14 Best Accounting Software for Small Business Owners 2020

By Daniel Lewis
Advertiser disclosure

A high-quality small business accounting software can really streamline your levels of business efficiency. Many of them will provide a number of associated payroll and online legal services. Such services are intimately interconnected, especially payroll and accounting.

After all, what business owners are really looking for is to have all of their essential financial and legal documents stored and recorded on a single, secure, easy-access platform. This makes the ‘bureaucracy’ side of things so much easier to manage, without having to worry about it all.

Below, we have outlined the 14 best accounting software services for small business owners in 2020, with a primary emphasis on 5 of the best.

Top 5 Accounting Software Services at a Glance

#1 – FreshBooks (Free trial!): The best all-around accounting software for the majority of businesses, especially businesses with less than 50 employees.

#2 – Sage Cloud Accounting (Free trial!): Professional and simple fully functional accounting software that is looking for a straightforward solution without any problems.

#3 – Zoho Books (Try now!): An amazing interface with a comprehensive suite that is perfectly suited for freelancers, micro-businesses, and small businesses. Unfortunately, does not provide payroll timekeeping.

#4 – Intuit Quickbooks (Free trial for 30 days): Best suited for medium to large-sized businesses or small businesses that really specialize in accounting and/or finance.

#5 – Patriot Accounting Software (One-month free!): Excellent at both payroll processing and accounting with two distinct applications. Primarily aimed at micro and small businesses.

Vendor Basic Service Package Cost Best For… Summary
FreshBooks
(Website)
$6 Smaller businesses, less than 50 employees. The coolest, most all-around accounting software service on the market.
Sage
(Website)
$10 Small businesses in professional services. The most simple and straightforward accounting solution with great customer service.
Zoho Books
(Website)
$8 Freelancers and Micro Businesses. A beautiful user interface and comprehensive suite of tools to perform the exact function that you need.
Intuit Quickbooks
(Website)
$7.50 Large businesses, or businesses with specific or intensive accounting requirements. Loved by accounting professionals due to its rich feature set and sophisticated capabilities.
Patriot Accounting Software
(Website)
$15 Small Businesses and Micro Businesses Superb customer service. Similar to Zoho Books in functionality.

#1 – Freshbooks

FreshBooksFreshbooks (“FreshBooks Cloud Accounting”) has it all, and it is no surprise that it made our No.1. It is also the number one accountancy software of choice for a majority of online review sites, and with good reason. While it started off as a simple invoicing solution (an area where it still excels), it now provides a massive range of payment processing and accounting functionality.

There are almost too many advantages to write about. To start off, FreshBooks has the most amazing and intuitive design interface, in an industry which tends to have a high-quality design interface. Gone are the days of boring, professional invoices, paychecks, and employment records. The FreshBooks Pricing is ultra-cheap. The plans are as follows:

  1. The FreshBooks Lite plan costs only $6 a month, allowing the billing of 5 clients.
  2. The FreshBooks Plus plan costs $10 a month, allowing the billing of 50 clients.
  3. The FreshBooks Premium plan costs $20 a month, allowing the billing of 500 clients.

Free trials are available on all plans. You can contract FreshBooks for a custom plan if you intend to bill more than 500 clients. The current FreshBooks prices are at a 50% discount for a limited time offer. This is a common marketing tactic. In truth, these sales tend to go on perpetually. Nevertheless, the pricing is still excellent. The Lite Package includes:

  • Unlimited + Customized Invoices
  • Unlimited Expense Entries
  • Accept Credit Card Payments Online
  • Accept ACH Bank Transfers Online
  • Automated Bank Import
  • Unlimited Time Tracking
  • Unlimited Estimates
  • Insightful Tax Time Reports
  • Custom functionality and workflows with 200+ integrations
  • Mobile Mileage Tracking
  • Team Members ($10/person)

The  Plus Package includes everything in the Lite páckage with the addition of Unlimited, proposals, Automated Recurring Invoices, Double Entry Accounting Reports, Scheduled Late Fees, Automated Late Payment Reminders, Client Retainers, Team Members ($10/person), Advanced Payments ($20/mo). The Premium Packages does not seem to contain many additional features.

So, what are the customers saying about the features, pricing, and customer service? It has a 4.46 rating on GetApp out of 3,300 independent reviews. GetApp is a review service designed specifically for technology services.

The TrustPilot reviews are a little more mixed. FreshBooks is cool. There is no doubt about that. It is the easiest software to use, with a massive range of functionality. But there are some drawbacks, and we noticed this with our testing. They tend to focus more on making the software run smoothly rather than essential updates, compatibility, and integration. The software is still not really suited for the European market, being US-focused (which means potential issues in the recording of VAT).

