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Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses 2021

Susan Honea

Susan Honea – 8 years experience helping businesses with bookkeeping, tax preparation and auditing

Last updated: May 21, 2020

Picking the right accounting software for your small business can help keep your finances on track and reduce the stress of bookkeping. We look at 10 options well suited to small businesses.

Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses 2021

Accounting software can not only save you time (once you have mastered it!), it can also keep you organized and help you track your business’s profit and loss in real time. Accounting software is essential for small businesses with inventory to track, a large customer base to manage, or employees to pay. In addition, if you plan to grow your small business, starting off with accounting software at the beginning will save you the hassle of trying to convert to it down the road.

That you are here reading about accounting software for small business indicates you are probably a small business owner considering investing in accounting software. Perhaps you have tried spreadsheets or doing your paperwork by hand and found it overwhelming, or maybe you realized your time could be better spent on other tasks. After all, time is money.

Depending upon your level of expertise and your experience, you may be trying to determine just what your accounting software needs are as a small business or what needs you may have later. To that end, here is a list of questions to help you consider your needs as a small business owner.

Do you need

  • the ability to complete estimates or proposals that convert to invoices?
  • credit card processing, online and/or in-person?
  • expense tracking?
  • time tracking for employees?
  • budgeting?
  • financial reporting?
  • bookkeeping capabilities?
  • inventory management?
  • contact management for clients, vendors, and/or contractors?
  • payroll, periodic payroll tax filing, and 1099/W-2 creation at year-end?
  • project management and time tracking?
  • mobile capabilities?
  • single or multiple user functions and feature-specific permissions?
  • cloud, desktop, or hybrid?
  • scalability, if you intend to grow your business?
  • app integration?

Take a moment to list the specific features you need in your accounting software now and consider the ones you may need in the near future. In sum, the main benefits of accounting software are not having to create the calculations yourself and having the information ready for tax preparation at the end of the year.

Read on to learn more about the accounting products that are best for small businesses.

The Snapshot

We cover each accounting software solution in detail later, but for those of you who want a quick answer, here is a rundown of the best accounting software for small businesses:

  1. Intuit QuickBooks Online: Best overall accounting software for small businesses. With several feature set options, QuickBooks is the perennial favorite, especially for small businesses. Not only is it easy to use and affordable, it’s also flexible, scalable, and robust enough for any small business—from sole proprietors to businesses with up to 50 employees.
  2. FreshBooks: Best accounting software for small businesses without accounting experience. Invoice clients, receive payments, track time, and pay bills easily with FreshBooks. It’s simple, but it’s plenty powerful enough for anyone who is self-employed or runs a microbusiness. Businesses can be up and running in minutes, and staying organized throughout the year is a breeze.
  3. Xero: Best accounting software for small businesses that need mobile functionality. Now with over 800 integrations and functions that work even on an Apple Watch, Xero is a simple, straightforward accounting package for freelancers, microbusinesses, and small businesses. Automation tools help users save tons of time, but quickly-growing businesses may find it isn’t powerful enough.
  4. Accounting by Wave: Best accounting software for freelancers or solopreneurs on a tight budget. With unlimited feature usage in a completely free version, Wave is an ideal accounting software solution for small business owners such as bloggers, small online retailers, and Etsy store owners. Automations and inventory management features help small business owners save time, and its user interface is simple and easy to navigate.
  5. Zoho Books: Best accounting software for sales-focused small businesses. The Zoho ecosystem is a full-fledged business suite, and Zoho Books is a powerful, scalable accounting software product for small to medium sized businesses in the retail and service spaces. Time-saving features include automated client communications, barcode scanning, and time tracking and billing.
  6. GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping: GoDaddy’s software syncs with Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and PayPal, and it works with banks and credit unions. The software was originally designed mainly for the sole proprietor or LLC, but it’s a fantastic solution for online retailers. Basic functions include accepting credit card and debit card payments by smartphone, creating and sending invoices, and easily viewing business reports.
  7. Kashoo: Kashoo is a simple, straightforward solution for project-based businesses with little or no accounting experience. Kashoo’s workspace provides fields for immediate data entry, and the sidebar always shows real-time summary data, so you can easily track your income and expenses. Though budgeting, inventory, and reporting features are limited, Kashoo does include multi-currency capability, and payroll can be added if you decide to grow.
  8. AccountEdge Pro: With all major accounting modules included in its base price and an intuitive setup process, AccountEdge Pro is an accounting software product that growing companies and nonprofits will find attractive. It works the way a business owner does, not the way an accountant does, making navigation easy and logical. Developed initially for the Apple market, AccountEdge Pro continues to be a top choice for Mac users, but the Windows and cloud versions are good choices, too.
  9. Sage Business Cloud Accounting: If you need basic accounting functionality without built-in payroll, project management, or time tracking, Sage Business Cloud Accounting is a good all around, cost effective solution you should consider, especially if you have multiple companies and/or multiple users. Reports are robust enough for the vast majority of businesses, and dashboard tabs help users navigate real-time core information and functions.
  10. Sage Intacct. Sage Intacct is a scalable accounting software option with rich functionality. The smallest businesses might find it overwhelming at first, but growing businesses will learn to appreciate it soon enough as it continues to meet their needs. Small businesses with multinational interests will appreciate the multi-currency support.

