The best accounting software for your small business

Being a small business owner can be rewarding in many ways, but tasks like maintaining budgets, ensuring invoices are tracked and paid, and managing accounts payable can be difficult. Without the proper software to get the job done, it’s entirely possible companies can fall into disarray. To address that problem, many small business owners turn to dedicated accounting software, programs that usually run in the cloud and have the ability to handle all of the accounting needs of the operation.

In fact, this software virtually takes on roles like controller, chief financial officer, and accounts payable manager that you’d find in larger organizations. But before you set out to find the best accounting software for your business, check out the guide below. The following six solutions are the best accounting software and each one offers a diverse set of features, reasonable pricing, and everything else you need to manage your small business more efficiently.

QuickBooks Online

quickbooks
  • Cloud or Desktop: Cloud-based; PC software available with the Desktop Pro Plus plan
  • Clients Supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
  • Cost: From $25/Month
  • Expert Help Available: Yes
  • Payment App Integration: Yes
  • Payroll management: Yes, additional fee

Quickbooks Online is one of the more popular cloud-based accounting platforms for small businesses. And for good reason: It offers one of the longest lists of features of any option in this roundup. When you sign up for Quickbooks Online, you have the option of choosing from three options: Simple Start, Plus, Advanced. And as you might expect, pricing will vary depending on the version you choose. The same goes for the features you’ll get with each option.

The Simple Start option comes with the ability to track your income and expenses, invoice and accept payments, and run basic reports. You can also track sales and sales tax data. If you jump to the Essentials option, you’ll be able to manage your bills and allow multiple users to access your account, as well as track time. The top-notch Advanced version offers project and inventory tracking and the ability to manage 1099 contractors.

You’ll be able to get your hands on Simple Start for $25 per month. The Plus and Advanced tiers are available for $80 per month and $180 per month, respectively, but new customers can currently enjoy a 50% discount on their first three months.

Xero

  • Cloud or Desktop: Cloud-based
  • Clients Supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
  • Cost: From $12/Month
  • Expert Help Available: Yes
  • Payment App Integration: Yes
  • Payroll management: Yes, additional fee

Xero is a popular accounting platform that works both in your PC’s web browser or on your mobile device with help from Android and iPhone apps. And at a starting price of $12 per month, it offers one of the best values of any service in this roundup. Xero offers three plans — Early, Growing, and Established. The differences between them center on the number of invoices and quotes you can send each month, how many reconciled bank transactions you have, and whether you need to run payroll.

In other words, Xero plans are designed to scale with the size of your business. But before we get into the differences between these tiers, you should know that all three Xero versions come with a variety of standard features including the ability to analyze financial reports, manage invoicing, and connect to bank accounts to integrate all of your latest transactions. Xero integrates with more than 700 apps, including those that track inventory and time, to help you keep your entire business running smoothly.

The Early package, which costs $12 per month, allows you to send five invoices and quotes per month, enter five bills, and reconcile 20 transactions. The Growing plan, which is $34 per month, is the most popular tier. It allows for unlimited invoicing, bills, and bank reconciliations. Jumping to the Established plan at $65 per month offers more in-depth business analytics and allows for expense claims.

NetSuite

the netsuite accounting logo on a dark gray background.
  • Cloud or Desktop: Cloud-based
  • Clients Supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
  • Cost: Custom pricing based on your needs
  • Expert Help Available: Yes
  • Payment App Integration: Yes
  • Payroll management: Yes, additional fee

NetSuite is part of the Oracle umbrella, a company that rivals QuickBooks in terms of name recognition and popularity. That’s because it’s one of the more advanced and feature-rich options on our list: a unified business management suite that brings ERP, CRM, and e-commerce under one roof.

With Netsuite, you can gain real time insights into numerous financial metrics and automate repetitive tasks allowing your finance team to focus on reviewing transaction details, and analyzing trends. Netsuite’s cloud based solution allows your accounting team, executives, operational teams and employees to work from anywhere, anytime. That’s not to say that it’s difficult to use if you’re not that tech-savvy; in fact, NetSuite’s cloud-based accounting software makes it easy to track and manage expenses so you can streamline your business operations.

NetSuite doesn’t have traditional subscription plans with a pre-determined set of features and limits. Instead, it offers you a customized annual pricing structure based on the size and specific needs of your business. This is determined by the optional modules for features that you want and how many users need access to it. You’ll have to contact them yourself to get your customized quote, but this is actually a good thing, as you’ll get a plan that’s tailored to how your business operates rather than a “one size fits all” solution.

Just a handful of features that NetSuite cloud accounting offers include payment and expense tracking, cash flow management, invoicing, accounts payable and receivable, tax management, and payroll. NetSuite also offers in-depth analytics to help you track your business’ performance so you can stay on top of everything.

