The widespread availability of high-quality, low-cost accounting software has transformed small business financial operations in two important ways. First, more business owners – those with basic bookkeeping needs – can more easily handle their financial operations on their own, if they choose to. Second, the roles of both bookkeepers and accountants now change continually as the software packages bring more sophistication to their feature sets.
 

Features and Benefits

Three of the most frequently used accounting software products are Intuit QuickBooks, Sage 50 Complete Accounting, and Acclivity AccountEdge. All have the ability to enter and categorize transactions in a single operation. Writing checks, managing payroll, and easily producing financial statements are also basic, core features.
 
QuickBooks has the largest market share, based on its ease of use. The program avoids professional accounting jargon, making it a popular choice for emerging businesses. Sage 50 Complete Accounting is regarded as a more sophisticated product that’s well suited for businesses that have heavy-duty inventory management requirements. And reviewers say that the Acclivity AccountEdge line splits the difference by being more accessible than Sage and more sophisticated than QuickBooks.
 

How to Choose

Practically speaking, you may never need to actively choose the accounting software package your business uses. If you hire a bookkeeper, he or she will already have a system in place, and that’s what you’ll use. Even if you don’t hire a bookkeeper, you will most likely retain an accountant to prepare your tax returns, and it makes sense to coordinate your bookkeeping system with your tax preparer’s requirements.
 
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