November 26, 2014

Small Business Accounting Software: 17 Targeted Choices

Are you still keeping your books using a spreadsheet — or worse, a time-consuming paper accounting ledger?  Make 2010 the year you get your books organized and in tip-top shape.  Let technology help make it easy.

Here are 17 small business accounting software applications or bookkeeping apps that can help you manage company finances with more predictability — and do it with less labor and at a reasonable cost.  I’ve focused on apps with a North American (mainly U.S.) focus,  in alphabetical order:

accountingAccounting ASAP

Accounting ASAP takes the approach that you need invoicing most for your small business and that’s how they let you begin using the application. In under two minutes, you go from sign-up, into creating an invoice. Plans start at $0/month which includes up to 10 transactions a month. $10/month will get you up to 500 transactions. Offers 30-day free trial.

Big4Books

Big4Books offers a free version to its online accounting software for small business. Support is limited for the free version, which includes an advertising sponsor message within the app.  However, the $9.95/month Silver subscription comes with more support and no sponsor ads.

BionicBooks

Many new web-based accounting applications are focused on making it easy for small businesses, startups, and contractors. Bionic Books offers a completely free subscription and the only limitation is you cannot print invoices and free includes only one user. The premium version is only £5.50/month.

Clarity Accounting

Clarity is aimed at small businesses, freelancers, and independent professionals. They have a 30-day free trial and then $10/month or $100/year if you pay for the entire year. Offers a terrific click-through demo sample, with no signup information required, which shows you how simple it is to use.

Clearbooks

Clearbooks prices their solution based on the number of transactions which is handy for small businesses that have a limited customer list. They offer a completely free option and the unlimited plan is £15.00/month. Free trial for 30 days on all plans.

Cobalt

Cobalt is a new product and project-based accounting system made for small businesses. They take a project-focused approach and tie invoicing, customer data, and reporting together. They offer only one plan at $11.25/month, which includes unlimited users. Offers a 60-day free trial.

FreeAgent Central

Free Agent Central is aimed at the freelancer market, which includes many small businesses. They include a time tracking module and a project management function, too.  $20/month with 30-day free trial.

IAC-EZ

IAC-EZ offers an online bookkeeping application for small business owners. In their feature list, they have a claim that others don’t – that there is an “accountant on call.”  It also estimates your taxes for you (US only). They offer one plan at $19.95/month with a free two-week trial.

Intuit QuickBooks

Just about every small business owner has heard of QuickBooks. It frequently ranks in the top lists of small business financial software packages. They offer desktop and web-based versions. Offers a month-to-month, pay-as-you-go contract as the web-based version. Starts at $9.95/month.  I reviewed QuickBooks 2010 here.

Ledgerble

Ledgerble works hard to make accounting easy. They have focused on the user experience and reducing the number of clicks to record transactions. Then memorizes the products and services you sell, and to whom, so creating invoices is fast, too. They offer one plan for only $14/month with a 30-day free trial (which does not require a credit card, just your email and a password).

LessAccounting

LessAccounting encourages customers to stop trying to learn Quickbooks and use their import tool. They were one of the first to offer an iPhone app. From their free option up to $24/month, all plans include a 30-day free trial where you can test out all the features.

Merchants Mirror

Merchants Mirror has a one-stop dashboard where a user can get a complete snapshot of the company’s financial picture. In that same view, they offer a good view of customer and vendor data for accounts receivable and payable. Offers a 30-day free trial and then $15.95/month.

NetService Books

We included this niche offering in this review post because there are many contractor businesses out there that might find this solution to be perfect. It handles dispatching, scheduling, invoicing, and synchronizes with QuickBooks. Net Service Books specializes in the HVAC and Plumbing industries. The platinum version offers a full-fledged general ledger. Lite version sells for $25/month.

Outright

Income, expenses, taxes, and reports are the four main tabs in Outright’s dashboard navigation. Then, they ask two questions: Would you like to start with money coming in? Or money going out? They designed the service for sole proprietors and single member LLCs and it is completely free, forever.  As new features roll out, they plan to offer a premium version, but it is robust at the free level.  My review of Outright from a few months ago.

Pulse

Pulse approaches accounting from a cash flow perspective first. They believe that cash flow is the heartbeat of a company and that viewpoint will allow you to manage income and expenses better than traditional accounting approaches. Their plans start at $9/month up to $24/month and each includes a free 30-day trial.