Freshbooks

the freshbooks logo on a white background.
  • Cloud or Desktop: Cloud-based
  • Clients Supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
  • Cost: From $15/Month
  • Expert Help Available: Yes
  • Payment App Integration: Yes
  • Payroll management: Yes, additional fee

Due in large part to a nice slate of features and some aggressive advertising in podcasts, Freshbooks has come on the scene in a big way. And it offers an outstanding solution. Like Quickbooks Online, the cloud-based Freshbooks comes in three versions: Lite, Plus, Premium. The Lite version is ideal for small businesses that only need up to five people to access the financials, while Plus is available for up to 50 people. The Premium version allows for an unlimited number of billable clients.

The Lite version offers unlimited invoicing and estimating for up to five clients, as well as time-tracking and online credit card payments. If you want to send payment reminders, charge late fees, and get accounting reports like general ledgers and charts of account, you can move up to the Plus version. The highest-end Premium option includes all of the features you’ll get in Plus while allowing you to add many more people to the account.

All of the plans are available with a 30-day free trial. The Lite version costs $15 per month, Plus goes for $25 per month, and Premium will set you back $50 per month, but right now, you can sign up and get your first six months for 60% off.

Wave Accounting

the wave accounting logo on a white background.
  • Cloud or Desktop: Cloud-based
  • Clients Supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
  • Cost: From $0/Month
  • Expert Help Available: Yes
  • Payment App Integration: Yes
  • Payroll management: Yes, with Payroll plan

Wave Accounting has established itself as one of the leading third-party cloud-based solutions providers outside of QuickBooks and Oracle. The company’s accounting software is aimed squarely at the small business owner who wants some accounting help.

Like most other services in the industry, there are three plans for Wave Accounting (Free, Payments, and Payroll), but the pricing structure is different than the others. The basic Free plan allows for unlimited income and expense tracking as well as invoicing, and is great if your accounting needs are simple. The Payments tier is a pay-per-use plan which charges a fee of between 1% and 3.4% per transaction, depending upon the method of payment.

If you need payroll management, then the aptly named Payroll plan allows for that. It has a $20 monthly base fee in self-service states or a $35 monthly fee for tax service states, plus $6 per employee or independent contractor paid. You can create custom invoices in the plan and track all of your expenses. If you want to pay only for what you use rather than be locked into a monthly payment plan, Wave Accounting is a good solution.

Sage Accounting

the sage accounting logo on a white background.
  • Cloud or Desktop: Cloud-based
  • Clients Supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
  • Cost: From $10/Month
  • Expert Help Available: Yes
  • Payment App Integration: Yes, Stripe
  • Payroll management: Yes, extra fee

Sage Accounting is another good value option for small businesses and even self-employed individuals who could use an easier way to manage their finances. Sage is entirely cloud-based, and offers two subscription tiers: The $10/month Sage Accounting Start plan is ideal for those looking for a more basic, entry-level accounting software solution, while the $25/month Sage Accounting package is a bit more powerful.

The Sage Accounting Start plan allows you to create and send invoices, track your income (including what you’re owed), and connect your bank account to streamline payments. This is great for self-employed individuals who don’t need accounting software with a lot of bells and whistles. The more business-oriented Sage Accounting tier offers everything you’d get in the Start plan but adds important features, including payroll support, billing, tax filing, cash flow management, and expense tracking.

While the Sage Accounting Start package is ideal for individual users, Sage Accounting allows for an unlimited number of users. Both plans also offer a free trial, and right now, the Sage Accounting plan is 70% off for the first six months, making it cheaper than the Start plan if you want to take advantage of those extra features.

Zoho Books

zoho books logo.
  • Cloud or Desktop: Cloud-based, mobile apps available
  • Clients Supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
  • Cost: From $15/Month
  • Expert Help Available: Yes
  • Payment App Integration: Yes
  • Payroll management: Yes, additional fee

Zoho Books offers a simple to use set of cloud-based accounting tools that make it easy to manage your finances, automate business workflows, and help you work across departments. Its dashboard provides keen insight into your total receivables and payables at a glance, with numerous graphs demonstrating your business’s cash flow as well as top expenses, and income.

Through Zoho Books, you can easily create invoices in seconds, chase payments, create purchase orders as well as upload expense receipts. It’s also possible to keep track of your company’s inventory levels at all times, while being able to replenish stock quickly.

Elsewhere, Zoho Books also allows for you to keep track of time spent on projects as well as monitor unmilled hours and expenses. Through the interface, one can also keep all their contacts in a single place so it’s easy to collaborate with clients or even securely store their payment information. Extensive reports mean you always know what’s going on too.

The Standard plan costs from $15 per month and allows you to manage up to 5,000 invoices, integrate with services like Zendesk, as well as allows for bulk updates, and recurring expenses. Upgrade to Professional from $40 per month and you also gain retainer invoice functionality, sales orders, purchase orders, currency adjustments, and extensive timesheet features. The Premium plan at $60 per month offers up all the above features along with a vendor portal, budgeting, workflow rules, and custom reports, amongst many other options.

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