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  1. #1
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    Seeking Accounting Software for Home retail sales business
    My wife is a Creative Memories consultant, and I want to find her a suitable accounting program to use to keep records. To my astonishment, I can't find any solutions that are affordable! This is shocking to me, because there are literally MILLIONS of home-retail-sales "consultants" who sell Avon, Tupperware, etc.

    The key issue, apparently, is the need to be able to properly track inventory and sales. The "stumbling block" I've found is the need to properly handle sales of individual items as well as "collections" (apparently known as "kits" or "assemblies" in accounting-software lingo). Nearly all of these home-sales companies offer "collection SKUs" which include several individual-product SKUs (for example, Creative Memories offers "collections" that include a photo album, page protectors, adhesive products, papers, etc.).

    What I've learned so far:
    - QuickBooks: to use for this type of business, you must buy the "Premium" edition ($400).
    - PeachTree: Will not work on any system that uses McAfee (their site says it does, and I wasted 3 hours trying to install their demo, but this morning their sales staff conceded that it simply will not work).
    - Microsoft Small Business Accounting or Microsoft Accounting Pro - I can't get ANY meaningful data, including pricing.
    - Other solutions are all extremely expensive (NetBooks $200 per month, NetSuite $2,500 and up).

    My search efforts on Google et al. have left me frustrated (and quite frankly, feeling incompetent). All I can find are dozens of "search-engine-spam" sites with fake directories (and in one case, a spyware or virus attempt).

    I assume that some other folks here must either have spouses involved in these kinds of businesses, or might even participate in one of these businesses, so I'd appreciate any advice.

    I tried searching on ABW and found several recent threads dealing with the question of which accounting software to use for an affiliate business, but these don't help my wife:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=86449 (accounting software to use as affiliate)
    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=81224 (accounting software to use as affiliate)
    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=53077 (QuickBooks is great for affiliates)

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    No, I hadn't tried download.com (I wasted time on several other free-download sites). Thanks for the suggestion -- when I searched on download.com, I did find something called "Free Accounting" (which costs either $30 or a "link"), which might meet our needs. I'll try searching to see if I can find any endorsements or recommendations for this product.

    Update: Nope, "Free Accounting" didn't work. First, it brought up a license agreement that merely required acceptance of the agreemet - there were no substantive provisions at all, just the opening paragraph indicating that you must agree. Since I was using a test-bed system, I installed it anyway, and immediately generated a run-time error. It's now uninstalled.

    I also spent 20 minutes on the phone with Microsoft, before learning that their "Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007" product, which may meet our needs, costs only $150.

    Update: It turns out that "certain features" of Microsoft Accounting Professional 2007 require that Microsoft Office Professional be installed; certain features require Office 2003 or later, others require Office XP or later; since I've been using Office Pro 2000, I'd need to upgrade to Office Pro 2007 now, at considerable extra cost.

    It looks like I'll need to invest at least several more hours on this, possibly an entire day or two.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 26th, 2007 at 11:12 AM.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    QuickBooks is the Gold Standard used by all ac****ing firms.
    Bob Pets Warehouse
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  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    We've used Quickbooks on businesses of all sizes. You can not beat the features for the money. I am not sure about QB Basic, but the more advanced versions have customization by industry features.

    Makes invoicing simple. Handles purchasing, all accounting functions, uses standardized checks. We have been more than pleased. Our main business runs 3000 to 5000 transactions monthly and it keeps up there.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the general endorsements of QuickBooks -- I'm aware that it's widely used and well-respected by many business owners. (I'm also aware that many accountants have a long litany of complaints about QuickBooks, and it is certainly not the "Gold standard used by all accounting firms," though I'm sure that all accounting firms can import data from QuickBooks and Quicken.)

    However, I'm really focused on the issue of what software will work for a small home-retail-sales business (Creative Memories, Avon, Tupperware, Mary Kay, etc.), not other kinds of businesses. (My wife is not interested in setting up payroll, accounts receivable, etc.)

    At first, the $400 price tag for QuickBooks Premium sounded expensive, but after spending 5+ hours of my time, and now expecting to spend many more, I'm starting to think it might be a bargain.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 26th, 2007 at 11:38 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetsWarehouse.com
    QuickBooks is the Gold Standard used by all ac****ing firms.

    Not totally true,. My CPA almost threw me out the window when I told him that I was switching from PeachTree to Quick Books.

    Keep in mind that they all try to snag you into the endless spiral of support software and updates.

    With QB, it is easier to clean up entry errors, but be very carefull about your dates. It is easy to make entry and corrections into the wrong period.
    You must climb this mountain. There is no elevator. ---- Don't stick your finger in the liquid nitrogen.
    Carolina China

  8. #8
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    Witzer wrote: > "My CPA almost threw me out the window when I told him that I was switching from PeachTree to Quick Books. * * * With QB, it is easier to clean up entry errors * * * . <

    Ah, yes, there's the problem: the easier it is to "clean up entry errors," the easier it is to "cook the books" and to frustrate any auditing function. If you can just go right in and edit and remove transactions, there is an increased opportunity for unscupulous individuals to do so improperly. And perhaps just as often, if it's possible to edit or delete transactions, it can happen by accident also.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    At first, the $400 price tag for QuickBooks Premium sounded expensive, but after spending 5+ hours of my time, and now expecting to spend many more, I'm starting to think it might be a bargain.
    FYI, CompUSA currently has a sale on QuickBooks Premier Retail -- $299. Or if you have a membership at Costco, you can always get it there for the same price (w/ free shipping if you order from their website). So at least you can pay less than the $400 MSRP.