These snapshots provide you with a quick glance, but you can read on for more detailed information about each software option, including the following:

  • Best for: Which businesses typically use or might find each option useful?
  • Features important for small business: What’s in it for you?
  • Ease of use: How easy is it to use the software?
  • Cost: Does use of the software incur a one-time fee, monthly fee, or annual fee? What features incur additional fees?
  • Pros and cons: What are the best and the not-so-great features?

Best accounting software for small businesses 2021 reviewed

1. Intuit QuickBooks Online

Price from $8.00/mo
Free Trial 30 Days

Best overall accounting software for small businesses.

Best for:
QuickBooks Online offers so many iterations that almost anyone can find a suitable version. From Simple Start through Advanced, there’s an accounting software option at QuickBooks for most micro to midsize businesses. However, companies that are growing quickly may outgrow QuickBooks Online quickly, too; if you’re a fast-growing organization, and you think you will need comprehensive scalability soon, consider whether QuickBooks Desktop or Enterprise might be more appropriate.

Features important for small business:
Small businesses have far less time and money to spare when it comes to acquiring accounting software skills. An ideal software option would include comprehensive training materials and web-based help to speed learning along. QuickBooks Online has both of these things.

When dealing with bookkeeping software, convenience is really important. QuickBooks Online lessens your burdens with its many automated features, including scheduled invoices and bill payments. QuickBooks Online is also quite flexible as it offers various versions for different-sized businesses. With these choices, you can be certain one of their accounting software offerings will suit your small business needs.

It helps to have one place for everything. QuickBooks Online’s project tracking feature in the Plus and Advanced tiers facilitates this. With the addition of QuickBooks Payroll, keeping track of employees’ hours becomes a breeze. Even without QuickBooks Payroll, QuickBooks Online offers convenient components to track a project’s cost and profitability.

In a business, it’s necessary to delegate tasks, and that means multiple people may need access to the books. QuickBooks Online supports multiple users with its Essentials, Plus, and Advanced plans, which come with a clearance hierarchy system to restrict and allow users’ access as necessary, so everything is accessible on a need-to-know basis.

As the one person who needs to see the finances, it’s paramount that your accountant and/or bookkeeper have access to your books. This seamless integration of QuickBooks Online Accountant is available with all versions except SelfEmployed. If you don’t have an accountant of your own, another convenient component of QuickBooks Online is its QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping resource; this paid service provides access to a live professional bookkeeper. Not only are these bookkeepers reliable, but Intuit will also set you up with a bookkeeper familiar with your industry.

When you’re out of the office and need to take work with you, mobile apps are the way to go. In such scenarios, QuickBooks Online also has mobile apps for iOS and Android. Plus, users can log into the full version of QuickBooks Online from any browser with an internet connection.

Ease of use:
QuickBooks Online is always a popular choice among accounting software. The interface and navigation are very user-friendly. QuickBooks Online is flexible with add-on options available, too. The QuickBooks Online website even provides an interactive demo of the product with a sample company for a trial run. Intuit also provides tons of video tutorials in addition to webinars and training classes, all of which help orient new users. Plus, given the popularity and ubiquity of QuickBooks Online accounting software, finding the solution to any problem you encounter is just a few mouse clicks away.

In January of 2021, QuickBooks Online announced a new two-tab format for its dashboard, with a “Get things done” and a “Business overview” tab to further streamline user access. The “Get things done” tab provides the user access to functions like setup, banking, and so on. The “Business overview” tab displays insights into profit and loss, cash flow, invoices, expenses, and so on.

Cost:
Many times, your choice of accounting software boils down to the price. With QuickBooks Online, there are economical choices for various levels of needs; however, whether or not you find it affordable is highly subjective.

QuickBooks offers tiers of plans that increase in price with additional features and number of users, ranging from “Simple Start” with one user and basic accounting functionality up to “Advanced” with 25 users and a comprehensive feature set. There is a 30-day free trial available, which is ample time to get a good sense of what the product can do for you and what you can do with it.

