- QuickBooks Online – Best Small Business Accounting Software
- Tipalti – Best Software for International Transactions
- Wave – Best Free Software
- ZipBooks – Best for Beginners
- Sage 50cloud – Best for Complex Tasks
- FreshBooks – Best Mobile-Friendly Platform
- Xero – Best for Inventory Management
- Zoho Books – Best App for Invoicing
- NetSuite ERP – Best for ERP Integration
|Starting Cost||Trial Period||Users||Mobility||Use Case|
|QuickBooks Online||$25/month||30-days||Limited by plan||QuickBooks Online mobile app||Best for all types of business|
|Tipalti||Quote-based||N/A||Limited by plan||Mobile app for iPhone and Android||Best for international transactions|
|Wave||Free||N/A||Unlimited||Only for Wave Receipts and Wave Invoices||Best free software|
|ZipBooks||Free||N/A||Limited by plan||Mobile app in development||Best for beginners|
|Sage 50cloud||$340/year||30-days||Limited by plan||Sage 50c Capture mobile app||Best for complex tasks|
|FreshBooks||$15/month||30-days||$10/month||Freshbooks Mobile Accounting app||Best mobile-friendly|
|Xero||$11/month||30-days||Unlimited||6 different mobile apps||Best for inventory management|
|Zoho Books||$15/month (billed annually)||14-days||$2.50/month||Mobile accounting app||Best for invoicing|
|NetSuite ERP||Quote-based||14-days||Depends on license agreement||Netsuite for iPhone app||Best for ERP integration|
Entrepreneurs are often on an island when it comes to finances. As a small business owner, one of the most important things you can look out for is budget. Currently, 64% of business owners do their own bookkeeping. Every second and every penny counts. If you don’t have a tight grip on finances, AP could be spinning its wheels. This means, no one should be wasting hours on menial jobs that you can automate.
It starts with integrating the best small business accounting tools with your everyday workflows. Keep a keen eye on finances with smart technology that gives a small enterprise room to grow. In this article, we’ll look at what accounting software looks like for AP team members, top features, and the best small business accounting software platforms you can find today.
What Does a Small Business Accounting System Do?
About 70% of small businesses don’t have an accountant. That’s where technology comes in.
Small business accounting software helps an AP department reduce the time spent on manual data entry through integration and automation technologies. A business syncs bank accounts, credit cards, and other third-party apps with the software. The data is then processed according to custom settings.
While most accounting software gives you a simple start, a general understanding of accounting principles (like double-entry accounting) is needed to ensure financial reports are accurate. For this reason, many companies still employ an accountant or bookkeeper to maintain and review the books.
Cloud-based accounting software makes it convenient for a business to access its books at the same time as the bookkeeper or accountant.
Basic Functions in a Small Business Accounting Software Program
- Bank account and credit card syncing
- Invoicing and templates
- Payment reminders
- Accounts payable and accounts receivable
- Online payment collection
- Multiple user access with role permissions and additional users
- Financial statements and reporting (balance sheets, statements of cash flow, etc)
- Tax compliance (year-end, sales tax, forms)
- Mobile app
Advanced Functions in a Small Business Accounting Software Program
- Payment processing
- Project management
- Supplier and customer portals
- Third-party add-ons for customizable features
- CRM and ERP capabilities
- Multi-currency processing
The Top 9 Small Business Accounting Software Programs
Below, we look at the 8 best accounting software programs on the market and how they address the challenges of running a small business.
#1) QuickBooks Online
Best Small Business Accounting Software Overall
The majority of small business accounting professionals use QuickBooks Online for safeguarding financial data. It’s one of the most versatile, cloud-based applications on the market.
Intuit’s QuickBooks Online provides endless online training and resources and easily integrates with third-party applications. All features can be conveniently accessed from one main dashboard, and you can upgrade your subscription as the business grows.
- Built-in reporting with a trial balance, general ledger, and 1099 details
- Free 30-day trial with 4 options for subscription
Live bookkeeping service with versatile support
- Mobile app can receive payments, capture receipts, track mileage, etc.
- Run full-service payroll with time tracking and inventory management
The QuickBooks brand is the skeleton key to all types of accounting and bookkeeping software. QuickBooks Online is ideal for any type of industry. The cloud-based functionality offers a level of convenience all business sizes and styles will find advantageous.