Another issue is that clients need to use a FreshBooks account, where they are enticed to sign up. Not the end of the world, but still an annoyance. The major issue is that the new version of Freshbooks, released in 2017, resulted in a lot of integration problems. This is a common issue with payroll and accountancy software that does an upgrade – there are just too many third-party integrations to account for successfully.

The billing limitations are also a little archaic. It can be irritating having to manually add and delete one-off clients, which still count towards your overall limit. Which seems to be designed so that people will upgrade to the most expensive option so they do not have to worry about it.

All in all, FreshBooks, has excellent functionality, wonderful mobile applications, very affordable pricing, and the best user interface around. It is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses. The software, however, is not really suitable for larger businesses with more than 20 or thirty employees. It excels more on the payroll side of things (timekeeping, invoicing) as compared to the bookkeeping. But sending invoices to clients is just so easy with this vendor.

However, it is still more than capable in terms of accounting – but you still need to be experienced to use it effectively. Or at least know your way around some of the basic accounting terminology.

Features

  • Double-entry accounting is now available
  • Delightful user experience
  • Excellent client records
  • Team collaboration tools
  • Time tracking
  • Estimate and retainer functionality
  • Simple product and service records
  • Proposals and projects
  • Excellent mobile apps

Price: $6 for Lite, $10 For Plus, $20 for Premium.

Why We Recommend
FreshBooks can provide practically all of the essential bookkeeping and payroll needs of any small to medium-sized business, for a fantastic price.
Best for…
FreshBooks is really more suited towards businesses that have between 5 – 50 employees . Especially useful for creative business models due to its design and customization options..
Pros
  • Super intuitive
  • Very affordable
  • Excellent for invoicing and payment processing
  • Vert fast
  • Slick design
  • Huge range of functionality across booking and payroll
Cons
  • Some issues with newer versions of the software.
  • Lack of backwards integration.

#2 – Sage

SageSage (“Sage Cloud Accounting”) has been in the market for a long time. They are not the new kid on the block, at a time when there are many new kids in the online automation sector, proposing a myriad of new solutions. Note that Sage 50 Cloud Accounting and Sage Business Cloud Accounting are distinct accounting solutions, though they have similar features and reviews. Sage 50 is actually an add on to the core service.

The Sage Cloud Accounting software is incredibly versatile. It can be accessed remotely on a variety of devices and operating systems, which is ideal for the new work from home environment. It operates as a full functioning accounting system, inclusive of general ledger, A/P, A/R and payroll. And it is also something of an industry standard. With the cloud system, you do not have to send backups to an accountant and can send professional invoices from any location.

Most businesses will be very familiar with Sage. If not, it integrates with all of the other major platforms. If you are involved in general business or professional services, Sage Accounting is an ideal solution. It is very simple and straightforward to use Sage Cloud Accounting, and it provides everything that a small or mediums sized enterprise could require.

The interface is nowhere near as slick or modern as some of the competitors in the space, and many customers are indicating that this could be updated. But most prefer the functionality and simplicity over the lack of aesthetic appeal.

Sage Cloud Accounting also works well across continents, in areas such as the UK and South Africa. Many US solutions tend to excel in America but do not provide similar functionality in areas such as Europe and the UK, where accounting terms and VAT are different from a financial perspective.

Sage has amazing reviews across numerous review sites. On TrustRadius, it tanks 7.4 out of 10 stars. On TrustPilot, it has an incredible 4.7 out of 5 stars, out of a whopping 11,500 reviews. This is an incredible score. It is very rare that a business would have such a high rating with such a high number of reviews. It is a lot easier to get a high rating with 1,000 reviews in comparison to 10,000. They must be doing things right. It also has a 4.1-star rating on Capterra.

There are precious few flaws to report with Sage Cloud Accounting. While not having the coolest interface, it is very easy to use, even for novices. The major drawback is that it is not the best option for businesses who interface with a large number of systems (in this area alone, Xero is a better option). Also, due to a lack of time tracking functionality, it is not suited for businesses who charge clients by the hour (such as legal services), if they intend to track time this way. You cannot customize invoices creatively in the same manner as FreshBooks or other software services.

Aside from these caveats, Sage Accounting is ideal for most small businesses, especially those in professional services (not so much online digital businesses, startups, or tiny operations). It is a professional, reputable, functional, and no-frills attached accounting service that will meet all of your accounting needs.

