What do you do to rank high in a search engine like Google?
You go for search engine optimization.
What do you do when you want to build a business with predictable cash flow, high profits and that runs without hassle, where you feel in control?
You go for what I call Accounting Systems Optimisation.
In accounting systems optimisation, you systemize your business from an accounting and finance point of view. You set up systems that automate your accounting and financial management tasks, save time, avoid mistakes and get rid of hassles.
The main goal of accounting systems optimisation is to SAVE TIME, and have more flexibility to WORK ON YOUR BUSINESS, regardless wherever you are in the world and also to save money.
There are 200 plus ranking factors to rank websites in Google. Similarly, there are 1000’s of accounting apps that you can integrate with accounting systems to streamline and systemise financial processes in your business.
From the large pools of apps and software that are available, you choose apps that you want to use to optimise your accounting systems. To make this choice simple for you, I have listed the top apps across 16 categories that you’ll see below.
The first step in optimizing your accounting system is to know what tools you need to do it. To help you choose the right ones I am sharing 119 tools that I have organized across 16 categories based on the purpose they serve in terms of systemizing your business.
The ultimate goal of accounting systems optimisation is to save time because time is the most valuable resource that we all have. In many cases, it will also help us save money.
When you have this system in place, you’ll save at least one working week in the year, and in most cases, it will translate to an additional year (52 weeks) added to your life in your lifetime. How would you like that?
And, how much would you be willing to pay to add an extra year to your life?
This does exactly that gives you one year which you otherwise would have spent managing your finances and dealing with accountants.
What would you do with all this extra time?
Would you go on holiday?
Or would you spend more time with your kids who always thought that you were never there for them?
Maybe you’d spend more time with your partner because he or she may have felt that you didn’t have time for them.
Or do you want to systemize your business so that you can free up your headspace from all the chaos that comes with rewards running a business?
You can do all this and more.
And, you can feel in control. You no longer have to be inefficient in the business. You no longer would have to feel confused and worried about numbers in your business, true or not?
With a properly optimised accounting system, you’d have realtime information, that will give you clarity and allow you to make good decisions fast.
A quick disclaimer before we get started – I’m not affiliated with any of these apps. You may have to try several of them to find out which one works the best for you.
To choose the right software think about the following:
When you think like that, and come across a software that is great to have and good to have features but not the must-haves – then that’s not the software you go for.
To further unbundle what you need and what the software offers, and identify the match follow this process.
List what you need from your business, what you do, what the systems should do for your business. This will give you clarity about your essentials, great to have and good to have.
Don’t be swayed by user-friendliness, it is important but not as much as your essentials. Because only a great user interface, sleekness or color won’t do the work for you.
At the end of the day if it doesn’t get the job done permission to a bit and you’ll be in so much trouble then you’ll end up wasting your money and precious time.
To choose wisely and go for the one which has your must-have features. With such software, you can go faster in your business.
I am sharing the leading apps in the market. I have used many of these on my own and through my work with clients.
To make it easy for you to assess, I have listed following info for each software:
Think of your accounting software as the main part of your accounting and finance ecosystem. There are various types of apps and integrations that do specific jobs to streamline and systemise your business.
Every other software acts as an add on to your accounting software. My two preferred accounting software are QuickBooks Online and Xero
One of the questions I get asked a lot is which one is better: QB Online or Xero.
These two are mainly the leading accounting software for small businesses. Which one is better is a personal choice.
Let me ask you a few questions:
You get the point. You have to use both to get a look and feel of it to figure out which one works for you.
My experience of using QuickBooks and Xero goes back to 2006.
I have been a QB Pro Advisor since 2010 and was the first five candidates to become advanced certified in QB online in 2013.
Basics out of the way, now let me share the first category of apps, the data extractions apps.
A big part of accounting is extraction data and entering that info in the accounting software. Data extraction apps make this process simple, by reducing a lot of manual input.
Imagine a scenario where your supplier mails you an invoice.