Be vigilant, and it is possible to get a “Limited time only” discount for the online version. If you are working with an accountant, you may be able to save money by purchasing your subscription through that firm instead of directly from Intuit.

For those users who aren’t yet ready to make the jump to the cloud or who need multi-entity options, QuickBooks is also available in desktop versions that can be purchased for a one-time fee. Those with slow or unstable Internet connections might find this a good option. Businesses expecting to grow will find the Windows versions scalable. However, the Mac version is not scalable and has some limitations not found in the Windows version.

Things we liked:

  • Scalable
  • Excellent mobile apps
  • Strong reporting capabilities
  • Unlimited clients included in all plans
  • Modern user interface

Things we didn’t like:

  • Can be expensive
  • Feature set may be overwhelming
  • Single entity only

2. FreshBooks

Price from $4.50/mo
Free Trial 30 days

Best accounting software for small businesses without accounting experience.

Best for:
FreshBooks is a popular accounting software option among sole proprietorships, small to midsize businesses (SMBs), self-employed professionals, and freelancers. The basic monthly subscription plans only allow one user; more Team Members can be added (and users can be assigned roles—owner, administrator, manager, contractor, etc.), but this add-on does drive up the price. Therefore, FreshBooks is really a better fit for the solopreneur.

Features important for small businesses:
Not everyone who needs their books done has a background in accounting or the funds to find someone who does. The useability of accounting software can be just as crucial as its practicality. FreshBooks has double-entry accounting that requires no prior accounting experience; however, one thing to note when choosing a plan is that FreshBooks Lite does not provide accounts payable, so its double-entry features are limited.

When making decisions, especially financial ones, it’s essential to have the most up-to-date data available. FreshBooks provides a dynamic dashboard with real-time data, meaning any changes that happen will reflect as they happen, in real-time. Having current data available can save users from various issues including double paying, distortion of data, or data infidelity in general. FreshBooks’ dashboard view allows users to see exactly what is happening when it’s happening.

For most small businesses, regular customers are a must. To cater to these regulars or other personalized instances, FreshBooks provides customizable and recurring invoices. But, whether it’s the regular, new, or outlier customer, FreshBooks offers the flexibility to bill them all accordingly. Plus, the sales workflow simplifies the entire process, from proposals and estimates straight to invoices.

It’s also imperative that small businesses have a method to collect electronic payments. FreshBooks ensures you have a way to collect payment via credit card and ACH. With these payment methods available, you’ll be able to receive payment from even the most remote of clients—and you’ll be able to see payments via FreshBooks’ mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android.

FreshBooks also makes the sometimes tedious process of giving an accountant or bookkeeper access simple. The Accountant role in FreshBooks allows the accountant or bookkeeper to focus on what they do best, rather than figuring out how to access your information.

Ease of use:
FreshBooks claims its software is “Ridiculously Easy to Use.” Specifically designed for business owners rather than accountants, it is intuitive and known for its usability. With its easy-to-use, intuitive, and clean interface, users won’t need to worry about getting lost in droves of dropdowns. FreshBooks is also known for its friendly customer service and commitment to user success with the software.

Cost:
FreshBooks offers three monthly plans, which increase in price with the number of billable clients. The cheapest plan, FreshBooks Lite, is very affordable but doesn’t include double-entry accounting; it’s also limited to five billable clients per month. The Plus plan raises the number of billable clients to 50 for just a couple of dollars more a month and adds double-entry accounting, along with accountant access and mileage tracking. Businesses with more than 50 and up to 500 clients will require the Premium Plan. Although Premium adds some features, there’s a big jump in price, and any business with that number of clients is more likely to need to add on users, increasing the price even more. More than 500 clients requires Custom Pricing, which comes with a personal account manager, customized training, and lower rates for credit card transactions. Users can watch for sales to secure as much as half-price savings.

Again, these plans serve one user; adding more users adds to the cost. FreshBooks isn’t the cheapest option out there for a bustling business, but a solopreneur should find it competitive in price. The 30-day free trial should help users decide if it’s worth the investment. FreshBooks also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t like it within the first 30 days, FreshBooks will refund your purchase price.

Things we liked:

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Requires no accounting experience
  • Strong estimate to invoice workflow
  • User-friendly client portal
  • Excellent mobile apps

Things we didn’t like:

  • Multi-user pricing can be cost-prohibitive
  • No true budgeting feature
  • No native payroll

3. Xero

Website www.xero.com
Price from $9.00/mo
Free Trial 30 days

Best accounting software for small businesses that need mobile functionality.

Best for:
Freelancers, start-ups, mobile users, and small to medium-sized businesses are typical Xero users. Growing businesses may find themselves outgrowing Xero before long, though the extensive possibilities for integration can hold that off for quite a while.

