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A 5-Minute Review of Free and Paid Financial Tools for Small Businesses

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2021 07 05 finance tools
[5-minute read]

By guest writer and Truevo growth marketer, Marlene Bramley

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But luckily for small business owners, there are free financial software tools to manage your books. Before we take a deep dive into software that can help you make ends meet and run your business, it’s prudent to have a look at the features of free tools. Firstly, they’re mostly based in the Cloud. That means you have to be online to do any work, reconcile your books, or issue invoices. It’s all fine and well when you have a fibre connection that’s faster than a moocher spotting a free meal, but when that connection goes down all your business information is… erm, somewhere not-within-reach, it can become ugly. This is especially true if it happens around tax time. But all in all, the development towards Cloud-based storage has revolutionised how people work, freeing us up to be almost anywhere to do almost anything. 
Test the waters
We’re going to discuss a host of options. Before you choose one, do some tests. Register an account and create an invoice, scan a slip, and export it to your desktop. Have a look if you can export a client and supplier list as well. Why is this important? Things change, so do small businesses. Maybe you’ve grown and hired more people, maybe you’ve recently implemented a referral programme that’s keeping you busy? Perhaps, five years down the line, you might need to switch software packages for some reason, or the provider of the software could change their positioning and decide they’re no longer offering the service you use, like Wave did last year. They switched their customer base to focus on US clients only and handed over their European and African clients to Zoho Books. All would be hunky-dory, except you have all your invoices, statements, slips, etc. on Wave and the software doesn’t allow you to export anything. That means you have to recreate your whole set of books, company history, and financials… from scratch! If there is one thing worse than accounting, it’s catching up on an accounting backlog. 
Do all your tools work together? 
Something else to consider is how your financial management software integrates with other systems in your business. Do you plan to run a CRM (customer relationship management system) and how are you going to manage your stock, payroll, credit control, suppliers, and debtors? Once you’ve answered these questions, look at the software you plan to use and see if it integrates with financial management software. Take it from us; the fewer moving parts, the less trouble you’ll have. So, if you can find software that includes most of the functionality above, go for it! Even if you have to pay for it, it’ll be worth it in the long run. If you run an ecommerce business, make sure the payment solution you use integrates with your financial software, it will save you hours of work. Fundera publishes a host of blogs relating to financial software options for small businesses – check it out. 
Let’s look at the stats
Back to financial software. We’ve done a bit of the heavy lifting for you. You’ll find various software solutions in the table below. We’ll summarise the benefits and features of each software programme briefly. Go play before you decide. A decision this important requires a bit of time and your attention. Although you might be starting with free software, you’ll probably need to pay for it later, so consider your budget from the get-go. 

To find the best option for your needs consider the following: price; different plans; accessibility; features (bookkeeping, accounting, taxes, time tracking, inventory, etc.); add-ons and integrations; customer support; ease of use, and how you can scale it. 
URL Quickbooks website
Integrations Quickbook Apps offers apps that integrate with QuickBooks, from timesheets to expenses, bills, transactions, taxes, and more
Cloud or native (desktop) Desktop with a Cloud option on the Pro package
Features Automated reports; bill tracker; homepage insights; shipping management system; financial management system; reporting templates; tracking; multiple users; sync transactions
Customer support Unlimited
Ease of use Not that easy to use but they offer great customer service and help files if you get stuck
Scalability Very scalable and suitable for businesses that are product-based
Free or paid Paid packages. Pro and Pro Plus
URL Freshbooks website
Integrations Integrates with over 200 business tools
Cloud or native (desktop) Cloud. They also offer a mobile app
Features Unlimited invoices and estimates, track and log expenses, accept payments online, import from a bank account, a comprehensive dashboard, budgeting, reporting
Customer support Live email and phone support
Ease of use Very simple and easy to use
Scalability Limited to a number of clients. If you manage inventory it might not be the best software solution for you
Free or paid Paid. Lite, Plus and Premium packages
URL Xero website
Integrations Integrates with over 700 third-party tools. Integrates with Gusto for payroll add-on (extra cost)
Cloud or native (desktop) Mobile via the app
Features Intuitive invoicing, inventory tracking, stock control, easily add items to invoices and orders, bank recons and automatic updates, bill pay management, expense reports, create and mail purchase orders direct from the app, reporting, contact lists and mail integration
Customer support Full support
Ease of use Very simple and easy to use
Scalability Offers unlimited access to your account (unlimited users at no extra cost)
Free or paid Early, Growing and Established plans
URL Zoho Books website
Integrations Zoho integrates with a host of applications for small businesses (not as many as FreshBooks for instance). You can find some of them here. Zoho does not integrate with any payroll apps
Cloud or native (desktop) Cloud, mobile, and offers an app
Features Bank recons, custom invoices, expense tracking, projects and timesheets, recurring transactions, sales approval, client portal, financial reports, sales tax and tracking, multi-currency and multi-lingual
Customer support Various support options on different packages
Ease of use Very simple and easy to use
Scalability Better for smaller businesses, when you scale you might need FreshBooks or another solution
Free or paid Most affordable option for small businesses – offers various plans. Basic, Standard, and Professional packages
URL Sage Accounting website
Integrations Sage is pretty much an all-in-one solution. That means you don’t really need plugins. All the functionality is in the software
Cloud or native (desktop) Desktop and Cloud
Features Create and send invoices, connect bank account, track balances, real-time reports, quotes and estimates, record purchase invoices, cash flow statements
Customer support Varied support for different plans
Ease of use Very simple and easy
Scalability Great for small businesses that want to scale later and upgrade to the more advanced packages
Free or paid Various packages. Quite expensive for really small businesses but if you want to scale or run a manufacturing, ecommerce or retail business, have a look at the different options
URL Bullet website
Integrations Integrates with Dropbox and Google Drive
Cloud or native (desktop) Cloud and app
Features Data export to CSV, Multi company management, statements, bills, loans and grants workflows, Sales – owing and owed overview, Multi-currency, connected to bank account, FX calculation, various overviews
Customer support Support and active community of small business owners
Ease of use Simple, efficient, easy to use and very powerful
Scalability Great software, easy to use, powerful and can scale
Free or paid FREE
In summary, check out all the options and ask yourself, “What if my business skyrockets in a year?” Choose the software that will accommodate that and your pocket. Truevo integrates with all major software programmes. So whether you want to get paid online, virtually, in-app, cross-border, or just at your local store, have a look at our products here. 

P.S. Want a payment solution that does what it says it will do? Get Truevo. We can’t wait to connect with you.

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