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QuickBooks Desktop has been serving small businesses since the 1990s, and nevertheless, continues to stand out as one of the best small business accounting software options on the market.

Designed to be simple enough for any business owner to use, QuickBooks is a program that most accountants are familiar with. Moreover, because of this popularity, a variety of apps—including Square, TurboTax, and Concur—can integrate with QuickBooks.

Although QuickBooks offers online software options in addition to their desktop products, QuickBooks Desktop is still the preferred solution for many businesses, especially those that want a local software and need inventory tracking systems.

Let’s explore the various versions of QuickBooks Desktop including both Pro and Premier and discuss what these small business accounting software products have to offer.

QuickBooks Desktop Pro

Although QuickBooks Pro is the simplest version of QuickBooks Desktop, it’s still one of the most robust and powerful small business accounting software solutions out there.

QuickBooks Pro is offered in two plan offerings: Pro and Pro Plus.

Let’s dive into the details.

Business Accounting Software Pricing

QuickBooks Pro is available for a one-time payment of $299.95. QuickBooks Pro Plus, on the other hand, requires an annual subscription, costing $299.95 per year.

Additionally, QuickBooks offers a cloud-hosting service option for Pro Plus, available by contacting QuickBooks directly.

Business Accounting Software Features

With the QuickBooks Pro business accounting software, you’ll receive the full range of capabilities you need to automate and manage your accounting processes, including:

  • Automated reports: Automated reports will let you know that your reports are on time and accurate based on your data.
  • Smart search autocomplete: The smart search feature lets you search your database quickly and easily.
  • Bill tracker: The bill tracker allows you to see the status of your bills, purchase orders, and more, helping you manage payables.
  • Homepage insights: Homepage insights will allow you to manage your invoices, credit memos, statements, sales receipts, receive payments, estimate to invoice, etc.
  • Shipping management system: Use the shipping management system to view shipping rates, print labels, and track packages with FedEx, UPS, or USPS.
  • Financial management system: Manage all your banking transactions and activities: deposits, checks, credit card charges, credits, bank charges, interest, paychecks, online banking, bank reconciliation, etc.
  • Reporting templates: Access industry-specific reporting templates created by other QuickBooks Pro users.
  • Tracking: Track your inventory, set reorder points, and create purchase orders.
  • Multiple users: Supports three simultaneous users in a QuickBooks data file.
  • Sync transactions: Download bank and credit card transactions directly into QuickBooks.
  • Integrations: Integrate with QuickBooks apps and hundreds of other third-party tools.

In fact, these are just some of the numerous features offered within QuickBooks Pro.

Moreover, when it comes to QuickBooks Pro Plus, this option will include all of the functionality of Pro, as well as unlimited customer support, automated data back-up and recovery, and easy software upgrades.

With all of the accounting features QuickBooks Pro can offer, including those beyond our list above, QuickBooks Desktop Pro is one of the most robust small business accounting software options available.

Additionally, with a wide network of QuickBooks Pro Advisors and experts, as well as the legacy of the QuickBooks brand, you’ll easily be able to find assistance for your bookkeeping and accounting tasks if necessary.

Moreover, with several tools specific to inventory management, QuickBooks Pro is a great solution for product-based businesses.

However, as QuickBooks Pro is first and foremost a local, desktop solution, you might instead consider a web-based option (many of which we’ll discuss shortly) if you want more mobility and flexibility from your business accounting software.

Conversely, if you like everything QuickBooks Pro has to offer, but feel you could benefit from even greater built-in functionality, you might then look into the next QuickBooks Desktop product, Premier.

If you’re looking for a small business accounting software with greater flexibility and mobility, you might consider QuickBooks Online.

Unlike QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online is a web-based software, meaning you can access the platform anywhere you have internet access. Therefore, as a solution that combines the tried-and-true capabilities of QuickBooks Desktop with the flexibility that many small businesses require, it’s not surprising that QuickBooks Online is one of the most popular small business accounting software options on the market.

