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Accounting packages for small businesses in South Africa: What do you need?

Accounting packages for small businesses in South Africa_What do you need

Accounting packages for small businesses in South Africa: What do you need?

Unless you have a genuine passion for accounting (and these people do exist!), it can often be one of the most time-consuming and odious parts of running any small business.

But, where there’s technology, there’s a user-friendly solution! By installing business accounting software, you’re able to eradicate all that manual, number-dominated labour and instead invest your time in building your dream business.

First, you need to know which is the best software for your small business needs. And we’re here to lay it all out for you!

Small business accounting features

Let’s start with the basics, for those of us who don’t list accounting as a hobby. Here are a few of the features you can look out for in the various accounting software options.

  • Inventory management: This monitors all the ordering, use and storage of your inventory.
  • Accounts payable and receivable: This tracks all the money owed to your suppliers and all the money coming in from customers respectively.
  • Bank reconciliation: This picks up and resolves any discrepancies between the balance sheet and bank statement.
  • Budgeting and forecasting: With this, you can check your expected revenue, costs, cash flow and trends – this allows you to make really informed business decisions.
  • Ledger: All your business transactions are recorded as well as assets, liabilities, income and expenses.
  • Tax management: This feature manages all of your taxes.
  • Billing and invoicing: A very handy feature that bills suppliers and invoices clients.
  • Financial reporting: This outlines business finances including financial statements.
  • Expense tracking: Keep a record of your receipts, invoices and other expenses.

What is the best small business accounting software?

There really are an inordinate number of accounting software options for small South African businesses, which can make the decision quite difficult. To simplify things somewhat, we’ve chosen six of the best and broken them down so you know what you’re getting and how they compare.

1. Freshbooks

What started as simple invoicing software in Toronto, Canada has grown into feature-laden online accounting software – with great invoicing options. When subscribing, you can benefit from a 10% discount for annual payments, or a 60% discount per month for six months across all four Freshbooks plans – Lite, Plus, Premium and Select. Drawing on its origins, Freshbooks provides you with customised invoicing solutions for a more professional look and fee. It also allows you to send proposals and invoices, request deposits, collect client retainers and track projects.

Pros of Freshbooks

  • User-friendly interface
  • Third-party app integration
  • Customised invoicing features
  • Affordable
  • Cloud-based

Cons of Freshbooks

  • Limitations on the mobile app
  • No payroll services
  • No inventory management

2. Wave

This is another Toronto-based online accounting software suited to small businesses. Although there are two payment options for Wave depending on the features needed. This is a set monthly amount with additional charges per employee or contractor. Fortunately, the software package comes with free foundational features suited to small businesses such as income and expense tracking, financial reporting, invoicing, and scanning receipts. It’s really great for service-based businesses and freelancers.

Pros of Wave

  • Free foundational features
  • Unlimited number of users
  • Great mobile app
  • Can run multiple businesses off one account

Cons of Wave

  • Has limited third-party app integrations
  • Higher credit card fees
  • No inventory management

3. SMEasy

This is a South African-based company that offers online accounting for your entrepreneurial needs. This software package, which comes at a monthly fee, includes great features such as quoting, invoicing and payroll.

Pros of SMEasy

  • There’s a free 30-day trial
  • Cost is only R150 per month including VAT
  • Free month’s subscription if you pay for a whole year
  • Unlimited number of users
  • Great customer support

Cons of SMEasy

  • No add-ons
  • No third-party applications
  • No tracking inventory

4. Sage

This is user-friendly, cloud-based accounting software offers three plans depending on what you need – Start, Standard and Standard PLUS Payroll. The initial plan is great for sole traders, micro-businesses and freelancers; the Standard package for two-to-five users; and the Standard PLUS for bigger organisations.

Pros of Sage

  • User-friendly
  • High-level of security
  • Used across a variety of platforms
  • Change, cancel or upgrade your plan anytime
  • 30-day free trial
  • Unlimited companies and users

Cons of Sage

  • They only offer annual packages

5. Xero

This is a New Zealand-founded accounting software company that has rapidly expanded since it started in 2006. They offer three monthly subscription options; Early, Growing and Established, with a 30-day free trial and 50% off two months initial promotion. The Early option is limited to micro-businesses such as consultants while Growing and Established are for corporate operations.

