QuickBooks for Small Business: Which Version Do You Need?

QuickBooks has a wide range of accounting products on top of payroll, payment and point-of-sale offerings. Here’s how to narrow down your choices.
Hillary Crawford
Randa Kriss
By Randa Kriss and  Hillary Crawford 
Edited by Ryan Lane

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

QuickBooks offers six accounting products, but one of its online accounting plans will be the best choice for most small businesses. Freelancers and independent contractors may opt for simpler options, while larger small businesses might turn to QuickBooks products with advanced inventory, sales and reporting features.

Here's a look at all of QuickBooks' small-business products, including accounting, point-of-sale and payroll software. Plus, you’ll find details on how QuickBooks stacks up against its competitors, as well as alternatives to consider.

QuickBooks accounting products at a glance

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Pro Plus

QuickBooks Premier Plus

QuickBooks Enterprise

QuickBooks Mac Plus

Price

Starts at $30/month.

Starts at $15/month.

Starts at $549/year for one user.

Starts at $799/year for one user.

Starts at $1,340/year for one user.

Starts at $549/year for one user.

Maximum users

25.

1, plus accountant access.

3.

5.

40.

3.

Accessibility

Cloud-based.

Cloud-based.

Desktop.

Desktop.

Desktop, but you can purchase cloud access.

Desktop.

Best for

Most small businesses.

Freelancers and independent contractors.

Small businesses that prefer locally installed software and work with a PC.

Small and medium-sized businesses that need industry-specific tools.

Larger businesses with sophisticated inventory, reporting and accounting needs.

Small businesses that prefer locally installed software and work from a Mac.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online — often considered the industry standard for accounting software — is fairly user-friendly, but some basic accounting knowledge will help you get started. Higher-tier plans include more advanced capabilities like inventory management and job costing. Because the product is cloud-based, it’s accessible anywhere with an internet connection.

QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Self-Employed helps freelancers and independent contractors separate their business and personal expenses and prepare their taxes. It includes basic invoicing capabilities, a receipt capture feature and mileage tracking. Top-tier plans also offer direct support for tax filing.

QuickBooks Pro Plus

QuickBooks Pro Plus is the most basic version of QuickBooks Desktop. This is a desktop product, meaning you download and install it on your computer. QuickBooks Pro Plus has a full range of features including invoicing, inventory tracking, reporting, billing, and income and expense tracking.

QuickBooks Premier Plus

Premier Plus is also a QuickBooks Desktop product, but compared with Pro Plus, it offers more in-depth capabilities — especially for reporting, job costing, inventory management, sales orders and project profitability. Additionally, Premier Plus includes industry-specific features for manufacturers, wholesalers, nonprofits and retailers.

QuickBooks Enterprise

QuickBooks Enterprise is the most customizable and powerful version of all the QuickBooks products, making it ideal for larger businesses with complex finances. It builds on Premier Plus with QuickBooks’ most advanced inventory, reporting and pricing capabilities. Enterprise is more easily scalable than other QuickBooks Desktop products, offering four plans and the option to add remote access.

QuickBooks Mac Plus

QuickBooks Mac Plus is similar to QuickBooks Pro Plus, but it's the only desktop version of QuickBooks that is compatible with Mac systems.

How to choose the right QuickBooks accounting product

Consider these factors when determining which version of QuickBooks is best for your small business.

Think about the specific features you want in your software and which are most important to your business’s success. Use a free trial or ask QuickBooks for a software demo if you’re stuck between products.

If you want to use your software anywhere you have an internet connection, you’ll likely want to focus on QuickBooks Online or pay more to add remote access through hosting to QuickBooks Enterprise.

Consider what the system’s interface looks like, how the navigation works and what setup entails. Your familiarity with accounting concepts and the availability of customer support is also worth weighing.

Not all versions of QuickBooks offer multiple plans or make it simple to move your business from one product to another. If you think you’ll need more advanced features in the future, it’s important to make sure you choose an option that can accommodate those needs.

All QuickBooks products have a maximum user limit, so think about who will need access to your account, especially since the desktop products are priced based on the number of users. Also consider whether you’ll work with an accountant or bookkeeper, now or in the future.

Some QuickBooks products can be much more expensive than others — like the higher tiers of QuickBooks Online, as well as QuickBooks Enterprise — so evaluating what your business can afford ahead of time can help as you narrow down the options.

QuickBooks accounting alternatives

If you’re looking for an accounting product with features QuickBooks doesn’t offer — like a free starter plan — consider these alternative solutions.

QuickBooks accounting comparisons

These articles contain more in-depth information on how QuickBooks differs from competitors.

In addition to accounting products, QuickBooks offers payroll and POS software, along with payment processing services.