There are many providers offering accounting for small business; many sources are free and limited versions of broader systems while others offer free trials. Few are sufficiently versatile and flexible to fit businesses at various stages of development and growth. Providers key some versions to micro businesses with low financing needs and few employees. Other versions focus on complex business organizations and offer a large number of features. When looking for the best accounting software, the test is not in the systems; rather, it is in the fit. It does little good to purchase a system with dozens of features that the business does not need. Every business owner or manager can answer the question of which is the best software. The best accounting software are those that fit my business best. The Importance of Business Image The best invoicing software helps establish and reinforce a positive business image. In the online environment of social media and the Internet, appearances matter as they often form the initial impression. Accounting software can assemble data for reports and tables and provide dashboard style presentations that offer quick glances at a business and its status. When making presentations for investors, customers, and visitors, accounting software provides data and summaries that enhance the businesses image. The best accounting software demonstrates management effectiveness, as it shows care and attention to important details of business operations. Costs and Value When considering software for small business, it is useful to consider the needs of the business both now and in the foreseeable future. My business planning suggests that I consider systems focused on accounting for small business, but that can expand to include other items like stocks, inventory control, employee benefits, and multiple bank accounts and locations. However, controlling costs and out of pocket costs is a high priority at the present stage of the business, and the company should select a low cost, high-value product focused on accounting for small business. Automated Functions Save Time One of the advantages of accounting software is automating routine tasks. This feature can free time for busy personnel to focus on the main business of the company. Automating tasks can make the time spent on an important matter more focused and beneficial. For example, the system can send internal notices about unpaid invoices that then give account managers notice for follow-up action. Automation can help avoid losing invoices and keep accurate running totals on every account. Automation helps with internal reporting. Designed for accounting for small business, these systems can provide a daily snapshot of the company’s condition. Customized categories focus on areas of high interest like cash flow, sales, bank balances, and credit lines. Automation extends to areas such as proposals and estimates. Many programs can extract data and terms from these documents and convert them to invoices. Most business owners and managers prefer to spend time on the main business of the company; for them, the best accounting software must be easy to install and use. Invoice Management Systems The lifeblood of many businesses is in the income streams that generate business revenue. In sales and service environments, invoicing is a critical function. Accounting software can rescue the time and effort needed while also providing a positive connection to clients and customers. Space for company logo and customizable layout can convert a bill into a form of positive communications with clients. Most managers agree that my business image goes with every communication with customers, and I prefer a consistent, positive, appearance that reinforces my company brand. As practical matters are important too, invoice management can improve on the rate of prompt payments. Online billing through E-mail invoices saves time over paper and mail processing. A very helpful feature offered by Sage One, for example, is one-step payment within the E-mail invoice. This feature connects the customer with a comfortable and familiar payment method and offers the option of immediate action. Financing for Small Businesses An accounting system is a key resource for firms seeking financing. Whether from banks or alternative sources of financing, lenders wish to see the condition of the company and that it has an effective and reliable business accounting system. In recent years, alternative sources of business financing have grown in numbers and lending volume. Some focus on micro businesses and small start-ups using Crowdfunding and Kickstarter websites. In these competition-based sources, business accounting systems provide a distinct advantage. The quality and accuracy of reports and summaries for investors can determine the outcome. Accounts receivable are an important asset for traditional and alternative financing. Tracking receivables and accounting for unpaid invoices in receivables aging reports is critical to gap financing. Growth in Alternative Financing A number of prominent firms have entered the small business receivables financing business in recent years. Allied with large international bank, they set requirements and procedures that are more consistent with small business environments than those of banks and other lenders. They specialize in financing receivables on beneficial terms that can promote growth and create long-term business relationships. Reporting and data tracking are critical to successful financing with alternative lenders. Their standards are not as exacting as traditional banks. However, the key to success lies in control over the needed data and precise presentations. Hands-On Demonstrations The best business software meets the criteria for present and future needs with expandable functionality; a good example is Sage One. It offers a comprehensive approach to accounting for small business. A small amount of research showed that there are free and limited versions of this software, but most relevant to my approach, it offers a free demonstration at its website. Images: “Accounting Budgeting Financial Service Ananlysing Concepts/Shutterstock.com“ ____________________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.