QuickBooks Review: Everything You Need to Know About QuickBooks for Small Business
Searching for the best accounting software for your business can be a difficult process, and yet, when you do find the right solution, the benefits are substantial. After all, the right business accounting platform will have the capabilities and features (at the right price) you need to automate and streamline your financial processes.
This being said, if you’re trying to find the best accounting software for your business, you might begin your search with one of the most tried and true solutions on the market—QuickBooks.
With several different versions of their accounting software, QuickBooks is used by businesses of all shapes and sizes and is, without a doubt, one of the most popular platforms among small business owners.
However, considering all of the specific details involved with QuickBooks and their various accounting software options, you may be wondering: Is QuickBooks the right solution for my business?
With this QuickBooks accounting software review, we’ll help you find out.
Throughout our QuickBooks review, we’ll explore each of the types of QuickBooks accounting software, as well as their features and pricing. Moreover, we’ll discuss the possible pros and cons of QuickBooks and break down what you need to know to decide which, if any, of the versions of QuickBooks can best fulfill your business’s needs.
QuickBooks Review: What Is QuickBooks?
First and foremost, let’s go through the basics: What is QuickBooks, exactly?
Ultimately, no matter which version of QuickBooks you’re talking about—whether QuickBooks Online, Desktop, or Self-Employed—QuickBooks is always a business accounting software. On the whole, this means that QuickBooks is designed to help small businesses manage their bookkeeping, accounting, and related operational processes in a way that works best for them.
Using any version of QuickBooks, therefore, you’ll be able to complete basic accounting functions—automating and streamlining your financial processes. Plus, by choosing a QuickBooks software, you’re deciding to work with one of the most tenured accounting software companies out there. With this tenure comes not only years of experience, scaling, and improvement—but you’ll also have access to a network of bookkeepers and accounting professionals who specialize in QuickBooks, simply because it’s so widespread and established.
That said, since the QuickBooks product suite is so vast—with accounting software to cater to the needs of businesses of different shapes, sizes, industries, and entities—it’s important to explore each of the QuickBooks options individually and learn what each version can potentially offer your business.
- Tried and true
- Variety of options
- Integration opportunities
- Not as user-friendly as competitors
QuickBooks Review: Types of QuickBooks Accounting Software
Now that we’ve given an overview of QuickBooks for small businesses, let’s continue our QuickBooks review by breaking down all of the versions of this accounting software.
We’ll discuss each of the QuickBooks solutions in terms of features, plans, and pricing, as well as what type of business is best suited for that particular product. QuickBooks offers four distinct accounting software options:
- QuickBooks Online
- QuickBooks Desktop
- QuickBooks Self-Employed
- QuickBooks Enterprise
Let’s dive into the details.
QuickBooks Review: QuickBooks Online
The first version to discuss in our QuickBooks review, QuickBooks Online, is perhaps the most popular of all the QuickBooks products, and for good reason. Comparing QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop, QuickBooks Online is web-based—and compared to QuickBooks Self-Employed, QuickBooks Online is better suited for all kinds of small businesses, not just freelancers or contractors.
With four plans within the QuickBooks Online accounting software, this version of QuickBooks can accommodate a variety of price points and capability requirements. Plus, each of these options guarantees the accessibility, flexibility, and mobility that’s often essential for running a small business.
Let’s explore this QuickBooks solution further:
QuickBooks Online Simple Start
Aside from QuickBooks Self-Employed (more on this below), the first QuickBooks Online plan, Simple Start, will be one of the most affordable accounting software systems on the market.
QuickBooks Simple Start costs $25 per month, with a special discounted price of $12 a month for your first three months.
With this QuickBooks software, you’ll have access to core accounting functions, including the ability to:
- Track income and expenses
- Create, send, and track invoices and estimates
- Download and automate transactions
- Print checks, record transactions, accept payments
- Run basic reports
- Track sales and sales tax
- Easily import data from Excel or QuickBooks Desktop
- Capture and attach paper receipts
- Allow up to two accountants to access your data
- Utilize the mobile QuickBooks accounting app
- Manage 1099 contractors
- Integrate with hundreds of third-party tools and other QuickBooks products
QuickBooks Online Essentials
The next step up for this QuickBooks software is QuickBooks Online Essentials.
