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Eenie Meenie Minie Moe – What is the Best Accounting Software I know?

Choosing the right accounting softwareIt’s the beginning of a new year. You’re excited eager ready to get your business accounting in order. Then you do a quick online search for small business accounting solutions.

Holy search results batman!

Which one will meet your business needs? Fit your budget? And still be here in 12 months?

Don’t play guessing games with your business accounting solution. Learn about the top 6 solutions for small businesses and start-ups.  Get the advantages, disadvantages, pricing and my personal recommendation for which one is best for you.

QuickBooks Online (a.k.a. The 800 Pound Gorilla)

I’m sure you’ve heard of QuickBooks. You can’t walk into an office supply store without seeing a QuickBooks display. Online there are QuickBooks banners wherever you find entrepreneurs congregating. That doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for you.

Advantages of QuickBooks Online

  • They are established, well known and reputable. You don’t need to worry that one morning you’ll wake up and the company will have closed shop, taking all your data with it.
  • CPA’s, Bookkeepers, Tax Preparers and other financial professionals are familiar with it. If you work with a finance professional it will not take them long to understand your data.
  • The high end option can handle your payroll needs, including complex US Tax requirements. This is critical if you are going to have full time employees.
  • Ability to import and export raw data.
  • QuickBooks Online continues to add new features, such as Inventory Management and Industry Business Trends.

Disadvantages of QuickBooks Online

Gasps of shock are heard around the world.  Yes I have dared to say that QuickBooks is not perfect.  Here are my biggest issues:

  • Not intuitive for those without an accounting background. As a finance consultant to small businesses I can’t count how many times I’ve heard entrepreneurs say they purchased QuickBooks Online and then gave up in frustration.
  • Reporting can be confusing, or incomplete. I still shake my head over how hard it is to create a simple monthly income statement.
  • No Cash Flow Forecasting.
  • Does not play well with PayPal.  The workaround to get information from PayPal to QuickBooks is ludicrous at best.

Price Point

Ranges from $12.95 to $78.95 per month

QuickBooks Online is the best accounting solution for you if

  • You have at least a basic knowledge and understanding of accounting.
  • You have (or expect to have) complex accounting needs such as payroll for five or more full time employees.

FreeAgent

FreeAgent is not for those who are dreaming of playing for the NBA, NFL or other pro sport. This UK based service offers a great small business online accounting product at a great price.

Advantages of FreeAgent

  • Soup to nuts solution for freelancers, from creating an estimate to tracking the final payment for services rendered.
  • Freelancers often quote a fixed price for work to be performed.  At times that can result in unrecoverable expenses and time overages.  FreeAgent will track those overages, allowing you to better quote work for the next client.
  • Has both data and invoicing synchronization with PayPal.
  • VAT Capable (European Tax System).

Disadvantages of FreeAgent

  • Limited features for US Style taxation.  Sales tax is not a problem, however if your tax reporting and payment is complex this solution may not work well for you.
  • No Cash Flow Forecasting.

Price Point

There is only one plan, which includes everything, for $20 per month.

FreeAgent is the best accounting solution if you are

  • An independent freelancer.
  • A small freelance company with fewer than 5 employees.
  • A small business that does a lot of project estimates, and then invoice after the work is done.

KashFlow

No that is not a typo, the company does spell its name with a K.

Advantages of KashFlow

  • Able to handle a high volume of business, especially online transactions.
  • Syncs very easily with PayPal.  In fact, KashFlow is the only accounting software with certified PayPal integration.
  • Other stellar third party app integration includes MailChimp, Dropbox, and Freshbooks.
  • Ability to export data

Disadvantages of KashFlow

  • No cash flow forecasting!  How a solution called KashFlow can fail to have cash flow forecasting is simply inconceivable to me.
  • Certified for VAT (European tax structure), but for US only sales tax is supported.

Price Point

  • There is only one plan, which includes everything, for approximately $20 per month (may fluctuate based on exchange rate with the British Pound.

