The Best Accounting Software For Small Business

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You didn’t start a small business to be second. You want to be the best at what you do—and you expect your accounting software to be the same. Very few small business accounting software programs truly deliver on their promises, but we’ve filtered out the phonies to bring you the best of the best. Using the information in this blog series, you should be able to choose the most appropriate accounting software for you no matter what type of business you run.

Quickbooks Online (QBO): The Best Accounting Software For Small Businesses

With endless options to choose from, you might think it would be incredibly hard to determine that just one small business accounting software is truly the best. That’s what I thought too until I used QuickBooks Online (see our review).

QuickBooks is often reputed to be confusing and complicated, but this big name player changed the bookkeeping game when it created a more accessible, online version of its traditional software package. QuickBooks Online is a double-entry, cloud accounting system that has been around since 2004. And with a brand new project management feature and a new lending service called QuickBooks Capital (see our review), QuickBooks Online is only getting better and better.

Unlike QuickBooks Pro, which has quite a learning curve, QBO is incredibly easy to use and intuitive. The UI is beautifully designed and well organized; accountant and non-accountant alike can navigate it without much trouble. Additionally, QuickBooks Online has an impressive number of features, which cover everything from a micro business’s basic accounting needs (tracking cash flow, entering credit card payments, recording expenses, invoicing, etc.) to comprehensive features for bigger companies, including payroll and tax support.

One of the key reasons why QuickBooks Online is our choice for best small business accounting software is that you get the biggest bang for your buck in terms of features. Unlike some companies that claim to offer “accounting” software, QBO actually meets standard double-entry accounting requirements and has everything business owners need to truly balance the books. Ease of use, scalable pricing plans, and the mobility were also huge factors in our decision.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of this software a little further.

Pros Of QBO

These are some of the reasons QuickBooks Online takes the title of Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses:

  • Ease of use
  • Mobility (cloud-based software with mobile apps)
  • Reliable reputation and security
  • 250+ integrations
  • Inventory
  • Payroll
  • Multi-currency support
  • Strong chart of accounts
  • Auto bank rules
  • 27 to 75 reports (depending on the pricing plan you choose)
  • Customizable invoice templates
  • In-depth contact management
  • Scheduling (schedule bills and invoices to be automatically paid for or sent)
  • Class tracking
  • Lending

Cons Of QBO

As much as we love QuickBooks Online, there are a few drawbacks you should be aware of. Sadly, no software can be perfect (something I am still trying to understand…):

  • Poor customer service (slow responses and phone wait times, no email support; if good customer service is important to you, (see our review of Xero)
  • Only 5 users (additional users can be bought for an extra cost, but only up to 25 users per account)
  • Software often runs slowly
  • Bugs and crashes
  • Limited client portal

Features

Here is a description of the basic features of QBO, along with a couple of our favorite features that set the software apart. For a more detailed list of features, read our full review or check out the QuickBooks Online site.

  • Dashboard: The dashboard gives you a quick look at your business’s financial state with graphs for income, expense, profit and loss, and upcoming tasks. Tabs are arranged on the left, making everything easy to find, and a quick create button at the top of the screen saves a lot of time.

  • Invoicing: QuickBooks Online has five invoice templates and a good amount of customizability. Templates are clean and professional. Saved contact information is automatically filled in, making invoicing a quick process. Recurring invoices are available with the Essentials and Plus plans. There are also multiple payment gateways for online payments. The invoicing interface is not the best I’ve seen, but it gets the job done and done well.

  • Estimates: Creating estimates is simple. You can set default estimate messages and turn estimates into invoices with only a few clicks.
  • Contact Management: QuickBooks Online has a great contact management system. You can save loads of contact information, including default payment terms and preferred payment methods. You can save attachments to contacts and send batch emails as well.
  • Bank Reconciliation: QuickBooks Online has live bank feeds and auto bank rules to make categorizing transactions as simple as possible. Just connect your bank account and you’re ready to go.
  • Reports: QuickBooks comes with 27 to 76 reports depending on the plan you choose. Reports are extensive and cover almost anything a typical business owner could think of, including income and expenses, credit card transactions, and time tracking. If you don’t believe me, check out this full list of reports.
  • Location and Classes: This unique tracking feature allows you to sort information based on location or class. You can also run Profit and Loss reports by location or a designated class.
  • Chart of Accounts: QuickBooks Online has a very strong chart of accounts feature where you can track cash accounts, accounts payable, accounts receivable, inventory, checking and saving accounts transactions, and more. If you are looking for a software that stays true to accounting, this is definitely a good way to go.

Budgeting, time tracking, inventory management, inventory bundles, billing, and multi-currency support are limited to specific plans, so check a full feature list before you make any decisions. Payroll software and tax support are also available at additional costs.

Pricing

There are three scalable pricing plans available, which make QuickBooks Online a good fit for nearly any small business (and even some mid-sized businesses). Prices range from $15-$50/month with payroll costing an additional $39-$99/month. Payments are made monthly by credit card and the service can be canceled at any time.

Is QuickBooks Online Right for Me?

QuickBooks Online is the best small business accounting solution for nothing.

This double-entry bookkeeping software is great for small businesses (with fewer than 25 users) that want in-depth accounting capabilities, robust features, and the mobility that a cloud-based software offers. QBO is easy to use and generally well-liked. Its strong reputation and excellent features make it a good choice for most small businesses. Easy bank reconciliation, in-depth reports, expense tracking, invoicing, and location and class tracking are just a few of the features available to save small business owners time and make balancing the books easier than ever. Nearly everything you need to track your cash flow, invoice your customers, and run your business is in one place, in one online accounting tool.

QuickBooks Online is not ideal an ideal accounting solution if you are a medium-sized or large business in need of multiple users as additional users and payroll costs can add up quickly. If you are a larger business I recommend taking a look at Xero (see our review) instead.

If QBO sounds like it might be a good fit for you, take their free trial out for a spin and read our full review for more details.

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 bookkeeping 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.

Business owners should treat shopping for an accounting solution 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. Quickbooks Online and other similar solutions (like Xero and Zoho Books) 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 QuickBooks Online, 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 at Merchant Maverick, we do our best to provide excellent online accounting software reviews, 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, avid reader, and researcher. She became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she's not working, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, daydreaming about her newest story, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.
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