With QuickBooks Online Essentials, you’ll pay a monthly subscription of $40, with a discounted price of $20 a month for your first three months.
On top of the features of QuickBooks Online Simple Start, Essentials gives you the ability to:
- Add up to three users
- Manage and pay vendor bills
- Enter and schedule bill payments ahead of time
- Track billable hours by client or employee
- Integrate with TSheets by QuickBooks
QuickBooks Online Plus
The third QuickBooks Online plan, QuickBooks Online Plus, will cost $70 per month, with a discounted price of $35 per month for your first three months.
QuickBooks Online Plus offers all of the capabilities of Simple Start and Essentials, as well as:
- Up to five users
- Track inventory (an exclusive feature that other software systems like Quicken don’t offer)
- Prep and print 1099s
- Track project profitability
- Track labor costs, payroll, and expenses with job costing
- Create custom user permissions
QuickBooks Online Advanced
Finally, the QuickBooks Online plan that will give you the most functionality is QuickBooks Online Advanced. This QuickBooks accounting software option is also the most expensive in the Online suite—$150 per month, with a discount of $75 per month for the first three months.
QuickBooks Online Advanced includes all of the features of the previous three plans, plus:
- Accelerated invoicing
- Smart reporting powered by Fathom
- Enhanced custom fields
- Premium customer support with QuickBooks Priority Circle
- Up to 25 users
QuickBooks Review: QuickBooks Desktop
The next version of QuickBooks accounting software is QuickBooks Desktop.
QuickBooks Desktop is a traditional, desktop-based solution, meaning the software is housed on one computer and must be accessed from that machine. In this way, QuickBooks Desktop is inherently different from QuickBooks Self-Employed and QuickBooks Online, both of which are web-based.
This being said, QuickBooks Desktop is one of the most robust and powerful accounting software platforms on the market—with two unique options to meet the needs of a variety of business owners, QuickBooks Pro and Premier.
Therefore, if you’d prefer a desktop-based platform that can accommodate the full range of accounting tasks for your business, QuickBooks Desktop is worth considering.
Let’s explore the details.
QuickBooks Pro is the most basic version of the QuickBooks Desktop solutions.
This QuickBooks accounting software for small business comes in two options, Pro and Pro Plus.
With QuickBooks Pro, you’ll be able to purchase the software for a one-time payment of $399.99 giving you access to the following features:
- Access for up to three users
- Track income and expenses
- Create and send estimates and invoices
- Run over 100 financial reports
- Track sales taxes
- Manage bills and outstanding accounts payable
- Track time and inventory
- Manage and pay 1099 contractors
- Add QuickBooks Payroll and unlimited customer support
If you want to opt for QuickBooks Pro Plus, you’ll receive all of the capabilities of Pro, as well as unlimited customer support, automatic data backup and recovery, and access to the latest features and updates. You also have the option to add cloud-based access to your account. QuickBooks Pro Plus will cost an annual fee of $299.99.
If your business needs additional features (especially for accounting tasks like pricing and inventory) from your platform, you then might consider the next QuickBooks Desktop solution, QuickBooks Premier.
Offering all of the capabilities of QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier also has advanced features including:
- Access for up to five users
- Run over 150 industry-specific reports
- Create sales orders
- Track costs for products and inventory
- Set product and service prices by customer types
Like Pro, the QuickBooks Premier accounting software can be purchased as Premier or Premier Plus. QuickBooks Premier costs a one-time payment of $649.99. Premier Plus, on the other hand, requires an annual subscription of $499.99—with the added benefits of unlimited customer support, automated data backup and recovery, and easy software upgrades.
