2018 Small Business Accounting Software Reviews & Pricing Guide
Accounting software is a necessary application for any size business to track all financial information, including accounts payable and receivable, expenses, and taxes, at the very least. It typically includes features for invoices, inventory and vendor management, and powerful reporting tools to help you manage the monetary health of your small business.
QuickBooks Online is a popular accounting software for tracking cash flow, expenses, taxes, and more. Pricing ranges from $20 to $60 monthly. View Profile
Xero enables users to monitor their cash flow, send invoices, and track their account. Pricing ranges from $9 to $60/month. View Profile
FreshBooks is a cloud-based finance and accounting software solution for small to medium businesses. Pricing ranges from $15 to $50+/month. View Profile
Why Your Small Business Needs Accounting Software
All small business owners need to know where they stand financially. You likely have project management software to track everything you and your employees are doing for clients, so it only makes sense to have software to help you track where the money you’re earning and spending goes. Plus, accounting software can help automate certain tasks, like sending invoices at the right time to help ensure you get paid on time.
Relying on a spreadsheet to track the money moving in and out of your business might have worked in the beginning, but even for a solopreneur, it can be a time-consuming method of accounting.
Accounting software has moved to cloud- and subscription-based systems, making it more affordable and accessible than ever. The ease of use of these programs has increased, so you will be able to implement and use most accounting software titles almost immediately.
Tips on How to Choose the Right Accounting Software
Look for accounting software that can organize all your financial information with basic features, such as expense tracking, bank transaction imports, and invoicing. If you need more functionality, consider high-tier plans with advanced features, like time tracking, bill management, and payroll, such as in QuickBooks Online. Finally, consider the integration options of an accounting solution, which can help improve workflows, as all your software can work together.
Basic Features of Accounting Software
The basics of any accounting software will include expense tracking and the ability to send invoices and quotes or estimates. Other entry-level accounting software for small business might offer different basic features or even some advanced tools, but it varies between companies and plans.
Here are the most common basic features:
Double-entry Accounting: The ability to record transactions across two or more accounts, such as in a general ledger, to reflect money in and money out, i.e. debits and credits.
Invoicing: You can draw up a document with details of work done by your business for a client, along with the costs and amount owed. More advanced invoicing features might include automation and recurring invoices.
Quotes & Estimates: Create custom estimates or quotes to send to potential clients. Many accounting software apps will allow you to turn a quote or estimate into an invoice.
Mobile App: Get all your financial information from your accounting system’s app designed specifically for your phone or tablet, which helps you run your business from anywhere.
Bank Account Syncing: Pair your business’ bank account with your accounting software to make reconciliations quick and easy, so you always know what your cash flow is.
Reporting: Profit-and-loss, sales tax summary, expense, and invoice reports are the usual suspects in reporting features to give you an overview of how your business is doing week over week, month over month, or year over year. Report types may vary.
Payment Processing: Some accounting software will act as a payment processor, so you can easily accept credit cards online for payments to your business. Others may use third-party payment processors, such as PayPal.
Receipt Scanning & Organization: Use your mobile phone and the accounting software app to snap a photo of a receipt and store it in the cloud to track and organize expenses.
Advanced Features of Accounting Software
More robust accounting software may include added features that go beyond accounts receivable and payable. Advanced features include payroll processing, third-party integrations, and multi-currency support. Many small business accounting programs offer these in high-tier plans, but some may treat advanced features as add ons.
Here are some advanced features of online accounting software:
Payroll: Pay your employees and file payroll taxes through your accounting software, as long as your business bank account is also connected.
Multi-currency Support: If you have international clients, this could be a helpful feature to help you manage exchange rates with automatic calculations.
Third-party Apps: Not all accounting software is designed with full functionality, but they may have apps designed by others to integrate, such as payroll services, payment processing, customer relationship management software (CRM), and more.
Automation: You’ll be able to transform an invoice, for example, into a recurring bill that’s sent automatically from your system to clients you have ongoing work for, saving you time.