Best Software for International Transactions
Tipalti is a cloud-based AP automation and global payments platform that helps a company automate supplier onboarding, invoice processing, tax compliance, and payment remittance.
The Tipalti platform enables companies to pay suppliers in over 190 different countries, in multiple currencies and payment methods. Businesses can streamline relationships through self-service portals and communication tools. It also integrates popular accounting software, ERP systems, and other finance tools for a seamless payment experience.
- Supplier management with self-service portal, tax form collection, payment status
- Global payment capabilities in over 120 currencies in 190 countries
- Invoice processing to automate approvals, improve accuracy, reduce errors
- Compliance and tax management, including validation, and filing
- Integrations with popular accounting software, ERPs, CRMs, and other tools
Tipalti is best suited for a business of any size that needs to manage its accounts payable process and make international supplier payments. It’s ideal for a company that processes a high volume of invoices, deals with multiple currencies, and/or needs to comply with local tax and regulatory requirements.
Tipalti serves a wide range of industries, including e-commerce, advertising, digital media, SaaS, marketplaces, and more.
Are you selecting software that only meets basic requirements?
It goes far beyond eliminating paper and automating processes. Read more in our whitepaper, The Holy Grail of Accounts Payable.
Best Free Software
Wave is an incredibly popular accounting solution that’s simple and user-friendly. One of the top-selling points is that subscription is free with unlimited users.
It’s an ideal solution for freelancers and service-based businesses that don’t have a lot of inventory to manage. Wave is an accounting app that’s meant for those starting out, looking to track expenses, and stay diligent on their taxes.
- Year-end reporting for tax compliance and returns
- Invoicing, receipt-scanning, and income and expense tracking
- Bank reconciliation tools to manage accounts in real-time
- Automatic import of all bank transactions and credit card payments
- Unlimited phone and chat support for a small additional fee
Wave is an ideal platform for a service-based business that sends simple invoices with no need to track inventory. It’s the best accounting platform for a small company that’s just starting out and has few expenses to spare.
Best for Beginners
One of the top draws of the ZipBooks software solution is the best-in-class user experience that makes the entire digital accounting process much easier. With automated invoicing and billing features, the system uses competitive intelligence to help a business make data-driven decisions about budgeting and finance.
The straightforward, color-coded user interface offers loads of accessibility without sacrificing the power of functionality.
- Automated and intelligent expense tracking
- A full suite of deep insights and reporting to keep you on track
- Auto-billing and payment reminders to decrease manual labor
- One-time and recurring billing to get paid faster
- Single transactions interface with auto-categorization
ZipBooks is a simple online accounting and invoicing software that works best for freelancers, independent contractors, sole proprietors, consultants, and anyone self-employed. The new payroll integration also makes it a useful tool for companies with few employees.
#5) Sage 50cloud
Best for Complex Tasks
Sage 50cloud is a robust online accounting software platform that incorporates comprehensive customization options with in-depth financial tools. Sage enables a small business to spend less time on administrative tasks with invoicing, automatic expense tracking, and tax calculations.
The program has a smooth integration with Microsoft 365, making it a hybrid solution that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time.
- Customize cash flow settings for a more granular view of finances
- Create and track invoices, record transactions, and capture expenses
- Account reconciliation with purchase orders, payments, invoices, and bank feeds
- Advanced inventory management with cost and quantity tracking
- Payroll with direct deposit, pay cards, and tax collection
Sage 50cloud works best for a small business that trending towards higher growth. It’s a platform that’s built to last and requires little upgrade as your business expands.
Best Mobile-Friendly Platform
FreshBooks makes invoicing a breeze. It’s a product that simplifies a small company’s basic bookkeeping, and makes it easier to send proposals, request deposits, collect client retainers, track time, receive payments, and much more.
The FreshBooks system is a well-rounded and intuitive double-entry accounting experience that easily integrates with other products, including Google Workspace and Gusto.
- Send, receive, print, and pay invoices with robust customization features
- Multi-currency and language billing for international supplier management
- Automatic tax calculations for sales tax with tax-friendly expense categories
- Time tracking with the Google Chrome browser extension
- Bank deposits, recurring payments, and auto bills with bank integration
A service-based business that’s mobile will get the most use out of FreshBooks. It easily remembers vendors and accepts online payments, facilitating networking, purchasing, and collaboration for a smaller brand.
