Whether you are a sole proprietor of a souvenir shop, a member of an outside sales force or a freelance graphic designer, being self-employed means running a business and having to track the money you earn and spend in the course of your business. This task is called bookkeeping, and though it can be handily done with a pencil and ledger, bookkeeping software can make the task much easier and even a bit fun.
Although the colourful graphs and detailed reports of bookkeeping software can be impressive, the program itself is not a book-keeper and will not do the task for you. Ensure that you understand your business, have some basic financial literacy and know what data you need to keep before purchasing the software. Consult a book-keeper and check with similar size businesses in your field for recommendations. Moreover, be aware that online accounting software typically requires an ongoing monthly fee, whereas desktop versions are a one-time cost.
Desktop accounting software is installed onto your hard drive and stores all your financial data locally on your desktop computer. Intuit QuickBooks has been a leader in accounting software for many years. QuickBooks Pro 2011 allows multi-user access, batch invoicing and includes a one-hour technical support phone session. Sage Peachtree Pro Accounting 2011 includes a Job and Project Management Center, automatic backup and 30 days of free training. MYOB AccountRight Standard imports your bank statements, reconciles inventory balances and allows you to track and pay expenses.
Online bookkeeping software is similar to the systems already being used for online banking. Sign up for the service online and your data is stored on remote servers. Information is backed up automatically and you may access your account from any computer in the world. QuickBooks Online offers three versions of its online software, encouraging those switching from a desktop version to use QuickBooks Online Plus for £25.90 per month. Kashoo allows you to create and send invoices, reconcile bank statements and track expenses for £6.40 per month. Working Point uses the same Internet security technologies as banks, and permits invoicing, expense management and financial reporting in real-time remote collaboration for £5.80 per month.
Some online bookkeeping software offers free versions of their basic plans. FreshBooks has a free version of its program that allows users to manage up to three clients, send an unlimited number of invoices, accept online payments and offers weekday customer support. Users can upgrade to paid versions managing up to 25 clients for £12.90 per month. Zoho Invoice allows users to send up to five invoices per month to an unlimited number of clients for free. Upgrade to their Basic plan for £5.2 per month. Yendo creates branded sales invoices and allows up to five invoices sent each month for free. Upgrade to their Solo plan, permitting 20 invoices per month, for £5.80 monthly.