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Kashoo iPad app: Business accounting on the go

Kashoo began existence as an online business accounting service. With the addition of a new free iPad app, business owners now have a powerful accounting tool at their fingertips at all times. In this review, I'll take you through a quick look at Kashoo and describe how it's helped one small business owner -- me -- take control of the day-to-day transactions that keep a business going.

I have to admit that accounting is not my strong suite. Back in the early 80s when I was getting my MBA, I struggled through the concepts of T-charts, debits and credits just long enough to pass the required course. Through the years, I tortured myself with various versions of QuickBooks, but when I had to move to QuickBooks Online because Intuit had once again fallen behind the curve on updates, I decided that any future companies I started would use a different accounting package.

Kashoo immediately caught my attention as an online alternative. For $10 a month, you not only get full access with a lot of features (more on those later), but the company's support is incredibly good. Early on, my lack of accounting savvy had me questioning my sanity in terms of figuring out how to perform a certain task. I zapped a quick email off to Kashoo support, and within an hour or two I had a very clear answer. You can also call the support line for even faster response, and that support is free.

When I initially started setting up the books for a business partnership, Kashoo's iPad app wasn't available so my work began on the web app. It's fast, and a special "setup" section made it a piece of cake to set up a profile for the business, add accounts, vendors, and more.

The iPad app, however, has made life even easier. When the app is first launched, you're asked to log into your Kashoo account. If you don't already have an account, you can sign up for a free trial or paid account. For those who sign into an existing account from the app, Kashoo syncs with the server and then displays a three page "dashboard" that business owners can scroll through by swiping.

The first page of the dashboard displays income by month, quarter or year in a colorful column chart format with revenue, expenses, and profit listed at the top (screenshot below). The next dashboard page shows one year's worth of income by customer in a pie chart with sections by customer. There's a slider at the bottom of the chart for constraining the income information to a shorter timeframe.

The last page of the dashboard shows expenses by account (below). Once again, the slider makes it possible to look at expenses for a specific timeframe during the last year. For the last two dashboard pages, tapping on either the customer name (for income) or expense account takes you right into the transaction details for that account. Likewise, tapping a vendor name on the expense dashboard page shows you exactly who your money is going to.

If you've set up more than one business in your Kashoo account, you can select between them from a "Select Business" button at the top of the app. It's even possible to set up a new business from the iPad app. The settings button for the Kashoo app is pretty minimal, allowing you to force a sync with the cloud, log out, upgrade to a premium account, or send feedback to the Kashoo team.

Along the bottom of the app are seven buttons -- Dashboard, Banking, Invoices, Expenses, Accounts, Reports, and Business. I've just described the Dashboard, and Business is where you can either set up or edit information about a business.

The Banking button displays bank and other accounts one at a time (below). For example, I have a savings and checking account set up for the business, a PayPal account, several cash expense accounts, a cash account, and two accounts for Visa debit cards. Tapping on any of the accounts listed takes me to a detailed transaction record showing both income going into the account and expenses being taken from that account. Tapping an individual transaction shows a detail of that transaction.

The standard iPad share button can be used to preview an invoice for a transaction or to email the transaction to someone. Speaking of invoices, the Invoice button displays invoices that have already been entered into Kashoo and also allows you to create and email invoices. You can pick a customer to invoice, pick the date from a standard rolling date picker, and enter an invoice and order number, terms of payment, and a memo.

There are fields for adding line items to the invoice, including quantities, unit prices, extended prices, taxes (if applicable), and a description of the line item. There's also a location on the bottom of the invoice page for adding payments that a customer has made to their account.

When adding expenses to Kashoo by tapping the Expenses button, a list of vendors appears (below). You can also add new vendors -- a tap on a "plus sign" button lets you add the company contact information, payment terms, the default account to which those expenses will be charged, and other miscellaneous information. If you do business with international vendors, you can choose from a number of different currencies.

The Accounts button lets you see all transactions in all accounts or just in specific accounts (below). As before, tapping on any transaction displays a detailed accounting of vendor and account information.

Probably the most useful button is the Reports button, which generates a Profit & Loss Statement (below), a Balance Sheet, and Aged Receivables and Payables. While these reports can be emailed as PDFs, at this time they cannot be printed directly from the iPad. Likewise, invoices and checks can't be printed from the iPad app; you still need to use the web app to accomplish printing. If you happen to have an HP printer with its own email address, you can print the reports from your iPad by mailing the report to the printer's unique address.

I've been pleased with both the web and iPad apps; they're fast, they don't crash, and I'm able to do my business account fairly easily. Since the Kashoo app is new, I expect that the development team will continue to add new features like printing as time goes by. As it is, I can now review and update the current financial status of the company from my iPad -- helpful if I'm talking to a banker or potential vendor as I don't need to print out a stack of reports prior to the meeting.

If you use an accountant for tax purposes like I do, you'll be pleased to know that most of them simply want a copy of your General Ledger for the previous year. In this case, I was able to generate that GL from the web app and email it directly to the accountant. Many of the various reports created by Kashoo can be saved as .csv files for import into a spreadsheet package.

Kashoo's development team continues to add functionality to the online system as well, including FreshBooks integration and Payroll (Canada only at this time), and recently adding automatic import of transactions from banks. If you're starting a new business or thinking about breaking from a traditional Mac or Windows small business accounting package, Kashoo's the first place you ought to look. And be sure to expense that new iPad to your business, OK?

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