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Updated Mar 20, 2024

The Best Accounting and Invoice-Generating Software for 2024

Mike Berner
Mike Berner, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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A editor verified this analysis to ensure it meets our standards for accuracy, expertise and integrity.
Best for Small Businesses
  • Plans start at $20 per month
  • Online bookkeeper available
  • Robust app integration
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Links to Intuit QuickBooks Online
  • Plans start at $20 per month
  • Online bookkeeper available
  • Robust app integration
Best for Growing Businesses
  • Plans start at $15 per month
  • 1,000 integrations
  • Automated inventory processes
Visit Site
Links to Xero Accounting Software
  • Plans start at $15 per month
  • 1,000 integrations
  • Automated inventory processes
Best for Payments
  • Plans start at $32 per month
  • A/P and A/R automation
  • Network of vendors
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Links to Plooto Business Payments
  • Plans start at $32 per month
  • A/P and A/R automation
  • Network of vendors
Best for Invoicing
  • Plans start at $19 per month
  • Instant invoices
  • Automated business processes
Visit Site
Links to FreshBooks Accounting
  • Plans start at $19 per month
  • Instant invoices
  • Automated business processes
Best ERP Tools
Oracle NetSuite Accounting
NetSuite logo
  • Custom pricing
  • Built-in ERP features
  • Automated accounts payable
Links to Oracle NetSuite Accounting
  • Custom pricing
  • Built-in ERP features
  • Automated accounts payable

Table of Contents

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Accounting software plays a critical role in keeping your business financially sound at all stages, ranging from the startup phase to growth and exit. The best accounting software fits within your budget, is easy to use and integrates with other programs and applications you are already using. To help you sift through hundreds of options, we checked out all of the top accounting software solutions. We pored over their features, prices, fees and reputations to come up with our list of the 10 best options for various types of businesses.

What Is Accounting Software?

Accounting software is a digital system that helps you manage your finances. You can use accounting software to maintain accurate records and analyze your company’s financial data. You can also track transactions, generate reports, manage customer and vendor contacts, create purchase orders, track inventory levels, bill customers, and monitor account balances. Accounting software organizes your data so you are ready for tax time, and it helps you understand how your company is performing financially.  

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How We Decided

Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.







Compare Our Best Picks

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Our Top Picks for 2024
Intuit QuickBooks Online
Xero Accounting Software
Plooto Business Payments
FreshBooks Accounting
Oracle NetSuite Accounting
Zoho Books
Wave Financial
Sage 50
Neat Accounting Software
Rating (Out of 10)
Best use case

Small businesses

Growing businesses



ERP tools

Process automation

Free software

Bill management

Desktop users

Document scanning

Base price

$20 per month

$15 per month

$32 per month

$19 per month

Custom quote

$20 per month



$58.92 per month

$200 per year

Free trial

30 days

30 days

30 days

30 days


30 days

Free version

Free version

30 days

14 days

Mobile app?






















Automated accounting tools?











Review Link
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Our Reviews

Intuit QuickBooks Online: Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses

  • QuickBooks Online has valuable accounting software features, including professional invoicing, expense tracking and cash flow management.
  • QuickBooks Live Bookkeeper connects you to accountants when you need expert help.
  • You can’t upgrade from the Solopreneur plan. If you think your business will grow, you may want to choose the Simple Start, Plus or Advanced plan.
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
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With its feature-rich cloud software, wide variety of integrations, affordable pricing and reputation, Intuit’s QuickBooks Online is our choice for the best accounting software for small businesses. QuickBooks has served small businesses for more than 20 years and is the leading brand name in accounting software. When you choose QuickBooks, you get all the tools you need to support your operations now and in the future.

We like that QuickBooks’ basic plan packs more features at a lower price point than its competitors, including the ability to accept payments, send invoices, track expenses and manage your business’s cash flow. Higher-priced plans include batch invoices, business analytics, a dedicated support team, on-demand online training and integrations with BILL, Salesforce and HubSpot. With all of QuickBooks’ plans, you can snap photos of receipts and link expenses from your mobile device, integrate with several apps and access customer support.

Another key feature of QuickBooks that makes it ideal for small businesses is the ability to connect with a live accountant. With QuickBooks’ Live Bookkeeper, you get access to a bookkeeper who sets up the software for you, categorizes transactions, reconciles accounts, closes books monthly and runs detailed reports.

