If you run a business, you absolutely must track your income and expenses. Your business accounting is required for taxes, and putting in a little extra effort up front can save a ton of time and hassles when tax season rolls around. Even more, accurately tracking expenses can help you lower your tax bill. But most accounting software isn’t cheap, and it can take a lot of work to learn how it all works. Here are the best top accounting software options to choose from for your business.
Best Overall: Quickbooks
Intuit’s Quickbooks is the 800-pound gorilla of the small business accounting world. While it isn’t perfect and isn’t cheap, it is one of the most fully featured accounting software packages in existence. Windows and Mac versions exist for the desktop, but Quickbooks is slowly working to push users into the cloud (subscription instead of one-time cost). The Mac version does not have nearly the full feature set of the Windows or online version, so keep that in mind when choosing software for your business.
Because Quickbooks is so widely used, it is easy to find tutorials, guides, videos and other information on how it all works. But the downside is that you need tutorials, guides and videos to understand how it works. Intuit’s own help forum is often riddled with incorrect answers, so getting through a frustrating issue may take longer than you would hope. But, at the end of the day, it is the best known and most popular accounting software for a reason: it works well for a wide range of businesses and business needs. Quickbooks Online offers several versions ranging in cost from $5 for the self-employed version up to $25 per month for the Plus version. Payroll and payments services cost extra.
Best Cloud First: Xero
Quickbooks started with desktop, but Xero was always cloud first. Mac users who can’t find what they need from Quickbooks for Windows were some of the earlier adopters of Xero, which includes 24/7 live chat support at no extra cost. Xero is also huge on integrations, with more than 600 integrations to help business owners manage invoicing, inventory, payroll and much more.
One standout feature is the ability to track time and money spent on specific projects, so you don’t let any dollars slip through the cracks. Xero is designed for an array of businesses and offers a starter version for $9 per month. Higher end premium versions include payroll and multi-currency support, with the Premium 100 plan (includes payroll for up to 100 staff) running $180 per month.
Best for Efficiency: Zoho Books
Smaller businesses that don’t have lots of employees, inventory and other complex needs don’t have to deal with the complexities bigger firms have to deal with. Zoho is best for the smaller sized businesses that just works. Zoho offers several apps, and Books is its accounting software. It includes easy-to-understand dashboards and graphs and takes pride in straightforward usability. You don’t need an accounting degree to make sense of Zoho.
One particularly useful feature for service businesses is automated payment reminders when your clients are not paying quickly as agreed. It offers manual journal entries, financial statements, project management, automated banking, inventory and collaboration tools. Pricing ranges from $9 per month for the Basic plan up to $29 per month for the Professional version, with discounts when you pay for a full year up front.
Best Free: Wave
It doesn’t get cheaper than free! Wave is a standout in the accounting software space as it offers the majority of features at no charge for users. It also offers the ability to track both personal and business finances in one place, rather than going to one app for personal and another for business. However, you sometimes get what you pay for.
The accounting features are not as in-depth as some others on this list, but if you only have basic needs it should work fine. It even includes free invoicing. To make money, Wave charges for payment processing and payroll services, which are integrated with the bookkeeping suite of tools. The accounting software is free of charge. Credit cards and payroll pricing are in-line with most industry competitors.
Best for Freelancers: FreshBooks
Freelancers and other solo business owners might not need a giant, complicated accounting system. FreshNooks offers what you might call bookkeeping light, with no double entry accounting support. However, it is easy to use for time tracking, invoicing, payments and reports. And it is one of the easiest accounting apps to use.
While it is great for self-employed workers, it is not powerful enough for many small businesses. Plans range from $15 per month for the Lite version up to $50 per month for the Premium version. Lite supports only five clients, so it isn’t viable for many users. The most popular plan, Plus, runs $25 per month and supports up to 50 clients.
Best for Online Sellers: GoDaddy Bookkeeping
Another bookkeeping option good for freelancers, GoDaddy Bookkeeping is a bargain starting at just $3.99 per month for the first year. Formerly known as Outright, GoDaddy acquired the accounting software company in 2012 and renamed it GoDaddy Bookkeeping. Its features are on the basic side, and like FreshBooks, does not include double entry accounting. But it does make time tracking and quarterly estimated taxes a lot easier than doing it manually.
The best features are integrations with online sales platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy. If that is where you do most of your business, GoDaddy Bookkeeping could be a good choice and a cheap one. Prices range from $4.99 to $14.99 per month, with a 20 percent discount your first year.
Best Everyday: 17Hats
Small business owners do more than one job any given day. They wear lots of hats. Hence: 17Hats. This accounting software is a lot more than accounting software. It is a fully featured productivity suite for small businesses that includes bookkeeping features.
From the dashboard, you can get to your accounting records or manage contacts, projects, leads, questionnaires, quotes, contracts, invoices, payments, calendars, to do lists, time tracking, workflows, templates and even sync client emails from your inbox. It is a lot to handle and probably overkill for many businesses. But if you want everything under one roof, 17Hats is there for $37 per month. Discounts available for annual and two-year commitments.