Plus, QuickBooks Online offers more affordable monthly pricing, as well as a number of different plan options to choose from, enabling you to customize their service to your business’s needs.

This being said, let’s break down each of the QuickBooks Online solutions to see what these small business accounting software solutions can offer your small business.

QuickBooks Online Simple Start

The most basic version of the QuickBooks Online business accounting software is Simple Start. Providing straightforward and simple accounting functionality, this option is best suited for very small businesses, like sole proprietorships.

Business Accounting Software Pricing

QuickBooks Simple Start will cost $20 per month for one user.

Business Accounting Software Features

The QuickBooks Simple Start plan will allow you to:

  • Separate business and personal finances
  • Maximize tax deductions
  • Track income and expenses
  • Send and track custom invoices
  • Invoice and accept payments
  • Run basic reports
  • Create and manage estimates
  • Track sales and sales tax
  • Capture and organize receipts
  • Manage 1099 contractors
  • Sync your business bank account
  • Share data with your accountant
  • Access your account anywhere you have internet access and using the QuickBooks mobile app
  • Integrate with other QuickBooks products and third-party apps


QuickBooks Online Essentials

The next QuickBooks Online option is the Essentials plan.

Although you can certainly manage your small business accounting needs with the Simple Start plan, Essentials can accommodate slightly bigger small businesses with up to three users and added features for time tracking and bill management.

Business Accounting Software Pricing

As a step up from Simple Start, QuickBooks Online Essentials will cost $40 per month.


Business Accounting Software Features

For this price increase, QuickBooks Online Essentials will give you additional capabilities, including:

  • Set up recurring invoices
  • Manage and pay your own bills
  • Schedule future payments
  • Instant sales and profit reports
  • See how your business compares to others in your industry


QuickBooks Online Plus

The third QuickBooks Online plan, Plus, accommodates small businesses who want to expand their business accounting software even further—giving them the ability to manage projects, inventory, and add more users on top of basic bookkeeping and accounting.

Business Accounting Software Pricing

This small business accounting software will cost $70 per month.

Business Accounting Software Features

QuickBooks Online Plus includes all of the features of Simple Start and Essentials, plus:

  • Inventory tracking
  • Up to five users
  • Advanced reporting
  • Project profitability tracking
  • Custom user permissions


QuickBooks Online Advanced

The last QuickBooks Online option is the Advanced plan. With the most functionality of any of the four plans—as well as the highest cost—this plan is well-suited for larger small businesses who want to be able to manage multiple business processes within their business accounting software and truly automate and streamline their operations.


Business Accounting Software Pricing

The QuickBooks Online Advanced plan will cost $150 per month, making it one of the most expensive (but also most feature-rich) web-based small business accounting software solutions.

Business Accounting Software Features

Although the Advanced plan is pricey, it offers significant functionality. This small business accounting software includes all of the features of the first three QuickBooks Online plans, as well as:

  • Up to 25 users
  • Unlimited chart of accounts entries
  • Unlimited tracked classes and locations
  • Accelerated invoicing
  • Smart reporting powered by Fathom
  • Premium customer support with QuickBooks Priority Circle
  • Enhanced custom fields
  • Simplified bill payments

Why Choose QuickBooks Online?

With all of the plans QuickBooks Online offers—and their range of capabilities and price points—this small business accounting software can accommodate a wide range of small businesses.

Regardless of which plan you choose, QuickBooks Online provides essential accounting features, reliability, flexibility, customer support, and a platform that’s fairly simple and easy to learn.

As we mentioned earlier, when comparing QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop, you’ll find that the Desktop products offer more capabilities; however, many business owners still choose to use QuickBooks Online due to the system’s accessibility and usability.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a small business accounting software that will truly help you manage your accounting and tangential business processes, there’s no doubt you should consider QuickBooks Online.

