We spent some time recently comparing options for small business banking, giving you an impartial view on business banking and costs. Today we would like to take some time to talk about the next stage in the business banking chain, accounting software. As we have said before, small businesses have 101 things to do when starting out. Things such as writing your business plan, organising your markets, creating your product offering, the list goes on and on. We alwaays say when meeting clients through our startup coaching and mentoring, having great foundations to begin with, will create a strong base for your business to build on in the future.
Whenever we read up about small business accounting software, the same names creep in each time. We are going to spend a little time outlining costs and our experience in using them. We hope that it helps you make an informed decision.
Out of all of the accountancy software we have used through ourselves and our clients. FreeAgent has to be the most user friendly. It handles all of the elements you would expect with ease, such as raising invoices, paying bills, banking feeds for reconcilliation. Amongst others such as VAT reconciliation, tax timelines, payroll and a great user interface for cashflow. Of course, there is also an app for loading in your expenses.
The pricing structure on FreeAgent is farily robust. For a limited company it is £29 + V.A.T per month, for Partnerships and LLP’s it is £24 + V.A.T per month. Lastly, for Sole Traders it is £19 + V.A.T per month. All plans include 6 months half price, but you will end up paying this higher rate in the end. So we recommend budgeting based on the higher cost.
NatWest have tried to break into the business banking scene in a big way, launching Mettle, which is a no fee small business bank. If you sign up to a Mettle account, you can get FreeAgent for FREE, which is a very good deal.
Xero seems to be one of the go to business banking software platforms. So many people I see reccomend it, demonstrating its strong user base. We have always found the front end of Xero looks and feels great. On top of this, the app for expenses and monitoring by mobile is really clean. Our personal issue with Xero is the user interface with it isn’t as user friendly, certainly in the setup. This was the biggest issue we had with Xero.
In terms of pricing, Xero takes a different approach. Locking down certain elements or usage levels depending on subscription level.
The base level is £10 per month, allowing you to send five invoices, pay five bills, reconcile 20 bank transactions, payroll on top is £5 per month, projects is then £5 per month per user. You can see that their pricing structure is just a complex as setup for the system. The £24 a month option lifts the restrictions on the base level, but all of the add-ons are the same price. The £30 per month option adds multiple currency options.
If FreeAgent is simplicity, and Xero offers a steep learning cureve, Kashflow is somewhere in between. Kashflow personally always feels like it is, not quite fully polished. Something that neither counterpart already discussed suffers from in any way. That sentiment continues in the website through to the software, when researching the pricing it all just feels a little, clunky?
Kashflow follow the same package principle as Xero. Their basic package starts at just £8 + V.A.T per month, but restricts you to 10 invoices and 25 bank reconiliations. Expenses are here, but at this level there is no payroll. Bank feeds as you would expect are here, but in usage with clients, we have found this to be clunky, especially around the lease length of the API (needing renewal EVERY time). Moving up the scale to the £16.50 + V.A.T per month, recommended business plan, it has all the features unrestricted, but no payroll still. This is a huge miss. It is only at the £22.50 + V.A.T level payroll finally kicks in for up to 5 team members.
Quickbooks are the accounting package you have most probably heard of. However, from our experience it seems to be the software that has lost most market ground over recent time. In fact, our experience with Quickbooks is fairly limited. Therefor, unlike working with the other products, our input is mainly based on cursory glances. Instead of hands on, number trawling and setup of elements with the other software.
The user experience looks nice and clean from what we can see. A lot like freeagent. I took some time to contact a user of Quickbooks and asked their experience. The feedback was largely positive.
Where Quickbooks really stand out is their pricing. Okay, it isn’t at the levels of FreeAgent with a Mettle account, but at £5 per and payroll a bolt on at at least £5 (£4 + £1 every employee). They stack up from a pricing point for startups and small businesses. At this level, there is no cap on the level of invoicing you can run with it. Although I do wonder if there is a bank feed at this price, given the points in the middle option. The £8 upgrade (again payroll on top) offers multi-users, currenices and management of payments and bills, harking back to wondering if this is the bank feed element.
Finally, the £12 per month option, offers employee time trackng, budgeting and project profitabilty tracking.
If you are looking at accountancy software, I cannot miss this opportunity to discuss and reccomend a fantastic Norfolk based Accountancy firm. Triple Bottom Line Accounting set the bar in what good looks like from an accountancy practice. I would reccomend, without hesitation, TBLA to any client and startup that needed accountancy support.