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The Best Accounting Software For Small Business

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Your business is your baby, and like any proud parent, you want what’s best for your business — including the best accounting software.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the top four accounting programs for small businesses.

We’ve spent hours researching and testing the best small business accounting programs so you don’t have to. We’ve evaluated each program on its features, accounting, pricing, ease of use, customer support, and overall value for small business owners. Only the best of the best made the cut. Read on to see which programs we recommend and why.

Best Accounting Software

SoftwareBest For
#1: QuickBooks OnlineOverall Small Business Accounting
#2: WaveAffordability
#3: Zoho BooksInternational Invoicing & Mobile Apps
#4: FreshBooksEase of Use

Characteristics of Good SMB Accounting Software

Best Small Business Accounting Software

When searching for the perfect accounting software, it’s important to know what good accounting software should bring to the table. You want an accounting solution that meets all of your small business needs, all while saving you time and stress. Here are some of the most important characteristics of small business accounting software:

  • Strong Accounting: Strong accounting feature helps ensure you can balance the books correctly and can provide valuable insight into your company’s finances. Good software should include bank reconciliation, a customizable chart of accounts, accounts payable, journal entries, and key accounting reports like a Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet report. When it comes to reporting, the more the merrier, especially if you want extra insight into your sales, COGs, time tracking, etc.
  • Numerous Features: Many small businesses are looking for the basics: accounting, expense tracking, quotes, invoicing, and contact management. However, good accounting software shouldn’t make you feel like you’re settling. What separates decent software apps from the best are additional features like inventory, project management, time tracking, and tax support.
  • Time-Saving Automations: Time is one thing small business owners can’t afford to lose. Accounting software with built-in automations (like default email messages, automatic payment reminders, and transaction matching) is a must.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Good small business software should be easy to use so that the average small business owner can easily navigate the software — no matter how much (or how little) previous accounting experience they bring to the table.
  • Good Customer Support: Especially if you have very little accounting experience, you’ll want a software company that has good customer support and offers ample learning resources like getting started guides and training videos.
  • Affordability: Every penny counts as a small business owner, and you shouldn’t have to break the bank just to keep your finances in check. Most cloud-based SaaS software is broken down into more affordable monthly payments.
  • Mobile Apps: In today’s day and age, small businesses are often managed on the go, which is why functioning mobile apps are a key characteristic of any good small business accounting software.
  • Integrations: Integrations are a great way to manage additional areas of your business like email marketing, scheduling, and online shopping. Good small business accounting software doesn’t need hundreds of integrations but should offer some basic integrations as well as multiple payment processing options.
  • Strong Security: Since so many small business accounting solutions are cloud-based, you’ll want to make sure a prospective company offers strong security. Look for security measures like data encryption, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, data backups on multiple servers, as well as physical security measures for data centers.

You may weigh the importance of each of the above characteristics differently depending on your specific business and its needs; however, we find these to be the main characteristics that make up a strong small business accounting software. We considered all of these factors when choosing the best accounting software for small businesses, evaluating each program on how well it fits these characteristics to bring you the best options for your business.

1. QuickBooks Online

Best Small Business Accounting Software

Best For…

Best for small to medium-sized businesses looking for the full accounting package.

Intuit QuickBooks has been one of the big names in accounting for decades — and for good reason. Their cloud-based software, QuickBooks Online, is used by over two million customers and is one of the top choices for accounting firms.

QuickBooks Online (QBO) offers robust accounting and numerous features, including invoicing, inventory, project management, accounts payable, over 80 reports, and more. While the software is not as intuitive as the other programs on this list, QBO’s features are far more developed. The customer support does leave something to be desired, but the software’s feature set, 500+ integrations, and built-in lending feature (QuickBooks Capital) make this software a great choice for many small businesses.

QBO is ideal for small to medium businesses looking for ample features, strong accounting, and scalable monthly pricing plans.

ProsCons

Strong accounting

Limited customer support

Advanced feature set

Expensive

Strong invoicing

Occasionally unintuitive

Good mobile apps

500+ integrations

Pricing

QuickBooks offers three plans ranging from $20 – $60/month, with an additional QuickBooks Advanced plan available for larger businesses costing $150/month. The larger the plan, the more features and users you have access to. Each plan comes with unlimited invoicing and customers. Payroll can be added for an additional $35 – $80/month plus $4/month per employee.

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Features

Best Small Business Accounting Software

QuickBooks Online offers an impressive number of features. In terms of accounting, you’ll find bank reconciliation, a chart of accounts, accounts payable, journal entries, fixed asset management, and ample reports. QBO also has beautiful invoicing with an impressive number of invoice automations. Some of our other favorite features include:

  • Expense tracking
  • Contact management
  • Inventory
  • Project management
  • Time tracking
  • Budgeting
  • Purchase orders
  • Packing slips
  • Tax support

QuickBooks Online offers lots of time-saving automations like recurring invoices, default email message, and inventory reorder points. Read our full QuickBooks Online review to learn more about the software’s features.

