See what accounting software can do for your small business

Not every small business can afford to employ an accounting department, or sometimes even an accountant. However, every small business needs to be able to send a professional looking invoice, and the self-employed know how vital it is to stay on top of money matters at all times.

This makes buying or subscribing to accounting or bookkeeping software as essential as buying general business software. This lets even sole proprietors keep track of their pennies, without adding unacceptable expenses to the bottom line.

Popular brands of accounting software include Xero, GST, MYOB, ATO, QuickBooks, Intuit, AccountEdge and AccountRight.

What accounting software can do for you and your business

At the very least, quality accounting software should let you track your business expenses, payroll and cash flow, and let you see the state of your business' finances at a glance. It should also keep a record of all official transactions. Many programs can also relate an individual transaction to one or more bank accounts, making an end of the month bank reconciliation a much simpler, faster process.

Other programs can incorporate inventory tracking and automate some shipping and reordering processes. Many are either available as a mobile app, or incorporate a mobile app that lets you check your finances at any time of the day or night.

How to select the right accounting software for you

There are nearly as many types of accounting software available as there are kinds of businesses. Consider first what types of businesses the application is aimed at, and what your actual needs for an accounting program are. For example, some programs make perfect financial sense if you have hundreds of registered users and your own on-site servers, but would be crushingly expensive for a one-man operation to use. Others are perfect for a home-based business or small shop, but cannot cope with the needs of a large financial firm. Look for terms like "multi-user", "could-based" and "project-based", and consider whether they apply to you.