Another major advantage of QuickBooks is its reputation and adoption rate. If you work with an accountant or accounting consultant, they are likely already familiar with QuickBooks. We are also excited that QuickBooks is leading the charge on AI, with a new chatbot to help small business owners analyze their financial data.

Xero Accounting Software: Best Accounting Software for Growing Businesses

  • Xero offers more than 1,000 app integrations.
  • Email and live chat support are available 24/7.
  • Not all accountants are familiar with Xero.
Editor's Rating: 9.1/10
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Every business starts small. But as a company grows, its financial needs change. Ideally, you want an accounting program that you can stick with over the long haul – which is where Xero comes in. Xero’s paid plans are based on size, with features and pricing tailored to businesses at different stages of growth. This setup makes Xero the best accounting software for growing businesses.

Xero offers more than 1,000 integrations with existing business software applications. You may require more apps as your business grows, so this point of differentiation is important to keep in mind. Xero’s software can also run over 50 reports, including profit and loss (P&L) statements, aged receivables, and a general ledger. There are also reporting options that offer customization and flexibility. We also like how you can manage both customers and suppliers and organize them into groups.

Xero is easy to use, with an interactive dashboard that displays graphs and charts of crucial information. Invoices due, bills you need to pay and a history of your bank account balance are visible on the home screen. New features from Xero emphasize data visualization, such as bar charts and pie charts, as well as the ability to drill down into revenue generators.

Whether your business is just getting off the ground or well established, Xero has a plan and features to meet your needs. The software’s usability and flexibility are ideal for a business moving from growth to exit stages.

Plooto Business Payments: Best Accounting Software for Payments

  • Plooto unifies payments, approvals, reconciliation and reporting, and you can automate your A/P and A/R.
  • You can add a vendor or supplier payee in seconds via the Plooto Network.
  • It syncs with QuickBooks and Xero only.
Editor's Rating: 8.3/10
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To scale up your business, you need to spend less time on tedious tasks, such as A/P and A/R. Plooto addresses these needs at an affordable price point, which is why it’s our choice as the best accounting software for payments.

Plooto is an all-in-one payment platform that provides greater financial control and simplicity by unifying payments, approvals, reconciliation and reporting. Plooto’s workflow automation reduces errors, expedites your A/P process and improves how vendors get paid. It also offers end-to-end A/P and A/R automation.

Plooto lets you use the same system to pay anyone, even if that company or individual is outside the U.S. It took us just seconds to add vendors with the Plooto Network of 150,000 suppliers and vendors. Search for your payee in the Plooto Network, and then add them to your account with one click. If you can’t find a particular vendor, you can add them as a payee in minutes, saving you countless hours of performing repetitive A/P tasks.

Plooto also speeds up A/R. You can set up the software to send clients invoices automatically with instructions on how to make a payment. When the payment is received, it’s reconciled automatically. Through Plooto’s Credit Card Acceptance feature, customers can pay invoices via credit cards, enabling you to get paid in as little as two business days. Plooto charges a flat rate of 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction for credit card payments.

Plooto isn’t a traditional accounting software program, but if you want to optimize your A/P and A/R and maximize cash flow, Plooto is worth a deep dive. It automates many payment and accounting processes, integrates with QuickBooks and Xero, and is priced competitively, making it our best pick for payments.

FreshBooks Accounting: Best Accounting Software for Invoicing

  • You can create professional invoices, allow customers to pay invoices online and send automatic bill reminders.
  • Accounting features include time and expense tracking as well as automated bank and credit card entries.
  • FreshBooks can get pricey if you want to add several team members to your account.
Editor's Rating: 9.1/10
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FreshBooks makes it easy to create professional invoices, get paid quickly and track down past-due payments, but that just scratches the surface of what this accounting software can do. With competitive pricing, robust invoicing capabilities and other accounting features, FreshBooks is our choice as the best accounting software for invoicing.

Getting paid on time is a big pain point for small businesses. Remembering to bill clients, let alone chase down past-due bills, can fall by the wayside quickly as you focus on running your business. FreshBooks accounting software removes many of those challenges with its feature-rich invoicing capabilities. With FreshBooks, you can create professional invoices customized with your logo and message. Your clients can opt to pay their bills through the invoice, reducing the time it takes to get paid.

