You want to take care of your business’s bookkeeping yourself. That’s great! You’re not the only one: over 64% of small business owners turn to bookkeeper software.
But with so many different options out there, it can feel overwhelming to determine which accounting software is the right fit for your small business. To save time and pick the best tool for your organization, look for these 13 key features as you explore different bookkeeper software.
1. Ease of Use
Good software should make complex processes appear simple. Seek out a tool that simplifies complicated accounting operations with familiar language and easy-to-navigate interfaces. The software should also automate manual accounting tasks—like recording transactions, categorizing expenses, tracking receipts and monitoring cash flow.
Beyond that, look for bookkeeper software that works across multiple devices, so you can easily complete accounting functions at any time, from the comfort of wherever you are. All you have to do is flip open your phone, laptop, or tablet and start crunching those numbers!
2. Data Security
Cybersecurity isn’t just a concern for major corporations. According to this CNBC index, 14% of small businesses have experienced a cyberattack as of August 2021. With more businesses going digital, that number is likely to increase in the next few years.
Don’t panic! Instead, keep your small business’ financial data confidential by following a clear cybersecurity strategy. A necessary part of that plan? Choosing bookkeeper software that supports your cybersecurity efforts by offering best-in-class security features.
An easy place to confirm the steps a software company takes to protect user data is to check their security page. Also, some businesses state security measures on their homepage or about page. Just go to the company’s website, check the top, side or bottom menu and you’ll be sure to find the information you need. Do your due diligence to make sure the product:
- Wouldn’t sell your information to third parties
- Monitors their mobile app, software, and infrastructure round the clock
- Performs regular security audits to align with compliance requirements
- Encrypts your stored files to prevent unauthorized access
Eager to take extra security steps? Start by securing your wi-fi networks with passwords, using a firewall to monitor network traffic and regulate access, and training your staff (if you have any) in security principles. You can also check out this NCR resource for more tips on how your small business can stay protected in a digital-first world.
3. Guided Workflows
You don’t need to be a tech whiz to use bookkeeper software. Simply look for a tool that walks you through tasks with guided workflows—simple instructions—for actions like creating invoices or conducting monthly transaction reviews.
These structured task flows are often a mix of text, popups, and visuals that provide direction. Ideally, they help you learn how to use the accounting software so you can do your bookkeeping yourself, saving you time and brain juice that would have been spent determining what to do next.
4. Receipt and Expense Pairing
Want to avoid time-consuming work at the end of the month and make time for other important things in your life (like your partner, newborn kid, or pet)? Then choose accounting software that helps you match your receipts and expenses without any hassle.
Once this process is automated, expense tracking will be so much easier and faster. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding any mistakes later—bookkeeper software will catch mismatched receipts and expenses right away.
For example, Neat’s mobile app automatically captures, uploads, and matches users’ receipts with expenses on their phone or tablet without needing to wait for monthly bank statements. You can download the mobile app for Android or iOS.
5. Online Payments
Get your money faster with online accounting software that offers payment processing, so your customers can pay you with their debit or credit cards or through bank transfers.
You’ll also attract more business with this feature. A 2021 report by Raydiant shows that 57% of customers are more likely to do business with companies that offer touchless payments because they consider it a cleaner and safer option.
And, of course, these quick, secure online payments are more convenient than cash or checks. Checks require mobile banking app uploads, and cash payments mean going to a physical ATM or bank to make deposits.
6. Financial Transaction Overview
Easily organize your books with accounting software that shows you a complete view of your transactions by securely syncing your bank accounts.
Beyond connecting your bank accounts, we recommend looking for an app that allows you to filter through records by date, source, folder, keyword, or category. You’ll be able to find any financial info you need in a matter of minutes, every time.
No shuffling through piles of paperwork, going through emails, or calling up an employee or bookkeeper. Just you and your app!
7. Error Identification and Correction
Your small business’ operations depend on the accuracy of your financial records. Keep your company running smoothly with accounting software that instantly identifies and corrects errors.
Say you accidentally overpaid one of your vendors. Your accounting tool would flag the error, so you can initiate a refund or use the balance to pay for your next order from the vendor.