Without a data extraction app, you get someone to note the info and add it to your accounting software. You also have to file hard copy invoices.
With a data extraction app, you forward the email you got to a designated email address. The extracts the details from the invoice and adds it to your accounting software. You just log in to the software, review the data and hit publish. Just like that, your data is neatly added to the accounting software.
Whenever you need this information to review or reference, you don’t need to be physically in your office or have access to your hard copy invoices or the receipts. You go online and find it.
Even when you add a lot of data, you can use some common filters, to find this information, from wherever you are in the world. You just need a laptop or in most cases a mobile phone with the internet.
All of this will save you lots and lots of time. In fact, one of my clients who do about £200,000 a year in the top line, saves at least one working week in a year just by using a data extraction app.
That is so powerful.
Now, get this power in your hands. Choose an app from the ones I have shared below.
Normally, when buying stuff or services you collect the receipts and keep them in the shoe box. You give it to your accountant at the end of the year. The accountant then uses these receipts to do your accounts. We’ve been doing that for years. And there’s Nothing wrong with that.
What we have to realize is that someone has to pay for it. Either you’ll sort out the receipt, put them in a spreadsheet before giving it to your accountant and pay with your time. Or your accountant will do the same and charge you more because he or she has to spend time sorting out your receipts and organizing info in spreadsheets.
So, either you are paying with time or you are paying with money.
That’s where expense management apps come into the picture.
Instead of giving the expense receipts to the accountant in the shoebox at the year-end, you can get apps like Expensify, Bill.com, and 1tap receipts and store it online.
Let’s take a look at some of the popular expense management apps available on the market today.
These apps help you pay your suppliers on time.
When you pay them on time you keep them happy.
When they are happy they are excited about working with you.
You want to be in that position and there are lots of apps to help you to do that.
I’ve found that most entrepreneurs are not aware of it and even if they are aware of it, then they don’t really know how to implement this in their accounting system.
Have you ever been in a situation when your supplier called you or your staff and told you that you haven’t paid them?
Obviously you don’t want to be in a situation like that because relationships are everything in business. Especially when you look at it from a long term perspective.
You want to be working with good people who are really good at what they do.
You can use the apps I have shared below to set up a system within your umbrella accounting systems.
With these apps, everything is covered.
You can set up a supplier payment trial. You’ll know when you have to pay. This ensures you pay the suppliers on time on a specific day of the month, every month. This builds trust.
You can also set up processes as who authorizes invoices to pay, who makes a payment. There is a double-checking process and no duplication of work.
Now without further ado, check out these cool bunch of apps below, test them and see which one works for you.
For business success, how you manage your time and your team’s time is crucial.
Because time is the most valuable resource that we have.
We want to be in a position to track time and use it well.
I’ve listed the apps below that you can use to find out how much time you’re spending on which activity and the hours you are billing to your client.
Such tracking allows you to run your business as efficiently as possible.
We have to remember one thing that we all have 24 hours in a day. So we want to maximize our time properly. That’s the only way we can scale our business. More so because you or your team can’t clone yourself.
That’s why you should spend your time on activities with the best ROI.
We talk about the 80/20 rule here. The crux of this rule is that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions. You want to be focusing on this 20% and leave the rest 80% to someone else who can do low impact work for you.
This way you maximize your time doing the most impactful work. You can be in your zone of genius and do those kinds of things.
It all starts with tracking your time that you can do using any one of the apps I have shared below.
Do you have a business where you need to manage projects?
Maybe you run a website design and development company or a creative marketing agency.
If you are like many upstarts you may be managing everything in Excel or spreadsheets. Things like what work has been done, what hasn’t been done and what the budget is, you may have assigned separate columns for each.
It is ok when your operations are small but when your team grows it gets much harder – managing the project, the team, the workflow rather than managing the project. You may have experienced this.
But you don’t need to.
Project management apps can make your life easier and keep track of things for you without needing to follow up or remember tasks you or someone on the team has to do.
