Accounting, Bookkeeping, and QuickBooks Tips for Small Businesses

Posts tagged online bookkeeping software

SageOne Review

SageOne - Online Bookkeeping for Small Busienss Owners

This week I took a look at SageOne, a new online accounting tool from Sage Software. I really enjoy working with Peachtree, now known as Sage50. So I was thrilled to see Sage’s announcement of offering online bookkeeping software. Sadly, I was extremely disappointed with SageOne. It is easy to use and has a beautiful screen appearance. However, the software’s simplicity is too basic and is missing a lot of important accounting features that have become the norm with other cloud based accounting software providers. As I played around with SageOne, I kept thinking this is very similar to FreshBooks, yet FreshBooks is one hundred times better. I have hope for SageOne and believe it will improve with future developments. I think there is future potential for SageOne, but Sage needs to quickly get the ball rolling if they want to have a chance to compete in the online accounting software market. The competition is fierce.

Cost: $29/month, Free Trial

What I Love:

  • The online accounting interface is very pretty and easy to navigate.
  • Very simple to set up and get started. They offer a video tutorial to walk you through a couple of steps, then you’re up and running. Piece of cake.
  • The ability to track Projects and Tasks is a cool idea and has lots of potential. SageOne lets you create projects, assign tasks to employees, track hours spent on the tasks, has a message center to communicate with your employees, and you can attach files. The collaboration tools are a great way to keep track of your team and the work being done.
  • Invoicing customers is easy. You can enter the amount to bill, or pull hours worked from the project and task center. You can add your own logo and have a choice of a couple different invoice layouts. Invoices can be emailed from SageOne and sent to customers as attached PDF documents.
  • Easy to manually enter your expenses to keep track of where you spend money. There was an option to link the expenses to your projects. This seems like a great idea, but you can’t pull up these linked expenses later to invoice to the customer, there were no reports to see profit/loss per project, it didn’t show up on the project window to compare against your estimated project expenses, etc. So I’m not sure why this option was there, except for future development maybe?
  • Easily record transfers between bank accounts.
  • Standard bank reconciliation feature, which is a great double check that you recorded all of your deposits and expenses. It was easy to add missing deposits, checks, and a link for accountants to make an adjusting entry.
  • The dashboard offers a graph so small business owners can see their profit/loss during the year. You can also easily see which customers owe you money and track your projects from your dashboard.
  • I’ve heard rumors of an accountant portal coming later this year. This would be a great tool so SageOne could keep a basic interface for small business owners, while giving accountants, bookkeepers, and CPAs more advanced tools.
  • SageOne offers the ability to set up email notifications to be reminded of past due invoices, upcoming project due dates, and when you receive project messages from your team members. Don’t want a lot of emails? You can opt for the daily digest email and get all notifications in one email instead.
  • My Wish List:

    • A sad array of reports. Yes, they offer the top 3 reports, but that’s it. Currently SageOne only offers a balance sheet, income statement, and aged receivables (money owed from customers) reports.
    • What, you can not download your bank transactions? SageOne doesn’t automatically connect to your bank accounts, credit card accounts, and PayPal? Seriously? Isn’t this industry standard? Very disappointing. Data entry is a thing of the past, this alone could kill their product.
    • I guess they’re trying to offer a more cash based accounting model. When you enter an invoice, the income does not appear as income on the profit/loss (Income Statement). Instead, it shows up on your balance sheet as “potential sales” under your liabilities. I found it interesting when creating an invoice, you don’t have the ability to record the sales to an income account. Then, when you record payment from your customer, you get the option to post the sales to an income account. Therefore, after you receive and record the customer payment, then the work shows up as income on the profit/loss statement. I understand most very small businesses operate on a cash basis (or checkbook accounting as I like to call it), but this makes it really difficult to track how much money you’re actually making each month. Not to mention, would I remember a month later what services where for each invoice, especially if I work with a lot of clients?
    • Along the same lines as above, you can not record one customer payment against various income accounts. For example if you run a landscaping company, you might invoice your customer for landscape design services and installation. On the invoice, you can break out different projects. However, you can not record income from these two services to different income accounts when your check arrives.
    • No online payments from customers available.
    • SageOne does not integrate with any of the other Sage products.
    • There is no import/export function.
    • SageOne does not support payroll. This is really surprising since their projects and tasks are built to support employees and team members working together. So, if you have employees, you will need another accounting program to account for payroll.
    • Small business owners can not enter bills and keep track of money owed to vendors, utilities, rent, etc. Only cash expenses can be entered in SageOne.
    • I would love to see the Projects/Tasks tracking features expanded. It’s nice you can enter estimated hours to complete, estimated expenses, and estimated billable fees. However, it would be great to easily see how much you’ve actually spent on expenses and billed for the project/tasks as compared to your estimates. SageOne will compare your estimated time against the time already spent. However, tracking hours is a manual task and there is not a time clock.
    • I don’t believe SageOne has an iPhone, Droid, or other smartphone apps.