Features important for small business:
With its comprehensive yet simple approach to double-entry accounting, Xero is a very good solution for all small businesses, but especially those that are sales focused. With its streamlined sales process flow, users can move from quote to invoice conversion in short order.

Xero also offers automatic reminders and automatically logs payments and receipts, so all transactions are recorded.

Efficiency is always welcome when it comes to transactions. With the use of machine learning, Xero saves its users time by remembering previous transaction data. With the help of this AI component, transactions will become progressively easier and simplify the end-of-month reconciliation process.

Organizing clients and contacts is a necessity to see what or who you’re working with. Xero’s contact management system is quite robust and allows quick access to a contact’s info and dashboard. There you’ll be able to see previous business interactions, patterns, and groups the contacts are in. Plus, the ability to sort and group clients allows for quick analysis.

In any product-based business, having a clear idea of inventory at all times is important. As products come in and out of inventory, a record should track every transaction that passes through those shelves. For businesses that deal with inventory, Xero offers an inventory management system. With an optimized purchase order workflow, both finances and inventory will be available to observe in real-time.

Similar to inventory, all your business’s assets need to be accounted for in your accounting software. Keeping assets inline and in sync with financials can be difficult if the functionality to do so isn’t already in place. Xero’s fixed-asset management system keeps that difficulty down to a minimum. With the ability to track assets and help manage asset depreciation, it’s quite a good asset in itself.

At some point when using software, you will come to find the limits of its functionality. No application is exempt from this, and Xero is no different. What Xero does have over others is a community willing to extend those limits. With hundreds of third-party app integrations, any limitations in software you run into is likely already solved. Xero also has its own mobile app with Apple Watch support. So, you can carry Xero along while you’re on the go.

Ease of use:
Even those with no accounting expertise can use Xero effectively. The interface is easy to navigate, and transactions are quick and painless, thanks to the automatic bank feed and easy reconciliation feature. Good customer support in addition to training and user guides on the website help to orient new users.

Xero makes working on the go easier with both cloud and mobile (Android and iOS) accessibility, despite a limited mobile search feature. A wizard or more in-depth instructions would make setting up a chart of accounts easier, but most features are simple and straightforward.

Cost:
Xero is a cost-effective and affordable option. The “Early” plan is fairly cheap but allows the user to send 20 invoices and quotes and enter five bills. Xero’s “Growing” plan jumps in price but allows unlimited invoices, quotes, and bills. The “Established” plan adds multi-currency functionality, project tracking, and expenses. You also have the option to try the software for free for 30 days.

Things we liked:

  • Tons of integrations
  • New project management feature in 2021
  • Cost effective for the mid-sized business
  • Unlimited users
  • Highly interactive dashboard

Things we didn’t like:

  • Limited built-in feature set
  • Limited multi-currency functionality
  • Not scalable

4. Wave

Price from FREE/mo

Best accounting software for freelancers or solopreneurs on a tight budget.

Best for:
Wave is an ideal accounting software option for small businesses and start-ups. Larger businesses won’t find it as useful because of its lack of scalability. Direct integration with Etsy, Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress makes it a good choice for bloggers and small eCommerce businesses. Its new 1099 module should appeal to small consultancies, other service-based businesses, and companies that work with contract employees.

Features important for small business:
While Wave was designed specifically for freelancers and contractors, it’s definitely robust enough for all small businesses, especially those that are very budget-conscious. Wave’s double-entry accounting features are comprehensive and rival even some of the most expensive on this list. Plus, the built-in integration with various eCommerce platforms streamlines payment processing.

Wave also boasts a dashboard view that updates information in real-time, along with unlimited bank and credit card feeds. Lots of features in Wave are customizable and automated, including invoicing, payment reminders, and sales tax calculations. In addition, the invoicing workflow facilitates the conversion of estimates to invoices with a single click.

Some small businesses need to be able to automate billable expenses and time tracking, and Wave can help with both. Another helpful feature is its inventory management system with CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) functionality. Like QuickBooks Online, Wave also offers a bookkeeping service, Wave Advisors, which can be added for a monthly fee.

Wave also provides multi-currency support, which is important for users focused on online retail sales. More importantly, Wave also allows users to create multiple entities using a single login, which is something that few other cloud-based accounting software applications allow. And, for users who need a business bank account, Wave Money includes accounting features built-in, along with a debit card and a mobile app.

Wave does offer built-in payroll for a monthly base fee plus a per-employee or contractor fee, but it’s only available in 14 states at this time. But, if you happen to be in one of Wave’s supported states, that means that payroll tax services are also supported. If you’re in another state, you can still record payroll information in Wave, and then use Wave’s handy payroll tax report to pay the taxes you owe and file the paperwork on your own.

