Tons of small business owners feel overwhelmed by QuickBooks’ ‘Swiss Army knife’ approach to accounting. Most businesses don’t need every accounting function under the sun—they just need something to help them enter and categorize their transactions, whip up a budget, or send invoices.
How Quickbooks competitors stand out against it
- Bench.co - The best accounting software for entrepreneurs looking to completely automate their accounting process.
- Xero - The simpler alternative with similar features presented intuitively.
- One Up - The essential features packaged in a software for small retailers.
- You Need a Budget - A cheaper alternative tool for just budgeting.
- Wave - A free Quickbooks alternative for entrepreneurs on a budget.
- GNUCash - The best accounting software for ultimate—but complicated—customization.
- Tiller - An automation tool to power up your spreadsheet game.
- Our Excel Template - A free spreadsheet for new business owners getting established.
- Freshbooks - A cheaper alternative for freelancers needing an invoicing solution.
- Gusto - The payroll tool making employee management a breeze
- Square - Payment processing and basic budgeting tools, all-in-one.
If you’re on the hunt for something a little easier to use, these solutions are for you.
1. Bench Accounting
If you hate doing accounting yourself
Accounting is tedious and distracting, and in a perfect world someone else would be handling all of it for you.
Bench (that’s us) is an online bookkeeping service powered by real humans. Our simple service focuses on bookkeeping and tax filing, and we do it really well (check out our 4.7+ star reviews on Capterra and Trustpilot). We’ll give you your own bookkeeping team, take in all of your business’ transactions, organize them for you, and provide you with monthly financial statements.
If the idea of catching up on your bookkeeping, preparing for your taxes, or taking care of your finances alone sounds daunting, Bench can take that stress off your plate—for good.
Need quick insights into your financial performance? Your Bench account offers a high-level overview of your business’ cash flow and expenses, helping you see where your money is going in real time. If you need further detail, just click into any transaction.
Once your transactions have been reviewed by your Bench bookkeeper, you can take a broader, long-term view of your financials using Bench’s straightforward financial statements.
If you think QuickBooks is ugly and unintuitive
If you’re looking for a feature-for-feature replacement for QuickBooks in a pared-down, more user-friendly package, Xero is about as close as you’ll get.
Xero lets you access your finances on any device with an internet connection and automatically imports all of your transactions. It also gives you (and your accountant) many of the financial reporting features that make QuickBooks so attractive, without the feature overload. An inexpensive alternative, packages are starting at just $13/month and going up to $70/month depending on the features you select.
- Full suite of accounting tools, including accounts payable and receivable, bank reconciliation, project budgeting, reporting
- Small business and freelancer-oriented features, including invoice management, purchase orders, expense tracking, and payroll management
- Advanced accounting tools, including asset management, fund accounting and tax management
- Not as many features and add-ons as QuickBooks
- Less familiar to accountants
- You’re still doing your own accounting
3. One Up
If you want something simple and focused on retail
If you’re looking for a tool that handles the nuts and bolts of accounting and recordkeeping well, but don’t want to get bogged down in any extras, consider One Up.
One Up doesn’t do much, but the few things it does, it does very well. It’s super focused on helping you track what you sell, billing your customers, and making sure your numbers are up to date. It’s also the only tool on our list that is mobile-first and built with small retailers in mind.
- Suite of tools focused on small retailers, including inventory management, invoice tracking, and an algorithm that will categorize your transactions for you
- Dead-simple user interface built for mobile
- $9/month for solo plan
- Lacks features like time tracking, payroll, advanced reporting
- “Unlimited” plan costs $169 per month
- Gets messy when used by multiple users, no advanced permission functions
- You’re still doing your own accounting
4. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
If you just need to budget
If you mainly use QuickBooks for budgeting, or are new to the idea of financial planning in general, You Need A Budget is the app for you.
YNAB is easy to set up, syncs with all your bank and credit card accounts, and will guide you through the process of creating your first budget. Wirecutter says it’s “the closest thing to having a positive-minded professional help you make your own budgeting spreadsheet” and “the only budgeting app we’d spend our own money on.”