QuickBooks Review: QuickBooks Self-Employed
The most basic and affordable version of QuickBooks’ small business accounting software is QuickBooks Self-Employed.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is best suited for freelancers and independent contractors, with features, tools, and a price-point designed specifically for these types of professionals.
What can you expect from this version of QuickBooks accounting software?
Let’s take a closer look.
Under the umbrella of QuickBooks Self-Employed, there are three unique plans for you to choose from. The first and most basic version of this accounting software is simply called QuickBooks Self-Employed.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is a web-based platform and is priced on a monthly subscription basis. Currently, this QuickBooks accounting software product costs $15 per month—but for a limited time only, you can get QuickBooks Self-Employed for 50% off.
On the whole, this QuickBooks Self-Employed plan will include the following features:
- Automatic mileage tracking with mobile QuickBooks app
- Manual mileage tracking
- Separating business and personal expenses
- Sending and tracking customizable invoices
- Schedule C deduction optimization, sorting business expenses into tax categories
- Quarterly tax estimates that are calculated automatically
QuickBooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle
The second version of QuickBooks Self-Employed offers greater tax capabilities and is called the Self-Employed Tax Bundle.
This plan includes all of the features of QuickBooks Self-Employed as well as:
- Pay your quarterly estimated taxes online
- Export your Schedule C and tax information directly to TurboTax
- One federal and one state tax return as part of the bundle
For this QuickBooks accounting software option, you’ll pay $17 per month, discounted to $12 for the first three months of your subscription.
QuickBooks Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle
The final QuickBooks Self-Employed plan offers the greatest functionality, with even more features to help specifically with business taxes.
This option, the Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle, costs $24 per month ($17 for the first three months with the intro deal). In addition to all of the capabilities of the first two Self-Employed solutions, this QuickBooks accounting software also offers:
- Live TurboTax CPA and EAs for personalized, on-demand tax assistance
- Unlimited advice from TurboTax professionals all year long
- CPA or EA review of your tax return
QuickBooks Review: QuickBooks Enterprise
Finally, the last version of this accounting software to discuss in our QuickBooks review is QuickBooks Enterprise.
Whereas the solutions we’ve discussed thus far are geared more specifically toward small businesses, QuickBooks Enterprise is best suited for midsize and larger businesses.
Additionally, this QuickBooks accounting software will come in three subscription plan options—Silver, Gold, and Platinum—all of which are available in both desktop and cloud-based versions.
If you opt for a desktop version of QuickBooks Enterprise, then you’ll have to pay an annual subscription fee. On the other hand, if you decide to go with the cloud-based version, then you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. Each plan for this QuickBooks accounting software will be able to accommodate up to 30 users; however, you’ll be priced at a different rate depending on how many users you need on your account.
Let’s get a better idea of what QuickBooks Enterprise can offer your business.
QuickBooks Enterprise Silver
The most basic version of QuickBooks Enterprise is QuickBooks Enterprise Gold.
For accounts with one user, the Gold plan will start at $1,577 per year for the local-only software and $175 per month for the hosted-version. As we mentioned, with additional users, the price per year or per month will increase, reaching up to $7,277 per year for up to 30 users on the local version. For up to 30 users on QuickBooks Enterprise Gold with hosting, you’ll have to contact QuickBooks directly for pricing information.
QuickBooks Enterprise Gold will give you access to the most advanced features of any of the QuickBooks accounting software options thus far, including:
- Industry tailored software
- More than 6x the capacity of other QuickBooks software
- Automatic QuickBooks product upgrades
- Online backup data storage
- U.S.-based customer support
- QuickBooks Priority Circle Program
- QuickBooks Advanced Reporting
QuickBooks Enterprise Gold
The next version of QuickBooks Enterprise, Platinum, will include the same feature set, with one notable addition: QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Enhanced. The Platinum plan will give you full access to this payroll software, for unlimited employees with no monthly fees.
QuickBooks Enterprise Platinum starts at $1,940 for the local-only version and $206 per month for the version with hosting. Once again, if you require more than one user on your account, the price will increase based on the number of users you need.