Do you have clients who tend to pay late? FreshBooks lets you create reminders and send alerts to customers when bills are due or past due. It also monitors the status of invoices after you send them, alerting you when customers receive and view them. With FreshBooks’ invoice generator, you can add tracked time and expenses to invoices.

Invoicing aside, FreshBooks includes many other features that business owners will appreciate. One of the best additional tools is its time tracking. You can track the time spent working on a project, connect a bank account and credit card to eliminate the need for manual entries, and benefit from automatic updates. We found that FreshBooks’ time-tracking feature sets the service apart from competitors that require manual entry.

FreshBooks supports more than 100 apps and integrations, allowing you to connect this accounting software to other business services and systems you already use. If you have a larger business and want several users to access your account, FreshBooks may get pricey. However, for businesses that send a lot of invoices, FreshBooks is a standout.

Oracle NetSuite Accounting: Best Accounting Software ERP Tools

Oracle NetSuite Accounting
NetSuite logo
  • Oracle NetSuite’s feature-rich accounting software also offers enterprise resource planning (ERP) functionality.
  • The accounts receivable (A/R) system automates the delivery and collection of invoices while the accounts payable (A/P) solutions automate payments.
  • You must contact a sales representative to learn how much the software will cost your company.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10

NetSuite is a full-featured accounting and ERP program that enables you to manage all aspects of your small business – billing, reporting and manufacturing – from one dashboard. NetSuite offers a full A/R service that automates the delivery and collection of invoices as well as an A/P solution that automates payments. NetSuite’s tax tools also provide business owners with domestic and global tax management. Taxes can be processed easily according to local laws, removing a lot of the guesswork. The engine supports all currencies and exchange rates.

NetSuite’s cash management feature provides you with insight and visibility to optimize cash flow and stay up to date on your company’s bank accounts. Business owners will appreciate NetSuite’s payment management system, which centralizes and simplifies payments. The planning and budgeting feature automates, processes and unifies the data, making it easier to create budgets and forecasts, model what-if scenarios, and generate reports on different aspects of your business. You can set access permissions to ensure you’re always in control of your business’s finances.

In addition to all of the accounting features, NetSuite offers many ERP tools to manage finances, handle orders, manage production and supply chains, and plan for the future.

While NetSuite may be too robust for microbusinesses or self-employed individuals, the software’s capabilities can help larger organizations with lots of moving parts and complex business functions. That is why it’s our pick as the best accounting software with ERP functionality.

Zoho Books: Best Accounting Software for Process Automation

  • Zoho Books is available on iOS and Android devices, allowing you to accomplish accounting tasks from anywhere.
  • You can track bills, manage vendor credits and add reporting tags to transactions.
  • Zoho offers fewer third-party integrations than competitors.
Editor's Rating: 9.1/10
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Small business owners must contend with a long to-do list, which is why automating financial processes makes life much easier. We like that Zoho includes a smorgasbord of automation features, including tools for workflow, invoice reminders, in-app notifications and a scripting language to create custom functions. That emphasis, as well as the strong slate of standard accounting and bookkeeping tools, makes Zoho our best pick for automating processes.

Zoho Books is intuitive accounting software that offers a ton of features at an affordable price. Mobile apps for phones, tablets and smartwatches let you complete accounting tasks from anywhere. We like how you can create and send invoices directly from the mobile app. Additionally, Zoho’s client portal allows customers to view and pay invoices online.

With six pricing plans, Zoho Books offers something for businesses at all stages of growth. Zoho’s plans range between $20 per month for three users and $275 per month for 15 users. A free version is also available for a single user.

Zoho Books stands out beyond its pricing, thanks to its ability to automate accounting tasks. Estimates and sales orders can be converted quickly into a retainer or recurring invoices. You can schedule when your customers are billed and send payment reminders. Linking your account with your payment processor enables you to accept invoice payments directly through Zoho Books. Ultimately, we found that Zoho’s built-in automation tools stood out the most among the accounting software we reviewed. The ability to eliminate tedious, error-prone tasks makes Zoho our best pick for automating processes.

