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 management 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 accounting software, we’ll cover five in this article.
Why You Should Consider A QuickBooks Alternative
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, having clear financial insight into your cash flow can help you understand the financial health of your business.
And yet, if your accounting software is overwhelming, it won’t do you any good. Maybe you’re a freelancer and don’t have employees or a complicated business. In that case, QuickBooks might be more than you need.
Each of the QuickBooks alternatives I’ll cover here have unique benefits for certain types of businesses, and they’re all easy on the small business budget.
What to Look For in a QuickBooks Alternative
As I said, QuickBooks alternatives each have their own unique features. One may be more aligned with your business than the others. You’ll need to decide what’s most important for you. Minimal features that help you get what you need easily? Integrations like inventory management or payroll?
Then, of course, there’s pricing. Each of these QuickBooks alternatives has several pricing plans (besides the free one) based on different features or additional users.
How to Choose Which QuickBooks Alternative Is Right For You
Spend some time reviewing each of our picks for QuickBooks alternatives to see which best suits your needs.
Sage Business Cloud Accounting offers a suite of small business bookkeeping solutions from cloud-based Sage 50cloud accounting to more detailed solutions like Sage 100cloud, along with a variety of other options that can serve businesses of all sizes.
Small businesses may want to start with Sage Accounting Start software, which allows you to create and send invoices, get easy expense tracking, and stay on top of your financials. Customer support is free by phone or through online chat.
As your business grows, you might consider additional Sage tools, like payroll services, ERP, or its Sage Intacct accounting software. The Sage Invoicing app (iOS and Android) allows small businesses to send invoices and record expenses.
Cost: Sage Accounting currently offers a Start level at $10 per month or the Accounting level at $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.
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 bookkeeping 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.
You can generate a number of accounting reports, including balance sheets and profit and loss statements, and there are integrations available for things like inventory management and project management.
The Freshbooks mobile app (iOS and Android) allows you to create and send recurring invoices, manage transactions, 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 are also available.
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 is known for a visually attractive user interface. Its dashboard lets you see how your business is doing at a glance. You can see expense tracking, what’s owed to you and the bills you need to pay, bank account balances at a glance, and more. Customers get free online bookkeeping support.
Xero offers features like inventory management, contact management, and payroll integration. All accounts come with unlimited users.
The Xero app (iOS and Android) allows you to send invoices or quotes, record recurring expenses, view cash flow, and more.
Cost: Plans start at $11 a month for the most basic account geared toward freelancers and sole traders (with a promotion of $5.50 for the first two months). There is also a premium account for $62 per month (with a 2-month promotion at $31) that offers additional features like tracking projects and claiming expenses.
Wave is a free QuickBooks alternative that offers simple double-entry accounting solutions with unlimited invoices. Connect bank and credit card accounts in this accounting software to save time and easily view transactions. Upload receipts online, by email, or through the app. You can also manage inventory in your account. Additional services such as credit card processing and payroll are offered for a fee. Customer support is available online.
Wave offers two apps: Receipts by Wave for business allows you to scan receipts and upload them 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 add-ons start at $26 to $41 per month, and payment processing fees are 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction for Visa, Mastercard, or Discover. For American Express transactions, the fees are 3.4% + 30¢, and bank payments (ACH) are 1% per transaction ($1 minimum fee).
Zoho Books is an online accounting software program that offers accounting features like expense tracking, custom invoices, purchase orders, and more. You can keep track of billable time spent on client projects, and generate bills to track payments you owe to vendors.
One drawback with Zoho: it doesn’t offer payroll services, though it does have a robust marketplace of integrations you can connect to your accounting software. Zoho also offers many other business tools like CRM, sales and marketing, and remote work tools.
There are three tiers of customer support available, which dictates how many hours a day you can access live chat and toll-free support.
The Zoho Books accounting app (iOS and Android) offers invoicing, project tracking, mileage reports, and more.
Cost: A basic account starts at $9 per month for up to 50 contacts and two users. A standard plan is $19 per month for 500 contacts and three users, and a professional plan is $29 per month for over 500 contacts and 10 users.
Nav’s Verdict: QuickBooks Alternatives
Whichever accounting software option you choose, from Sage 50cloud to Zoho Books, make sure it’s compatible with what your accounting professional uses. You don’t want to have to pay her to re-enter everything you do into her system. Many accounting platforms offer the option to give your accountant her own access. And just a note: your accountant may be able to give you a discount on accounting software; it doesn’t hurt to ask.
It’s important that you find the financial management tools that fit your business’ needs. Whether you’re the only user or like a tool that offers unlimited users, whether you need complex financial reports or not, there’s a solution out there for you.
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This article was originally written on May 25, 2017 and updated on January 3, 2022.
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