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Hubdoc

If you are in one of those highly mobile professions (ie, not an accountant chained to the desk,) you will love Hubdoc. Running from appointment to appointment, doing lunch after lunch, maybe even travelling… All those receipts…  Yeah, you need all those receipts! Your credit card statement won’t cut it in an audit.

Then, there’s tracking down all your statements – each bank account, each credit card. And these days, invoices come by email, too. You might even still get some in by regular snail mail.

Put it all together, and you just might have a giant mess. Hubdoc to the rescue!

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Xero

Let’s not leave out this player from across the Pacific! Xero hails from New Zealand, by way of Australia. They landed here in California in 2011 and are steadily working their way into our consciousness.

Xero is 100% in the cloud. It has no pretty graphics when you sign in, and you need to wear your glasses to see the words. Some of the terminology is native kiwi, so you might not be able to find what you are looking for right away. Still, it works. As with QBO, it’s definitely better if you know what you are doing. If you need help, you can get a Xero certified partner to take over, fix, or share tasks with.

The folks who most like Xero tend to be tech-savvy millennials, and people who are tired of dealing with the behemoth of Intuit. I don’t have any problem with this. I don’t like behemoths, either.

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Hosted QB

If you really can’t decide between your deep and meaningful relationship with QB desktop and your growing need for professional bookkeeping intervention, you might be a candidate for hosted QB.

This means your file sits in yet another cloud, and everybody just signs in when they need to. It’s a good compromise. Of course, you do incur additional monthly charges for hosting, and your desktop QB will probably be upgraded annually. But if you are this big, this could be the smallest of your concerns.

There are so many companies offering QB hosting that a list, with or without rates, would be useless. Again, consult your CPA or QB Proadvisor who might be able to add you to their bulk license program.

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QBO – aka QuickBooks ® Online

There are 2 reasons to use QB Online instead of QB desktop.

First, you need that invoice-as-you-go feature. QBO has a nifty app that allows you to invoice from your cell phone or tablet. Imagine standing there, talking to your customer, casually tapping on your phone or tablet, and then sending the invoice on the spot. Your customer receives it almost simultaneously (depending on the internet, of course.) Wild.

Second, you know nothing about QB, or accounting, and your accountant is probably going to need to interact with your data more often than not. Using QB Online allows you to do the invoicing, and leave the bookkeeping to the pros. You should then have or quarterly meetings with your financial people and learn to read the reports. If and when your business gets too complicated for QBO, you can switch to desktop. However, I expect they will expand the online capacity as time goes by. Once you get used to the anytime, anywhere flexibility, it is hard to give up.

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QuickBooks® – the Desktop version

There are 2 reasons to use QB desktop instead of an online software package for your business.

First, you need the advanced functionality. But this goes hand in hand with a caveat: you know what you’re doing. If you run into trouble using desktop, it will be harder to get help. You might have to send a copy of your file to your accountant and wait for it to be returned. You might have to call in the QB paramedics. Or they might be able to remote in. And so on.

Second, you don’t have reliable internet. I don’t care what the internet or the phone people say, large swaths of this great country are still struggling to get – and maintain – a reliable internet connection. (And cell phone service, but we won’t go there.) Your business productivity goes way down if you work in the cloud but can’t get online.

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Bookkeeping: QuickBooks®

The big player in both desktop and cloud is QUICKBOOKS® but this is by no means the only one. Intuit, the maker of QB, has huge market share largely by virtue of getting in the game so early. The owners are very clever men. They even specifically chose the name of the company to give the buyer confidence – You can do it yourself! It’s intuitive! (Not!)

I love QB. I want you to use QB. But I don’t believe the desktop version is intuitive. It may have been intuitive at one time, but it is now so very large that most unsophisticated (ie, non-accountant) users get lost and make a terrible mess. If you are just running the QB, you might figure it out. But if you are running a business (retail, plumbing, photography, caterer,) and QB is merely a tool that you use on occasion, chances are you are going to make a mess. I’m sorry, but I’ve seen it too many times.

The problem is, the software just does so much!

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Business Software

Business software is a big deal. Switching (that is, moving your data from one platform to another platform,) is a very big deal. It takes time, is rarely 100% accurate, and might come with a fee. Better that you should spend some time in the magical world of Free Trials before you end up with a system that hates you as much as you hate it. Watch the videos. Go on webinars and ask questions. Talk to your peers. (And your CPA.) Over these next few posts, I’ll discuss the various tasks you should consider finding software for.

But first, I’ll share my criteria for evaluating software.

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Software!

Also sometimes called Apps. Apps is short for “applications,” as in, an application (or piece of software) that can perform a particular function (such as organizing photos or quickly ordering a pizza on your phone.) An app is generally dependent on a larger piece of software that has a larger (but less humanly interactive) functionality.

I find it easiest to think in terms of solar systems. You take a big piece of software and put it in the middle. This is your basic workhorse: your sun. Then, for additional needs, you add other smaller programs with more limited functionality: planets. For instance, your phone contains an operating system which keeps everything in line, but with which you don’t really interact. A few apps are preinstalled, for basic tasks like storing contacts, texting, etc. Then, you go to your app store to get smaller applications to perform particular jobs. You might download a game, or a link to some business software that is stored in the cloud, or a link to your home security system so that you can check to make sure all the lights were turned out.

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