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Top 10 Best Accounting Software for Small Business

Top10.com Staff
The Best Accounting Software

Most new small businesses use spreadsheets to manage their books, and some maintain this practice as they expand. 

In addition to being time-consuming, this creates the problem of having lots of different documents with conflicting or outdated numbers. The solution? Small business accounting software.

Small business accounting software can help organize your business across the board, from creating reports needed for tax purposes to helping you keep projects on budget.

We looked at a number of the best online accounting software programs to help you compare features and prices and pick the best tool for your business.

Compare the Best Accounting Software
1
QuickBooks
2
Oracle NetSuite
3
FreshBooks
4
Zoho Books
5
1-800Accountant
6
Patriot Software
7
Quicken
8
Neat
Best for
Cloud-centric accounting
Enterprises and global companies
User-friendly invoicing and accounting
Business owners, bookkeepers, and accountants of SMBs
Small to medium sized businesses that need an outsourced bookkeeping and accounting partner
Small businesses on a budget
Those looking to stick to a budget
Small businesses and sole traders
Price range
From $12.50 / month
$999+
From $13.50 per month
Free-$60/month
From $115 / month (billed annually)
$15-$25/month
$31.19
$20-$29 a month
Free trial or free version?
Free 30-day trial
No (Demos available)
Free 30-day trial
Free version and free trial
30-day free trial
No trial version.
15-day free trial
Bank account integration?
integrates with more than 14,000 financial institutions
Payroll included?
Additional add-on
Yes (additional module)
Offered separately

The Best Accounting Software - An In-Depth Look

  • 1
    QuickBooks

    QuickBooks

    exceptional
    9.9
    • Best ForCloud-centric accounting
    • Price rangeFrom $12.50 / month
    • Free trial or free versionFree 30-day trial

    Quickbooks is a comprehensive accounting system designed for small businesses through to organizations at the advanced scales of staging. 

    The tool includes OCR-backed expense receipt tracking, invoice issuing, and for an add-on users can add the payroll functionality. Not all features are available on the mobile apps, but users can even use these, in conjunction with hardware, to process payments. 

    Pros
    • Apps for iOS and Android
    • Project profitability tracking
    • Easy hour billing with integrations
    Cons
    • No free tier
    • Not all features available on mobile
  • 2
    Oracle NetSuite

    Oracle NetSuite

    excellent
    9.5
    • Best ForEnterprises and global companies
    • Price range$999+
    • Free trial or free versionNo (Demos available)

    NetSuite is hard to beat in terms of power and customizability, although it comes with a steep learning curve. The user support is also quite limited for basic subscribers, another reason why smaller businesses may find the experience too labor-intensive. The suite, however, is extensive enough to replace a variety of other operational and logistical applications (like CRM and HR), which can ultimately reduce the overall cost, both in terms of labor and money. 

    NetSuite is an excellent solution for enterprises and global companies that need to manage large operations with many moving parts and which have the human and financial resources to use NetSuite’s powerful platform to build the perfect ERM solution.

    Pros
    • Highly customizable
    • Extremely powerful budgeting, forecasting and reporting
    • All-in-one solution (HR, project management, inventory, etc.)
    Cons
    • Complex to set-up and operate
    • Can be very costly
  • 3
    FreshBooks

    FreshBooks

    excellent
    9.1
    • Best ForUser-friendly invoicing and accounting
    • Price rangeFrom $13.50 per month
    • Free trial or free versionFree 30-day trial

    If you’re a business owner looking for a quick and easy way to bill your clients, then Freshbooks could be the user-friendly option you have been looking for.

    Creating invoices and expenses with Freshbooks is as easy as clicking and typing into fillable document fields. The system can also scale to support more than 500 clients. 

    Pros
    • Scalable to bill more than 500 clients
    • Clickable document editing
    • Payroll via integration
    Cons
    • No built-in payroll functionality
    • Mobile mileage tracking only on higher tiers
  • 4
    Zoho Books

    Zoho Books

    very good
    8.9
    • Best ForBusiness owners, bookkeepers, and accountants of SMBs
    • Price rangeFree-$60/month
    • Free trial or free versionFree version and free trial

    Zoho Books is an online accounting platform that business owners can use to manage cash flows, track expenses, pay bills, invoice clients, and accept payments. There are 4 pricing tiers—free, standard, professional, and premium—and the more expensive plans contain a larger set of features.

