Getting to know new software, for instance an online accounting solution, is never easy. But do not worry, because we are here to help you by answering a series of questions that might concern you. We’ll give full insight on the background of online accounting solutions, and go over everything that may come across as puzzling to you at first sight. How do you setup accounting software, which features do they include, what are the costs that come with them – we’ve answered just about all of the questions that may come to mind when looking into online accounting software. By reading these questions and our answers you will have no more doubts about online accounting solutions and will realize that having these virtual assistants is the best thing that could happen to your business.
What is online accounting software?
Online accounting solutions are cloud-based software handling lawful accounting and traceable accounting processes like invoicing, billing, estimating, expense and time tracking, projecting etc. on the internet. This software does not take up valuable space on your hard drive as they run in the cloud and work in the web browser. All of your accounting work is stored in a secure online environment and is accessible to you anywhere at any given time. You can summon your bookkeeping through the accounting software’s website in your browser, and in many cases also through a mobile website and apps.
Why should I use online accounting software?
Not only is it easier to use than Excel spreadsheets and paper-based accounting, but it is also a perfect alternative for the now obsolete traditional accounting software. Furthermore, your data is always is always backed up to a safe server, you can access your account anytime, from anywhere, you only pay a monthly subscription fee for what you use, and if you are not satisfied with the software, you can cancel your subscription anytime. Add to this the benefits of using the mobile apps while on the road and integrating other software and online services into your online accounting software, and you might even start to love accounting!
Do I need to install software to do my accounting online?
No, online accounting software only requires a browser and a constant internet connection to handle your accounting. There is no software to be downloaded or settings on your computer to be changed whatsoever. You simply open up the online accounting software’s website in your browser, and off you go.
Can I access my accountings using a mobile device?
Certainly! Most accounting solutions provide a mobile application free of charge usually for iOS and Android platforms. With the apps you can access most of the features of the desktop version of the software, like creating invoices, recording expenses, managing clients and more.
How much of a tech wizard do you need to be to handle the software?
You don’t need to be a tech genius to handle such software, because they were mostly developed for people without accounting knowledge. But if you have any problems using the solution, you can always turn to the customer support of the accounting company, watch video tutorials, ask your questions in the community forums, or check on our reviews and guides written by experts and other users.
Do I need to be an accountant, bookkeeper to use the software?
If you are an accountant or bookkeeper then yes. 🙂 Jokes aside, the answer is no. Like we mentioned before, this software was developed with non-accountants in mind, so using it shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Can I use the accounting software in collaboration with my bookkeeper?
Yes, you can, just give him/her access to your account and you can start working together. Thus you can speed up the work and make tax preparation and filing faster and easier.
Can I give access to other people than my accountant/bookkeeper to use my account?
Yes, you can give access to other people to use your account. In fact, you can determine whether you give them limited or full access. However, be careful: only give access to those people whom you trust to avoid data theft!
Will the online accounting company assist me with my books?
In some cases, the online accounting companies employ expert accountants and bookkeepers who are ready to answer your questions if you have problems with your books. But most of the time the company could only give you advice on how to use the software and not on how to do your accountings. Should you have such a problem, we suggest you to turn to your accountant or a professional.
Will online accounting software take away my hate feelings towards bookkeeping?
It is hard to answer this question, because it entirely depends on you. However, it is definitely guaranteed that using an accounting solution will significantly decrease your hatred towards bookkeeping. And who knows: in the end you might end up looking at bookkeeping as an easy and quick chore.
Are these online accounting solutions for U.S. businesses only?
No, they can be used worldwide regardless of the country and types and forms of business. In fact, most of the accounting solutions we reviewed aren’t even based in the U.S. and some of them were initially developed for foreign markets. However, if the default language of the software is English, it is very likely you, as a U.S. business, can use it for business purposes.
How much time does it take to get the online accounting set up?
Registering to the services of an online accounting company usually takes a few minutes, but what happens next depends on the situation. If you are moving from another software, just import the data therefrom in CSV format and everything will be at its place. If you are using such software for the first time, you can either manually enter data or use the auto-import feature available for your contacts, your bank feed, your chart of accounts, etc. Either way, prepare to spend up to a whole day depending on the size of your business and administration.
Do I need to do the same thing in the mobile app?
Thankfully, no. Once you have everything set up in the desktop version, they will appear in the mobile app as well and vice versa thanks to the auto-syncing functions.
Can I move my QuickBooks bookkeeping to the online accounting software?
Yes you can. In fact, Intuit Inc., the company behind QuickBooks, is strongly encouraging you to move to the cloud with the help of, what else, their own product called QuickBooks Online. But you can also move your QuickBooks bookkeeping to other software as well, such as Xero, FreshBooks and many more. To find more details about migrating your books to the clouds, read this article.
Can I transfer my books from another software into online accounting software?
You can transfer your books from any software to an online accounting solution. You have two options: you can either save everything in a CSV format and import the data to the accounting software or, if the old software is cloud-based and you want to continue using it, you can integrate it into the new software. The latter solution is especially recommended considering that 1) it takes less time 2) your bookkeeping will be at two places at the same time increasing the safety of your data 3) that data will be synced between the two software so if you have to go back to the old one for some reason, you will find everything at its place.
Is online accounting software safe and secure?
Yes, online accounting solutions are perfectly safe and secure. In fact, storing your data in the cloud is even safer than having them on your computer where they can be lost forever due to system crash or external damage. Furthermore, your data is constantly backed up at the end of each day, and they are encrypted in the same sophisticated way as online banking data. To find out more about this topic, check out this article.
What if the online accounting company’s servers go down, will I lose my data?
