If you’ve been a small business owner for any length of time, you’ll realize that there has been an ongoing debate over the best software to purchase when setting up your small business. Presumably you are beyond the point where you are deciding IF you need software. Given the low prices and ease of use for many accounting software lines, spending $100 or $200 for finance software really is a no-brainer, even if you’re on the tightest of budgets. Accounting software just makes a lot of sense and is affordable enough for everyone. If you doubt that statement, chances are good that you’ll have problems and waste a lot of time figuring out accounting the “old way.”
QuickBooks and Quicken are the two dominant software packages on the market right now. Of course there are freebie knockoffs, but my general experience has been that free knockoff are time-consuming to learn and don’t save you a lot of time in the long run. Yes, they are free, but what is your time worth? Ironically, those two software applications are from the same company, Intuit, but for slightly different markets. Let me explain.
Quicken is for the sole proprietor small business that doesn’t need a lot of forms, customer receipts, purchase orders, invoices, or other accounting documentation printed out. You can print invoices but it’s just not as easy to do as it is with QuickBooks. Also, between the two packages, Quicken has a smaller learning curve, making it easy to install, set up, and begin working. If you merely need an easy to use checkbook balancer, this is the product to get. It can track loans and amortization schedules. It also gives you an option to plan your finances and retirement savings. Again, its strength is its easy usability.
QuickBooks, on the other hand, is ideal for an LLC, corporation, or limited partnership small business that actually employs individuals. If you need to keep detailed records of cash, inventory, or assets, you need QuickBooks.
This product includes solid features for automating general bookkeeping tasks such as customer statements, payroll, and finance charges. A great underdiscussed (and underutilized as well) feature that QuickBooks has going for it is the compartmentalized security features that make it possible to have your bookkeeper or CPA do your books without needing them to peer into every area of your finances. It’s a rare feature, it seems.
Both products are good at what they do and are priced accordingly. You might even be able to find coupons on the internet to make the purchase more palatable. Each application is packaged slightly differently with their own versions of Deluxe, Super Deluxe, and “We can’t put any more features in this product without taking up massive amounts of hard disk space” Deluxe, so be sure to check out each to see the features that will be important for you and your business.