Roundup: the best small business accounting and finance tech, tools and apps for 2020

by | Jan 22, 2020

Columnist Shishir Khadka, founder and CEO of Boost Accounting, is an author, international speaker, and financial transformational coach. Shishir helps entrepreneurs build financial confidence and successful financial stories, transforming client businesses from £150k to £38.5m.
Read all of Shishir’s articles here.

While accounting is a job which few people revel in, a lot of people have to get involved with this sort of work. Whether you own a business, work as a freelancer, or want to keep on top of your personal finances, you will have to handle at least a little bit of accounting work.

Thankfully, there are loads of accounting tools on the market which are designed to help you with this. It’s not always easy to figure out which will be best for your work, though, and this makes it worth exploring them all in as much detail as possible. This post will be exploring some of the most crucial tools in the world of modern accounting.

Data Extraction Tools

Managing processing invoices manually can take a lot of time. Copying numbers from paper or digital documents into a format that you can use will eat loads of this resource, and most business owners will want to avoid throwing their time into jobs like this. This is where data extraction comes in, having the power to automatically draw the information you need from invoices and bank statements.

Receipt Bank: Receipt Bank is one of the most popular options on the market for invoice data extraction. They handle general accounting, but each file you upload will go through the process of having its data extracted. Data will be stored securely online, and you can access it from anywhere. Their smart system can work with documents from all sorts of sources. 

AutoEntry: AutoEntry is a specialized tool that has been designed to extract data and pass it to other accounting software. It can be integrated into loads of different software options, including QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage. Each of the files you upload and have data extracted from will be stored securely, and you don’t have to use accounting software to get started with it.

Accounting Apps

Once you’ve managed to extract the data you need, it will make sense to put it into an accounting app. Tools like this can help you to balance your finances, recording invoices, payments, and other transactions, preparing you for easy tax returns and proper financial monitoring. It’s far better to use dedicated software like this than simple spreadsheets. Not only will this be easier, but it will also enable you to store more information and take advantage of the advanced features which software like Excel doesn’t have.

Xero: Xero has long been one of the most popular account tools found on the web. Designed for small and growing businesses, only features which your business is going to benefit from can be found, and this makes it friendly and easy to get started. Bank transfers will be automatically imported, you can access your information from anywhere with an Internet connection, and everything will be stored exceptionally securely.

QuickBooks: Quickbooks offers features that are tailored more towards small to medium-sized businesses, with things like payroll management and business payment handling coming as standard. One of their biggest selling points is the app that they provide. Being much easier to use than most mobile websites, this will improve your productivity and make it much easier to get your accounting work done without the stress.

Sage One: Sage is one of the simplest of the accounting tools, but is designed for businesses of all sizes. You can manage your cash flow, handle bills, and even manage your payroll systems through Sage. You’ll be able to access all of these features with a very small subscription fee. Having this sort of support with your taxes can make life much easier, though you will still have to work hard to make sure that you are operating compliantly.

Payment Processors

Taking online payments has to be a secure process, with bank and card details being kept incredibly secure throughout. Most developers wouldn’t be able to make something like this on their own, and this is where payment processor tools come in, taking the stress out of this process. Not only will tools like this be able to handle transactions for you, but they will also make the process incredibly easy. This is much better than having customers and clients send bank transfers to you.

Stripe: Stripe has surged in popularity over the last few years. Used by countless websites, this payment processor and gateway are far more intuitive than the other options you have. Users who have spent money with Stripe in other locations will benefit from having their card details ready to go, and most people will trust the logo when they see it on a form. This level of trust is hard to find with many modern companies, making Stripe a good choice for those who aren’t selling restricted products.

Go Cardless: Go Cardless is a system that is designed to make it easier to take recurring payments from customers. They can also help you to handle your invoices, and have the capacity to work with companies of all sizes. Not only do tools like this make your own life more comfortable, but they can also make it easier for your customers and clients, taking much of the work out of making payments to you.

There are a lot of payment processors available on the market, and it’s worth doing some research to figure out which ones could be the best for you. 