Sage is also priced very affordably. It offers 2 simple packages, “Accounting Start”($10 a month) and “Accounting”($25 a month). Sage also offers a free 30 day trial on both packages. The accounting start package is limited, offering the ability to create invoices, track what is owed, and connect to your bank. The Accounting package will further include:

  • Real-time Reports
  • Quotes And Estimates
  • Ability To Record Purchase Invoices
  • Ability To View Cash Flow Statements
  • Auto entry To Remove Cash Flow Entry

Features

  • Create sales invoices
  • Inventory management
  • Track what you’re owed
  • Connect to your bank
  • Act on real-time reports
  • Generate quotes and estimates
  • Record purchase invoices
  • View cash flow statements
  • Remove data entry with AutoEntry

Price: $10 a month for the “Accounting Start” Package and $25 a month for the “Accounting” Package.

Why We Recommend
Simple to use. Fully functional accounting service. Industry-standard. Fantastic customer service.
Best for…
Best for a wide variety of small to medium-sized businesses, but particularly those who are more professional and established. Startups and digital businesses might prefer FreshBooks. A small business consultancy firm would prefer Sage Cloud Accounting.
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Numerous automation
  • Suited for both UK & US users
  • Fully functional accounting service
  • Inventory management
  • Reasonably priced
  • Diverse package range depending on industry need and business size
Cons
  • Dated interface
  • No time tracking functionality

#3 – Zoho Books

Zoho BooksZoho Books is yet another accounting solution aimed primarily at small business enterprises. In many respects its bears resemblance to FreshBooks, with its neat, friendly user interface and an ethos of innovation that make it a lot more presentable to modern business enterprises. Even the Zoho pricing structure is similar to FreshBooks, and it seems to be in direct competition with its “older” competitor. Zoho Books offers 3 packages:

  1. Basic – $8 a month, up to 50 contacts, 2 users, 5 workflows).
  2. Standard – $12 a month, up to 500 contacts, 3 users, 10 workflows).
  3. Professional – $25 a month more than 500 contacts, 10 users, 10 workflows).

The basic package offers:

  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Custom Invoices
  • Expense Tracking
  • Projects and Timesheets
  • Recurring Transactions
  • Sales Approval
  • Budgeting
  • Zoho Sign Integration

The Standard Package offers the above as well as vendor credits, reporting tags, purchase approval, and Twilio integration. The professional package also offers purchase orders, sales orders, stock tracking. custom domain, vendor portal, in addition to the Standard Package features.

Zoho Books is a rival to FreshBooks when it comes to intuitive and smoothness. But Zoho Books is less expensive, when you take into account the fact that it offers unlimited invoicing From one dashboard, you can manage a massive suite of Zoho products. Zoho has a product for nearly every business need you can imagine. Other items in the Zoho suite include:

  • Zoho Books
  • Zoho Invoice
  • Zoho Inventory
  • Zoho Subscriptions
  • Zoho Expense
  • Zoho Checkout

The Zoho Books invoicing capabilities are exceptional. With 16 templates and tons of invoice customizations, Zoho Books’ invoicing feature is hard to beat. You can send recurring invoices or auto-schedule invoices to be sent in advance. You can add discounts, shipping charges, and attachments. You can also opt to add a salesperson field to each invoice as well as custom fields. Zoho Books offers invoice reminders and the unique option to send your invoices in 13 different languages and encrypt your .pdf invoices for added security. Zoho Books supports retainer invoices as well. Invoices can be sent via email or traditional mail.

On TrustRadius, Zoho Books has a rating of 8.0 stars out of ten. On Capterra, it scores 4.4 out of 5 stars. The customers love this product, and with good reason. We did too. It is our favorite software to use, and we had to knock it down to third because there are a small number of things it won’t do, and the fact that it lacks payroll features, which could result in you needing to purchase a separate application. But you can easily purchase Zoho Invoice or Zoho Inventory, all integrated under the Zoho suite.

This is the real beauty of Zoho. They have specific applications for very specific uses. Most of the competitors have a broad product with multiple additions and add ons. But you can use Zoho for exactly what you need, for a low cost, with an amazing interface. If you check out the Zoho dashboard, we guarantee you will be hooked.

The only major disadvantage of Zoho Books is that they are not suited to larger businesses. Now, most accounting software providers on this list are more orientated towards small businesses, But ZohoBooks is a real “no-no” when it comes to businesses with more than 50 employees, primarily for its limited payroll integration for employees.

Why they don’t implement a simple payroll module remains a mystery when this is what all of its customers are crying out for. 

Features

  • Unlimited Invoicing
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Custom Invoices
  • Expense Tracking
  • Projects and Timesheets
  • Recurring Transactions
  • Sales Approval
  • Budgeting
  • Zoho Sign Integration
  • Bills
  • Vendor Credits
  • Reporting Tags
  • Purchase Approval
  • Twilio Integration
  • Purchase Orders
  • Sales Orders
  • Stock Tracking
  • Custom Domain
  • Vendor Portal

Price: $8 a month for the Basic Package, $12 a month for the Standard Package, $25 a month for the Professional Package.