- Full suite of budgeting tools, including goal tracking, reports, and tips
- Compatible with basically every major operating system and browser
- Syncs automatically with most banks and credit cards, and makes it easy to sync manually with smaller institutions
- Excellent in-app and technical support
- Takes time to set up and get used to
- Expensive compared to other similar apps ($99/year or $14.99 monthly)
- No support for multiple users
- Can’t handle your accounting
If you want something free
If you like QuickBooks but find the price to be steep, it’s hard to beat Wave. It gets you about 75% of the way there completely free of charge.
Wave gets you through the whole receivables process similarly to QuickBooks. It allows you to create invoices, accept payments, and stay on top of any outstanding accounts with crystal-clear reporting. Like QuickBooks, Wave also lets you track your income and expenses, helps you stay on top of your financial health with financial statements, and offers support for multiple users in case you need to let your accountant in on the action.
- Support for unlimited users and businesses
- All of the accounting basics: receivables, income and expense tracking, financial reports, payment management
- Completely free of charge
- No live phone support (online support only) and slow support response times
- Missing certain popular QuickBooks features like cheque printing and bill payments
- You’re still doing everything yourself, with no support
If you want something open source
Not interested in flashy design? Work with a bunch of developers? Want something open source? Then GNUCash is the financial management and accounting solution for you.
GNUCash’s strength is that it lets you do basically anything you want. Whether it’s budgeting, expense tracking, reporting, double-entry accounting, GNUCash probably already has the tools to do it. It’s also secure, malware free, cost-free, and the team behind it has consistently released new features since the project was first launched in 1997.
If you don’t have money to spend on an accounting tool, want to support the open source community, and are willing to climb the GNU learning curve, download GnuCash 3.5 here.
- Open source
- Full suite of accounting and financial planning tools (including double-entry bookkeeping, budgeting, expense tracking, financial statements, etc.)
- Steep learning curve
- Need to know double-entry accounting to use it
If you love Google Sheets
If you’re tired of using financial planning apps in general and just want to see all of your numbers in one place on a spreadsheet, Tiller can make it happen!
Tiller takes all of your information—your bank accounts, credit cards and investment accounts—and feeds them directly into a Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets file. From there, you can design your own spreadsheets to your own liking, or use one of Tiller’s pre-made templates. Tiller offers a 30-day trial here, and the full version costs $79/year.
- Saves you hours of work by importing all your data automatically
- Provides daily activity summaries
- Good for security-conscious businesses that don’t want their data on the cloud
- Not good for people who don’t like spreadsheets
- You’re still doing everything yourself ![Tiller-Hero-Simple]
8. Excel template
If you want something even simpler
If at this point you’re wondering what happened to good old-fashioned, manual-entry spreadsheet accounting, then our handy Excel template is for you.
It lets you set up a simple single-entry bookkeeping system, record transactions, and perform basic calculations to create an Income Statement. All you have to do is enter all the categories of income, expenses, and cost of sale that you use in your business, input all of your transactions, and the spreadsheet will do the rest.
It’s perfect for someone who wants to start tracking basic financial information for their business, but isn’t ready to take the plunge into formal accounting software quite yet.
If you just need invoicing and payments
If you’re a freelancer focused on invoicing clients, keeping track of your work and staying on top of your income, FreshBooks might have all of the accounting functionality you need.
FreshBooks has the entire freelancer accounting pipeline covered: from the first hour you work and track using its time tracking tools, to its seamless billing function, which automatically generates invoices, to its ability to accept card payments from clients.
Want to stay on top of billing? FreshBooks lets you schedule automatic payment reminders, levy late fees and even automatically generate recurring invoices.
Want to zoom out and look at the financial health of your business as a whole? FreshBooks can track your expenses for you, generate income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements, and even generate activity reports that show you which projects are taking up the bulk of you and your team’s work hours.
Provided you don’t need any of the advanced small business accounting stuff that usually comes with QuickBooks like accounts payable, payroll and inventory management, FreshBooks is a solid accounting option for the average freelancer.