Best for Inventory Management
Xero has a clean interface that allows a small business to handle a variety of accounting tasks simultaneously. The system fully integrates with a third-party payroll service and supports an unlimited number of users.
All plans include a variety of features like estimates, advanced inventory tracking, and recurring billing. Pricing plans are set up to offer the tools needed in each step of business growth, from startup to enterprise.
- Mobile apps for iOS and Android with collective access and real-time data
- Interactive dashboard to manage items, monitor inventory, and spot sales trends
- Project management tools to track expenses, budgets, billable time, payments, and more
- 50+ reports, including profit and loss statements and a general ledger
- 700+ app integrations with 24/7 email and live chat support
Xero is small business accounting software that has the complexity to grow with your brand. If you’re managing a lot of vendors, inventory, and/or e-commerce, the collaborative and real-time reporting tools make Xero a good fit.
#8) Zoho Books
Best for Invoicing
Small businesses need simple accounting software that makes invoicing easy, and that’s where Zoho Books comes in. It offers all the basic finance features needed for accounting, as well as advanced tools like time tracking and project management.
It’s one of the best platforms for small businesses because of the simplicity and value of the program. It offers mobile apps for Apple, Android, and Windows, and there are even dedicated tools for smartwatches.
- Create and send invoices straight from the mobile app
- Integrates with 1,000+ third-party productivity apps and business solutions
- Easy-to-use dashboard without lacking complex features for real-time management
- Add-ons that include customer relationship management (CRM) and point-of-sale (POS)
- Self-service customer portal with invoice updates and payment processing
Zoho Books was built for invoicing and works best for a company that sends out recurring billing or has a subscription-based business model. It’s also the ideal program for any business that’s looking for time-tracking capabilities.
#9) NetSuite ERP
Best for ERP Integration
NetSuite ERP is more on the costly side of small business accounting software, but you might as well consider it a permanent fixture once installed. The license-based ERP platform was built to not only expand with your business, but help define what that growth looks like.
If team members are looking to paint a complete picture of the current state of a small business, NetSuite is a good start. The universal dashboard includes enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools for a 360-degree view of a small business.
- Manage taxes, make and receive payments, and run custom reports
- Financial management and planning, supply chain, and fulfillment tools
- Features that enable predicting, planning, and budgeting for expenses
- Accurate pricing with a custom quote tailored to business needs
- Optimize cash, control bank accounts and remain compliant with regulations
NetSuite ERP prides itself on helping a business grow “from pre-revenue through IPO and beyond”. The functionality of the system is designed to assist a company at every stage of the growth process and thus may not be the best tool for freelancers or service-based businesses.
- QuickBooks Self-Employed – Best for Contractors and Freelancers
- Zarmoney – Best for Upfront Pricing
- Plooto – Best for Full Automation
How Much Does Accounting Software for a Small Business Cost?
Small business accounting software ranges from $0 to $150 per month.
Basic plans are in the $0 to $40 per month range and are a great place to start. With a basic plan, a small business will be able to categorize income and expenses, send invoices, and prepare financial reports.
As a business grows, most software is scalable, and the plan can be easily upgraded to meet new business needs. The more robust plans allow businesses to track inventory, prepare more customized financial reports, run payroll, and choose from more invoicing options.
How We Chose Accounting Software for Small Business
We looked at nineteen accounting software companies with specialized products for small businesses before choosing our top nine software options. We considered cost, scalability, ease of use, reputation, and accounting features.
Reputation was a key consideration. That’s because the longer a company has been around, the more likely any glitches have been resolved, which ensures your important financial information will be reported accurately.
Scalability was the next most important consideration because as a company grows, its accounting needs grow as well, and transferring financial information to new software can be tedious.
Finally, ease of use and collaboration for business owners, employees, and accountants was considered because it’s important for all users to be able to access and review the financials at the same time.
Today, the AP department has more responsibilities than ever. In high-growth companies, every operation—both front and back-office—is inexplicably tied to investment, rather than reward. To survive the uncharted road, the modern, forward-thinking team has to future-proof their organization for success.
Download the eBook, The Ultimate Accounts Payable Survival Guide, to learn more!