By Derek Singleton, Software Advice

Small businesses have to be careful about their spending habits. A minor misstep can have major repercussions. Read what guest blogger Derek Singleton of SoftwareAdvice.com has to say about making the right choice for your business.

Making a software purchase is no different than any other investment. One of the most important investments that a small business can make is to purchase an accounting software package. Accounting software makes things like expense tracking, invoicing and billing, and maintaining a general ledger much more manageable. More important, most small business owners can manage their accounting needs with a simple software program.

But making the choice on which accounting package is best for your business can be difficult. There are many affordable options out there but not all of them deliver the right functionality. At Software Advice, I recently put together a list of my five favorite accounting solutions for small businesses: Sage Simply Accounting, NetSuite Financials, Sage Peachtree, CMS Professional 2011, and (naturally) QuickBooks.

One of the best ways to determine which system is right for your business is to look at a side-by-side table comparison. I built out the one below to provide a snapshot of the functionality offered in each.

Beyond the functionality, each product has some features that make the solution unique. Here’s a quick rundown of three of the five systems included in the table:

QuickBooks
QuickBooks is Intuit’s flagship product and is the most well-known small business accounting program out there. It’s been around since 1983 and owns a huge slice of the small business market. QuickBooks is available in five versions – Online, Pro, Mac, Premier, and Enterprise. The price tag will range from $12.95/mo. for Online to $600/user for the Enterprise version.

Sage Peachtree
Closely trailing QuickBooks is Peachtree. Over 3.2 million users in the US & Canada use this system. Like QuickBooks, Peachtree is offered in 5 versions – First, Pro, Complete, Premium, and Quantum. First and Pro support only one user and are good for mom and pop type operations. If you need more than that, look to other versions.

NetSuite
NetSuite is a web-based system that currently has 10,000 users. Although the user base isn’t huge yet, it’s growing. In addition to aggressive market growth, NetSuite also packs in the most functionality of the five solutions. Because it’s web-based, users can access it from anywhere that has an Internet connection which makes it cheap and easy to use.

To see more detailed reviews of CMS 2011 and Simply Accounting. Or see the full article at: Small Business Accounting Systems | 5 Affordable Solutions.

Derek Singleton is an ERP Market Analyst for Software Advice. He covers the accounting software industry for Software Advice and spends most of his day writing at the company. You can follow him on Twitter @ERPAdvice. Feel free to email him at derek@softwareadvice.com.