Accounting software for a small business?

redrock7

Free Member
Apr 13, 2021
8
1
What would you recommend is the best accounting software for a small business?

Xero, FreeAgent, QuickBooks, or something else?

Has anyone used Money Manager from Moneysoft and how does it compare? It's just a one off purchase, so no subscription is required which is a big bonus.

I like the look of FreeAgent but the cost is at least £190 + VAT per year (after the 1st year) so it's not cheap.

I'd also be interested in what you think about the invoicing capabilities (if any) of the applications.

Thanks.
 
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John Hemming

Legacy Full Member
May 23, 2019
891
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Birmingham
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I think to get advice on this point you would need to say a bit more about what the business does.
 
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MyAccountantOnline

Legacy Full Member
Sep 24, 2008
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What would you recommend is the best accounting software for a small business?

Xero, FreeAgent, QuickBooks, or something else?

Has anyone used Money Manager from Moneysoft and how does it compare? It's just a one off purchase, so no subscription is required which is a big bonus.

I like the look of FreeAgent but the cost is at least £190 + VAT per year (after the 1st year) so it's not cheap.

I'd also be interested in what you think about the invoicing capabilities (if any) of the applications.

Thanks.

It very much depends on what your business is and what you need.

I have small business clients who use all of the above. I personally know Accounts Portal and FreeAgent very well, and can pass on discounts to clients who use either.

Accounts Portal is good for basic invoicing, its the software I use for my accountancy practice. It works well for one-off invoices and for monthly invoicing, which once set up is done automatically. FreeAgent is also very good for invoicing although the invoice formats aren't quite so flexible if that's an issue.

If FreeAgent is of interest do bear in mind it's free if you bank with Natwest, RBS, Ulster Bank or Mettle. I have a few clients who have a Mettle bank account with a debit card they use for just a few transactions to get a free subscription.
 
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As Nicola says, the important thing to consider is your business, what it does and what plans you have for the future.

Most accountants have a preferred software, mine is Xero, because I love the integrations, both the ones that improve business operations and those that help with compliance and control.

It may be worth speaking to a few accountants who have different preferences and then signing up for support from the one that you prefer.

You will have to invest to obtain the value of an accountant's support and assistance.
It is up to you to consider whether the value of the support saves you sufficient time, so that you can concentrate on generating more business and hence more profits.
 
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redrock7

Free Member
Apr 13, 2021
8
1
Thanks for the replies and information, it's very helpful and appreciated!

We currently do about 50 invoices a month (roughly), and a lot of these are monthly invoices that repeat every month. We currently use old software to produce our invoices but I would like to get something more modern. If the monthly invoices could be automated that would be a big help for example.

For accounting, we're currently using an older version of Money Manager from Moneysoft. Do we upgrade to their latest version (one of the benefits being that you buy it and there are no ongoing subscription costs), or do we go for something like Xero or FreeAgent with more features, but they require an ongoing subscription cost?

Are Xero, FreeAgent and QuickBooks generally considered the leading accounting software applications? I've contacted our accountant as well to see what they would recommend.
 
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MyAccountantOnline

Legacy Full Member
Sep 24, 2008
13,652
2,589
UK
www.myaccountantonline.co.uk
Thanks for the replies and information, it's very helpful and appreciated!

We currently do about 50 invoices a month (roughly), and a lot of these are monthly invoices that repeat every month. We currently use old software to produce our invoices but I would like to get something more modern. If the monthly invoices could be automated that would be a big help for example.

For accounting, we're currently using an older version of Money Manager from Moneysoft. Do we upgrade to their latest version (one of the benefits being that you buy it and there are no ongoing subscription costs), or do we go for something like Xero or FreeAgent with more features, but they require an ongoing subscription cost?

Are Xero, FreeAgent and QuickBooks generally considered the leading accounting software applications? I've contacted our accountant as well to see what they would recommend.

I certainly highly recommend Accounts Portal to you based on your invoicing requirements. It is one of the cheaper pay monthly options too (its £6 + VAT per month for my firms clients). You can get a free trial if it's of interest. https://www.accountsportal.com/features/invoices

I think you'll find the time savings of using good software like this will well outweigh the small monthly cost.
 
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John Hemming

Legacy Full Member
May 23, 2019
891
193
Birmingham
www.vat.direct
There are horses for courses. Sage have a lot of useful bits to their software. Personally I think software designed to be run in a browser is the way things are going. My personal target market is smallers traders really one-man bands who want a system that is really easy to understand and takes little time to operate and does the job (the basic job is done for free).

Hence trades people, small shops/takeaways or people who own a few properties. At the moment I don't do the more complicated integrated systems with stock management although I will probably extend things to do something else in the future. I have I think around 5 firms of accountants and/or book keepers using my software for the bridging and two bands (one prog rock one folk rock - neither of which has me as a member) as well as some companies with turnovers in excess of £100 Million, but my target market is the smaller business.