Why We Recommend
Superbly intuitive, the cheapest on the market, a pleasure to use, and integrative with the comprehensive suite of Zoho products.
Best for…
Small businesses, freelancers, and microbusinesses.
Pros
  • Affordable.
  • Integration with other Zoho products.
  • Excellent user interface.
  • Superior depth in records and transaction forms, including numerous custom fields.
  • Multiple payment gateways.
  • Document management.
  • Generous support options.
  • Excellent mobile version.
Cons
  • Integrated payroll feature limited to California and Texas.
  • Time tracking must be tied to projects.

#4 – Intuit QuickBooks

Intuit QuickBooksIntuit QuickBooks is one of the most highly regarded accountancy services available. QuickBooks is more of a pure accountancy service, similar to Sage Cloud Accounting. Other entries on this list can excel more in the areas of payroll and invoicing. QuickBooks offers 3 pricing packages:

  1. Simple Start – $7.50 a month, one user along with your accountant.
  2. Essentials – $11.50 a month, 3 users along with your accountant.
  3. Plus – $15 a month, 5 users along with your accountant.

The features you receive with the Simple Start package include:

  • Track income & expenses
  • Send custom invoices & quotes
  • Connect your bank
  • Track VAT
  • For one user, plus your accountant

With the Essentials package, you will also gain access to Insights & reports, manage employees, and Multi-currency. The Plus Package will also allow you access to recurring Transactions, Inventory Tracking, Project Tracking, and Management Budget.

Aside from the price and rich feature set, what else has Intuit QuickBooks got going for it? For one thing, it has more integrations than any other accounting software on the market right now. The customer service team is reported to be exceptional. QuickBooks UK has a rating of 4.6 stars on Trustpilot out of more than 5,500 reviews. PC Magazine has rated it 4.5 Stars, and TrustRadius has given it a score of 8.1 Stars. So it consistently rates highly across social review sites.

Many of the social reviews are from accountants, indicating that QuickBooks is the best out there. This is mainly because QuickBooks has so much functionality and extra features available. It is designed specifically for accounting first, and payroll second. Other providers (like FreshBooks) come at it from the other angle, starting off as a payroll processor and later adding accounting functionality. Because Intuit QuickBooks is an industry-standard (like Sage) your accountant is going to be familiar with it, and so will all the organizations that he/she interacts with.

QuickBooks is not as intuitive as other platforms. So small business owners will need to take the time to get used to it. QuickBooks is not designed for a part-time user. You need to get an accountant to operate it properly or really take the time to get to understand the software. Moreover, there have been recent complaints about non-responsive customer support, but this is common across providers. We encountered no issues when we raised queries and found the customer service to actually be far better than many competitors.

Recently, QuickBooks has disabled its bulk invoice upload features. The problem is that each invoice has to be manually uploaded, which is needlessly time-consuming. A separate service has to be purchased to make use of easy bulk upload.

The other major drawback is that Intuit QuickBooks Online is forcing some clients to upgrade to Enterprise, and there are major backward compatibility issues. This happens to a lot of financial services and accounting companies, however. There are just so many legacy systems and customizations that it can be really difficult to keep everyone satisfied, though it can really lead to a disaster scenario for a number of unfortunate clients.

Features

  • Manage budgets
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Billing & Invoicing
  • CPA Firms
  • Fixed Asset Management
  • Track income & expenses
  • Connect your bank
  • Track VAT
  • Insights & reports
  • Manage employees
  • Multi-currency
  • Recurring transactions
  • Track inventory
  • Track projects & locations

Price: $7.50 for Simple Start, $11.50 for Essentials, $15.00 for Plus

Why We Recommend
Because it is more powerful (by a large margin) than all of its competitors, from the perspective of accounting capabilities.
Best for…
Businesses with a lot of advanced accounting requirements, such as an accountancy firm or large business enterprise.
Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Most sophisticated of all accounting software services
  • Can easily handle large business and corporate requirements
  • Simple to use (though hard to master)
  • Massive number of integrations
  • Excellent receipt capture feature
Cons
  • Can be a little slow
  • Steep learning curve for new users

#5 –Patriot Accounting Software

PatriotOf all entries on the list, Patriot has the best customer service and the best reviews. Customers simply love Patriot Software, and so did we. Patriot offers two services, Payroll and Accounting. This is unlike many other vendors, who frequently offer both payroll and accounting in the same package. Patriot, the parent company, has been around since 1986. Yes, you heard that right. They have been in the game for a long time.

