Skip to content

Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses of February 2024

Consider your business’s size, budget, whether you’re self-employed and which features you care about most when selecting accounting software for your small business.
By Hillary Crawford, Karrin Sehmbi
Last updated on February 22, 2024
Edited bySally Lauckner
Fact checked and reviewed

⏰ Estimated read time: 33 minutes

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.

Accounting software helps you track how money moves in and out of your small business. The best accounting software makes it easy to keep a detailed financial record so that you’re ready come tax season. It also includes tools for streamlining accounting tasks, like the invoice process, and gaining insight into your business’s financial health.
To choose the right option for you, think about the present and future versions of your business — your accounting software should be able to support both. Right now, check that it’s within your budget and is compatible with your point-of-sale and/or payroll software, as well as your accountant’s system. Based on how much you expect your small business to grow, keep an eye on scalability, too.
Here are NerdWallet’s picks for the best small-business accounting software and why we like each product, plus tips on how to choose the right software for your business’s specific needs.

Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Product
Promotion
Learn more

QuickBooks Online

Learn more

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

5.0/5

Best for Overall accounting software

$30/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $60, $90, $200.

50% off

for first three months or free 30-day trial.

Learn more

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

Xero

Learn more

on Xero's secure website

5.0/5

Best for Simple accounting software

$15/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $42, $78.

30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Learn more

on Xero's secure website

Zoho Books

Learn more

on Zoho Books' secure website

4.5/5

Best for Startup accounting software

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20, $50, $70, $150, $275.

14-day free trial

of the Premium plan.

Learn more

on Zoho Books' secure website

FreshBooks

Learn more

on FreshBooks' secure website

4.5/5

Best for Freelancers

$19/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $33, $60, custom.

30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Learn more

on FreshBooks' secure website

Striven

Learn more

on Striven's secure website

3.5/5

Best for Industry-specific features

$35/month

Per user. Additional pricing tiers per user (per month): $70.

7-day free trial

Learn more

on Striven's secure website

Sage 50 Accounting

Learn more

on Sage 50 Accounting's secure website

3.5/5

Best for Desktop accounting software

$59/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $96.58, $160.

Discount for the first year

(terms vary).

Learn more

on Sage 50 Accounting's secure website

QuickBooks Enterprise

4.0/5

Best for Enterprise accounting software with advanced reporting capabilities

$1,410/year

Additional pricing tiers (per year): $1,830; $2,250; $4,400. Adding users or cloud access costs extra.

30-day free trial

Wave Accounting

3.5/5

Best for Free accounting software

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

N/A

Odoo

3.5/5

Best for Business software integrations

$0

For use of a single app. Additional pricing tiers per user (per month): $38.90, $58.40.

Monthly discount

for the first 12 months.

ZarMoney

3.5/5

Best for Inventory management features

$15/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20, $350.

15-day free trial

OneUp

Best for Automated bookkeeping

$9/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $19, $29, $69, $169.

30-day free trial

Our pick for

Overall accounting software

QuickBooks Online is a popular accounting software that ticks all the boxes. It offers a range of features that are scalable and easy to use, complies with accounting standards, allows for easy sharing with accountants, integrates with top payroll and bookkeeping software, offers live customer support and keeps costs reasonable.

QuickBooks Online

Learn more

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

Starting at
$30/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $60, $90, $200.

Promotion
50% off

for first three months or free 30-day trial.

Our pick for

Simple accounting software

Accounting itself can be complex, but that doesn’t mean the software should be. Xero is another popular accounting software product that stands out for its clean design, simple and intuitive user experience and automation capabilities.

Learn more

on Xero's secure website

Starting at
$15/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $42, $78.

Promotion
30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Our pick for

Startup accounting software

Zoho Books offers one of the largest selections of paid plan tiers among competitors, including a free plan. For this reason, and because of Zoho's suite of additional business software that will integrate seamlessly with its accounting software, Zoho Books is a great choice for startups and young businesses that intend to grow quickly.

