Best Accounting Software for Invoicing

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Every small business owner has probably struggled at one point or another with creating invoices on Excel. Trading in those dreaded Excel sheets for invoicing software can be a lifesaver, but not in every case. Some invoicing programs don’t have the kind of accounting features you need to run a business, while some accounting software programs overlook invoicing altogether.

Fortunately, there is one software solution that balances strong and creative invoicing tools with a good set of standard accounting features.

Zoho Books: Best Accounting Software for Invoicing

If you like the motto, “focus on work, waste less time,” you will probably like Zoho Books (see our review).

Like most of the other category winners in this blog series, Zoho Books is a cloud-based accounting solution that works with the following web browsers: Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, or Opera. There are also several full-featured mobile apps available (there’s even one for the Apple watch, if you can believe it).

Zoho Books is geared toward small businesses of every kind and comes with incredible automation time-savers, as well as a beautiful UI. I love Zoho Books mostly for its robust invoicing features, but it is also capable of supporting billing, project management, time tracking, inventory, and more. The availability of these features varies a bit depending on the pricing plan you choose

  • Basic Plan – $9/mo: 50 contacts, invoicing, bank reconciliation, expense tracking, project management, recurring transaction, 5 automated workflows, and 2 users (plus free accountant access).
  • Standard Plan – $19/mo: 500 contacts, invoicing, bank reconciliation, expense tracking, project management, recurring transaction, billing, 10 automated workflows, and 3 users (plus free accountant access).
  • Professional Plan – $29/mo: Unlimited contacts, invoicing, bank reconciliation, expense tracking, project management, recurring transaction, billing, inventory, purchase orders and sales orders, 10 automated workflows, and unlimited users.

If you’ve read any of my accounting software reviews, you know I’m picky about invoicing. I won’t bore you right now with my typical rant about how invoicing reflects the professional image of your company, but I will tell you that Zoho Books truly has the best invoicing tools on offer. Not only are there ten distinct and professional templates, this software also provides numerous invoice automations including recurring invoices, scheduled invoices, a client portal, and more.

The Pro’s:

Of course, invoicing isn’t the only thing we like about Zoho. So here are some other high points about this software.

  • Easy to use
  • Beautiful UI
  • Competitive pricing
  • Saves time with automations
  • Updated often (a sign of a good, stable company)
  • Competitive pricing
  • Full-featured mobile apps
  • Good customer service
  • Zapier integration (connects Zoho Books with 500+ add-ons)
  • Client portal
  • Beautiful invoice templates
  • Schedule invoices
  • Project management
  • Sales orders
  • Purchase orders
  • Inventory
  • Automated email templates
  • Time tracking

The Con’s:

There are few drawbacks to Zoho Books, mostly for mid-large sized businesses in need of slightly more comprehensive features.

  • No payroll
  • No job-costing
  • Limited bank reconciliation (have to individually categorize transactions)
  • Ineffective search bar in Help Center
  • Mobile app bugs (reportedly particularly by Windows phone users)
  • Downtime and outages (I never experience these, but this is a common enough user complaint that I thought it worth mentioning)

The Features:

What follows is a brief description of some of this software’s basic features, as well as a few extra bonuses. For a full list of Zoho Books features, go here.

  • Dashboard – The dashboard shows graphs for total receivables, total payables, income and expense, projects, bank and credit cards, and cashflow. There is also a tab on the left side of the screen that organizes various functions.

  • Invoicing – Zoho Books has 10 customizable invoice templates; all 10 are professional and appealing. You can set default terms and conditions, create recurring invoices, schedule invoices in advance, and add attachments, discounts, and customer notes. You can encrypt invoices as pdfs and use both shipping and billing addresses for clients. It’s also possible to create retainer invoices.

  • Estimates – There are 10 estimate templates that can quickly be turned to invoices.
  • Contact Management – The contact management features here are incredibly well organized. Not only can you save basic contact information, but each contact gets its own dashboard (of sorts) where all information and past transactions are stored. You also have the unique ability to request reviews and testimonials directly from your clients.