KashFlow is the best accounting solution if your business is

  • eCommerce
  • Has a high volume of transactions

 WorkingPoint

If QuickBooks Online is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, WorkingPoint is the 600 pound gorilla looking to usurp the reigning champion.

Advantages of WorkingPoint

  • Comprehensive solution, second only to QuickBooks Online.
  • Ability to import and export raw data.
  • Payroll (3rd Party App)
  • Variety of intuitive reports available. This is a huge selling point over QuickBooks Online.
  • Full US Tax capabilities, including 1099’s. In the recommended solutions, this is the only solution in addition to QuickBooks Online which offer this.
  • PayPal sync capability.

Disadvantages of WorkingPoint

  • No cash flow projections. One of the most surprising things I discovered while doing this analysis was how few solutions offered cash flow projections.  This is a crucial analysis to perform to avoid ending up in a cash crunch with no options.
  • Can’t automate expense data entry.  There are no third party app integrations with services such as Shoeboxed.com.  In fact, WorkingPoint does not even have an open API.
  • No VAT capability

Price Point

WorkingPoint offers two plans, one at $9 per month and the other is $19 per month.

WorkingPoint is the best accounting solution if you

  • Require a robust accounting solution
  • Are looking for a variety of ready-made intuitive reports
  • Need full US tax capabilities

Less Accounting

Their name clearly communicates their mission, less accounting (headaches!) for their clients.   The leading statement on their homepage says it all, “All small business accounting software sucks, we just suck the least.”

Advantages of LessAccounting

  • Combines invoicing, bookkeeping and contact management.  The CRM capabilities are a big selling point for me, since no one wants to input data in multiple places.
  • One of the options I find most intriguing about LessAccounting; you can choose a plan that includes a vetted bookkeeper working on your accounts.
  • Can integrate with Basecamp, Highrise, and Shopify.
  • PayPal sync capabilities.
  • Follows the KISS Principle, less is more.

Disadvantages of LessAccounting

  • No payroll capabilities, which is a bit of a surprise.  They claim to be a good solution for companies with up to 10 employees.
  • No data export option.  In other words you have no way to back up your data, or even download to Excel and do your own analysis.

Price Point

The standalone accounting solution is $30 per month.  Adding the bookkeeper option will cost up to $300 per month depending on your needs.

LessAccounting is the best accounting solution if you

  • Need a system that combines invoicing, a virtual bookkeeper and CRM
  • Are looking for something that provides a simple solution with responsive tech support.

ClearBooks

Advantages of ClearBooks

  • Intuitive and comprehensive layout, including a smart phone app.
  • Forecasting capabilities, including cashflow.  Finally, a solution that offers cashflow projections!
  • Integrated payroll module.  While it’s ok to have a third party app as a solution, an internal integrated one is preferred.
  • Ability to import and export raw data.
  • Syncs with PayPal
  • Multi-currency and VAT capable, including option to pay VAT online.

Disadvantages of ClearBooks

  • Can’t automate expense data entry.  There are no third party app integrations with services such as Shoeboxed.com.
  • Not set up to handle US taxes. It is possible (albeit painful) to set up taxes as user defined.

Price Point

Monthly fees range from 5 to 15 British Pounds.  The number of transactions drives the fee.

ClearBooks is the best accounting solution for

  • European companies
  • Companies seeking a comprehensive forecasting option – including cash flow

Final Thoughts

Do you believe one of these six solutions will work for you?  Which one?  Why?  Is there one you are considering that isn’t listed here?

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Nicole Fende, Small Biz Finance Expert

Latest posts by Nicole Fende, Small Biz Finance Expert (see all)

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Category: Money Matters, Resources, Tools and Tips, Small Business Technology

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Comments (3)

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  1. Ryan Yozamp says:

    Great piece! lots of good stuff to dissect here, now all i need to do is make my decision!

  2. For me Freebooks have been very helpful and the other good one is QuickBook

  3. Sirena says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have spent well over 10 hours searching different software, payments types and which work together. In my search I came across a few of these but not others. I think I finally found something that works for me. Thanks again!

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