When searching for the best accounting tools for your small business, what you think is a quick Google search might leave you with thousands if not millions of search results. One site will lead you to one software tool while another will showcase all of that tool’s downfalls and point you in a completely different direction. With a ton of options lingering on the web, how do you know who to trust and which option is best for you? Honestly, you could research for hours, days, weeks, and still struggle with the right choice. We’re here to help you make the most informed decision possible. First, we’re not making a dime off of recommending any of the tools listed below. No affiliate links here. None. Instead, what we want to do is educate you with some of your options (including a few that we use ourselves), and empower you to make the best decision for your business. And now, in alphabetical order:
Here are the top 6 accounting tools you might want to consider for your small business.
- What is it? Designed specifically for service-based small businesses, Freshbooks makes accounting simple and intuitive. Freshbooks is also accessible across many devices including smartphones, desktops, & tablets.
- How much does it cost? Freshbooks is free for your first 30 days, and plans increase from there with the most cost effective plan starting at $12.99 per month and the most expensive rounding out at $79.99 per month. There is also a discount for buying your plan annually instead of month to month. Note: if you need more than one person to access your bookkeeping, it will cost you more with Freshbooks.
- How often do I need to upgrade/renew? Renewal for annual plans happen at the end of your current enrollment, or you can purchase month to month plans.
- Why do we love it? Customizable invoices make Freshbooks a great option for those looking for a more creative twist on accounting. Creative businesses will appreciate the option to add their own logo and colors to Freshbooks software. We also love that Freshbooks has limited accounting jargon, making it easy to understand.
- Why could we leave it? Selling-based business using platforms like Etsy, eBay, or Amazon won’t find Freshbooks to be directly integrated which will add a few steps when creating invoices and completing other accounting necessities.
- What is it? MileIQ is an app that tracks your business travel mileage. Once you download the app, it intuitively knows if you’re traveling. The app will alert you once you’ve reached your destination, and you can swipe left for personal travel or right for business travel. Your business travel is automatically logged for easy IRS reporting.
- How much does it cost? With three easy to understand plans, you’ll be able to choose what’s right for you. A limited plan (worth 40 trips) is free, while an an annual plan will cost you $59.99. There is also a month-to-month option for $5.99/month.
- How often do I need to upgrade/renew? You’ll have to renew once per year for the annual subscription, but the month-to-month option allows you to choose if it’s working for you and if you want to renew.
- Why do we love it? Most solo-preneurs avoid tracking mileage because it’s such a pain. MileIQ alleviates this burden, helping you log your mileage and making this part of tax deductions a breeze.
- Why could we leave it? If you’re diligently recording your mileage with a system that works for you already, don’t fix what ain’t broken.
- What is it? Quickbooks is the number one accounting software with over 1 million paying customers worldwide. Quickbooks not only helps you prepare your taxes (quarterly or annually) by tracking expenses, but it also allows you to accept online payments, send invoices, run profit and loss report (among others), and cut a paycheck to employees. This accounting software can (and does!) do it all.
- How much does it cost? Start with a free 30 day trial to help you get to know Quickbooks. Then, make your selection of one of three plans that best fits your needs: Simple Start, Essentials, and Plus. A Simple Start plan will cost you $12.95 per month, while Essentials is $26.95 per month, and Plus is $39.95 per month. You can also add a payroll option for an additional monthly fee. We’ve found that most small businesses can survive with Simple Start, but make sure you compare plans to choose what’s right for you.
- How often do I need to upgrade/renew? With a subscription, you commit to the monthly payment for the year, but there is a 60-day money-back-guarantee.
- Why do we love it? Beyond it being one of our favorite tools, Quickbooks can link to apps that you’re already using to make bookkeeping intuitive and simple. Paypal and Square, two popular point of sale apps, sync to Quickbooks seamlessly.
- Why could we leave it? Lots of accounting jargon makes Quickbooks less intuitive than some of its counterparts.
- What is it? Wave is small business accounting software that is built specifically for businesses with nine employees or fewer. Wave can be connected with platforms like Paypal (and even your bank account) which makes for seamless data tracking and invoicing.
- How much does it cost? Wave is free and so are all of its features. With no free trial, Wave is unlimited everything all the time.
- How often do I need to upgrade/renew? Since Wave is totally free, there is no need to upgrade. Wave also operates in the cloud, so no need to download anything either.
- Why do we love it? Wave is an easy to use, double-entry accounting system which makes it a great option for entrepreneurs that are in the beginning stages of business development. Plus, Wave allows for collaboration meaning you can invite your accountant, bookkeeper, or business partner to view and have access to your account.
- Why could we leave it? Wave is great for businesses just getting started, but if you’ve already started working on building your remote team (and it’s growing), you might want to look elsewhere.
- What is it? An app within the Wave tool, Wave Receipts allows you to ditch the shoebox of stashed receipts once and for all. Simply take a photo of your receipt with your phone and upload it into the Wave Receipts app. Wave Receipts will then turn your receipts into the data you need for your small business accounting.
- How much does it cost? FREE!
- How often do I need to upgrade/renew? Because this app is free (as of publication), no renewal is needed other than general app upgrading.
- Why do we love it? Let’s face it: keeping receipts is a pain, and I don’t know about you, but in bouts of wallet frustration, I’ve been known to just toss them all. With Wave Receipts, you can clean out your wallet (or shoebox) once a week or so and keep your accounting smooth.
- Why could we leave it? Reviews say it can be a bit buggy, but if it helps us clean up our reporting act, we’re willing to give it a try for ourselves.
- What is it? Self-proclaimed as the beautiful online alternative to Quickbooks, Xero is a cloud-based accounting tool. Xero allows for invoicing, bank reconciliation, purchase orders, inventory monitoring and more.
- How much does it cost? Like most of the other tools here, Xero starts with a free 30-day trial. Then, the Starter Plan costs $9 per month, the Standard Plan $30 per month, and the Premium Plan, $70 per month. While the first two plans are on par with Quickbooks’ pricing, take note that the Premium Plan will cost you much more.
- How often do I need to upgrade/renew? Upgrades are automatic and free which means you don’t have to download anything.
- Why do we love it? With their app, Xero Touch, you can do just about all of your small business accounting from wherever you are. Invoicing and reconciling on the go? Yes, please. Plus, you can add unlimited users (for free) on any plan.
- Why could we leave it? To be honest, we don’t. Xero happens to be a fantastic partner and comes highly recommended among Team Acuity. However, with a 5-invoice limit in the lowest plan, independent contractors & other growing businesses might find that an upgrade (ie. a more expensive plan) is needed quickly.
Like we’ve said before, choosing the right bookkeeping tool (or combination of them) is like choosing your favorite dessert. Each one has sweet features that will make your bookkeeping easier. Remember this is a learning process, and as your business grows, some of these tools will grow with you, and some you may outgrow. Our best advice is to find the tool (or tools) that best fits your needs now and modify your choice later if needed. You’re not in this alone, and we’re happy to answer any questions that you might have.
Don’t hesitate to reach-out because we’ve been at that dessert table before too, and we can help guide you through it. Piece of cake.