Wave Financial: Best Free Accounting Software

  • Wave can link to your bank and credit card accounts to track your transactions automatically.
  • It offers standard bookkeeping services.
  • Compared to other accounting software selections, Wave’s app integrations are limited.
Editor's Rating: 8.6/10
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If you’re a freelancer or the owner of a small business that doesn’t store much inventory, Wave’s accounting solution is ideal for you. It offers ample features and is easy to use, making it our choice as the best free accounting software

With Wave, there are no monthly or annual fees or software license, although add-on services cost extra. This gives you the flexibility to start using the software with no upfront cost and add features only as you need them.

Wave’s free accounting software does not cap the number of transactions, invoices you generate or users who have account access. If you want to accept invoice payments online, Wave charges a flat 2.9 percent plus $0.60 per credit card transaction or 1 percent (with a $1 minimum fee) for Automated Clearing House bank transfers.

Just because Wave is a free service doesn’t mean it skimps on features. It holds its own compared to many paid software applications, automating many billing aspects and saving small business owners precious time. For example, you can create and schedule recurring invoices and track payments. There are automatic payment reminders and automatic syncing with your bank and credit card accounts as well as PayPal.

Even though it’s a free program, Wave offers the standard bookkeeping services of many paid alternatives on the market. Small businesses strapped for cash should take a look at Wave, as it may be a great solution to save money while keeping your books organized.

Melio: Best Accounting Software for Bill Management

  • Melio doesn’t charge any fees for bank transfers.
  • You can pay over 7,000 vendors directly with Melio.
  • While its website is mobile-friendly, Melio does not have a stand-alone mobile app for iOS or Android.
Editor's Rating: 8/10

Some businesses just need a simple way to manage A/P and A/R. They don’t want an overly complicated or costly system. All they need is software to send and track invoices and ensure that they get paid. That’s where Melio and its free A/P software come in. It’s a free, cloud-based software program that lets you schedule payments to vendors, making it our best pick for bill management.

With Melio, you can accept customer payments via card or bank transfer at no cost. But what really sets Melio apart is its payments service. During our testing, we found that adding vendors and scheduling payments from Melio’s network of 7,000 vendors was a breeze. Making payments via bank transfer is free, while credit card payments cost 2.9 percent.

Recently, Melio added real-time payments to its slate of features. This tool delivers funds to vendors instantly, allowing you to improve your cash flow by retaining funds for longer than other payment methods. Melio also offers short-term financing so you can pay bills over time.

Additionally, we like Melio’s integration with QuickBooks. QuickBooks is powerful alone but, when combined with Melio’s payment data, it can provide deeper insights into cash flow and automation of A/P.

Melio may not be well suited for large companies, but it’s ideal for small businesses looking for a free payment management solution. Add integration with QuickBooks to the mix, and it’s easy to see why Melio is our best pick for bill management.

Sage 50: Best Accounting Software for Customization

Sage 50
Sage 50 logo
  • The software can be installed on a desktop while retaining cloud connectivity.
  • Sage’s expense control features allow you to assign unique cost codes to jobs.
  • The user interface is somewhat dated compared with cloud-based alternatives.
Editor's Rating: 8.7/10

Sage 50 Accounting is one of the few remaining providers that still offers desktop-based software. However, the beauty of Sage is that you have the option of storing your data in the cloud and working remotely. Sage 50 includes everything that modern business owners need to track their finances, which makes it our best pick for desktop users.

We like how Sage 50 Accounting offers a user-friendly interface and connects to the cloud for remote access, allowing you to work from anywhere. With Sage 50 Accounting, you can create professional invoices, manage expenses efficiently, reconcile bank statements effortlessly and track inventory in real time.

The Jobs tool helps manage project costs effectively by allowing you to assign unique codes to different jobs and track expenses throughout the entire process, including purchasing, inventory adjustments and payroll. This lets you pinpoint which projects are the most profitable, which is particularly useful for cost-conscious business owners.

Sage 50 Accounting stands out for its versatility. Whether you need to send invoices to clients, categorize and track business expenses, ensure accurate bank account records, or gain insights into your inventory levels, the software equips you with the tools you need to manage your finances effectively.

Neat Accounting Software: Best Accounting Software for Document Scanning

Neat Accounting Software
  • Neat offers extensive text-parsing and document-scanning features.
  • It includes standard bookkeeping and invoicing abilities.
  • Neat is more expensive than some alternatives.
Editor's Rating: 8.2/10

Neat is accounting software that provides all the bookkeeping and invoicing basics. Originally known for its text-parsing technology, Neat deftly incorporates financial document management into its accounting offerings, making it our choice as the best accounting software for document scanning.

