Here, we’ll provide a rundown of some of the easiest-to-use small business accounting software options available, along with factors to consider as you select accounting software for your business.
We looked at 8 different accounting software for small business owners. While all of them are easy to use, they streamline different parts of the accounting process. Before picking an accounting software, consider how much you want to spend, what workflows you want to automate, and which tasks you most want automated.
In general, the top 8 small business accounting software for ease of use are:
- Bench: Best full service accounting solution.
- FreshBooks: Best user-friendly accounting and invoicing software.
- Xero: Best advanced features for advanced expertise.
- Intuit Quickbooks Online: Best for bundling with payroll add-ons.
- Zoho Book: Best automation for entrepreneurs with accounting know-how.
- Wave: Best free option for the newly self-employed freelancers.
- Sage: Best for business owners with industry specific needs.
- Lendio: Best free option for integrating other services.
Best full-service option:
What’s the easiest accounting software of all? The kind you don’t have to manage yourself! That’s Bench Accounting.
Bench works exclusively with small businesses, from established operations to fresh, growing businesses. When you choose Bench, your business is assigned a dedicated team of bookkeepers who complete your monthly bookkeeping and provide interactive financial reports that are easy to pull insights from. Bench’s tax teams can even file your income taxes for you! The user-friendly and intuitive platform can be accessed through web or desktop, and its interactive financial statements are simple to understand.
$299 to $499/monthly or $249 to $399/monthly (when paid annually)
- Link your financial accounts and Bench does the rest
- A dedicated bookkeeper, supported by a team of bookkeeping specialists
- Interactive financial statements
- Powerful reporting functionality
- Receive monthly and year-end reports
- Contact your bookkeeping team via messages inside your account
- No-charge calls with your bookkeeping team, at any time
- Because expert bookkeepers take the work off your plate, the cost is higher than DIY accounting subscriptions where you do the accounting work yourself
Best DIY options(time-consuming but more affordable):
FreshBooks is user-friendly and delivers some of the most outstanding invoicing and customer support available. However, its two most affordable plans have significant restrictions on the number of users and clients.
$15 to $50/monthly
- User-friendly FreshBooks dashboard and navigation
- Unlimited expenses, estimates, customized invoices, time and mobile mileage tracking
- Excellent invoice-to-payment tracking, including client location when invoice is received
- Automated recurring invoices for monthly billing
- Manages budget and billing for projects
- Clients can choose to make credit card payments
- Built-in proposals
- Number of billable clients determined by pricing tier
- Mobile app lacks access to all features
- Additional user account included with top-tier pricing
- Limits on number of user and clients make scaling up challenging
- Additional users each cost $10/month
Xero is known for its 1,000+ integrations and unlimited users and companies on all plans but has issues with usability, including unclear navigation and dashboard font that’s difficult to read.
$12 to $65/month
- Unlimited users + companies on all plans
- Automated bill and receipt capture via Hubdoc
- Creating and tracking purchase orders
- Customizable dashboard
- Payment processing through Stripe, GoCardless, and others
- Robust integration options
- 24/7 online support
- Online file storage
- Streamlined taxes
- Navigation is less than intuitive
- Font on web app can be difficult to read
- No phone-based customer support
- No expense tracking with cheaper plans
- Connected apps come at premium prices
- Project tracking reserved for Established ($65/month) plan
Intuit Quickbooks Online
A product of Intuit, Quickbooks can be customized to any industry and is one of the most popular online accounting software out there. Nevertheless, it’s challenging to learn and not recommended for users without an accounting background.
$30 to $220/month
- Real-time shared access to same file
- Excellent scalability
- Inventory management syncs with Amazon and Shopify
- Access to 20 built-in reports, ability to create customized reports
- Familiar to most accountants
- Easy to track mileage and capture receipts via smartphone
- Most advanced reporting of all listed software
- Limited users on all plans
- Limited business health reports
- Delayed syncing of credit card transaction
- Complex and not user-friendly for users without bookkeeping backgrounds
Zoho books’ value for its price point is high, with its extensive mobile app features and considerable automation, but it does require a moderate learning curve for business owners, and fewer accountants are open to working with it.
