Best Accounting Software
As a business owner, you already have plenty to keep you busy – and accounting hassles are the last thing you want to add to your plate.
As a business owner, you already have plenty to keep you busy – and accounting hassles are the last thing you want to add to your plate.
Fortunately, accounting software has advanced well beyond the days of simple spreadsheets. You don’t need much financial or technical know-how to quickly and consistently manage your business’s financial aspects. From sending out invoices to paying employees to managing inventory and much more, using accounting software can feel like having an actual accountant on the team.
No matter what type or size of business you run, you can find multiple software options to consider. Your complete guide to the best accounting software, including shopping tips, starts right now:
The Best Account Software Platforms
Not all accounting platforms are the same, and the best one for you depends on what your business does and how it operates. Here’s a look at the top names in accounting software, what they do best, and why they might work for you:
1. Intuit QuickBooks – Best Overall
Versatility is the name of the game here. Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting software features a robust selection of customization options, allowing you to tailor it to your specific needs. It’s powerful enough for most medium to small businesses and easy enough to use even if you’re new to accounting software.
Multiple plans are available, including three online options plus an installable version. The three online platforms have tiered features, so you can choose the best option based on the size of your business and your budget (plus, it’s easy to upgrade when necessary).
All plans include valuable features such as automated receipt capture, around-the-clock access to customer support, and full integration with PayPal, Shopify, and Square. The introductory platforms allow you to track income, expenses, sales, and other basics, while the advanced tiers add the ability to monitor inventory, run payroll, and more.
- Multiple plan options allow for easy customization
- All subscription plans include email and phone support
- Intuit is a trusted brand with over 28 years of experience
- A 30-day free trial lets you try before you buy
- Professional desktop version only allows up to five users
- Top-tier plans might include services that don’t suit the needs of your business
2. FreshBooks – Runner Up
Founded in Toronto in 2003, FreshBooks is one of our hometown favorites. The platform offers comprehensive and affordable accounting services with an intuitive, easy-to-use design.
Invoices are a major highlight with this software. You can quickly and easily create professional-looking invoices with the option to track delivery. Each invoice is completely customizable, so it’s easy to add your logo and service-specific details.
Additionally, the software lets you accept multiple payment options, including Apple Pay and most major credit cards. Payments are processed through the system up to 11 days faster than other types of accounting software.
- Canadian company founded in 2003
- Well-suited for freelancers and the self-employed
- Allows for detailed, customized invoices
- The entire platform runs from a single, easy-to-use dashboard
- They don’t list pricing for custom, large-scale services
3. Xero – Best Mobile
If your business has you constantly out and about, Xero is worth a closer look because it has a clean, tablet-friendly design with an intuitive user interface.
You’ll find a solid selection of features, including automated bill pay, bank account integration, project tracking, invoicing, and payroll. Plus, you can easily grant full access to a bookkeeper or financial advisor.
No matter what type of on-the-go business you run, you should have no problems customizing Xero to fit your needs. Their app marketplace features over 800 third-party apps to add and adjust a huge range of features.
- Flexible, customizable, and works well on mobile devices
- Affordable subscription plans with no long-term contract
- All plans include free mobile support
- Over 800 third-party apps are available
- Features don’t have as much depth as some of the larger platforms
- Accountant access limited to one person
4. Pabbly – Best for Invoices
Does your business require you to send out multiple invoices on a regular basis? Pabbly helps you track and automate the entire process. It’s an accounting platform with a focus on subscription and invoicing management for small to medium-sized organizations.
Pabbly provides real-time data on revenue, net revenue, expenses, current customer engagement, and more. Not only will you stay organized, but your customers will receive prompt, clear invoices with support for over 40 online payment gateways, including PayPal, Cashfree, and Razorpay.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about hidden fees. Pabbly doesn’t charge extra based on transactions or monthly revenue. It’s ideal for any growing or seasonal business with inconsistent income from month to month.
- Affordable, surprise-free pricing
- Easy integration with over 40 online payment platforms
- Provides automated invoice management
- Ideal for subscription-based businesses
- Included fully-integrated Affiliate Management System
- Not the best choice if your business doesn’t rely on invoices or subscribers
5. Sage Cloud Business Accounting – Most Comprehensive
Sage attempts to replicate all the features you’d find in a real, live accountant – and for the most part, this software succeeds. It’s a comprehensive financial management system that helps you track cash flow, inventory, payroll, job costs, and more.