Despite the rise of electronic recordkeeping, some business owners – either by habit or necessity – may still deal with large amounts of physical paper. Neat helps declutter your financial records with the ability to scan files, capture images on a smartphone and upload files from a computer. The software’s text-parsing technology then matches up data from your bank records to the physical paper records, saving huge amounts of time and hassle from errors.

Additionally, Neat can generate a slew of P&L, cash flow, balance sheet and transaction reports. We were impressed with how you can also create custom reports for expenses, sales tax and tax categories. Neat simplifies workflow further through suggested receipt-matching and tracking which tasks remain open. As for invoicing, Neat offers customizable templates and online payment through WePay.

Neat offers robust customer support, including an app frequently asked questions (FAQ) help center as well as email, chat and phone support with a Neat Expert. There is a 14-day free trial, and pricing comes in at $200 for an annual subscription, a bit on the higher end for the software that we reviewed. But for that price, you can access a set of bookkeeping, invoicing and document management features that can’t be found elsewhere in one software package.

Accounting Software Pricing

Most accounting software programs offer an array of plans to fit your business’s needs and budget. The plans typically differ in price, features and number of users who can access the software.

A subscription pricing model, which has become the industry standard, bills you monthly or annually for services. With this model, you have access to all the software’s updates as soon as they are released. Depending on the service plan you choose, subscription prices range from $5 to $60 per month.

Be wary of hidden fees, however. They lurk in areas, such as accepting payments online, software integrations and technical support services. To avoid overpaying for features you don’t need, make a list of what you’re looking for in an accounting system. As with grocery shopping, creating a list will prevent you from overspending.

Some accounting programs, such as Wave, are entirely free; whereas others, such as QuickBooks, offer basic free tiers. When searching for accounting software, take advantage of free trials and demos. This will help you see how easy the software is to use and how well suited it is for your company.

Types of Accounting Software for Business

Accounting software comes in different flavors, from spreadsheets to cloud software. What makes the most sense for your business depends on the size of your operation, the complexity of your accounting and what you are hoping to achieve.


Made popular by Microsoft and Google, spreadsheets are digital documents that are used to arrange data in rows and columns. You can apply calculations and move around data with spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are a cheap option, popular with many microbusinesses and sole proprietors. However, if you want to do more than keep data organized and categorized logically, you may want to consider accounting software.

TipBottom line

Learn more about the best spreadsheet software in our 2024 buying guide.

Commercial Accounting Software

Designed with small and midsize businesses in mind, commercial accounting software enables you to manage your books, send invoices, accept payments and perform other business functions. Examples of commercial accounting software include QuickBooks, FreshBooks and Xero. The vendors typically charge monthly fees to access their accounting software in the cloud.

Enterprise Accounting Software

Large companies have more complex needs. Enterprise accounting software is designed for large businesses and typically integrates different aspects of a business in one central location.

Custom Accounting Software

Although it isn’t very common, some vendors create custom accounting software for their clients. Alternatively, a company can create its own custom accounting program if it can’t find something suitable on the market. This can be costly and isn’t the best option for many small businesses.

Key Features of Accounting Software

There are many aspects of accounting software that make it a useful tool. Most online accounting programs offer A/R, A/P, banking and reporting features. Some even include tools for inventory management, project management, time tracking and payroll. Here are some core elements of accounting software you should look for.

Bank Feed

This feature allows you to connect to your business bank and credit card accounts to receive a daily update of your transactions. This saves you the time it would take to manually upload statements into the system, and it gives you a daily overview of your accounts. This feature also assists with reconciliation, making it a small daily task rather than a monthly ordeal.


When you log in to your account, you’ll be greeted by a dashboard with an overview of your account activity and key metrics, such as cash flow, P&L, account balances, expenses, A/P, A/R and sales. Some software lets you customize what you see first by rearranging the information.

Online Invoicing

If your business sends invoices, the ability to email them and accept online payments can help you get paid faster. Some accounting programs integrate with third-party payment processors, whereas other vendors require you to use their in-house processing services.