Zoho Books

Learn more

on Zoho Books' secure website

Starting at
$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20, $50, $70, $150, $275.

Promotion
14-day free trial

of the Premium plan.

Our pick for

Freelancers

With strong invoicing and project tracking features and a low-cost plan designed specifically for freelancers, FreshBooks’ accounting software makes great sense for those looking to efficiently manage finances for a business of one.

FreshBooks

Learn more

on FreshBooks' secure website

Starting at
$19/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $33, $60, custom.

Promotion
30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Our pick for

Industry-specific features

Striven offers versions of its software that are tailored to particular industry needs. From manufacturing, legal and field services to consulting, retail, education and others, Striven has designed the features your business most needs in its accounting, CRM and inventory software.

Striven

3.5
NerdWallet rating 
Learn more

on Striven's secure website

Starting at
$35/month

Per user. Additional pricing tiers per user (per month): $70.

Promotion
7-day free trial

Our pick for

Desktop accounting software

If you prefer a locally installed software option to access solely from your desktop business hardware, rather than a cloud solution you can access from any device anywhere, Sage 50 Accounting offers strong accounting capabilities for your needs. And if you later decide you're ready to make the move to the cloud, Sage offers cloud solutions as well.

Sage 50 Accounting

Learn more

on Sage 50 Accounting's secure website

Starting at
$59/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $96.58, $160.

Promotion
Discount for the first year

(terms vary).

Our pick for

Enterprise accounting software with advanced reporting capabilities

Businesses that fall on the larger end of the spectrum of small- to medium-size businesses may find they quickly outgrow some of the free and low-cost accounting software options on the market. They may find a worthy solution in QuickBooks Enterprise, desktop enterprise accounting software with cloud-access add-on options. It’s costlier than any of the other options on this list, but it’s built to fulfill the more sophisticated accounting needs of larger businesses.

QuickBooks Enterprise

Starting at
$1,410/year

Additional pricing tiers (per year): $1,830; $2,250; $4,400. Adding users or cloud access costs extra.

Promotion
30-day free trial

Our pick for

Free accounting software

Wave offers free accounting and free invoicing. If you're a newer or smaller business with simple accounting needs, Wave's free software will likely meet your requirements. And as your business grows, if you find you're in need of payroll software and/or the ability to accept online payments for the invoices you're sending out, Wave offers paid plans for those solutions.

Wave Accounting

Starting at
$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

Promotion
N/A

Our pick for

Business software integrations

Odoo is an ecosystem of business software applications that are intended to smoothly integrate with one another. Because the core software is developed through the open-source model, thousands of business professionals and coders work together to ensure seamless integration of all of Odoo’s apps.

Odoo

3.5
NerdWallet rating 
Starting at
$0

For use of a single app. Additional pricing tiers per user (per month): $38.90, $58.40.

Promotion
Monthly discount

for the first 12 months.

Our pick for

Inventory management features

If your business involves managing inventory, particularly moving and tracking stock within and across warehouses, then ZarMoney’s accounting software, which includes tools for managing warehouse inventory, is a solid choice.

ZarMoney

3.5
NerdWallet rating 
Starting at
$15/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20, $350.

Promotion
15-day free trial

Our pick for

Automated bookkeeping

How much time would you save if you didn’t have to manually enter, code and verify each business banking and credit card transaction to keep your books accurate and up to date? OneUp’s accounting software takes much of the manual bookkeeping process off your plate so you can better spend your time on other business needs.

OneUp

Starting at
$9/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $19, $29, $69, $169.

Promotion
30-day free trial

Our picks for the best accounting software

QuickBooks Online

Best overall accounting software
Is QuickBooks Online right for your business? QuickBooks Online is an industry leader in the accounting field, thanks to its strong feature set and scalability. And with millions of users worldwide, QuickBooks is likely to be familiar to your accountant. But it comes at a higher cost than many of its competitors. Read our full QuickBooks Online review.