Losing your data due to server failure is virtually impossible. Online accounting companies have multiple servers running at the same time, therefore if one of them goes down another one takes its place. Moreover, these servers are often placed at different physical locations, so if a natural disaster destroys an area that hosts a server farm, the other one will still be safe at a different place.
Remember: you lose data if you, and only you, delete it.
And what about those pesky hackers and thieves?
Good luck for them—in jail. The bank-level encryption of each and every account and the continuous monitoring of network traffic ensures that nobody, aside from you and the authorized personnel, can see your precious data.
Can I export my data to back it up or share it with my accountant?
Of course! In fact, we encourage you to save your data in CSV format from time to time just to be sure. Thus you can have a backup on your computer and you can send said backup, complete with all of your data, to your accountant. Although giving him/her access to your account is an easier solution, but if he/she insists receiving your data in CSV, who are we to judge him/her.
What are the main features of an online accounting solution?
There are plenty of different features, but the most important are: (recurring, multi-currency) invoicing, billing, estimating, tracking and recording expenses, creating projects, time tracking, inventory, check printing, auto-syncing of your bank feed, auto-generated business reports, preparing and printing 1099s, and payroll. Whether the above features are included in the software or not depends on your subscription and on the company.
What if certain functionalities are missing from the accounting software?
In that case you have two options. The first option is choosing either a different software (recommended in case of emergency), or a better subscription that contains the missing feature. The other option is integrating third-party software to the accounting solution; if the accounting company offers and supports an API, it is very likely that software substituting the missing feature of the accounting solution can be integrated. Here is a non-exhaustive list of tools that can be integrated into accounting solutions: CRMs, inventory management software, time tracking add-ons, payroll processing software, ecommerce, POS tools, e-wallets, expense reporting software, and so on.
Does accounting software help me with taxes as well?
Yes, it can, and in many ways. First of all, like we mentioned before, accounting solutions prepare business reports without intervention, meaning that they are automatically calculated from your incomes and expenses. Some software is even capable of preparing your W-2s ad 1099s which you can print and send to the tax agency. There is also an option for e-filing 1099s but it usually has an extra fee. And if you are a sole proprietor, software capable of handling 1099s can also prepare 1040 Schedule C reports for sales tax.
Can I manage my payroll using the software?
This is an extra feature which you have to pay extra money for, but if it is offered by the company, then the answer is yes. You can usually add a limited amount of employees, but they can log their own work time and get paid accordingly either by check or by direct deposit. And like we mentioned before, tax preparation is completely automated, therefore your only concern is filing those tax papers in time.
Why should I pay for online accounting software when there are free solutions?
The reason is simple: because free software providers often catch you by charging a heft fee for features that are essential for accounting. We think that it is better to pay a monthly subscription fee and have all the features you need than having a free of charge software, but ending up paying more for additional features. Moreover, you are never tied to one software: if you find a solution with better pricing, but with the same features, you can always terminate your account and move to a new one by exporting your data.
How much does an online accounting solution cost?
It depends on the company and the pricing plan you choose. The most basic pricing plans start around $10 per month, while the top products can have a price tag of $40–$70 per month.
If there are more pricing plans, which one should I choose?
Take into consideration the scale of your business, how many employees you have, whether or not you are a sole proprietor, which features you will need to smoothly run your business, and, of course, which one you can afford. But if there is only one pricing plan, then you know what you have to do: subscribe and enjoy.
Do I get everything for my subscription or do I have to purchase certain services for an additional fee?
Again, it depends on the accounting company’s product you are using. After a thorough research we found that most of the companies don’t include a payroll feature in the software; instead they offer it as an extra which has a base fee plus an additional monthly fee per employee. Furthermore, the extra payroll features often limit the number of people whose payroll you can manage.
Another feature you have to pay for is the online payment of your outgoing invoices: this allows your client to pay their invoices faster using their credit/debit cards or e-wallets like PayPal. The cost of this service is usually 0.3% plus a certain amount of additional fee that must be paid after each transaction.
Are there discounts for the software?
Yes, there are. Usually the first three to twelve months of use has a discounted monthly subscription fee which only applies for new customers. However, there is the option to choose the annual subscription fee which also has a reduced price tag; the only downside is that you have to pay in one lump sum and in advance for the service.
Can I try out software for free?
Absolutely! Accounting companies typically offer either a 14-day or a 30-day long trial period during which you can get to know the (top or chosen) product. If you don’t like the software you can just cancel the subscription, but if you are convinced, go ahead and subscribe. Oh, and don’t worry, once you have subscribed, you can use the software for free until the original expiration date of the trial.
I am subscribed to an online accounting solution, but I changed my mind. Can I get my money back?
It depends on the company, but usually if you decide to cancel a subscription, you lose your current subscription fee. This is unfortunately a sacrifice you have to make if you want to switch to different software. Our only suggestion is that if you have an annual subscription, change to a monthly one, so when it comes to moving to the new software, you only lose a 1-month fee.
Do I get customer support?
Online accounting solution is a paid service, therefore you get all the help you need – whether you just started using the software or you are already a pro.
What kind of support do I get?
Aside from the usual support – like email, live chat and phone support – you can read and watch tutorials, ask a question in the community forums, attend events and webinars organized by the company, or read a FAQ like the one you are currently reading.
Is the support 24/7?
It depends on the company, but usually, it isn’t. Therefore always visit the website of the accounting company and search for the official opening hours.
What if the company is located outside the U.S.? Do I get support anyway?
No matter on which side of the planet you are, you get support from the accounting company no matter what. If that company is not located in the U.S., the only thing you have to pay attention to is the opening hours and the time lag.