You probably didn’t start your business because you were jazzed about getting into accounting. Still, someone’s got to handle the books, right? If hiring a professional accountant isn’t in the budget for you right now, your next best option is to seek out the best small business accounting software that meets all of your needs.
The accounting software world is a vast sea of options that may be hard to navigate if you don’t know where to start or what features to seek out. We combed through the internet to find the best accounting solutions for small businesses that will save you time, money, and stress while managing your finances efficiently.
What exactly goes into researching the best online accounting services? You should begin your research knowing what you need. First and foremost, a good software should be affordable, easy to use, and be equipped with detailed financial statements that give you an in-depth insight into how your business is doing.
Let’s look at what you should be asking yourself (and any sales reps you may come across) when finding the perfect fit for you and your business.
What are my needs?
Are you looking for a software that will help you track inventory? Do you also need it to track time? Do you need it to assist you when creating invoices? Sit down and prioritize a list of everything you want in a virtual accounting partner and rank them from least to most important.
Try your best to stick to that list and avoid getting distracted by flashy features that you most likely won’t use. There’s no use paying for all of the bells and whistles if you don’t have a need for them.
What is my budget?
Get serious about how much you can afford to spend on your accounting software and don’t waste time looking at options that are outside of your budget. Of course you can give yourself some flexibility if you come across an option that best fits your needs, but if it’s more than 25% what you originally wanted to spend, keep looking.
What kind of questions should I be asking?
Many software solutions require you to speak with a salesperson to figure out the best plan that works for you, so you need to know what to ask. Here are a few questions to get you started:
How secure is your API?
In case you’re not well-versed in the software development world (like most of us), API stands for Application Programming Interface and describes how systems communicate.
Are there any extra costs I should anticipate?
While some platforms may come across as extremely affordable, there are sometimes hidden fees that you may come across when using their accounting services down the road. Make sure you get a guarantee from your sales rep that what you’re paying in the beginning is what you’ll be paying throughout your subscription with the software.
What does your customer support process look like?
As with any service, customer support is key, especially when it comes to managing the books of your business. Make sure you’ll be able to contact a live person for help when you need it most.
Can you tell me about any pain points your clients have highlighted and how you overcame them?
Sales reps will have no issue relaying the positive experiences their customers have had with their software—but that’s not how you learn the real details. Ask about the challenges previous clients have faced and how the software was able to navigate around them to figure out not only if the software is right for you, but also how dedicated the sales rep is to coming up with the best solution for your needs.
How well does your software grow with businesses?
You want to avoid having to find another accounting solution six months after signing up with one that doesn’t have the capacity to grow with you, so make sure they have the ability to cater to a larger business than what you are now.
Now that you’re armed with the questions and information you need to make the most informed decision possible, let’s get a jumpstart on your research. Here are the top 10 best small business accounting software apps based on price, features, and ease of use.
Intuit Quickbooks Online
Pricing: Simple Start, $7/month for one user; Essentials, $17/month for up to three users; Plus, $30/month for five+ users
Quickbooks is good for small businesses because no matter what plan you choose, you can easily track income and costs, receive online payments, send invoices, run reports, send estimates, track sales and taxes, and capture and organize receipts.
If you upgrade to a more expensive plan you are also able to conduct inventory management, run fully-capable payroll services, and track time.
Pricing: Basic, $9/month per organization; Standard, $19/month per organization; Professional, $29/month per organization; Yearly plans available at a discounted price
If you’re searching for an easy-to-use software that will help you manage cash flow and finances, Zoho Books might be a great fit for your business. The program is known for its great customer service and comes equipped with a dashboard customers love that allows you to manage online payments and balance sheet creation.
The platform also helps you send estimates, convert them to invoices, and get paid online in a quick, efficient manner, and provides everything you need to stay sales tax compliant.
Pricing: Lite, $15/month for five clients; Plus, $25/month for 50 clients; Premium, $50/month for 500 clients; Yearly plans available for 10% off
Business owners who send out recurring invoices or use a subscription model might find that FreshBooks is the best choice. The user-friendly mobile app lets you keep track of your finances wherever you are, and it comes with innovative features such as a capability that allows you to see not only when but where a customer opened your invoice.
