The Best Bookkeeping Software for Small Business 2021

To find the best bookkeeping software for small-business owners, we looked at key bookkeeping features like reporting, journal entry generation, and double-entry bookkeeping. We also evaluated software by its ease of use, customer service options, plan-limited user numbers, third-party app integrations, and customer reviews.
Best overall
Quickbooks
QuickBooks Online
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
Starting from
$25.00/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Bookkeeper access with each plan
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Customizable reports
Best for collaboration
Xero
Xero
4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4
Starting from
$11.00/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Unlimited users, including bookkeeper access
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Customizable, exportable reports
Best customer service
Sage
Sage Business Cloud Accounting
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
Starting from
$10.00/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Bookkeeper access with each plan
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Advanced reports (limited customization)
Best automation
Zoho
Zoho Books
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
Starting from
$15.00/mo.*
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Bookkeeper access with each plan
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Customized reports (limited without add-ons)
Best bookkeeping only
GoDaddy
GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Starting from
$4.99/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Bookkeeper access with each plan
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Annual financial reports

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*When billed annually

Bookkeeping is essential to your business’s success—but it’s also one of the hardest aspects of running a small business. Bookkeeper software helps you keep your books in order, often more affordably than an in-house bookkeeper. At Business.org, QuickBooks Online is our top bookkeeping software pick. Its detailed reports and straightforward interface make it a good fit for non-bookkeepers. Keep reading to learn more about QuickBooks Online and seven more standout bookkeeping options.

The best bookkeeping software for small businesses 2021

Best bookkeeping software for small businesses 2021

Software brand
Starting price
Unique financial reports
Number of users (with basic plan)
Learn more
Quickbooks

QuickBooks Online

$25.00/mo.

Sales tax, accounts receivable, inventory1 user + bookkeeper
Xero

Xero

$11.00/mo.Customized performance trackingUnlimited users
Sage

Sage Business Cloud Accounting

$10.00/mo.Cash flow forecasting1 user + bookkeeper
Zoho

Zoho Books

$15.00/mo.*Sales reports by customer, sales rep, or item1 user + bookkeeper
GoDaddy

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping

$4.99/mo.Basic financial reports only1 user + bookkeeper

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*When billed annually

Bookkeeping vs. accounting

While bookkeeping and accounting are sometimes used as synonyms, bookkeeping means creating financial records by tracking finances, and accounting means analyzing those financial records. You can’t have one without the other, which is why accounting software for small businesses always includes bookkeeping. (In contrast, you can find bookkeeping-only software, but we only recommend it to freelancers who want to track finances without analytics.)

Want to learn more about bookkeeping before sorting through your software options? Check out these resources:

QuickBooks Online: Best overall bookkeeping software

Best bookkeeping software
Quickbooks
QuickBooks Online
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
  • Starting at $25.00/mo.
  • Check
    Double-entry accounting
  • Check
    General ledger and chart of accounts
  • Check
    Bookkeeper or accountant access included with each plan

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

QuickBooks Online sets the standard for bookkeeping software with thorough, easy-to-understand financial reporting. Its cheapest plan includes all the financial reporting basics (profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements), plus sales tax and mileage tracking. Pricier plans include reports for accounts receivable and payable, budgeting, inventory, sales, profitability, and more.

Info
QuickBooks Self-Employed

If QuickBooks Online has too many features for your needs but you still want QuickBooks’s stellar reporting, QuickBooks Self-Employed might be a better fit. It starts at $15 a month and includes access to limited reports, plus freelance-specific features like mileage tracking and easy syncing with TurboTax (another Intuit product) come tax time.

As an online cloud-based accounting software, QuickBooks Online was made specifically for non-accountants (unlike the clunkier QuickBooks Desktop, which was made for accountants). Its ease of use is hard to match. Plus, if you spend more time traveling to on-site jobs and less time sitting in front of a computer, QuickBooks Online includes a fantastic mobile accounting app. You can use it to create invoices, capture receipts for easier expense tracking, and access the same financial reports displayed on the online interface.

Unfortunately, even though QuickBooks Online is our top pick, it’s also our priciest one. The cheapest QuickBooks plan starts at $25 a month—higher than any of our other recommended bookkeeping solutions. And if you want the best reporting QuickBooks can offer, you’ll need at least the $40 Essentials plan or, preferably, the $70 Plus plan.