  10. #10
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    http://www.gnucash.org/


    Open source version.. I messed with a beta at one time. Price is right.

  11. #11
    MasterMike HardwareGeek's Avatar
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    I use Office Accounting Express

  12. #12
    Newbie coxpc's Avatar
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    I'd suggest investing the money for Quickbooks. Also, PAY A QUICKBOOKS CONSULTANT OR AN ACCOUNTANT for a few hours to set it up properly and train you. I have seen so many people who have done it wrong and had to spend a LOT of time getting things straightened out.

    If it is a money making business, you need to invest in tools that work. They offer good support and there are many forums and such where you can get free support.

    If she is not making money with it yet, I'd suggest that you not invest the money. Most direct sales businesses are money holes for most of the people involved. I hope that yours is not, but I'm just stating facts.

    Good luck with all of it.

    Rob Cox

  13. #13
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetsWarehouse.com
    QuickBooks is the Gold Standard used by all ac****ing firms.
    37 million small business use QuickBook ans you'll need the QB Pro version for your business needs. Buy a closeout prior year version of QB Pro and be done with it.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecomcity
    37 million small business use QuickBook ans you'll need the QB Pro version for your business needs. Buy a closeout prior year version of QB Pro and be done with it.
    Again, one of our needs is the ability to have "collection" SKUs (also called "kit" or "assembly" SKUs), and Intuit says we must buy Quicken Premier to get that functionality, making it a $400 retail purchase (though some folks have helpfully pointed out discounts, and I'll certainly consider your suggestion about looking for "last year's version" also).

  15. #15
    Newbie SuzanneMarie's Avatar
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    I became frustrated with QuickBooks, but also with Quicken in general. I have an accountant through my Local Padgett Business Services, a frachised accounting firm for small businesses. My accontant also used to work for a large family owned manufacturing business, and he still maintains that EXCEL or ACCESS cannot be beat. You can set it up to track anything you want, create your own reports. You don't even have to use microsoft products, you can use OpenOffice for example to get the spreadsheet functions.

    It's not as sexy, but you've got 100% control. Just a thought. And Open Office is free.

  16. #16
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    You could take a look at "Bookkeeper 2007" about $30.00

  17. #17
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    Wow, this has been an incredible day. After I had downloaded and tried to use their trial software, Microsoft just admitted to a bug in its software (a first for me), acknowledging that the "import" functionality just doesn't work right in MS Accounting Pro 2007, but "might" work in the upcoming beta version of MS Accounting Pro 2008.

    On the same "importing" issue, Intuit says that its software can import inventory data "but that is not supported," which to me is the same as saying "it can't import inventory data." Intuit kindly saved me time by not providing any downloadable trial or demo version to test.

    Since we're not interested in spending many dozens of hours manually re-keying data we already have in electronic form, it looks like we won't be using any fancy accounting programs at all, since NONE OF THEM appear to permit the basic functionality of importing inventory data.

    I was in a great mood earlier, but after 2 hours on the phone with Microsoft and Intuit, I'm pretty grumpy.

  18. #18
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    There are many add-ons or 3rd party plug-ins to both Peachtree and Quickbooks for importing and exporting data. It's all just a data mapping application matching the accounting S/W field(s) to the originating inventory file. You know what the file looks like the product MLM distributor provides. If it's on a CD data disk then their corporate accounting system generated the file via an export function.

    Approach them on researching common off the shelf accounting packages and mapping out a field compatable data transfer routine for affordable choices for all their home based resellers. Some of these MLM fatcat idiots just stonewall these type requests as they worry 5000 web enabled sales sites will springup overnight.

    I personally have set up brick-n-mortar shops with both physical sales counter POS systems with automated online parallel sales setups. All need realtime inventory control to eliminate OOS booking or create backorder files for PO followup. Many tie into Quickbooks or Peachtree accounting just like many online cart programs do...

    Simple single system (network multi-computer setup costs some bucks, is Retail Ice. http://www.camcommerce.com/products/retailICE.aspx suitable for running SAM's club, Service Merchandise and Costco. The free version ...pay just for Fedx charges is at http://www.camcommerce.com/products/retailICE.aspx Treat it as a sales opportunity. Get permission to port over the MLM distributors data and resell licensed copies to their distributor base. Me ... I'm too old and lazy for this crap having done this in the 80"s for Koscot and Mary Kay. Nice sale was 1700 pink compaq portable luggables and panasonic dot matrix printers with ordering and accounting S/W on HD. They never sent me a free pink cadillac..
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  19. #19
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Has your wife checked with other Creative Memories consultants to see what they use?
    Michael Coley
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