A good project management app helps you systemize your projects so you and your team knows what needs to be done on which day, who is handling what, what percentage of the work has been done, what percent of the work has been billed to the client and if the invoice has been paid by the client.
The last bit is very important because I’ve seen businesses that are profitable but they’re not cash-rich.
Here’s why because they are building a profitable business and that project is profitable but the client hasn’t paid the invoices. That’s why they have a cash shortage.
You can avoid this situation and be on top of everything about a project or multiple projects, by just starting using a good project management app. Choose one from the apps I have shared below.
Accounting system is the most important system of all business systems.
A good accounting system is to an entrepreneur what a pillar content or a power page is to a marketer.
It is so important because there can’t be a business without numbers.
So you want to be tracking these numbers in and out.
Otherwise, you won’t know, what’s going on in the business?
Business owners choose a particular accounting software based on the people they know and usually hang out with.
Here’s the problem with that. Just because someone has used a particular accounting system doesn’t mean it would be good for you.
Let’s say you want to buy a Ferrari.
The cheapest of which will set you back by around £175,000 by the way.
And, you want to use it to go to meetings. You live far and most of your meetings will be in the Highlands.
And for those who know Highlands, the roads are rough so a Ferrari won’t work.
So, if you want to buy a car that will take you to your meetings in Highlands, Ferrari might not be the right vehicle despite its high price tag or killer looks.
Similarly, the accounting systems with most bells and whistles may not be the right choice for your business.
Go for the software that has your must-have features, based on the approach I shared in the beginning of this post.
Don’t be like my clients who before we met were stuck with the wrong accounting software because they did not invest upfront time to identify their main needs and to find a software that met those needs.
Use the approach which I have shared where you list your must-have, great to have and good to have features and decide based on that.
You can also take your accountant or software provider and ask them, “These are my must-have features. Are these covered by this particular software or can you recommend one which has these features?”
So when you do speak to your accountant or software provider ask them this question: “ These are my essential must have features. Which software should I choose?”
That’s how you choose the right accounting software for your business.
I have listed popular accounting softwares out there in 2020, choose the one that meets your needs.
Stock management is crucial if you’re a retail or eCommerce business.
Your accountant must have told you to do your stock count on a periodic basis. Ideally monthly. I tell my clients who have a retail eCommerce business, to do their stock count every single month.
Those having four, five, or six showrooms do the physical count and track that in Excel. In excel you create a tab for each showroom. Sharing the data with the other store managers can be a big hassle. The quality and accuracy of the data may be compromised.
But you do need to keep the stock record accurately every single month because without it you can measure the performance of the business accurately. I won’t go into detail but if you run a retail business you know important accurate stock counting is.
The stock management apps make this important task simple by keeping track of the stock digitally as well as you can verify by pictures. And you can see that on a real-time basis.
Because it is on the cloud you don’t have to share a spreadsheet with different showroom managers.
So you can make keeping simple, sleek, and, and, uh, the apps like Vend, Zoho inventory, dear inventory. And these are the kind of apps
I’ve listed a bunch of apps that will help you to achieve that. Check them out below.
We have different strengths and weaknesses as entrepreneurs.
We are good in some areas and not so good in others.
There is a saying that we won’t judge, um, the ability of a fish by its ability to climb the tree, right?
Einstein once said:
“… if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
So, you should not judge a creative person’s ability by their ability in financial management.
But even when you are a creative entrepreneur you can use a financial management app to do it right.
There are apps that can integrate with your accounting systems and help you make sense of numbers.
You can use these apps to simplify your understanding of what’s going on in your business. These apps show it by a lot of charts and a graphical representation, how your business is performing. It helps you to have a better understanding of your business. And, you can use this understanding to make key financial decisions to move your business forward.
To get started, check out the apps below.
Business witnesses following five kinds of details for commercial transactions:
If you run an eCommerce business then these are imported from the backend of your Shopify or Magento store into the accounting software.
A business transaction importer allows you to do that without any manual inputs.
