Mobile devices are the busy entrepreneurs best friend. Just as mobile devices and apps have made it possible to take your operations on the road, the new generation of apps is making it possible to take your business finances too.
But its more than just being mobile. Smartphones and tablets are now doing some of the work of accountants, bookkeepers and statisticians. If you’re looking for your phone to help you manage your money, take a look at some of the most promising new accounting apps.
FreshBooks is one of the best bookkeeping apps available to smartphone users today. I think the designers named the app FreshBooks as a challenge to the dusty-old industry standard QuickBooks. The new FreshBooks boasts that it is the “future of cloud accounting”.
With FreshBooks you can capture and store data from physical receipts, make invoices on the go, and log expenses while on a trip. But the real centerpiece of this app is the “cloud”, which means that you can store your company’s financial data online rather than on any one device. Why? Well internet storage is safer, better protected, and available everywhere. So even if you lose a laptop you won’t lose any sensitive data. FreshBooks also has a remarkably helpful customer support system. The FreshBooks app is free, but so far only available on Apple iOS devices.
The creators of InDinero call the app a “mobile financial advisor. With it, you can see the cash flow of your entire business from the comfort of a smartphone or tablet. And the interface gives you up-to-the-minute updates on any transactions, reminders on impending payments, and suggestions on how to save a little extra dough.
But InDinero is much more than an odometer for your business finances. Like a pocket CFO, the app can set forecasts for the financial future of your company. InDinero constantly pulls current data from all of the financial accounts in a business’s portfolio in to provide the best information for going forward.
And, like a good bookkeeper, InDinero categorizes expenses and transactions automatically so business owners don’t have to waste time going back in their finances to separate everything by category. For all this functionality, InDinero users pay a monthly fee that varies based on the service.
Don’t ask me how these developers come up with these funny names. I suspect that they’re intended to be memorable, and Yodlee is certainly that. This financial management too is offered on both Android and Apple platforms; it’s among the newer apps out there for entrepreneurs and its pretty cheap at $3.99/mo.
What Yodlee does remarkably well is present the business owner with a graphical interpretation of important data: costs, profits, debts, yearly projections and just about any other statistic you can imagine will be made clear through beautiful graphs and charts. Yodlee aggregates your many financial accounts (from different banks, credit card companies, and even brokerages) onto one page so you can see exactly where you stand financially. The app is similar to Mint, but in my opinion it’s a better fit for small businesses. Why? For one thing, it offers great reminders about upcoming transactions. Yodlee also does away with financial jargon — making the whole experience simpler.
The final offering on my list is a classic service. QuickBooks is among the most trusted financial management services out there; now their branded mobile application gives you the ability to make and log important financial decisions on the go. The biggest advantage to using QuickBooks Mobile is that it integrates seamlessly with your desktop QuickBooks — even if your QuickBooks file is sitting on the PC of an accountant across the country.
Many businesses use QuickBooks for a reason: it’s easy to use and boasts a no-nonsense, time-tested interface to help business owners assess their finances quickly and simply. But it’s long history is also the service’s biggest downfall: QuickBooks is “old school” compared to newer mobile services out there, and it might not have some of the bells and whistles you are looking for. But for just $9.95/mo, QuickBooks Mobile is a great value for both Android and Apple users. (And it works equally well with either Desktop QuickBooks or QuickBooks Online.)
[IMPORTANT UPDATE: QuickBooks announced on Nov 2, 2012 that it would no longer support the WEBSITE version of the QB Mobile app. Apple and Android versions will continue to work -- and to be improved over time -- but you won't be able to use the QB Mobile via a web-browser (such as with a laptop). Too bad too, since that made QB Mobile really useful for employees who do not carry iPads all day.]
Try them all and let us know what you think!
Dedicated to your (mobile!) business success, Carol Wilson
Guest contributor Carol Wilson is a freelance blogger who writes about business, finance, and higher education for businessinsurance.org. When she’s not writing about her passions, Carol is usually out in the sticks hiking or brushing up on her photography. Feel free to write her some comments!