Accounting is built into all small businesses' operations, but those companies often lack the means to justify hiring an accountant.
So in many cases, the burden falls on them to figure that side of things out on their own — leading many to look into accounting software. But the landscape for those solutions is packed, and it can be tough to know where to start.
So to help you find the resource that will work best for you, we've compiled a list of the best small business accounting software on the market.
Best Accounting Software for Small Business
- Intuit QuickBooks Online
- Sage 50cloud
- Zoho Books
- AccountEdge Pro
- NetSuite ERP
- Accounting Seed
- Sunrise by Lendio
- DEAR Systems
Intuit Quickbooks might be the first resource that comes to mind when you hear the term, "small business accounting software" — and for good reason. Beyond its first-rate suite of capabilities, the program sets itself apart with elements like receipt capture and 24/7 chat support.
It also features integrations with PayPal, Shopify, and Square. Taken together, those components — among several others — make Quickbooks a crowd-pleasing small business accounting software.
All plans allow you to track income and expenses, send invoices and receive payments, run reports, send estimates, track sales and taxes, and capture and organize receipts. More advanced plans allow you to track inventory, track time, and even run full-service payroll.
Best for Businesses Looking for a Tried-and-True Option
Intuit Quickbooks is one of the most (if not the most) prominent accounting software for small businesses. It's been around long enough for you to have a solid idea of what you're getting when you invest in it — an accessible, affordable, time-tested solution that can suit a company of virtually any size. If you're looking for a safe choice that reconciles reliability with exceptional functionality, consider looking into Intuit Quickbooks.
FreshBooks is a straightforward solution that prides itself on making small business accounting more efficient. According to its website, FreshBooks' software can help users save up to 46 hrs a year on filing for their taxes.
The platform integrates with many business applications and provides you with a single dashboard to manage your finances and accounting. Regular secure backups are included, and a mobile app allows you to keep track of your business at all times.
Best for Businesses That Send Out Recurring Invoices or Have Subscription Models
If you send out recurring invoices, need time tracking capability, or run a subscription model business, FreshBooks could be ideal for you. Its suite of resources lends itself to companies that fit that bill.
It even includes a feature that lets see the exact location a customer opened your invoice — letting you avoid those pesky “I never got it” excuses. With affordable plans to accommodate businesses of virtually every size, it's definitely worth considering.
Melio is an online business-to-business payment solution. It's made for businesses of all sizes to pay and get paid their way, by ACH, check or credit card.
Melio has no subscription or monthly fees, and while it's mostly free to use, some transactions do carry a small charge.
Best for Businesses Looking for a Free Business Bill Pay Solution
For businesses, cash flow is everything and that's why Melio lets them pay their business bills with a credit card, to defer payment, earn rewards and hang onto their cash. And payments are synced to QuickBooks Online, which means they stay in sync with their accountant or bookkeeper.
Pabbly Subscription Billing is a recurring and subscription management software for small to medium-sized businesses. This software provides real-time actionable metrics on your monthly payments, revenue, net revenue, active customers, and new subscriptions. It also automates all your business workflows, customer communication, and invoice creation so you can focus on your business growth.
Best for Businesses Looking for a Reliably Fixed Pricing Model
One of Pabbly's key selling points is its subscription billing model. It's one of the only software on this list that doesn't charge any extra fees on the basis of per-transaction and monthly revenue generation. That kind of consistency — paired with it's first-rate functionality — make Pabbly a solid option.
Pricing: Free — Additional Monthly Cost if You Elect Payroll in Tax Service or Self-Service States; Some Processing Fees Apply
Wave is a powerful accounting solution for small businesses and individual contractors. It places significant emphasis on ease of use and synchronicity —letting you link your bank accounts, track your expenses, and balance your books without any trouble. It also lines up with Wave's additional resources, providing you with an all-in-one solution if you opt to invest in its other products.
Best for Freelancers or Very Small Businesses
If you are operating as a freelancer or have just a few employees, Wave could be for you. Most of its services are free, including invoice- and transaction-management. However, if you’re looking for built-in time tracking, inventory tracking, or project management, you’ll likely need different software.
Clockify is known for its time tracker software, but the app excels at many other functions, including tracking billable hours, setting hourly rates, and generating reports or invoices.
Clockify is suitable for both large and small accounting businesses and is mostly used for tracking work hours and expenses. Managing time and tasks as well as tracking activity across shared devices is what Clockify excels at.
Clockify is available on all platforms including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and Web browsers.
Best For Tracking Billable Hours and Issuing Invoices
Many CPA firms are looking for software such as Clockify that lets them note and track billable/non-billable hours and expenses, and generate and export reports.
Now that such software is available, the process is incredibly easy and intuitive. All you have to do is create an account and set up your projects, then set your rates for tasks, projects, and employees.
Once you’ve completed this step, start the timer with a simple click and let it track the time for you, and when you’re finished with your tasks, export the data in PDF, CSV, Excel.
7. Sage 50cloud
With Sage, you can spend less time on administrative tasks. The software sends invoices, tracks payments and expenses, and calculates what you owe come tax season. Time-tracking and collaboration tools are two things you won’t get with Sage, and payroll is a separate product.