The beauty of Patriot is that if you have any issues, they will get resolved by one of the staff. You simply don’t see any of the nightmare reviews associated with Quickbooks or even FreshBooks (to a lesser degree). Patriot really makes an effort to resolve customer issues and does not leave people behind because they are using a legacy system or make a basic error.

The setup of Patriot Accounting Software is super smooth and they currently have a 4.8-star rating out of nearly 1000 reviews on TrustPilot. They have replied 100% of the time to negative reviews. Some of the recent reviews are overwhelmingly in favor of the standard of customer care:

“The best customer service I have ever received. The gentleman that assisted me in setting up my business with Patriot Software, was great. He spent as much time as needed getting everything correct, and making sure I understood what was going on, and that I felt good about being able to do it myself.”

“Patriot’s customer services is exceptional. Everyone I have dealt with has always gone above and beyond to help me. The software is really to navigate even for a computer dinosaur.”

“I am so glad I found Patriot Software and gave it a try. I have called customer services a few times for clarification and have received the BEST service ever. Their support is spot on, professional and quick! The interface is user friendly. Keep up the good work.”

On CapTerra, Patriot Accounting Software has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. They have a 4.9-star rating on their own web reviews. Moving on from the outstanding customer reviews, what does Patriot Accounting actually offer? It certainly does not disappoint in its core functionality. Patriot Accounting  Basic costs $15 a month, and comes with:

  • Free expert support
  • Mobile support
  • Unlimited payments to vendors
  • Create and print 1099s and 1096s
  • Optional 1099 e-Filing
  • Track your expenses, income, and money
  • Create and track unlimited customers and invoices
  • Accept credit card payments
  • Record payments
  • Automatically import bank transactions
  • Departments
  • Payroll Integration

Patriot Accounting Premium costs $22.50 a month and additionally provides Account Reconciliation, the Capability To Create And Send Estimates, Recurring Invoices, Invoice Payment Reminders, Custom Invoice Templates, Unlimited Users With Permissions, Receipts And Document Management. For the extra $7.50 a month, the premium version is definitely worth it. An added advantage with Patriot Accounting Software is that you pay month to month with no long term contracts. 

While Patriot Accounting Basic might seem to be more expensive than other providers, this is not the case when you take into account the unlimited payments to vendors. The FreshBooks Lite plan retails at $6, but only allows the billing of 5 clients, which is tiny and is really just a way to force people to slowly upgrade up the tier. Patriot allows the addition of an unlimited number of customers.

Unlike other entries on the list (such as QuickBooks), Patriot Accounting Software is perfectly suited for new business owners. No sophisticated accounting experience is necessary and it is incredibly easy to use. The tax reporting features are very on-point and streamlined.

Patriot Payroll (a separate service) also happens to be the cheapest among payroll processors, at $30 per month with $4 per additional contractor. Patriot is most well known for its payroll processing as opposed to its accounting services, which is a relatively recent addition. 

Are there are real disadvantages to Patriot Accounting? Aside from the fact that it does not have a sophisticated range of accounting features in comparison to other providers (such as QuickBooks), not really. It could benefit from some more integrations, but is not going to compete with the heavyweights any time soon in this regard. It is not suited for professional accounting services or for large businesses over 100 employees. It does offer a good array of services and quite impressive data visualization tools. The dashboard is also very user-friendly.

To sum up, Patriot Accounting Software is literally perfect for small business owners. As long as you have no need for niche or sophisticated accounting tools, it will do what you need. It is reasonably priced, intuitive, provides excellent functionality, and has outstanding customer service. It is actually one of the cheapest providers out there – its $15 a month package offers similar functionality to the Quickbooks Premium $15 a month model. They just represent their packages differently.

Features

  • Free expert support
  • Mobile support
  • Unlimited payments to vendors
  • Create and print 1099s and 1096s
  • Optional 1099 e-Filing
  • Track your expenses, income, and money
  • Create and track unlimited customers and invoices
  • Accept credit card payments
  • Record payments
  • Automatically import bank transactions
  • Departments
  • Payroll Integration

Price: $15 for Patriot Accounting Basic, $22.50 for Patriot Accounting Premium.

Why We Recommend
Ticks all the boxes. But we recommend mainly for the quality of customer service and the easy to use platform.
Best for…
Small business owners that work with a lot of freelancers, micro-businesses. Not designed for larger businesses.
Pros
  • Super intuitive
  • Fantastic customer support
  • Beautiful design
  • Easy to use
  • Amazingly easy to set up
  • Cheapest on the market
  • Perfect complement to Patriot Payroll
Cons
  • No fund or project accounting
  • Lacks certain accounting features in comparison to competitors
  • Lack of integrations

How We Ranked Accounting Software Services

We evaluated each of the accounting software services over a period of 30 days across a number of criteria. These criteria are listed below.