The next small business accounting software on our list is FreshBooks.

FreshBooks is a cloud-based business accounting software known for their excellent customer service, intuitive interface, and ease of mobile use.

With FreshBooks, you can choose from three different service plans, each of which is fully accessible on your mobile device. FreshBooks offers essential accounting and tangential capabilities—not to mention, live phone and email customer support with all of their plans. For a limited time only, FreshBooks is offering 50% off the Plus and Premium plans for the first 3 months when new users skip the 30-day free trial period.

Business Accounting Software Pricing

With FreshBooks, you can choose from three small business accounting software plans: Lite, Plus, and Premium.

The Lite plan, best for very small businesses, costs $15 per month and handles up to five active clients.

The Plus plan is FreshBooks’ most popular offering, handles up to 50 clients, and costs $25 per month.

Finally, the last business accounting software plan from FreshBooks is Premium, which costs $50 per month and accommodates up to 500 clients. This plan is well-suited for larger small businesses and those that are growing quickly.

Moreover, if you choose to purchase any of the FreshBooks plans on an annual subscription basis, you’ll receive an additional discount off the price.


Business Accounting Software Features

Although FreshBooks emphasizes their simplicity and ease of use, this small business accounting software isn’t lacking in functionality.

Each of the FreshBooks products allows you to:

  • Create unlimited invoices and job estimates
  • Track and log business expenses
  • Accept credit cards and ACH payments online
  • Automatically import transactions from your business bank account
  • Monitor your data from a comprehensive dashboard
  • Track time
  • Create project budgets
  • Generate business reports
  • Integrate with over 200 third-party tools
  • Sync your FreshBooks account across multiple devices

If you opt for the FreshBooks Plus or Premium plan, you’ll receive additional features for invoicing, reporting, payment reminders, and proposals.


Why Choose FreshBooks Business Accounting Software?

So, what makes FreshBooks one of the best small business accounting software options?

FreshBooks offers powerful accounting features—and with no limitations on your number of invoices, expense entries, time tracking or estimates in any of their plans, you have significant flexibility. You are, however, limited based on the number of clients.

Additionally, for business owners on the go, FreshBooks offers one of the most mobile-friendly small business accounting software solutions with the ability to use the platform from your device’s browser, as well as by downloading the FreshBooks accounting app.

Therefore, FreshBooks is a great option for business owners who need mobility, a simple platform, and core accounting tools to automate operations. However, if you need more robust tools for managing inventory, there’s probably an alternative small business accounting software that will better fulfill those needs.

If you’re looking for the robust functionality of QuickBooks with the simplicity and mobile-friendliness of FreshBooks, you might consider the next small business accounting software on our list, Xero accounting.

Originally launched in New Zealand and widely used in Australia and the U.K., Xero has expanded into the U.S. and grown quickly—becoming one of the biggest competitors to QuickBooks Online.

Therefore, with a feature set that’s very similar to QuickBooks, Xero is a great QuickBooks alternative for those who are looking for a more intuitive and user-friendly business accounting software.

Business Accounting Software Pricing

Xero offers their web-based business accounting software in three plans.

The most basic plan, Early, costs $9 per month and can accommodate five invoices and quotes, five bills, and 20 bank transactions.

The second plan, Growing, costs $30 per month and places no limits on your invoices, bills, or bank transactions.

The last plan, Established, costs $60 per month, and has the most functionality—with the ability to handle multiple currencies, as well as manage both expenses and projects.


Business Accounting Software Features

As we mentioned, if you compare Xero vs. QuickBooks Online, the two actually have very comparable feature sets.