    I’m sad to report that at this time I would not recommend SageOne to my customers. It’s very similar to FreshBooks, but FreshBooks offers a lot more services and at a better price. For that matter, at $29/mo you could also use Xero and get a full accounting package. I’m disappointed with Sage. It’s almost as if they threw together an online accounting software so they could say they offer cloud based accounting solutions. I have a feeling they hoped customers would not see past the pretty interface and user friendly application. SageOne has some good ideas, but has a long way to go to be competitive with other cloud based accounting solutions that are currently on the market. I’ve heard rumors Sage is continuing to develop this product, so hopefully the future will bring better news for this poorly created cloud based accounting tool.


    Michelle Edwards, CPA - QuickBooks Consultant Written by Michelle Edwards, CPA
    Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

    Michelle Edwards, CPA is the owner of Trailhead Accounting Solutions CPA, LLC, an Erie, CO based CPA firm focused on providing small and mid-sized businesses with day-to-day accounting, bookkeeping, and Virtual CFO solutions. Michelle is a CFO turned consultant who loves working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. When she’s not crunching numbers, she can be found hiking, remote camping, gardening, home brewing, quilting, and hanging out with her family.

Xero Review

Xero Logo

This weeks online accounting software review is on Xero. Currently, Xero is my favorite cloud based accounting software. Xero is pretty, offers graphs and charts for the visual types, a dashboard that’s filled with quick access to the accounts and reports you need to see every day, Xero is easy to use, and saves a lot of time with their automatic bank imports. Xero was founded in 2006 in New Zealand. They are growing rapidly and have teams located throughout the world, including the US.

Cost: $19/month – $39/month, Free Trial

What I Love:

  • Xero offers daily bank feeds, which is a huge time saver. You can connect your bank account with Xero for automatic downloads of your daily cash transactions.
  • Xero offers the ability to create bank rules for your imported transactions. It takes a while to create the bank rules, but once they’re in place it’s a huge time saving feature. Once a bank rule is saved, Xero will remember how to code those transactions in the future, so you don’t have to.
  • The bank reconciliation feature on Xero is pretty handy as well. Once your bank transactions are imported into Xero (either manually or via the automatic daily bank feeds), users can code and match your imported bank transactions. The cool thing is as you code and match your transactions, Xero reconciles them. Saving that extra step is a huge time saver.
  • The financial reporting in Xero is decent. The reports they offer are the most important and useful ones for small business owners. I love that they not only does Xero offer an Income Statement (Profit & Loss Statement), but they also offer a Balance Sheet. You can also run aged receivable reports, payable reports, sales reports, ledger balances, etc. All of the reports can be exported to an Excel spreadsheet, meaning you can play with your numbers even more!
  • Not only is Xero pretty but it also offers a dashboard you can customize with charts, graphs, and reports. The dashboard gives you a quick glimpse at the numbers that are most important to you, the entrepreneur.
  • The Help feature is extremely useful. You can click on “help” from anywhere in Xero and help topics relating to that page will appear. The tutorials are helpful, very detailed, and will walk you through step-by-step how to use the accounting program.
  • Working and reporting in Multi-currency in Xero is a breeze.
  • It offers a basic inventory tracking system, for small businesses. When your business requires a more robust inventory tracking system, there are several add-on’s to help Xero grow with your business.
  • The payroll system is limited, but you can still keep track of your employees wages, taxes due, and taxes paid through the pay run feature. Xero integrates with ADP, for those that want an all-in-one payroll solution.
  • Another great feature is the ability to track categories in Xero. Although it’s limited to 2 categories, I believe the subcategories is unlimited. So you can track income and expense by department, region, store, property, etc.
  • Xero can also automatically calculate the depreciation on your fixed assets. No more waiting around for depreciation schedules from your accountant.
  • There is a huge number of add-on’s that integrate with Xero. These add-on’s allow the system to grow with your business and add custom features that your business needs. Some examples are WorkFlowMax (job management solution), Vend (cloud based point-of-sale system), Shoeboxed (receipt management), FreshBooks (billing system), (payables solution), etc.
  • I love they offer unlimited users at no extra cost.
  • Another great tool for entrepreneurs is their personal finance system.
  • Like any other cloud based tool, I love the ability to check my numbers while on the go. I can access Xero from my iPad, iPhone, Android, laptop, and anywhere I have internet access.

