10 Best QuickBooks Alternatives for Small Businesses

You’re likely well aware that QuickBooks is the reigning incumbent for accounting software in the United States. There’s a reason that so many small businesses turn to QuickBooks for their business needs—it’s easy to use, inexpensive, and training resources for the software abound. But if you’re looking for QuickBooks alternatives, whatever your reason, great options do exist.

Although there’s plenty working in QuickBooks’s favor—industry dominance, ease of use, and a low price point, for instance—there are some QuickBooks alternatives for small businesses available you might want to consider when you’re thinking about your financials. We’ll examine all of the best QuickBooks alternatives (including some free QuickBooks alternatives), and compare what they have to offer so you can decide if they’re the right pick for your small business. 

Let’s explore each of these Quickbooks alternatives below.

The 10 Best QuickBooks Alternatives for Small Businesses

As you’re looking at these QuickBooks alternatives, before you settle on an option, make sure your data isn’t “trapped” if you change your mind. You want to be able to easily move data in and out of solutions, especially if your needs change as your business grows. This is, of course, why it’s best to investigate several options before making your final decision!

You can usually (although not always) get an Excel or a CSV file of your data should you choose to switch software programs. Be sure to confirm that before signing up. This will save you from having to spend valuable hours re-entering data by hand.

1. Xero: Best Overall QuickBooks Alternative

Xero is also a full accounting package. This New Zealand-based company is the industry leader in New Zealand, Australia, and several European countries, too. Built “in the cloud, for the cloud,” Xero has avoided many of the perceived missteps its competitors have made when they transitioned to cloud-based accounting services, making it a great alternative to QuickBooks.

Xero touts itself as “beautiful accounting software,” and, really, it is. Two of the things small business owners love most about this alternative to QuickBooks Online is the simplicity of its interface and its avoidance of accounting and finance jargon. No debits or credits here—just easy-to-understand language that makes it simple to determine what to do with your transactions. The reconcile-as-you-go feature is also a favorite of small business owners, though many accountants and bookkeepers prefer a separate reconciliation function.

Xero has three pricing tiers. If you’re a super-small business, the Starter package at $9/month may work for you. However, most small businesses quickly outgrow this package and move up to the $30/month Standard package. More complex businesses dealing with multiple currencies and larger payrolls need the Premium package, which starts at $70/month.

2. Sage: Most Versatile QuickBooks Alternative

Sage is a full accounting package. It produces a balance sheet and allows for bank reconciliations. Starting at just $10 per month for Sage Accounting Start, it’s very competitively priced, too.

Need more features than those offered in the $10 per month version? You can choose Sage Accounting for $25 per month to unlock unlimited collaboration, quotes and estimates, vendor bill tracking, cash flow forecasts, and the option to choose either cash or accrual basis accounting. There’s also HR tools, POS integrations, ecommerce features, and sales and marketing features.

Like Intuit (the maker of QuickBooks), Sage has a wide variety of options for helping you scale your business, including an accountant partner program and its own series of conferences to help you learn, collaborate, and grow.

3. FreshBooks: Best for the Self-Employed

What started out as an invoicing- and time-tracking software has evolved into a powerhouse for the self-employed. FreshBooks lets you invoice and collect payments from your clients, track your expenses, and collaborate with your subcontractors. It also works with a suite of external applications to help you build a truly customized solution for your business.

If you’re worried about getting stuck on an issue with the software and having to wade through pages of online FAQs to try to solve the problem yourself, don’t be. FreshBooks has excellent customer-service associates who respond quickly to your questions, often replying within an hour.

What FreshBooks does not do is keep a balance sheet. A template is available if you need to create one, but FreshBooks recommends seeking the help of your accountant if this is necessary. This can quickly become a costly endeavor, so if your business needs a balance sheet, FreshBooks is not the right solution for you.

As for price, FreshBooks starts at $15 per month, though most small businesses will need the $25/month plan. There’s also a Premium option available for $50/month, but by the time a business reaches this stage, it will likely need a more robust solution. Additionally, for a limited time only, FreshBooks is offering 50% off for the first 3 months when new users skip the 30 day free trial period.

4: YNAB: Best for Running Financial Reports

Though technically not accounting software, many small businesses use YNAB as though it is. After successfully using it in their personal finances, it didn’t take savvy YNAB users long to determine how to take advantage of the software’s zones of genius—expense tracking, goal setting, and debt management—in their businesses.

