Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Small business accounting software is not mysterious. We just don’t want to deal with it. This is the part where I compel you through brute force logic to do the things you know you should do but don’t want to because they take up your time.

“I have to be selling stuff! I can’t be fussing with all these little bookkeeping details!”

I hear you. When I wasn’t writing software or spending time with customers, I was grumbling and moaning about office work — those niggling details that I tend to despise as maintenance activities. Here’s the problem though… what you don’t know can hurt you!

The number one rule for any small business is:  Don’t run out of cash!

Really, Sherlock? It’s so obvious that we feel insulted when someone says this. But this is one of the key reasons why small businesses fail.

One of the main reasons to buy and use accounting software for small business is just this — to prevent you from running out of cash and halting your operations. Sure, you probably have a line of credit you can tap in an emergency, but why allow things to get that far?


Tracking cash flow may seem easy in a small office, but those pesky payables can sneak up on you. If you don’t know where you stand on cash now and where you will be next week and next month, you run the risk of embarrassment with your vendors, customers, and staff.

“Well, I just got so busy selling that I lost track of the bank balance…” is a sad story to tell during your going-out-of-business furniture sale. Arm yourself with an ally in the war against ugly surprises — get some small business accounting software.

Small Business Accounting Software

My top pick for accounting software for small business is an established brand with a deep feature set and a long history of providing business accounting software.

QuickBooks rules in small business bookkeeping software. It’s simple to use, deep in features and very affordable. I used it extensively to manage my seventh business. Here’s a summary of the features for the Online version:

SIMPLE – $13 / mo
  • 1 User
  • Record Income
  • Track Expenses
  • Send Invoices
  • Synchronize Bank & Credit Transactions
  • Print Checks
  • Back Up Your Data Online
  • Accountant Access
  • Works with QB Point of Sale
ESSENTIALS – $27 / mo
  • 3 Users
  • Recurring Invoices
  • Pay Vendor Bills
  • Schedule Payments
  • Compare with Industry
  • Control User Access
PLUS – $40 / mo
  • 5 Users
  • Purchase Orders
  • Inventory Tracking
  • Print 1099s
  • Time Entry by Workers
  • Track Billable Hours by Customer
  • Budgeting
  • Categorize Income & Expenses
  • Payroll
  • Advanced Inventory
  • Financing
  • Payments
  • Point of Sale
  • Amex OPEN
  • Demandforce

See all QuickBooks add-ons.

Get all the details about QuickBooks for each version:

Want to dig deeper? Here are top accounting software reviews:

Online Backup Software


Using online backup software helps you prevent one of a business owner’s worst nightmares —losing data to a hard disk crash, theft, fire, or flood!

Did you know that the most common cause of data loss is user error? That’s right, you are more likely to shoot yourself in the foot by deleting or overwriting an important document than to lose data due to an equipment failure. Can you afford to lose a day or a week due to a single moment of inattention? These self-inflicted wounds are pretty common, which is why you need to buy online backup software, sometimes called cloud backup software.

Buy Backup Software

This is one of the most ignored bits of business advice around. Ironically, it is one of the easiest problems to solve. Installing online backup software takes minutes and can save you days or weeks of headaches trying to recover your data — if you can recover it at all (some hard drive crashes are not recoverable).

Automatic Backup Software

If your backup solution is not automatic, it becomes yet another chore on your daily (yes, daily) to-do list. Chances are good that you’ll put it off and, according to Murphy, your hard drive will fail or your laptop will sprout legs and wander away right before you get around to making a backup copy of your data.

The reason online backup software is so popular is that it becomes automatic backup software — you set it and forget it! That’s the way to create a true safety net.

Computer Backup Software

My recommended solution is an industry veteran, offers a quick setup process, is very affordable, and makes it easy to restore a lost file. And that, after all, is the point of using backup software in the first place.

Carbonite has been my go-to backup solution for years at home. The unlimited personal version can handle a lot of data, including image files.

If you can pinch a penny ’til it screams (guilty), maybe you should start with Mozy. I used this solution until my backup needs outgrew the free version. This level won’t handle a lot of big files, so it’s is not good for photographers or those with many video files.

Test Your Backup

Installing software doesn’t take long. Proving that it works and has your back is another quick step that you should take so that you can sleep nights. The process is very easy:

  1. Create a file that you don’t need (or copy one)
  2. Run a backup (or wait until it runs automatically)
  3. Delete the file you created
  4. Use the Restore function to restore the lost file

That’s it. Do this just one time and you’ll feel safe, knowing that your backup software is watching over your important documents and data.

If you want to dig deeper:


Image credit: Stephen Radford

Be a Great Manager

Even if you only have one employee, you’ll want to keep them. That means taking good care of them as a manager. These guys write one of the smallest, but most powerful books on the subject:

The New One Minute Manager by Blanchard & Spencer

Humans haven’t changed that much in the last 50 years… but the world we live in has!

We thrive by being recognized for doing things right and we need constructive, factual feedback when we are off course. Off course from what?you ask. Good question! That’s why we need goals to steer by.

Blanchard and Spencer are experts at delivering wisdom in winsome ways.

This classic work has been updated for our fast-paced modern world and will help you not only with your staff but in your personal relationships as well. The principles are timeless and the authors do a great job of delivering them.

Business Strategy 101

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” ~ Winston Churchill

I’ve been the manager and I’ve been the managee. We all aspire to be great managers but it seems that few of us rise from the pack.  Jim Collins can help.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Collins defines a great company as having 15 years of increased profits. You may think that companies become great by having a solid gold CEO. Collin’s 21-person research team combed through thousands of documents for 1,435 companies over a five year period. What they discovered was 11 distinctive attributes that challenge the corporate status quo.

Among the more powerful insights is the Hedgehog Concept, representing a single area of focus for a company that allows them to outshine their competitors. This concept of zealous focus to the exclusion of other distractions is one of many great principles distilled by the Collins team and articulately described by the author.

Collin’s assertion that “Good is the enemy of great” should lead us to build and observe a long list of things not to do.