Intuit has been the main player in the small business accounting software game for over 30 years and, looking at QuickBooks Online, it is clear why. Intuit continues to understand what their small business customers want and need from an accounting program, and so it really comes as no surprise that QuickBooks Online is a fantastic small business accounting program.

You can pick from three different versions of QuickBooks Online, and since each version offers a 30-day free trial, you don't need to worry about committing too early.

The most basic version is called Simple Start, for $10/month. Simple Start is designed for very small businesses (and as such, if your business is a little more complex, you might want to look toward a more advanced version.) Simple Start allows you to connect to your bank accounts, add add-on extensions/applications, create invoices and estimates (and send them), as well as track your income and your expenses. 

The next version, Essentials, costs $17/month. Essentials can do everything that Simple Start offers, but also offers bill paying, time tracking, and up to three users. The most advanced version is called Plus, at $30/month. Plus can do all of the above, but also offers inventory tracking, project tracking, as well as the ability to prepare 1099s.

The "cons" of QuickBooks Online are few and far between, so start with that. One downside is that integrated payroll is not included by default in QuickBooks Online (you have to pay extra.) Paying extra for the payroll function may make this product more expensive than other just-as-good options, but even then it must be noted that the QuickBook Online's integrated payroll application allows payroll in all 50 states, which is not the case for many other comparable products. 

Additionally, the online help section leaves something to be desired. Because accounting can so easily feel like a foreign language, a competent help section is usually essential. QuickBooks Online does however have a web-based help community and phone support,.

With QuickBooks Online, the good certainly seems to outweigh the bad. The QuickBooks user interface is extremely simple, intuitive, and easy-to-use. The colors make it feel inviting and user-friendly. There is an array of third party applications you can download, all of which are integrated seamlessly into the QuickBooks Online interface.

QuickBooks Online excels at its reports - they are thorough, numerous, and incredibly customizable. This cannot be said of other comparable accounting programs. QuickBooks also knows how to do records - customer records, vendor records, and employee records. Each of the above contains a wide variety of fields, such as: general notes, tax information, payment preferences, account numbers, etc. If this type of extensive information is important for your business, then QuickBooks Online very well may be your best bet.

Another one of the best parts about QuickBooks Online is its inventory tracking. The program allows you to enter the quantity of product you've started with, and will continue to track it and alert you when you need to re-order. Though not every other program offers this exact function, QuickBooks Online does offer superior inventory tracking.

With its unique ability to make accounting seem inviting and almost fun, all while being incredibly functional, it's pretty hard to beat QuickBooks Online.

See our selection for Best Accounting Software

Published on: Sep 24, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.