Here are a few Xero screenshots, so you can see what I’m raving about.

Xero Dashboard Screenshot –

Xero Dashboard Screenshot

Xero Bank Reconciliation Screenshot –

Xero Screenshot Bank Reconciliation

My Wish List:

  • Xero does not accept online payments from customers. However, Xero does play nice with FreshBooks and, so this minor detail can be avoided by using some of their add-on’s and integration partners.
  • I give Xero props for having a pay run section, allowing small business owners to keep payroll info in one place. However, the pay run is very basic. I would love the ability to have the payroll taxes and net paychecks payable post to a payroll liability account – payroll taxes payable & payroll payable. This makes it a lot easier for small business owners to see where their money is going and when cash is leaving their bank account. Currently all payroll payable transactions entered in the pay run are reported in the general accounts payable account.
  • I’ve found it to be painfully hard to correct mistakes. Typically you have to void the entire transaction and then redo it. This is a huge hassle if all you need to do is change a date, an account, or a check number.
  • You can only use check numbers once. Not a huge deal, but I ran into troubles with this when I accidentaly recorded an incorrect check number and needed to fix it. This could pose a problem if your office check numbers are the same as your payroll check numbers. You can not enter letters with check numbers either.
  • The starting chart of accounts is very basic. For a system designed for small businesses, I would love to see a handful of “custom” chart of accounts for various industries. I think it would make it much easier to set up for an entrepreneur.
  • Xero does not offer the ability to print 1099’s. You can export the information into other programs, but this will still be a hassle in January.
  • Xero is still working out kinks with its PayPal integration. Xero has been known to drop a handful of PayPal transactions, creating headaches for accountants and business owners alike. If you have a large volume of PayPal transactions, Xero might not be the best automatic download accounting solution for your business.

Overall, I’ve been really happy with Xero. It offers a lot of the same functionality as QuickBooks, but in a cloud based environment. Xero is continuing to grow and is always adding new features to their system. They do a great job of listening to their users. I’m sure over the next few years Xero will continue to be a favorite online bookkeeping system for entrepreneurs, small business owners, mid-sized business owners, and accountants.


Michelle Edwards, CPA - QuickBooks Consultant Written by Michelle Edwards, CPA
Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Michelle Edwards, CPA is the owner of Trailhead Accounting Solutions CPA, LLC, an Erie, CO based CPA firm focused on providing small and mid-sized businesses with day-to-day accounting, bookkeeping, and Virtual CFO solutions. Michelle is a CFO turned consultant who loves working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. When she’s not crunching numbers, she can be found hiking, remote camping, gardening, quilting, and hanging out with her family.