Best For Small Businesses Trending Towards Higher Growth
Sage works well for small- to medium-sized businesses. It errs on the more expensive side of the tools on this list, but it has an impressive enough suite of features to back its prices up. If your small business is more mature than most — and you can afford to spend a little extra on your accounting software — take a look at Sage50cloud.
Xero lets you get financial performance reports sent straight to you, and connect your bank account for a seamless experience. If you need payroll services, you’ll have to use them through Xero’s partnership with Gusto. And if you value live support, you should probably look for another provider.
Best for Businesses That Conduct Their Business on the Go.
One of Xero's most impressive characteristics is its mobile experience, making it an excellent option for businesspeople who work on the go. The software allows you to send custom invoices, track inventory, and create purchase orders to attach to bills — all from your phone or tablet.
9. Zoho Books
Zoho Books is an excellent resource for helping your small business manage cash flow and finances. The software lets you automate workflows and work collectively across departments. It includes first rate tools for inventory management, banking, time-tracking, and financial reporting — all backed by an industry-leading UX.
Best for Ease of Use
One of Zoho's biggest draws is its accessible, user-friendly interface. It comes with an easy-to-read dashboard that virtually any member of your organization can make sense of. It also offers benefits like excellent customer support and the ability to accept payments online. All told, Zoho is one of the better software for more casual users.
Kashoo is a solution that offers powerful functionality at a reasonable price. Among the software's features are automatic reconciliation, categorization using machine learning technology, and income and expense tracking.
Best for Businesses Looking for a Simple Solution
Perfect for small businesses searching for a truly simple solution, Kashoo offers plans and features that can accommodate any small business's needs. Its functionality is straightforward but effective, and its pricing structure allows for unlimited users at a relatively low price point.
11. AccountEdge Pro
AccountEdge Pro provides double-entry accounting tools — from time billing and reporting to inventory — that are customizable and optimized for desktop users. The program is also available for a one-time fee, potentially saving you a lot of money down the line by avoiding subscription costs.
Best for Businesses That Don't Necessarily Need a Mobile Option
If a lack of a mobile option isn’t a deal-breaker for you, AccountEdge could be just what you need. As I mentioned, the software is designed specifically for desktop users — and that experience is extremely solid — but you can't take AccountEdge with you on the go. That said, there's a cloud-collaboration option available for purchase that gives you mobile flexibility.
OneUp is another double-entry accounting solution. It syncs with your bank, categorizes bank entries, and validates suggested entries so your books are done quickly and accurately. All told, those elements amount to roughly 95% automation of your accounting.
Best for Businesses Focused on Inventory Management
OneUp might be best known for its inventory management capabilities. The program automatically adjusts your inventory levels as they shift and tells you when to reorder.
That's not to say that the software's other features aren't impressive — but if you're primarily in the market for an exceptional inventory management solution, check OneUp out.
Pricing: Available Upon Request
Tipalti automates the accounts payable process, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business. The solution can streamline international payment processing in around 190 countries, automate your payment operations, and even make sure you’re tax compliant.
Best for Deadline-Driven Businesses
Tipalti is perfect for deadline-driven businesses. It can help you keep tabs on and meet time-bound payment objectives every time. Late payments, non-compliance, and administrative overload are all issues the program aims to correct. If you're interested in a solution that can help you keep your accounts payable process straightforward and timely, check out Tipalti.
OnPay can help you automate tax filings, enter payment data, and manage benefits including compensation insurance, health insurance, and 401(k). It also offers unlimited payroll runs for W-2 and 1099 workers.
And, OnPay can estimate your payroll taxes, manage tax form filings, and even pay your taxes. A bonus here? They’ll also take responsibility for any tax filing errors committed while using the product.
Best for Businesses Looking for a Payroll-Centric Solution
OnPay's area of expertise is reflected in its name. If you’re a small- to medium-sized business that needs help streamlining payroll and entering payment data, you might consider investing in OnPay. That's not to say the rest of its features aren't impressive — it's just to say that the solution fits businesses interested in a payroll-centric solution particularly well.
15. NetSuite ERP
Pricing: Available upon request
NetSuite's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) product helps small businesses with functions like financial management and planning, order management, supply chain, fulfillment, and procurement — integrating these functions into a single streamlined system.
Best for Businesses Anticipating Rapid Growth
NetSuite prides itself on growing with businesses, "from pre-revenue through IPO and beyond" — with functionality that can assist you at every stage of your as it scales and matures. If you anticipate rapid growth, you might want to consider NetSuite ERP.
16. Accounting Seed
Pricing: Available Upon Request
Accounting Seed offers subscription or recurring billing options, has a secure and reliable API, and works with your company to link critical business applications and bank accounts for real visibility into the financial state of your business. And it automates many of the menial tasks that eat up your day.
Best for Businesses Looking for a Solid Cloud-Based Platform
It's also a cloud-based platform, meaning you can log in anytime, anywhere — giving you a degree of flexibility and mobility that you might not be able to find with every solution on this list. The platform also lends itself to easy collaboration, offering data visibility to any stakeholders at your business.
