Accounting Solutions Review

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Photo Credit: Mohi Syed via Pexels

Tom Welsh looks at the options for taking your accounts online.

Gone are the days when accountants would expect to be greeted with a year’s worth of invoices, receipts and scribbles from small business owners.

Thankfully, technological advances now allow you to take a more hands-on approach to your financial dealings, with simplified online accounting packages and mobile apps making it easier to keep control of your accounts.

This approach is being championed by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), who are looking to ‘make tax digital’ in the coming years, proposing that all business should submit quarterly tax figures direct from their accounting software for a more transparent and regular tax system.

With this in mind, we have suggested five online accounting solutions that you can look at getting to grips with to keep ahead of the game.

With each system offering a variety of overlapping features and functions, differentiating between the available options is more about what you want out of your accounting package.

It is also worth liaising with your accountant to see which integrates best with their own systems, as making it easier for them will make it cheaper for you!

Business Hound

Claiming to do ‘all of the hard work for you’, Business Hound breaks the figures down to what you need to know.
It promises to shield the user from the complexities of accounting and focuses more on user-friendly features such as receipt scanning, drag-and-drop filing systems and daily task reminders.

It promotes regular interaction with an external accountant, and makes this easy with data sharing and in-app commenting to avoid the confusion of sifting through months of accounts to find that one rogue figure!

Price:  £12 per month (inc. VAT)

Best if you:  Just want to record mileage, raise invoices and check expenses, and leave the rest to someone else

Drawbacks:  No alterative advanced package for if you want to increase your involvement in your finances

App:  iOS & Android; FREE

Clear Books

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Along with the standard invoicing, banking and VAT tracking, Clear Books offers the option of turning additional features on or off, so you can get as involved or otherwise as you would like.  These additions include advanced reporting, pension figures and even Statutory Maternity Pay calculations.

It also integrates with systems such as PayPal, online banking sites and HMRC, which saves a lot of time that would otherwise be spent navigating the notoriously difficult government site.

Clear Books also offers multi-currency accounting and the option of a payroll feature, and it can even compare your current VAT rate with the flat-rate scheme, so it may save you money too!

Price:  £7.40 – £16.50 per month (+VAT)

Best if you:  Are already used to basic bookkeeping and wish to have more control over the intricacies of accounting.

Drawbacks:  Some processes could be made simpler with more user-friendly navigation

App:  iOS & Android; FREE

KashFlow

Billed as being ‘created by small business owners for small business owners’, KashFlow aims to save as much time as possible through automating features such as repeat billing, online selling and supplier chasing, as well as one-click integration with over 85 other systems.

This means that you can also have your bank transactions automatically imported into KashFlow and your VAT return filed to HMRC without even logging in – perfect for a busy business owner.

Although access to the sales and purchase ledger is limited to an external accountant, KashFlow offers all you need to keep on top of invoicing, outgoings and payroll as well as at-a-glance insight into real-time finances without having to spend too much time in the actual software.

Price:  £7 – £18 per month (+VAT)

Best if you:  Don’t mind spending a little more time setting the software up to save you heaps of time in the long run

Drawbacks:  Navigation could be simpler and some users have suggested improvements to customer service

App:  iOS & Android; FREE

SageOne

Sage has long been the go-to accountancy package for most businesses, so it’s no surprise that their new venture is one of the more comprehensive packages on this list.

SageOne boasts similar potential for integration as KashFlow as well as the option of a more in-depth experience like Clear Books, so users familiar with an older version of Sage may find this the best option.  However, those unacquainted may be put off by the more accountant-like approach and feel of the program.

Price:  £20 per month (+VAT)

Best if you:  Already use Sage Line 50, or tend towards the safe option

Drawbacks:  Feels a little more geared towards accountants than small business owners

App:  iOS & Android; FREE

Xero

Xero is currently leading the market in cloud-based accountancy software and, being one of the most user-friendly systems on the list, it’s not hard to see why it’s been so popular.

The app works best for those who do a high volume of jobs out of office, with features such as invoicing and stock control working seamlessly together to help you keep on top of everything from wherever your job takes you.

Emphasis is on speed and ease of use, with the idea that the more the detailed accounting is left to your professional’s integrated account – so more time can be spent focussing on what you do best.

Price:  £10 – £27.50 per month (+VAT)

Best if you:  Do a lot of individual jobs away from the office, but don’t want a load of paperwork to go back to

Drawbacks:  The app could offer more for those wanting a one-stop shop for their finances

App:  iOS & Android; FREE

For a more practical insight offered by other small business owners – or to post your own opinions – go to @selfmade_online and get involved in the SelfMade community today.

 

 

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