It provides extensive reporting, too. You can easily view detailed charts about sales tax, profits, expenses, and basically any other aspect of your business.
Sage also provides advanced inventory management. You can easily track products in stock as well as what’s due to arrive. Whether your business is online or a brick and mortar, you’ll find a lot to like here if you move physical inventory.
- Complete financial and inventory management
- Allows you to create extensive charts, graphs, and reports
- Capable of managing businesses of practically any size
- It might feel too complicated for smaller businesses
- Many features designed for a business that sells physical products
6. Zoho Books – Most Comprehensive (Tie)
Although accounting software has explored in popularity recently, it’s been around for a long time, and Zoho Books is an early pioneer. They first launched over ten years ago but have remained an industry leader thanks to consistent innovation and refinement.
They focus on creating an end-to-end experience, processing everything from the initial order to the final invoice. Business owners of practically any size should have no problem managing inventory. Their management system lets you track SKU, current stock, cost, and more.
You can also add up colleagues in various roles. They can view reports, record work hours, and take other actions based on permissions you set.
Overall, it’s high-powered software that works well for medium to large companies who move lots of physical inventory, although it could be too complex for a smaller, service-based business.
- Trusted industry leader and pioneer
- Handles practically all financial aspects of your business
- Well-suited for large and medium sized operations
- Allows for multiple users with permission settings
- Extensive inventory and colleague systems aren’t needed for smaller companies
- It has a relatively small number of add-ons (about 40)
7. Wave – Best for Freelancers
Are you self-employed? Wave is an excellent way to manage both invoices and cash flow. Plus, most of its basic functions are free.
Invoices have a sleek design with easy customization. Automatic invoicing is available, and your customers can even set up auto-pay. The money takes about two business days to transfer into your account, which is a bit longer than most, but it’s hard to care too much considering it’s free to use.
If you want to expand beyond the basics, paid upgrades are available, including inventory tracking, time tracking, and general project management features.
While a solid option for medium-sized businesses, it truly shines as a platform for a solo entrepreneur, such as a freelancer with a virtual business.
- Basic invoicing and accounting features are free
- Ideal for freelancers
- Full mobile options
- Excellent invoicing capabilities
- The dashboard is easy to navigate with clear charts
- Limited appeal (best for individuals)
8. GoDaddy – Best for Amazon and Etsy Sellers
The web hosting behemoth also offers a complete accounting platform for e-commerce businesses. It automatically syncs with Amazon, Etsy, eBay, PayPal, and other popular online business sites.
You can automate and manage practically all aspects of your finances, including invoicing software, payment, payroll, taxes, and more. Plus, you generate a huge array of different reports.
The basic plan does have a limited use window. You can send estimates and invoices. Plus, you can track mileages.
Most small and medium-sized businesses will want the Essentials plan, which adds the ability to import bank and credit card transactions, import sales data, and generate business and tax reports.
- Ideal for small businesses that sell through Amazon, eBay, or Etsy
- Automated integrated with most major sellers and payment gateways
- Allows you to accept mobile payments from customers
- The Essentials plan is required to access most standard accounting features
9. SAP Business One – Best for a Growing Business
With SAP Business One, accounting is just one aspect of a larger platform. It’s a management software package that works across multiple departments such as customer service, sales, and marketing. Aside from accounting and inventory management, you can also manage assets and perform a host of general financial operations.
The software is customized across various industries, such as automotive, health care, consumer products, and many more. Because a lot of the platform is adjusted based on the client’s specific business, you need to contact them for prices.
While certainly not for all businesses, it’s ideal for a growing company with multiple employees and works well for both in-person and virtual offices.
- Management software with full accounting capabilities
- Customized to your industry and specific needs
- Allows for quick collaboration across multiple departments
- Easily scalable operations allow it to grow with your business
- Not ideal for small businesses or individuals
- Pricing requires consultation
10. Kashoo – Simplest to Use
Kashoo is built for freelancers, contractors, virtual workers, and others who have less than 500 business transactions per year. It automates most data entry and imports to keep your finances organized and invoices up-to-date.
