Can the Cloud Play Nice with an Old-School Accounting Solution?

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Moving a small business or personal accounting solution to a cloud-based platform doesn’t have to mean giving up the tried and true accounting tools that you know and love. And no, that doesn’t simply move using the online version of QuickBooks instead of using the old software version.

Many small business owners and entrepreneurs have made the move to cloud-based accounting, but are still choosing to use a more traditional accounting solution to supplement and support their web-based functionality. Freelancers are also combining a variety of cloud-based apps in order to fulfill all of their personal and business financial needs.

If you’re not quite ready to make the leap all the way into the Cloud, or if you’d like some recommendations for the best complementary cloud-based accounting products, consider a few of these matches made in organizational heaven:

Google Drive and Excel

Excel spreadsheets are one of the Seven Wonders of the accounting world and are, according to CEO Peter Minton of Minton Law Group, “still relevant” as an accounting solution.

If you’ve spent any time at all dabbling in Excel, you know that the formulas alone can make the person creating them feel like a rocket scientist, and the poor soul unfamiliar with the application feel like tearing their hair out. Excel is not necessarily intuitive or user-friendly, but it is incredibly powerful and accurate.

The spreadsheet available in Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is able to perform most of the same functions as an Excel spreadsheet, with a few exceptions.

The Google Drive spreadsheet is great for:

• Real time collaborations with clients and co-workers
• Updating static data
• Analyzing small amounts of data

Excel is still best for:

• Utilizing the keyboard shortcuts that allow you to work quickly in the application
• Analyzing medium to large amounts of data
• Creating pivot tables

A marriage between Excel and Google Drive works best when spreadsheets with large amounts of data or complicated formulas are created in Excel, and then shared and edited with Google Drive.

Another great option for blending the best of both worlds is to use SkyDrive, a product from Microsoft that lets you easily share and edit the document. One drawback to SkyDrive is that live collaboration is not yet possible.

Where Shoeboxed fits in

The reason Shoeboxed plays so well with so many online accounting solutions is that it does all the annoying legwork for you. Shoeboxed accepts completely disorganized envelopes full of your most tangled, uncategorized receipts. Shoeboxed then takes that information, digitizes it, organizes it, and formats it for export to your favorite accounting solution program (for a full list, please see:

Cloud-based accounting solutions are the natural next step in the progression toward organization, since they allow you to analyze and make sense of the numbers that Shoeboxed extracts. Using Shoeboxed in tandem with an online account solution is like hiring your own personal accountant and therapist, and finding out that they’ve been meeting in secret to talk about your future.

Wave Accounting and Human Accounting

Wave Accounting is a particularly popular cloud-based platform that lets you send invoices, track spending, and keep tabs on your business and personal finances. This accounting solution is made for those of us who aren’t accountants, but at the same time is 100% “accountant approved.”

While Wave lets you enter and track multiple accounts, it is also engaging in double-entry accounting, which is what your real live accountant wants to see. The best part about all this is that you don’t even need to know what double-entry accounting is to get all the benefits.

Wave Accounting lets you do your part, and makes your professional accountant’s life much simpler in the process. This marriage combines the ease and convenience of a cloud-based application with the human expertise of your favorite number-cruncher. And while we all love a computer’s ability to get things done faster and more efficiently, sometimes there is no substitute for a real live person’s ability to read between the lines and catch that one (important) thing our MacBook missed.

To create your very own accounting solution made in heaven, try combining something old, something new, something borrowed…and something that doesn’t have an on/off button.

Which old-school software can you not live without?

FreshBooks: The Brachiosaurus of Accounting Solutions

The brachiosaurus is the largest known species to have existed on our earth.  They were massive creatures with migratory habits necessary to sustain their large eating habits. With that in mind, it’s the perfect preface to introduce our next featured platform for our accounting solutions Dino Series: FreshBooks.

Brachiosaurus of Accounting Solutions

Freshbooks is the #1 cloud accounting specialist for small business owners, second only to Quickbooks Online in North America. For years FreshBooks has been the ‘big guy’ in online billing and invoicing because of its easy to use functionality, broad-spectrum industry application and out of this world customer service (we can attest firsthand to their great customer service!).

With its heritage in billing, FreshBooks recently began a new and exciting migration route down the path of cloud based accounting solutions.  Their herd of loyal users have taken advantage of the accounting style reports for years and have long described the platform as their preferred choice of accounting solutions, so this new path was no surprise to us. Over the past four years, FreshBooks’ enormous full feature set of tools have uncovered a fresh business trail for this growing company and their 4.5 million users are more than happy to follow this jolly long neck on its newest adventure.