Xero

Best simple accounting software
Is Xero best for your business? If you appreciate simplicity and don’t want to dedicate much time to learning how to navigate a product, Xero is a great choice. It also stands out for allowing unlimited users at every subscription tier. Read our full Xero Accounting review.

Zoho Books

Best startup accounting software
Is Zoho Books best for your business? Zoho Books packs in an impressive collection of features and capabilities for an affordable price. It’s an especially good fit if you already use other Zoho suite products (like Zoho CRM, Zoho Inventory or Zoho Commerce), since they directly integrate, but third-party integrations are limited compared with the competition. Read our full Zoho Books review.

FreshBooks

Best for freelancers
Is FreshBooks best for your business? FreshBooks lets users view invoices, respond to clients’ questions and send payment reminders, all from its mobile app. It’s especially cost-effective for freelancers who can work within the confines of client limits in the lower-tier plans. Read our full FreshBooks review.

Sage 50 Accounting

Best desktop accounting software
Is Sage 50 Accounting best for your business? If you’re newer to accounting, you’ll appreciate the dedicated account representative and free training modules Sage offers at all plan levels. This desktop accounting product is best for entrepreneurs, particularly in construction or manufacturing trades, who don’t require the anytime, anywhere access that cloud software offers. Read our full Sage 50 Accounting review.

Wave Accounting

Best free accounting software
Is Wave Accounting best for your business? Wave is free accounting software that can be a sufficient solution for entrepreneurs with small, service-based businesses who need a simple way to invoice clients and separate business and personal expenses. However, if you need built-in mileage tracking, time tracking or a billable expense feature, it’s probably not the right choice. Read our full Wave Accounting review.

QuickBooks Enterprise

Best for enterprise accounting software with advanced reporting capabilities
Is QuickBooks Enterprise best for your business? If you run a well-established midsize business that would benefit from industry-specific reporting capabilities and advanced inventory management, then QuickBooks Enterprise may suit your needs. It’s pricier than most other options on this list, however, especially if you want to add cloud access to the desktop-based software. Read our full QuickBooks Enterprise review.

Striven

Best for industry-specific features
Is Striven best for your business? Striven is strong on core accounting features but stands out among the competition with versions of its software built specifically for the needs of a wide array of industries including IT services, legal services, retail and e-commerce, nonprofits, manufacturing and others.

Odoo

Best for business software integrations
Is Odoo right for your business? If your business deals with inventory or online selling, requires project or employee management, or would benefit from tools to help with digital marketing (and what business wouldn’t, these days?), then you may find great value in choosing an accounting software solution that exists within an ecosystem of seamlessly integrated apps. That’s where Odoo shines.

ZarMoney

Best for inventory management features
Is ZarMoney best for your business? ZarMoney’s integrated accounting software helps you manage inventory, accounts receivable, accounts payable and team collaboration in addition to your day-to-day bookkeeping operations. Its lower-tier plans come at an affordable price. It lacks a mobile app, however, and is extremely limited on third-party app integrations.

OneUp

Best for automated bookkeeping
Is OneUp best for your business? If you appreciate the convenience and time-savings that automation processes can offer and don’t mind investing time upfront to train the software, OneUp’s accounting solution may work well for you. OneUp offers a handful of plan options at a reasonable price point.

What is accounting software?

Accounting software is like a database for all of your business’s financial transactions. It helps you follow basic accounting principles so that you can keep your books up to date and in order, which is especially important come tax season. Most software uses double-entry accounting, meaning it factors in assets, liabilities and equity, in addition to revenue and expenses.
You can use accounting software to do the following:
  • Enter and organize financial transactions. 
  • Record income and expenses. 
  • Reconcile accounts.
  • Generate financial statements and reports.  
  • Keep track of how much money you’re owed and vice versa.  
Most accounting software goes beyond these tasks with additional built-in modules for invoicing, bill-pay and inventory management, among other functions. The more your accounting software becomes a one-stop shop for these financial chores, the fewer integrations you need to consider.

