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Smart tips for choosing accounting software

Let your business decide what level of computer support you need in your business. Remember that business is about developing a business idea and not to play “The Office Game”.

If the administrative work doesn't belong to the core of the business, you might even be thinking about outsourcing the job - completely or partially - to an accounting firm. If however, the administration is part of the business itself, it may be wise to take care of it yourself. One example is if you intend to conduct business over the Internet and want to connect to your online store inventory to billing and accounting.

In general, it's good advice to invest wholeheartedly in the business idea during the initial stages and only then evaluate how many of the administrative procedures that you should take care of yourself. You can look into those aspects a little later on. This list can be a guide for you.
1. Revenues are most important
Without income - no business. Therefore, it's likely that a billing software program is what you must have, first of all. Although you can write invoices on your computer and then print them, that’s a very short term solution. Most often you will write more invoices to the same customer, and it's better with a billing program, which can also store your customer information from time to time. In other words, you will build an important customer database every time you write a new invoice.

2. Bookkeeping can wait
It's easier to do bookkeeping than many people think. But don't start until you feel you're ready for it. That is, when you have proper time. There are several good programs to choose from on the market. Make sure that you obtain a program with good guidance from a supplier who can also offer good textbooks. Then you will get started quicker. Also note that you should look at the accounts as something that you primarily benefit from. It will not only give you a basis for VAT and tax reports, but also a quick summary of ​​the financial status of the company.

3. Billing and accounting in the same program
If you expect to handle billing on your own in the beginning, but eventually also take care of bookkeeping, you should already start by investing in an integrated program. That means programs that contain both billing and accounting functions. Such programs often involve time-saving steps, such as a program to automatically post each new invoice printing.

4. Payments via computer
Entrepreneurship is unfortunately not just all about income. You have to manage your suppliers' invoices as well. You can often do with an accounting software - or with a little larger so-called integrated program. Simply ask for a function for handling accounts payable (accounts receivable, ie. the handling of invoices you should get paid from are located in the billing part of the program). It's also helpful if the program can send payment orders directly to the bank. That way, you will actually get a smoother payment system than if you pay via online banking systems.

5. Choose a reliable supplier
When you select the programs you should not just be looking at the design of the programs and how they work - even if that's important. Equally important is choosing a supplier who will remain on the market and who will develop the program you use. It's no fun to imagine a situation where several years of bookkeeping and a large customer database can no longer be maintained or used because the supplier has disappeared from the market.

6. Updates
Almost everything related to a company's management is affected by more or less frequent changes in laws and regulations. VAT is lowered or raised, a new tax shows up and there a new payroll changes every year. Obviously, the programs you use should keep track of such things for you. It requires the supplier to update their software and provide you with new versions when needed. Such services are usually linked to the annual service, a sort of subscription, to your applications.

7. Education shouldn't be forgotten
If you don't have the time to learn your applications yourself - or if you need to get on with them – someone, preferably your software supplier, should offer you the appropriate courses. Much can be learned on your own, but trying to start taking care of your company's own salary system or building a structure for a growing stock isn't a very good idea. It's better to be able to have access to tailored training programs.

8. Support
Sure, the first time everything goes well - then all of a sudden something happens and you don't know how to solve the problem. Then you should be able to call the supplier and get help. In other words, make sure that the application supplier can give you professional support when you need help – not just by finding the answers online, but also by speaking to a real live person on the phone. It's almost always the fastest way to solve a programming problem.

9. Wide range
If your business grows or your needs increase, the programs must be allowed to grow with your business. Equally obvious is that you need to be able to add more programs. You will find most of the applications you may need in the future among the major software producers. Even if you don't have an application that manages the company's inventory for its first year, it may be good to know that the same supplier can offer you a nice solution when the need arises.

10. Consult your auditor
If you are still unsure of how to computerize your business - ask your accountant or an accounting firm that you intend to work with. They are usually good at understanding what help is available on the market because they work professionally with various administrative programs and often have tried software from multiple suppliers. You can also get advice on what software you are going to use on the basis of the programs they use. If the programs are ”collaborating” with one another, they can save both you and your agency time by working together. For example, it would be great if the same type of accounting and billing programs are used at both companies. Then you can send supporting documents on file to the office and also get important economic data back in the same convenient way.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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