Best accounting software for small businesses

No offence to accountants, but accounting may often be considered one of the least exciting and mundane parts of running a business, particularly for small businesses who have a lot of admin tasks to manage anyway.

No wonder then that almost half of small businesses rate accounting as their least favourite task. However, with the right software, things can be kept running smoothly with minimal pain.

Most accounting tools out there provide custom invoicing, payment tracking and full financial reporting, but choosing the right software for your business can be challenging.

To help you make your pick, we've reviewed some top accounting tools designed for small businesses.

Read next: 13 best free and open source inventory management systems

Sage

Sage

UK vendor Sage offers one of the most comprehensive suites of accounting software tools for both desktop and online accounting, enabling users to analyse and manage VAT, invoices, stock, budgets, cash flow and payroll.

Businesses can choose from a range of different packages: Sage Business Cloud Accounting, Sage 50cloud, Sage Financials and Sage Enterprise Management.

We recommend Sage 50cloud for small businesses looking to scale. Within this accounting service there are three options to choose from: Sage 50cloud Essentials, Sage 50cloud Standard or Sage 50cloud Professional.

With Sage 50cloud Standard, users can take advantage of an on-premise client or a powerful cloud suite.

Also, if you already run Microsoft Office, Sage 50cloud integrates with Microsoft Office 356, providing easily exportable financial reporting in Excel.

Users can also take advantage of remote access, an intuitive project costing tool and solid day-to-day financial management.

Typically aimed at startups and micro businesses, Sage One Accounting is also a great choice, providing sales invoices, payment tracking, balance sheets and a tool to calculate and submit VAT returns to HMRC.

Sign up for Sage here.

Tipalti
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Tipalti

Tipalti is an automated invoice management and bill processing software system designed to support small businesses.

The system is able to streamline international payment processing in 190 countries, whilst also providing payment operations to ensure tax compliance.

Its features include OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to eliminate tedious invoice data entry, including intelligent recognition of all override charges. It also uses smart logic and machine learning technology for added bill data predictions.

Other features include automated PO matching, real-time reconciliation and ERP integration with the likes of NetSuite, QuickBooks and more.

Pricing is available on request.

QuickBooks

QuickBooks

QuickBooks offers a well-rounded account management software package. With QuickBooks, users can estimate tax payments, track deductible mileage, create and send invoices, manage VAT, run payroll, provide multiple currencies and control stock levels.

All of the more than 1.5 million subscribers that QuickBooks claims to have attracted have access to a real-time dashboard offering both a desktop and mobile experience.

QuickBooks also offers a cloud accounting service providing business bookkeeping and full financial management, leveraging the collaborative nature of the cloud.

Sign up for QuickBooks here.

Tide

Tide

Tide is a young British fintech startup focusing on modern business banking software.

The platform includes a set of tools to help small business owners with their banking. Customers can get started straight from their mobile by scanning an ID and will be sent a MasterCard to use for business transactions.

Tide also provides a set of digital tools to help simplify some of the more time-consuming aspects of business banking. This includes automated bookkeeping, expense tracking with the ability to attach notes, incomes and photos to each transaction, and automated invoice scanning.

It is fully secure and FCA-regulated and charges lower fees than normal business accounts, with no monthly fees or card purchase fees, 20p per transfer and a £1 per ATM withdrawal charge.

Sign up for Tide here.

OnPay
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OnPay

OnPayoffers a streamlined payroll software service, which includes automated tax filings and payment data for small to medium-sized businesses.

It also includes capabilities to assist accountants and bookkeepers with client management through a single dashboard. The service even provides unlimited payroll run for W-2 and 1099 workers.

The features include estimated payroll taxes, tax form filings and more. Pricing is $36 (£28.35) a month and $4 (£3.15) per person.

OnPay also offers HR compliance tools and health benefits.

Accounting Seed
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Accounting Seed

Accounting Seedis software that allows businesses to modernise their accounting processes.