After connecting your bank account, the Smart Inbox system will start learning the details of your business, automatically categorizing income, vendors, and other relevant parties. You don’t have to do anything except conduct your normal business.
Does accounting software make you nervous? Kashoo uses several techniques to protect your data. A smart tool sorts categories automatically to always maintain correct IRS and CRA compliance. Plus, you can never overwrite official bank data.
- Smart-learning system does the setup work for you
- Multiple data protection services
- Organizes your financial information automatically
- Ideal for anyone not comfortable with complicated software
- Not a good choice for fast-growing businesses
Accounting Software Buyer’s Guide
You wouldn’t hire just anyone to manage your company’s finances, and you want to approach choosing accounting software with the same critical eye. You want the platform’s features to mesh with the products or services you provide and the general way you do business.
How to Assess Your Needs
Before selecting accounting software, you want to first understand how you plan to use it. To help you determine your needs, ask yourself these questions:
What Does Your Business Do?
If you sell physical products, you might want software that automatically tracks your inventory. However, if you sell a service, inventory management probably isn’t necessary.
How Do You Accept Payments?
Make sure the software you choose is compatible with whatever online payment gateway your business accepts. While most software integrates easily with PayPal and similar major brands, you might need to search around if you accept more niche options like Razorpay.
Where Is Your Business Located?
If you provide an onsite service, such as landscaping or cleaning, you’ll likely want software designed for use on tablets. Mobile support allows you to create invoices, accept payments, and perform other actions in the field at the time of service.
What Size Is Your Business?
If your business is growing, make sure the software can grow with you. Check the details on pricing. Some platforms add extra charges if you exceed a certain limit of transaction or revenue in a month. You want the ability to easily upgrade your subscription plan if necessary.
Features to Consider
You can find accounting software packed with features, as well as options with a more simple approach. More features aren’t necessarily better, as you end up paying for stuff you’ll never use or feeling bogged down by needless complexity.
Essentially, you want the software to feel as streamlined as possible. You should find it easy to access the features you do want without having to navigate around any clutter. However, no matter what type of business you have, you’ll likely want accounting software with the following capabilities:
Cash Flow Tracking
At its most basic level, accounting software tracks all the money coming in and going out of your business. You can instantly check individual customer accounts, total outstanding invoices, expenses owed to suppliers and partners, and every other type of financial movement.
Even if you use your accounting software for nothing but tracking your cash flow, studies show you’ll increase the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of your accounting processes.
A bank feed is a consistent connection between your software and a relevant bank account. You can view an updated report of each day’s transactions. Without a bank feed, you have to manually transfer information from your bank accounts into the accounting software, which dramatically increases the opportunity for error.
Similar to a bank feed, reconciliation tools automatically sort through your bank accounts in search of potential matches related to the bills and invoices entered into your accounting software. You approve or deny matches, with the best software able to learn from your selections.
Also, if you plan to primarily use your accounting software in the field, check carefully. Some platforms offer bank reconciliation tools for the desktop version, but not the mobile one.
If you send invoices to clients, most accounting platforms offer plenty of options. Look for extensive customization, so you can put your logo and other design elements on your invoice. Also, you’ll likely want the ability to automate your invoices, so you don’t have to remember to send them out.
Many higher-end platforms allow you to manage employee payroll. It’s often useful for small to medium-sized businesses with typically 100 employees or fewer.
Setting up payroll on your own is fairly complicated. If you decide to manage it through your accounting software, you want a platform that puts payroll features at the forefront.
Note that you have another option here. You can use a third-party payroll service. However, make sure your accounting software then integrates fully with your payroll software.
Does your business have an accountant, tax preparer, or another financial professional? Most accounting platforms allow you to provide direct access to your virtual books to someone you designate. Any qualified accountant will know how to use most major types of accounting software, and providing access to your ledger helps them work more efficiently.
As with payroll, you have two options with tax preparation. You can choose accounting software that provides full tax preparation services or integrates with third-party tax software. One isn’t necessarily better than the other; it’s entirely based on what you prefer.
Most major accounting platforms make it easy to transfer information over to TurboTax and similar well-known brands. If you already like the tax software you currently use, you don’t have to switch. However, if you use accounting software with built-in tax preparation services, you can monitor your estimated taxes throughout the year more easily.