  • Price – What is the price in comparison to both the services offered and the prices offered by competitors?
  • Ease Of Use/Intuitive Capability – How easy is it to create invoices, complete essential accounting tasks, and manage employee records?
  • Quality Of Customer Service – How fast did we get a response from customer service teams with basic issues, and were said issues resolved?
  • Availability Of Integrations – How many third party applications does the accounting software integrate with? Does it integrate successfully?
  • Mobile Accessibility – Are mobile applications available, and do they run smoothly?
  • Social reviews – What are the customers saying on the major review sites? (Primarily Consumer Affairs, BBB, GetApp and TrustPilot).

Each of these metrics was further broken down into specific features, quality of customer support, intuitive ability, etc, and then inserted into our giant spreadsheet matrix for analysis.

Other Accounting Software Candidates

AvidXchange: This is an accounts payable software equipped with several modules that bring order to your cash flow. Having a configurable interface, the platform affords users customizable solutions to billing and payments. You can use it to organize transactional information, set automatic payments, and authorize cash outflows. The dashboard is also easy to navigate and the learning curve is basically non-existent.

Xero: Very established accounting platform with sophisticated capabilities. Is even more powerful than Sage Accounting with more integrations. It is also an industry-standard within the realm of accounting. However, it is not best suited for small and micro-businesses. It is just not as intuitive or user-friendly, and the dashboard could seriously do with an update right now. It mainly caters to corporations and medium-large businesses.

Kashoo: A nice, easy to use, and functional accounting service based in Canada. It has a rating of 4.5 stars on Capterra and pricing starts at $15 a month.  This is perfectly suited for micro-businesses with less than 10 employees. Support is exceptional. Lacks certain templates and functionality that should not bother a micro business too much.

Wave: Wave is one of the few (if not the only) free accounting tools in the market. It can be used as a complete accounting solution if you have minimal accounting needs. It does not offer time tracking and its payroll is limited. It is really best suited to freelance workers, though a micro business with less than 10 employees might handle it in a pinch. Wave Accounting is free, and it aims to induce charges for its payroll.

GoDaddy Bookkeeping: The cheapest bookkeeping option available, and excellent for people already using GoDaddy hosting services. Good invoicing tools and super simple to use. However, it definitely lacks features expected of a full-service accounting solution. No project tracking and lacking in multi-currency support.

AccountEdge Pro: Perfectly suited for small and medium-sized business models (not so much freelancers and small businesses). Powerful application with a wide range of functionality, though not the most intuitive of applications. Works on all major operations systems and provides excellent payroll along with its accounting services. However, you will pay a little extra for the added functionality, which beats nearly all other platforms on the market right now.

NetSuite ERP: NetSuite is a global provider of cloud-based business management solutions. Their software, NetSuite ERP, is a scalable program that simplifies financial management. The company caters to more than 40,000 companies, organizations, and subsidiaries in over a hundred countries. Generally, this vendor partners with companies to help handle their ERP/financials, CRM, eCommerce, and inventory tasks. A heavy-duty solution for large businesses and corporations, or for tech businesses that are already involved with the Oracle suite of products.

Tipalti: Tipalti is a software vendor that strategically helps companies improve their accounting operations through innovative means. Tipalti offers a fully equipped cloud-based accounting program that streamlines the way you handle invoice management, vendor onboarding, funds disbursement, and tax compliance. Fantastic customer service, expert staff, innovative business model, but not the cheapest solution on the market.

Plooto: Beautiful payment processing capabilities, and does not require customers to sign up with them to accept payments (an extreme annoyance with other providers, as they try to market to your clients). It also provides excellent accounting functionality. The app’s functionalities allow you to take control of your cash flow and ensure that the values under receivables and payables will soon be delivered to their intended recipients.

Online Accounting Software Pricing (Comparison)

Vendor Free trial Standard (Monthly) Professional (Monthly) Premium (Monthly)
Freshbooks Yes $6, 5 clients. $10, 50 clients. $20, 500 clients
Sage Cloud Accounting Yes (30 days) $10 $25 N/A
Zoho Books Yes (14 days) $8 $12 $25
Intuit Quickbooks Yes (30 days) $7.50 $11.50 $15
Patriot Accounting Software Yes (30 days) N/A $15 $22.50

Core Features to Look for in Accounting Software

There are some basic features that all accounting software should encompass. These include:

  • Payments to vendors (unlimited preferred)
  • Create and track customers and invoices (unlimited preferred)
  • Create and print 1099s and 1096s
  • 1099 e-Filing
  • Track your expenses, income, and money
  • Credit card payments Accepted
  • Record payments
  • Payroll Integration

Pay particular attention to the first two options. Most accounting software providers will purposefully limit these items, forcing you to the next subscription level. All online providers have a similar model of forcing you to upgrade.

