the data into the books so the more automated the books are, the easier it is on them. I don't use feeds, I prefer old school data entry because it a) ensures items are all entered from a source document (meaning a receipt exists for tax purposes) and b) the feeds can make bookkeepers and accountants lazy where they quickly reconcile accounts (easy due to the bank feeds) and go on about their day. Just a couple of weeks ago, a bookkeeper called me looking for the closed password for a tax clients QuickBooks Online account; I had closed the 2018 books with a password. She had found duplicate entries from 2018 totaling about $2500 in the accounts and wanted to delete them (I gave her the proper way to handle this, not thru deletion). I use this as an illustration why bank feeds ("the norm" out there) aren't a good thing. I did the client's tax return after the bookkeeper assured me that the books were complete and in good order and accounts were reconciled... which they were... with $2500 in bogus outstanding entries that she didn't catch... hence the lazy comment above.

Anyway, sorry to ramble on... I've answered this BC... Before Coffee... bottom line, there are many accounting software programs out there. If you need one industry specific and cost isn't a factor, then use that because it's probably the best fit due to its specificity. Overall, I always recommend QuickBooks because I like it, it's the best that's out there in my opinion and I'll continue to use it. The best accounting software is one that you will use. There is no sense in buying something that you won't use so check everything out before you buy if possible... and read software specific reviews.

Disclaimer: I do not work for Intuit and have no financial interest in promoting QuickBooks. I am merely a very satisfied long term user.

Asis Biswas CEO, Founder SEMBA Technologies

July 12th, 2019

Any of the accounting software will do the basic job. QB and Xero, all are good. But before you commit, you need to think who is going to maintain your books and who is going to file your taxes.

If you are going to maintain your book, go with the whichever software you are comfortable with or you can learn fast if you don't know.

But if your taxes are filed by a CPA firm, ask them which are the software they support. This will make your life whole lot easy. Usually they use tax software which can import files from various accounting software.

Good luck.

Eric Gaze

July 22nd, 2019

I use QBO for my startup and I'm not a big fan. I would love to see someone gamify the UX so that non-accountants can understand it and navigate it as easily as CPAs can.

For context, I have an associate's in accounting so I'm not a total newb. Just the same, every time I even think of using QBO, I get anxiety.