Being the largest creature to ever grace our earth, an adult Brachiosaurus didn’t have any predators (must be nice!). Similarly, it’s pretty tough to find any competition that stacks up against FreshBooks in the invoice/billing world. Their recent product introductions (such as: expense-tracking capabilities, profit and loss statements and more) have already become invaluable assets to their new accounting solutions positioning. Here is what you can expect from our Brachiosaurus friends at FreshBooks:

FreshBooks Strengths:

  • Easy to use and great customer service
  • Easy external collaboration
  • Project and document management
  • Numerous add-ons/integrated sites (like Shoeboxed!)
  • Cloud-based and compatible with multiple devices
  • Completely affordable (most expensive plan is $39.95, excluding add-ons)

FreshBooks Weaknesses:Brachiosaurus of Accounting Solutions

  • Not designed for every kind of business’ accounting needs
  • Isn’t an in-depth/all-in-one accounting solution (BUT integrates with other accounting platforms to fill any gaps)
  • Can get pricey if you need multiple staff members to have access

FreshBooks is best for business owners who:

  • Are in the service industry (lawyers, therapists, plumbers etc.)
  • Are swamped with managing receivables
  • Own small businesses looking to scale
  • Work directly with their accountant and/or other accounting platforms
  • Are freelancers
  • Own a company that outsources a great deal of work to freelancers

With its famously long neck, the Brachiosaurus appeared to have its head in the clouds. But we don’t look at that as a bad thing. In fact, with the future of computing moving more and more into the cloud, FreshBooks is actually leading the way for many small business owners.

Don’t get stuck in the Mesozoic Period when looking at accounting solutions for your business: consider migrating with FreshBooks! You might be pleasantly surprised how helpful its feature set is at helping you with your business’ needs.

Is FreshBooks your preferred choice out of all of the accounting solutions? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

Wave Accounting: The Velociraptor of Accounting Solutions

Wave Accounting: The Velociraptor of Accounting Solutions

Thanks to Jurassic Park, the Velociraptor has earned the reputation of being the stealthiest and smartest killer to grace the cretaceous period. With similar speed and agility, Wave Accounting slipped into the accounting systems jungle in 2010 and has been busy devouring the competition since. So, without further delay, here is the third installment of our accounting solutions series.

Before we scare anyone, rest assured that Wave only shows its claws when it comes to the competition (Velociraptors actually had feathers – please see below). For it’s countless users, Wave is a free, one-stop shop accounting solution that has quickly become one of the fastest growing accounting systems in the world.

Wave Accounting: The Velociraptor of Accounting SolutionsSimilar to the pack hunter mentality of Velociraptors, Wave Accounting has gathered a horde of affiliates and partners to help it overwhelm the competition. These partnerships allow Wave to provide its product completely free of charge through offering partner promotions for its users inside the app. Unless you’re a Wave competitor, this strategy is a win/win!

Being the nimble up and coming accounting solution, here is what you can expect from Wave:

Wave Accounting Strengths:

  • Completely free, always
  • Built for small business owners to be very user-friendly (Smart Interface)
  • Minimizes manual entry
  • Integrations with your bank/credit cards for automatic expense tracking (with de-duplication features to keep transactions from being logged twice)

Wave Accounting Weaknesses:

  • No Payroll in the U.S. until late 2012 (Only available in Canada currently)
  • Unobtrusive advertisements, but ads nonetheless
  • Some users have issues with foreign bank integrations and bank feeds

Wave Accounting: The Velociraptor of Accounting SolutionsIn fairness, we learned during our research that the Velociraptor was actually about three feet tall and covered in feathers (okay, it’s not as ferocious as the Spielberg version). That said, this dinosaur was one of the deadliest and shrewdest prehistoric animals. We warn you not to overlook Wave just because it looks like a little guy in the accounting world. Doing so could land you in a dangerous position.

Wave Accounting is probably best for business owners who are:

  • Small businesses and microbusinesses
  • Mompreneurs and WAHMs
  • Photographers, freelancers, independent entrepreneurs
  • Individuals

If you’re ready to take a bite out of the effort you put into accounting for your small business, try Wave Accounting. It’s always free, so imagine a permanent free trial. Then you can tell your clients you’ve got a Velociraptor on your side!

Is Wave your preferred accounting solution? If so, tell us what you think!