The 12 Best Accounting Tools for Small Business
- Sage Accounting
- QuickBooks Online
- Sage 300
Every small business could use great accounting software to help them out.
Let’s face it:
Unless you’re a mathlete, accounting can be the most boring part of running your own small business. From meticulously tracking expenses to figuring out personal and business taxes, and everything in between, plenty of entrepreneurs find the financial side of things to be dull or frustrating, compared to the exciting bootstrapping of owning a small business.
In fact, around half of small business owners report that accounting is their least favorite task. Assuming you’re not an accountant yourself, you probably understand why.
And if you mess up your records or bookkeeping? You could easily be looking at lost money, missed opportunities, or even a knock on your door from the IRS. No, thank you.
Although you might find it tedious at first, managing your small business’s financials properly is key to your success as an entrepreneur. But nobody said you have to do it all on your own.
Take a look at these 12 tools to improve your small business’s financial management processes, from simplifying how you track invoices to handling payroll taxes across multiple departments and locations. Every small business is different—but every small business can benefit from these grade-A accounting tools we’ve collected, just for you.
Best Accounting Tools: The All-in-One Package
Looking for a straightforward solution to all of your small business accounting needs? Not sure what accounting tools or features you’ll need down the road—or even tomorrow? Or, do you only want to deal with a single application when it comes to your small business accounting?
It makes sense to seek out an all-in-one suite of accounting software for any of these reasons. These tools can be absolute life-savers, keeping your business’s books neat and minimizing your chance for errors along the way.
Although they’ll often run for a higher price than one-off accounting tools, their more varied and flexible functionality generally more than make up for their price tags. Plus, many of these tools come with multiple payment levels, in case you need only a few features instead of everything but the kitchen sink.
Let’s take a look at the 5 biggest players in the all-in-one accounting tools industry:
1. Sage Accounting
If you own a one-person business, then Sage Accounting Start should definitely be at the top of your accounting tools list. For starters, you can record income and expenses and perform bank reconciliation for only $10 per month. And if you need more functionality, then you can upgrade to Sage Accounting—at the still quite low price of $25 a month—to get an overview of your business’s financials, cash flow forecasting, and bill vendors.
Sage Accounting is especially helpful if you’re working with freelancers or contractors for your small business, since their project management capabilities are an added bonus.
FreshBooks is one of the big names around town when it comes to accounting tools for small business owners….
And for good reason. Although it started out just as an invoice and expense tracking software solution, FreshBooks today can integrate with your bank accounts, generate financial reports, process your payroll and business payments, and keep track of timesheets. Not to mention, FreshBooks also offers integrations with a pretty long list of popular CRM and customer service apps, so you can expand its functionality whenever you need.
If you’re interested in simple, intuitive accounting tools, then FreshBooks could be for you. And if you ever get confused, FreshBooks emphasizes its person-to-person customer service—for free—in case you ever need a helping hand.
Sample its free 30-day trial, and if it fits your needs, you can purchase FreshBooks for as low as $15 per month, and even less if you opt for yearly pricing. What’s more, for a limited time only, FreshBooks is offering 50% off for 3 months when new users skip the 30-day free trial period and opt to buy now.
3. QuickBooks Online
If you’re talking about the world’s best accounting tools, it’s simply impossible not to mention the one and only QuickBooks Online.
The magic of QuickBooks Online is its versatility. If you’re a small business owner who despises financial mumbo-jumbo and would much rather just get on with the fun part of being an entrepreneur, QuickBooks Online can help you do just that.
On the other hand, if you’re a professional accountant who lives and breathes balance sheets, invoice records, common size analysis, and profit and loss statements, then QuickBooks Online can still give you everything you need.
QuickBooks Online offers the classic suite of accounting tools for anyone and everyone: dashboards for your business’s financial data and records, financial reports that you can customize according to your own needs, an invoice generator, online payment receipts, payroll processing, and the ability to turn pictures of receipts into catalogued business expenses.
Plus, QuickBooks Online syncs with your bank account and business credit cards so that your business’s financial data is always up to date. And if that weren’t useful enough, you can also share your QuickBooks Online with your accountant to simplify financials during tax time.
The pricing depends on which features you want and need, but it can range from $5 a month for independent contractors to $28 per month for a robust application.