 

  • Bank Reconciliation – Zoho Books does use live bank feeds, but there is no way to automatically categorize transactions (which is surprising for a company that has so many other automations). There is also no duplicate transaction detection. There is a bulk categorization feature and you can set bank rules to help make this process easier.
  • Reports – Zoho Books has 46 reports that cover most basic accounting reports.
  • Client Portal – With most comparable programs, invoices are sent through email and received as pdfs. But with Zoho books, Clients gain access to their own Client Portal—which is basically a mini customer version of Zoho Books, where clients can view a dashboard with estimates, invoices, and project details. Clients can pay invoices directly for the portal. They can also choose to comment on, accept, or decline estimates. And as the business owner, you get notifications for all portal activity so you can know who has viewed what.

  • Billing – You can create and pay bills from Zoho Books, You can also set recurring bills and payment reminders.
  • Projects – Unlike QuickBooks Online and Xero, Zoho Books actually has a project feature, and a good one at that. You can manage projects, tasks, and budgets. You can also assign specific tasks to staff members and attach timesheets directly to each project.

Is Zoho Books Right for Me?

Zoho Books is often underrated. It might not be as well known as Xero and QuickBooks, but if offers an incredibly beautiful UI, ample automations, and an overall joyful user experience.

Zoho Books is great if you want software that is a little more capable that Wave, but a little less complex than QuickBooks Online or Xero. It has strong features including invoicing, customer management, inventory, project management, and a great Client Portal. If your company does a lot of invoicing, do yourself a favor and get Zoho Books. It makes life easier.

You should probably not go with Zoho Books if you are looking for payroll features. Mid to large size businesses may find themselves outgrowing the software. But overall, it is a great choice for small business owners, and one of my personal favorites.

To see if Zoho Books is a good choice for you, read our full review and utilize the free trial.

Before Choosing Accounting Software:

Before deciding whether an accounting software is right for you, make sure you know what you need. Decide which features are integral to your business. Analyze where you are spending the most time and see if there are any automations or tools you could use to simplify your processes. Then think about whether there are any features it would just be nice to have. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to search for software that addresses both your needs and wants.

Treat shopping for accounting software like a college student treats a Christmas wishlist. First, ask for the practical things you need but don’t have the money to buy yourself. Then throw in an extra thing or two just for fun.

Before buying anything, it is also incredibly important to do your research. Research may sound boring or like a waste of time, but it will save you much time and heartache in the long run. Zoho Books and other similar solutions offer free trials—use them. Check out what other customers are saying on sites like complaints.comtrustpilot.com, or getapp.com.

One last thing to keep in mind: many software choices have regular discounts or referral programs, which you should take advantage of before buying.

Need More Help Deciding?

If you aren’t sold on Zoho Books, check out our other top accounting software choices in the comparison chart below. If you don’t know what to look for or how to pick a favorite, head on over to our How to Choose Accounting Software guide for a few tips and tricks or see additional posts in this blog series:

Here Merchant Maverick, we wish you the best of luck in finding the best software for you, and we hope to help you on that journey in any and every way that we can.

 Best SMB Accounting SoftwareBest Accounting Software for Larger BusinessesBest Free Accounting Software Best Accounting Software for Invoicing Best Accounting Software for Accountants
QuickBooks OnlineXeroWaveZoho BooksQuickBooks Pro
QuickBooks reviewWave Accounting for small business reviewQuickBooks alternatives
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
Visit SiteVisit SiteVisit SiteVisit SiteVisit Site
Price $15 – $40/mo $9 – $180/mo$0$2 – $29/mo$299.95
Accounting MethodBoth accrual and cash-basisBoth accrual and cash-basisAccrualBoth accrual and cash-basisBoth accrual and cash-basis
Web-based or InstalledWeb-basedWeb-basedWeb-basedWeb-basedLocally installed
HighlightsRobust Feature Set
Easy to use
Beautiful UI
400+ integrations
Strong reputation
Unlimited Users
Robust features
Payroll
Good customer service
500+ integrations
Free
Personal and business account management
Beautiful invoicing
Supports multiple companies
Good customer service
Competitive pricing
Easy to use
Unbeatable invoicing
Beautiful UI
Great client portal
True accounting
Robust feature set
Hundreds of reports
Strong reputation
Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause

Head Accounting and Invoicing Writer
Chelsea Krause is a writer who has specialized in accounting for two years. She has a BA in English & Creative Writing from George Fox University and studied at the University of Oxford as well. She has been quoted in Forbes and her work appears in Startup Nation, Small Business Bonfire, and Women on Business.
Chelsea Krause
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