Xero: Best for collaboration

Most collaborative software
Xero
Xero
4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4
  • Starting at $11.00/mo.
  • Check
    Double-entry accounting
  • Check
    General ledger and chart of accounts
  • Check
    Easy bookkeeper and accountant collaboration

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Xero is our top accounting software pick for small-business owners—its ease of use, low starting price, and thorough features set it apart. The software’s bookkeeping features include double-entry bookkeeping (the most accurate bookkeeping and accounting method), plus dozens of customizable reports. In contrast to most accounting software, Xero includes unlimited users at no additional cost. You can generate interactive financial reports any time and send them to your key financial collaborators, including business partners or tax advisors.

Even though we generally prefer Xero to QuickBooks, QuickBooks Online remains the most popular accounting software for US-based accountants, bookkeepers, and auditing clerks. For instance, most virtual and outsourced bookkeeping services still use QuickBooks or proprietary in-house software—though some, like Bookkeeper360, also sync with Xero.

While QuickBooks Online wins our top spot for now, we’re hoping that as Xero’s user base expands, more accountants and bookkeepers will sign on. That should make collaboration easier for Xero-using small-business owners who (wisely!) work with financial advisors around tax time. And thousands of accountants and bookkeepers do use Xero already, so you can search Xero’s directory to find a local accountant who’s already familiar with the software.

Find Your Money—and Keep More of It

With plans starting at $15 a month, FreshBooks is well-suited for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small-business owners alike.

  • Track time and expenses
  • Create custom invoices
  • Accept online payments

Sage Business Cloud Accounting: Best customer service

Best customer care
Sage
Sage Business Cloud Accounting
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
  • Starting at $10.00/mo.
  • Check
    Double-entry accounting
  • Check
    General ledger and chart of accounts
  • Check
    Bookkeeper or accountant access included with each plan

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Like Xero and QuickBooks, Sage Business Cloud Accounting’s reports are user friendly and very easy to read. Its business trend reports are particularly useful—they compare your business’s current health with its past growth and future goals so you can keep your business on track for success. Sage also offers a lot of support to first-time business owners with minimal bookkeeping experience. Its live Q&A chat lets you ask an expert financial questions during business hours, and you can always schedule an appointment with a Sage Accounting expert.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting starts at just $10, which is perfect for freelancers and self-employed business owners with no employees. But to get the most out of Sage Business Cloud Accounting, you really need the $25-a-month plan. The cheaper plan limits you to basic reports and one user only. In contrast, the pricier plan includes more thorough reporting, unlimited users, and cash flow forecasting.

Zoho Books: Best automation

Best automation
Zoho
Zoho Books
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
  • Starting at $15.00/mo.*
  • Check
    Double-entry accounting
  • Check
    General ledger and chart of accounts
  • Check
    Bookkeeper or accountant access with each plan

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*When billed annually

All of Zoho Books’s plans include business overview reports, like profit and loss statements. But Zoho Books goes beyond the basics by offering customizable reports in the following categories:

  • Sales reports
  • Inventory management and reports
  • Accounts receivable reports
  • Payments received reports
  • General activity logs

Zoho also lets you tag reports in ways that are easy for you to sort through, read, and understand. In other words, instead of making non-bookkeepers work to understand their financial data, Zoho Books’s straightforward reporting and simple organization reduces work for non-accountant business owners.

Money
Price check: Zoho's free plan

If you make less than $50,000 USD per year, you might qualify for Zoho’s free plan. It includes access for one user plus one accountant or bookkeeper, a chart of accounts, and bank account reconciliation. Bear in mind that the free plan lacks some of the automation that sets Zoho apart, such as automatic recurring expenses and report tags.

If you want more in-depth reporting, you’ll get the most out of Zoho Books’s reports by integrating with Zoho Analytics. Analytics plans start at a reasonable $24 a year, but if you want the best reporting Zoho Analytics can provide, you’ll need the Premium plan at $115 a year. That’s in addition to your monthly Zoho Books fee, so make sure to weigh the cost of any Zoho add-ons before committing. (Zoho largely syncs with other Zoho products, not with more affordable third-party apps.)

