The debate never ends: QuickBooks or Quicken?

If you have been a small business owner for some time, you will realize that there has been an ongoing debate about the best software you can buy when setting up your small business. You are probably beyond the point where you decide if you need software. Given the low prices and ease of use of many accounting software lines, $ 100 or $ 200 for financing software is really a no-brainer, even if you are on tight budgets. Accounting software just makes a lot of sense and is affordable enough for everyone. If you doubt this statement, chances are you’ll have trouble and waste a lot of time figuring out how to post the “old way.”

QuickBooks and Quicken are the two dominant software packages on the market right now. Of course, there are freebie knockoffs, but my general experience has been that free knockoffs are time consuming to learn and do not save you much time in the long run. Yes, they are free, but what is your time worth? Ironically, these two software applications are from the same company, Intuit, but to slightly different markets. Let me explain.

Quicken is for the only small business owner who does not need many forms, customer receipts, purchase orders, invoices or other accounting documentation that has been printed. You can print invoices, but it’s not as easy to do as it is with QuickBooks. Between the two packages, Quicken also has a smaller learning curve, which makes it easy to install, configure and start working. If you just need a user-friendly checkbook balance, this is the product to get. It can track loans and amortization plans. It also gives you an opportunity to plan your finances and retirement savings. Again, its strength is its ease of use.

QuickBooks, on the other hand, is ideal for an LLC, company or limited partnership that actually employs individuals. If you need to keep detailed records of cash, holdings or assets, you need QuickBooks.

This product provides robust features for automating general accounting tasks such as customer decisions, payrolls and financing costs. A major under-discussed (and also under-utilized) feature used by QuickBooks is the compartmentalized security features that allow your bookkeeper or CPA to execute your books without needing them to look in all areas of your finances. It seems to be a rare feature.

Both products are good at what they do and they are priced accordingly. You may even be able to find coupons on the internet to make your purchase more tasty. Each application is packed a little differently with their own versions of Deluxe, Super Deluxe and “We can’t add more features to this product without taking up huge amounts of hard disk space” Deluxe, so be sure to check each to see the features that will be important to you and your business.