However, here are some of the most notable capabilities Xero can offer:

  • Automated and intuitive invoicing software to help you get paid faster
  • Inventory tracking, stock control, and the ability to easily add items into invoices and orders
  • Bank reconciliations that allow you to connect your bank for automatic updates
  • Mobile accessibility with the Xero app
  • Bill pay management to make sure you’re paying your bills on time and controlling your cash flow
  • Expense records to help you manage your expenses and receipts online
  • Create and email purchase orders right from the software, with the ability to copy the data to make bills for payment
  • Reporting tools with a comprehensive range of custom formulas and budgeting tools
  • Add contact lists to integrate emails and track correspondence, quotes, invoices, and payments with each individual customer
  • Integration with over 700 third-party tools
  • Partnership with Gusto for full-service payroll add-on (additional cost)

Moreover, Xero allows unlimited users access to your account at no additional cost—a distinguishing feature compared to other business accounting software options.

Why Choose Xero Business Accounting Software?

Is Xero’s small business accounting software right for you? When you compare this solution to competitors, Xero vs. Sage, for example, you’ll find that Xero’s strength is a balance of power and price.

Xero offers a thorough suite of accounting features, as well as an approachable, intuitive platform, for a fairly reasonable cost. If you want to be able to quickly and easily set up your business accounting software platform and manage your bookkeeping and accounting tasks, there’s no doubt that Xero will allow you to do so.

Although Xero may not have the same legacy and familiarity as QuickBooks, this solution still stands out among the best accounting software for small businesses.

When it comes to small business accounting software, there are very few truly free options out there. Wave, however, is one of them. Plus, not only is Wave accounting free, but they also offer strong accounting and invoice tools, as well as a large customer service network—making them a great solution for newer and smaller businesses.

Let’s explore the details of this free small business accounting software.


Business Accounting Software Features

As we mentioned, perhaps the most notable feature of the Wave business accounting software is that it’s completely free.

You can use Wave wherever you have internet access and do not need to provide a credit card to sign up for your account.

This being said, Wave offers core accounting features such as:

  • Unlimited income and expense tracking with automatic reports
  • Unlimited bank and credit card connections
  • Unlimited invoicing and receipt scanning (with the free tools Wave invoicing and Wave receipts)
  • Bill and invoice reminders
  • Journal transactions
  • Dashboards for cash balances and invoice status
  • Customizable sales taxes and expense/income categories.

Add-ons for Wave Accounting Software

Additionally, although you can utilize Wave’s business accounting software for no cost, you can also choose to expand your functionality with their Payments and Payroll paid add-ons.

The Payments add-on will allow you to accept credit cards and bank payments online. As a pay-as-you-go tool, you’ll only pay the 2.9% + $0.30 fee for credit cards and a 1% fee for bank transfers when you actually accept a payment.

The Payroll add-on, on the other hand, will allow you to pay employees and contractors, as well as manage your payroll taxes, connecting directly to your Wave account. Depending on where your business is located, Wave Payroll will cost $20 per month, plus $4 per employee per month, or $35 per month, with the same per-employee fee.


Why Choose Wave Business Accounting Software?

Wave is, without a doubt, the best accounting software for small businesses who are looking for a free solution.

With Wave’s core accounting and invoicing capabilities, this small business accounting software is a great option for smaller businesses, sole proprietors, and anyone who wants to automate their bookkeeping and accounting without feeling overwhelmed by their platform and its features.

At the end of the day, as a free and simple software, Wave has significant functionality to offer, and even more if you pay for either of their add-on options. Of course, Wave does have limitations—and if you need greater capabilities from your business accounting platform, you’ll certainly find more features from alternatives like QuickBooks, FreshBooks, or Xero.

The next option on our list of best accounting software for small businesses is Zoho Books. With the most expensive Zoho Books plan capping off at $29 per month, this is one of the most affordable—yet still robust—small business accounting software solutions out there.

Therefore, Zoho Books is a great option for smaller businesses on a budget, who don’t quite need the features of QuickBooks or Xero but want a flexible solution to help automate their business accounting.

Business Accounting Software Pricing

Similar to Wave, Zoho Books offers a strong and easy-to-use web-based accounting and invoicing platform.

