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Accounting Today

The best accounting software for small biz, and other tech stories you may have missed

By January 10, 2024January 12th, 2024No Comments

(This column originally appeared in Accounting Today)


1. The best accounting software for small biz

CNN culled their list of the best small-business accounting software for 2023. Among them:

  • Zoho is their pick for “best for small business” users because of its availability of features at no cost (invoicing, expenses tracker, account synchronization, and more).
  • FreshBooks is their choice for “freelancers and sole proprietors” for the software’s clean interface and automated invoicing, payments and accounting features that offer month-to-month reporting of finances.
  • Xero is their choice for “best unlimited users” and its low monthly fee of 15 dollars for the basic plan — which supports unlimited users. CNN highlighted this as Xero’s standout feature unique from “the majority of the providers featured on this list.”


Why this is important for your firm and clients: This is an interesting list with lots of choices for both small and midsized businesses to consider this year.

2. Best work from home tech

PC World listed their picks for the best laptops, webcams and other tools to support your home office. (Source: PCWorld)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: The HP Dragonfly Pro scored best work from home laptop for its performance and 32GB of RAM capacity. Its high-quality display was also a noted feature. The Anker PowerConf C 200 made the list as best webcam for those who do a lot of virtual conferencing or presentations. Its 1440p resolution is on target for professional appearances. Logitech’s MK40 advanced wireless keyboard was chosen for its precision and affordability. Visit the link to see the whole list.

3. Apple expands Self Service Repair

Apple announced an update to its Self Service Repair program to “give users more transparency and autonomy to troubleshoot issues.” Tailored for those with efficient tech knowledge and troubleshooting capability, they can now access the Apple Diagnostics tool — available on Apple products in the U.S. and Europe next year — that will give them the same level of expertise as an authorized Apple technician. The tool will also help identify what part needs to be repaired as well as a testing function. (Source: Apple News)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Wasn’t it only a short time ago that no repairs were allowed on these devices and we had to send them back to Apple for fixes? Thank goodness the right-to-repair movement was successful and Apple has responded positively. Not only can our devices get repaired faster, but this has opened up opportunities for many small businesses to start repair shops and provide similar services.

4. You can now talk to ChatGPT like Siri

OpenAI will now allow free access to a voice-enabled chatbot in the GPT 3.5 version that’s programmed with information through January of 2022 and can be activated on the iPhone 15 Pro. Some say it’s a more dynamic chatbot than Siri with the conversational timbre it transmits. Users can also choose from five different languages and save each chat. Regardless of timing, OpenAI’s decision to make this freely available will likely increase interest. (Source: TechRadar)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Generative AI products will all soon be voice-enabled, which means business owners can say their instructions without typing and then interact back and forth with the bot until the best response is received.  AI is a powerful assistant. We talk to our assistants. This makes sense.

5. Microsoft reveals new features for Teams Updates

Microsoft Teams announced new additions to its Updates app — a collaboration tool that allows team members to submit status reports on projects, tasks and check-ins — including the ability to export data to Excel. (Source: Neowin)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Among the new features is the ability to export updates to Excel spreadsheets to make it easier to “analyze data,” which can also be outlined with questions. For example, recipients of the spreadsheet can ask about deadlines for certain items or what team members are assisting with other items. Microsoft stated they believe these updates will “make it easier to convey the product’s value.

6. GoDaddy launches email automation

The latest tool from online hosting platform GoDaddy is an automated emailing system to help entrepreneurs with their marketing needs. (Source: MarTech Cube)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: The company says that users can choose from various templates based on the type of content contained in the message — such as welcome emails or appointment confirmations. Each template can be customized with various themes, imagery, or other identifying content that represents the user’s brand. After the template design and content is completed, emails are transferred to a scheduler to be sent at chosen date and time. In keeping with GoDaddy’s mission to “empower customers and entrepreneurs,” this automated system will allow users to invest more of their time in keeping their operation running smoothly while staying on top of customer communication.

7. Four in five HR pros use AI at work

Personio — a provider of HR software — surveyed 500 HR decision-makers in the U.K. and Ireland and found that 81% of executive-level HR professionals are looking at integrating AI into their operations. Additionally, 78% of employees aged 25-34 currently use an AI tool, versus 69% of those over 55. As far as AI’s benefits, 59% expressed it will increase efficiency and save time. (Source: HR Grapevine)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: HR is one of the primary areas in a company where AI makes a significant impact on efficiency and productivity. In 2024 I strongly suggest grilling your HR software providers to find out what tools and features they’re rolling out and then lean into those capabilities.

8. Digital advertising a big concern for small biz

Internet for Growth — a coalition of small-business owners, creators and entrepreneurs — have voiced their concern about the ways in which regulation is stifling their ability to utilize digital advertising. (Source: MarTech Series)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Aware of the importance of data privacy, members are seeking fairer parameters for online ads. “Regulators are failing to strike the right balance [by] restricting essential data,” said Brendan Thomas, Internet for Growth’s executive director. Online advertising (Google, for the most part) is a difficult, time-consuming chore for most small businesses. The rules are onerous and sometimes inconsistent and my ads often get shut down for violating some obscure regulation. I’m sure your clients have similar issues.

9. Major retailers use AI to slash clothing returns

Artificial intelligence is helping the retail industry reduce their costs with returned merchandise. According to the National Retail Federation, a 2022 survey showed for every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer is hit with $165 million in returns. One company is offering a tool that will help control the rate of returns: MySize ID is an e-commerce platform that helps consumers pinpoint their exact size of certain clothing that aligns with their body type. Online shopping often results in buying a size too large or too small. In those cases, the MySize ID app will alert the user with a different size recommendation in advance of the purchase. The app also tracks consumers’ habits. (Source: Fox Business)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Retailers — regardless of size — should be leaning into AI-leveraged applications like MySize ID and others to help minimize returns by doing more to help customers make the right selection at the time of sale.

10. Coda is the most underrated productivity tool of 2023

The all-in-one organizational tool Coda is apparently low on the list of usership for 2023 — which is why it’s under-rated and worth a look by business owners. (Source: Fast Company)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Those who use the platform, like Jeremy Caplan from Wonder Tools, highlight the following: Coda exceeds Google Docs with its multimedia capabilities. YouTube videos can be embedded into a document and be played glitch-free, as well as audio files and media from other social platforms. Users can also display content from a range of other apps. In addition to media, you can also embed documents created in other platforms such as Airtable or Canva. Coda also has an impressive cache of AI tools — such as a chat function and an AI-editor — free of charge.

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