Ease of use:
Wave is simple to navigate. The dashboard features a helpful overview of the business, and many financial functions—recurring invoicing, estimates converting to invoices, expense tracking, bank downloads—are automated. No additional software to manage contracts is required because Wave offers a basic feature for that.

The Wave Community provides a way for users to help each other. Aside from that, self-help in the Help Center is often the quickest option for support unless you don’t mind waiting.

Cost:
Wave is not only free, it’s ad-free. It’s best for companies that don’t need or can’t afford a more robust solution. Furthermore, it offers plenty of accounting power for the vast majority of lower-budget organizations. Payroll, payment processing, live bookkeeping, accounting, and tax support are available for reasonable fees if a company needs those functions.

Things we liked:

  • Totally free
  • Simple setup and navigation
  • One account can manage multiple businesses
  • Contract management feature
  • eCommerce integration

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not scalable
  • Limited to a single user
  • Lacking in customer service

5. Zoho Books

Website www.zoho.com
Price from $9.00/mo

Best accounting software for sales-focused small businesses.

Best for:
Zoho Books is a good accounting software option for small to medium businesses, resellers, service industries, freelancers, and startups. It does not handle multiple clients in the company, so it’s not an ideal solution for accountants or bookkeepers. Although it is intended to be used in the Zoho ecosystem, it can function as a stand-alone product, too.

Features important for small business:
Zoho Books accounting software offers core features suited for businesses operating on a smaller scale. Zoho has gone out of its way to automate nearly every applicable feature. From reminders and report scheduling to project tracking, billing, payment recording, and receipts, all have been automated for users’ convenience. With these features in place, Zoho has effectively eliminated the majority of tedious, repetitive tasks.

Zoho Books also enables invoices to stand out with customizable templates. Zoho offers an array of free templates to choose from at any given time. These customizable templates are designed to reduce complexity and all of the jargon generally included in an invoice. Invoicing layouts are straightforward and succinct.

Another helpful feature of Zoho Books is the functionality for adding items to a price list and using barcode scanning through the app. The ability to scan barcodes speeds up in-person transactions for users with retail businesses. Plus, barcodes reduce human error, make transaction processing easier for employees, and make data collection simpler.

Zoho Books has also added helpful keyboard shortcuts to help users save time on repetitive tasks, such as emails, queries, importing, exporting, and much more, which are available at the press of a button in the Zoho organization workspace.

A huge plus with Zoho Books is its seamless integration with other Zoho products. Together, they create a whole business ecosystem, Zoho Books’ flexibility doesn’t end there. Along with internal integrations, Zoho Books has a mobile app for multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Windows), so Zoho Books works on almost anything.

Ease of use:
Zoho Books is ideal for users already in the Zoho ecosystem as it is designed to integrate with other modules in that system seamlessly. Integrating with applications outside of the Zoho ecosystem is possible, but it can be challenging and requires additional programming. Over the past year, Zoho Books has implemented many changes for the better, including automations, budgeting, and others. And, working on the go is easy with Zoho Books robust mobile offerings.

Cost:
Zoho Books is an overall cost-effective option. Like most accounting software options, Zoho Books offers a range of plans, and each plan includes more features than the previous one. The “Basic” plan allows up to 50 contacts, two users, and five automated workflows. The “Standard” plan boosts the number of contacts to 500, allows three users, and up to 10 automated workflows. The “Professional” plan serves businesses with more than 500 contacts and accommodates 10 users and 10 automated workflows. The differences between the Basic and Standard plans include the addition of bills, vendor credits, reporting tags, purchase approval, and Twilio integration. The Professional plan adds purchase and sales orders, stock tracking, a custom domain, and a vendor portal. Zoho also offers add-ons each month such as adding users, sending snail mail, and auto-scans for additional charges.

Things we liked:

  • Excellent automation features
  • Includes default charts of accounts
  • Full ecosystem integration
  • Excellent mobile apps
  • Live support

Things we didn’t like:

  • Difficult to integrate outside the system
  • Not scalable
  • Payroll feature limited

6. GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping

Best for:
GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping is best for online sellers, sole proprietors, freelancers, and the self-employed. GoDaddy originally began as a quarterly tax calculation tool but gradually added features to become more robust. Because GoDaddy is not based on double-entry accounting, it’s not a good option for companies with assets and liabilities. GoDaddy also has limited reporting capability but is well-known for Schedule C reporting at the end of the year.

Features important for small business:
Many people know GoDaddy as a web hosting service, but it also has exceptional accounting software for small businesses. For users coming from an Amazon, eBay, PayPal, or Etsy background, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping allows direct integration with those retail sites for quick and easy importing.

