Skinny G/Ls

Because I work in build stage companies, and often early ones at that, the general ledger (G/L) system I encounter the most is Quickbooks Online.  Often one of the first questions I get is whether we need to make a change to a more robust system.  Always my answer is no.

My philosophy on this is that until a company is much bigger, having an accounting system that knows all isn’t worth the workflow change, the financial investment, and the upfront systems hassle.  Quickbooks Online (QBO) is fine.  It’s not great — but it’s fine.  It does the basics and has the benefit of having tens of thousands of qualified people who know how to use it.

What I would rather do is invest in smart systems around it that do their functions well, and integrate with it.  This can be A/P (bill.com), ERP-lite (Fishbowl), payroll systems (any of them), expense management (Expensify), cap table management (eShares, Carta), sales tax (Avalara), and on and on.

If a build-stage company is going to invest in systems, it probably should be in optimizing Salesforce.  Or if it’s an e-commerce company, better to get your Shopify instance really singing.  Building a sole source of truth about all things customer is way more important than implementing an expensive G/L system.

I’m a believer in keeping the G/L’s functions limited.  I use it for management and Board reporting and as a transaction repository.  That’s it.  For anything else, there is a better system out there and most are not expensive either.

I’ve seen $50M software businesses backed by some of the most sophisticated venture investors in the world run their businesses and do their reporting based on QBO.  If they can do it, I figure I can too.

Leave a Reply