When do you need accounting software?

We dive into five key signs indicating that it's time small business owners should make the switch to an accounting software.

Published on

January 31, 2020

A self employed woman sitting at a computer calculating if she needs accounting software
A self employed woman sitting at a computer calculating if she needs accounting software


In the early stages of starting up your company, managing your accounts via spreadsheets may suffice. But as your business grows, you may find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time on getting your business finances and accounts sorted out. 

Perhaps you're not entirely sure if you should stick with our current practices-or seek out a new way to handle your accounting. We'll explore this in our article below, where we dive into five signs that indicate it's time for small business owners to make the switch:

5 Signs it's time to make the switch to accounting software

1. You're experiencing growth

Spreadsheets can by a handy tool when you're just starting out-such as when you're in the initial stages of budgeting and planning out your business finances. 

Yet, as your operations continue, you'll find that things can easily get out of hand. Even simple tasks, such as keeping track of invoices or cash flow projections can be time-consuming and tedious when you're juggling between multiple spreadsheets and paperwork. 

There may also come a point in time when you'll have more than one person managing your accounts-whether that's hiring an accountant, or assigning a team member to handle tasks like recording new information, generating reports or approving payments. In such cases, accounting software features like multiple device access and user restriction configuration can come in handy.

2. You require faster access to information

Over time, you'll find that you're handling an increasing volume of business data. If you're relying solely on spreadsheets to manage these data, decision-making can become a challenging process as you're unable to analyse the financial position of your business quickly. 

That's because you won't be able to access information immediately; you'll need to be familiar with spreadsheet commands and formulas in order to derive insights from your data. And unless you're updating your spreadsheets as new data flows in, the reports that are generated might not paint an accurate financial snapshot of how your business is performing. 

When this happens, it can create delays in how you make business decisions-whether that's deciding on the amount of stock you need to order, or how you should manage your cash flow. 

Here's where accounting software comes into the picture: it provides a range of tools and analytics, so you can obtain detailed summaries of your profit, expenses, cash flow and more. What's key is that should any issues crop up with your accounting or business finances, you'll be able to identify where the problems lie-and take steps to rectify these instantly. 

Self employed individual researching accounting software on laptop

3. You're spending valuable time on manual, repetitive tasks 

As a small business owner, you wear all the hats at your company; juggling between multiple tasks and conflicting priorities is all in a day's work. 

While administrative tasks, such as inventory tracking, processing transactions or invoicing customers are necessary, these are often repetitive and can be a huge time suck. With an accounting software, you'll be able to automate most of these tasks. This leaves you with additional time that you can spend on growing your business-rather than flicking through documents and spreadsheets. 

4. You're experiencing an increase in manual errors 

Given that nine out of 10 spreadsheets (88%) contain errors, it's unsurprising that the number of errors that occur can easily add up if you're mostly working with spreadsheets. While it's inevitable that seemingly minute mistakes occur from time to time, these can create adverse impacts on your business-such as inaccurate statements or lost tax credits.

5. You lack technical accounting skills or a proper accounting system

While many small business owners are highly skilled or experienced in their field, tackling their bookkeeping and accounting often aren't tasks that they're comfortable with. 

As Steve Strauss, president of TheSelfEmployed.com shares, having "a firm understanding of finances and business performance is crucial for a small business to be successful" - yet a lack of financial literacy is a common problem small business owners face. 

This is highlighted in a 2018 report by JPMorgan Chase Institute, which details an analysis undertaken on the cash flow transactions of 1.3 million small businesses. The report indicated that small businesses failed due to highly volatile cash flow transactions-an outcome that could have been avoided if they had a better knowledge of cash flow management practices.  

The problem is further compounded when small businesses don't have a proper accounting system in place. As indicated in a 2018 Clutch survey, one quarter of small businesses (25%) still record their finances on paper. 

To better navigate their way around these pit holes, small business owners can tap into the features and tools that an accounting software offers. You'll be able to generate comprehensive finance reports, balance your books without having the technical accounting skills, and opt for additional services that come with your accounting package - such as personalised consultations and financial reviews.

Making the switch to an accounting software

If the points we've outlined above apply to your situation, you may decide that the timing is apt for making the switch to an accounting software. You'll then need to spend time figuring out factors such as the key features you require, scalability and flexibility of the software, level of support offered and your budget. 

Don't worry if you only have a rough idea of what you're looking for. We'd love to help you select the right software for your business, so feel free to reach out to our support team for further information.

Enjoyed the read? Share below:

Get a Free Guide for your business:

Small business accounting year one guide book

All the accounting advice you need to know when starting a business

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Our full series on Small Business Accounting:

Search our knowledge base:

how can we help you?

Whether it's about starting your business, finding accounting support, switching accountant or setting up a Virtual Office, we're here to help.

Thanks for you enquiry!
We'll get back to you shortly

Explore our Knowledge Base

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Forma advisors helping

Get a Free Guide for your business

Free Guide