7 Best QuickBooks Alternatives for Small Businesses

Updated on March 18, 2022
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You’re likely well aware that QuickBooks is the reigning incumbent for best accounting software. Although there’s plenty working in QuickBooks’ favor — industry dominance, ease of use and scalability, for instance — small-business owners might consider alternatives, depending on their budget and what features they need. Before you settle on an option, just 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.

Here are seven of the best QuickBooks alternatives and why a small-business owner might choose them:

1. Xero: Best overall QuickBooks alternative

Small-business owners love that Xero is simple and avoids accounting jargon. No debits or credits here — just easy-to-understand language that makes it simple to determine what to do with your transactions. The product also has some of the same core accounting features as QuickBooks Online, including bank feeds, intuitive bank reconciliation, basic inventory tracking and reporting.

Xero has three pricing tiers and all of them support unlimited users. If you’re a super small business, the Early plan at $12/month may work for you — just keep in mind you can only enter up to five bills and 20 invoices. However, most small businesses quickly outgrow this package and move up to the $34/month Growing plan. More complex businesses that deal with multiple currencies and have to claim expenses and track projects need the Established plan, which is $65/month.

2. Sage: Most versatile QuickBooks alternative

Sage is a full accounting package that offers desktop and cloud products. Its cloud-based solution, Sage Accounting, has two plan tiers: a $10/month one for self-employed people and micro-businesses, and a $25/month one for small businesses. The latter unlocks unlimited collaboration, quotes and estimates, cash flow forecasts and the ability to manage purchase invoices. There are also HR tools, POS integrations, ecommerce features and sales and marketing features available.

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 self-employed people

What started out as invoicing software has evolved into a powerhouse for the self-employed. FreshBooks lets you invoice and collect payments from your clients, track your expenses, run reports and track sales tax. 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 to emails within 90 minutes and to phone calls within three rings.

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.

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4. Wave Accounting: Best free option

Wave Accounting is a completely free accounting software that’s easy to set up and lets you connect your business bank account so your bookkeeping information will appear automatically. Some of the tools built into the product include income and expense tracking, receipt scanning, unlimited collaborators, accounting reports, invoicing and integrations powered by Zapier.

But, remember that 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.

5. Zoho Books: Best for business owners who already use Zoho apps

Zoho Books is part of the Zoho One suite of services — which includes over 40 different business apps, including customer relationship management, HR tools and reporting options. Zoho Books’ four plans range in functionality, number of users and workflows that are included. First, Zoho offers a free plan. Then, the Standard plan costs $20 per month, the Professional plan costs $50 per month and the Premium plan costs $70 per month.

Features you’ll get regardless of your plan include invoicing, estimates, the ability to integrate your bank accounts, reporting tools, a client portal, the ability to integrate with any of Zoho’s other softwares and third-party tools like Zapier and a Stripe integration.

6. Bonsai: Best for freelancers

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

Bonsai also 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’s Workflow plan costs $19/month and its Workflow Plus plan costs $29/month. The Workflow plan includes unlimited clients and projects, project management, proposals and contracts, invoicing, payments and time tracking. The more expensive plan gives you access to features like the client portal, subcontracting, priority support, workflow automations and client questionnaires. You can invite additional users to collaborate for $9/month each.

7. FreeAgent: Simplest pricing structure

FreeAgent is an accounting software designed specifically for small-business owners. It only has one price — $24/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, unlimited users and a mobile app.

Other free QuickBooks alternatives

Although some business owners use 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, you might be able to use Excel templates to keep track of your business finances. Beginner Bookkeeping has a library of free templates available, including the following:

  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’s 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’s lifetime, or are you committed to operating completely debt-free?
Billie Anne Grigg
CPO at Pocket Protector Bookkeeping

Billie Anne Grigg

Billie Anne Grigg is a contributing writer for Fundera.

Billie Anne has been a bookkeeper since before the turn of the century. 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.

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