- Many small business owners struggle with accounting but thanks to technological advancements, most accounting tasks can be trusted to accounting software.
- MYOB, XERO and Quickbooks are among the well-known accounting software that has proven to work effectively for sole trader businesses.
- Read this article to help you decide which accounting solution to use for your small business.
Editor's Update 06/07/20:
How do you determine your accounting software needs as a sole trader? As a sole trader, the best accounting software for you and your business will depend on your unique requirements. Not all accounting software is equal, so it's important to ask yourself questions such as:
1. What accounting functions do I need to be able to handle?
2. How easy is the software to use and does it integrate with other software and apps?
3. Will I use the software to make business decisions and run reports?
4. How is my business growing - how do I picture my business requirements changing?
Should you choose MYOB, XERO or Quickbooks? MYOB is a bit pricey, but MYOB skills are included in the TAFE courses in Accounting and Bookkeeping, meaning it would be very easy to find someone to help you use the software. XERO is slightly cheaper with great accessibility, but it's renowned for having a length process to draft, approve and authorise a bill. Quickbooks is the cheapest option and has a very user-friendly interface. It's a tough decision!
When I was building my very first start-up, (clap clap clap) I had no idea about any of the accounting requirements or even if I needed to use any sort of accounting software. Not only did I want the best value for my money, but I wanted to get the accounting software that matched my microbusiness.
For the record, I am a sole trader with limited funds so with the three accounting software I chose to briefly review (MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks), I went with the most basic subscription plans available.
MYOB Essentials Accounting
How much is MYOB per month? Prices start at $29/month
I’ve seen the MYOB brand floating around everywhere for a while, and on Savvy as well. So I decided to see what the hype was all about. I was extremely amused to find out that MYOB was an acronym for Mind Your Own Business. Pricey, but the fact that TAFE courses in Accounting and Bookkeeping include MYOB skills probably says something about making it easy to find someone to help you use the accounting software.
How much is XERO per month? Prices start at $25/month
A New Zealand based company, though with many Australian customers. Data in this accounting software is stored on servers offshore. I can say I am not a major fan of XERO just from my basic user experience with it.
Quickbooks Simple Start
How much is Quickbooks per month? Prices start at $15/month
Founded in the US but has an Australian version which complies with all Australian accounting requirements. It is also the cheapest accounting software among the three, but nonetheless, it doesn’t disappoint. Just absolutely beautiful.
How do MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks Compare?
Let's dive into some of the key features of great accounting software package: user interface, user experience, multi-device support and the customer service/help community.
1. User Interface
The MYOB dashboard is very simple, and gives a very comprehensive but quick look at the current Money In, Money Out, Banking, Sales Target and Invoices. I love the sleek minimalist look because it’s so simple, modern, and clean. The tabs are very easy to navigate around. Really, MYOB cuts the crap and goes straight to point, and looks really professional. So if you are looking for a user-friendly accounting software, MYOB is a great option to consider.
As for Xero, I found that the dashboard was a little cluttered. I thought the graphs were visually appealing, but a little unnecessary. One thing I really liked about Xero was its accessibility, where you can easily add a new invoice or bill straight from the dashboard, but that came at the expense of a clean interface. Tabs were easy to navigate as well. Overall, if I had to choose an accounting software, I'd definitely prefer MYOB over Xero.
Quickbooks was a pleasant surprise. I fell in love with the dashboard of this accounting software at first sight. It is very infographic-like and has a modern, simple interface, while still making it colourful. Just amazing. What I also loved about it was the ability to automatically email customers for their invoice. Tabs are incredibly easy to navigate around, because there aren’t so many of them in the first place, reducing the need to hunt around. Overall, absolutely loved Quickbooks and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for accounting software!
2. User Experience
Inventory tracking is not part of either MYOB Essentials, Xero Starter, or Quickbooks Simple Start. Not quite a big deal for me, to be honest.
As for invoicing, both MYOB and the Quickbooks have unlimited invoices and bills, while Xero is limited to five as well as bill transactions. I think that Xero is severely lacking as accounting software in this regard.
Payroll features in MYOB allow for unlimited employees (although as a micro business would not be much of a concern). As for Quickbooks, there is an extra complicated payment system with regards to the payment add-ons. For Xero, it only allows for one employee. This is annoying for me if I decide to expand. So again, another downside to Xero. A cause of many woeful calls for Xero also includes the lengthy process to draft a bill, approve then authorise, then apply separately to a multi-payment on the bank feed. Well. Kudos.
3. Multi-Device Support
One of the major issues I always look out for is multi-device support because realistically speaking multi-device support should be a given. The winner in this category among accounting app goes to MYOB because aside from the usual Android and iPhone app, they have a Windows 8 app!
4. Customer Service and Help Community
MYOB has a forum, phone support and live chat which I think is a huge bonus for quick answers. For those who want training, splash around some extra $$$ and the accounting software gives them training sessions. Xero offers “unlimited, around the clock email support and detailed online help centre.” They also have online webinars, a Xero TV which is a video hub and a Q&A forum. I’m not sure if they are actually necessary - it seems rather overdone with me, and I’m not sure if I will be bothered to watch it. Quickbooks has a lower scale support system in place, with a Q&A forum, live chat and email support, but is by no means insufficient.
There are various accounting software to choose from and it all comes down to the needs of your business. Take a look at the chart about the features of 3 accounting software and maybe it'll be a helping hand to you.
MYOB vs Xero vs QuickBooks: Comparison Chart of Features
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