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Best Accounting Software for Small Business 2017

Credit: Lightspring/Shutterstock

When searching for the best accounting software, we looked for solutions that are affordable and easy to use. We also looked for time-saving features that take the headache out of small business accounting, such as automated entries, invoicing, bill payments, expense reports, financial reports and reconciliations. Additionally, we looked for software that make it simple to perform advanced tasks, such as built-in financial reports and data syncing, for instance, with point of sale (POS) systems and bank accounts. Our staff researched and reviewed an extensive collection of accounting software and picked out what we believe are the best for different types of small businesses in 2017. 

Here is a roundup of our best picks and how we chose them. To help you find the right accounting software for your business, check out our Accounting Software Buyer's Guide.

Small Business Overall
QuickBooks Online
Read Review
  • Pricing
    Starts at $9.99 per month
  • Mobile accounting
    iOS and Android
  • Customer service
    Phone and chat support
Mobile Accounting App
Read Review
  • Pricing
    Starts at $9.95 per month
  • Mobile accounting
    iOS and Android
  • Customer service
    Phone and email support
Read Review
  • Pricing
    Starts at $9 per month
  • Mobile accounting
    iOS and Android
  • Customer service
    24/7 phone, email and live chat support
Really Small Businesses
Zoho Books
Read Review
  • Pricing
    $24 per month
  • Mobile accounting
    iOS, Android, Windows Phone
  • Customer service
    Phone and email support
Wave Accounting
Read Review
  • Pricing
    Free, with ads
  • Mobile accounting
    No native app
  • Customer service
    Phone and live chat, at extra cost

Intuit QuickBooks Online offers a wide range of features for all types of small businesses. This includes freelancers, consultants, online merchants, store and restaurant owners, service providers and more. Whether you're just starting out, expanding or have an established business, QuickBooks Online is packed with basic and advanced features to meet your accounting needs. [Go here for a full review of QuickBooks Online accounting software.]

Accounting software costs add up. And not all small businesses will benefit from a paid service. Instead, Wave Accounting offers a free, cloud-based accounting software specifically designed for small businesses. Unlike other free accounting software programs that limit capabilities, Wave Accounting offers a comprehensive set of accounting features without the monthly price tag. [Go here for a full review of Wave Accounting.]

Mac users often come across the issue of finding software that is stripped down or are less intuitive than their Windows counterpart. Xero's cloud-based accounting software, which is available for both PC and Mac, is a full-featured solution that doesn't compromise on features or ease of use just because you're on a Mac computer. It can help you save time and take the headache out of accounting by automating tasks and integrating with more than 500 apps businesses already use. Xero also comes with 24/7 phone, email and live chat support at no extra cost. [Go here for a full review of Xero accounting software.]

Really small businesses need really simple accounting software. Zoho Books offers all the basic features microbusinesses need, as well as advanced tools that grow with your business. Furthermore, compared with other accounting software for really small businesses, Zoho Books has the best price for all of its capabilities. [Go here for a full review of Zoho Books.]

Most accounting software products have a mobile app, but not all apps are created equal. Of all the accounting mobile apps we considered, FreshBooks wins for its ease of use, excellent customer service, and for offering all the features small businesses need to manage their finances on the go. [Go here for a full review of FreshBooks' accounting mobile app.]

To find the best accounting software for small businesses, we began by asking business owners which accounting software they use, what they love about it and what they think makes a "perfect" accounting software. We also researched popular accounting software that frequently appeared on reputable review websites, top lists and business websites.

We then created an extensive list of accounting software. These included software that we gathered from our research above, as well as those we were already familiar with and vendors who have previously pitched their software to us. We narrowed down this list based on different use-case scenarios and a wide range of criteria (listed in detail below).

Next, we evaluated each software by signing up for a business account and testing them ourselves. This first-hand experience helped us get a better idea of how features work and whether they are worth the price tag. It also helped us assess whether the software is as easy to use as each vendor claimed.

To help further inform our decisions, we contacted each vendor to measure the quality of their customer support. We chatted with sales reps and customer service teams and asked a variety of questions as small business owners looking for an accounting software. This also helped clarify any concerns and issues we came across while researching and testing each product.

As part of our research, we also studied user reviews, watched tutorial videos and checked out customer resources and knowledge bases offered by each vendor.

In total, we ended up with nearly two dozen accounting software products on our list. Only nine of those made it to our short list — Intuit QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks, Wave Accounting, Zoho Books, Xero, Sage, Outright, Quicken and Less Accounting.

Here are the criteria we used to evaluate each software:

  • Cost
  • Ease of use
  • Time-saving features
  • Reporting capabilities
  • Mobile access and mobile features
  • Accountant access
  • Service limitations, including the number of customers, invoices, users, transactions packages allow
  • Customer service
  • Additional services like credit card processing, tax preparation and payroll services
  • Integration with third-party apps

Editor's Note: Looking for information on accounting software for your business? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information and quotes you need:

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Here is a full list of accounting software vendors and a summary of what each company says it offers. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks.  

