Many sole traders and small businesses see accounting as nothing more than a necessary evil – hence the rise of products like Kashflow, a web-based service that claims “no accounting knowledge is required”, and that you’ll “be up and running in minutes”. An end to the days when days when accounting software was discussed purely in terms of accruals, double-entry book-keeping, bank reconciliation and trial balances? Sounds good to us…
Kashflow is designed to cater for small businesses with up to five staff and an annual turnover of less than £500,000. It lets you create quotes and invoices, record purchase information for your business expenses, looks after VAT (HMRC accepts returns submitted directly from Kashflow) and produces a range of reports (including tables, charts and spreadsheet-friendly CSV files) so you can see what’s what.
Kashflow makes it easy to convert quotes to invoices, chase them up with by-the-numbers reminder letters, issue repeats – say, every month – and also integrates with popular online payment services such as PayPal and WorldPay, which makes it extremely useful for anyone who does a lot of their business online.
The interface is friendly, remarkably jargon-free (though the occasional weird accounting term sneaks through the net) and we think it’s a good fit for anyone who’s fallen foul of accounting software in the past; the company reckons you’ll still need an accountant though, so it’s not the kind of soup-to-nuts service offered by much more expensive alternatives like Crunch (http://www.crunch.co.uk/) which includes the services of your very own accountant.
Kashflow can import old info from Sage, QuickBooks or Excel spreadsheets – as well as bank statements saved as CSV files – though you may need to allocate time to tidy old records up; entering information from scratch is straightforward and Kashflow starts producing useful analysis straight away, even if you only enter a few customers, invoices, purchase details and so on, thanks to the overview screen.
Invoice design is a bit primitive. In fact, despite being easy to use, the whole site lacks the spit and polish of, say, FreeAgent Review: FreeAgent Central Free Agent so while you can set up options like borders and include a header, everything’s done in an old-fashioned set-options-and-then-preview way.
We’ve also noted a minor kerfuffle regarding Kashflow’s security, which stems from the fact that the service only offers a single level of permissions – so for example, if you have five people in a company and they all need access to the account, they’ll all enjoy the same privileges, which may not be appropriate in every situation. It’s not a problem for sole traders or where only one person accesses the account, but it’s worth bearing in mind. Alternatively, there’s a third-party add-on called Kashguard (www.kashguard.co.uk/) which solves the problem but costs £9.99 a month for between two and four users.
Contact: 0800 848 8301
- Ease of use.
- Interface and invoices could do with a facelift.
Small businesses struggling with unfriendly accounting software (or indeed, grumpy accountants demanding more accurate record keeping) can investigate Kashflow with confidence.
The service comes with a free 60-day trial which refreshingly doesn't require any kind of credit card to set up, a low monthly fee and all the features you need to run a small business.
We'd like to see some more love given to the invoicing part - better design tools and a few templates to get you started, as well as smoother integration with online banking - but even so, this will solve a lot of accounts related problems for a lot of small businesses.