    For added functionality, Zoho Books integrates with a number of platforms, including inventory management, customer relationship management software, and payroll services. Zoho’s website also contains a repository of educational materials that customers can use to familiarize themselves with the platform and accounting best practices. 

    Pros
    • Intuitive interface and sleek dashboard design
    • Offers an expansive array of core features; add-on enhancements available
    • Features grow with your business
    Cons
    • Lacks payroll and inventory management features
    • No customized plan for larger organizations
  • 5
    1-800Accountant

    1-800Accountant

    good
    8.4
    • Best ForSmall to medium sized businesses that need an outsourced bookkeeping and accounting partner
    • Price rangeFrom $115 / month (billed annually)
    • Free trial or free versionNo

    Looking to get your accounting and bookkeeping taken care of through an outsourced partner? If so, then 1-800Accountant could be the right door to knock on. 

    This company features a variety of different pricing tiers designed to help users to make the most out of the service. From those with basic accounting needs to those seeking IRS audit preparation, 1800 Accoutant has a plan to match.

    Pros
    • Audit preparation service
    • Dedicated accountants
    • A variety of tiers
    Cons
    • No smartphone apps
    • No user-run integrations
  • 6
    Patriot Software

    Patriot Software

    good
    8.4
    • Best ForSmall businesses on a budget
    • Price range$15-$25/month
    • Free trial or free version30-day free trial

    Patriot Software offers two online software products for businesses: Patriot Accounting and Patriot Payroll. Patriot’s accounting software is broken down into two versions, both with a flat monthly fee for an unlimited number of users. 

    Overall, Patriot offers everything small businesses need to keep track of income and expenses but without bogging you down with enterprise-level features that other accounting software providers offer at a premium. Accounting Basic offers all the essentials, but for only another $10 each month you can automate many accounting processes. Overall, this is a good accounting software product for any small business on a budget.

    Pros
    • Flat monthly fee for unlimited users
    • Attractive user interface that’s easy to set up and use
    • Track assets, liabilities, equity, income & expenses in one place
    Cons
    • No mobile app (although website is mobile-friendly)
    • No third-party integrations
  • 7
    Quicken

    Quicken

    very good
    8.7
    • Best ForThose looking to stick to a budget
    • Price range$31.19
    • Free trial or free versionNo trial version.

    Looking to get on top of your personal finances? If so then Quicken might be the tool that you have been looking for.

    Supporting integrations with more than 10,000 financial institutions, Quicken makes it easy to connect your bank accounts and payment methods and receive up to date information regarding the money coming into and going out of your account. 

    Pros
    • Huge integration library
    • Track all your expenses
    • Color coded dashboard
    Cons
    • Desktop versions can be slow
    • No Windows Phone support
  • 8
    Neat

    Neat

    good
    8.3
    • Best ForSmall businesses and sole traders
    • Price range$20-$29 a month
    • Free trial or free version15-day free trial

    Founded in 2002, Neat is a cloud-based accounting system that helps you effectively track expenses, send invoices, receive payments, reconcile accounts, and prepare for tax season. 

    Neat's competitive advantages are its low cost and its mobile apps, which are intuitive and enable you to use all the same functions you can use on the web-based version. It also integrates with popular accounting and email management platforms such as QuickBooks and MailChimp.

    Pros
    • Free, personalized customer support
    • All data stored on Neat is protected with encryption
    • BBB rating of A+
    Cons
    • Not scalable for large organizations
    • Only available in the United States and Canada

What You Need to Know About Accounting Software

What is Accounting Software?

Accounting software is software that automates accounting and bookkeeping tasks like invoicing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, income, and expenses. Small business accounting software puts all your financial information in one place, making it easier to share data across teams or externally and saving your employees from double entries or having to type things in manually.

The best accounting software for small business comes in 2 forms: desktop accounting software or online accounting software. Desktop accounting software is an application you install on your company’s computers. Online accounting software, also known as software-as-a-service or SaaS, has the same functions but runs on the cloud.

