Excel for Small Business Owners

As a confirmed excel nerd, there is something about large amounts of data that I am inextricably drawn towards . I suppose it has something to do with an affinity for organization combined with a love of numbers and the innate desire to solve problems. As an accountant and financial consultant , I am often presented with the task of organizing and analysing data into a format that allows for greater insight into my clients businesses . And although good accounting software is absolutely necessary for any small business owner, a significant amount of analysis and reporting is done most effectively in excel.

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The Many Hats of Self Employment

Being self employed comes with many benefits.  You can sleep in, work in your pyjamas and go shopping in the middle of the day.  You no longer have to report to a boss who doesn't really understand what you do or deal with mindless workplace politics.  It all sounds wonderful, but unfortunately there are also many challenges.  Small business owners have to deal with uncertainty and risk.  They need to be disciplined and deal with the many demands that being self employed can impose upon us.  In the early stages of self employment, most of us have to take on the responsiblity of fulfilling the administrative functions that you find in a more established business. Some of the skills that you need to develop are:

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How to Set Up a Small Business Accounting System

Many small business owners (including myself) tend to focus on the more glamourous aspects of their business like sales and marketing and product/service development.  As a result, accounting (poor misunderstood accounting) does not get the attention it deserve.  In addition to the perception that an accounting system does not necessarily add value, they can also be a little intimidating.  However, setting up an accounting system does not have to be complicated and should be considered essential for any small business or self employed owner (the reasons for which will be covered in my next post). A good software tends to handle most of the complexity of accounting as long as the data is entered accurately.

The primary steps in setting up an accounting system are represented below:

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19 Features to Consider When Selecting Small Business Accounting Software

When selecting accounting software for your small business it helps to have an understanding of what you want your accounting system to do for you.  This involves analysing the key aspects of your business, determining what you must have and what you would like to have.  Then, like any good cost benefit analysis, narrow it down to what works within your price point.  Below is a checklist of questions you should ask yourself about your business financial needs before selecting a software:

Cost:

Assessing how much the software is going to cost you is perhaps the most important consideration.  Some accounting software are free, some charge a one time fee and some are based on monthly or annual (recurring) billing.

Platform /Apps:

Determining whether you need your accounting software to work on a Windows or Mac platform or whether you would like to access it from the cloud can be an important consideration.  For example Quickbooks Canada does not currently offer their software for Macs or online. 

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13 Ways an Effective Accounting System Can Improve Business Decisions

An accounting system can be an extremely powerful tool for business owners.  When well-structured , according to the specific needs of the business,  it converts raw data into a format that actually tells a story about your business and can allow for insights that are essential to optimum decision making (the magic of debits and credits).  The balance sheet is a snapshot at a specific date, while the profit and loss is more of a narrative.  It provides feedback on how your business is doing and communicates what you need to do in the future.  Some of the information that can be gleaned is discussed below: 

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Is QuickBooks the Right Accounting Software for Your Small Business?

The search for accounting software can be a confusing and overwhelming process.  A Google search for “small business accounting software” yields 6.75 million results.   Trying to get recommendations from other business owners often results in passionate discussions about why a particular program is great while another one sucks.  Your accountant might point you in the right direction, but will sometimes recommend a program that they are comfortable with using, but might be too technical and not necessarily be the best solution for you.  With so many choices out there, it can be difficult to know what to do.

If you are seriously contemplating purchasing or replacing your accounting software you have undoubtedly heard of QuickBooks.  Intuit (the corporate entity behind QuickBooks) has brilliantly extended their reach to the point where the large majority of small businesses use their program in one form or another.  Some people love it, some tolerate it and some actively seek out alternatives.  This article is meant to provide some insight on whether QuickBooks is the right choice for your small business:

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3 Online Accounting Software Options for Small Business

As cloud computing gains in popularity, the availability of online accounting software continues to grow.  Many small business owners want a software that has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface  that allows them to bill customers, enter expenses and check their bank balances,.  We also want to be able to access from anywhere (you never know when the desire to do your accounting, strikes!)  I have looked at 3 cost effective, multi functional alternatives below:

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