Unlike Wave, however, Zoho Books is a paid business accounting software and has three plan offerings: Basic, Standard, and Professional.

The Basic plan, at $9 per month, limits you to 50 contacts, two users (one user and one business accountant), and five automated workflows.

The Standard plan, on the other hand, costs $19 per month and allows 500 contacts, three users (two users and one accountant), and 10 automated workflows.

Finally, the Professional plan costs $29 per month, accommodates an unlimited number of customers, and allows 10 users and 10 automated workflows.

Additionally, if you opt for an annual subscription, Zoho Books will give you two months off the cost.

Business Accounting Software Features

With all of the Zoho Books plans, you’ll receive the following features:

  • Bank reconciliation
  • Custom invoices
  • Expense tracking
  • Projects and timesheets
  • Recurring transactions
  • Sales approval
  • Client portal
  • Financial reports
  • Sales tax and 1099 tracking
  • Multi-currency and multi-lingual
  • Integration with other Zoho products and third-party tools
  • Access to the Zoho Books mobile app

With the higher-level plans, you’ll not only receive more contacts, users, and workflows, as we mentioned above, but also additional capabilities for bills, reporting, inventory, and purchase and sales orders.


Why Choose Zoho Books Business Accounting Software?

With some of the most affordable plan offerings, in addition to solid bookkeeping and accounting features, Zoho Books is one of the best business accounting software solutions for smaller businesses, as well as a great nonprofit accounting software option.

Although perhaps not as intuitive as some competitors, there’s no doubt that Zoho Books will help you get your small business accounting tasks done.

However, compared to other options, Zoho Books may not have as many third-party integrations, nor does it offer payroll capabilities. Therefore, if you’re a small business with many employees and want to bundle your payroll and accounting software, you may find another small business accounting software solution will better fulfill your needs.

Like QuickBooks, Sage is one of the business accounting software solutions that offers the most options for small businesses. With Sage software, you can choose from two cloud-based systems, as well as three more traditional options with Sage 50cloud—a desktop business accounting software with remote access capabilities.

With all of these products, Sage can fit the accounting needs and budget of a full range of small businesses.

Let’s dive into the details.


Business Accounting Software Pricing

With various options in the Sage business accounting software suite, you’ll see a range of different prices, depending on the specific type of product.

For the web-based solutions in the Sage Business Cloud, you can choose from two different plans: Accounting Start and Accounting.

The Accounting Start plan will cost $10 per month, whereas the Accounting plan will cost $25 per month.

With the Sage 50cloud accounting options, on the other hand, you’ll be able to purchase your business accounting software on an annual or monthly basis. The three plans, therefore, are priced as such:

  • Sage 50cloud Pro Accounting: $465.95 per year or $46.83 per month for one user
  • Sage 50cloud Premium Accounting: $720.95 per year or $72.41 per month, additional cost for more than one user
  • Sage 50cloud Quantum Accounting: $1,834.95 per year or $182.91 per month for three users, additional cost for five or more users

Business Accounting Software Features

With such a wide range of business accounting software products, the features you will have access to will largely depend on the Sage solution you choose.

That said, for the most basic business cloud option, Accounting Start, you’ll be able to:

  • Create and send invoices
  • Connect your business bank account
  • Track overdue balances

With the Accounting business cloud plan, you’ll have access to additional features:

  • Real-time reports
  • Generate quotes and estimates
  • Record purchase invoices
  • View cash flow statements

Both of these small business accounting software options are simple and straightforward, offering the most basic functions to help you manage your processes.

With any of the desktop Sage 50 plans, on the other hand, you’ll receive more advanced capabilities, including accounting tools to manage billing, expenses, inventory, and more.


Why Choose Sage Business Accounting Software?

As we mentioned, with a wide range of options—each with varying capabilities and price points—Sage can accommodate small businesses of all shapes and sizes.

