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5 Best Accounting Apps Built for Small Businesses

March 17, 2023 7 min. read
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Not every small business has a dedicated bookkeeper or accountant. And even if you do, keeping track of cash flow, expenses, profitability, and your business’s overall financial health is still challenging.

To keep tabs on your business’s finances while on the go, choose a mobile-friendly accounting app that fits your team, customer relationships, and the services you provide.

Here are the best apps for small business accounting based on user reviews and our own in-depth research:

QuickBooks OnlineWaveFreshBooksZoho BooksSage Business Cloud Accounting
Best forOverallFree usageAccounts receivable managementTask automationAdvanced accounting
Top Features• Cash flow tracking
• Receipt categorization
• Expense and profitability reports
• Automatic mileage tracking
• Simple, user-friendly appearance
• Unlimited expense tracking
• Unlimited bank and credit card connections
• Invoice customization
• Recurring invoices
• Deposit requests
• Outstanding invoice reminders
• Easy transaction matching
• Automated communication for recurring clients
• Automatic payment collection
• Transaction categorization
• Automatic bank feeds
• Customizable credit terms
• Inventory management
• Easy tax return filing
Starting price$22/monthFree$22/month$15/month$17/month

1. QuickBooks Online: best overall accounting app for small businesses

QuickBooks Online is the best accounting app for small business teams that need to manage all parts of their accounting and bookkeeping better—including income and expense tracking, financial reports, payroll, accounts receivable, and accounts payable.

Why is QuickBooks Online the best overall accounting app? QuickBooks Online has a wider set of features than most accounting apps on the market and thousands of satisfied user reviews.

The app’s customizability makes it work for businesses with all levels of accounting experience. QuickBooks Online integrates with many e-commerce systems, CRM apps, payments software, and field service management software like Jobber.

• Fast onboarding and migration from offline accounting software
Invoice templates are easy to customize and send to customers
• Easy to add new vendors and customers
• Pricier than most small business accounting software
• Limited inventory management and project management features
• Lots of accounting features that can be overwhelming to newer small business owners

Best QuickBooks Online features

  • Accurate bank matching keeps data consistent between QuickBooks and your business bank account
  • Highly customizable reports let you check account balances, cash flow, and track your business finances in one place
  • Snap and save photos of receipts on your phone, then easily categorize receipt photos to maximize your tax deduction claims
  • Automatically track the miles you travel so you can turn your business trips into deductions
  • Track billable hours to add to your invoices and customize your mobile timer with details for specific tasks

Starting price: $22/month

2. Wave: best free accounting app for small business owners

Wave is a free accounting app that’s ideal for small teams, startups, freelancers, and business owners with little to no accounting experience.

With a simple, clutter-free interface and a quick setup process, Wave is a great choice for busy teams that need to monitor cash flow, manage expenses, and perform all kinds of accounting and bookkeeping tasks on a budget.

• Accounting reports are easy to create
• Free to add unlimited users
• Simple vocabulary that accounting amateurs can understand
• No automatic bank reconciliation
• No time tracking tools
• Limited reporting features compared to other paid options
• Customer support is only available via email

Best Wave features:

  • Manage an unlimited number of expenses and track unlimited receipts
  • Link your business bank account to automatically import income and expenses
  • Make unlimited bank and credit card connections for free
  • Generate simple reports on financial statements, taxes, customers, and vendors
  • Tag transactions that were automatically imported from your bank account
  • Quickly see your total amount due from all outstanding invoices

Price: Free. Users only pay credit card processing fees.
Optional payroll feature: $25/month

READ MORE: Bookkeeper vs accountant: what’s the difference?

3. FreshBooks: best app for accounts receivable management

FreshBooks is great for teams that want to invoice customers easily from their accounting app and keep all accounts receivable activities in one place.

The FreshBooks app has your typical suite of accounting and bookkeeping features, but beats competitors for its invoicing tools. It offers one streamlined place to create, customize, and send your freelance invoices and ensure clients pay for your work.