Time Tracking: Log billable hours by you and your staff to be automatically added to invoices for total transparency for your clients.
Bill Management: Keep records of all the bills you have to pay, and set up payments to go out to vendors and services all at the same time.
Advanced Reporting: Create and export custom reports with specific data, such as budgets, late payments from clients, inventory, and more.
Training: Get one-on-one training, access to training videos, tutorials, and webinars. This is sometimes included with all plans, but also treated as an advanced feature or add on.
Priority Support: Skip support queues or get direct access to help, which can save you time and get problems solved quickly.
Accounting Software Costs
|Quotes & Estimates|
|Third-party App Integration|
A Note about Free Accounting Software
As a solopreneur or a microbusiness owner, you might be tempted to choose free accounting software. You can find useful features to help you manage your money and business accounts that won’t hurt your cash flow, and we’re impressed with some of the best free accounting software that’s available. If you choose this route, consider this caveat: Eventually, you’ll pay for more features, whether by getting full software or by adding on apps.
The features you can expect from free accounting software for small businesses include basic bookkeeping features, invoicing, and a mobile app. However, there’s always a chance that accounting software that costs you nothing is going to come up short by leaving out features such as accounts payable, limiting the number of users, or not allowing you to connect your bank account to your accounting software.
For these reasons, we recommend starting out with an affordable accounting software service from the beginning. You won’t have to transfer data, and you won’t have to start over with learning a new system.
List of All Accounting Software Reviews
By now, you should be able to spot the accounting software that’s right for your business based on features and price. Here’s a list of accounting software, along with reviews and pricing for all the providers.
All Accounting Software Reviews
Sage 50 is an advanced accounting software that caters more towards users with a background in finance. Price ranges from $439 to $1,729 per year. View Profile
Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers solutions for purchasing, operations, accounting, and more. Price is estimated to start at $650 + $65/user/month. View Profile
QuickBooks Desktop Pro offers comprehensive solutions for accounting, bills to pay, invoicing, & more. Price is either $299.95 one-time or per year. View Profile
QuickBooks Self-Employed offers solutions for reconciling accounts, time and mileage tracking, invoicing, and more. Basic pricing is $10/month. View Profile
How to Get Up to Speed with Accounting Software
Learning how to use new accounting software like QuickBooks Online can be easier than you think. You have plenty of options when it comes to training and courses.
1. Do it Yourself (DIY)
If you prefer to learn on your own, then the do-it-yourself approach may be best when you’re trying to figure out a new accounting system.
Free Tutorials: Get step-by-step instructions on everything from setup to bank reconciliations. For example, this QuickBooks Online course is free and ensures you’ll be ready to go when you roll out the new system for your small business. You may be able to find user-created video tutorials on other specific accounting software.
Documentation: If you absorb information better through the written word, you can still benefit from the QuickBooks Online course, as it’s all presented through documentation, not just videos. You could also search for how-to guides from users online for other accounting software. Start with the basics, and then delve into the more advanced features when you’re comfortable with your chosen small business accounting software.
2. Training Through Software
Many accounting software companies offer guides, knowledgebases, or articles to help guide you through learning their software — they’re usually found on the software company’s support website or within the software itself. Some offer one-on-one training with a dedicated account manager or trainer, who will work with you to make sure you know how to use every tool and feature you require for your business.
3. Hire a Bookkeeper or Accountant
Alternatively, you could hire a bookkeeper or accountant who is familiar with the accounting software you’ve picked to train you personally. In fact, you might want to speak with an accountant before choosing an accounting software service for their advice — after all, they use the software, too.
Third-party App Integration with Accounting Software
When your accounting software seamlessly integrates with other apps and programs you use, you should be able to focus more easily on getting work done and generating revenue. Aside from ensuring you can connect your business bank accounts with your accounting software, which is a given, you might want to consider how well an accounting program syncs with the big names, such as G Suite and Zapier.
