Picking Your Perfect Partner: Choosing the Right Accounting Software for Your Small Business

Accounting software has become an indispensable tool for small businesses seeking to streamline their financial management processes. With many products available in the market, making the right choice for a long-term relationship can seem like a daunting task. From basic bookkeeping to advanced financial analysis, the choice of software can significantly impact your efficiency, accuracy, and scalability. So here are some key factors you should consider when choosing your perfect software partner, and some suggestions for ‘swiping right’.

Understanding Your Requirements

Before plunging into the crowded software scene, it’s essential to assess your specific needs and objectives. Consider factors such as the size of your business, the number and complexity of your financial transactions, your budgetary constraints, and your desired level of automation and integration with other business systems. What are your current bottlenecks, do you need a centralised or distributed system, and what needs to improve over the current situation? This initial assessment will help narrow down your options and ensure that you select accounting software that aligns with your firm’s unique requirements.

Think about what you want out of this partnership. What kind of reports do you want to see? What level of detail do you want to understand? This will impact how you set it up and the varying coding structures which might work best for you.

Don’t fall in love with cute websites or superficially attractive pricing; know what you want and use your checklist!

Ease of Use and Accessibility

User-friendly interface and accessibility are crucial considerations, especially where there are limited resources and technical expertise. Look for accounting software that offers intuitive navigation, easy data entry, and a clean dashboard layout. Additionally, consider whether the software is cloud-based or desk top based, as cloud-based solutions offer the advantage of anytime, anywhere access and automatic updates, making them ideal for small firms with remote teams or limited IT infrastructure.

Features and Functionality

The features and functionality offered by accounting software can vary widely, ranging from basic bookkeeping and invoicing to advanced financial reporting and analysis. Evaluate your specific requirements for features such as expense tracking, bank reconciliation, accounts payable/receivable management, payroll processing, and tax preparation. Additionally, consider whether the software offers scalability to accommodate your firm’s future growth and expansion needs. Having said that, if you are fairly early in your growth journey it may not be wise to invest a huge amount in a system designed for a much bigger business in the first instance. If you keep your records up to date and reconciled, we can help you transition to another package when the time is right.

Integration Capabilities

Integration with other business systems and applications is essential for maximizing efficiency and productivity. Look for accounting software that seamlessly integrates with popular business tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, project management platforms, and e-commerce platforms. This integration allows for smooth data flow between systems, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing the risk of errors and discrepancies. Note: just like some dating profiles, some packages claim compatibility with others but may need a third-party app (and therefore extra cost) to make that work.

Security and Compliance

Security and compliance are paramount when choosing accounting software, especially for small businesses handling sensitive financial data. Ensure that the software employs robust security measures such as data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular data backups to safeguard against cyber threats and data breaches. Additionally, verify that the software complies with relevant regulatory requirements such as GDPR, HIPAA, and SOX, depending on your industry and geographical location.

Software Worth a Second Date

1. Xero: A popular cloud-based accounting software known for its ease of use, flexibility, and robust feature set. Xero offers advanced functionality for managing finances, invoicing, inventory, and payroll, with seamless integration with over 800 third-party apps.

2. QuickBooks Online: A cloud-based accounting solution offering a comprehensive suite of features for small businesses, including invoicing, expense tracking, payroll processing, and tax preparation. It’s user-friendly, scalable, and integrates with a wide range of third-party apps.

3. Freeagent: This comes free with a NatWest Business Account which makes it very popular with start-up businesses.

Conclusion

Picking the perfect accounting software is a critical decision for small businesses looking to optimize their financial management processes. By understanding your specific requirements, evaluating key factors such as ease of use, features, integration capabilities, security, and compliance you can make an informed choice that aligns with your goals and objectives. Don’t be afraid to kiss a few frogs before you decide, and do ask them about their long-term intentions regarding training, on-going support and product development,

Our current heartthrob is Xero, but we can work with any of these to help you manage your finances effectively. With the right accounting software in place, you can streamline your financial operations, improve accuracy and efficiency, and focus on growing your business.

Of course, choosing the right software is the first step, you will then need to set it up so it can easily produce all the reporting you need – a perfect partnership!

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you choose and set up your accounting software book a call with Tracy here

https://outlook.office365.com/owa/calendar/TheSmartTeam1@thesmartteam.co.uk/bookings/

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Caroline

Caroline Cant

Payroll Manager & Finance Assistant

Caroline is a level 3 qualified ICB bookkeeper and payroll manager, she has 10 years’ experience working in industry and practise with clients from many different sectors. She has a passion for payroll and a motivation for management accounts, she believes that good business decisions can only be made with accurate numbers. Her top tip is to always budget and set aside for taxes.

Outside of work, Caroline is a busy Mum of 2 girls. In her spare time, she enjoys playing netball, doing her nails and turning her hand to some household DIY.

nicki

Nicki Kinton

Consultant Credit Management Lead

Nicki is a qualified Credit Manager, and with more than 30 years’ industry experience and more than six years as a business owner, she knows all there is to know about helping businesses manage their money and get paid on time.

Nicki believes that late payments are not the problem, they’re a symptom that a business is missing some key activity in the granting, monitoring and controlling of credit terms. Nicki focuses on reducing late payments, improving the bank balance and putting strong credit control systems in place.

In her spare time, Nicki’s an accomplished French horn player, an avid reader and also collects (and occasionally drinks) different types of gin.