It is a cloud-based accounting system powered by Salesforce, providing users with direct Salesforce CRM integration.

Other features include inventory and order management, customer billing, payment tracking and a general ledger.

Pricing starts from $250 (£196.87) a month and $55 (£43.31) per user.

Aptumo
© Aptumo

Aptumo

Aptumois the soon-to-be launched SaaS customer billing solution software tool from Echo. The cloud-based multi-utility tool native to Salesforce and promises to provide an intuitive interface, good security and scalability.

It can act as a standalone customer billing platform or be integrated into your choice of CRM package. Given that it's built on the Salesforce platform it could well be one to anticipate. Pricing information will be forthcoming, keep an eye on the Twitter account for updates.

SurePayroll

SurePayroll

SurePayrollprovides online payroll services for small businesses. The tool provides an easy way to calculate and pay all different forms of tax. You can even select options for what type of business you are, choosing from a list that contains options such as 'restaurant' or 'church'.

You can sign up for one month's free trial, and head over to the website to get a quote.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks

FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting software designed specifically for small businesses, providing invoicing, expenses, time tracking, payments and detailed personalised financial reports over an online dashboard.

As FreshBooks is only offered via the cloud, users can access their accounts from multiple devices and locations while also ensuring data is backed-up regularly and automatically. For a service-based business with frequent incoming and outgoing payments, this data security is an important factor.

All four packages on offer come with unlimited invoices, expenses, time tracking, PayPal, MailChimp and Basecamp integration (plus many more add-ons), credit card payments and branded customisable invoices. With its most expensive package providing team timesheets for an unlimited amount of billable clients.

Sign up for FreshBooks here.

ClearBooks

ClearBooks

Cloud accounting software ClearBooks offers invoicing, banking, purchasing, expenses and tax management, while also integrating multiple online payment systems such as PayPal, GoCardless and PayPoint.

Its invoicing generator enables users to create branded invoices, set reminders, prompt late paying customers and schedule multiple invoices to be sent out using multiple currencies.

ClearBooks billing platform also lets users enter bills, set recurring bills and create purchase orders.

Sign up for ClearBooks here.

GoDaddy Bookkeeping

GoDaddy Bookkeeping

Best known for its web hosting services, GoDaddy has expanded and now houses a simple but effective accounting tool, GoDaddy Bookkeeping.

GoDaddy users will be able to link their accounts to popular ecommerce sites such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy, providing a big advantage over competitors such as FreshBooks.

In addition, GoDaddy lets you set recurring invoices, create client profiles and manage multiple accounts with PayPal and Stripe integration.

It also provides a clean dashboard compiling all of your invoicing, annual profit, loss, open invoices and your estimated expenses such as tax.

Sign up for GoDaddy here.

KashFlow

KashFlow

KashFlow is a London-based online accounting software firm specialising in automated account handling for small businesses, initially developed as an alternative to legacy accountancy software from Sage and QuickBooks.

Offering over 85 possible integrations from PayPal and Stripe to Barclaycard MailChip and Dropbox, KashFlow also supports banking, quotes and estimates, customers and supplier information, purchases, payroll, full reports and automated invoicing.

KashFlow also offers numerous templates for ease of use, from pre-written payment reminders to fully customisable invoicing.

Sign up for KashFlow here.

Xero

Xero

Aimed at small businesses, Xero offers an accounting software that enables users to create and customise invoices, payroll and expense reports.

In addition, users can create a tracked inventory, create purchase orders and connect to over 500 third-party apps (most of which centre on invoicing, time tracking and expanse claims).

Claiming to have over 700,000 subscribers, Xero provides account management across smartphone, tablet and PCs.

Sign up for Xero here.

Zoho Books

Zoho Books

Zoho also offers a comprehensive online accounting suite for small businesses. Users can track expenses, inventory and clients across mobile, tablet, laptop and PC.

Zoho Books can integrate other popular Zoho software to create a custom business package. These include Zoho CRM, Expense, Subscriptions, Reports, Inventory and Projects.