YNAB does not have a balance sheet, it doesn’t handle invoicing or payroll, and there isn’t a bank reconciliation feature. But it does have bank syncing, beautiful reporting, and an avid support community to help you form and stick to your goals. While it’s not quite a free QuickBooks alternative, at $6.99/month (if paid annually), the price is definitely affordable.

Interested in substantially increasing the profitability of your business by leveraging your existing habits? This podcast episode tells how you can use YNAB with the “Profit First” method to bring clarity and awareness to your finances and proactively increase your profitability.

5. QuickBooks Self Employed: Best for Sole Proprietors

Yes, we’re supposed to be talking about QuickBooks alternatives. However, QuickBooks Self Employed is not your traditional QuickBooks software. It really is an alternative to QuickBooks Online—at least the QuickBooks Online you’re thinking of. Designed specifically for the Schedule C filer, this version of QuickBooks has a great mileage tracker, receipt capture, and the ability to classify an expense as either business-related or personal with a quick swipe on your smartphone.

QuickBooks Self Employed does not include a balance sheet, nor does it currently allow you to upgrade to a more robust QuickBooks product. It does, however, allow accountant collaboration, and at $15/month—even less with the discount—it costs much less than the other QuickBooks Online options. For a limited time, you can get $1 for the first 12 months on QuickBooks Self-Employed.

6. Wave Accounting: Best Freemium Option

Wave Accounting is a completely free accounting software—however, you’ll have to pay extra to access its full range of features (later will talk about an accounting option you can truly use at no cost whatsoever). With Wave Accounting, you’ll be able to quickly and easily set up your Wave account, connect your business bank account, and start utilizing all of the functions the software has to offer. With your bank account connected, you’re bookkeeping information will appear automatically.

Some of the tools built into Wave Accounting include income and expense tracking, customizable invoicing and receipt scanning, guest collaborators, exportable accounting reports, invoicing, receipt printing and the ability to connect with PayPal, Shoeboxed, and Etsy. And once again, all of this is free.

But, to access the potential of Wave, you’ll need to pay extra. Features like sending and receiving payments and running payroll cost extra. Therefore, we can’t recommend Wave for large teams. However, if you’re looking for a simple accounting tool at no cost, you can’t get much better than Wave.

7. Zoho Books: Best for Those Who Use Other Zoho Apps

Zoho Books is part of the Zoho suite of services—which includes over 40 different business apps, including a CRM, HR tools, and reporting options. As a web-based platform, Zoho Books allows you to access your account wherever you have internet, as well as use their mobile accounting app for either iOS or Android.

The cost of Zoho Books is split into three tiers, allowing you to upgrade and accommodate your business’s expansion. The three Zoho Books plans range in functionality, differentiating largely in the number of contacts, users, and workflows that are included within your account. The Basic plan costs $9 per month, the Standard plan costs $19 per month, and the Professional plan costs $29 per month.

Features you’ll get regardless of your plan include invoicing, cost estimates, the ability to integrate your bank accounts, project and expense tracking, reporting tools, a client portal, custom tax options, as well as the ability to intergate with any of Zoho’s other softwares, and third-party tools like Zapier and Square POS.

8. Bonsai: Best for Freelancers

Next up on our list of QuickBooks alternatives is Bonsai—a project management software for freelancers that has some nifty accounting features built in. With Bonsai, you can track your billable expenses by creating an expense, assign it to a project, and attaching those expenses to an invoice. You can also connect your bank account to import your expenses. What’s more, Bonsai generates expense reports and analytics so you can understand your spending over time.

What’s more, Bonsai allows you to arrange recurring payments, and be paid via credit card, ACH transfer, PayPal, and even bitcoin. Other tools include a freelance tax calculator, reporting functions, time tracking, and the ability to create custom client proposals and contracts.

Bonsai costs $16 per month for their Plus plan and $24 per month for their Premium plan. Both plans include all the aforementioned, but the Premium plan also includes white labelling, subcontracting, and the option to add additional users to your account.

9. FreeAgent: Best Small Business Option

FreeAgent is an accounting software designed specifically for small business owners. It only has one price—$24 per month—and it comes with pretty much everything you’ll need from an accounting perspective. This includes invoicing, expense tracking, sales tax calculation, and a dashboard that offers you a real-time view of your cash flow. Other FreeAgent perks include automated bank feeds and a mobile app.

