Part One of Four

I’ve been asked quite a few times…”Joyce, what do you recommend a small business owner use to keep track of things [finances]?”  It is definitely one of the most frequently asked questions.  So I’m finally getting around to giving up the goods.  Which accounting software I like (for small businesses), which accounting software I don’t like… and most of all, WHY!

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Disclaimer:  This is not meant to be an exhaustive list because (1) new software pops up literally every day and (2) I don’t have that kind of time.  This four-part series of reviews is on software packages that I have been asked about the most, that I have used and have some experience with…I think that’s the only way I can give you my honest opinion.  So here goes.

Ride The Wave with WAVE ACCOUNTING

Enter Wave Accounting, they are pretty close to awesome, run in the cloud so they are SAASy and they are damn close to what I call “real” accounting software.  Finding really good cloud based software isn’t as easy as you think. There are a lot of pretenders out there.  Those that are sorta cloud based or sorta accounting software.  Or worse yet, those that know they are awesome and want to charge you an arm and a leg to get in on their awesomeness.

Like most SAAS (Software As A Service) providers, Wave Accounting is ever evolving.  And that’s one of the great things.

Let’s start with what I like about Wave Accounting:

  • The Price Is Right!  You probably won’t believe me when I say this but Wave Accounting is free.  That’s right FREE.  You have to deal with a little ad-support but it’s not obtrusive and you will hardly notice it… AND when you need something business related, just go to the Business Savings section of your Wave account.
  • Unlimited Users.  For free, you would think that they would limit the access in some way shape or form but nope… I really think they get it.  They get that as you grow, you will probably outsource some or all of the record keeping/data corralling functions to an intern, bookkeeper or accountant.  (or all of the above).  And you can do that, at no additional cost to you.  SCORE!
  • Cloud-based.  If you’ve ever wanted to get away from your office or leave the desktop behind (some people still have those…seriously), cloud-based solutions are the way to go.  A robust cloud-based solution gives you anytime/anywhere access to your information.  So go ahead… run away from home every once in a while.
  • Automatic Imports. Wave integrates with quite a long list of banks and credit card companies.  So say goodbye to data entry errors (at least when it comes to the dollar amounts).  But don’t get too happy, you will still have to assign accounts to the transactions, tell the system where you want things to go (but you can set up rules to automate even that – double score).   Can you tell I like this function?
  • Customization.  There are a few levels of customization here.  Customization equals flexibility.  You can customize your chart of accounts, your invoices, and your reports.
  • Collaborate with ease.  I mentioned this a bit before but it deserves a repeat mention.  Wave makes it easy to work with others.  All you have to do is invite your bookkeeper or accountant to your Wave Accounting account and viola, done!  They can now assist you with your record-keeping and reporting tasks.
  • Dashboard.  You want a summary of your info in one place?  Well, you’ve got it.  Wave gives you a few key metrics on your dashboard.  What you get:  Income & Expenses (graph), Payable & Owing (2 lists with 30 day breakdowns), Net Income (2 years), and Business Expense (pie chart).  Other things on your dashboard include:  your current bank & credit card account balances, as well as quick links to add customers, vendors & invite guests.  Pretty nifty.

What I’m neutral about:

  • Plays well with others, Not really.  This is a bit of a catch-22 for Wave.  It doesn’t really play well with other (with the exception of ShoeBoxed) but it doesn’t really have to… because they do make quite an effort to make most functions native to the program.  It’s a catch-22 because they aren’t quite there yet.  There are a few functions that aren’t yet available that you will have to do outside of the program which could equal a lot of time or money.
  • Very Standard Reporting.  Very standard, very basic.  Although you can save/export the statements via email, pdf or to Excel, you can’t bundle or create comparative statements.  You probably want to know why you care as a non-accountant… well, here’s why.  RE: bundling the statements – you have to create/export each statement individually – instead of as a packet.  RE: comparative statements. Let’s say you want to know how you’re doing this quarter (or month) compared to the quarter (or month) before… you can’t do it inside Wave.  It can be done but you’d have to export two reports to Excel and smush them together (I know very technical terms here).

What I don’t love so much:

  • Missing Budget Tracking.  In my world, budget is akin to goal benchmarks.  You can’t monitor what you can’t track.  This kinda goes back to that comparative statement thing.  You can do this technically but it would require you to do some ‘outside the software’ smushing of data.  Basically, you’d have to manually combine your financial statement with your budget template.  This is counter to the point of automation, right?  But the good news is … they are working on it.  J
  • Missing Departmentalization.  For some this may not matter much but as you grow your business you may want to track and see if different areas of your business can sustain themselves.  You can only do that by tracking the different sections or departments.  With this, you can see which sections are the most profitable and which ones aren’t doing so well.  Good tool to have at your disposal.  (Not sure if they are working on this… maybe I’ll put in a feature request).

New stuff and/or stuff that I haven’t tested:

  • Wave Payroll.  This is only available in the United States and Canada.  I haven’t tested this but it does look pretty easy to use.
  • Personal Dashboard.  Similar to the business dashboard this is great for small/micro businesses that move money back and forth between their business and personal accounts.  You can access both dashboards with one log-in.
  • Multiple Currency.  Wave Accounting has users in 200 countries… that’s a lot of currencies for sure.  Since I’m US-based and don’t have any international clients (yet), I haven’t had a chance to play with this function quite yet.

Monthly Investment:  FREE

Rating:  8 out of 10 stars

Final recommendation: If you don’t mind a little smushing here and there… WAVE ACCOUNTING is a winner!

Try them for yourself.  Go to www.waveapps.com


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