Ahh, the accounts. Don’t you just love ‘em? Well, perhaps you actually do love the accounting side of your tech startup, but more likely you see it as something boring that just has to get done. And done well. Like it or not your numbers are the life-blood of your fledgling business. And a big old killer of tech startups is cash-flow problems and various other accounting-related hiccups.
Which won’t happen to you, right?
Here’s a quick intro to what you need from your accounts system and some of the best programs out there to help you. You might be surprised, when an accounts system becomes easy to use, accurate and under control, it can even become fun. At least watching that rising profit figure on the bottom line can be!
Accounting software 101 – your options
Basically, you need to be on top of your numbers in as close to real time as possible. And keeping track of income and expenditure with enough accuracy for even the HMRC to be happy is hard to do without software. Manual systems with paper books etc. are a thing of the pre-app era. So let’s leave them there.
You can get a cloud-based system which you pay for monthly, or software that sits on your computer (and network). Both are equally good. Your options range from basic tools to stay on top of your income and expenditure, to complex programs which help you fill out tax returns, send invoices and even carry out payments.
FreeAgent – your easy starter option
Designed for real easy use, FreeAgent simplifies the language of accounting as well as the process. Never want to see the term ‘Accounts Receivable’? This one could be for you. It’s great for freelancers, with easy project-by-project budgeting and overviewing. And a big bonus is its multi-user options and time-tracking, perfect for managing other freelancers in your team.
It’s free to try for 30 days. Then $20 a month (£12.50).
KashFlow – clear and simple, with a free intro course
This software gives even better presentation and overviews of your business health (or what the numbers show anyway). But worse features for handling lots of users (no separate passwords and permission levels, for example). It also does direct VAT tax filing for you, whoopee! Plus linking to quite a few payment card processors so it’s all integrated and instantly updated – just check it links to whatever you use. It’s a smooth and easy to use option. You can also try it for free for two weeks. Then £18 a month, so the slightly pricier choice.
Sage One Accounts – great support (but you’ll need it)
The biggest selling point with this one is good 24/7 support if you’re the type who’s always on the phone asking questions. And it’s cheap. But it does have a reputation for being trickier to use than the previous two, until you get used to it.
30-day free trial. Then £10 a month.
2 free options for you!
To get started if you’re on a truly rock bottom budget, making use of a few free accounting tools might be worth it. But just to note, they are of course more limited and don’t present quite so well. That £10 or £18 a month could save you valuable time working things out.
Your grooviest free cloud accounting software. Pays for itself with advertising and possible upgrades. Another great free option – software you download, not cloud-based. Comes with a handy 40 ready-made financial reports to model and use.
Another non-cloud but decent option. Extensive features for a free tool, but a little bit tricky to get the hang of for beginners.
And there you have it! Our accounting recommendations for tech startups. Do you use any of these already? Think we should add something to this list?
Tell us, we want to hear it!