10. Spendwise: Best for Inventory Management

Last on our list of QuickBooks alternatives is SpendWise, which is a great option for retail business owners. This is because this accounting software comes with robust inventory tracking features. With SpendWise, you can create purchase orders for vendors, and create sales orders and quotes for customers. When purchase orders are filled, SpendWise will automatically update your inventory quantities and costs.

In terms of accounting tools, SpendWise allows you to track unpaid bills, sales, and expenses. There’s also reporting tools. However, SpendWise does not currently integrate with bank accounts or credit cards. What’s more, you don’t get access to all features unless you shell out for the Enterprise plan (quote-based)—which comes with inventory management and multi-currency payments. SpendWise Basic ($9 per month) is going to limit the number of purchase orders you can make each month, and SpendWise Pro ($19 per month) does not allow you to see updated inventory when purchase orders are filled.

What Are the Best Free QuickBooks Alternatives?

There are free QuickBooks alternatives available, and many claim to be just as good as subscription-based solutions. Although some business owners use these free QuickBooks alternatives with good results, free accounting solutions are often lacking in functionality, reliability, user experience, or customer service. You have to consider what this could cost your business. As your accounting software will be the backbone of your business, paying a small sum for a better system is most likely worth it. 

If you choose not to invest in an accounting solution and your business is very small and not complex, your best bet is to use Excel templates to keep track of your business finances. Beginner Bookkeeping has a library of free templates available, as well as explanations of basic bookkeeping principles so you understand how to use the templates.  

If you want to use this as a free QuickBooks alternative, here are a few of our favorites from Beginner Bookkeeping:

  1. Excel Cash Book
  2. Accounts Receivable Ledger
  3. Accounts Payable Ledger
  4. Cash Flow Template
  5. Income Statement Template
  6. Balance Sheet Template

How to Decide Between QuickBooks and QuickBooks Alternatives

Here is a list of questions you should ask to help you make the right decision for your business:

1. What accounting functions do you need to be able to handle?

Think about the following things you might need to do in your business:

  • Invoice your clients or customers for payment later
  • Track bills for future payment
  • Track and manage equipment or other business assets
  • Track income and expenses by job, project, or customer
  • Collect and remit sales tax
  • Manage payroll for yourself or your team

2. How often will you use your software—or reports from your software—to make business decisions?

  • Will you review your financial reports regularly, or do you just want to track income and expenses for tax purposes?
  • Do you need to be able to connect your accounting software to outside applications, like dashboards, to help you visualize your business’ performance?

3. What do you envision for the future of your business?

  • Do you want to keep your business small and privately held, or do you dream of eventually going public?
  • Do you think you will always handle most of your accounting processes in-house, or is one of your goals to outsource these tasks to an outside provider?
  • Are you open to the possibility of seeking small business loans and financing at some point in your business’ lifetime, or are you committed to operating completely debt-free?

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers here when you’re considering QuickBooks or QuickBooks alternatives. Be honest with yourself and how you want to operate your business. This will be the key to picking the right solution for your business.

The Final Word

With these 10 QuickBooks alternatives, you’ve just barely begun to scratch the surface of what is available to small business owners. These options may prove to be a good fit for you, or they may all fall flat. Most accounting software options offer a free trial period—typically 30 days—so you can try on different solutions before you commit to one. And, if you’re considering free option, the only thing it will cost you is time.

Your financial data is an important part of your business, and financial data management can take hours of your time if you choose the wrong solution or set it up improperly. Whatever you decide to use, seek the guidance of an accountant or a bookkeeper to properly set up your software. Most of the options listed above have communities of professionals who are either certified in or extensively use the software. Once you have settled on your software, reach out to one of these professionals to help you get off on the right foot.

Billie Anne Grigg

Billie Anne Grigg has been a bookkeeper since before the turn of the century (yes, this one). She is a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, LivePlan Expert Advisor, FreshBooks Certified Beancounter, and a Mastery Level Certified Profit First Professional. She is also a guide for the Profit First Professionals organization. Billie Anne started Pocket Protector Bookkeeping in 2012 to provide an excellent virtual bookkeeping and managerial accounting solution for small businesses that cannot yet justify employing a full-time, in-house bookkeeping staff.
Read more