The OP wants something at bit more integrated/complicated than my system and I think they would be best looking at a proper cloud system - I am not sure Sage can be described as that although it may have changed and you would need to look at them in some detail. It is best to keep an eye on Making Tax Digital as MTD for corporation tax will come in at some stage. However, that will be after MTD ITSA in 2023-24 so it can be ignored to some extent.

MTD ITSA is quite a bit of programming work so I would expect some providers to decide not to do it, but the big ones (Xero, Quickbooks, Sage) have no real choice.

I am in discussion with others about me providing the MTD backend as I "roll my own" when it comes to coding so I have already written all the ITSA stuff that there is to do at the moment (there will be more requirements soon). I have written some really complicated stuff which makes it easier to interface with government APIs hence I was the first to do the new APIs just around Xmas.
 
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Paul Kelly ICHYB

Moderator
Business Listing
Jan 21, 2008
6,177
912
London
icanhelpyourbusiness.co.uk
I like the look of FreeAgent but the cost is at least £190 + VAT per year (after the 1st year) so it's not cheap.

I guess you haven't seen the costs of the other you mention!

If you have a NatWest account you can get FreeAgent for free which probably does what you want (it might be worth opening up a Mettle account for this).

I use Kashflow which I like because it is relatively simple, however, I am looking at moving to Clearbooks.
 
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Cloud Accounting

Free Member
Apr 22, 2020
65
9
Free agent, Kashflow etc.. are fine but suspect you may eventually outgrow or just want the additional features & integrations Quickbooks/Xero bring.

The latter are subscription based, but could pay for themselves in saved effort via ability to create recurring invoices, send auto reminders, link to paypal, Gocardless etc..
 
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John Hemming

Legacy Full Member
May 23, 2019
891
193
Birmingham
www.vat.direct
Which all shows that there is no easy answer. After many years writing different sorts of accounting and record keeping systems I decided to have something really simple and straight forward. That does mean it will never do the more complicated things, but often for smaller organisations the time taken to work out how to do the complicated things means that any time saved is taken learning how to do it.

In larger organisations it is worth investing the time into saving time, but often in a smaller organisation just copying invoices from a word document or excel document and typing the details into a list is best. It may take more time than an automated system, but it takes less time including learning how to do things and the set up time and when it goes wrong it takes no fixing.
 
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redrock7

Free Member
Apr 13, 2021
8
1
Free agent, Kashflow etc.. are fine but suspect you may eventually outgrow or just want the additional features & integrations Quickbooks/Xero bring.

The latter are subscription based, but could pay for themselves in saved effort via ability to create recurring invoices, send auto reminders, link to paypal, Gocardless etc..

The ability to automate recurring invoices is definitely something I would want/need, especially if the business grows and the number of monthly invoices we are doing increases as a result. I take it neither Kashflow nor Clearbooks offers that facility?

Does Accounts Portal offer that facility? Thanks.
 
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MyAccountantOnline

Legacy Full Member
Sep 24, 2008
13,652
2,589
UK
www.myaccountantonline.co.uk
The ability to automate recurring invoices is definitely something I would want/need, ...

Does Accounts Portal offer that facility? Thanks.

Yes it does
 
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Cloud Accounting

Free Member
Apr 22, 2020
65
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The ability to automate recurring invoices is definitely something I would want/need, especially if the business grows and the number of monthly invoices we are doing increases as a result. I take it neither Kashflow nor Clearbooks offers that facility?

Does Accounts Portal offer that facility? Thanks.

Sorry, i should have been a little clearer as i think both Kashflow & Clearbooks do also offer a recurring invoice function.

Quickbooks/Xero are really next level up in terms of sophistication, functionality, integrations etc.. so depends what you need. Although If you're a growing business the latter might future proof you to some extent even if for now you might technically be able to get away with something cheaper.

If you do a google you should be able to find comparisons on functionality of the main cloud accounting packages.
 
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John Hemming

Legacy Full Member
May 23, 2019
891
193
Birmingham
www.vat.direct
Noting that the above post is from someone who only posts to promote that App, I would make a simple point which is:

"You need to have an accounting system that either concentrates on the UK market or has facilities to automatically output data in a form that can go directly into a bridging system".

That is because MTD for VAT is already in position and MTD for Corporation tax will follow ITSA (ITSA is probably the most complex because Income Tax (and CGT) is really complicated). You must have a digital audit trail for MTD.

All the UK focussed providers will do something about this. Some are using me as a backend where they generate data that automatically feeds into my systems (I have a number of large bakeries that use my systems because of that). Others are generating spreadsheets which can be automatically linked.

The bigger and more advanced players such as Sage, Quickbooks, Xero will do MTD themselves. Others such as the Accounts Portal may decide to use someone like myself to do the difficult parts of MTD and use us as a backend.

However, if you don't have an accounting system that concentrates on the UK market this will be a problem

Unusually I am not recommending my services for holding your primary records that's because I have a really good system for smaller businesses, but it appears that you could do with something different.
 
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