How to choose accounting software

Ideally, your accounting software will make your day-to-day routine easier through automation. Here are some tips to help ensure that’s the case for your small business:

Accessibility

Most accounting products today are cloud-based, meaning you can access them through any device with an internet connection. This generally allows for easier collaboration with accountants and seamless integration with other business software. However, some accounting products, like QuickBooks Enterprise and Sage 50, are still desktop-run and can only be accessed from a single computer. You need to buy an additional license for each user, which can be expensive.

Sharing with your accountant

If you’re working with an outside accountant, find out which accounting software they work with. Popular accounting software such as QuickBooks and Sage are almost ubiquitous, but other companies, such as Xero and Zoho Books, are making inroads as well. Your accountant can also tell you why they like or dislike certain products, based on their own experience and their clients’ experiences.

Scalability

You want accounting software that can grow with your business. If you're planning to scale, consider accounting software for medium-sized businesses that comes with enough users and can be upgraded to serve a larger organization with more complicated financials. Even if you don’t expect your business to grow exponentially, take a look at products’ plan offerings to make sure you can upgrade to a more robust version of the software should your business’s needs change down the road. Take into account how many employees and users the software can support, too.

Your business’s budget

Determine how much your business can afford to spend monthly on accounting software in conjunction with other recurring costs, like utilities, rent and additional software subscriptions for a POS system or payroll, for example. Some accounting software subscriptions offer first-year discounts — don’t forget to factor in the higher costs you might incur after that introductory period.
If you run a micro business or are self-employed and want to keep costs down, check out our list of best accounting software for freelancers and the self-employed.

Integrations

Before you decide on accounting software, think about the other types of software you plan on using and check to see if direct integrations are available between them. If not, you may need to pay for an indirect integration or manually transfer data from one product to another. Your accounting software should include built-in integrations with your payroll software and POS software, at the very least.

Ease of use

Ease of use shouldn’t be underestimated. If your accounting software isn’t intuitive and easy to work with, it could take up an unnecessary amount of your time, or discourage you from using it as often as you should to keep your finances in order. Test out free trials of accounting software products to get a feel for their user interfaces, and don’t hesitate to reach out to companies for demos. Watching tutorial videos to see how users navigate a product and its dashboard can be helpful, too.
User interface aside, features like online bank feeds and bank rules also contribute to ease of use. Bank feeds automatically pull in your bank and credit card transactions so you don’t have to manually import them, and bank rules can help automate transaction categorization.

Customer support

Think about what time of the day you’re most likely to reach out for assistance and how you’d like to communicate with customer service representatives. Most accounting software products come with phone support, chat support or both, and availability varies. Free accounting software options typically offer less robust customer support solutions. While customer reviews can be hit or miss, they can give you an idea of how easy it is to reach a support representative.

How much does accounting software cost?

Accounting software for small businesses can cost anywhere from $0 for the basics to $200 or more per month for the most advanced plans. Providers with more than one offering typically make it easy to upgrade to a higher-tier plan if your needs change. Sometimes, you can save money by committing to an annual subscription, instead of paying month-to-month. In certain cases, adding extra users and integrations can make subscriptions more costly. Selecting add-on features can also quickly increase the price. In other words, the monthly cost you see upfront doesn’t always tell the whole story.
Narrowing down your small-business accounting software options according to cost is a practical way to stay within budget. The picks listed here include both free and paid products, and most options have multiple plans at different price points. Free options typically offer fewer features or limited functionality compared with paid products but can be a viable option for some businesses.
Here are a handful of factors that could impact how much you’re paying for accounting software:
  • Sign-up discounts. As a new customer, you can sometimes choose between a monthly discount or a free trial. If you go with the monthly discount, understand exactly how much more you’ll be paying when the introductory period is up. 
  • Payment frequency. You might be able to save money by committing to a yearly subscription — instead of a monthly one — and paying the total annual cost upfront. However, there’s a chance you won’t be reimbursed if you pay upfront and decide to cancel before the year is up. If you’re considering an annual subscription, make sure to read the fine print. The prices listed above apply to month-to-month subscriptions.
  • Number of users. In some cases, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee per additional user. Factor in how many users an accounting software product includes, how much it costs to add additional users and how many people in your business need to have access to the software.  
  • Integrations. Make a list of the integrations you’ll require and check to see if they’re built into your accounting software already. If not, you might need to pay a monthly subscription fee to connect one program to another.