Sunrise by Lendio has a suite of features including automatic bank reconciliation, profit and loss reports, easy tax options, and branded invoicing. It's also particularly notable for its ability to accept credit cards and set up automatic payments.
Best for Businesses That Want a Dedicated Bookkeeper
One of the main distinguishing factors that sets Sunrise apart from other tools on this list is its plans that include dedicated bookkeeping services. If your business is willing to spend a little extra to outsource some of those responsibilities through your accounting software, you should consider leveraging Sunrise by Lendio.
With ZipBooks, you get invoicing and billing features such as auto-billing and payment reminders to decrease your admin work. You can also utilize their competitive intelligence to make data-driven decisions about your finances.
Best for an Exceptional UX
One of ZipBooks' biggest draws is its best-in-class user experience. Its straightforward, color-coded interface offers accessibility without sacrificing powerful functionality. If your business is looking for a solution that gets the job done without being overly elaborate, check out ZipBooks.
Holded is a robust solution that offers accounting, invoicing, project, and inventory features — among several others. It lets you connect your bank, reconcile transactions, automatically classify entries, and manage it all in your ledger.
Best for Businesses Interested in an All-in-One Business Management Software
If you want an all-in-one business management software, Holded might be for you. Its suite of features is extensive — at least partially covering invoicing, accounting, payroll, project management, and inventory.
It also boasts an impressive list of integrations, so if you're interested in a solution that can impact your business across the board, consider leveraging Holded.
20. DEAR Systems
DEAR Systems offers a centralized platform that covers virtually every aspect of your business — from purchasing to warehouse management to job costing. That broad array of tools includes a robust suite of accounting features that can help any small business streamline processes like data entry and syncing invoices.
The platform's accounting element also seamlessly integrates with other applications like Xero and Quickbooks — with additional resources that allow for real-time visibility into your financial data.
Best for Businesses Trying to Cover All Their Bases — Not Just Accounting
As I mentioned, the DEAR systems platform can touch several aspects of your company's operations — making for a steeper price tag than most other solutions on this list.
If you're solely in the market for a small business accounting software, this one might not be up your alley. But if you're looking for a one-stop, comprehensive solution for virtually all your business needs — accounting included — this could be the platform for you.
ZarMoney is an all-in-one solution with an impressive list of features. It covers virtually every accounting process your business has to stay on top of — including productivity, advanced inventory, and reporting.
With payment models that can accommodate everyone from individual entrepreneurs to small businesses to large enterprises, you should have no problem finding a plan that works for you.
Best for Businesses Looking for a Solution That Grows With Them
ZarMoney's pricing model operates on a sliding scale that incrementally adjusts with every individual user you need to add at a reasonable price. That structure can work for businesses growing at any rate. If you're in the market for a solution that will keep pace with you as you scale, check out ZarMoney.
What Accounting and Bookkeeping Software Should You Use?
It's great to have a list of software, but how do you identify which is the right one for your business? Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're searching for accounting or bookkeeping software.
Identify your needs.
Do you need a platform that allows you to track inventory, or are receipt-tracking and sales tax more direct concerns? Make a list of your accounting needs and prioritize them from least to most important.
Before you start researching solutions, agree upon a goal number of needs your chosen software will meet. You can be flexible here, but it's easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles of a product that solves for 18 needs you don't have.
Be honest about your budget.
Before you embark on the research phase of the process, identify how much you can afford to spend on accounting or bookkeeping software. Once you know how much money you have budgeted, try not to spend too much time evaluating software that's outside the realm of possibility.
Budgets often have some wiggle room, but make it a rule that if a solution is more than 25% over your set budget, you'll walk away.
Research for features that meet your needs.
It's easy to get starry-eyed about features. But if you find yourself considering software that specializes in providing accounting services for global teams — and you only conduct business in the US — you might find yourself paying for a lot you just don't need.
Don't get distracted. Return to your list of prioritized needs and evaluate only the software that meets the majority of those needs.
Ask the right questions.
If you're choosing software that requires a sales process, it's important you ask the right questions. Here are a few to ask:
- "How secure is your API?"
- "How do you back up system data?"
- "What other costs or fees should I expect?"
- "Tell me about customer support. What are your hours, and how quickly should I expect to get a response if I submit an issue or a question?"
- "Can you tell me about a client you've worked with that's similar to my business? What pain points have they experienced with your software?"
Pick a solution that will grow with you.
"I can't wait to buy more software..." said no one ever. Of course, if your solution isn't working for your company, you should find a new one as soon as you can. But you don't want to have to switch software in six months because you've already outgrown it.
Be realistic about how quickly your business is growing and ask the sales rep you're working with how well their product grows with clients as their businesses scale.
Leaving your accounting to chance — or an intern — is never something you want to do. Invest in the right software early on, and know when it’s time to upgrade, outsource, or find a solution that better fits your company’s needs as you grow. Happy number crunching!
Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 15, 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.