Outright Review

Outright - Online Accounting and Small Business Bookkeeping Software

This week I’m reviewing Outright. Outright is a very basic online bookkeeping software that lets entrepreneurs organize their small business finances. It was designed for sole proprietors, single member LLC’s, and Schedule C filers who have basic bookkeeping needs. Outright is also a perfect online bookkeeping solution for Ebay and Etsy sellers who started a small business as a hobby. If you’re a mompreneur, small business owner, self-employed, or sell on Ebay or Etsy, Outright might be the perfect cloud based accounting solution for your small business.

Cost: Free – $9.95/month

What I Love:

  • Ability to set up Outright to link to and download transactions directly from Ebay, Etsy, Amazon, private websites, and PayPal.
  • You can also link your bank accounts and credit cards to Outright for automatic downloads, saving even more time from tedious data entry.
  • Outright will automatically categorize your downloaded transactions. Small business owners also have the ability to edit or add transactions manually.
  • I love how small business owners can track their accounts receivables though Outright with the “Money to Collect” section. Outright also has another section under the Income tab to record customer payments.
  • Under the expenses tab small business owners can track their expenses and checks written to vendors.
  • Another cool feature is that Outright can integrate with, to help entrepreneurs organize and keep track of their receipts. Another bonus is that small business owners can automatically import their transactions stored in directly to their Outright bookkeeping software.
  • Outright offers users a decent amount of financial reports to help entrepreneurs keep on top of their business finances. You can track your Profit & Loss daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. Some other financial reports include keeping track of your types of income, finding out who are your best customers, and reporting where you are spending your money. I love that it offers users the choice to view their financial reports as numbers or as graphs.
  • Outright offers a mileage tracking feature, making it easy to keep track of your business mileage throughout the year for tax purposes. The mileage tracker also has a link to Google Maps, making it easy to record your mileage if you forget to use your car’s odometer.
  • One of my favorite features is their tax section. You can track your business’ sales taxes, have Outright calculate your estimated quarterly tax payments, and assist in calculating your annual taxes. They also have an entire section to help small business owners with their 1099-K’s received from PayPal. It’s a great tool to assist small business owners with their basic tax questions.
  • Outright also has an iPhone app that provides home based business owners on the go with the ability to see their Profit & Loss reports, keep track of their bank balances, see details to their transactions, and receive income alerts so small business owners know when an order comes though.
  • Outright also has an incredible blog filled with tons of useful information that’s easy to understand and that’s written for the small business owner, mompreneur, homepreneur, entrepreneur, and self employed. Their blog includes tax due date reminders, tricks to using their online bookkeeping software, and other helpful information for business owners.

My Wish List:

  • Outright does not have invoicing tools. However, it does integrate with FreshBooks so you can use FreshBooks for your invoicing needs.
  • Small business owners can not enter bills to pay and the bookkeeping software does not track payables. Users can only enter after-the-fact expenses and payments already made to vendors.
  • I have a love-hate relationship with the tax section. I love that helps provide small business owners with an amount they will owe in their quarterly estimated tax payments and helps small business owners figure out their annual taxes. I don’t like that this part of the system is so simple that I worry it would be easy to make a mistake. Even though the software does figure out taxes, I still recommend working with a tax preparer to ensure your taxes are calculated correctly.
  • I wish the software included a balance sheet under the reporting section. I know small business owners are intimidated by the balance sheet, but it’s such an important part to watching a business’ finances.

Overall, I’m impressed with Outright as an online bookkeeping software for small businesses. It offers a lot of great features for entrepreneurs, home office businesses, mompreneurs, self-employed, micro businesses, Schedule C filers, and people selling on Ebay and Etsy. It’s definitely designed for small businesses in mind who have basic bookkeeping needs. However, for these small businesses Outright is a much better bookkeeping tool than using a spreadsheet, a bank statement, or doing shoebox accounting.


Michelle Edwards, CPA - QuickBooks Consultant Written by Michelle Edwards, CPA
Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Michelle Edwards, CPA is the owner of Trailhead Accounting Solutions CPA, LLC, an Erie, CO based CPA firm focused on providing small and mid-sized businesses with day-to-day accounting, bookkeeping, and business solutions. Michelle is a CFO turned consultant who loves working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. When she’s not crunching numbers, she can be found hiking, remote camping, gardening, quilting, and hanging out with her family.