Sign up for Zoho Books here.

Kashoo Online Accounting

Kashoo Online Accounting

Claiming to eliminate the "frustration of QuickBooks", Kashoo offers a cloud-based accounting software firm providing its users with a totally online bookkeeping service for small businesses.

Kashoo provides financial reporting, bank imports, invoice and expense creation, tax reporting and claims to have "bank-level security". Kashoo can also integrate with pre-existing payroll systems including Freshbooks. What's more, Kashoo's offers an iPad and iPhone app that provides users with real-time dashboards and receipt capture.

What's more, in 2013, HR and payroll giant Paychex joined forces with Kashoo in an equity investment. Since then, Paychex has integrated Kashoo's accountancy platform, adding Kashoo's online accountancy services to its own payroll, insurance, HR and retirement services.

Sign up for Kashoo Online Accounting here.

LessAccounting

LessAccounting

LessAccounting offers a simple accounting application comprised of workflows, automation helpers and a simple bookkeeping service.

Users can record business expenses, create and send invoices, set expense reminders and expense by category, income type, project and due date.

Openly describing itself as a QuickBooks alternative, LessAccounting claims QuickBooks' business range is too large to cater for everyone, encouraging users to opt for LessAccounting for a simple accounting application.

While open to debate, LessAccounting does lack inventory management which may be a requirement for some businesses.

Sign up for LessAccounting.

One Up

One Up

One Up supports invoicing, accounting, inventory services and a CRM, so for businesses looking for a one-stop-shop, One Up is definitely one to consider.

Initially developed for Android devices, One UP now offers a full web version which lets its users manage records, transactions, sales orders and overall profit and loss.

Bank accounts are easily synced and the browser interface is simple, if not a little large. But this will be due to the move from mobile to web.

However, as One UP was created for Android, the mobile experience is full-featured and extremely well made.

Sign up to One Up here.

Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting offers free accounting software, aimed at micro businesses, freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Wave users will receive lots of useful and competitive features, including automatic billing and invoicing, automatic data sync, receipt scanning and PayPal integration.

Wave also offers a handy dashboard providing a snapshot of your data from income, expenses and bank accounts to payables, receivables and all recent activity.

Like with most free applications, there are some drawbacks. Wave does rely on advertising revenue, which means you will see a few external ads from time to time and have Wave's own branding on your invoices and other accounting materials.

Payroll services are also not included, so you'll have to pay extra for this or go to a paid platform.

Sign up to Wave Accounting here.

FreeAgent
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FreeAgent

FreeAgent is a targeted at microbusinesses and freelancers who lack accounting experience and want a user-friendly and straightforward tool that takes the stress out managing their finances.

The software includes invoicing, expenses, automatic tax forecasts and reminders in a single dashboard that gives an overview of the business. Customers who want to work with an accountant can choose one from FreeAgent's directory of trusted partners, or invite their own to work on the same set of books.

For limited companies, it costs £14.50 per month for the first six months and £29 per month after. Partnerships are charged £12 before and £24 after, while sole traders pay £9.50 before and £19 after.

Sign up for FreeAgent here.

AccountEdge

AccountEdge

AccountEdge is a comprehensive accounting program for Mac that is best known for its usability and customisablity. It comes in two separate versions that suit different needs and expertise.

AccountEdgePlus is designed for small businesses with advanced accounting needs. It costs £299 and comes with a mobile app, integrations including iCal, Mac Mail and MS Office and supports multiple currencies.

Users with straightforward requirements may prefer Mamut AccountEdge. This costs £149 and provides basic accounting functionality, including processing of sales and purchasing, email invoices and quotations, and tracking of debtors, creditors and VAT.

Sign up for AccountEdge here.

Sighted

Sighted

Sightedis an invoicing and expense tracking software package designed for small businesses or freelancers. It offers the ability to integrate online payment modes including credit or debit cards, or paypal and can provide detailed business finance reports (of profit and loss, for example).

You can sign up for free to access these features.

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