Your accounting software is a major tool in your small business arsenal. It helps you manage your funds, stay current on purchasing and payments, discover insights to your business performance, and generate the data you need to make strategic business decisions. 

But it’s not always an easy choice. 

Today we’re breaking down everything we’ve learned about your accounting software choices on the market right now, including price points and important characteristics that can affect your success.

Accounting software options overview

Accounting Software Cost Key features Best for
Quickbooks Online $25/mo Comprehensive suite, ease-of-use Most users
FreshBooks $15/mo Unlimited invoices Service industry
Xero $11/mo Unlimited users, lots of integrations Small businesses, startups
Zoho Books $9/mo Inventory features, client portal Retail, D2C businesses
Zipbooks Free Intuitive workflows Brand new businesses
Wave Free Mobile capabilities On-the-go businesses
Sage $10/mo Integrations and customization Legacy systems, UK users

Most of your small business accounting software options will include the same basic features: chart of accounts, accounts payable and receivable, profit/loss, invoices, etc. But it’s in the additional features and workflows that the magic happens for your unique business. 

Each accounting software platform offers a slightly different spin on the basic features, with variable pricing and their own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s dive into what makes each one of these account software providers unique, and which might be the best accounting solution for your small business. 

Best overall

QuickBooks Online

Price: $25/mo

Key features: Comprehensive suite, ease-of-use

Customer review: “It’s easy to use. Everything you see and do, just makes sense.” – G2 review

There’s a good reason for QuickBooks to be the big name in online accounting software. QuickBooks has created a comprehensive platform for accounting that is easy to use and set up. Since the 1980s, Intuit has been creating accounting tools for small-to-medium businesses, and they have truly earned their experience. QuickBooks Online is their latest and greatest product, which caters to the on-the-go digital presence of today’s workforce. 

Plans start at $15/month and range up to the Premium tier at $150/month. QuickBooks Plus is the most popular plan at $70/month and gets you up to 5 users, bill pay, inventory management, and payments. There are sufficient integrations (such as payroll) which make for a general level of customization to your needs. It’s easy to use QuickBooks as a bookkeeping software or even to get an assigned bookkeeper for your business. 

QuickBooks has a wide range of resources, and decent customer service. The price might be a little higher than other options but the depth of product offerings and ease-of-use make QuickBooks Online a standout (with the options for QuickBooks desktop available, too).

Check out our full review of QuickBooks Online accounting software here.

Best invoices

FreshBooks

Price: $15/mo

Key features: Unlimited invoices

Customer review: “Freshbooks allows me to easily track my time AND then I can automate the generation of invoices so I don’t forget to send it and then GET PAID.” – G2 review

The FreshBooks accounting solution may not be as comprehensive as QuickBooks, but it packs a punch with a smaller price tag. FreshBooks started with invoicing and continues to provide the strongest invoice feature on the market today. With FreshBooks Invoices you get unlimited invoices, strong automation, reminders, click-to-pay, deposits, and more. 

You can customize your invoices with your logo and colors to look more professional (a great option for small businesses) and the FreshBooks app allows you to track expenses, log time, and send invoices on the go. If you’re a business relying heavily on invoices and varied customer payment workflows, FreshBooks is a strong choice for your accounting tool set. 

In short, FreshBooks invoice features include:

  • Invoice automation
  • Recurring invoices
  • Unlimited invoices
  • Unpaid invoice reminders
  • Past due reminders
  • Click-to-pay in invoice
  • Custom logo & color scheme
  • Customer deposits
  • Quotes, and more

Check out our full review of FreshBooks accounting software here.

Best inventory

Xero

Price: $11/mo

Key features: Unlimited users, lots of integrations

Customer review: “Xero’s payment processing system is incredibly flexible, as it’s able to interact with several transaction gateways, forecasts, invoices, reports, and online transactions in a short time.” – G2 review

Xero is a growing cult favorite because of it’s affordable price and unlimited users. Small businesses often need everyone on the team to collaborate and pitch in on expense management, reporting, and inventory management—and as you grow your accounting team might need more access than the other accounting platforms will allow. Xero’s unlimited users makes this a competitive option. 

But the biggest reason you might choose Xero over other accounting software programs is their inventory feature. For any other accounting solution, you have to upgrade to higher tiers or add-on an inventory feature in order to integrate your inventory management to your accounting dashboard. Xero provides inventory management in every single plan they offer, linked directly with each accounting task like invoices and purchase orders. 

Another inventory win for Xero is that you can run a wide range of reports that include basics like a balance sheet, up to your inventory management—such as seeing how well certain products are selling and which might need price changes. We recommend Xero for retail and other inventory-reliant businesses to meet their specific accounting needs.

Check out our full review of Xero accounting software here.

Most user-friendly 

QuickBooks Online

Price: $25/mo

Key features: Comprehensive suite, ease-of-use

Customer review: “It’s easy to use. Everything you see and do, just makes sense.” – G2 review

According to Business.org, QuickBooks Online is the most user-friendly accounting software option out there. You pay a little bit more for the convenience, but the ease and reliability make up for it. QuickBooks draws on decades of accounting experience to create an accounting system that is easy to understand and use. In fact, their mobile accounting app is the best on the market, making it easy to manage finances on-the-go. 