Ease Of Use

QuickBooks Online’s UI is well-organized, but the software can be difficult to navigate at times. Once you learn the software, QBO becomes easy to use, but this can take some time depending on your previous accounting experience.

Customer Support

QuickBooks Online drops the ball when it comes to customer support. The company is known for long wait times and limited support resources. Intuit has been working to shorten wait times and has recently redesigned its help center to be a much more beneficial support resource; however, QBO still has a ways to go.

Takeaway

QuickBooks Online is a  great option for small businesses. It offers strong accounting, well-developed features, 500+ integrations, and good mobile apps. While the pricing can be a bit spendy, you get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of features. Read our complete QuickBooks Online review to learn more about this top accounting software solution.

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One of the best accounting software options out there for small businesses

2. Wave

Best Small Business Accounting Software

Best For…

Best for freelancers and small business owners looking for full-featured and free accounting software.

Wave is a free accounting software program designed specifically with small businesses in mind. There are no catches, gimmicks, or tricks. The software is actually free and has been so since its inception in 2010. Since then, the software has grown to support over 3.5 million users.

The company gains much of its popularity because of its price tag, but Wave doesn’t sacrifice features for affordability. Wave offers an incredible number of features, including invoicing, expense tracking, contact management, inventory, and even lending. Add positive customer reviews and strong accounting to the mix and it’s easy to see why users love this software. While the company does suffer from limited integrations and mobile apps, it’s still a competitive option for small business owners.

Wave is ideal for freelancers and small business owners looking to save money without sacrificing functionality.

ProsCons

Free

Limited integrations

Easy to use

Poor customer support

Good feature set

Limited mobile apps

Positive customer reviews

Pricing

Wave is completely free. There are no monthly payments required and no artificial limits on feature availability. The only extra costs are payroll, payment processing, and professional bookkeeping assistance. Payroll costs $20 – $35/month plus $4/month per employee.

Features

Best Small Business Accounting Software

For a free accounting solution, Wave offers an incredible number of features. In terms of accounting, Wave supports bank reconciliation, a chart of accounts, accounts payable, journal entries, and basic reporting. Here are some of the other features you can expect to find with Wave:

  • Invoicing
  • Estimates
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Inventory
  • eCommerce checkouts

The only drawback is that there is no project management capability with Wave. Read our complete Wave review to learn about everything else this software has to offer.

Ease of Use

Wave is incredibly easy to use and doesn’t require a background in accounting to navigate the software.

Customer Support

Unfortunately, Wave doesn’t have the best customer support. The software offers several great support resources and learning tools, but the company is lacking phone support and email response times are quite slow.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for free accounting software, Wave is the cream of the crop. The software offers great features, strong accounting, and a user-friendly interface all for $0/month, making it an affordable accounting solution for many small businesses. Read our complete Wave review to find out if this software is right for you.

3. Zoho Books

Best Small Business Accounting Software

Best For…

Best for small business in need of strong accounting at an affordable cost. Ideal for international invoicing.

Zoho Books is a cloud-based accounting solution. Although Zoho may be an underdog, this lesser known accounting solution has been giving QuickBooks Online a run for its money since 2011.

Zoho Books offers almost all the same features as QuickBooks Online at half the cost. The software has some of the best invoicing on the market with multiple templates, many automations, and the ability to send international invoices. Top this with excellent customer support, strong mobile apps, and positive customer reviews, and it’s easy to see why Zoho is one of the best accounting options out there.

Zoho Books is ideal for small businesses looking for the capabilities of QuickBooks without the expensive price tag and is a great fit for international business.

ProsCons

Excellent customer support

No payroll

Numerous features

Limited integrations

Strong accounting

International invoicing

Affordable monthly cost

Pricing

Zoho Books offers three pricing plans ranging from $9 – $29/month. The larger the plan, the more features, contacts, and users you have access to. Each plan comes with unlimited invoices and estimates.

Features

Best Small Business Accounting Software

Zoho Books offers an impressive number of features, including the accounting staples you’d expect, like bank reconciliation, a chart of accounts, journal entries, accounts payable, and reporting. The software shines where invoicing is concerned, offering 15 different customizable templates and ample automations. Here are some of the other features you’ll find with Zoho Books:

  • Estimates
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Inventory
  • Project management
  • Time tracking
  • Mileage deductions
  • Tax support

The only downside is that there is no payroll option available and no payroll integrations. To learn all of the features Zoho Books supports, read our complete Zoho Books review.

Ease Of Use

Zoho Books is very easy to use, and is the first software on this list to offer great customer support — so if you need extra help learning the software, you’re in good hands.

Customer Support

Zoho Books offers great customer support. Support representatives answer phone calls quickly and are generally helpful. Zoho Books also maintains a help center and a collection of webinars.