Types of accounting software

With so many accounting software products on the market, it’s important to know how to differentiate between them all. Here’s a rundown of the different types of accounting software to help you narrow down your choices.

Small-business accounting software

Small-business accounting software is built with smaller operations, freelancers (also called contractors), and the self-employed in mind. It’s designed to help you and/or your bookkeeper manage your day-to-day business finances and prepare for filing your business taxes. In addition to centralizing your business’s financial data and generating reports, many products also include invoicing functions, inventory tracking and bill management tools. They usually enable some amount of forecasting to help you plan for various financial scenarios, too.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software

Unlike small-business accounting software, ERP software centralizes accounting tasks on top of a variety of other business operations, such as human resources (HR) and manufacturing. While ERP software, like the products offered by Oracle and SAP, can be used by businesses of all sizes, it is typically better suited to global or high-growth-potential companies — think companies that are large enough to have their own dedicated, in-house accounting departments. This is because of ERP software’s higher cost and the greater investment required to implement and manage it. For more information on how these systems differ from typical small-business accounting software, read NerdWallet’s comparison of QuickBooks vs. NetSuite, a highly scalable ERP software product.

Cloud-based accounting software

Most of the options above are cloud-based accounting software and can be accessed from multiple computers or mobile devices with an internet connection. This makes it easy to collaborate with other users and your accountant, and empowers you to send invoices, collect payments and view real-time financial data on the go.

Desktop accounting software

Also sometimes called on-premise software, desktop accounting software must be locally installed on a specific computer and can only be accessed from that one device or location. For some business owners, this type of accounting software feels more secure from a data protection perspective, though regular manual backups are necessary to protect against total loss of data in the event of a technology failure. Desktop accounting software, however, does make collaboration more difficult and prevents you from accessing up-to-date financial information when you’re away from your desk.

Integrated accounting software

Many of the household accounting software names, such as QuickBooks, Xero and Zoho Books, can be classified as integrated accounting software solutions. This means that in addition to maintaining a general ledger and assisting with day-to-day bookkeeping, the software includes functions for tracking accounts receivable and accounts payable, reconciling bank transactions (often with some level of automation for convenience and time-saving), managing inventory and purchase orders and handling the billing process.

FEATURED

 
QuickBooks
QuickBooks

QuickBooks Online

NerdWallet Rating 
5.0
Using an integrated accounting solution reduces the time, hassle and human error involved in manually inputting financial data from multiple parts of your business into your accounting software. Instead, data from all the business functions mentioned above automatically feeds into your integrated accounting software so you always have a real-time view of the financial health of your business.

Open-source accounting software

Like its name suggests, open-source software is open to the public, meaning anyone can access and tweak its code. This makes it more customizable than typical closed-source, or proprietary, software, that you purchase, download and work with as-is.
On the plus side, open-source accounting software encourages coders to collaborate, develop new integrations and add useful modifications. It’s also usually available free of cost. Open-source products, like Odoo, are ideal for business owners who know how to code and want to play a hands-on role in customizing the product to fit their business needs.
However, customer support can be limited and the user interface may look less modern. And if you or someone on your team doesn’t have developer skills, you likely won’t be able to unlock the full potential of open-source software.

Industry-specific accounting software

Many of the popular accounting products can work well for a variety of business types and sizes, but they do come with limits. While they carry all the general accounting features — such as the ability to generate basic financial reports like profit and loss statements and balance sheets as well as tools for invoicing, inventory management and project tracking — they can’t give you access to more industry-specific tools without third-party software integrations.
If you work in an industry with more stringent tax requirements, such as the nonprofit sector or legal professions, or in a field that benefits from detailed and specialized financial reporting, such as construction or manufacturing, then accounting software designed specifically with those needs in mind may be the way to go.

