The benefits of using accounting software for business are well known. When it comes to selecting the right product, though, the choices can be daunting, especially since switching from one accounting software package to another is not a trivial exercise in most cases. Examining your current and potential future needs can help you make the right decision.
If you are just starting a business as a sole proprietor/contractor or a very small business owner without employees, you can probably get by with a basic online invoicing/billing package like Sage One or FreshBooks that can handle invoicing, expense tracking, and produce basic reports to keep tabs on your business and satisfy your accountant and the taxman.
But if your business has employees, is incorporated or is likely to expand to such in future you will need a more robust (and expensive) accounting system such as QuickBooks or Sage 50 that is designed to perform double entry accounting, the basics of which includes:
Also typically included in the more expensive packages are features such as payroll, stock/inventory management, project management, financial forecasting, multi-user access, and a wider variety of reports and financial statements.
If your present needs are basic but you are contemplating future business growth make sure whatever accounting package you choose has a path to expand to your future requirements. In many cases, if the core product is missing a feature, you can fulfill your needs with third party add-ons to your existing software. There are hundreds of these available for most of the packages reviewed in this article, including payroll, customer relationship managment (CRM), analytics, and more (see QuickBooks add-ons).
This article contains the most popular small business accounting software packages for Canadian small businesses, ranging from basic to advanced in features (and cost). Some are online-based (cloud) only, some are available in desktop or online versions, and some are hybrids of both.