What Features Should You Look for in Your Accounting Software?

At a minimum, your accounting software is an online bookkeeping program that carries out the core accounting processes we mentioned earlier–such as invoicing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, income, and expenses. But that’s not all it should do. Below are some of the advanced features included in the best accounting software for small business.

Tax integration. Your accounting software should provide balance sheets, profit and loss reports, and any other customized reports you or your accountant require in order to file taxes. The top bookkeeping software even lets you photograph and save receipts using a mobile device so you have it all stored securely for tax time.

Payroll management. Payroll usually isn’t built into accounting software but is offered through integrations with third-party payroll and HR software. Once everything is set up, your software will be able to calculate and file your payroll, pay payroll taxes, pay with same-day direct deposit, and manage employee benefits.

Business insights. Online accounting software programs gather a lot of data about your business, so why not use all that data to your advantage? The best programs offer business insights and intelligence through user-friendly reports and dashboards.

Custom invoices and receipts. Remember, every interaction with customers and service providers is an opportunity to promote your brand. Some accounting programs let you create custom invoices and receipts, helping to make your brand more memorable.

Multi-user access. Depending on the size of your business, you may want to grant access to more than one person. The best accounting software programs offer plans for multiple users, including access for your accountant.

Support for mobile. You never know when you might need to capture or access data from a mobile device. Most of the big names in accounting software offer free iOS and Android apps.

Unlimited cloud storage. One of the benefits of using online accounting software is that all your data gets stored in the cloud, where capacity is virtually unlimited. 

Free support. If something goes wrong, then you want to know your software provider has your back. Premium subscriptions usually include a dedicated account team.

Scalability. Accounting software is perfect for the rapidly-expanding business that finds that manual entries no longer cut it. The sky’s the limit for your business–and so you need software that offers small business accounting services that scale with you.

User-friendly. Last, but not least, is user-friendliness. Your accounting and invoicing software should be easy enough for anyone on your team to learn how to use it within a couple of hours.

How Much Does Accounting Software Cost?

Like most software-as-a-service, the cost of online accounting software really depends on how many features you need and how many users need access. Pricing models can really vary when it comes to accounting software. Some providers charge a fixed per-month price with all or most of the features included, while others offer tiered pricing that gradually gets more expensive as more features are integrated.

Based on our research of the top providers, accounting software could cost anywhere from $12 to $300 per month. The cheapest subscriptions automate basic accounting functions such as tracking income and expenses, invoicing and accepting payments, managing cash flow, tracking sales and sales tax, and sending estimates. Integrating payroll costs extra—it’s built into some of the more expensive plans or costs another $4 - $10 per employee per month as an add-on. Advanced features like income tax return preparation almost always cost extra.

What is the Best Free Accounting Software?

Believe it or not, there is such thing as free accounting software–and we’re not just talking about Excel or Google Sheets. The biggest names in free accounting software include Wave, ZipBooks, and SlickPie. All of these are web-based accounting programs offering basic functions like managing accounts receivable, tracking expenses, and creating profit & loss and balance sheet statements. 

Free accounting software is a good stepping stone for sole proprietors and very small businesses looking to upgrade on spreadsheet programs like Excel and Google Sheets. They essentially let you do all the things Excel and Google Sheets could potentially do for you if you had the time to program all the necessary formulas yourself.

While free software is handy for doing basic things, the reality is it won’t give you anything close to the features offered by paid accounting software. If you need software that can carry out functions like managing payroll, tracking inventory, or handling tax preparation—then you’re going to need to pay for it.

Conclusion

If you can afford to automate administrative business tasks, then you probably should. Carrying out accounting tasks manually may be cheaper in the short-term, but you’ll quickly find it takes away time from growing your business and exposes you to the risk of potentially costly errors. The best accounting software grows with you, so you can start by automating just the core accounting tasks and then add on more complex tasks like payroll and tax reporting as you go. Once you begin using small business accounting software, you’ll quickly find yourself wondering why you ever did things manually.

Top10.com Staff
Top10.com's editorial staff is a professional team of editors and writers with dozens of years of experience covering consumer, financial and business products and services.