Accounting software features

Determining which accounting software features you require will depend on your business type, size and industry, among other factors. Here are some features to keep top of mind as you compare options.
  • Double-entry accounting: This means your accounting software enters a balancing debit or credit for each transaction, so that you don’t have to do it manually.  
  • Chart of accounts: Most accounting software comes with a built-in chart of accounts you can use to categorize transactions. You should be able to add or remove accounts as needed. 
  • Income and expense tracking: Tracking money-in and money-out transactions is central to bookkeeping
  • Online bank connections: You may have the option to automatically pull transactions from your business’s bank and credit card accounts into your software. This reduces time and error from manual entry.  
  • Reconciliation tools: Some accounting software products will automatically match your bank and credit card statements with the transactions in your accounting software to ensure alignment, meaning you only have to look them over and approve. 
  • Accountant access: Cloud-based accounting software makes it easy to invite your accountant to look over your books remotely.
  • Reporting: Look for report templates — think a profit and loss statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement — along with reports on aged receivables and sales tax. You should be able to customize them by date so that you can compare time periods. 
  • Invoicing: The ability to invoice clients from your accounting software is key for service-based businesses. You want to be able to customize invoices with your logo, easily turn estimates into invoices, add terms and due dates, and accept online payments. While it might not be as convenient, third-party invoicing software is also available.
  • Integrations: To minimize manual data entry, you’ll want to integrate your accounting software with the rest of your business software ecosystem so they can exchange information automatically. This may include your point-of-sale software, payroll software, inventory software and third-party time or mileage tracking tools. 
  • Mobile app: Accounting software for freelancers, for example, often includes mobile apps that let you track time and miles. Accounting apps are also convenient for sending invoices on the go and snapping photos of receipts and other documents. 
  • Inventory tracking: It’s not uncommon for accounting software to include basic inventory management in lower-tier plans, though you might have to pay extra or integrate with a third-party app to sync in-store and online sales.
  • Bill management: Just like you keep track of how much money your business is owed, you may need to keep tabs on what your business owes. Bill management features can help you schedule payments so you don’t risk late fees. 
  • Project tracking: Service-based businesses may want insight into each job’s profitability, so they know how to best spend their time. 

Accounting software comparison: Features of NerdWallet's top picks

Maximum users
Invoicing
Time tracking
Inventory tracking
Phone support
QuickBooks

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Up to 25 in Advanced plan.
Unlimited.
Can manually enter time in Essentials plan and higher; automatic time tracking costs extra.
Yes, but only in Plus plan and higher.
Yes, available seven days a week.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Unlimited.
20/month in Early plan; unlimited in higher-tier plans.
Yes, but only in Established plan.
Yes.
Does not provide a phone number, but a rep will call if necessary.
Zoho Books

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Up to 15 in Ultimate plan. Additional users cost extra.
1,000/year in free plan; up to 100,000/year in paid plans.
Yes, in paid plans.
Yes, Zoho Inventory offers free, integrated plans.
Yes, available weekdays in paid plans.

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Up to two in Select plan. Additional users cost extra.
Unlimited, but Lite and Plus plans cap number of billable clients.
Yes.
Yes.
Yes, available weekdays.

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Unlimited.
Unlimited.
No.
No.
No live support available unless you subscribe to a paid Wave product.
Sage

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Up to 40 in Quantum Accounting plan.
Unlimited.
No.
Yes.
Yes, available weekdays.
QuickBooks

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Up to 40, but each user license costs extra.
Unlimited.
Yes, but only in Diamond plan and fees apply.
Yes.
Yes, available 24/7.
Striven

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Unlimited, but each user license costs extra.
Unlimited.
Yes.
Yes.
Yes, available weekdays.
Odoo

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Unlimited.
No.
No.
No.
No.
ZarMoney

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
30+ in Enterprise plan.
Unlimited.
No.
Yes.
Yes, available weekdays.
OneUp
Unlimited in the Unlimited plan.
Unlimited.
No.
Yes.
No.

