Accounting is a bane for tradies the world over.
It’s extra stressful because so few of us (if any) are trained accountants. In fact, prior to being a tradie, the likelihood you’ve handled sales, payments, or even taxes is almost nil. Now you have to juggle all three and more.
And then there’s the maths. Oh, maths.
But accounting is absolutely crucial to your business’ health. One wrong move can slap you with a hefty fine. Even the JP Morgan’s of the world aren’t exempt—a simple spreadsheet error cost them a massive $6 billion in losses and $600,000 in fines.
- Accounting mistakes can be expensive.
- And you’ve gotta do better than spreadsheets.
The good thing is you’re not alone in this boat.
Because this is such a common problem, tradie-specific accounting solutions have sprung from everywhere, many of them tailored to address your most pressing business needs. Whereas in the past, you might have had to spend top dollar on an accounting firm or accountant, now you can get things done with accounting software.
With accounting software, bookkeeping becomes a matter of keying in the right numbers. All the number crunching and maths—let the software do it for you. Plus, you can keep your receipts, invoices, and financial documents stored in one place.
Here’s a handy guide to accounting software for tradies and five apps that we absolutely love.
The best part? Everything is just a click away.
What Makes for Great Accounting Software?
- Value for Money
Before we dive into your options, let’s set a baseline for what makes great accounting software. For this, we offer five simple guidelines:
When evaluating any software (or any product for that matter), reviews and recommendations are your best friend. There are sites like Software Advice where you can get detailed feedback on the pros and cons of different software providers.
Also, pay attention to what your peers are saying. Fellow tradies and tradie groups (shoutout to The Site Shed) are great sources of information.
If someone you trust trusts a product, there’s a good chance you’re looking at a winner. It isn’t foolproof, but it certainly beats scanning every brochure and website.
On the flip side, stay away from poorly reviewed products; there’s a good reason why someone took a few minutes of their precious time to write their (strongly worded) piece.
Always keep your business needs top of mind. It’s easy to get distracted by bells and whistles and lose sight of the essentials when shopping around for an accounting solution.
We suggest making a list of the features you need and arranging them according to priority. Some apps might look identical at the start, but, going deeper, you might (and probably will) notice key differences.
For example, one app may be better for cash flow management, while another excels at payroll. Likewise, one app might offer only basic accounting, while another advanced analytics.
Whichever the case, understanding what you need out of accounting software should set the tone for your search. As a general rule, the more business needs of yours a software provider can address, the better.
Learn to separate must-haves from nice-to-haves. After all, what use is real-time multi-currency conversion when you don’t operate globally anyway.
Not sure what you need? Get in touch with an accountant and have them guide you through the different accounting software providers.
Most modern businesses use several apps to operate. With this in mind, you’d want accounting software that blends with, not goes against, your current setup. Remember, the goal is to make work easier.
Trying to fit incompatible software into your business is forcing a square peg into a round hole. Look instead for a peg that fits—that is, find software that comes with built-in integrations with your favorite apps. Chances are, if your apps are fairly popular, you’ll be able to find accounting software that works with them seamlessly.
Your accounting needs will expand as your business grows. As much as possible, you’ll want to purchase software that can cater to your business’ evolving needs.
As your business demands to process more invoices, paying more employees, or adding users to your software, a convenient and scalable solution should already be at your fingertips.
Ideally, you’ll want software that scales with your business. Should your accounting needs grow, your ideal solution should just be an “upgrade” button away.
5. Value for Money
Just as you wouldn’t pay an accounting firm boatloads of cash, you also wouldn’t want to pay more than you should for a software. It’s important to take this into consideration especially if you’re working within an allocated budget.
Evaluating the value for money of any software is directly tied to your business priorities. You’d want to get a software that fits your business just right. Opting for cheaper plans that can serve your needs is always a better call than having the most expensive software.
Smarter, faster accounting pays for itself—work with your accountant to find the best price point and gauge your options accordingly.
Now that we’ve covered selection criteria, it’s time to, well, choose one. Here are five examples of outstanding accounting software for tradies:
If you’re looking for top-notch accounting software that’s simple, yet fully-equipped, Xero might be the software for you. In fact, it has been Tradiematepro’s accounting software of choice for years.
Xero was developed in New Zealand in 2006, and has since become the market leader in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK in 2018 with their subscriber numbers up by 49%.