Recurring Invoices

With this feature, you can schedule the software to generate and send invoices for recurring charges automatically, such as subscriptions. You can choose how frequently invoices are sent – daily, weekly, monthly or annually – and indicate whether there’s an end date to the billing. Many accounting software providers don’t have recurring invoice functionality (we’ve noted in our reviews which ones do).

Automatic Payment Reminders

This feature reminds your customers about upcoming and past-due payments. Some have sample email text you can use as is or customize. You can then choose when you want the reminders to be sent. Some programs also give you the option of sending thank-you emails to customers after you receive their payments.

Bank Reconciliation

Smart reconciliation tools identify potential matches between your bank transactions and the bills and invoices you’ve entered into the software, saving you the hours it would take to sift through records. You can then approve or deny the suggested matches. The best products we reviewed suggest potential matches as you reconcile your accounts, and a few also include a reconciliation feature on their mobile apps.

Financial Reporting

Every accounting program generates financial reports. Some are more basic than others, and some require you to subscribe to a higher plan for advanced reporting. If you need specific types of financial reports, make sure they’re included in the program and plan you choose. Detailed reports can help you interpret your financial data to make informed business decisions.

Mobile Apps

Not every accounting and invoicing program has mobile apps, but the best ones do. However, there is quite a bit of variance in app capabilities. Some can capture receipts for expense tracking only, several allow you to create and send invoices, and others have almost every feature the web-based software does. As mobile work becomes increasingly convenient, it’s worth verifying that a company offers a mobile app with its software.


The ability to connect your accounting software to the other business programs you use saves you the time of manually transferring data from one system to another. Highly rated payroll services, payment processing platforms, top point-of-sale systems and customer relationship management software are some popular types of integrations you may want to look for. Integration with systems you already use also cuts down on training time for employees.

Tracking for Billable Hours

If you’re a consultant or your business is an agency that bills clients by the hour, you want accounting software that allows you to track and bill your time or integrates with the time-tracking program you already use. This is an especially important feature for freelancers.

Inventory Management

If you have a retail or distribution business, you’ll want accounting software that tracks inventory and helps with purchase ordering. You may need to subscribe to a top-tier plan to get this feature. If you need more advanced inventory features, the best inventory software options feature a dedicated inventory management system.

Project-Based Billing

Firms, freelancers and consultants who work with clients on projects or jobs should look for accounting software that helps them track tasks and budgets. The software should allow you to invoice customers for tracked time and rebill them for project expenses.

Support for Multiple Businesses

Several programs we reviewed allow you to add more than one business to your account, though some of them charge extra for this convenience.

Benefits of Accounting Software for Business

Properly managing your business’s finances is no small task. The right accounting software can take a lot of pain out of the process. Here are several key advantages to using accounting software.

Organized Finances

An individual may be able to manage their personal finances on the fly, but recording transactions haphazardly and relying on bank statements won’t cut it for a business owner. But small businesses need to keep all their finances organized to prevent any negative surprises. Accounting software can help achieve that. It organizes and stores your financial data in one central location. Many time-consuming accounting processes can be automated, eliminating the likelihood of mistakes.

Cost-Effective Solutions

Accounting software doesn’t have to be one of your biggest expenses. There are several price points that meet the needs and budgets of small businesses. We’ve highlighted free solutions too. Many are easy to set up and don’t have a steep learning curve, which means you can learn the software quickly and start managing your business’s finances.

Compliance With Tax Laws

Trying to configure business taxes can be extremely overwhelming for small business owners. Accounting software takes the guesswork out of filing taxes. Many of these programs calculate sales tax and prepare and file a variety of tax forms. That frees you to concentrate on running your business.

Did You Know?Did you know

The Section 179 deduction allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying assets they financed during the tax year. Learn more ways small businesses can save on taxes.

Improved Internal Controls

Internal controls are the procedures and measures implemented by an organization to ensure the integrity of accounting and bookkeeping. Accounting software can help prevent and detect fraud by increasing the reliability of your controls. This can reduce the probability of theft and loss of assets.

Accounting Software FAQ

The term “online bookkeeping software” frequently is used interchangeably with “online accounting software” in the small business market. The best online accounting software applications have features for keeping the books and analyzing your business’s financial health. However, there is a difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant. For our reviews, we focused on solutions that offer the ability to analyze financial data rather than solutions with basic bookkeeping options.