Our Neat app has a progress-tracking functionality to show you what transactions need to be reviewed. With this feature, it’s easy to stay on top of your bookkeeping tasks while keeping your records error-free and up to date.
8. Digital Backup
There should be no need for physical copies once you have your invoices, receipts, bills, and account statements saved in your bookkeeping software. Look for a tool with a secure document storage system, and you won’t have to waste valuable space storing hard copies or be stressed about managing paper.
A financial document management tool like Neat streamlines your bookkeeping by storing your information in the cloud (so you can access data from any device whenever you want) and checking whether the imported data matches your physical documents.
9. Automated Reports
Why hire an accountant when you can just pick bookkeeper software that automatically creates timely reports for you? Choose a tool that automates reporting and shares financial data insights in real time, so you can see the health of your small business and quickly make informed decisions about budgeting, hiring, and expansion.
Pay attention to how detailed the tool’s reports are and confirm that the software provides the most important reports you need at a glance—like profit and loss statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets. Check also that you can use filters (like date, review status, tax category, or payment type) to generate other custom reports for your business’ income, expenses, and tax information.
With the time saved on financial reporting, you can focus more on the critical aspects of running your business—like conducting market research, improving your product or service offerings, setting goals, raising money, and acquiring new customers.
10. Simplified Tax Preparation
As the IRS plans to trigger more tax audits, keeping proper financial records is especially critical.
If you feel a bit anxious whenever you hear about “taxes,” we understand! Unless you’re an IRS employee or an accountant, tax preparations can be overwhelming. But don’t worry—you can prepare your sales tax easily and audit-proof your small business with the help of bookkeeping software.
An accounting solution like Neat helps you track your cash flow, so you can confidently claim all possible deductions at tax time. Our software stores all of your financial records in one place, tags expenses, and checks receipts against bank transactions for accuracy. With Neat, you can also make notes on specific expenses so you can refer back to them later and export tax information for easy filing when the need arises.
11. Customizable Invoices
You’ve got bills to pay as a small business owner, so you can’t wait forever on customers who owe you. Encourage clients to make their payments by using branded invoicing, a key bookkeeper software feature.
Clients are more likely to recognize and take your brand seriously after seeing the professional look and feel of your custom billing.
If that small branding detail seems unimportant, think again. According to a Due analysis of over 250,000 invoices sent in 2021, your are 3 times more likely to get paid if you include a company logo on your invoice. Take advantage of this effect by placing your own logo on your invoices to boost clients’ perception of your brand.
Neat’s invoicing feature helps you quickly create professional, branded invoices for your clients.
As a small business owner, your bookkeeping needs tend to change with time, new industry trends, and company growth— gaining more customers and employees. No single bookkeeping software will have every accounting feature or add-on your startup needs at different stages of growth. Pick a tool with plenty of integrations, so you can meet all of your unique business needs within the accounting platform you choose.
With these integrations, there’s no need for multiple data entries. Your bookkeeper software will reflect any relevant updates made in your connected apps.
Some Neat integrations you can explore are contact management software like Google Contacts and Outlook or email marketing software like Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp.
13. Unlimited Support
Unless you’re a founder with prior bookkeeping experience, you likely have a million and one questions jumping around in your mind. And we get it. When you’re crunching numbers, it’s nice to have a professional walk you through new processes and troubleshoot challenges as they come up.
Set yourself up for success by choosing small business accounting software with a great customer support package, including a comprehensive help center and tailored support from experts—preferably at no extra cost.
Find a Bookkeeper Software That Supports Your Bottom Line
It’s easy to do a quick Google search for popular bookkeeper software. But choosing a tool that meets your specific needs without breaking the bank? Not so simple.
Determining the best accounting software for your small business requires dedication, research, and attention to detail. But, it is so worth it—you’ll save money on hiring a bookkeeper, and you’ll get to spend more time connecting with your customers and growing your business.
Use this guide as a starting point. If you’re stuck between a few tool options, look into their pricing plans and don’t be shy about asking for a free demo or trial! These offers are a great way to test out how user-friendly and functional a bookkeeper software will be before you make a commitment.
Interested in trying Neat? We offer a free 14-day trial that includes unlimited access to personalized support from a Neat expert, so you can start managing your business finances with our software right away.