Pros of Xero

  • Available on a mobile app
  • Cloud-based
  • Third-party applications
  • Inventory management

Cons of Xero

  • There’s limited reporting
  • There’s limited customer service

6. Intuit Quickbooks

This is a very popular accounting software option for small businesses, bookkeepers and tax professionals. Accessible via the cloud, web browser or mobile app, Intuit Quickbooks provides you with a 30-day free trial in four plans; Simple Start, Essentials, Plus and Advanced. Your monthly subscription can be upgraded as your business grows, with lots of great customisation options available. Obviously, the higher you go in the plan options, the more features you will have access to.

Pros of Intuit Quickbooks

  • It has a mobile app
  • It’s cloud-based
  • It integrates with third-party applications
  • It’s fully scalable

Cons of Intuit Quickbooks

  • An increased number of users needs an upgrade

What are the benefits of computerised accounting software for small businesses?

You have quite a good grounding in the various accounting software options available, but you’re still reading which means you’re not yet convinced this is for you. We’re going to convert you with the many benefits listed below…

–  Lower costs

Because the accounting programmes are tiered depending on business size and requirements, you’re bound to get one that is most suited to your budget. Make sure you check in about training costs which can be in addition to your monthly subscription, but this is a once-off. When you’ve got your system up and running, you’ll also start benefiting from cost savings relative to the amount of time you cannot contribute to business operations.

–  Improved accuracy

Now that you have sophisticated accounting software, you don’t have to manually update spreadsheets every time you make a change. Your reports will all be automatically updated without any manual input, making them that much more accurate. No room for human error!

–  Time savings

Obviously, there will be time dedicated to learning the new computer software and training time but this is a once-off concern. Once you’ve got a feel for the online system, you’re able to minimise the manual input time which will add up to hours every week. This is time better spent working on improving business productivity and achieving your goals.

–  Valuable insight

Even if you’ve been running your business for a while, you might not be benefitting from the necessary insight to set your business apart. With a sophisticated accounting package, you are now able to track all the transactions across departments and projects to see where money is being spent and whether it’s worthwhile or not.

–  Instant reports

Monthly reports, which usually take ages to prepare, can now be instantly collated by your accounting software. They will come with built-in report platforms which are automatically updated with your latest information. You can also customise reports by filtering or adding more data.

–  Simplify payroll

For smaller businesses, accounting software is actually able to handle the payroll system, including automating employee payments, insurance contributions and medical aid.

–  Collate all your data

You have a multitude of financial data across various platforms and to go through this manually is incredibly time-consuming and often inaccurate. Your accounting software is able to collate all this information onto one platform for a more complete financial record.

–  Simplify tax filing

With all your information in one easy-to-find location, your tax filing becomes that much easier come the start of tax season. Some higher-priced packages could even offer you sales tax and payroll tax features.

–  Improved accuracy

If you’re in the manufacturing industry, this type of business cloud accounting software has basic inventory management tools to automatically update your inventory system. This is a great way to get accurate information on stock levels without the risk of human error.

–  Improve organisation

One of the best benefits of small business accounting software is the improvement you’ll enjoy to the overall organisation. If a client wants to dispute a payment, you can easily find the information and determine whether the amount was paid or not, without sifting through mountains of paperwork. Everything is systematic and efficient.

What should you consider when choosing business accounting packages?

You’ve got a pretty good idea of what features and benefits come with accounting software, now you just have to assess your personal business needs and decide which will be the best fit. Some of the factors you might want to consider include:

  • Usability: This is something you’re going to be using on a daily basis, so make sure it’s simple enough to use.
  • Accessibility: Your cloud accounting software should be available from any device at any time of day.
  • Security: You must ensure your data is being kept safe and secure.
  • Cost: The software will reduce running costs but you need to ensure you can afford the subscription.

If you’re still at a bit of a loss, no problem! Contact Omni Accounts to discuss your various options available. Omni enables businesses of all sizes to easily and seamlessly configure and upgrade the software using a combination of Bundles & Switches.