If you’re like many business owners, you didn’t start your business so you could spend hours each month dealing with finances. Yet financial tasks–invoicing, entering expenses, and juggling cash flow— probably take a good amount of your time.
Accounting programs can help ease some of that burden by making those tasks easier and more streamlined. For most business owners, accounting software = Quickbooks. Intuit has created the most popular accounting program in the US by far. But for some small business owners, it can feel overwhelming and difficult to use. If you’re looking for an alternative to Quickbooks, here are five to consider.
Staying on top of your finances isn’t just about paying your taxes on time. You may need financial statements like a profit and loss statement or pro forma projections if you apply for a small business loan. Plus clear financial information can also help you understand the financial health of your business.
Xero is a popular cloud-based accounting program that first launched in New Zealand and Australia, and is now used in more than 180 countries. It has been used in the US since 2011.
Xero’s tagline is “beautiful accounting software” and it is known for a visually attractive user interface. Its dashboard lets you see how your business is doing at a glance. You can see a summary of your monthly cash flow, what’s owed to you and the bills you need to pay, bank account balances at a glance, and more. Customers get free online support.
The Xero app (iOS and Android) allows you to send invoices or quotes, record expenses, view cashflow and more.
Cost: Plans start at $9 a month for the most basic account while a premium account that includes payroll for up to 10 people is $70 a month. (Plans that support up to 100 people on payroll are available.)
Sage offers a suite of small business solutions from simple accounting (Sage One) to robust integrated accounting (Sage Live) along with a variety of other options that can serve businesses of all sizes. Small businesses may want to start with Sage One and grow into other solutions. Create estimates and invoices, link bank and credit card accounts and stay on top of your financials. Customer support is free by phone or through online chat.
The Sage Invoicing app (iOS and Android) allows small businesses to send invoices and record expenses.
Cost: Sage One currently offers a Start level at $6.99 per month (does not include invoicing) or Accounting level at $19.99 per month for 6 months). Ongoing subscriptions for those levels are $10 and $25 per month.
Popular with freelancers and those who are self employed, Freshbooks was originally created as an invoicing program, but now bills itself as small business accounting software. Though it’s not as robust as some other programs (it doesn’t offer payroll, for example), it may be a great solution for solopreneurs or small businesses that don’t need all those functions. Cloud based, it’s designed to be intuitive and easy to use. It integrates with a variety of third-party apps such as Shopify and Stripe. Free customer support is offered by phone and email.
The Freshbooks mobile app (iOS and Android) allows you to create and send invoices, take photos of receipts and upload them, track time and see projects at a glance.
Cost: A basic plan that allows billing for up to 5 clients runs $15 a month. A premium plan that allows billing for up to 500 clients is $50 a month. Other plans also available.
Wave offers free cloud-based accounting software “designed for non-accountants.” Connect bank and credit card accounts to save time. Upload receipts online, by email or through the app. Additional services such as credit card processing and payroll are offered for a fee. Customer support is available online by submitting a support ticket.
Wave offers two apps: Receipts by Wave for business allows you to scan receipts and upload to your account. Invoice by Wave allows unlimited invoicing on the go.
Cost: The basic Wave service is completely free, making it especially attractive for new and smaller businesses. Payroll runs $15 + $4 per employee per month.
Zoho Books is an online accounting software program that offers features like expense tracking, projects and timesheets, custom invoices and more. It also supports multicurrency invoices. Business News Daily named it the best accounting software for really small businesses in 2017, noting how easy it is to use, even for those without an accounting background. One drawback: it doesn’t offer payroll. Customer support is available 24-hours a day, five days a week in the U.S. via phone or email.
The Zoho Books accounting app (iOS and Android) offers invoicing, project tracking, reports and more.
Cost: A basic account starts at $9 per month, standard is $19 per month and professional is $29 per month.
Whichever option you choose, make sure it’s compatible with what your accounting professional uses. You don’t want to have to pay them to re-enter everything you do into their system. Your accountant may be able to give you a discount on accounting software; it doesn’t hurt to ask.