Takeaway

Zoho Books is a great alternative to QuickBooks Online for small businesses looking for strong accounting, ample features, and beautiful invoicing at a more affordable cost. The software has great mobile apps and good customer support, although there is no payroll add-on. Read our full Zoho Books review to see if the pros outweigh the cons for your business.

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Offers some of the best invoicing and mobile apps on the market at an affordable cost

4. FreshBooks

Best Small Business Accounting Software

Best For…

Best for small businesses looking for easy-to-use accounting software, or which aren’t ready for full accounting and would like an invoicing option.

Founded in 2003, FreshBooks has been a popular invoicing and finance management tools for years. The software used to be a strictly invoicing tool but has recently added double-entry accounting, making it a viable solution for small businesses.

FreshBooks is easy to use and offers excellent customer support and mobile apps. The software offers a good number of features, including a unique proposals feature, as well as over 70 integrations. These features do come at a steeper price and the software only supports one user.

The software is ideal for small business owners that value user-friendly interface and excellent customer support over price.

ProsCons

Easy to use

Expensive

Excellent customer support

Limited users

Good mobile apps

70+ integrations

Pricing

FreshBooks has three pricing plans ranging from $15 – $50/month. Only the two most expensive plans include double-entry accounting; the smallest plan is simply an invoicing solution. The larger the plan, the more features you have access to. Each plan includes unlimited invoices and estimates.

Features

Best Small Business Accounting Software

FreshBooks offers a good set of features. The two more expensive plans include double-entry accounting and support bank reconciliation, journal entries, and basic reports. FreshBooks’ other features include:

  • Invoicing
  • Estimates & proposals
  • Contact management
  • Items
  • Project management
  • Time tracking

Like Zoho Books, there is no add-on payroll for FreshBooks; however, you can integrate the software with Gusto. Since double-entry accounting is still such a new feature, FreshBooks is not quite as developed as the other options on this list as it’s lacking a customizable chart of chart and accounts payable. There also are no inventory capabilities. Read our full FreshBooks review to learn more.

Ease Of Use

FreshBooks has a bright, fun UI that is incredibly easy to use. The software doesn’t require any previous accounting experience, and there are great support options to help you learn the software.

Customer Support

FreshBooks offers excellent customer support. Phone calls are answered quickly and representatives are generally helpful and informed. The company also maintains a help center and webinars to help users learn the software.

Takeaway

FreshBooks is on the spendier end of accounting software, and considering that the software is still missing features like accounts payable and inventory, you may get more bang for your buck with QuickBooks Online or Wave. However, for small businesses that value excellent customer support and mobile apps — or that maybe don’t want the extra features and prefer simplicity — FreshBooks could still be a good option. Read our full FreshBooks review to learn if this software is right for you.

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Some small businesses may like the simplicity of FreshBooks

Best Accounting Software for Small Business Compared

QuickBooks Online, Wave, Zoho Books, and FreshBooks can all be great options for small business owners, but how do they compare with each other? Here’s a side by side comparison of the best small business accounting options:

headingQuickBooks OnlineWaveZoho BooksFreshBooks

Best Small Business Accounting Software

Best Small Business Accounting Software

Best Small Business Accounting Software

Best Small Business Accounting Software

ReviewVisit

ReviewCompare

ReviewVisit

ReviewVisit

Pricing

$20 - $150/mo

$0/mo

$9 - $29/mo

$15 - $50/mo

Size of Business

Small - Medium

Freelance - Small

Small

Small

Ease of Use

Moderate

Very Easy

Very Easy

Very Easy

Customer Service

Fair

Poor

Very Good

Very Good

Number of Users

1 - 25

1

1 - 9+

1

Number of Integrations

500+

4

30+

70+

Cloud-Based or Installed

Cloud-Based

Cloud-Based

Cloud-Based

Cloud-Based

Mobile Apps

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

iOS, Android, Windows, & Kindle

iOS & Android

Choosing The Best Accounting Software

With four great accounting options to choose from, it can be difficult to know which accounting software is best. Sure, we gave QBO the title of best accounting software for small businesses overall, but which is the best option for your business in particular? Ask yourself these questions to help narrow down your choices:

  1. What features do I need to run my business well?
  2. How important is ease of use and customer support to me?
  3. What’s my budget?
  4. How many users do I need?
  5. Do I need the software to work with any existing integrations?
  6. What do existing customers say about the software?
  7. Does my accountant prefer one software over another?

The answers to these questions can help you narrow down which accounting software is the best choice for your business. If you need extra help deciding, take a look at our Complete Guide To Choosing Online Accounting Software. And don’t forget to take advantage of any free trials the software company’s offer.

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions you have along the way, and share which accounting software works best for your business. We’d love to hear from you!

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause

Managing Editor - Accounting
Chelsea Krause is a writer who has specialized in accounting for two years and is a QuickBooks Certified User. 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
Chelsea Krause

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