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping: Best bookkeeping only

Best for basic bookkeeping
GoDaddy
GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
  • Starting at $4.99/mo.
  • Check
    Double-entry accounting
  • Check
    General ledger and chart of accounts
  • Check
    Bookkeeper or accountant access with each plan

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping’s cheapest plan lets you send invoices and estimates, track mileage, accept online payments, and chart your business’s annual finances. The software’s simplicity makes it perfect for freelancers, Amazon and eBay sellers, and Etsy shop owners who want to track finances and bill customers as affordably as possible.

Want a bit more heft? The Essentials plan ($9.99 a month) gives you unlimited business reports so you can compare your finances from year to year. Unlike the cheapest plan, Essentials also syncs automatically with data from PayPal, Etsy, eBay, and Amazon. Paying nearly $10 a month is a little high for GoDaddy’s limited accounting features. Still, if you want the convenience of automatic data imports without the accounting complexity of QuickBooks Online, GoDaddy is the way to go.

Talk with a dedicated advisor on which option is best

Best bookkeeping software honorable mentions

Didn’t find your ideal bookkeeping software in our top five? Here are three more bookkeeping picks—including Wave Accounting, which is completely free for life—that might suit you.

Compare business bookkeeping software: Honorable mentions

Software brand
Starting price
Standout financial reports
Number of users (with basic plan)
Learn more
Wave

Wave Accounting

FreeSales tax trackingUnlimited users
Fresh Books

FreshBooks

$15.00/mo.Accounts aging1 user (no accountant access)
Kashoo

Kashoo

$20.00/mo.Basic reports onlyUnlimited users

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Wave: Runner-up

Honorable mention
Wave
Wave Accounting
  • Free for life
  • Check
    Double-entry accounting
  • Check
    General ledger and chart of accounts
  • Check
    Bookkeeper or accountant access included

Wave Accounting is our favorite free accounting software option for small-business owners. Unlike most paid software, Wave has unlimited user access, including easy access for accountants and bookkeepers. And along with foundational reports like income and cash flow statements, Wave Accounting includes sales tax tracking reports. Most notably, its comparative documents help you understand your business’s finances to make wise financial decisions.

But since Wave Accounting has just one plan, it’s not necessarily ideal for growing businesses that might need a heftier accounting tool in the future. On the other hand, Wave lets you juggle multiple businesses at no additional cost. If you want to track your Etsy shop’s sales separately from your eBay or Amazon store’s profits, Wave might be a good fit.

FreshBooks: Runner-up

Honorable mention
Fresh Books
FreshBooks
  • Starting at $15.00/mo.
  • X
    No double-entry accounting with cheapest plan
  • Check
    General ledger and chart of accounts
  • X
    No free accountant access with cheapest plan

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

FreshBooks’s accounting software includes color-coded, user-friendly reports for expenses, sales tax summaries, accounts aging, and invoice details. (Speaking of invoices, they’re the reason we like FreshBooks so much: its professional invoices are easy to generate and for your clients to collaborate on.)

In spite of its excellent reports and recurring invoices, though, FreshBooks falls short in a few bookkeeping areas. Most notably, its cheapest plan ($15 a month) doesn’t include double-entry bookkeeping or free accountant access. For accountant access, more accurate bookkeeping, and detailed business health reports, you’ll need the $25-a-month Plus plan.

Kashoo: Runner-up

Honorable mention
Kashoo
Kashoo
  • Starting at $20.00/mo.
  • Check
    Double-entry accounting
  • Check
    General ledger and chart of accounts
  • Check
    Bookkeeper or accountant access with each plan

Data as of 6/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Kashoo’s cheapest plan offers all the financial tracking basics: income and expense tracking, sales and sales tax tracking, and all essential financial statements. If you want to track inventory and manage projects, you’ll need the $30-a-month plan, which also includes accounting tools like a customizable chart of accounts. (The $20 plan gives you a typical, non-customizable, IRS-standard chart of accounts.)

By all accounts, Kashoo also has fantastic customer service. If you’re nervous about setting up accounting software for the first time, Kashoo’s experts can talk you through it. So while Kashoo isn’t as comprehensive as competitors like QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks, its customer service reputation is a definite point in its favor.

