Online accounting software for small business in 2024

Kirstie Lau4 minutes
GuidesBusiness tips
Online accounting software for small business in 2024
In this article

A good accounting software and financial management system helps to maintain company's financial health

A robust and efficient online accounting software is crucial for companies of all sizes to stay on top of their financial management. Good financial health comes from streamlined financial operations, clear visibility, and data-driven analysis – all the strengths of online accounting software.

Here, we will delve into the 5 best accounting software for small businesses and guide you through the selection process.

What is online accounting software?

Online accounting software is a web-based application that helps businesses manage financial data and perform accounting functions, including bookkeeping, billing and invoicing, payroll, and more, from anywhere with an internet connection. As the software is hosted on remote servers, it is sometimes known as cloud-based accounting software.

Unlike local accounting software, which is desktop-based and can only be accessed in a specific location, online accounting software offers a more flexible solution, particularly good for small businesses looking to expand globally.

The features of online accounting software

Generally speaking, the common features of online accounting software include:

  • Invoicing and billing: create and send invoices, as well as track payments

  • Expense tracking: record and categorize business expenses

  • Payroll management: manage employee payroll and ensure compliance, including MPF and tax calculations

  • Financial reporting: generate detailed financial reports, such as profit and loss statements, for compliance purposes and facilitate financial performance evaluation 

As technology advances, online accounting software is offering added convenience for businesses to further streamline their financial operations, such as one-click reconciliation through bank and credit card integration, multi-currency support, budget control, and more.

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How can online accounting software help to manage your financial data?

The beauty of online accounting software is that you can consolidate all your financial data in one single platform. It can also help you automatically categorize expenses according to your expense policy.

This means no more bulky binders and stacks of receipts across the office waiting for time-consuming data entry that is often prone to human error. At the same time, you can ensure consistency in expense categorisation, and hence compliance.

Especially for companies with multiple legal entities, this centralized approach allows financial controllers to gain visibility across the entire spectrum of the company's financial performance and subsequently make better, more informed financial decisions.

How can online accounting software benefit your cash flow management?

You can't manage what you don't know. With online accounting software, you can have total visibility of your company's cash flow, from global payroll and business expenses to local accounts receivables and payables. Your cash flow management can then be improved by:

  1. Ensuring timely payments from customers and never missing a payment to suppliers

  2. Avoiding unpleasant surprises of unnecessary expenses such as late payment penalties

  3. Identifying cost-cutting opportunities, e.g. by spotting duplicated expenses

  4. Recognising the periodic or seasonal pattern of your cash flow and making more accurate forecasts. Prepare for the rainy days.

How to choose between cloud accounting software or local accounting software?

The choice between cloud accounting software (online) and local accounting software (desktop-based) often depends on the following factors:

Cloud accounting software Local accounting software
Accessibility High
(Accessible from anywhere with internet connection)
Low
(Installed on a specific computer or local network)
Cost Medium
(Often subscription-based, cancel anytime)
High
(Often an upfront, one-time purchase)
Security Medium High
Flexibility and scalability High Low
Maintenance Low Medium

Ultimately, you will need to consider your specific needs, budget, IT infrastructure, company structure, and compatibility with existing systems to make the best decision.

As a point of reference, small businesses normally opt for online accounting software for its flexible pricing model, accessibility, and scalability, while more established companies with traditional IT infrastructure prefer local accounting software for higher security.

The best online accounting software for small business

If you have decided that cloud accounting software is better suited for your business, you will then need to consider a few more factors before committing to one, including:

  1. Ease of use: Cloud accounting software should be intuitive and easy to use. Look for free trials to experience the user interface, and test the responsiveness of customer support.

  2. Seamless integration: Prioritise compatibility with your bank account for automatic reconciliation. If you're in e-commerce or technology, make sure the software integrates with your e-commerce platform, CRM, project management tools, and more.

  3. Focus on your specific needs: While many cloud accounting software solutions offer a wide range of features, remember to prioritise your specific needs - with future growth of your business in mind. Don't get distracted by unnecessary features – focus on the tools that will truly drive your financial success.

To help you gain better clarity on what software to choose, we have listed out the key features and pricing of the major players in the market:

QuickBooks Online Xero Sage Business Cloud Wave Accounting
Common features
Invoicing and billing
Expense tracking ✓ (available in Pro plan only, ~HK$124.8/month)
Payroll ✓ (add on for ~HK$156/month)
Bank reconciliation ✓ (available in Pro plan only, ~HK$124.8/month)
Mobile access
Insights and reporting (basic)
Advanced features
Multi-currency ✓ (available in Essentials plan or higher, HK$21.5/month) ✓ (available in Premium plan, ~HK$241.8/month)
Inventory management ✓(available in Plus plan or higher, HK$29.5/month))
Integration with third-party apps ✓ (limited)
Tax management ✓ (available in Pro plan only, ~HK$124.8/month)
Project management ✓(available in Plus plan or higher, HK$29.5/month) ✓ (add on from ~HK$54.6/month)
Cost
Basic plan HK$14.5/month ~HK$113.1/month Tailored to business HK$0
Number of users 2 Unlimited - 1
Free trial

What are the benefits of integrating Airwallex with your accounting software?

Airwallex is a one-stop financial platform that focuses on optimising the efficiency of your financial operations, so you can focus on growing your business. Here’s how integrating Airwallex with your accounting software can revolutionise your financial operations:

  1. Effortlessly track transactions in real-time: By linking your Airwallex Business Account with your accounting software, all transactions will be automatically reflected in your accounting system, whether they’re bank transfers, card payments, or international transactions. This real-time sync gives you a clear picture of your cash flow at all times.

  2. Ensure financial clarity with multi-currency management: Airwallex offers multi-currency accounts, so you can transact in different currencies and still get a unified view of your finances through the Airwallex dashboard without being impacted by the fluctuation in exchange rates.

  3. One-click reconciliation: Automate your accounting and reconciliation process by integrating Airwallex with Xero accounting software

  4. Unlock automation and efficiency: With Airwallex, you can schedule recurring payments to suppliers, categorise and track expenses automatically, and generate customized financial reports with ease. 

When the tedious tasks of financial operations are taken care of, you can focus on what truly matters: grow your business and take on the global stage.

Ready to experience the benefits of seamless financial integration? Sign up for Airwallex today and unlock a world of efficiency and financial clarity. 

Open a global multi-currency account for free in Hong Kong

FAQs

1. What is the simplest accounting software?

The “simplest” accounting software should allow you to issue invoices and streamline part of your accounting process, such as bookkeeping and reporting. 

Ultimately, it will depend on your specific needs, budget, and level of comfort with accounting when choosing accounting software for your business. 

2. Is Airwallex accounting software safe and secure?

Airwallex is not an accounting software. It is a one-stop financial platform that offers multi-currency global accounts, international money transfers, online payment acceptance, and other financial services that are designed for small businesses to go global. 

You can choose to integrate Airwallex with your accounting software, and rest assured, Airwallex takes security very seriously. Airwallex is licensed as a Money Service Operator and is regulated by the Customs & Excise Department. The infrastructure and security protocols of Airwallex meet the highest international standards of PCI DSS Level 1 Standard, ensuring the safety of transaction data and customer privacy.

References:

Content related to QuickBooks Online, Xero, Sage Business Cloud and Wave Accounting is updated as of June 2024 according to information found from the internet and is for reference only. Please visit the relevant official website to obtain the latest information.

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Kirstie Lau
Senior Associate, Growth Marketing

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