Another reader submitted question. This time a reader was asking about accounting packages for small business. There are many accounting programs out there, and I plan on reviewing these programs in the future as well. If you are serious about your business, then you must look professional to your customers. Doing it via pad and paper is a nonstarter in today’s electronic business world.
I Read your review of Mint.com. It sounds good, but I [have] some questions. I’m very familiar with MSN Money for managing my personal accounts, but now need an accounting program to help me manage contacts, create invoices, perform AR & AP, and track inventory as well as personal finances.
Will the basic edition of Mint do this, or would it be better to go with one of the other programs out there? (I’d like to stay with a free program if possible.) Also, have you reviewed GnuCash? – Tasha
Mint.com is NOT suitable for a business. You are really asking about two different types of programs. Mint.com was designed for personal finance only. In addition, Mint is read-only and does not have any features needed for a business. It does not have the ability to manage contacts, create invoices, perform accounts receivable, manage accounts payable, or track inventory.
It’s also typically not a good idea to mix business with pleasure. I personally like to keep my personal life separate from my business. It’s also the fact my business is incorporated. So in my case from a legal perspective I must keep them separate. Otherwise you run the risk of piercing the corporate veil.
I typically like open source software. Most of my business uses open source, but not my accounting and billing. In addition, I prefer something that my accountant can work with, which in their case is Quickbooks. So while GnuCash might not be a terrible option, be prepared to support it yourself.
Fortunately Intuit, the maker’s of Mint.com, has a few other options available for your small business. From the ones listed below, Quicken and Freshbooks are not owned by Intuit. Though at one time Intuit did own Quicken.
There are quite a few small business accounting software packages available:
- Freshbooks — Which is really just for invoicing customers.
- Quickbooks Online — Which is the most like Mint.com and lives in the cloud.
- Home, Business & Rental Property — Is an extension of their personal finance software with some business features.
FreshBooks can save you a ton of money and make your business more efficient when it comes to invoicing. However, smaller operations might find its highest tier of service too pricey.
- Efficient Invoicing
- Time Management
- Cloud Based
- Pricey for Small Business Owners
Freshbooks is web-based service that does online invoicing, expense management and time tracking of your employees or consultants. I particularly like this software since you get up and online in no time.
It’s not a fully featured accounting program, so it’s simple to use. For those of you who need integration into an accounting system, it offers this as an option. You can accept payments online via PayPal, Authorize.net and quite a few other merchant systems.
The nice thing about Freshbooks is you can try it free for 30 days.
QuickBooks Online is the online service to beat. Their service is easy-to-use and is a good fit for most small businesses. The downside is customer support is poor.
- Easy to Use
- Online Banking
- Mobile Access
- Third-Party Apps
- Poor Customer Service
- Difficulty Importing Data
This is Inuit’s online version of Quickbooks. It lacks some of the features of the desktop edition, but for most small businesses Quickbooks Online edition will be all you needed. If you are looking for web 2.0 application that’s in the cloud, Quickbooks Online is your best option. Unlike the desktop edition, where you pay a one-time fee (though this isn’t really true as the app lifespan is 3 years), Quickbooks Online you pay monthly.
I suspect in the long run this is the future of Quickbooks, and the desktop application will be discontinued.
Quicken Home, Business & Rental Property 2018
Quicken for Windows remains the gold standard for personal finance software. It has the most comprehensive features and functions on the market. And it offers strong budgeting, bill pay and investment monitoring features. However, it's not your best choice if you want mobile app access.
- Most Comprehensive
- Strong Portfolio Management
- Bill Pay
- Robust Budgeting
- Improved Mobile App
- Unknown Future
- Synchronization Issues for Some Users
- Poor Customer Service
- Required to Use Desktop Software
This is the business edition of Quicken’s popular personal finance software (see my review of Quicken). It really falls in between Quicken and purchasing Quickbooks instead. I assuming Home, Business & Rental Property targets DBA entrepreneurs that are not incorporated and individuals who own rental properties. If this fits your profile, you might want to choose using this edition. However, personally, I would rather opt for the Quickbooks.