- Solid end-to-end invoicing pipeline, with custom designs, recurring and scheduled payments functionality, and automatic payment reminders
- Expense tracking and basic financial reporting
- Advanced time tracking and reporting features
- No bank or credit card reconciliation
- No accounts payable, inventory or payroll functionality
- You’re still doing everything yourself
- Simple double-entry features are manual, which makes user error more likely
If you just need something to handle payroll
Gusto is focused on taking care of your payroll problems. (Note: Gusto is not accounting software—it is only focused on payroll.)
If the idea of collecting and sending out tax forms, writing checks, staying on top of employee info and taking care of direct deposits sounds like too much to handle, Gusto can help. They’ll guide you through the entire payroll setup process, from inputting employee information, to linking your bank account, to getting set up with the IRS.
If you need something focused on retail and inventory
We should clarify up-front that Square isn’t accounting software. If you’re looking for a business management suite that spits out GAAP-compliant financial statements, look elsewhere.
But some people don’t want a full blown business management suite. Some people just want to keep track of who bought what and when.
If your business mainly processes card payments in-person in a retail setting, needs a few basic business tools like inventory tracking and sales reports, and is looking for something that seamlessly integrates with an ecommerce presence, Square is for you. It’s built for small retail and ecommerce businesses that are just starting out and looking for a lost-cost, low-risk, simple solution with no hidden fees.
Square provides you with the equipment you need, bundles it with software that supports mobile and ecommerce sales, gives you access to basic reporting and inventory management tools, and charges you a percentage of each transaction (plus a small fee) to pay for it all. Standard processing fees are 2.6% plus a flat 10 cent fee.
- Quick setup
- No fixed or monthly fees
- Works equally well for online, retail, and mobile sales
- Very reliable, popular hardware/software solution
- Slow support response times, unpredictable account freezes
- Higher per-transaction fees than other merchant processors
- Can’t handle accounting
Determining the right Quickbooks alternative for you
No two businesses are the exact same, and neither are their accounting processes. Here are some questions to consider to determine which Quickbooks alternative is right for you.
Are you looking for a long-term solution?
Generally speaking, the simpler your business is, the simpler your accounting software can be. But assuming that simplicity will hold up as your operations grow and change can create problems down the line when you need to upgrade your accounting software.
Switching accounting software typically means importing all of your business information and transactions into the new platform. If that sounds like a chore, that’s because it is. However, that process can be avoided if you spend more on a platform that has features you would appreciate in the future.
What functions are essential versus nice to have?
Picking the Quickbooks alternative with the most features could have you paying too much for perks you never use. Unless you pick an alternative that automates everything for you (like Bench), you could end up with a software that doesn’t actually improve your workflow.
Before picking a software, try listing out the parts of your bookkeeping you most want to give up. Is staying on top of accounts receivable a chore? Look for invoicing features that send automatic payment reminders. Do you need to track expenses by project? Choose the alternative where it’s as simple as tagging a transaction.
Once you’ve identified what’s essential and what’s nice to have, you can eliminate the options that don’t suit your needs.
What is your volume of transactions?
The first step of the monthly accounting process is posting transactions. While some alternatives have account integrations that automatically sync your bank and credit card activity, cheaper options will require manual posting.
Manually posting all of your business transactions is time consuming and leaves you open for errors if you miss any activity. But automation comes at a cost.
For businesses with minimal transactions, the savings of a software with manual transaction posting might make sense. Otherwise, consider spending the extra to get automation, just double check they work with your bank and credit card provider.
Who needs access to your accounting?
If you want to provide your accountant or other members of your business access to all of your reporting, the Quickbooks alternative you choose has to be online.
Some of the options on our list don’t have easy online access or will charge you to add a user. The more eyes you want on your reporting, the more the costs add up.
In particular, choosing an option that you can provide your accountant access to makes it easier to get their insights. The ability to work closely with your accountant can be a big value add as they’re an invaluable resource of business finance and tax know-how.