Like Zoho Books, FreshBooks gives you a dashboard to manage your account and integrates with many business applications to streamline your workload.
Pricing: Accounting, free; Invoicing, free; Receipt scanning, free; Online payments, 2.9% + $.30/transaction; Payroll, $35/month base fee in tax service states and $20/month base fee in self-service states
If your small business is exceptionally small—meaning you only have a couple of employees or you’re a freelancer—Wave could be a good option because it’s mostly free. At no charge, Wave will provide invoice and transaction management and keep your information up to date by syncing it with their own software.
Since it’s a free model, you won’t be able to track time or inventory, or manage projects, so if your needs are more robust, you’ll need to find a different solution.
Pricing: Starter, $9/month; Standard, $30/month; Premium, $70/month
If you don’t like being tied to the office and would rather conduct business from wherever you are, Xero gives you a real-time view of your cash flow on the go. You can use the mobile app to reconcile, send invoices or create expense claims, and even send custom invoices, track inventory, and create purchase orders to attach to bills. Xero also integrates with more than 700 e-commerce apps and point-of-sale products
Downsides to the platform include their lack of live support and the fact that you have to use their payroll services through their partnership with Gusto, but it’s a solid choice if you like to conduct business remotely.
Pricing: Get Paid, $4.99/month; Essentials, $9.99/month; Premium, $14.99/month
GoDaddy offers an affordable accounting software solution that’s great if you sell online because it integrates with Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and PayPal and imports data to create professional invoices and calculate quarterly tax estimates.
What the solution lacks is project management, robust reporting and the option to bill internationally, so if you’re looking for these features you’ll have to keep searching.
Pricing: Annual, $16.65/month or $199.95/year; Pay As You Go, $29.95/month
Kashoo is a great option if you’re looking for the basics. The software describes itself as “the simple bookkeeping solution” and helps you send invoices, accept payments, and see reports from wherever you are.
You will also be provided with insightful reporting and real-time bank feeds that you can share with your accountant, as well as an intuitive dashboard to keep track of your business in real-time.
Pricing: AccountEdge Pro, $399 one-time fee; AccountEdge Basic, $149 one-time fee
The bad news: AccountEdge doesn’t come with a free mobile app—you’ll have to pay extra for a cloud-collaboration option. However, if that’s not one of your priorities, its features just might make up for the lack of on-the-go reporting. The software comes equipped with desktop-optimized double-entry accounting tools such as time billing, reporting, and inventory to meet all of your bookkeeping needs.
The software, which has been around since 1989, prides itself on helping its customers “spend hundreds, not thousands.” AccountEdge even offers access to local accounting experts if you value in-person assistance for your accounting needs.
Pricing: Must contact sales team
Remember the importance of using an accounting software that grows with you? NetSuite specializes in doing just that. According to their website, the platform is “engineered to scale with businesses as they grow and to streamline mission-critical processes.”
Netsuite’s Enterprise Resource Planning program consists of a robust features such as inventory management, order management, accounting, even a human resource platform, and delivers them to you in a streamlined system.
Pricing: Base price, $250/month + $55/user/month
Accounting Seed boasts a secure API and offers subscription or automated recurring billing options that are hassle free. The cloud-based platform gives you a better look at the state of your business by linking your mission-critical applications and bank accounts to give you end-to-end visibility into your data.
The platform comes with countless customization options and a built-in, easy-to-use “click, no code” configuration that makes it easier for the software to grow with your business.
Choosing an accounting software is not a task to be taken lightly. If you’ve exhausted all of your options and concluded that an online solution isn’t for you, consider outsourcing your accounting needs to a real, in-person accountant.
Once you’ve found the right one, make sure they’re a trusted Homebase for Accountants advisor—you’ll get the added value of everything Homebase has to offer when it comes to scheduling, time tracking, and payroll prep.