AccountEdge Pro — AccountEdge Pro does more than accounting. It features DIY or outsourced payroll services, so you can link accounting to payroll, pay your employees (including direct deposit), track time and prepare payroll taxes. Retailers will also enjoy its inventory management suite, which also integrates with popular e-commerce solutions. AccountEdge Pro is available on Mac, Windows, mobile and in the cloud. accountedge.com/pro

FreeAgent — Unlike many accounting software products that limit transactions unless you purchase a more expensive package, FreeAgent offers unlimited users, clients, invoices, expenses and other s for one monthly price. It also has a project management feature to help you keep track of billable hours. FreeAgent is best for freelancers, consultants and other really small business. freeagent.com

*FreshBooks — A favorite among business owners, FreshBooks offers one of the most user-friendly cloud-based accounting software for non-accountants. It's also our top pick for the best accounting app for iOS and Android devices for offering a wide range of accounting tasks you can perform on the go. Read our full review here.

GnuCash Free Accounting Software — Is your business powered by Linux? GnuCash is a free, Linux-based accounting software that has all the features small businesses need to manage their finances: income and expense tracking, double-entry accounting, financial reports and calculations, scheduled transactions and more. It can also track bank accounts, stocks, bonds and mutual funds. In addition to Linux, GnuCash is also available on Android devices. gnucash.org

Harvest — Harvest makes it easy to bill clients and get paid. It offers a simple, easy-to-use platform that lets you easily track time and turn billable hours into professional invoices. You can also log expenses, take snapshots and store receipts, generate reports and connect the app to Google Apps, Salesforce, Basecamp and more than 50 other business apps. getharvest.com

Hiveage — Need a customized accounting software for your freelance or other small business? Unlike your typical accounting platform, Hiveage lets you pick and choose which features to include in your plan, so you only pay for what you need, when you need it. The free plan offers unlimited clients and unlimited invoices, and additional features range anywhere from $1.95 to $4.95 per add-on. hiveage.com

Intacct — Are you a big-picture kind of business owner? Intacct is advanced, cloud-based accounting software that’s strictly about business finances and helping your business grow. It can generate a wide range of reports, so you can evaluate your business from any financial angle, including profit margins, losses, income, revenue segments — such as total revenue, revenue by product, revenue by business and revenue histories — and more. intacct.com

*Intuit QuickBooks Online — Our pick for the best accounting software, Intuit's QuickBooks Online works for all types of small businesses. It offers basic and advanced accounting features, whether you're just starting out, looking to expand or have been around for some time. Read our full review here.

Intuit Quicken Home & Business — Another Intuit accounting product, Quicken lets you manage both your personal and business finances in one place. This is  perfect for really small businesses and home-based entrepreneurs who don't need a full-blown accounting software designed for more established businesses. The downside, however, is that the software isn't cloud-based and is only available for Windows, though an iOS and Android app is available for viewing your data. quicken.com/personal-finance/home-business-2015

Kashoo — Kashoo's online accounting software can handle your invoices, expense tracking and double-entry bookkeeping on your computer, smartphone and tablet. It also offers collaboration features, so you can share your books with your bookkeeper, accountant, investors and business partners. kashoo.com

Less Accounting — Just as its name suggests, Less Accounting can help you spend less time managing your finances and more time running your business. It automates everything from data entry to billing, so you spend minutes instead of hours on your accounting. lessaccounting.com

Outright — Formerly GoDaddy Bookkeeping, Outright simplifies accounting by using bookkeeping data to help you prepare for tax time. It automatically categorizes sales and expenses, then uses it to prepare your Schedule C, calculate taxes owed and more. outright.com

Paychex Accounting Online — Part of the Paychex payroll service, Paychex Accounting is a cloud- and mobile-based system that's designed to make accounting easier for you and your accountant. The platform can handle invoices, expenses, reports and collaboration features to give your accountant, bookkeeper and other users access to your finances. paychex.com/accounting-online

Sage One Sage One has two types of accounting plans: one for invoicing by itself, and another for full-service accounting. The full-service version offers credit card processing and integrates with everything from e-commerce to point-of-sale (POS), customer relationship management (CRM), inventory tracking, document management and more. sageone.com

Simple Invoices — If you're a solopreneur and all your accounting needs primarily consist of tracking sales and getting paid, Simple Invoices may be the solution for you. This Web app lets you create estimates, send professional invoices, accept payments, generate financial reports and more, absolutely free. simpleinvoices.org

*Wave Accounting— Don't want to pay for accounting software? Wave Accounting can help. This Web-based accounting platform offers the same features as paid accounting services, making it our top pick for the best free accounting software for small businesses with 10 employees or fewer. Read our full review here.

WorkingPoint — WorkingPoint is an all-inclusive accounting software that has everything you need to manage all aspects of your finances: accounting, invoicing, financial reporting and tax reporting. It's available anytime, anywhere over the Web or via mobile app. workingpoint.com

*Xero — Xero is our top pick for the best accounting software for Mac. We like that Xero is affordable, is easy to use and offers a ton of features and integrates with a plethora of third-party business solutions you likely already use. Xero also offers 24-hour phone, email and live chat support, so there's always someone there to help you. Read our full review here.

Yendo — If you have a lot of customers, multiple businesses and a dedicated sales team, Yendo is the accounting software for you. It's both an accounting and CRM software, letting you and your sales reps manage and cultivate relationships with customers, while linking all the data with your enterprise resource planning and accounting platform. yendo.com

*Zoho Books — Part of the Zoho Office Suite, Zoho Books is a full-featured accounting software with a small business-friendly price tag. Unlike other accounting software that requires more expensive monthly subscriptions for additional features, Zoho Books' comprehensive set of accounting tools is available for one low monthly price. Read our full review here.

Are you an accounting software provider that would like to be added to this list and possibly considered for our next round of reviews? Please feel free to contact Sara Angeles at sangeles@purch.com.