I implemented this for one of my clients in retail. His store backend runs on Magento. From there using a business transaction importer, all the financial transactions, sales, invoices, sales credit notes, purchase orders, all financial transactions, money coming in, money going out, goes into the accounting software Quickbooks.
The big benefit of automating this process is that there is no duplication of posting the invoices. There’s no duplication of receiving the payments and making payments. Because using this importer app, two additional employees were needed to take care of all this. After implementing this automation those two employees were no longer needed, and it saved the business £60,000 a year. That was in 2014. Not only that, but it has also given the client scalability. His business has grown by £2.3 million and now does £8.6 million. He is still operating with the same level of workforce in terms of accounts and admin department.
Depending on the size of your operations, you can get similar benefits in your business. And, you can start by choosing one of the apps I have shared below.
Do you struggle to manage cash flow in your business?
Then there are apps that could help you be in control of cash flow.
It is so important because the popular business stats suggest that 90% of entrepreneurs fail within the first five years of starting because they run out of cash flow.
You can avoid this fate for your business by having something that will guide you to avoid that.
I have listed the apps you can use to help with tracking your cash flow.
These softwares summarize your financial information, your profit and loss, show your cash flow reports, You can see it on palm of your hand and on a real-time basis.
How powerful is that? More so if you’re not financially savvy to create the one for yourself?
So, check the softwares below and choose one that is right for you.
A rookie entrepreneurial mistake is to focus on making the sales, but not collecting payments from customers.
I’ve seen this time and time again when I see a client and ask them to show their cash position and they show me the bank statement.
They are excited when they talk about their efforts to make sales. And, when I ask them after looking at data about why they haven’t collected the payment. They reply something like, “Shishir, sometimes I am too distracted to make calls. And, sometimes, I have too much to do because I am super focused on making sales – so calls take a back seat.”
Here is a problem with that. Most businesses don’t have credit control in place and many of them are not sending invoices to the customers on time and if they send they don’t check if everything is okay with invoices.
Point is, you need to be on top of it and collect payments from the customers because you’ve got so much going on. I understand that you are a creator, you’re creating things and you don’t want to be bogged down in admin work, but this is crucial.
Your customers may be busy with many things, so you need to make it easy for them to pay you. Do it as if your life depends on it because it does. What is the point of building a big business and helping your clients if you are not collecting payments in time?
With apps, you can do it easily. Create a win-win in fact. With the right app and right set up, you don’t have to remember to send invoices and the client doesn’t have to take the pain to pay you.
I’ve listed a whole bunch of such apps below.
These apps can help you to be on top of your accounts receivables.
It’s crucial that either you have some manual process in place to collect the payments or you have a system powered by the kind of apps I have shared. Doing it with apps is a smarter approach.
With apps you send out automatic emails and, and communicate when payment is due. It saves time and all the hassles.
When you don’t have to worry about payment follow-ups, you can be in your zone of genius and be a creator and nurturer of the business. Let the system handle the money side of the business.
Enough said, now check out all the awesome apps!
So you’ve sent invoices to your customers. You’ve chased them for payments. You’ve told them, “Here’s the invoice, here’s my bank detail. Please make the payment.”
Still, the client hasn’t paid.
Because you made it difficult for them to pay you.
Not everybody wants to make a payment by bank transfer. They don’t have time for that.
I’ve experienced this myself. When someone sends me an invoice with their bank details my first instinct is to tell myself – let me do that later. In the back of the mind, I am thinking –
I don’t have time to set up a new beneficiary right now.
To avoid your client feeling like that, you want to give them options to pay. You want to make it as easy as possible to pay. You can send an online invoice in Xero and a note that says, “Here’s the link to pay.”
It could be Paypal, GoCardless, or Stripe. There are so many options out there.
You can integrate all these payment platforms within your online accounting software and help your clients by making it easy to pay you.
It works because everyone wants simplicity, everyone wants to save time, wants to do it as easy as possible.