Bookkeeping software FAQ

What is the best software for bookkeeping?

QuickBooks Online is one of the most popular bookkeeping software choices in the US. Its comprehensive reports are easy for first-time business owners to generate and understand, and it offers more thorough reporting than just about any other software out there.

But QuickBooks Online isn’t necessarily the best online accounting solution for you. (For one thing, it starts at an above-average monthly price.) Xero and Wave Accounting are more affordable with similar reporting features. FreshBooks has much better invoicing with clear, color-based reports. And both Sage Business Cloud Accounting and Kashoo have more solid customer service.

Luckily, most bookkeeping software comes with a free trial. (Notably, QuickBooks Online offers 50% off for three months or a 30-day free trial, so be prepared to forego one of them if you want to test drive your software.) Finding the best bookkeeping software for you is crucial to your business’s success—try as many options as you need to settle on one you feel confident in.

What's the best free bookkeeping software?

Our top free bookkeeping software recommendation is Wave Accounting. It offers fully featured reports and full accountant and bookkeeper access. Along with unlimited users, it lets you add unlimited bank accounts and credit cards for easier (and more accurate) bank reconciliation. Its chart of accounts, journal entry generation, and multi-business management make it a good fit for small and midsize businesses alike.

If you don’t love Wave, though, you have other options. ZipBooks lets you toggle between cash and accrual-basis accounting. SlickPie allows you to manage up to 10 businesses for free. And Odoo and TurboCASH can streamline cash management for international companies. Read through our reviews of the 10 best free bookkeeping options to learn more.

What accounting software do bookkeepers use?

Most bookkeepers and accountants use the same popular software small-business owners do, especially QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Sage. Oracle NetSuite and FreshBooks are two other popular bookkeeper software options.

However, you can share most accounting solutions with an accountant or bookkeeper, including accounting software that otherwise limits its users by plan. (For example, QuickBooks Online’s cheapest plan allows for just one business user, but it includes accountant access at no additional cost.) Regardless of the accounting system you use, you should be able to share it with a bookkeeper come tax time with no problems.

Some bookkeeping companies and accounting firms use proprietary in-house accounting software. If you’re planning to work with a bookkeeping company rather than hiring a solo bookkeeper, make sure to ask about its accounting system. If the accounting firm uses QuickBooks but you’ve used Zoho Books to this point, transferring your financial data into a new accounting software package might cost extra. (Or it might not—which is why you should ask!)

The takeaway

QuickBooks Online has some of the best reporting and bookkeeping features money can buy. Want a cheaper, fully featured option? Xero, Sage Business Cloud Accounting, and Zoho Books have stellar reports at a lower starting price than QuickBooks. And if you want straightforward finance tracking without in-depth analytics, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping can help you with the basics.

No matter which software option you choose, remember: bookkeeping is foundational to running a successful business. Whether you’re a freelancer with a few clients a month or a small-business owner with 10 employees and counting, bookkeeping software will help you track profits, plan for the future, and keep all of your accounts in order.

Want to check out software ranked by accounting features, not just bookkeeping basics? Read through our reviews of the best accounting software options for small businesses like yours.

Our methodology

To find, rank, and recommend the best bookkeeper software for small businesses, we evaluated a few key criteria:

  • Adherence to bookkeeping best practices, including double-entry bookkeeping, bank reconciliation, chart of accounts generation, and automatic journal entry generation
  • Number and type of financial reports, including foundational reports (profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements) and more thorough, customizable, and exportable reports
  • User access, including free bookkeeper and accountant access
  • Customer service options, ease of use, mobile app access, and customer reviews

We weighted each category equally in calculating our star ratings.

Related reading

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie is an accounting writer for Business.org. Kylie spent two of the last four years writing for and with small-business owners—from dentists in Australia to plumbers in the Midwest. She spent the other two writing in depth about internet and security. She’s passionate about reading, hiking, and dedicating every spare second to writing for fun (at lunch, between meetings, on the train, before breakfast . . . ). Her content helps small-business owners tackle the logistics of running a business so they can focus more on their passions too.
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