Zoho Books is known for its reasonable prices, various plan options and add-ons, overall feature set and usability. However, there are downsides to consider as well, including limited integration options, a lack of payroll services and plan restrictions based on contacts, users and workflows. If its features or prices aren’t right for your business, consider these alternatives.
The first alternative, QuickBooks Online, combines the convenience of online web-based accounting software with a trusted name in small-business accounting. You’ve likely heard of QuickBooks in some capacity. It's one of the largest providers of business accounting tools around and are trusted by accountants and business owners alike.
QuickBooks Online offers four plans, each with a different number of user allowances and features. Overall, its plans are more expensive than Zoho Books; however, you may find the features and allowances to be worth the extra cost.
The least expensive QuickBooks plan is Simple Start, which costs $25 per month and comes with one user and basic features like income and expense tracking, invoicing and payment acceptance, sales and sales tax tracking and more. The next plan up, Essentials, allows for up to three users and costs $40 per month. In addition to the features of Simple Start, Essentials also comes with bill management and time tracking capabilities.
Next up, the Plus plan for $70 per month comes with the ability to track project profitability and inventory, plus up to five users. Its most expensive plan is the Advanced plan at $150 per month and allows up to 25 users. It comes with customized access for employees, batch invoicing, business analytics and insights, enhanced custom fields and more.
QuickBooks Online might be a better option for your business if you’re on a path toward growth and want the ability to upgrade to plans with greater capabilities and user allowances. Even QuickBooks’ simpler plans offer a vast array of features, as well as the option for add-ons to further increase your functionality.
Business owners who are looking for an accounting product with great customer service that’s intuitive and easy to use might want to consider FreshBooks.
There are three plans available when you choose FreshBooks: the Lite plan for $15 per month, Plus plan for $25 per month and the Premium plan for $50 per month. These plans are less expensive than those offered by QuickBooks, and they come with many of the same features. Additional team members though will cost you $10 per month per person, so keep that in mind before opting into this service.
There are a few areas where FreshBooks really outshines the competition. One of the things it does best is time tracking. There’s even a Chrome extension you can add and integrations with websites like Asana and Trello so you can accurately track your time and then bill clients or generate an invoice from those hours. There’s even a desktop timer so you can record the time spent on your computer if you’re not working within the web too.
It’s an easy-to-use software that helps businesses of all sizes accomplish their accounting needs, but it’s mainly best for medium-sized businesses. Along with its stellar time-tracking capabilities, you’ll get unlimited and customized invoices as well as unlimited estimates with the Lite plan and even more features with the more expensive plans.
If you only send a few invoices a month, Xero’s Early plan might be perfect for you. The plan allows you to send five invoices and quotes a month and reconcile 20 bank transactions for $9 per month.
If you send more invoices, you may want to move up to the Growing plan for $30 per month or the Established plan for $60 per month. These two plans allow you to send unlimited invoices and quotes to your clients. That Established plan also allows for multi-currency invoices, and you can capture and manage expenses.
You get all of the basic accounting functions with any Xero plan, but the real benefit that Xero has over its competitors are hidden in the details. You can choose from 700 integrations it offers to customize your plan to be exactly what you need for your business. This is one of the reasons Xero is so flexible, in addition to the fact that you can have unlimited users and customizable permissions (with its Growing or Established plans).
Sage offers quite a few accounting software options for business owners, but the two cloud-based options are its Accounting Start plan and the regular Accounting plan. They both come at reasonable price points, with the Accounting Start plan costing just $10 per month and the Accounting plan coming in at $25 per month.
The Sage Accounting Start plan has everything you need out of entry-level accounting software, like creating sales invoices, tracking unpaid invoices and connecting your business bank account.
If you opt for the Accounting plan, you get all of those features plus real-time reports, the option to generate quotes and estimates, purchase invoices and cash flow statements.
These two Sage options are best for small-business owners who need the basics from their accounting software at an affordable price. You’ll get everything you need to create custom invoices, backed by the security offered by Sage. Another huge pro of using Sage? You’ll be able to create reports from your transactions, like a profit and loss statement or cash flow statement which can be incredibly helpful.
Wave is one of the few truly free options out there when it comes to business accounting software. Plus, it offers add-ons for a fee in case you want to expand its functionality even more.
This web-based free software will allow you to create and send customized invoices, scan receipts, track your income and expenses and more. You’ll be able to connect it with other accounts you might have for your business, including PayPal and Etsy.
When it comes to price, the fact that Wave is truly free really sets this software apart. Even if you do opt for its paid add-ons, the price is still appealing for many business owners. Wave is also a fairly simple and easy-to-use system — of course, this is also due to the fact that it doesn’t offer a lot of extra functionality. You’ll be able to manage your day-to-day bookkeeping tasks, but larger companies with greater accounting needs will likely want to consider a different solution.
If you’re looking for a free product with the option of upgrading to a more sophisticated paid version, ZipBooks may fit your business needs well. The free plan offered by ZipBooks includes the ability to send unlimited invoices and manage unlimited vendors and customers. You can accept digital payments from Square and PayPal as well. The free plan also lets you view basic reports and connect a bank account.
These features cover most business owners’ basic accounting needs, but if you need more, you can upgrade to the Smarter plan for $15 per month and you’ll get even more features like the ability to schedule invoices and automate reminders, create and manage projects, track time, set fixed or hourly billing rates and save invoice line orders — all in addition to the free features.
Finally, the Sophisticated plan costs $35 per month and gives you everything you need to organize your books with tagging and the options to create customized categories and lock completed books. Overall it’s simple and easy-to-use accounting software that can benefit your business.
A version of this article first appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.