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5 top picks for small business cloud-based accounting

Vangie Beal | Feb. 28, 2013
A small business doesn't need expensive software to manage a general ledger and basic business accounting tasks. Here's a look at five reasonably priced cloud services.

Small business owners don't need to purchase expensive business accounting software programs or spend hours lost in complicated reports. Any accounting software will provide the basic applications for accounting tasks, but packages designed for small office owners and manager tend to simplify the process and provide essentials that include a general ledger, the capability to create detailed invoices or view business inventory and purchase history.

Cloud accounting services-software stored and accessed online-is an attractive option for small business owners. When using cloud accounting software, IT tasks such as version upgrades and data backup are managed by the application vendor.

In looking at small business accounting options, CIO.com specifically looked for applications designed to meet both the budget and the needs of a typical small office or small business. We chose five cloud accounting service options available cost $20 or less per month and are easy to use-even for small business owners with little or no experience with accounting tasks.

FreshBooks: Guided Help Boxes Make Small Business Accounting Easy

FreshBooks is a simple cloud accounting application designed to help small business owners to get organized and get paid. Since it's a hosted accounting service, you can access your business data everywhere-on a mobile device or desktop computer-and your data is secure and backed up for you.

FreshBooks features options for online payments, expense tracking, time-tracking and accounting reports and taxes. Highlights include customizing invoices, sending late payment reminders, automatic and recurring-expense tracking, managing different rates for multiple projects and profit/loss reports.

Small business owners will appreciate FreshBooks' guided step-by-step wizard and help boxes that appear each time you perform a new task, such as create a new invoice or add a new client to your records. As you familiarize yourself with FreshBooks, you can turn these helpful tips off.

The FreshBooks Help boxes guide you through the process of configuring accounts and records.

FreshBooks is free for 30 days, with the basic business plan starting at $19.95 per month. There's also an add-on store where you'll find third-party applications to add new features and functionality to FreshBooks. Some apps are free-such as the Constant Contact Export and the FreshBooks Connector for Sage Peachtree (now known as Sage 50)-while others are available on a monthly subscription basis.

QuickBooks Online Simple Start: A Good Value for Small Businesses

QuickBooks Online Simple Start makes creating invoices and downloading bank transactions, well, simple.

Today, QuickBooks is synonymous with small business accounting. While a number of standalone and hosted versions are available, QuickBooks Online Simple Start is a good value for small office accounting needs.

The online version is $12.95 per month and includes a 30-day free trial. This software makes it easy to create invoices, track sales and expenses, download banking transactions and access business data on any mobile device. Other handy features in Online Simple Start include check printing and exporting data to Microsoft Excel.

 

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