I know, I know! You see 25 ads on Mrs. Google for online accounting software. The one thing they have in common (apart from costing you $30-40 per month) is that they’re all dumping on Excel. Then they go on and on, extolling the virtues of pre-programmed formulae, no spreadsheets to get wrong, 85 esoteric features and so on.

However, the one consistent thing people tell me who’ve adopted Quickbooks, or Xero, or any of the other popular online accounting software brands is that you need an accountant to set it up and coach you through it. I had that issue when I signed up for two of them, which I’ve stopped using because my accounting bills were never-ending.

Here’s the thing: a level of book-keeping knowledge or process smarts is really needed to set them up yourself. And if you don’t have that skill, these systems will keep you joined to the hip with your accountant.

So, what are the alternatives?

Well, you can build your own accounting package in Excel. These days, Excel has a huge number of pre-built templates for every aspect of accounting. You just have to figure out how to make the information flow correctly. If you’re working hard on getting your business up and running, I wouldn’t advise this approach. And as I mentioned earlier, you really need to know what you’re doing.

Or, you can use one of the many free versions. These are usually tasty bait to entice you to an online version or a paid Excel version. As you would expect, they are very basic.

Or, you can buy an Excel Accounting System which has been designed by a small business owner who does this for a living and sells them to small business owners all over the world. More about this option later, mes compadres.

How to Use Excel for All Your Accounting Excel Accounting Package

Before we look closer at Option 3, let’s look at the facts. Over two-thirds of accountants around the world use Excel spreadsheets for their accounting rather than online accounting packages.

And here’s why. Excel lets you generate very useful reports with accounting data. So, you can look behind the numbers to see what’s really going on in your business. In contrast, there are a fixed number of reports that the online software packages can generate. And they may not give the level of enquiry that you want or need.

Let’s say you want to look at day-to-day comparisons between months to find anomalies in expenses. Or you want to strip out recurring costs to get a clearer picture of where your daily cash is going. You can do things like divide your customers into groups based on size, location, or purchase and then compare the groups to see who’s spending the most with your business.

Basically, you can cut the data any which way you like to get more out of it. And equally importantly, you’ve got the ability to use a whole host of graphing tools to make all the data you uncover understandably.

There’s nothing more frustrating than looking at a spreadsheet full of numbers and being unable to find the insight you know lives in there. But as we know, a picture paints a thousand numbers.

“But I’m not an Excel expert!” I hear you wail… Hah! You don’t need to be.

For we have an especially secret weapon in the form of a Dutchman who has been providing literally thousands of businesses around the world with a pre-built Excel Accounting System, and hundreds of templates for every conceivable accounting requirement that a small business of 1 or 500 could possibly need. Yes! IT’S TRUE!

Stephan Zwanikken, Head Sharang and Grand Wazoo of Esset Financial Services in Holland is our partner and the creator of the Excel Accounting System. Which is a walk in the park to set up and use, without an accountant!

He has created templates for clients over the years that will allow you to cut your data like a pizza into any shape you want to get better insight into your business. These templates work alongside the Excel Accounting System, taking data straight out of the EAS to populate the templates.

DIFY – Done It For You. AND he’ll build you a template in a jiffy if you want something unusual.

We’ve been working together on the VAT Return System for the UAE and KSA. I go, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could… (vague idea)”. Stephan goes “Hang on…” And 10 minutes later, my vague idea is an Excel reality. No wonder he’s been so successful over the past 11 years.

Over 40,000 businesses are using his Excel-based products. And you’ll get personalised service from Businessmentals and Stephan if you have any queries.

And it’s half the price of an online accounting software package. Win-win all round.

Anyway, that’s enough for now! If you want to find out more, you can click here and then you can start to prepare the cucumber sandwiches for the farewell party for your accountant!