Here’s a list of popular and useful integrations with some of the best small business accounting software, and how they’ll benefit your business:
Gusto: This app can handle payroll processing for all your employees, including contractors. It includes a lot of employee needs, such as vacation days, benefits, and more.
T-Sheets: If you need a fully-featured time-tracking application, this one plays well with the big accounting software titles, and it includes more than a time tracker — you can also manage employee scheduling and overtime for accurate payroll and reporting.
MailChimp: Combine your contacts and clients in your accounting software with this popular app for automated email marketing to save you time and create more streamlines workflows.
Insightly: Make a stronger connection between the work you do in Insightly and your accounting software, and get a clearer, more complete view of the business you do with each client from conversations and sales process to project management and invoicing.
Zendesk: Customer support members using this app can log hours directly into an integrated accounting software, which is one less step for payroll processing.
Will Accounting Software Replace Accountants?
Although accounting software like QuickBooks Online has developed more plug-and-play ease of use lately, you’re still going to need your accountant to help you, especially during tax season. Although technology continues to improve automation and the features of programs accountants use to calculate your taxes and file paperwork, there is still a need for accountants to analyze the data and find the best solutions for your small business.
In fact, by 2022, according to market research, there should be more than 650,000 more accountants, bookkeepers, and auditing clerks, and accounting services revenue jumped from $94 billion in 2014 to approximately $156 billion in 2018.
Questions to Ask Before Choosing Accounting Software
Before you decide on accounting software for small business, consider these questions to help guide you to the right choice.
- How much will it cost to integrate other apps?
Depending on the accounting software you choose and the plan you pick, you might end up with software that has some missing features, such as payroll and inventory management. You can supplement many small business software choices with apps, such as Gusto for payroll, or Vend for inventory management. It’s important to keep in mind that while many of addons are free, some come with a small monthly cost.For example, QuickBooks Online offers payroll processing, but it costs $39 to $99, plus $2 per employee per month. FreshBooks includes time tracking at no added cost, but it doesn’t include inventory tracking, which QuickBooks Online offers. So, make sure you do the math to determine which choice is best for you.
- Which is the most used accounting software for accountants?
Between the various surveys and global market research conducted, the most popular and used accounting software is QuickBooks Online (and the desktop version), but FreshBooks and Xero are climbing the ranks. Currently, about 4.3 million businesses use QuickBooks for accounting.
- Is the accounting software scalable?
The best way to ensure you won’t have to migrate all your data to another accounting software system when your business grows is to pick one that will scale with your growth. Look for a company that offers accounting software plans with advanced features, third-party app integration, and unlimited users.
- Is support included in your accounting software subscription, or do you need to pay more for it?
Having good customer support with your accounting software subscription could be vital to the success you have with the software. Make sure that 24/7 support is included, and that you can get your questions answered quickly. Read the fine print to ensure you don’t have to pay more for the service, or be sure to work it into your budget.
The Bottom Line
Choosing accounting software for small business comes down to careful consideration. You want to look at accounting software comparisons that show you the features, price, and what’s missing. Accounting software can streamline your workflows and save you lots of time, if you choose the one with the right features. Reading through accounting software reviews can help you find the perfect accounting solution for your small business.
Top Accounting Influencers of 2018
We’ve scouted the web for accounting influencers with a robust social media presence and put together the list below of the top accounting influencers of 2018.
Our goal for this list is to present helpful accounting tips to small business owners right from the accounting experts themselves. We found that the accounting influencers listed have outstanding credentials, expertise, and skills pertaining to the accounting industry, as well as an impressive quantity of social media followers.
2018 Top Accounting Consultants in the U.S.
Searching for a new accounting firm? Seeking out a top accounting consultant for your small business? If so, you’re in luck! We’ve scoured the web for quality accounting consultants located in various regions, and put together the list below of the top accounting consultants in the U.S.
Our goal for this list is to inform small business owners about helpful accounting consultants that they can work with to strengthen their business. We found that the consultants listed have outstanding expertise, services, and credentials in the accounting industry.