Compare Accounting Software for Small Business Owners

Small business owners face the challenge of managing finances efficiently. Choosing the right accounting software is crucial, as it can significantly impact the business’s financial health and compliance. This article explores various accounting software options, focusing on affordability, ease of use, mobile functionality, automation, tax preparation, project management, customization, scalability, and user-friendliness.

Table 1: QuickBooks Online, Xero, Zoho Books

FeatureQuickBooks OnlineXeroZoho Books
PricingModerate ($30/month and up)Low ($15/month and up)Low to Moderate (Free; $15/month and up)
Ease of UseHigh (User-friendly, widespread use)High (Intuitive interface)High (User-friendly, extensive features)
User-Friendly InterfaceHigh (Intuitive and widely used)High (User-friendly and intuitive)High (Very user-friendly, Zoho ecosystem integration)
Mobile AppYes (Comprehensive features)Yes (Functional, user-friendly)Yes (Robust, integrates with Zoho ecosystem)
Automation FeaturesHigh (Extensive automation)Moderate (Good automation, but less than QuickBooks)High (Excellent for sales and automation)
Tax FeaturesHigh (Comprehensive tax tools)Moderate (Basic tax features)Moderate (Good for basic tax management)
Project ManagementYes (Good for service-based businesses)Yes (Effective for micro-businesses)Yes (Strong for automations and sales)
Customization & ScalabilityHigh (Highly scalable for growth)Moderate (Scalable for small to medium businesses)High (Highly customizable for diverse needs)
Integration CapabilitiesHigh (Extensive integrations with third-party apps)High (Good range of integrations)High (Extensive Zoho ecosystem integration)
SupportHigh (Robust support and resources)Moderate (Good support, less extensive than QuickBooks)Moderate (Good support within Zoho ecosystem)

Note: The information in this table is based on general features and may vary based on specific plan details or updates from the software providers.

Table 2: FreshBooks, Sage, Wave

FeatureFreshBooksSageWave
PricingModerate ($17/month and up)Not-specified (Varies)Low (Free)
Ease of UseHigh (Extremely easy for beginners)Moderate (Requires some accounting knowledge)High (Simple, straightforward)
User-Friendly InterfaceHigh (Extremely user-friendly, great for beginners)Moderate (Functional but can be complex)High (Simple and straightforward)
Mobile AppYes (Strong invoicing and tracking)Yes (Functional, but less comprehensive)Yes (Basic features)
Automation FeaturesModerate (Good for invoicing and expenses)Moderate (Customizable automation)Low (Basic automation)
Tax FeaturesLow (Basic tax capabilities)Moderate (Good for small businesses)Low (Basic tax features)
Project ManagementYes (Ideal for freelancers)Yes (Customizable for various needs)Low (Basic project tracking)
Customization & ScalabilityModerate (Suitable for freelancers and small teams)High (Highly customizable for various industries)Low (Less scalable, more for small operations)
Integration CapabilitiesModerate (Good range of integrations)Moderate (Integrates well with other Sage products)Low (Limited integrations)
SupportModerate (Good, responsive support)Moderate (Good support, but limited hours)Low (Limited support options)

Note: The information in this table is based on general features and may vary based on specific plan details or updates from the software providers.