However, with the basic functionality of their web-based products, these particular small business accounting software options are probably best suited for very small businesses and sole proprietors.

The Sage 50 solutions, on the other hand, have the ability to better accommodate larger and growing small businesses, as well as those who generally prefer a desktop-based product (which also makes Sage a great QuickBooks alternative).

On the whole, though, with all of these options—and their ability to fulfill various accounting needs—Sage is one of the best small business accounting software options in terms of scalability. There’s no doubt that Sage will allow you to upgrade and expand your business accounting software as your operations grow.

After exploring all of our best small business accounting software options, perhaps you’ve realized they all offer more than you need. If you’re looking for a simpler system to manage your small business finances, then you might actually be searching for bookkeeping software, as opposed to small business accounting software.

Although subtle, there is, in fact, a difference between bookkeeping vs. accounting. Bookkeeping more generally concerns the day-to-day managing of your finances—recording transactions, reconciling bank statements, etc. Accounting, on the other hand, deals with greater insight and supervision—taking bookkeeping records and using them for strategic financial planning and growth.

Therefore, if your business needs are more bookkeeping-specific, you may consider an online bookkeeping software instead.

Best Online Bookkeeping Software

Although many of the small business accounting software options we’ve discussed include bookkeeping capabilities, you may find that a solution designed particularly for bookkeeping will be easier, more effective, and more affordable for your business.

This being said, like small business accounting software, there are a number of online bookkeeping services to choose from. For one solution that’s most comparable to the accounting software options on our list, you may consider Bench.

Let’s explore the details.

Bench Online Bookkeeping Software: Features

Like the business accounting software solutions we’ve explored, Bench offers a simple, web-based bookkeeping software for small businesses.

With Bench, however, you also receive a dedicated bookkeeping team to handle your business’s monthly books. You’ll use the Bench software to communicate with and collaborate with your team, who will categorize your transactions, deliver financial statements, and track the whole of your business finances.

You can connect Bench to your bank, as well as other business tools, and access the Bench platform from your computer or mobile device.


Bench Online Bookkeeping Software: Options

To access Bench’s bookkeeping services, you can choose from five different plan options. In an effort to accommodate businesses of all sizes, Bench prices their plans based on your average monthly expenses.

Pricing starts at $119 per month for businesses with less than $1,000 in monthly expenses and ranges to $299 per month for businesses with up to $1 million in monthly expenses.


Why Choose Bench Online Bookkeeping Software?

As you can see, compared to the various small business accounting software solutions on our list, Bench offers a simpler service—and one specific to bookkeeping tasks.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a way to outsource your bookkeeping—and don’t need the capabilities of a business accounting software—you may consider a service like Bench.

With personalized attention to your business’s bookkeeping, as well as an intuitive online interface, Bench can accommodate a variety of small businesses.

On the other hand, however, with the monthly cost of Bench and other virtual bookkeeping services, you may find that a basic and user-friendly small business accounting software, like Wave, may also fulfill your needs.

When it comes to choosing the best small business accounting software for your needs, there are many factors to consider. As we’ve seen through discussing the eight best small business accounting software options on our list, each solution has unique features, plans, pricing—and ultimately, can accommodate different kinds of small businesses.

Therefore, the best small business accounting software for you will depend wholly on your specific needs and budget.

If you’re a smaller business with basic accounting needs, you may be well-suited for a business accounting software like Wave or Zoho Books. On the other hand, if you need more from your small business accounting software—tools for inventory, invoicing, expenses, and more—you might consider options like QuickBooks, FreshBooks, or Xero.

At the end of the day, however, you know your business best, so the decision is up to you. Although on the whole, business accounting—and choosing the right software—may seem difficult and time-consuming, these tasks are crucial to your operations. Moreover, by taking the time to find the best small business accounting software (and investing in the solution you choose), you’ll be able to automate your processes—and therefore, promote your business’s financial growth and success in the long run.

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