QuickBooks Enterprise Platinum
Finally, the top tier of QuickBooks Enterprise, Diamond, will be the QuickBooks accounting software option with the most capabilities, and therefore, the highest cost.
For the local-only version, QuickBooks Enterprise Diamond will cost, at minimum, $3,825 per year. The hosted version will cost $363.79 per month for one user. Just like the Gold and Platinum plans, the cost of the Diamond software will increase based on the number of users.
QuickBooks Enterprise Diamond will include all of the Gold and Platinum features, as well as QuickBooks Advanced Inventory and Advanced Pricing modules.
QuickBooks Review: Pros and Cons of QuickBooks for Small Business
QuickBooks Accounting Software: Pros
As you can see, as an accounting software provider, QuickBooks has a wealth of options to offer. Not only are there four different versions of QuickBooks for small business, but each of those versions also has multiple plans for you to choose from as well.
With all of these details in mind, therefore, let’s take the next step in our QuickBooks review and discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of choosing QuickBooks as your accounting software.
Let’s start with the pros of QuickBooks—here are a few to consider:
Tried and True
Firstly, as we’ve already mentioned, QuickBooks accounting software is one of the most tried and true options on the market.
QuickBooks has been providing small business accounting solutions since the 1990s and has continued to improve and adapt as needs have changed. As a result, QuickBooks offers not one, but four unique versions of their accounting software and each option comes with the reliability and robust features that QuickBooks is known for.
Moreover, because QuickBooks is so popular among small business owners, there is an extensive network of bookkeepers, accountants, and QuickBooks ProAdvisors who are trained specifically in this software and can provide you with assistance if you need it. In the same way, the popularity of QuickBooks also makes it easy to find online and community resources to reference as well.
Variety of Options
Another of the most notable benefits of QuickBooks for small business is the sheer number of software versions and individual plans QuickBooks offers. Between the four versions of QuickBooks—Desktop, Online, Self-Employed, and Enterprise, you have a multitude of plans to choose from, each with specific features and pricing.
With all of these options, you have an unparalleled amount of flexibility to find the solution that will work best for your business. Plus, with each of the QuickBooks versions and plans, you’ll receive an impressive feature set that will truly allow you to manage your necessary accounting processes.
Therefore, if any accounting software provider is going to be able to accommodate the greatest number of small businesses, it’s going to be QuickBooks.
Although this benefit is most relevant to QuickBooks Online, on the whole, QuickBooks provides an impressive amount of integration opportunities. In regards to QuickBooks Online specifically, you can connect this accounting software to over hundreds of third-party tools, in addition to TSheets and QuickBooks Payroll.
With these integration options, QuickBooks gives you a significant ability to manage a majority of your business processes in one place.
This being said, even though QuickBooks Desktop does not give you nearly as many integration options, you can add other helpful QuickBooks products to your account to increase your functionality within a single platform.
QuickBooks Accounting Software: Cons
Despite the benefits of QuickBooks for small business, just like any other accounting software, it has its downsides as well.
Let’s discuss a few cons of QuickBooks:
Although some of the QuickBooks versions (Self-Employed and most of the QuickBooks Online plans) are relatively affordable, there’s no doubt that, compared to other accounting software solutions designed for small businesses, QuickBooks can be expensive—especially with their Desktop products.
For example, if you compare Xero vs. QuickBooks Online, on the whole, Xero’s plans are less costly, starting at $9 monthly and ranging to $60 monthly, with extremely similar functionality.
Plus, whereas many QuickBooks competitors offer yearly subscription discounts—for purchasing a year at a time instead of month-to-month, QuickBooks does not offer this perk.
Therefore, if cost is one of your top concerns with regard to accounting software, you might explore some of the other small business solutions on the market.
Not as User-Friendly as Competitors
Just as QuickBooks may not be as cost-effective compared to competitors, it similarly may not be as user-friendly as other accounting software options for small businesses. Although by no means is QuickBooks difficult, you’ll find that some QuickBooks alternatives—FreshBooks, Wave, Xero—are more intuitive and easier to use.