Table 3: AccountEdge Pro, ZarMoney, OneUp, NetSuite

FeatureAccountEdge ProZarMoneyOneUpNetSuite
PricingNot-specified (Varies)Low ($15/month and up)Not-specified (Varies)Moderate ($17/month first month)
Ease of UseModerate (More complex, desktop-based)Moderate (Comprehensive but complex)High (User-friendly, efficient)High (Comprehensive, cloud-based)
User-Friendly InterfaceModerate (More complex, tailored for desktop)Moderate (Comprehensive but requires learning)High (User-friendly, efficient operation)High (Comprehensive, cloud-based interface)
Mobile AppLow (Basic functions)NoYes (Efficient bank syncing)Yes (Extensive cloud access)
Automation FeaturesModerate (Good for specific industries)Moderate (Good for inventory management)High (Excellent for bank syncing)High (Advanced automation capabilities)
Tax FeaturesModerate (Good for specific industries)Moderate (Good for inventory-related taxes)Moderate (Basic tax features)High (Advanced tax compliance)
Project ManagementYes (Tailored for specific industries)Yes (Strong inventory management)Yes (Efficient for growing businesses)Yes (Advanced project management)
Customization & ScalabilityHigh (Customized plans for Windows and Mac)High (Customizable for inventory management)Moderate (Scalable for growing businesses)High (Highly scalable for large businesses)
Integration CapabilitiesLow (Limited third-party integrations)Low (Limited integrations)Moderate (Good integration capabilities)High (Extensive integration with business systems)
SupportModerate (Good, industry-specific support)Moderate (Good support, but less known)Low (Limited support options)High (Comprehensive support for large businesses)

Note: The information in this table is based on general features and may vary based on specific plan details or updates from the software providers.

What This Table Means For You:

  • Best for Pricing: Wave stands out for its pricing as it offers a free version with basic accounting features, making it an ideal choice for startups and small businesses with tight budgets.
  • Pricing Definition: Pricing refers to the cost of using the software. It includes the initial cost, any recurring subscription fees, and additional costs for extra features or services.
  • Best for Ease of Use + User Interface: FreshBooks is renowned for its extremely user-friendly interface and ease of use, particularly beneficial for those without an accounting background or for freelancers who require simplicity and efficiency.
  • Ease/User Interface Definition: Ease of use refers to how user-friendly and intuitive the software is. It assesses how easy the interface is to navigate, including the clarity of menus, ease of finding features, and the visual appeal of the software.
  • Best Mobile App: QuickBooks Online offers a comprehensive and feature-packed mobile app that allows users to manage a wide range of accounting tasks efficiently from anywhere, making it highly convenient for on-the-go business management.
  • Mobile App Definition: The Mobile App column (above) indicates the availability of a mobile application for the software.
  • Best for Automation Features: Zoho Books excels in automation, especially for sales and accounting processes, which can significantly streamline workflow and reduce manual data entry.
  • Automation Definition: This evaluates the software’s ability to automate repetitive tasks such as invoicing, data entry, transaction categorization, and financial reporting.
  • Best for Tax Features: NetSuite provides advanced tax compliance and management features, making it suitable for businesses with complex tax requirements and those operating in multiple tax jurisdictions.
  • Tax Definition: Tax features refer to the software’s capabilities in handling tax-related tasks, including automating tax calculations.
  • Best for Project Management: QuickBooks Online offers robust project management capabilities, making it a great choice for service-based businesses that need to track project profitability and manage client relationships effectively.
  • Project Mgmt. Definition: Project management refers to the ability to manage projects, including tracking project expenses and budget management for individual projects.
  • Best for Customization & Scalability: NetSuite stands out for its high scalability and customization options, catering to larger businesses or those with specific needs that grow and evolve over time.
  • Customization Definition: Customization and scalability refer to how customizable the software is to a business’s specific needs and how well it can scale as the business grows.
  • Best for Integration: NetSuite offers extensive integration capabilities with various business systems, making it an ideal choice for businesses looking to consolidate and streamline their software ecosystem.
  • Integration Definition: Integration refers to the software’s ability to integrate with other tools and systems, such as CRM software, e-commerce platforms, payroll systems, and banking services.
  • Best for Support: QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks provide robust customer support and a wealth of online resources, forums, and training materials, making it a reliable choice for businesses that may require frequent assistance or guidance.
  • Support Definition: Support refers to the quality and availability of customer support provided by the software company.