WorkingPoint

A web-based package that includes double-entry bookkeeping, online invoicing, bill and expense tracking. They offer a free and paid version.  Free allows two users and invoicing for up to five customers, which can be great for part-time freelancers.  After that, the premium version is only $10/month for unlimited users and customers, but it also has more robust reporting.  Read my review of WorkingPoint.

Xero

Xero is an online accounting system designed for small businesses and their advisors. They offer a free trial with a “pay nothing until you’re ready” clause. Plans start at $19/month up to $39/month. The $19/month plan limits you to five accounts receivable and five accounts payable invoices per month and only 20 reconciled bank statement lines per month.

* * * * *

These are the accounting apps priced for small businesses that we think you might want to check out.  Please note:  details about the small business accounting software apps are believed to be accurate as of the time of publication, but features and offerings may change over time. Always check the vendor’s website for up-to-date details.   Special thanks to Smartsheet for help in compiling this list for us with their Crowdsourcing service.

Let us know what you think.  Which small business accounting application do you use in your company?

18 Comments ▼

TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

18 Reactions

  1. Thanks for the fast retweet Peter. Much appreciated. We know most small biz owners want the fastest and best solution for managing their company finances.

  2. Can I extending the accounting process a bit? There’s the whole issue of payroll, timecards, and job costing. The majority of small businesses, even those who’ve purchased software for their accounting, are still using spreadsheets, time-consuming manual time clocks, paper timecards for their employee time and attendance, holiday and leave accrual.

    For over a dozen years, we’ve published Virtual TimeClock Software for PC and Mac computers. Our easy to use time clock software is available in Basic, Pro and Network Editions and starts at $79 . So this doesn’t sound totally like a self serving sales pitch, we’ll give anyone who mentions ‘Small Business Trends’ $20 off their order through the end of December.

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  3. Hi Keith, thanks for the comment and offer. Much appreciated. I can see that you’ve hit upon a great need and niche. I’m working on an online invoicing list now and perhaps there’s one in the future around time tracking, or payroll or jobcosting as separate items. Hmm. Thanks for creating a brainstorm.

  4. TJ: Have you seen software accounting systems that have combined the program with hands-on help with your accounting? Is H&R Block an example of this?

  5. There are two kinds of basic business software, one that gets you organized and keeps your accounting up to date like quickbooks et al–the other is software that actually gets business done. CRM sorfware inbetween

    Fastdue.com is one that does a bit of both, and should be considered for small businesses or freelancers. No learning curve and it’s free. Nice Iphone app as well. check http://www.fastdue.com

    Hope this helps

  6. Just upgraded to Quickbooks 2010 – so far, so good! I like the product but I do find that it’s irritating when you need to pay for upgrades every year (my external accountant upgrades annually and therefore I need to go up annually).

  7. MinuteDock is a smart time tracking solution that plugs right into Xero – another great reason to go in that direction :-)

  8. TJ, thanks for making this list so concise. You’ve made it easy to scan and see at a glance some key features. I like the format.

    – Anita

  9. Thanks for the mention!

    Martin L … Most small business accounting packages try and do the accounting for you.. or as much as they can, putting the debits and credits for each transaction type (invoices, bills, checks etc) in the correct place, but No software yet has been able to fully replace all the knowledge your CPA has in his head. As well as a having a good accounting software package, small businesses still need a good accountant!

  10. Kurt Huber: Thanks for your input. I agree with your statement that you need an accountant to take care of the books. You could get valuable advice from a CPA.

  11. Great list, might be worth considering Moobiz http://www.moobiz.com as well, Moobiz includes a range of handy business tools such as to-do lists, shared calendar, invoicing and CRM facilities.

  12. There is no doubt that Quickbooks has the lion share of the market, and is easiest to use for the average small business owner, but as an accountant, I prefer Peachtree.

    Thank you for the list of software. I would like to try some of these out.

  13. Might be worth a mention here that Office123 is partnering with Tradeshift (a new exciting player in e-invoicing) to give you a full-fledged business management platform from CRM to invoicing.

  14. Just to note, Clarity Accounting changed their name to Kashoo. Still the same great software, new features, new name.

  15. Back in college, as an accounting major, I was able to see the huge benefit of having even a simple accounting software that could maintain every single transaction. As we all know, it’s very hard to maintain records manually so our new technology is a great help. I used MYOB, Quickbooks and two other software that didn’t meet all my needs. Luckily, I found Nominal. It’s very realible compared to other software and it’s really easy to use.

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