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Business Finances: The Top Accounting Software Programs of 2021

5 min read

By Sue Peterson

Accounting software is vital to the success of businesses of all sizes. Managing finances manually is time-consuming and and may lead to costly errors. Software programs can save time, labor, and money while increasing accuracy and efficiency and storing sensitive data safely. It allows you peace of mind to focus on growing your business and budgeting for the company’s future.

This article addresses some of the top accounting software products for business so you can make an educated decision on which one meets your company’s needs.

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Accounting Management

Accounting management refers to the financial processes within a company and how to strategically plan, organize, direct, and control them. It is required to maintain a stable cash flow. Estimating the needs of the company and determining the structure, creating investment opportunities, establishing financial policies, and helping make financial decisions are some of the tasks associated with financial management.

Accounting Software

Accounting software is designed for businesses to manage their various accounts and simplify financial operations. Available software ranges from simple programs mostly used for individual record-keeping to much more advanced systems. Software can help manage tasks from employee salaries to invoices, accounts receivable/payable, the company’s assets, and much more.

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General Features of Accounting Software

There are many accounting software systems on the market today, all with their own strengths, weaknesses, and pricing. However, there are some general features that the best programs offer. These include:

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Top Software Options

1. QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is very popular and one of the most common accounting softwares for small businesses.

Pricing: There are four subscription plan options:

Simple Start is recommended for most service-based small businesses. Essentials or Plus is better suited for product-based small businesses.

Pros
  • Numerous online training resources and forums for support
  • All accounting features can be easily accessed on the main dashboard for efficiency
  • Integration with third-party applications
  • Cloud-based
  • Mobile app with additional customization options
  • 30-day free trial with discounts typically offered for the first few months
Cons
  • Reports of syncing problems with banks/credit cards

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2. Xero

Xero is a good fit for micro-businesses who need very simple accounting software.

Pricing: There are three monthly subscription options and a full-service payroll add-on including:

The Growing and Established plans (with additional features of multi-currency, expense management, and project costing) may be more useful for small businesses better because of the unlimited invoices, bills, and transactions allowed, as opposed to the Early plan, which has usage limits.

Pros
  • Software has a clean interface that integrates with third-party payroll services
  • Ability to collect payment online from customers
  • Cloud-based and mobile app
  • Bill and receipt capture
  • 30-day free trial with a promotion of 50% off for the first two months
Cons
  • Limited reporting and customer service
  • Fees charged for ACH payments

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3. Freshbooks

FreshBooks offers more customization and advanced invoicing features for invoicing than any other accounting software. It can help with basic bookkeeping, budgeting for projects, sending proposals and estimates, and collecting payments from customers.

Pricing: Four different plans, which differ mainly in the number of clients allowed to be billed monthly, including:

Pros
  • Cloud-based
  • User-friendly interface
  • Third-party app integration
  • Invoices can be highly stylized and customized
  • Affordable
  • 10% discount if paid annually
Cons
  • No inventory management or payroll service
  • Mobile app has limited functionality

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4. Wave

Wave is a good match for service-based businesses to send simple invoices. If you don’t need to run payroll or track inventory, the free version may be sufficient for your small or freelance business.

Pricing: Two payroll plans are available for add-on services:

Pros
  • Free
  • Unlimited number of users
  • Receipt scanning No billing or transaction limits
  • Mobile app
Cons
  • Higher fees for ACH payments and credit cards
  • Limited third-party app integrations. Full-service payroll limited (at this time) to 14 states
  • No inventory management

Screenshot: Wave

5. Quickbooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Self-Employed is a good fit for part-time freelancers and independent contractors who need to track their income and expenses for taxes. It’s designed for business owners who file a Schedule C on their individual tax returns.

Pricing: Three plan options are available:

All bundles include a TurboTax subscription for income tax filing and the Live Tax Bundle also provides access to a CPA to answer questions and perform a final review of your tax return before filing.

Pros
  • Automatically totals business transactions
  • Cloud-based
  • Great mobile app
  • Tracks mileage
  • Syncs with TurboTax
  • Sorts personal and business expenses
  • 50% discount for the first three months
Cons
  • Limited reporting and invoicing functionality and customization
  • Data cannot be easily transferred to other accounting software

Screenshot: QuickBooks

Other Considerations

We have talked about the importance of choosing accounting software based on a company’s needs, number of employees, accounting features, and budget. Other factors to consider include reputation, scalability, and ease of use. Each of the above-mentioned software programs has been around long enough to work out the initial glitches. They are also scalable so as the company grows, the software can be upgraded to meet new business needs. The programs are all also easy enough to use so users can gain confidence and become proficient quickly.

About the Author

Author

Sue Peterson has over 10 years of experience as a freelance writer and editor for hundreds of clients around the world. She is a part-time instructor in the Graduate Education Department of Concordia University after teaching in Wisconsin public schools and abroad for three decades. In her free time, Sue enjoys the solitude of her Northwoods cabin, as well as sailing and gardening.

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