Sarah

Sarah Hargreaves

GRANT ADMINISTRATOR

Sarah has been a generalist administrator for nearly 40 years thus garnering a wealth of experience in a variety of fields: HR, bookkeeping, facilities management, communications, events management, company secretarial and corporate governance.  Administrator of an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Oxford for 14 years, since 2003 she has specialised in providing back office services to high-tech start-up companies on a flexible basis with a particular expertise in grant administration and finance, liaising with a range of funding bodies.   Sarah believes that small companies can really benefit from accessing experience as it is almost certain that the wheels have already been invented for many problems with which a company might struggle.  When working with micro companies, her aim is to release the innovators, experts and commercial leaders from administrative duties so that they are able to focus on driving their business forward.

Sarah’s secret work vice is proof-reading as she can’t see a misspelled word, misplaced punctuation or clumsy sentence without reaching for the mouse. Away from work, Sarah is happiest when in close proximity to a stage.

philip

Philip Briscoe

Consultant Commercial Director

Philip has over 25 years’ experience working for businesses of all shapes and sizes, from start-ups to scale-ups, to multinational corporations in a variety of senior roles including commercial director, chief operating officer and chief corporate development officer. Philip studied European Business Studies at Brunel University (BA Hons), has a CIM post-graduate diploma in marketing (DipM), and has studied Executive Finance at the Saїd Business School, University of Oxford.   

Philip now works with businesses in early-stage and scale-up phases where he applies his knowledge to support in areas such as unblocking growth inhibitors, commercial strategy development, and investor-readiness for businesses looking to raise equity-based capital. 

Philip is generally kept busy by his three children and overactive spaniel, Sid. In his spare time, he is an Assistant Section Leader with the Scouts, a fair-weather cyclist, and produces a men’s mental health podcast called Mid-life Men.  

Janet Harding

Consultant Finance Director

Janet is a qualified Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience working at senior levels in both the commercial and not for profit sector.

She has extensive experience of budgeting, forecasting and providing insightful financial management reporting as well as implementing new processes and systems. As a Finance Business Partner, Janet has acted as a trusted adviser assisting in key decision making.

As Financial Controller for a large Charity, Janet was responsible for all statutory reporting, ensuring compliance with Funder and Charities Commission reporting in addition to managing all aspects within the Finance department.

Janet has always aspired to be the source of knowledge and wisdom on all financial matters and be able to share this with non-finance colleagues in order for them to perform their roles as effectively as possible.

Outside work, Janet plays an active part in the community as a Parish Councillor. She enjoys travelling, going to music festivals and concerts, reading and crafting.

kasia

Kasia Szerszenowicz

CHARTERED MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANT &
HEAD OF VIRTUAL FINANCE TEAM

Kasia started her career in 2008 and qualified as a CIMA Chartered Accountant in 2015. She has covered a number of roles within finance, leading to a Financial Controller. Kasia has broad sector experience including recruitment, media and sport industries.

She has gained substantial finance experience covering a range of functions, all of which benefit the SMEs supported by the virtual finance team. These include financial and management accounts, forecasting, payroll, domestic and international VAT compliance, audit, invoice discounting, team leadership and coaching.

Kasia is driven to seek process improvements for our clients within core areas to lead to greater efficiency. She believes people are the key driver to any business’s success.

Kasia is a dedicated Mum to two daughters and has recently taken up tennis in her free time. She adores dogs and would happily re-home every stray if she could! She applies ‘Kaizen’ to her daily life, saying “I am a strong advocate of the Japanese philosophy and a believer that you can always make things better, even when things work at a given time.”

zuzana

Zuzana Wilson MBA

FINANCE OFFICER

Zuzana is an experienced finance officer who both enjoys and is successful when working in a team environment. Her work experience has been largely customer orientated, so she is able to manage competing demands and work to deadlines. 

Zuzana is always keen to learn and improve her skills. The Smart Team, therefore, is supporting her with an apprenticeship to study AAT Level 4 Professional Diploma in Accounting (building on her AAT Level 2 and 3). She will be developing her knowledge of company financial statements, business tax, audits, credit management and cash and treasury management. 

Zuzana enjoys keeping active by running half marathons and triathlons and loves to spend time with her family.

magda

Magdalena Adams

FINANCE ASSITANT

Magdalena is AAT Level 3 qualified. Holding a BSc degree in Sports Science from Oxford Brookes University, she has spent most of her working life in education and childcare. Having decided to change career in 2020, she now looks forward to embarking on a career in financial services and brings a keen eye for detail and wealth of enthusiasm to the team.

Zal Sethna

CONSULTANT CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT & TAX ADVISOR

Zal is a qualified Chartered Accountant & Chartered Tax Advisor, with over two decades of experience across a diverse client base, focusing on accounting (financial and management), auditing, payroll, and direct and indirect taxation. 

Zal leads our virtual finance team to prepare monthly and quarterly management accounts for clients and ensure their regulatory reporting requirements are all met in a timely manner. 

His life long work mantra has been “let people get on with what they know and what they do best”. Hence, entrepreneurs should focus on building their business with the comfort that they have a strong accounting team working in the background to help them achieve their goals. Outside of work he enjoys time with his family, cycling, reading and the theatre.

Tracy Smart

Founder and Managing Director

Tracy is a firm believer that people are the key drivers of success and this is the ethos that sits behind The Smart Team. Throughout her career as a Finance Leader she understood that success always came when there was a capable team with strong leadership in place. However, this is not always possible in the early stages of a business and she recognised that a flexible finance service could help ‘scale up businesses’ achieve their growth goals. 

Within The Smart Team she helps clients feel confident in their decision making by giving insight and clarity over their finances, and she supports them build flexible finance teams that give them just the right mix of experience and technical ability when they need it.