Accounting software is a non-negotiable if you’re trying to run your own business, and the sooner you deploy one of the best accounting software products the better.
While there are standalone platforms for invoicing software and tax software, generally your accounting platforms will be more comprehensive.
However, while there are some very good paid-for accounting programs around, there are also a strong number of free accounting software solutions currently available, as well as bookkeeping software. While some of these are simply free tiers for paid software, others are freeware programs you can download and use without charge to help with budgeting. There are also time management apps that can integrate for consultants or freelancers who need to charge by hour.
Accounting software for small businesses
FreshBooks is a popular cloud-based accounting service designed specifically for small business owners.
The package has plenty of features – invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, a host of business reports, even an option to take credit card payments (for a 2.9% plus 30 cents transaction fee) – but a straightforward interface aimed at non-accountants ensures you’ll be up-and-running right away.
Despite the simplicity, there’s real depth here. You can bill in any currency, save time by setting up recurring invoices, allow customers to pay via credit card by checking a box, and even automatically bill their credit card to keep life simple for everyone.
If you need more power, the system integrates with many other services, including PayPal, MailChimp, Basecamp, WordPress, Gusto, Zendesk and more.
Management hassles are kept to a minimum. You’re able to access and use the system from your desktop or its free iOS and Android apps, and because it’s a cloud-based system there’s no need to worry about backups.
If this sounds appealing, you can try FreshBooks for 30 days without using a credit card.
The Lite plan gives you invoices, estimates, time tracking, expenses, plus the ability to accept online credit card payments and import expenses from your bank account. It’s $15 a month, but only covers you for five clients.
The Plus plan supports a more reasonable 50 clients, adds the ability to send proposals, and saves you time by providing recurring invoices and the option to automatically send payment reminders. It’s decent value at $25 a month.
The $50 a month Premium plan lifts the client limit to 500, and further users can each be added for $10 per month.
Cloud-based accounting software for all small business needs
QuickBooks is an instantly recognizable name in the world of accountancy and bookkeeping. It’s owned by Intuit, which also has other options for small business and large ones too, with a diverse portfolio that includes Turbotax, Mint and Proconnect. QuickBooks also comes in numerous different varieties, from desktop editions through to the hugely popular Online edition.
Depending on your requirements, you can choose from QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Self-Employed, QuickBooks Online Advanced, QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, QuickBooks Desktop for Mac, QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise. However, it is possible to create a custom package using the help of the QuickBooks team if you need a more bespoke option.
Due to the sheer expanse of QuickBooks-based products it’s best to check out the website in order to get the latest update on pricing, versions available and also any deals that Intuit has on this vast range of accounting solutions. Basic difference between core packages are outlined in our reviews below.
Powerful small business accounting software
Xero might grab your attention with its low $9 per month Early plan account but look closely and limitations soon become apparent – like being restricted to sending a maximum of five invoices, entering five bills, or reconciling only 20 bank transactions.
Still, if you can live with those restrictions there are some pluses here. The service offers smart expense tracking and management, optionally on your mobile with Xero’s excellent app for Android and iOS. There are dozens of configurable reports, simple budgeting, and no limits at all on additional users or the accountants you might want to access the data.
If the invoice, bank or billing issues are a problem then the Xero Growing plan looks like a better deal. It’s a lot more money at $30 per month, but you can issue as many invoices and enter as many bills as you like.
Xero offers plenty of functionality for any small business, including a handy “convert your QuickBooks files” service to help you get started, and it’s certainly easy to use. But if you don’t quite need all that power, there’s better value to be had elsewhere.
4. Sage Business Cloud Accounting
Veteran small business accounting solution
Sage Business Cloud Accounting makes a good first impression with its clear and gimmick-free pricing. The top Sage Accounting plan offers decent value at just $25 per month. There is also a 30-day free trial.
For this, you get modules to manage quotes, invoices, handle and submit VAT online, smart bank feeds and reconciliation, cash flow forecasting, some detailed reports, multiple currency support, project tracking and more, all available from your desktop or via a mobile app.
All this is well presented and generally easy-to-use. If you run into trouble, detailed web help and video tutorials are only a click or two away, with the offer of “free unlimited 24/7 telephone and email support” that should help make any newbie comfortable.
Sage also has a more basic offering called Accounting Start. This doesn’t include support for quotes, estimates or vendor bills, and has no cash flow forecasts, but it’s only $10 per month and could be enough for start-ups as well as small businesses.
Hassle-free accounting software for small business users
Choosing an accounting package often involves browsing a complicated comparison table, looking for hidden catches and trying to figure out which is the best product for you.
Kashoo avoids all that with a single $19.95 a month plan, or $199 annually, which delivers just about everything you’re likely to need.
Kashoo shines when it comes to multi-currency support, an important feature for today’s global economy. It also supports credit card transactions for all the major carriers – Amex, Visa and Mastercard – at a competitive 2.9% plus 0.30 cents transaction fee.
You also benefit from unlimited invoices and connections to over 5,000 financial institutions to reconcile accounts online. We liked the uncluttered interface of this product, and the dashboard that provides a good summary of your current financial situation at a glance.
Kashoo also offers customer support across the gamut of email, phone, live chat and social media – this company will even respond to an old-fashioned letter! One current shortcoming to note, however, is that there is only a mobile app for iOS, leaving Android users out in the cold for the time being. Kashoo offers a 14-day trial for those looking to test the service out.
Read More: Best Accounting Software in 2020