When shopping for accounting software to manage your small business, QuickBooks is likely the first option that comes to mind. For years, it has been the go-to program for accountants, and rightly so. It was a huge leap forward nearly two decades ago and made the number crunching aspect of business significantly easier.
But times have changed. We no longer operate solely out of an office. We have a computer in our pocket at all times. And we prefer more visually-stimulating software and apps.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that a new accounting software company — Xero — is making a big splash in small business circles. It was built from the ground up with mobile in mind and has left QuickBooks playing catch up.
Here’s what you need to know about both providers before pulling the trigger and making a purchase.
Working in the cloud
For business owners who have used QuickBooks for several years, you realize that accessing your company’s financials can be difficult when not in the office, or on the office’s network. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but it’s difficult.
With Xero, anyone who has access in your business (and unlimited people can have access) can pull up the company’s financials from a web browser. From that point, they’ll see a handy little dashboard that gives you an instant snapshot in real time of cashflow, outstanding invoices and 26 other things if you desire, all in a beautiful layout.
And if you’re out in about, Xero offers an app called Xero Touch that lets you access that same dashboard, but also process receipts and invoices, again, updating everything in real-time.
In other words, Xero’s cloud access takes off the shackles of the office. Now you can see how your business is doing and get critical work done while on the go.
Other features you have to like
In addition to allowing for unlimited users and being able to be accessed from the cloud (QuickBooks has since released a cloud version that’s becoming better, but still has a ways to go), Xero has a very simple bank reconciliation process and the ability to integrate with literally hundreds of other business apps.
Xero understands that businesses operate on several apps — from Evernote, to ZenPayroll, to Square and all of those Google apps — and makes it easy to incorporate those into your accounting software, giving an even more complete overview of your business.
So which one is better?
This is where things get tricky. First off, know that you can run a free trial of both pieces of software, allowing you to get your feet wet. In the long run, QuickBooks is likely going to be more expensive because it doesn’t allow for unlimited users. If you have a small team, it might make sense financially.
But the other tough spot is that QuickBooks is so proven. How can you turn your back on decades worth of legacy software that has helped so many small business owners?
Xero might be the answer to that question. It has quickly grown and is showing the small business world what today’s accounting software should look like.