There are a lot of things that go into the equation when trying to choose the best accounting software for your small business. Of course you want something that will do the trick for the specific task you most need handled, whether that be invoicing, time tracking, bill paying, or what have you. But you will also want the solution to be affordable, and intuitive.
That is exactly what we kept in mind when we looked at the different options available to you, the small business owner, when it comes to small business accounting software. Some of the programs we looked at were great for businesses with employees and others better suited for freelancers. Some were easy to use, others were not.
When ranking the different choices, we specifically looked at the following factors: Cost, ease of learning and use, built-in features - like ability to import data, invoicing, payroll, bank reconciliation, inventory tracking, and the like - and then what additional options can be added in and for what cost.
We found that the best overall choice, especially when considering cost, is Zoho Books; maybe a surprise winner. Zoho Books isn't as well-known as some of the other big-name competitors, like QuickBooks or Sage, but nevertheless offers all the features you likely need, but at a fraction of the cost.
Ranging between $9 and $29 a month, Zoho Books is a cloud-based app (as all of these tools are) that allows you to easily create timesheets, projects, invoices, track expenses, track inventory, generate purchase and sales orders, create automated workflows, and more. Their customer support is superior too, using real-time chat, phone, andemail support. The only real flaw with Zoho Books is the lack of payroll integration, and if you need that, then this is not the program for you.
See our Zoho Books Review here.
The best choice for a business that needs to generate payroll is QuickBooks Online. Intuit has been the leader in the financial software game for over 30 years and with QuickBooks Online, it is easy to see why. The user interface is superior, and the app can be outfitted to be as robust as you need. You can pick from three different versions of QuickBooks Online, and each version offers a 30-day free trial (again, as do most of these programs.)
While integrated payroll is not included by default in QuickBooks Online (you have to pay extra), if that is what you need, it is worth it. Notably, QuickBooks Online's integrated payroll application allows payroll in all50 states, which is not the case for many other comparable products.
The other piece of good news here is that the QuickBooks user interface is extremely clean, intuitive, and easy-to-use. The colors make it inviting and user-friendly, and there are an array of third party applications you can download, all of which are integrated seamlessly into the QuickBooks Online interface. Reconciling your bank statements with QuickBooks is also easy, and that your accountant likely uses this option as well can't hurt.
The best accounting software for freelancers is FreshBooks.FreshBooks was designed specifically for freelancers and contractors. On the upside, the FreshBooks user interface is perhaps the most intuitive out of all comparable programs. It also does best what you as a freelancer likely most need - project management and generating invoices and related follow-ups. On the downside, don't expect financial reports, inventory tracking, customer statements, payroll, or bank reconciliation.
Overall, there are a lot of great choices out there when it comes to small business accounting and it is tough to go wrong. But certainly, some of these tools are better than others, especially in the areas noted above.