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping also has integrated time tracking and automatically calculates quarterly taxes, so users have exact figures at any given time. Along with the quarterly tax calculation, GoDaddy also boasts a solid end-of-year tax reporting capability. So, small businesses can rest assured that taxes will be a breeze with GoDaddy in their corner.

Striking the right balance between features and needs is important for any small business. GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping includes a setup checklist at the startup process for users to select all the features they need and none of the ones they don’t. Plus, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping’s dashboard includes comprehensive information and a to-do list, with everything accessible at-a-glance.

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping has notifications that can be enabled for specific tasks, including when clients view documents, among other things. Plus, its tabbed view makes it less overwhelming for someone without accounting experience.

Ease of use:
Designed for the self-employed, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping is meant to be simple and easy to use. All primary business functions, including time tracking, real-time profit and loss reporting, and invoicing, are housed on the dashboard, simplifying day-to-day tasks. Daily bank download features help automate other tasks, so there is no manual entry required. However, manual entry is available, too, for those who want it. GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping does require verification of categorization for automatically downloaded transactions, but artificial intelligence helps, and it learns as users continue to work. It also includes a quarterly estimated tax payment option right on the dashboard.

Cost:
GoDaddy is an inexpensive option for those who have limited accounting needs. Three tiers of options provide increasing functionality at each level. The “Get Paid” plan is the cheapest and simplest, providing functionality for invoicing, estimates, mileage and time tracking, along with business reports for the current year. “Essentials” adds unlimited business reports, tax worksheets (Schedule C and sales, for example), automatic bank and credit card feeds, and automatic import of sales data from Amazon, PayPal, eBay, and Etsy. The “Premium” plan enables recurring invoices.

Things we liked:

  • Reseller integration
  • Good overview of business reports
  • Good invoicing tools
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable

Things we didn’t like:

  • Mobile app user interfaces are very different – problematic if multiple users
  • No bill-pay feature
  • Time tracking not very robust

7. Kashoo

Website www.kashoo.com
Price from $16.65/mo
Free Trial 14 days

Best for:
Freelancers, consultants, sole proprietors, and small businesses will be drawn to Kashoo’s accounting software. It isn’t really for larger businesses that need robust functionality, but it’s a good overall low-cost solution.

Features important for small business:
Kashoo’s accounting software is geared toward small businesses with all the essentials and none of the fluff. Users pay for what they get, with no hidden fees. It includes all the features most small businesses will need, such as income and expense tracking, payroll (via an integration with Sure), bank integrations, and simple reports.

Kashoo’s real-time summary reports are always visible in a sidebar, meaning users can monitor the business’s financial health easily without having to drill down into the details. In addition, this workspace includes direct data entry fields for income and expenses for quick entry in between bank downloads—without having to go into specific registers. And, Kashoo’s machine learning capabilities are quite good.

Kashoo also offers the option for users to export their books into spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel or any CSV program. There’s even an option to export into QuickBooks Online for users who may have outgrown Kashoo’s capabilities.

With Kashoo’s customizable invoice templates, users can create a template that suits their company’s aesthetic and leave a lasting impression on the clients they bill. Kashoo also includes project-level budgeting, which is a nice-to-have feature, but it doesn’t include company-level budgeting, proposals and estimates, purchase orders, or inventory tracking.

Kashoo also allows many payment options, including Stripe, Square, and Clover (formerly BluePay) credit card payment integration. Kashoo also has a mobile app for receipt processing purposes and much more.

Ease of use:
Kashoo is a simple, easy-to-set-up program, but the company provides multi-business support for an additional monthly or annual fee (the latter is discounted). That it is so simple and basic is good for the learning curve but perhaps not ideal for functionality.

Cost:
Kashoo offers a 14-day free trial (no credit card required), so there’s an opportunity to try it before committing to it. An affordable monthly subscription is available, but going with the annual plan brings a discount. Plans allow for unlimited users and user-level permissions.

Things we liked:

  • Standard chart of accounts that’s easily customized
  • Recurring invoice function
  • Multicurrency capability
  • Single pricing plan
  • Unlimited users

Things we didn’t like:

  • Limited reporting capabilities (only eight total)
  • No budget feature, estimates, or time tracking
  • No automatic payment reminders

8. AccountEdge Pro

Price from $10.00/mo

Best for:
AccountEdge Pro is a suitable accounting software option for small business owners or bookkeepers. Some users may find it too robust with an overwhelming volume of choices. Business owners who prefer on-premises desktop options will appreciate AccountEdge Pro. Although it is a desktop application, it does offer remote functions through web-based AccountEdge Connect for a monthly fee.