It is a very effective marketing tactic. Because, ultimately, you cannot do business without unlimited payments to vendors and unlimited invoices, unless you have a unique business model.

So you can ignore many of the basic packages, as you will almost certainly end up upgrading.

The best way to choose the right accounting software is to become familiar with the following 5 sections and their subheadings in detail. This will enable you to be more precise in what the accounting software companies are actually providing for you.

  1. Accounts Receivable – Invoice Processing, Automatic Invoicing, Payment Processing.
  2. Accounts Payable – Purchase Orders, Vendor Credit Memos, Automatic Payment, IRS Tax forms.
  3. Payroll (usually) – Direct Deposit, Variable Wage Schedules, Expense reimbursements and deductions, Automatic Tax Calculations
  4. Banking – Account reconciliation, Bank Deposit Preparation, Check Handling.
  5. Reporting Options – Standard Reports, Customizable Reports, Graph Summaries, Cost Predictions, Subsidiary Reporting.

If you are aware of the key IRS forms that need to be submitted each year and understand the terms in the 5 headings above, then you are well informed as to what to look for in accounting software, and what they are really offering.

Advanced Accounting Software Features

For the vast majority of businesses, the basic features above are enough. You just want to submit track payroll and submit the correct files before the IRS deadlines. But some businesses have a need for advanced or niche features that are not commonly available. Such advanced features include:

Shipping

For online retailers and businesses that frequently send goods by couriers or clients, an accounting platform that can handle shipping processes will save you the investment of a separate shipment software program. Features to look for include:

  • Shipping Label Printing: This can save you a lot of time and streamline the shipping process by producing labels.
  • Shipping Cost Estimation: Some systems can be set up to understand differences in weight and distance to provide accurate shipping cost estimates.
  • Shipment Tracking: A link to a courier’s tracking system ensures that you can monitor what has been shipped and estimate delivery times more accurately.
  • Dropshipping Capacity If you need to send a product to a customer directly from a supplier or manufacturer, it can cause a disaster with your billing unless your accounting platform can handle drop shipments.

Inventory management

With the rise in eCommerce, an inventory management accounting system can be a necessity, depending on the industry. In this instance, inventory management should be bundled into payroll/accounting services. Features to look for include:

  • Inventory tracking: Following the lifecycle of an item – from purchasing to stocking to sales, all the way to shipping – is a great asset to help you track inventory levels.
  • Set inventory levels: You can ensure you don’t over- or under-order certain products by using automatic ordering to guarantee stock within a specified range. This saves you the hassle of not having items in stock when you need them or a glut of products that just won’t move.
  • Specified stock locations: For large distribution hubs, having stock locations included on orders avoids the need for an additional warehouse management system, which helps streamline business functions.

Time and Job management

Most organizations need to monitor attendance and time spent on specific tasks. Time and attendance modules can be very helpful additions to accounting systems. This is generally for “fixed businesses” with full or part-time employees instead of contractors. But even small businesses using contractors can often need time tracking software. Core accounting features will include :

  • Time Tracking: If you pay staff by the hour or require employees to punch in at a certain time, keeping track of attendance and hours is essential for accurate payroll.
  • Job Tracking: Businesses in service-based industries often need to track how long jobs take to make sure they charge the right amount. This type of time tracking can help you make adjustments in future prices and identify trends in the costs of different jobs.
  • Job Status: If your software shows you which jobs are being worked on and which are inactive, you can keep track of what needs doing and when.
  • Job Estimates: For some service businesses, providing an estimate is essential to procuring the job – and maybe to getting paid. A system that can store estimates and turn them into orders and invoices in just a few clicks promotes efficiency.
  • HR/Compliance Capabilities – This is most frequently offered with payroll processing. IT comes at an additional cost and is more relevant for larger enterprises.

7 Questions to Ask Before You Select an Accounting Software

Before selecting your accounting software, there are some key questions you need to ask yourself. It’s easy to lose track and purchase features you don’t need. On the other hand, it is easy to use lower quality software with poor customer service. The end result of which is an absolute nightmare. However many péople might complain about the prices.

Nothing is worse than getting stalled due to the mismanagement of financial or legal documents, which can take months to get resolved. The 7 most relevant questions to ask before you get your accounting software is:

  1. What is the quality of customer service?
  2. What is the rating on online social review sites?
  3. Does this provide what I need right now?
  4. Can I rely on this accounting software for the long term?
  5. What are the primary features that I require?
  6. Are there any additional charges for services I could potentially require?
  7. How is data secured and backed up?

