Keeping Your Books In Check With LessAccounting

Accounting is one of those frustrating things that we all have to deal with in business. Recently, I looked at two web-based accounting systems, Crunch and Kashflow, both designed for small businesses with limited IT funds. These systems, along with having low maintenance costs (which usually come in the form of a monthly subscription fee), can be tailored to fit the company’s exact needs and allow for far greater flexibility when it comes to managing the company’s books.

Up till now, I have only reviewed accounting systems for UK-based small business which, due to different accounting practices, are not suitable for US companies. There are plenty out there (just Google ‘web accounting’ for a few) however LessAccounting seems to be a strong contender for a simple, easy-to-use accounting system owing to its intuitive user interface and the fact it integrates with your bank’s data which, according to the developers, can cut down the time you spend doing the books by up to 80%.

Is this the one accounting system for U.S. small businesses? Let’s take a look at it in a bit more detail to find out.

First Thoughts

LessAccounting runs in your web browser – there’s no additional software to install – and works across all operating systems. The app is available via a monthly subscription, which costs $30, and with this you can do unlimited transactions and have as many members as you want – there are absolutely no restrictions (unlike other similar systems which work off a tiered subscription, where you often have to pay more to get more).

LA Splash

The home page for LessAccounting

Don’t think also that you have to be an absolute genius at bookkeeping to be able to use LessAccounting. It’s really suitable for everyone. Even if you only have a basic knowledge of accounting, LessAccounting will guide you through the process painlessly and quickly. You can even sign up to 6 hours of bookkeeping support per quarter to brush up your skills;¬†however this cost an extra $70 monthly.

The developers unfortunately do not offer a free trial, however there is a live demo system (which we are also going to use for this review) on the website, which can be accessed by clicking Demo in the top-right corner and entering both the username as the password as demo.

LA Login

Logging into the demo system of LiveAccounting

Once you’ve logged into LessAccounting, you are greeted by the Dashboard which displays a graph of your company’s cash flow over time and any warnings due (such as unpaid invoices, uncategorised expenses and budget warnings).

LA Dashboard

Your company's dashboard, showing recent cash flow as well as any warnings.

Features

All of LessAccounting’s features can be accessed from the lefthand side menu (which, in my opinion, looks a bit like the one on iTunes!), and they are categorised to make navigation easier. You can access this menu no matter where you are in the application, which avoids flicking back and forth between pages to do something else.

Adding Your Bank Accounts

Of course, before you start tapping away in LessAccounting, you’ll need some funds to play around with first! As mentioned previously, LessAccounting integrates with your own bank and downloads the relevant data needed, meaning that migration to it is effortless and easy, and is compatible with most major banks and credit card providers (including American Express, Capital One, Bank of America, Paypal and Wells Fargo).

LA Bank Accounts

Adding your company bank accounts into LessAccounting

If your bank isn’t yet supported, then you can enter the data manually, however this does take a lot longer!

Defining Your Budget

Unless you’re the king of splurge, then you’ll want to budget for the fiscal year or quarter and, of course, LessAccounting will let you do this. The app already comes with some default categories which you can modify, and a graph of your monthly outgoings per category. It will also allow you to set up an individual budget for each one; just click on it and enter the budget amount.

LA Budget

Defining your advertising budget for the month (currently $1,000.00)

You can filter your budget by month, quarter and year and LessAccounting allows to compare this month or quarter’s results to the previous one. The budget tool really serves two purposes: firstly it allows you to track your exact spending for each category as well as ensuring you don’t shoot over your allotted budget for that period (and if you do, a warning will pop up on the Dashboard).

Adding Invoices & Expenses

You can use LessAccounting to issue all of your company invoices and the system will keep an eye on them to ensure whether or not they have been paid. Adding an invoice is extremely simple (you can even set up templates and recurring invoices to save time) – all you have to do is choose the client, add some items and a heading and LessAccounting does the rest.

LA Invoice

Creating a new invoice

After creating your new invoice, you can preview it before you send it off to your client. LessAccounting also features a built-in e-mail system meaning that you can send off your invoices without ever leaving the app.

LA Email

LessAccounting's built-in email system for invoices

Adding expenses is just as easy. You simply enter the amount and any additional information about it, such as the expense’s category, the client the expense was for (if the expense is to be paid by the client), and whether or not it has been paid. LessAccounting will also let you upload a receipt of the expense for your records.

LA Expense

Entering your expenses into LessAccounting

Generating Reports

Like pretty much all accounting systems, LessAccounting will allow you to generate a whole range of reports so you can keep track of your company’s finances as well as plan for the next fiscal year. Your reports are divided into three categories: General Accounting Reports, which includes account transactions (e.g. bank account activity) and your profit and loss statement, Payables Reports, which can list your expenses by category and any unpaid expenses and the Receivables Reports, which lists any outstanding invoices.

LA Reports

The reporting section of LessAccounting

All reports can be customised according to date range and filtered (for example if you are looking for a particular transaction) and the data produced can be exported as a CSV file for further processing in other applications (Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers for example).

Final Thoughts

Well I have to say – I’m extremely impressed with LessAccounting and I can see that it would work wonders for many types of business, no matter what they do. The low maintenance costs (a mere $30 a month with absolutely no limitations) makes this program that little bit more attractive to businesses who don’t want to lay out massive amounts on their IT software. The sheer range of features yet simplistic interface make this one of the best web-based accounting systems out there for US-based small businesses and who knows, it might even make accounting fun!

Quote LessAccounting’s slogan:

All small business accounting software sucks, we just suck the least.

After giving this fantastic program a good test spin, I can find myself agreeing strongly with this statement. Take a look at the demo version and have a play with it yourself – the results are staggering.


Summary

An online cloud-based accounting system for U.S. small businesses.

9