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February 25, 2021
Most startups quickly find that manual bookkeeping isn’t sustainable as their business grows. Using accounting software to manage your finances reduces your time on repetitive tasks, helps keep more accurate records, and produces professional-looking financial reports. But which accounting software should your startup choose?
There are three main types of accounting software: Commercial-Off-The-Shelf accounting software (COTS), Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP), and custom accounting software. COTS is almost always the right choice for startups to cover basic accounting needs.
Small and mid-sized businesses may find ERP software expensive and unnecessarily complex. COTS still offers all the features you require at the startup stage yet remains cost-effective and relatively simple to use.
However, if your business grows into a large-scale enterprise, you will likely need to switch to an ERP platform that can handle more complex financial requirements.
QuickBooks is one of the most popular COTS accounting software options, with over seven million customers globally. Founders can learn how to use QuickBooks with relative ease even if your financial background is minimal.
There are two main QuickBooks products from Intuit: QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. The desktop version of QuickBooks is hosted locally and installed on a computer.
In contrast, QuickBooks Online is hosted in the cloud on secure Intuit servers and accessible from any computer, tablet, or smartphone with an internet connection.
Online Quickbooks provides more third-party integration options than QuickBooks Desktop. Quickbooks Pro is better suited for a remote working environment and collaboration with an outsourced bookkeeping solution (freelancers/consultants, independent contractors, or finance firms alike).
Because of the following six critical benefits of QuickBooks Online, we recommend that startups choose online Quickbooks as their accounting software solution.
Most startups have to work within a tight budget in the early days of operation, so choosing an accounting system with an affordable monthly price is necessary. Bookkeeping with QuickBooks is one of the least expensive options, offering pricing plans that start from $12.50 per month with robust accounting features.
As your business grows and you need to add more users to your QuickBooks plan, it’s easy to switch to a higher pricing plan without losing any data. Unlike some COTS accounting software, QuickBooks does not lock your startup into a lengthy contract. You’re free to switch or cancel your subscription, and you won’t need to commit to paying a lump sum upfront.
QuickBooks offers affordable plans, but it also provides good value for startups. QuickBooks’ bookkeeping features include all the basics most startups need, including day-to-day accounting tasks, income, and expense tracking, and essential reporting. These reports include your monthly financial statements (profit and loss statement, P&L, balance sheet, and cash flow statement).
Growing businesses with more advanced finance needs can easily add extra capabilities and features like bill pay (accounts payable), invoicing (accounts receivable), inventory tracking, and sales reporting by upgrading to QuickBooks Online Pro plan. To see how QuickBooks’ feature set compares with other popular bookkeeping software platforms, take a look at our accounting software comparison for startups.
See also: 8 Best Accounting Tools for Startups
Most startups use several finance tools to manage the various aspects of their accounting processes, including payroll software, bank accounts, credit card accounts, and invoice and bill pay tools. Particularly as your business grows, you may need specialized finance tools to handle each function's higher level of complexity.
Some accounting software options only integrate with a handful of other platforms and limit the other finance tools you can choose from. QuickBooks Online integrates with over 650 different business tools—including Bill.com, Expensify, Justworks, PayPal, and Gusto—and automatically syncs all your data to understand the full picture of your startup’s financial health and streamline your month-end close process.
Many startups and small businesses alike begin using QuickBooks Online because of its user experience; QBO is one of the most accessible accounting software platforms to implement and provides users with greater functionality than spreadsheets. Learning how to use QuickBooks is relatively simple too.
More complex platforms like NetSuite or Sage can require several months of setup before you can use the software and cost tens of thousands of dollars for a third-party expert to migrate your data.
With QuickBooks Online, you can start using the platform within the first day, and full data migration and setup only takes a few days (depending on how long your business has been in operation).
The QuickBooks Online interface is user-friendly and intuitive, so even founders with limited finance experience can find the information they need to start carrying out basic bookkeeping. QuickBooks offers video tutorials, including a virtual orientation process and other online lessons that explain how to use the platform. Plus, you can contact the QBO customer support team for technical support or additional help by email, online chat, phone, or even video chat.
QuickBooks Online also offers a variety of templates and sample chart of accounts to help get you started. However, as with any accounting software, you’ll benefit from working with a bookkeeping service as soon as possible to avoid common startup bookkeeping mistakes.
When you choose a bookkeeper, accountant, or finance firm to work with your startup, it’s essential to know if they have experience with your accounting software. If they aren’t familiar with your chosen platform, you are more likely to end up with errors or missed opportunities in your accounting processes.
Especially if you choose uncommon or brand-new accounting software, it can be challenging to find finance professionals with the right experience to manage the software and still provide the expert advice and guidance your business needs.
QuickBooks is a well-established and popular choice among accounting professionals (many have their QuickBooks certification). Finding a financial expert is easier when they are familiar with the software.
QuickBooks Online provides global access to your financial records, making it well-suited for startup teams working remotely or globally. Your accountants won’t need physical access to your office; they just need a login and password to access your company file, allowing you to choose from a broader range of finance firms.
Cloud storage is also a more secure way to keep your accounting records: Even if your computer is damaged or malfunctions, your necessary data is stored remotely and won’t be impacted. Unlike working with physical software that may need to be periodically updated or reinstalled, cloud-based accounting software centrally updates without interruption.
Cloud storage is especially helpful during tax time to allow your CPA to seamlessly access your books, receipts, invoices, and other necessary documentation, regardless of their physical location.
Many startups aren’t benefiting from all the advantages of using QuickBooks. Although most business owners can get started with a basic QuickBooks setup, they often don’t have enough experience with the platform to optimize how they use the software to best support their business finances.
With so many demands on their time, many founders also find it challenging to monitor and verify every line item in their QuickBooks account, leading to costly accounting mistakes. This is when working with a finance firm like Zeni that has years of QuickBooks expertise can make all the difference.
Zeni is a full-service finance firm that takes care of all your startup’s bookkeeping, accounting, tax, and CFO needs. To help you benefit from the many advantages of QuickBooks accounting software, Zeni’s team of QuickBooks experts will help set up your bookkeeping system in QuickBooks Online and ensure all your data is correctly imported and organized.
We’ll also manage your QuickBooks account to fully support your startup finance operations, from categorizing transactions with departments and classes to syncing your online banking and other accounting tools. And, because Zeni is an Elite Partner with QuickBooks, Zeni customers receive 50% off their QuickBooks Online subscription.
By leveraging a seamless blend of artificial intelligence and our team of human finance experts (made up of bookkeepers, accountants, CPAs, tax advisors, and CFOs with 100+ years of collective experience), Zeni performs daily bookkeeping. Our real-time accounting allows a startup founder to track key trends and insights such as runway, burn rate, and OpEx — in real-time, every day — via the Zeni Dashboard.