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I wrote an article back in 2015 about Small Business Cloud Accounting and our trials and tribulations regarding finding the right accounting platform. I’m happy to say that 4 years later we’ve finally settled on a platform we can live with. Fortunately, there are a TON of options out there for small business owners nowadays!

The first thing you need to consider is what you need to DO with your accounting platform. Do you just need to keep track of what’s going in and out of your bank? Do you send invoices to clients? What about payroll? How about accept credit cards and ACH payments? Or accept credit cards on the road? The answers to these questions will point you in the right direction.

The next thing you need to look at is what your accountant recommends. If your accountant won’t work with the platform you choose, it may not be the best option. Always ask your accountant what they recommend, and discuss alternatives if you want to use a different platform.

QuickBooks Online

Quickbooks online screenshot on a mockup laptop and smartphone

QuickBooks is the “big daddy” of small business accounting software, and QuickBooks Online is their cloud platform. Our previous frustrations with QuickBooks Online have been ironed out, and we’re pretty happy with how things are working out.

You can migrate from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online relatively simply – we had our accountant do it for us, and it took about an hour. If you’re new to accounting software, setup is a snap. Connect your bank accounts, fill in a few details, and away you go.

If you’re used to QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online is different. The layout is different, the reports are different, everything is “different”. It does, however, do most of the same things that the desktop version does. If you need extensive inventory, you’ll probably want to stay with the desktop version, as Online has only limited inventory functionality.

Another difference is that QuickBooks Online charges PER COMPANY instead of per user. The middle tier allows up to 3 users, and the top tier allows up to 5. This is great for small companies that have a single company file, but need multiple people to be able to access it at the same time. It’s not so great if you have multiple companies, since you have to pay the full price for each one.

The software itself is relatively easy to use, and you can invoice, take credit cards and ACH payments, print checks, and more. You can even order an inexpensive card reader and take payments on your phone.

You can also do payroll in QuickBooks Online, but there are other options out there you might want to take a look at first. I’ll talk about Gusto later since that’s what we use in our business.

QuickBooks Online offers a 30-day free trial if you’re interested in checking it out.

Bonus! Even if you’re not a QuickBooks customer, you can still use their free invoice software on their website. If you only generate a couple of invoices a month, this is a nice way to have a professional looking invoice for minimal effort.

Remember, I am not an accountant, so check with your accountant before you make your final decision!

This is Part One of our Cloud Accounting series, you can check out Part Two about FreshBooks

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