If you’re interested in QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks as potential accounting tools for your small business, then don’t miss out on considering Xero as well.
Xero, QuickBooks, and FreshBooks have a lot of overlap in terms of which accounting features they’ll offer you (they’re also all great options for self-employed accounting software). You can expect the usual suspects: financial overviews on intuitive dashboards, standard and custom-built reports, invoice creation, payroll and business expense processing, and bank account syncing.
But Xero really shines with its user flexibility: Unlike with its competitors, with Xero you can add as many users as you want, for free. If you own a small business with one or two employees, this perk might not seem too useful, but if your company is on the bigger side of “small business,” then this can definitely seem like a major advantage.
And don’t forget—you’re also promised a free and easy transition from QuickBooks to Xero if you choose to switch down the road.
Once you’ve finished Xero’s 30-day free trial, you can pay $9 a month for the basic package. (And remember to integrate the app with your other accounting tools in order to lump your time tracking, mobile payments, and more in one place!)
5. Sage 300 Cloud
We looked at Sage Accounting Start for the single entrepreneurs out there—but Sage offers accounting tools for small business owners on the other end of the spectrum, too.
Sage 300 is a suite of accounting tools that can help you handle business finances—as well as foster collaboration and manage operations—across multiple departments, locations, or both. If you feel like you’ve outgrown Sage Accounting, you can simply port your business’s records and reports over to Sage 300 and approach its financial situation from a more complex angle.
In addition to Sage Accounting’s standard offerings of invoice processing and financial overviews, Sage 300 also gives you the power to manage your inventory, sales, and suppliers, to analyze business data and employee productivity, and to rest easy with all of your business’s financial data held securely in the cloud.
Sighted has it all for small business owners in need of some accounting help. As one of the best accounting tools for freelancers or solo-entrepreneurs, Sighted is a simple yet powerful tool. Use it to customize your invoices and quotes, track all your expenses, integrate your online payments system, and manage your client and merchant information.
If you’re a small business owner who doesn’t want to break the bank with heavy-duty small business accounting software but you’re still looking for a full suite of accounting tools, Sighted will win out on power, simplicity, and affordability.
Sighted has three different pricing levels, doesn’t require long-term contracts, and offers monthly, quarterly, or annual payment. Their most popular accounting tool—the Premium subscription—starts at $4.99 per month. With this package, you’ll get unlimited invoices, quotes, and receipts, unlimited expenses, single user access, 100 client capacity, online payments systems, and access to profit & loss reports.
Best Accounting Tools: Make Payroll Easy
If you need a lifeline when it comes to processing payroll—and avoiding the dreaded late payroll tax—then not to worry. Plenty of small business owners struggle with those exact same issues: you’re not alone.
While that’s nice to hear, you’re also probably wondering, “How can I make payroll easy?” Our answer? Check out these top-notch payroll-focused accounting tools.
When it comes to simple payroll, WagePoint can definitely help you out. WagePoint is concerned with ease-of-use in order to save you time, money, and energy. Why spend those valuable resources on processing payroll when you could be working on your business instead?
With WagePoint, you can make direct deposits, deal with payroll taxes automatically, receive year-end reporting, file for your 1099 and W-2 forms, and give employees their pay stubs online. It offers all the basics you’d need from payroll accounting tools.
Gusto, previously known as ZenPayroll, is one of those payroll accounting tools that also comes with a huge selection of additional features. Plus, it’s available on your mobile phone, too, making it incredibly convenient for small business owners on the go.
You get the standard payroll offerings like automatic tax processing and filing at the local, state, and federal levels, employee onboarding and paystubs, and pure accounting software integrations (like for QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks!).
But in addition to those tools, Gusto will also give you the ability to easily enroll in health benefits plans, access and manage the human resources side of your business, and deal with 401(k)s and other retirement plans.
Try one month free, and if you like it, you’ll simply pay a flat $39/month rate, plus $6 per employee per month for the most basic option, Gusto Core. Gusto also has a new option for contractor-only employers, who simply pay the $6/employee rate and no base price.
Or maybe you’re looking for accounting tools that deal with payroll and only payroll—no HR, no benefits, no add-ons to pay for.
If that’s more your speed, then be sure to take a look at SurePayroll, owned by PayChex. This accounting tool is specially focused on small business owners, with no frills or unnecessary features.