How can accounting software benefit your business?

Accounting software is key to keeping a finger on the pulse of your business’s financial health. It makes sense of all of your business’s money-in and money-out transactions, reveals historical trends and gives you the granular insight you need to make informed, data-driven decisions.
Here are several other ways you can use accounting software to make your day-to-day routine easier.
  • Quickly generate reports: For example, you can easily pull up built-in reports to make sure you’re within your budget and dig into which products or services have the best margins. 
  • Centralize business operations: You can complete other tasks — like creating invoices, sending them and accepting payments — from within the program, as opposed to having to hop from a spreadsheet to an invoice generator and back. 
  • Collaborate with your accountant: Grant your accountant remote access to your account via email, so that they can look over your books, provide expert feedback and make necessary adjustments in real time. 
  • Prepare for tax filing: When tax season comes, you’ll need organized and current financial information, which accounting software helps maintain year round. 
  • Maintain accurate financial records: Accounting software makes it easy to record transactions as you go, because it automatically pulls in your business’s bank and credit card transactions. You can use it to reconcile accounts and calculate things like sales tax, too. 
  • Automate processes: Accounting software is often more accurate than spreadsheets because it minimizes manual accounting tasks, like balancing debits and credits. In the long run, this can save you both time and money. 

🤓 Nerdy Tip

If you have concerns about whether accounting software keeps your data secure, know that it’s standard practice for the software to encrypt your financial data, require a password and let you choose who else can access your account, if anyone. Cloud accounting software, which is becoming the norm, stores your information online using remote servers, whereas desktop accounting software saves it to your local hard drive. There are data security risks associated with both, but cloud accounting software is typically more convenient because it lets you access your data from any device with internet access. Cloud accounting companies also use firewalls to protect data and scan servers regularly for breaches.

What do startups need from accounting software?

Your inclination may be to gravitate toward free accounting software for your startup to minimize costs as you establish your business and grow your customer base. However, free software comes with limitations. You may be able to live with those in your early phases, but as your business grows, so will your accounting needs.
To find startup accounting software that will best serve your business at any stage, consider the following:
  • Scalability: Look for accounting software that has several pricing plan tiers. That way, you can start with a free or low-cost product and then upgrade as your business grows — without having to start over learning new software and without the challenges of transitioning your records and data to a new product. Read the details of the higher-tier plan options and consider whether they tick the boxes for the accounting needs of the business you’re aiming to grow into (e.g., multi-user access, advanced reporting capabilities, integrations or add-ons for payroll, HR and other business functions).
  • Accrual basis accounting: You will want to be sure that the software you choose uses the accrual basis accounting method for recording transactions. It’s a more detailed (and therefore more involved) method of accounting, but for many businesses — especially those tracking a large amount of inventory, managing accounts receivable and payable and those in need of a business loan — it’s the preferred method.
  • Strong customer support: If you’re new to running a business, then you’re likely also new to managing business finances. Selecting a simple and intuitive accounting software solution will be a key step in successful financial management, but you’re going to want a reliable and easy-to-reach customer support team available to you for the inevitable questions you have as you get up and running with your startup’s accounting software.

Frequently asked questions

Last updated on February 22, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s accounting software ratings favor products that are easy to use, reasonably priced, have a robust feature set and can grow with your business. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including range of features, cost, ease of use, accounting standards compliance, scalability, ease of sharing with accountants, integrations, customer support, pricing transparency and availability of a free trial period. Learn more about how we rate small-business accounting software.
These ratings are meant to provide clarity in the decision-making process, but what’s best for your business will depend on its size, growth trajectory and which features you need most. We encourage you to research and compare multiple accounting software products before choosing one.
NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
Close
Smart money moves for your small business

Create a free account to grow your business with tailored insights and explore small business products.

Close
Smart money moves for your small business

Create a free account to grow your business with tailored insights and explore small business products.