Features important for small business:
AccountEdge Pro is a desktop-based accounting software that’s tailor-made for small businesses. It assists with many business facets like purchases, payroll, inventory, sales, invoicing, and more. AccountEdge Pro’s advantage comes from its ability to perform most of these tasks remotely and securely. The option to work remotely with AccountEdge makes it a solid choice for those looking for flexibility.

The list of AccountEdge Pro’s features includes all major accounting modules: accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger, payroll, time tracking, and inventory. AccountEdge Pro also enables users to link bank accounts for automatic bank feeds, which makes importing that data effortless. AccountEdge Connect allows authorized contractors and employees to contribute data to sync to the company file, a convenient add-on for small businesses looking for a syncing database-like software to use out in the field.

Invoicing with AccountEdge is quite flexible, and most forms are customizable—checks, invoices, and statements, for instance. Not only is AccountEdge Pro flexible visually, but it can also adapt to a wide variety of business structures and industries to suit a variety of needs. Finding a plan that fits your small business is simple, and there are tons of FAQ posts to clear up any confusion along the way.

Small businesses already using Shopify will appreciate the ease with which eCommerce shops are set up with AccountEdge Pro. Furthermore, AccountEdge Pro provides credit card processing accounts fully integrated with the other AccountEdge plans.

Ease of use:
AccountEdge Pro is easy to set up and navigate. The dashboard is workflow-based and tabbed, helping to facilitate data entry in the correct order, saving time. However, some users have noted a learning curve with this powerful package, so ease of use is probably relative to the experience of the user. In addition, AccountEdge charges for phone support, so potential users should keep that extra cost in mind.

Cost:
AccountEdge Pro comes with a one-time fee, but a payroll subscription and phone support will require additional annual fees. Additional licenses incur an annual fee, as well. It offers scalability, and as businesses grow, they may want to consider a cloud-based option with a monthly fee. Upgrades are a little cheaper, but significant upgrades each year encourage users to buy.

Things we liked:

  • One of the few desktop options left
  • Very feature-rich
  • Affordable one-time and annual upgrade fees
  • Scalable and comprehensive
  • Includes multi-user support

Things we didn’t like:

  • Limited customer support and knowledge base
  • No mobile apps
  • Some features are limited to the Mac version

9. Sage Business Cloud Accounting

Price from $25.00/mo
Free Trial 30 Days

Best for:
Formerly known as Sage One, a product developed specifically for small businesses, Sage Business Cloud Accounting continues to target small businesses with limited accounting needs. It handles accounts payable and receivable, reporting, and integrations well, but if you require built-in payroll functionality, time tracking, and robust inventory management, this product might not be your best choice.

Features important for small business:
Sage Business Cloud Accounting is an online accounting software solution for small businesses looking for strong invoicing capabilities. Sage Business Cloud Accounting reduces manual input and direct emailing of invoices—translating to small businesses getting paid quickly. Plus, Sage Business Cloud Accounting includes an invoice tracking option that shows when the invoice was sent, viewed, and paid.

One of Sage Business Cloud Accounting’s best features is its automated bank feeds with smart reconciliation. Users wanting to minimize manual data entry will appreciate how Sage Business Cloud Accounting automatically posts transactions after they’re downloaded. Sage Business Cloud Accounting plans also come with a customizable Charts of Accounts, and its robust reporting system is one of the more comprehensive options on this list.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting also boasts dynamic dashboard tabs that show real-time core functions all compiled in one place, saving users the hassle of tracking down the information in registers or the chart of accounts. Sage Business Cloud Accounting has more than 60 integrations, including point of sale and CRM, as well as Paya, Stripe, and AutoEntry.

Similar to most accounting software on the list, Sage Business Cloud Accounting has Apple and Android mobile apps equipped with primary functions on the go. Through these apps, users can also see the business performance graphs to check progress in-depth.

Ease of use:
Sage Business Cloud Accounting is simple and easy to navigate with a clean modern user interface. Its “Getting Started” checklist approach helps simplify the setup process. There are good help features and documentation, along with live chat customer support to orient users, but Sage is not known for stellar customer support. While Sage Business Cloud Accounting does include a comprehensive module set, time-saving automation features are limited.

Cost:
Sage Business Cloud Accounting offers two plans, both of which are very reasonably priced and shouldn’t break the bank. The Accounting plan costs more than the Accounting Start plan but offers significantly more features (namely, unlimited users, quotes and estimates, cash flow forecasting, and managing purchase invoices). Sage offers a 30-day free trial to help you decide if their software is right for you.