The best online accounting software uses bank-grade data encryption to protect your account. Furthermore, it should either require or allow you to opt in to two-factor authentication, giving you another layer of security. Because the software is in the cloud, your data is safe, even if your computer is stolen or destroyed.

If you have employees or an accountant accessing your accounting program, you can control the information they see by setting user permissions. The best accounting programs include a detailed history or audit log that shows which changes were made to your records, on what date and at what time by which user, giving you additional insight and control over any changes or entries made in your accounting program.

Yes. Some accounting software providers offer their services for free. Wave offers free accounting software and provides an array of key features to manage your financial data. Wave has no hidden fees, and you can access its invoicing, accounting and receipt-scanning functions for as long as you want at no charge. Instead of simply offering free trials, companies like Wave provide all the essentials for free.

While free accounting software is available, it’s important to find a program that gives you what you’re looking for at the standard your company requires. Free doesn’t always mean faulty, but some free services and software lack sophistication or efficiency. Cloud-based software can grow your business at an affordable price point as well.

Integrating payroll with your accounting software can save you time, but you don’t necessarily have to get both systems from the same company. Many accounting software applications offer integrations with a variety of payroll services. If you prefer to use the same company for both, check out QuickBooks Online and Wave, which offer payroll as an add-on service to their accounting software. If you need more sophisticated solutions, it might be a good idea to check out the best payroll software for small businesses.

It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if your accounting software doesn’t generate invoices. You can even learn how to create and send invoices with PayPal. However, for some companies, it is a necessity. If you’re a freelancer or a small business that expects to send invoices to clients regularly, it’s a good idea to look for accounting software that includes an invoice generator. The ability to create invoices quickly and send them to clients automatically can save your business important time.

The ideal time to switch your accounting software is as your company’s fiscal year is ending. (This can correspond with the calendar year if that’s what works best for your business.) Making a change at the start of the new fiscal year allows you to wrap up the reports from that time period and start the year reporting on new financial information, which makes the transition seamless and less complicated.

If you can’t wait until the start of the next fiscal year to make a change, the next best time is at the end of a fiscal quarter.

The trend toward AI in accounting software has been going on for several years. Today, it is used for myriad processes, including extracting information from tax documents, creating journal entries and freeing up bookkeepers by eliminating manual entries. Also, this automation can help accountants streamline data entry and analysis.

What To Expect From Accounting Software In 2024

The accounting software market is poised to continue growing as more businesses adopt cloud-based accounting programs. With more businesses adopting a hybrid work arrangement, the need for cloud-based services is still on the rise. Many accounting software providers have moved to a software-as-a-service model, and we expect this will continue into 2024.

According to market research from Fortune Business Insights, the accounting software market is poised to reach $20.4 billion in 2026, up from $11 billion in 2018. The industry continues to focus on making accounting software more accessible and user-friendly. Given the increasing preference for smartphones over desktops, we expect more providers to start offering mobile-first solutions and dedicated apps.

AI and machine learning are gaining popularity, with many accounting applications implementing these advanced technologies to reduce manual data entry and automate redundant tasks. Analysis from Vantage Market Research found a growing demand for automation in accounting, fueling the need for more AI capabilities to be built into accounting software. We expect this trend to continue in 2024 as the accounting profession seeks to reduce human error and increase productivity.

We also see analytics as another major trend in the accounting industry. Professional accountants are increasingly taking on the responsibility of analyzing data and communicating business results and trends to managers and clients. Many accounting software services now offer data analysis and visualization tools, and we expect those functions to expand and grow in importance over the coming years.

Reporting features are also becoming increasingly important in a globalized world. More tax authorities are imposing real-time reporting requirements. These real-time reports contain details about your company’s profits and losses, and AI technology increasingly powers this feature. We think business owners will seek software providers that support these new regulations.

Mike Berner
Mike Berner, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Mike Berner is a staff writer at and Business News Daily, where he specializes in finance topics including business loans, accounting, and credit card processing. Mike has a deep background in the financial world, having written hundreds of articles and blog posts on financial markets, business and investing. He holds a B.A. in economics and a B.B.A. in finance, both from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to his writing career, he performed financial analysis and research as an economic analyst.
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