As a small business owner, wouldn’t you rather focus on the core of your business and making money rather than accounting? Developing the core of a new business is an all-consuming process, leaving little time for back-office functions like properly managing finances and keeping precious financial data secure. Fortunately, there are many affordable online accounting tools for small businesses.  

Traditional accounting software platforms are on-premise solutions, meaning they are installed on the computer’s hard drive. Now that the cloud has caught up with the accounting world, on-premise software can no longer compete with the convenience of cloud-based platforms. For small businesses and start-up’s, cloud based accounting software platforms are great options.

There are two types of cloud-based software - proprietary and open source. 


Proprietary Accounting Software


A proprietary cloud-based accounting platform is software stored and accessed online. IT tasks such as upgrades and data backup are managed by the application vendor. Users can access their businesses’ data remotely with a desktop computer or smart phone, and because the data is automatically backed-up, users don’t have to worry about losing their data. Using a proprietary platform comes with access to technical support and installation assistance. Below are three cloud-based accounting software platforms that are all under $30 per month.

  • QuickBooks Online
  • Xero
  • Freshbooks

For a detailed description of the features of these platforms, as well as customer reviews, Click here:


Open Source


Most software has a source code that can only be accessed and controlled by the entity that created it, this is known as proprietary software, in contrast open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify and enhance. According to, “Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development.”

Proponents of open source platforms claim it provides greater control, training opportunities, greater security and stability. Many open source platforms are free, but open source doesn’t always mean free. Developers may charge for technical support, troubleshooting and installation. Below are three popular open source accounting software options.

  • GnuCash
  • HomeBank
  • KMyMoney

For a detailed description of the features of these platforms, as well as reviews, Click here:


Both proprietary and open source accounting platforms store the data entered into the system on the cloud. Due to the sensitive nature of this data, business owners need to do everything they can to keep their data safe. Cloud-sourced software claims to be more secure than on-premise software, but there are more ways business owners can maximize security.  

During the last Decatur CoWorks community seminar, “Decoding Cybersecurity: Protecting Your Family & Finances Online,” Gary Phillips, VP of Software Security at Suntrust, spoke about the measures a business owner can take to protect financial data. Below are 5 tips Gary recommends to ensure maximum security of your financial data.

  1. Monitor your credit through online services like CreditKarma.
  2. Use complex and memorable passwords and don’t re-use passwords.
  3. Enable automatic updates on your computers to assure your software is current and known vulnerabilities are patched.
  4. Shred all paperwork containing personally identifiable information.
  5. Be wary of shared thumb drives that could contain malware.


Whether you are using a proprietary or open source platform, many accounting platforms are intuitive enough that you don’t need to be a financial expert to effectivity use them. Most importantly, utilizing financial management tools will free up vital time that can be spent on the core of the business.

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