You may find that this is particularly the case with QuickBooks’ Desktop products, as most accounting software solutions are now designed specifically as web-based platforms. As such, these other products focus largely on accessibility and user experience, and therefore, are going to be more user-friendly than QuickBooks Desktop.
QuickBooks Review: Which Version of QuickBooks Accounting Software Do You Need?
As we near the end of this QuickBooks accounting software review, you might still be asking, “How do I know which of the QuickBooks versions is right for my business?”
Well, the answer to this question will be based on your specific business, your accounting needs, and your budget.
This being said, let’s discuss two of the main deciding factors that you’ll want to consider to figure out which QuickBooks software is best for your business.
QuickBooks Pricing for Your Business
When you’re trying to decide which QuickBooks accounting software is best for your business, you’ll really want to think about pricing. As we mentioned, on the whole, QuickBooks may not be one of the cheapest accounting solutions on the market, and with all of their different options, QuickBooks pricing spans a remarkably wide range.
Therefore, you’ll want to first and foremost determine what your budget is for accounting software. If you can find a QuickBooks product that falls within your budget, then you can move on to looking more specifically at what that particular product can offer.
However, if you can’t find a QuickBooks option within your budget, you might consider looking into free accounting software options, like Wave.
All of this being said, the right accounting software is an important investment, and you don’t want to bargain for a subpar solution; however, you do want to be sure that you’re not committing to QuickBooks pricing that your business can’t afford.
QuickBooks Accounting Software Features for Your Business
The other main deciding factor—QuickBooks accounting software features—is pretty all-encompassing for a reason. You’ll need to decide which QuickBooks software features are the ones that matter most to you when deciding on which version of QuickBooks you need.
Do you require more than one user? Do you want a desktop or web-based solution? Do you need special inventory capabilities? Can you fulfill your needs with Pro, or comparing QuickBooks Pro vs. Enterprise, do you need the advanced features Enterprise can offer?
As no two small businesses are the same, the capabilities that you require will be unique to your business—and therefore, the QuickBooks version that’s right for you won’t necessarily be the same as what other businesses use. Therefore, if you’re interested in a QuickBooks product, you’ll want to compare that product’s feature set to your needs to make sure you have all of the tools you need in that particular solution.
This being said, by balancing the features you require with your budget, you should be able to effectively sort through the various QuickBooks options to find the one that will work best for your business.
QuickBooks Review: The Bottom Line
We’ve reached the conclusion of our QuickBooks review—and now the question remains: Is QuickBooks right for your business?
After exploring the four versions of QuickBooks accounting software, you’re in the best possible position to answer this question—because ultimately, the decision is up to you.
Although the right accounting software will depend on your specific requirements, there’s no doubt that as a tried-and-true solution, QuickBooks may very well accommodate your business’s needs. And regardless of which of the QuickBooks versions you were to choose, you’d know that you’d be investing in a reliable, robust, and efficient solution that would be able to help you optimize your accounting processes.
However, as choosing a business accounting software is such an important decision, you might prefer to test QuickBooks out yourself—and take advantage of their 30-day free trial.
Stacy Kildal is a contributing writer for Fundera.
Stacy Kildal is owner/operator of Kildal Services LLC—an accounting and technology consulting company that specializes in all things QuickBooks. From 2012 to 2017, Stacy has been named one of CPA Practice Advisor’s Most Powerful Women In Accounting.
Stacy is one of the three hosts for the QB Show and has also been featured frequently on Intuit’s Accountant Blog, Community “Ask the Expert” forums, at various Intuit Academy To Go podcasts, as well as hosting a number of Intuit Small Business Online Town Hall sessions.
She is a big fan of working mobile and has been recognized by Intuit as being an expert on QuickBooks Online, having written Intuit’s original courses for the U.S., Singapore and Canadian versions.