Selecting the right accounting software is a pivotal decision for any small business owner. Each software offers unique benefits tailored to different business needs. Whether you prioritize ease of use, advanced features, or cost-effectiveness, there is a solution that aligns with your business goals. If you still cannot decide, consider the table below:

Consider What Is Most Important to You:
Affordability:Software like Wave offers basic services for free, making it an attractive option for small businesses. On the other hand, platforms like QuickBooks Online and Xero, although priced higher, offer more comprehensive features that can be worth the investment as the business grows.
Ease of Use and Accessibility:A user-friendly interface is vital for efficient financial management. FreshBooks stands out for its exceptional ease of use, making it ideal for those without an accounting background. Similarly, Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online offer intuitive interfaces that simplify complex financial tasks.
Mobile App Functionality:In our mobile-centric world, having access to accounting functions on the go is essential. Most software, including QuickBooks and FreshBooks, provides robust mobile apps, allowing business owners to manage finances anytime, anywhere.
Automation and Integration:Automation features save time and reduce errors. Zoho Books excels in automation and streamlining sales and accounting processes. Integration capabilities are also crucial, and software like NetSuite offers extensive integration with various business systems.
Tax Preparation and Compliance Features:Software with strong tax features is necessary for tax compliance. QuickBooks Online and NetSuite provide comprehensive tax features, ensuring businesses stay compliant with tax regulations.
Project and Client Management Capabilities:Software like FreshBooks and Xero offers project management tools, helping businesses track project profitability and manage client relationships effectively.
Customization and Scalability:As businesses grow, the need for customizable and scalable software becomes apparent. Sage and AccountEdge Pro offer high customization, catering to specific business needs. QuickBooks Online and NetSuite are highly scalable and suitable for growing businesses.

Finally, What You Need to Know About Each Software Product

  • QuickBooks Online is a versatile and widely used software that offers comprehensive features suitable for a variety of businesses. It is known for its robust mobile app, extensive integration capabilities, and strong project management tools. The software has higher pricing and occasionally faces syncing issues with banks and credit cards.
  • Xero is ideal for micro-businesses, offering a user-friendly interface and good integration with payroll services. It provides unlimited invoices and bills in its higher plans. Xero has limited reporting capabilities and charges additional fees for ACH payments.
  • Zoho Books is excellent for businesses seeking automation and integration within the Zoho ecosystem, offering a range of scalable plans, including a free option for small-scale operations. The software has limited third-party integrations outside the Zoho suite.
  • FreshBooks is best suited for freelancers and service-based businesses due to its advanced invoicing features and user-friendly interface. Its reporting features are not as comprehensive, and additional users incur extra costs.
  • Sage is great for businesses needing customization, offering a variety of features and integrations, especially for construction, retail, and professional services. Its entry-level plan may be too basic for established businesses, and payroll is not included.
  • Wave is a free software ideal for small, service-based businesses that need basic invoicing and accounting features. It offers limited features compared to paid software, and its customer support is not as robust.
  • AccountEdge Pro offers detailed, industry-specific features with optional cloud flexibility, making it suitable for businesses that prefer desktop-based systems. A heavy reliance on desktop usage may not cater to all remote needs, and some cloud features incur additional costs.
  • ZarMoney is strong in inventory management and accounting combination, making it suitable for businesses with significant inventory needs. The software lacks a mobile app and has a limited number of integrations.
  • OneUp is known for its efficient automatic bank syncing and reasonable pricing, making it suitable for businesses prioritizing banking integration. Customer support is limited, and some users may experience a learning curve to leverage its automation features fully.
  • NetSuite is ideal for larger businesses that need advanced cloud data access, automation, and integration capabilities. The pricing is not transparent, and the software involves a learning curve.

What To Do Next

Now that you understand what each accounting software can offer, it’s time to take the next step. Reflect on your business’s specific needs, consider the size and complexity of your operations, and think about the long-term scalability of the software. We encourage you to explore these options further, sign up for free trials where available, and experience firsthand how the right accounting software can transform your business’s financial management.