All software can generate basic financial reports, such as charts illustrating your daily, weekly, or monthly cash flow. If you want reports detailing a specific issue, make sure that capability is offered in the program you choose. Also, note that some platforms charge an extra fee for more detailed reports.
Finally, choose software with an interface you feel comfortable using. After all, a program’s features aren’t useful if you can’t find them when needed.
Most platforms use a central dashboard for easy organization. If you have a particular setup you prefer, choose software that allows you to customize the dashboard, so you only see features you use.
The Benefits of Business Accounting Software
All major brands of business accounting software saw a big boost in business recently. Here’s why so many business owners are choosing to use it.
Even a relatively minor mistake in your books can result in overdraft changes, missed payrolls, and other financial issues. By helping remove the potential for human error, accounting software boosts overall accuracy. Additionally, automated systems ensure important payments aren’t accidentally forgotten.
While no system is perfect, if an error does occur, the cause is usually easy to track down. Researchers have found that it’s 98% easier to identify an error’s source when using accounting software compared to using a manual accounting system.
The less time you spend balancing your books, the more time you can spend on delivering products or services to your customers. Automating invoices, payroll, inventory management, and other processes help increase cost-efficiency.
Do you feel like you don’t have the time to set up accounting software? Truthfully, the sooner you make the switch, the more time you’ll start to save going forward.
If you have basic accounting needs, you can use accounting software instead of hiring a human accountant. Additionally, if you choose software with tax readiness features, you might avoid the need to hire a tax preparer.
Software with an inventory management system is another way you can potentially save. Real-time monitoring allows you to only place orders when needed, which helps cut down on storage space.
If you want maximum accessibility, choose cloud-based accounting software, which you can access from any device with internet connectivity, such as a tablet or smartphone.
Aside from the ability to create invoices and accept payments directly on the job site, cloud-based software allows you to view your financials even when you’re away from the office.
Stay Ahead of the Competition
As discussed above, software for accounting has seen a surge in sales recently. It’s popular across all types of industries. No matter what service or product you sell, you likely have a competitor or two using accounting software.
Why does this matter for you? Because they can devote more time to their customers than you can. Automating your accounting gives you a competitive advantage over those who don’t.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are quick answers to common questions about accounting programs for businesses.
What is the Most Commonly Used Accounting Software?
While all of the choices listed above are fairly common, QuickBooks and FreshBooks are considered the two most widely-used platforms.
What’s the Easiest Accounting Software to Use?
All mainstream accounting software is designed for easy use by a general audience. However, if you’re looking for the most intuitive design, check out either QuickBooks or Xero. They’ve each developed platforms with clear, user-friendly dashboards that you can easily customize to fit your needs.
What Types of Businesses Benefit from Accounting Software?
Businesses of any size can benefit from accounting software. Small to medium businesses without the budget to hire a full-time accountant will find that software works as an affordable alternative.
Even large businesses with an accounting team often find that software helps keep all financial matters organized and operating at maximum efficiency.
What is the Best Accounting Software for Freelancers?
When freelancers consider accounting software, they should focus less on brands and more on features. Most freelancers benefit from automatic invoice creation and tracking. Additionally, if you’re a freelancer who prefers to travel, you’ll likely want cloud-based software with a high level of mobile functionality.
How Much Does Accounting Software Cost?
Prices vary based on the size of your business, features needed, and more. Fortunately, you can find several free options, which often work well for individuals and small businesses. Also, many platforms designed for medium to large businesses offer free trials, some of which last as long as 30 days.
What if you could have all the benefits of an in-office accountant at only a fraction of the cost? The best accounting software allows you to spend less time crunching numbers and more time making sales. It increases your overall efficiency while also reducing the likelihood of any financial mistakes.
While all of the platforms listed can help boost your business, our number pick for general use is Intuit QuickBooks. It has an intuitive user interface that requires no previous knowledge of accounting programs. Plus, three tiers of pricing help ensure you don’t have to pay for any features you don’t need.
FreshBooks is another of our top recommendations, especially if invoice management is a feature you need. Plus, the Canadian-based company offers top-of-the-line customer service.
For businesses of practically any type and size, accounting software doesn’t just make sense – it also helps you make money!