Be A Master of Finance
These business software tips will help keep your books in order and make April 15th a lot less taxing
-- by Joel Patz, Reviews Editor

With more than 44 million small businesses in the United States, it's no surprise that accounting software has finally shed its green-eyeshade-and-sleeve-garter image to emerge as one of the most closely watched program categories. And as more and more businesses spring up, the number of entrepreneurs getting their feet wet in the mysterious waters of Accounting 101 will grow just as rapidly.

But keeping the books isn't all there is to running a business--there's also the yearly headache known as tax time. On the following pages, we give you a leg up on your competition with tips for using two of the most popular small-business accounting programs--Intuit's QuickBooks Pro 4.0 and Peachtree Software's Peachtree Complete Accounting--along with Intuit's stress-relieving TurboTax for Business.

Running a small business is tough enough, so you don't want to struggle with arcane terminology when it comes to balancing the books. Sure, you'll still have to know a debit from a credit, but today, accounting programs use the familiar terminology you use in running your business.

For example, you can select menu items to "Convert estimate to order,""Maintain inventory items"or "Apply discount."If you take advantage of the sample industry-specific charts that these programs provide, chores like setting up a Chart of Accounts aren't nearly as complicated or time consuming as they used to be.

Accounting programs have gotten so easy to use that they bear a striking resemblance to their personal-finance cousins. This latest generation of accounting programs will help reconcile your bank accounts, project cash flow and transfer funds between accounts. Some have even integrated customer-management tasks in their products, with contact manager-like features to add reminders and keep track of historical information such as phone calls and correspondence with customers. Peachtree is also branching out to the Internet. Its latest product, Business Internet Suite, can turn information about your business and your inventory list into a Web site complete with electronic order processing.

Windows Magazine, March 1997, page 218.

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