With SurePayroll, you have the ability to manage flexible payroll schedules, report payroll online, and easily deal with contract hires and freelancers. Plus, they offer a payroll tax guarantee, so you can be sure you won’t miss your deadline and pay the penalty.
SurePayroll, like Gusto, works on mobile devices as well, giving you more power to manage your business however you need.
Best Accounting Tools: Tracking Time and Expenses
A big part of accounting is payroll, and a big part of payroll is time-tracking and verifying expenses.
The importance of time-tracking might be obvious: Small businesses often have employees who are paid hourly, and making sure you know where and how your money gets spent is vital.
Likewise, managing and verifying expenses that you and your employees make on behalf of your business will help you spend money on what you need and save on what you don’t. While you should trust your employees (and yourself!) to only spend money on the necessities, you still need to track and categorize your expenses for tax purposes.
Time-tracking and expense management accounting tools, while a bit more limited in their functionality when compared to many of the apps we’ve looked at already, can still be an integral part of your accounting suite.
So if your main accounting software doesn’t offer time-tracking or expense-recording capabilities, check out these tools to manage your employees and simplify your business’s financials.
TSheets is certainly one of the best time-tracking accounting tools available to small businesses out there. They have over 2,000 five-star reviews on the Intuit app store, and after you look at their list of features, it’s easy to understand why.
With TSheets, you can track employee timesheets from any location you want, with any device, as they enter in their times. You get to review and approve timesheets as quickly as you want, since the process is entirely online, and can easily integrate TSheets with QuickBooks Online or Xero in order to send your timesheets directly to your accounting software.
TSheets also makes it easy for you to manage a shift-based schedule, changing it week-to-week according to your and your employees’ needs. The editor is intuitive, and your employees will get notifications when their shifts have been posted or altered. Plus, you can even attach specific tasks, projects, or jobs to these shifts, minimizing confusion and maximizing productivity.
The pricing changes depending on how many employees, contractors, and other users you’d be dealing with, but for two to 99 users, you would pay $16 per month, plus $4 per user per month—for unlimited projects. Check out their free trial and see if TSheets is for you.
“Because you have better things to do.”
That’s Expensify’s motto, and it’s a great one: Recording expenses probably isn’t high on your to-do list of important tasks, but it does tend to take up a lot of time and energy.
But what if you could automate the process?
That’s what Expensify aims to do. It enables you to take pictures of your receipts and turn them into categorized business expenses, which Expensify codes and reports automatically—you simply have to hit “Approve.” It also lets you set company policies for all of your employees, so that certain expenses are always sent your way to approve of while others get auto-filed.
Expensify also helps you reimburse your employees’ expenses the next day with their automatic rapid reimbursement system, and will sync with your accounting system whenever any changes get made.
Business owners get an easy, intuitive, convenient tool that can speed up the tedious process of dealing with expenses, while employees get next-day reimbursements with this straightforward accounting tool.
Similar to Expensify, Neat lets you scan receipts and financial documents—except Neat allows you to use a smartphone, a desktop camera, or an actual scanner. You can securely access your files from any device, anywhere, in their raw picture form or their Neat-ified, categorized expenses.
Neat also integrates with your other accounting tools, so you can transfer your expense documents directly in order to build expense reports, track bills, and share this financial data with your co-owners and accountant. It gets rid of the slow, laborious manual entry normally associated with expense filing, and gives you an easy-to-use online process instead.
What really sets Neat apart, then?
With Neat, you can also easily add in contact information and sync these new contacts with your email marketing platform. Choose the list that each contact gets added to, and boom—you’ve got a fast and easy way to bring live customers into your digital marketing campaigns without asking them to type in their email addresses. Just get a snap of their business card, and you’re set.
The Bottom Line
No matter how big or small your business, you could definitely shave some time and energy off of your financial management tasks by incorporating a few smart accounting tools. Whether you can’t stand processing payroll and entering employee expenses, or you want help managing the basic finances of your business, these 11 accounting options can help.
As a small business owner, every day is a precious opportunity for you to develop and grow your business. Use these tools wisely to take advantage of your time. Good luck!
- Entrepreneur.com. “What’s the One Task Most Small-Business Owners Loathe?“