When you use these apps, keep an eye on the charges as well from the payment provider and give a tap in your expense line and note how much it is costing you. Because every expense, every sale matters to your profit.
But before that, you’ll have to choose an app and use it. Find out which one by checking the ones I have shared below.
The first impression matters.
As soon as a prospect becomes a client, the onboarding experience starts.
A client even experiences the lack of an onboarding process.
A client will notice if a welcome doc is a hastily put together Google doc or an immaculate document in software, or a video with info on the outcome that your product delivers.
Imagine the experience then the client is going to have when they receive a well thought, and designed welcome doc. Even better if it is all online and digitally signed.
This is important especially if you’re selling a high ticket item. You want to get your clients started with a fantastic experience as soon as they become your clients.
The tools I have shared below help you create this experience for your clients even before they have become your clients, starting from the stage when you send them a proposal to the point when they become your clients.
These softwares will work well if you are a service based business or when you are selling expertise to your clients to transform them from A to B.
Now go check these apps out.
This is the crucial bit for the success of your business.
Because this is where your customers experience your brand before they become your clients. This is where you prospect converts into a client.
This selling platform may be a sales page, with Magento, Shopify, or WooCommerce running in the backend.
You want to have this integrated into your accounting system so that the sales and paying for it is streamlined. And, even see how the info gathered via the selling platform gets across into the accounting system.
Some of my clients use Magento. So we input all the financial transactions from the backend of a machine into the accounting software. That frees up a lot of time.
So when choosing your selling platform make sure that it is compatible with your accounting software.
That’s crucial because you want to be using software that is compatible with other softwares you use.
Now check out the selling platforms that are compatible with major accounting softwares.
We are approaching the end of the categories in this guide.
You don’t need to be an expert in doing taxes to be using tax calculator software.
I’m not an expert either.
There are some apps that you can use for simplifying taxes. So you can leave the complex one to accountants who can handle that for you. But you can do the simple ones by using the apps that I have shared below.
These apps will help you review your claims, and share prompts if you are missing anything taxwise.
When you do this first step yourself, your accountant would have to do less because you’ve been through a system-generated checklist.
Chances are that by going through the software process, you will be able to save more money in your business because by following the Tax Checklist, you won’t be missing out on opportunities to claim tax relief.
Once you have gone through the checklist and addressed prompts for tax-related action give this to your accountant for checking and filling.
So these are the apps that you can use as a non-accounting, non-finance person. You can use these apps to find out green signals or red flags, the things that you should or you shouldn’t do what you can and can’t claim.
Check out these apps below.
So we’ve come to the last category of the tools, last but not the least.
This category features all in one tools.
So, one of my clients uses Xero as their accounting software. They manage their projects in Harvest. They wanted to have one tool that does everything for them. And, they wanted me to look at this software – Paprika.
I had a look into how it all worked. We went through the demo. There were some pros and cons but this is the type of tool that you might want for your business.
Like all other tools I shared above, you can use the process I shared in the beginning to choose the right one from the ones I have shared below.
Thank you for investing time in going through this comprehensive list of softwares.
I am glad that you are looking to systemize your accounting system and get to a stage when you can work on your business and not in your business.
I am committed to helping anyone who wants to grow their business and even if after going through these tools, you feel confused or unsure, reach out and schedule a 15-minute chat with me using the link below.
To a future where you have total control over your finances.
Thanks to Heather Smith and Jane Rusnak for their valuable feedback on the page.
More than 10 years ago, pushed by circumstances Shishir Khadka started his journey of gaining financial confidence and achieving financial peace. Over time he achieved his own goals and started helping other business owners. The struggles of his mom after his father’s sudden demise, before Shishir’s success, motivated him to focus his energies on helping female entrepreneurs. What he learned by helping them turned into Profit Pioneer Program that helps busy business owners master cash flow and profits. Shishir is also the host of the upcoming The Profit Pioneer Show.
And need help choosing it or implementing the one you already have?