Wave Online Accounting Counts On Small Businesses

Aimed at companies with nine or fewer workers, the bookkeeping and invoicing service lets you designate transactions as business or personal.

Wave Business Dashboard
(click image for larger view)
Wave Business Dashboard

Wave Accounting on Tuesday launched a free online accounting application for small business owners that lets them track and manage their business and personal finances.

Wave Accounting is a full double-entry bookkeeping system that allows the small business owner to track income and expenses," said Kirk Simpson, company president and CEO

Kirk Simpson, company president and CEO, said, "Our core market will be companies with nine employees and under, a market currently dominated by spreadsheets and shoeboxes. People are not fond of back-end tasks; we want to get them into a mostly automated accounting engine."

In North America, there are about 28.5 million companies with 20 or fewer employees, claimed Simpson. And, he added, according to a report by the United States Small Business Administration, out of 13.2 million small business owners, 22% -- 2.9 million -- own more than one small business.

"Wave Accounting is mostly for companies where the owner is managing the books, even if they have help from someone like a bookkeeper," said Simpson.

There is no cost to use Wave. Its business model is "similar to what Mint.com is doing on the personal finance side, placing small icons representing offers against specific transactions, such as a $65 wireless package against your wireless bill," Simpson said. These are done as database queries, not against personal data, and "information is never passed to the advertiser unless the user takes action on an item."

Wave Accounting lets users do bookkeeping for both business and personal activities, and for multiple businesses, and to assign accounts and specific transactions to the appropriate place. "For example, a lot of small businesses are running through personal checking accounts and credit cards," said Simpson. "When you bring in a financial institution, you can assign it to Business or Personal. If you use a credit card for both, when you see the transactions, you can drag and drop them to either your Business or Personal chart of accounts."

Wave's initial features include income/expense double-entry bookkeeping, and creating, sending and tracking invoices. "We believe that a good portion of our users will want to have invoicing within the app," said Simpson. "But we are also integrating with FreshBooks."

Users can view a real-time dashboard showing information such as graphs of income versus expenses, and due dates and bookkeeping actions.

Like other online accounting services, such as Outright (see Outright.com Available In Google Apps, Wave can automatically retrieve transactions histories from a user's financial accounts.

"We integrate with 10,000 financial institutions for pulling data in and beginning to auto-categorize transactions," said Simpson. "This includes banks, credit unions, credit cards, PayPal, brokerage accounts, and mortgage companies. Wave Accounting also allows users to manually enter income and expenses.

In terms of integration with other applications, Wave Accounting supports some integration with Google Documents. "For PDF documents such as receipts, users can manually enter the data into Wave Accounting, and associate the PDF to that transaction, using Google Docs as a document repository," said Simpson.

Wave Accounting currently offers nearly a dozen business reports, including balance sheets and income statements.

Some of Wave Accounting's benefits are those common to all on-line services, Simpson noted, notably accessibility, collaboration and off-site data. Users can access data from any Internet-connected machine (give or take browser constraints). A user can work with a bookkeeper, accountant or business partner without having to exchange workbook files, by extending edit or view-only access to balance sheets, income statements, and other reports.

As with all cloud-based applications, data resides online, so there is no need to do regular backups to off-site.

Unlike some other accounting tools, such as Intuit QuickBooks (see QuickBooks 2011 Now Available Wave does not yet support invoice payment, but, said Simpson, "We view this capability as important."

While Wave Accounting does not do tax preparation, "It provides all the information you need for doing taxes at year-end," said Simpson.

Like other SaaS, cloud and web-based accounting services and other financial tools for businesses, such as Intuit QuickBooks Online, Outright, WorkingPoint, Xero, FreshBooks, and Invoice.com, Wave Accounting is browser-based, with all data being stored online. According to Simpson, "We do not support Internet Explorer 6, but support all other OSes and browsers."

Wave Accounting is available now. According to Simpson, mobile applications for iPhone and Android platforms are coming soon.

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