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:
Accounting 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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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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?