This should really help you to narrow down what it is that you need in accounting software. Some companies place more emphasis on certain points, so there is an accountancy software package available whether you are looking for the lowest price, the most functionality, or the best customer service. Some providers are more geared towards corporate outfits, others towards small businesses. Really, it depends on your individual circumstances.

How to Choose the Right Accounting Software?

To choose the right accounting software, simply read the questions above, and understand the accounting/payroll process in its entirety. Know what you want. And you should also understand what accounting software is, especially in relation to payroll processing. They provide inter-related functions and are often bundled together.

Every business essentially needs to record payroll and to take account of finances, submitting the appropriate document in the yearly deadlines for the IRS. Accounting software is a tool to help you record the flow of your company’s money and examine your financial condition. With it, you can record transactions, generate reports, manage customer and vendor contacts, create purchase orders, track stock levels, bill customers, and monitor account balances.

By getting the right accounting software, you will be systematizing a process that could otherwise be very cumbersome. It helps you to stay compliant with Local, Federal, and State Laws. At the end of the day, the supreme benefit is that of efficiency in the submission of documents without having to resort to an expensive lawyer.

Conclusion

Accounting software has never been cheaper, usually in the range of $10 – $25 a month for a full-service package. It can really serve to streamline your entire accountancy needs.

We recommend FreshBooks, Sage Business Accounting, Zoho Books, Intuit QuickBooks Online, or Patriot Software.

Your sensitive information will be safe with them and all of your accounting needs can be quickly and easily handled.

FAQ

What Is the Difference Between Payroll and Accountancy Software?

In truth, there is a huge level of overlap between payroll and accountancy software. But accounting software is typically more all-encompassing in comparison to payroll. It will provide a wider range of features that accountants might be in need of.

Payroll software is geared towards paying employees and maintaining records. It will often contain compliance and HR functionality, and potentially time tracking options, as well as benefits. It is always useful to get software that does as much as possible, to avoid using too many disparate systems.

What Is the Best Accounting Software for a Small Business?

The best accountancy software really depends on your unique needs. Are you looking primarily at inventory management? Or is it receipt and sales management? Are you a corporation looking for an extensive employee tracking system? Or a small online business looking to file returns for 3 to 4 part-time freelancers? It is impossible to answer this question in isolation. In general, the best accountancy software packages are described above.

How Important Is Accountancy Software Anyway?

Accountancy software is essential. You need an online system that easily files essential tax documents before the deadline. And there are many tax deadlines. You also want a system that makes it easy to file financial documents and that walks you through the process. Finally, Accounting Software will save you time (as opposed to doing things manually in spreadsheets), and prevent you from making costly mistakes. In the 21st century, you cannot really afford to be without accounting software.

Should I Just Get Free Accounting Software Instead?

Most of the free services only offer limited functionality. You might get by on free software in the beginning, but ultimately you will need to pay for the additional services. Which is why you should just pay the money for the software that you need.

The psychology of saving $15 a month is not exactly a “prosperity mindset”, and it is better not to cut costs in this particular area. But you can certainly feel free to try out a free software or, better yet, to make use of the free trials with full functionality, offered by many accounting software services.

Why Can’t I Do Accounting Myself Instead of Paying for Software?

It is technically possible to do it yourself. But you will need to be organized and have some computer skills, or hire a programmer to build a custom system. Because you will basically need a way of recording employees hours, employee earnings, employee information, etc, you also need an alert system and method of automatically filing records before the due dates.

In other words, it’s easier simply to pay a monthly fee than to take care of it yourself. Even if you were guaranteed not to make errors it could be very time-consuming. The only potential exception is if you are running a very small operation and are genuinely interested in understanding the basics of finance, legal, and accounting operations.

Can Payroll Software Replace an Accountant?

Not really. You will allow your accountant access to the software in most instances. But it can certainly cut down on accountancy costs and remove the need for an in-house accountant. In the modern era, accountants are necessary for businesses with larger turnover. Specialist advice can save businesses tens and thousands of dollars.

The payroll software will assist in the capturing, maintenance, and filing of key documents. Traditionally, this inefficiency would rack up in accountancy costs. It is similar to the legal profession, where automation tools are reducing the redundant hours spent on filing and paperwork. But the software will never fully replace accountants or legal professionals, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis is an MBA accredited investment professional who wants to assist small business owners to gain access to finance. After going through many channels for funding, Lewis has found that getting the first loan right is vitally important for future success.