Free to $70/monthly
- More than 50 financial reports and 16 invoicing templates
- Superior depth in records and transaction forms, dozens of custom fields
- Seamless integration with the rest of Zoho Suite (including Zoho CRM)
- Sleek, customizable dashboard
- Free plan available for users with <50K USD annual revenue
- Excellent cash flow tracking
- 10 payment gateway options (first paid level)
- Fewer accountants work with Zoho books than alternatives
- Free 14-day trial is shorter than most other alternatives
- Limited options as you scale up
- All plans have limited users (1-10); add users on for $2.50/monthly each
- Limited and manual payroll options
- Customer support is email-only for free version
Often regarded as the best free accounting software option on the market, Wave is designed specifically for small businesses and is easy to learn, even for beginners. Its free accounting tools are notable, yet it lacks sophisticated features like project, budgeting, and inventory management and is less scalable than competitors.
Free—Wave Payments and Wave Payroll can be added for a fee.
- Unlimited users and financial accounts
- Customizable invoicing with attractive templates
- Capability to turn estimates into invoices once approved
- User-friendly Wave Payments and Payroll available for a fee
- Digital receipt upload
- Easy-to-read dashboard
- Solid features, including expense and income tracking and basic reporting
- Free version offers self-serve customer support only
- Lacks consecutive invoice numbering
- Basic reports only
- No time or project tracking
- Few third-party integrations
- Mobile app is solely for invoicing
Sage 50 cloud accounting is one of the more robust offerings on this list. It’s a hybrid software used for sending invoices, taxes, banking, payroll, and inventory. But a big perk for small business owners is its cash flow management tools with alerts and notifications helping you avoid cash-strapped situations. While it can easily grow with a business, and it’s the only software we’ve listed that offers industry-specific software, Sage 50 does not come with a mobile app and only certain features are remotely accessible. It also limits users per account tier level and features little-to-no customization on the software’s dashboard and invoicing options.
$56 to $155/monthly for a single user, $212-$287/monthly for five users (mid and top tier plans), custom pricing for 11+ users
- Designed for small-to-medium-sized businesses
- Offers seven industry-specific versions: construction, manufacturing, wholesale distribution, chemicals, food and beverage, professional services, and non-profits (premium and quantum plans)
- Very scalable
- Advanced inventory management
- Integrates with Microsoft 365
- eFile capable
- Automatic bank account reconciliation with all plans
- Fewer security issues than entirely cloud-based software
- Cash flow forecasting
- No mobile app
- Only some features are remotely accessible
- Higher than average pricing
- Very steep learning curve for people without accounting experience
- Time tracking and payroll not included
- Limited users on all plans (1-40)
- Dashboard not customizable or particularly intuitive
- Minimum customization of invoices
Lendio acquired Sunrise in 2022 adding a free cloud-based accounting software to its offerings. The software has a wide range of features despite being free. With Lendio’s accounting software, you can do invoicing, billing, and financial reporting with an option for payroll integration with Gusto. Some basic accounting software functions are missing such as time tracking and bank reconciliation and payment processing is only in the paid version.
Free to $19.99/monthly
- Free version includes most features
- User-friendly dashboard
- Supports unlimited users and businesses for $19.99/monthly
- Double-entry accounting
- Unlimited invoices and quotes on all plans
- Major integrations include Gusto for payroll, Square, PayPal, and Stripe
- Advanced cash flow tracking tools with access to loans
- No time, project, or inventory tracking
- No bank reconciliation
- Mobile app lacks most features
- Only basic tracking of income and expenses
- Fewer integrations than most accounting software
- 14-day trial shorter than normal trial length
What should you look for in accounting software?
Accounting software helps you record the flow of your money and keep tabs on your business’s financial health.
While at first they may all look alike, each has different features and functions, and some are specifically designed to accommodate certain industries or business needs. To determine which accounting software is best for your business, you’ll want to consider the following factors.
Cost and scalability
In general, the price you pay is determined by the breadth of features and the number of user accounts you have. Some systems may charge based on transaction volume as well.