Xero covers all bases. It has cloud-based invoicing, inventory tracking, and payroll features, only to name a few. You can also connect your bank to Xero’s software to view your transaction flows automatically. This removes the need to manually keep track of every transaction, to make month-end reconciliations much faster and more accurate. Xero complements these features with best-in-class, multi-layered information security.
More than its main features, it also has a mobile app that allows you to track your business’ finances anytime, anywhere. This is a feature that you’ll love if you value convenience.
Xero’s website provides you with a list of apps that work best with their software, to ensure smooth integration.
The price starts at $25 a month for a starter plan. If you want to send unlimited invoices and bills, you can get that for $50. Xero gives you access to all the features for all plans, and you can add extra users for projects and expenses for an additional $5-10 a month.
MYOB (stands for ‘Mind Your Own Business’) is also a key player in the accounting software market. It has a close rivalry with Xero, growing its user base at 60% in 2018. MYOB is designed with Aussie business owners in mind, so you’re sure to get exceptional customer service support with them.
MYOB’s catalogue of products is tailor-fit to different business sizes and objectives. Its key features include invoicing, bank transactions, and job tracking. If you’re a tradie who bills by the hour, MYOB has a unique bill by time feature designed exactly for that. While MYOB already works with most applications business owners use, they have add-ons that you can use to extend the functionality of your accounting software.
The price starts at $27 a month for their accounting starter package. The premier package is priced at $140 a month with complete functionality like multi-currency, inventory tracking, and unlimited invoicing. You can directly compare the packages to determine what suits your needs on their website.
If you have absolutely no finance or accounting background, you may want to try out Cashflow Manager. They make the process so simple—just drag the money you spend and the money you receive in their respective categories, and it will do all the work for you. It’s been around since 1990, and has simplified doing business for thousands of small business owners.
That’s how you know it’s a brand you can trust.
The key features of Cashflow Manager are invoicing, simple budgeting, and automatic calculation of Goods and Services Tax (GST). It’s an easily customisable software, and as a business owner, you’d want to take advantage of that level of flexibility.
Of course, it wouldn’t have stood the test of time with the development of new software if it hadn’t been for their exceptional customer support. With Cashflow Manager, you get free phone support if ever you have questions on how to use the software or simply need help setting up.
The price starts at $22 for Cashflow Manager for a basic account that mostly monitors sales. If you want to do more with your software like payroll, tracking supplier payments, and have a built-in virtual assistant in your software, Cashflow Manager Gold goes for $39 a month.
SurePayroll, as the name implies, is a go-to tool for payroll and tax accounting.
Payroll is, as we all know, one of the most stressful parts of running a business. When you’re doing payroll, you have to factor in deductions for retirement, taxes, insurance, and, at times, add bonuses.
The worst part? You have to do it for every single employee.
This software automates your payroll complexities away. All you have to do is to key in your employees’ hours, review the taxes to be deducted, and approve the payroll and you’re done.
Imagine all those complexities turned into three very simple steps. This also saves you from unwanted fines because SurePayroll guarantees 100% tax filing.
You can get a free trial and a payroll quote designed specifically for your business on their website.
Neat is a smart, cloud-based tool that helps users track their accounting data without having to tear through their keyboards. If you’re the “track everything type” of business owner, Neat’s software may just be the right fit for you.
As a business owner, you’ll be dealing with plenty of physical receipts that you have to manually encode into your system. Not only is this task tedious, it’s also prone to error.
Neat provides a unique feature that solves this problem. You can capture receipts using your phone, and the software will automatically extract all the necessary data. Then, all you have to do is choose what you want to do with the data and generate the reports you need.
The price starts at $7.50 a month (paid annually) for the basic features, and $12.50 a month (also paid annually) for a Neat Premium subscription with extended features.
Just over a decade ago, accounting was hardly accessible to the average tradie. Today, there are dozens of apps that can help you get the job done and much more, allowing you to direct your focus towards more important business matters.
Using software also means you’ll have quick and easy access to data. This is absolutely crucial in terms of managing costs, filing taxes, avoiding delays when paying employees and suppliers.
Choosing an accounting software is much simpler once you’ve outlined your business needs and set a reasonable budget. We cannot overstate the importance of investing in accounting software; the peace of mind you get in return is truly priceless.