Project Management

Making sure that you get paid enough for the projects you take on is incredibly important when you’re working for yourself. This can be hard without the right software behind you, and a lot of people end up underselling the time they put into their work when they don’t have any software to help them with this. Thankfully, there are a lot of options out there, which can prove to be extremely helpful with this work.

Harvest: Harvest is an incredibly simple tool, giving you the power to create projects, individual tasks, and attach timers to each of the jobs you have to do. When you start working, you can start the clock, turning it off once you’re done or want to go on a break. This will record all of the hours you spend working on each of your tasks, making it much easier to invoice people for the time you’ve been working for.

Tsheets: Tsheets is a little more complicated than Harvest, offering a range of unique features. Designed to make it easier to track the working time of a whole team, you can manage users and share tasks using Tsheets, making it much easier for everyone to figure out what they should be working on. Of course, though, these additional features don’t mean that the software won’t work for individuals.

Stock Management

For some businesses, the stock they hold will often be their most significant asset. It makes sense to work hard to make sure that you always know exactly how much stock you have, mainly if your business is spread across more than one location. It can be easy to undervalue your business or lose money when you’re not on top of your stock. Of course, though, it will also be crucial to avoid the embarrassment of selling stock, which you don’t have.

Unleashed: Unleashed is a potent tool, giving you access to a massive range of industry-leading features that you’d usually have to pay a small fortune for. Designed to make it possible to manage inventories and stock across a wide range of locations, this sort of option can be ideal for retail businesses and those who have stock in different places. It can even integrate with your e-commerce tools to make sure that your inventory is always at the right levels, even after a sale is made.

Veeqo: Veeqo is designed to be an all-in-one solution for your inventory management needs. Not only can they help you to keep track of your stock, but they can also provide you with features that make it easier to ship your goods and work with your e-commerce system to keep everything up to date. Even the most complex of companies will be able to use a tool like this to make it easier to manage their inventory.

Financial Budgeting/Forecasting

Seeing into the future with your finances can be a useful skill to have in the world of business. Of course, very few people can handle this by themselves, with financial budgeting and forecasting being incredibly complex fields. There are a lot of software options on the market which are designed to help you with this. Some are much more complex than others, but they all come with features that will be useful to your business.

Futrli: Futrli has been in the game of budgeting and forecasting for a very long time. Nowadays, they rely on unique algorithms and AI to create the most realistic forecasts for their clients, using the information you provide about your business to figure out whether or not you’re making enough money. They can offer advice and make predictions about your forecasting, and this is a compelling feature.

Adaptive Insights: Having been started more than a decade ago, Adaptive Insights have a lot more experience than most of the companies you can find working in this field. The tools they offer run in your browser and can be used from just about anywhere, and they’ve designed their software to look and feel like familiar tools, like Excel. All in all, this makes for an experience which most people will be able to make the most of.

Cash Flow Forecasting

Having a good idea of how much money you’re going to have in your business bank account at any given time is crucial to the success of your organization. A lot of people struggle to handle this sort of work on their own, though, and it can be hard to make confident predictions of your finances. There are a lot of options on the market which can help you with this.

Float: Float is incredibly confident in the importance of their tools, stating that more than 82% of businesses going out of business to do so thanks to poor cash flow management. With a simple design and beautifully laid out tools, few people will have issues with Float, and it should be able to help you to make cash flow forecasts with staggering accuracy. This can make it much easier to plan for things that your business might not be expecting.

Fluidly: Much like Float, Fluidly is designed to make the process of forecasting your cash flow much more comfortable. By using unique AI systems, they can make accurate predictions about your finances without having to involve any expensive human professionals in the process. This can work for companies of all shapes and sizes, and all of the work will be handled with a straightforward interface that most people will be able to get to grips with.

Making sure that you have the right accounting tools for your business can be incredibly difficult. Some people will prefer to handle this work for themselves, using tools like Excel to keep their records. When you have access to advanced features, though, it makes sense to at least do some research, figuring out which of the options on the market might be best for you.

As a big part of this, you’re going to need to do some learning about business finances. You can find more education articles like this one on our website, and we encourage you to check them out if you haven’t had a chance already. We all need to stick together to stay in the know about money, and we believe that sharing this information is a great way to do our part.

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