During the selection process, keep both future and immediate needs in mind. Unless you’re certain you only want to keep your business as a side gig, you’re usually best off selecting scalable accounting software. That’s software that can grow with your company, allowing you to add additional team members and more complex financial tasks and reporting features over time.
Ease of use
As you search for small business accounting software, ask yourself the following questions:
- How difficult is this software to learn? How much time will it take me to get confident with the program?
- If you work with a professional accountant, are they likely to be familiar with this software?
- Is the main dashboard simple or challenging to understand?
- How intuitive is the system’s navigation? Do you have trouble finding the pages you need?
- Are there reviews that indicate whether the software is easy or difficult to use?
- Is there automated data entry that can take out some of the guesswork?
You want to make sure you can learn what you need to know in order to be up and running quickly, without having to set aside multiple days for training. In addition, consider the cost of making a mistake during your setup period—if the software is difficult to use or non-intuitive, you chance not only the loss of your time, but also potential costly implications on your taxes that you’ll have to correct come tax time.
If you’re going the DIY route, the best accounting software depends on your accounting needs. Saving some cash each month for a simpler option or spending to get better insights both have their perks. But generally speaking, your small business accounting software should include the following basic functions:
- Easy invoicing
- Sales tax liability tracking
- Ability to sync with your bank accounts and credit cards
- Accounts payable (expenses)
- Accounts receivable (income)
- Bank transaction reconciliation
- Online payment collection from customers
- Preparation of basic financial, cash flow, and profit and loss statements
- Balance sheets creation
- User access for your accountant or tax consultant
When searching for general accounting software, you need to understand the specific needs of your business and confirm that the software you’re looking to purchase has the tools you need.
For those in industries like food distribution, which rely heavily on inventory management, search for software that comes with inventory tracking features or integrates with your point-of-sale system.
The hospitality industry relies heavily on customer relationship management (CRM) systems, so if you’re purchasing software for that industry, you may want accounting software that can integrate with your CRM.
Anyone doing business in multiple countries will want accounting software that caters to this, including the option for multi-currency payments.
If you’re not sure what accounting software needs you have, touch base with members of your industry’s professional groups. This might involve asking for recommendations in a relevant LinkedIn group or seeking the opinion of a business mentor. If you know a CPA, check in with them as well.
Otherwise, you can take advantage of the free trial offered by most accounting software and see if it’s a good fit.
In this digital age, access to a mobile app for your DIY accounting software can be remarkably helpful, saving you time and providing a convenient means for taking care of important financial issues on the go.
Most mobile accounting apps allow users to manage, create, and send their invoices and quotes to customers and vendors. These capabilities can greatly improve your cash flow by reducing the delay between the sending and receiving of your invoices.
More advanced apps let you capture receipts for tracking expenses, obtain signatures, review outstanding invoices, reconcile accounts, receive upcoming payment reminders, and more. As you learn more about each accounting software you’re interested in, find out if they have mobile apps, what services those apps provide, and how their current customers rate the app. Also be sure to learn whether they support iOS, Android, or both.
The term software integration refers to the process of joining two or more software applications so they work in tandem. Accounting software, like most software, is limited in its abilities because it’s designed to address a specific need. However, by integrating it with other software you can ensure all your systems work together seamlessly.
Shopify (ecommerce), Amazon, Microsoft 365 (a productivity suite), PayPal (a payment gateway), MailChimp (an email marketing platform), Basecamp (a project management platform), Vend (point of sale), and Gusto (payroll services) third-party app integrations are some of the most well-known and common integrations available for small business accounting software.
Some accounting platforms offer hundreds or thousands of integrations, like Freshbooks or Zoho books. If integrations are something you’re interested in, double-check that whichever accounting software you decide on has at least a few integrations that will be useful to you.
Choosing an accounting software for your small business is no small decision, and it shouldn’t be made overnight.
A good advice is to go and learn a little more about bookkeeping and accounting before you decide which accounting software fits in with your workflow. The basics of small business accounting is a great place to start.