Things we liked:

  • Clean user interface that is easy to navigate
  • Dashboard view
  • Strong reporting capabilities
  • Inventory tracking for the small business
  • Positive customer service reviews

Things we didn’t like:

  • Limited automation features
  • No built-in payroll
  • Difficult to adjust existing journal entries

10. Sage Intacct

Best for:
Sage Intacct is a scalable option with plenty of automations and integration options. Providing robust accounting functionality, it also includes multi-currency support. Sage Intacct is known for its fixed asset management and data slicing capability.

Features important for small business:
Sage Intacct is an accounting software with a good balance of flexibility, automation, and analytical power. In addition to the typical double-entry accounting features, Sage Intacct includes order management and purchasing features that growing businesses will appreciate. Plus, Sage Intacct offers a customizable accounts payable workflow, including an American Express-powered vendor payment system.

The automated workflows features in Sage Intacct increase accuracy and productivity. The invoicing process also integrates seamlessly with Sage Intacct’s order management system, simplifying the quote to order to fulfillment process and promoting cross-functional collaboration.

Sage Intacct also includes 1099 support, fixed asset management features, strong inventory management tools, and a wide variety of additional integrations. Furthermore, with Sage’s dynamic dashboard, users can observe cash flow tracking in real-time.

One unique aspect of Sage Intacct is the flexibility of its user-level permissions, including customizable user types, along with the ability to create and deactivate users, change preferences for other users, and much more. There’s also a custom roles system to create a custom hierarchy, assign permissions, and create user groups.

Ease of use:
Users—especially those without bookkeeping or accounting experience—generally find that Sage Intacct requires a small learning curve. Informed customer support representatives respond quickly, though. Sage Support Central provides access to training, a knowledge base, reference materials, live Q&As, experts (Sage City), and more.

Cost:
Potential users interested in Sage Intacct will need to contact the company to request the information as pricing is not public; however, Sage Intacct is subscription-based, and certain features are only included as add-on modules, so users should be aware that costs can add up fairly quickly.

Things we liked:

  • Comprehensive accounting functionality
  • Strong reporting capabilities
  • Scalable
  • HR functions
  • Multi-currency options

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not the most cost-effective option for smallest businesses
  • Learning curve
  • No mobile app

Being your own boss is a dream many people have. Being an accountant for your own business is a less common aspiration. When you consider the time and effort spent on keeping the books for a business, accounting software starts to seem more appealing. The right software can bring order out of chaos, helping you to track financials, work through estimates and invoices, manage projects, keep up on the go, and so much more. Choosing the right software can be intimidating, so if you take a little time to consider what you need, what you might need in the future, and read the reviews, you won’t go wrong.

Small business accounting software FAQ

Why does my small business need accounting software?

Without accounting software, you can expect to spend more time working on your financial accounts for your business. In addition, errors are less likely when you let software help you with your accounting tasks. Most small business owners dream of growing their businesses, which means accounting is only going to become more time-intensive and more complex down the road. Implementing accounting software at the outset means that you won't have to face the hassle of adapting to it down the line, when the business has grown even more complicated. Another factor to consider is the need to comply with tax laws, for which the right software can be a real perk.

What advice do you have for new small business owners who aren't sure if they want to take on the expense of accounting software?

Fortunately, you have options! You can even find free accounting software, although you might find it limited or lacking in support. You can also find very affordable software. What you really want to do is consider scalability: Will the software grow with you? Often software companies offer tiers of plans with the option to move up a tier or add on modules or features as you grow. Two questions to consider here are "What do I really need right now?" and "What might I need in the future?" If you don't know the answer to the latter, you're still making the safe bet by going with an option that can grow with you.

Should I use cloud-based or desktop software?

One key feature of cloud-based software is accessibility. You're not limited to one computer in an office somewhere; instead, you can access your account on any computer or mobile device. Upgrades can be applied by the company automatically. Unless the software is free, there's typically a monthly subscription involved. However, consider that desktop versions do often require upgrades, and those are not typically free.

Isn't my information more secure with desktop software?

Not really. Companies providing cloud-based accounting software have a vested interest in maintaining the security of your information. They want to not only keep your business but establish their reputations as providers of secure quality software. Therefore, they are dedicated to making sure your information is secure.

Do I need to know a lot about accounting to use accounting software?

Acquainting yourself with some basics is going to be beneficial, whether you use accounting software or not. You might be surprised to learn that software companies are aware of the needs of the small business owner, even one with little accounting knowledge. You will find that many offer free trials and work to make their software intuitive and easy to use. Many include training materials, video tutorials, and support on their websites, too!

Can you just tell me which accounting software is best for small business?

If you read our reviews, you'll see that we can tell you which one we think is best overall, which one is most flexible, which is best for mobile users, which is best for sales-focused businesses, online resellers and so on. It's really up to you to read the reviews, think about what you need, what you might need down the road, and find the one that's best for you!