• Automatically calculate taxes on your invoices
• Simple and intuitive time tracking features
• Assign multiple email addresses to a single customer
• All features are available in the free trial version
• Limited reporting and analytics features
• Can’t apply discounts to specific line items on invoices
• No way to scan and attach existing invoices created outside FreshBooks

Best FreshBooks features:

  • Create a new invoice on a single screen and customize it with your company branding, discounts, and payment terms
  • Add your tracked time and expenses you’ve logged on the app
  • Request a deposit on an invoice before the project starts
  • Send recurring invoices for services you provide on a regular basis
  • Allow clients to pay online and send outstanding invoice reminders

Starting price: $22/month

4. Zoho Books: best app for task automation

Zoho Books is the best accounting app for small businesses that want to automate more of their accounting and bookkeeping tasks. You can set up automation rules that organize your transactions and speed up accounts receivable collection while you’re completing other tasks.

Building automation workflows in Zoho Books is a quick and intuitive process, even for less experienced software users. Zoho Books offers plenty of help documentation to support your team when building more complicated accounting automations.

• Well-designed reporting dashboard
• Lots of help documentation for new users
• Easy Bank Reconciliation Statement (BRS) printing
• Assign expenses to specific employees and projects
• No deposit slip printing
• No payroll features
• Very basic time tracking functionality
• Many users complain about customer support

Best Zoho Books features:

  • Create rules for recurring clients and let Zoho Books automatically send invoices and collect payment
  • Have your transactions automatically categorized using bank rules you can set however you like
  • Speed up transaction matching—Zoho Books identifies the closest matches for your transactions
  • Automatically charge client credit cards for recurring transactions

Starting price: Free (for businesses with annual revenue < $50k)

5. Sage Accounting: best for advanced accounting

Sage Business Cloud Accounting offers advanced accounting features for small businesses that have more complex accounting processes, such as inventory, vendors, suppliers, or more types of transactions to manage.

This accounting app is best for teams with established accounting practices and who need tools to streamline them. Like most other accounting apps, Sage Business Cloud Accounting offers A/P and A/R management tools, bank reconciliation, payroll, invoicing, and financial reporting.

• Fast and easy to import transactions from your bank
• Easy tax return filing
• Reliable customer support staff
• No time tracking feature
• Mobile app is not as customizable as the desktop version
• Steep learning curve, and training resources can be hard to find

Best Sage Business Cloud Accounting features:

  • Smart transaction categorization technology that learns from your category selections and automatically populates transactions
  • Automatic bank feeds that let you instantly reconcile business transactions inside your accounting software
  • Customizable credit terms for customers—you can impose credit limits and set up groups, categories, and tags for suppliers
  • Set inventory management rules, wholesale or purchase prices, and minimum re-order levels
  • Capture and upload receipts and other documents with Sage’s automated receipt capture software

Starting price: $17/month.

READ MORE: Are you tracking business expenses the right way?

How to choose the best accounting app

Before choosing an accounting app, figure out what goals you want it to help you accomplish.

Many accounting and bookkeeping apps share the same features, with differences like automations, or customizations that work for some businesses better than others.

Consider these factors when looking for a mobile accounting app:

  • Features. What accounting functions do you need most out of your software? Do you need accounts payable and accounts receivable management tools? Is automated bank reconciliation more important to you than inventory tracking?
  • Team size. Are you a freelancer, a two- to three-person team, or bigger? Keep in mind that some apps only accommodate a certain number of users before you have to pay for more or choose a higher-tier plan.
  • Cost. What are you willing to pay for? Will more advanced financial reporting and automation be worth a higher subscription price, or are you happy with basic accounting and bookkeeping tools at a lower cost (or no cost)?

There isn’t one accounting app that fits all businesses—so come back to this guide when you need help choosing one that fits the way you work.

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