QuickBooks Online offers a wide range of resources to help small business owners use their software including: 

  • Help articles
  • Tutorials
  • Webinars
  • Training courses and accounting program
  • 1 hour paid setup
  • Live bookkeeping services (paid)

QuickBooks Online is very easy to use, but some users balk at the reports of poor customer support. It’s true that their ratings for customer service and troubleshooting are less than stellar, but with their simple foundation and wide range of help resources it’s likely you won’t have to deal with customer support too often.

Check out our full review of QuickBooks Online accounting software here.

Best free

Wave

Price: Free

Key features: Mobile applications

Customer review: “Wave just seems to have these features that you didn’t know you needed but now that you do you would be lost without them.” – G2 review

So many bootstrapped small businesses and sole proprietorships are operating on a scant (or nonexistent) budget. Free accounting software is often your only option, but you can still find a comprehensive platform that meets your needs without a monthly payment. Wave is truly free—you don’t even need to put in a credit card to get set up. 

Unlike other business accounting software platforms, Wave doesn’t impose invoice, expense, or receipt limits, which is another huge pull for small business owners. Wave doesn’t offer much for larger businesses, or if you need a wide range of integrations, but this free option for smaller businesses is a home run.

Check out our full review of Wave accounting software here.

Best intuitive experience

ZipBooks

Price: Free

Key features: Intuitive workflows

Customer review: “The software is highly intuitive and easy to learn.” – G2 review

Wave is a fantastic option for free accounting software, but if you want a cleaner look and more intuitive experience—we’d recommend ZipBooks. ZipBooks provides project and time tracking, intuitive categorizations and tags for streamlined organization, and a truly beautiful interface. In fact, Zipbooks might have the strongest cash flow analysis accounting feature, showing your bank account, bank transactions, and relevant financial reports at a glance. 

ZipBooks offers paid upgrades, but the free starter version is still impressive. It lacks the depth of FreshBooks or QuickBooks Online, but they do offer a few unique features such as the invoice-to-review (customers can post reviews to Google, Yelp, etc. right after paying their invoice).

Check out our full review of ZipBooks accounting software here.

Best automation

Zoho

Price: $9/mo

Key features: Inventory features, client portal

Customer review: “I love the simplicity of Zoho Books as well as the price. Zoho Books has all the features an SMB will need to operate the financial part of their business efficiently.” – G2 review

Zoho is an extensive platform that offers more than 40 different applications for businesses. This makes Zoho a popular choice for business owners looking to build their own customized solution to meet unique needs. You can add on payroll, expense tracking, bookkeeping, invoices, inventory management, bank reconciliation, and more.  Once you’ve pieced together the Zoho apps you need, you can build out automations that save you significant time as a small business owner. 

Zoho Books is closely modeled after QuickBooks with similar cloud-based accounting software features, but offers the wider base of a larger Zoho suite, as well as increased customizations and flair for a lower price. There are category limits for users, contacts, and automations, but most small businesses will fit easily within these parameters. 

Perhaps the most promising feature of Zoho is that they’re constantly updating and innovating, so the reach and number of automations are continually increasing.

Check out our full review of Zoho accounting software here.

Best for startups

Xero

Price: $11/mo

Key features: Unlimited users, lots of integrations

Customer review: “Xero’s payment processing system is incredibly flexible, as it’s able to interact with several transaction gateways, forecasts, invoices, reports, and online transactions in a short time.” – G2 review 

Xero gives you a lot for just $11/month, and their features are perfect for startups. You get strong invoicing, customizations, receipt capture, inventory management, and bank transaction reconciliation. As we mentioned above, the unlimited users feature is especially attractive to startups where you might have multi-functional teams who wear lots of hats. Everyone can collaborate within Xero’s platform, and delegation is easy. 

Most businesses can’t survive long on the $11/month plan (it only offers 5 bills and 20 invoices each month) but upgrading to the $32/month plan gives you unlimited invoicing. You don’t get the expense management features but you can always find that with a free expense management platform.

Best mobile functionality

Sage

Price: $10/mo

Key features: Mobile application, integrations

Customer review: “I like the variety of tasks that we can perform, so there is less need to switch between platforms.” – G2 review

Sage accounting has provided software internationally for decades, and while their product offerings can be confusing, their desktop, cloud, and mobile access to accounting features is incredibly helpful. Sage is very flexible, allowing you to access your accounting on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and even Apple Watch. There are a variety of Sage products and plans (such as Sage 50cloud for small businesses) and a huge list of integrations, so it’s easy to create the accounting software package that will work for your small business. 

In addition to the mobile functionality and flexibility of Sage access, you also get live customer support, forums, and a huge knowledge base. It’s usually a legacy program, but if you like the product offerings and it’s important to have flexible access across multiple devices and locations then we’d recommend Sage.

Check out our full review of Sage accounting software here.

The verdict

We hope this comprehensive review helps you to find a good starting point for your accounting software discovery. Each of these accounting software platforms provides some type of free trial, which will allow you to test drive the accounting software solutions you think align most closely with your needs. Don’t stop until you have accounting software that saves you time and money.

Free expense management software, budgeting, and corporate cards for every employee? That’s just part of what Divvy brings to the table for small businesses. Sign up today.

Leave a Reply