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Top Ten QuickBooks Alternatives for Small Business Accounting

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When we started Capterra in 1999, the very first business software purchase I made was QuickBooks. Spreadsheets were good enough to track our revenue and expenses in the early years (we hardly had any of the former), so the main reason we needed QuickBooks was for invoicing.

top 10 quickbooks alternatives

I remember standing in Staples and doing a quick comparison of QuickBooks versus Peachtree. Peachtree was the very first business software product developed for the desktop back in 1977, but with just 10% market share, it was a distant #2 to QuickBooks. Intuit launched QuickBooks in 1992, and it quickly became the de facto small business choice with a market share over 80%. So I did what any new business owner would do— I followed the crowd and bought QuickBooks. It cost a couple hundred dollars and was supposed to be easy to use, so we took the plunge and never looked back.

Over a decade later, with about 30 employees and over 1,000 customers that we bill monthly, we’re still using it. And we’ve had very few hiccups along the way. (That’s a successful software purchase by any measure, but in retrospect, I’m slightly embarrassed about that rash decision making process given Capterra’s business.)

Now, in 2013, it’s amazing to see what has happened in the accounting software market. More than a handful of online software products with names like FreshBooks, Xero and Kashoo have become notable QuickBooks competitors by focusing on user friendliness, price and other factors. And while QuickBooks still has millions of customers and dominates the category, these up-and comers appear to be slowly chipping away at their market share. The real question is, are they different enough to make it worth your time and effort to evaluate them before making a decision? Is there really much difference between these options and how they help you manage your books and invoice your customers? Laurie McCabe, a technology industry veteran and partner at SMB Group, believes so. “QuickBooks didn’t get to where it is by accident, and it is a great solution for many small businesses. But it may be too much for some people, while others may need specific, advanced capabilities that it doesn’t have.”

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular alternatives to QuickBooks:

Sage 50

If you have history with Peachtree (which was recently rebranded as Sage 50) or prefer an on-premises solution – which you may if you ever perform work without a great Internet connection – then Sage 50 is a viable alternative for a one-time fee of $369 for one user. That compares to $250 for QuickBooks Pro or $400 for QuickBooks Premier. QuickBooks and Sage 50 are the two main options left for inexpensive, on-premises accounting, and they’re both worth a demo since their reported features are very similar, but their user experiences are known to be quite different.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks is generally regarded as the #1 web-based competitor to QuickBooks Online. If you’re the only user, and you only bill one client each month, then you can use this product for free. If you have a bunch of clients, then the monthly fee rises to $30, which is more than double the $13 you would pay for the entry level version of QuickBooks Online. What do you get with that? A product that is extremely focused on invoicing for small service-based businesses.

QuickBooks is known for managing all accounting-related tasks, whether you’re a small business or have hundreds of employees, which means it can be cumbersome. FreshBooks is known for being very simple-to-use, which means fewer headaches for the busy, small business owner who’s still doing invoicing. Ease of use should never be underestimated. Time is precious, and any time saved learning and dealing with your billing software is more time you can spend on your customers. It also integrates easily with Basecamp Classic, Zendesk, Salesforce, MailChimp, Constant Contact and many others.

LessAccounting

For $36/month and unlimited users and transactions, LessAccounting gives you an easy-to-use accounting system that automates bookkeeping, proposals, expense tracking, invoicing and even contact management. It integrates with Basecamp, Shopify, Zencash, and a few other products. They also have a sense of humor – instead of saying “Contact Us” on their website, they opted for “Mail us a gift.” Nice.

Xero

Xero focuses on ease of use, especially when it comes to importing bank transactions on a daily basis. It also integrates with third party applications such as CRM, payroll, and other critical software products. While Xero offers a starting price point of $19/month, that only includes up to five invoices. After five, the price climbs to $29/month, and that allows for unlimited users. Very reasonable.

Outright

Outright may be the cheapest bookkeeping solution on the market given that it’s free, and you can upgrade to a $10/month plan if you want to track sales taxes. The catch is that it’s just for bookkeeping. No invoicing or time tracking, but it does integrate with FreshBooks, which handles both.

Wave Accounting

The reason why I said “may” regarding Outright being the cheapest is that Wave is actually free. 100% free regardless of number of users. It targets companies with less than 10 employees, and includes bookkeeping, invoicing, expense tracking and payroll. The catch is that you’ll be exposed to ads while you’re in the system. I’ve seen this model with a few other successful software companies – Spiceworks for network monitoring and Practice Fusion for electronic medical records – and of course, those of us who use Google Apps are somewhat used to it, although I imagine the promotional offers in Wave are a little more difficult to ignore. Doesn’t seem like a bad catch!

FreeAgent

Very targeted toward freelancers and small business owners, FreeAgent is $24/month, and that includes unlimited invoicing and users. It integrates with Basecamp, Capsule CRM, RightSignature and quite a few other products. It is known for being user friendly.

Yendo

Based out of Ireland, Yendo offers accounting software that includes basic CRM functionality for $9/month for one user. Pricing moves to $26/month for 2-5 users and $52/month beyond 5 users. I believe this could be an interesting tool for the founder/owner who wears multiple hats, but I have a hard time imagining much use for combining accounting and CRM for that many users.

Kashoo

Kashoo places a strong emphasis on their ease of use, even claiming that they save users 5-10 hours per month – a very compelling value proposition. They focus on invoicing and offer multi-currency capabilities, all for one simple price of $20/month.

FinancialForce

If you use Salesforce as your CRM, want a tight integration between accounting and your customer communication, and don’t mind paying a premium at $65/user/month, FinancialForce is certainly worth considering. It is built on the Salesforce platform, is multicurrency and multicultural, and can scale significantly as you grow your business.

That’s ten solid alternatives to QuickBooks, and there really are many more, particularly if you’re in an industry such as construction or nonprofit that has unique accounting needs. All ten have a reputation for being user friendly, relatively inexpensive and geared toward small business. Some of these only cater to very small businesses with one or a few employees, while others will grow with you as you hire dozens or even hundreds of employees. In most circumstances, you won’t need to consider a more robust accounting solution such as NetSuite or Intacct until you reach a much larger size. And then Oracle Financials and SAP are ready and waiting for when you’ve taken over the world!  In the meantime, enjoy having relatively easy financials to deal with…as well as many great accounting software alternatives.

Looking for Accounting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Accounting software solutions.

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About the Author

Michael Ortner

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Mike is Capterra's CEO and a lover of all things related to business software. He is also a human jungle gym for his five kids.

Comments

Thanks for the nod, Michael! For what it’s worth, we’re gung-ho about mobile: anytime, anywhere accounting… especially via the iPad. Give a shout if you ever want to give the Kashoo iPad app a spin.

thanks for mentioning Xero Michael … anywhere, any device and proudly Kiwi made

Great list. Thanks for sharing.
~Cody

Thanks for sharing your post! Its really a nice and knowledgeable blog. I’m sure the content of your blog is so helpful to those of the business people.

-Cody

Mmm nice piece of Intuit marketing.

Quickbooks is bloated software & has so many errors that it is difficult to list them all here. The only reason that Intuit dominates the market is that it seems to put all real competitors out of business. In my opinion & lots of people agree it is also very poor buggy software.

Would love to see a comparison table for major features like inventory tracking, payroll, sales tax. Small businesses generally fall into several categories: service, manufacturing, wholesale and retail. At least three of these need inventory tracking and POs, even if it’s a single person business. In other words, I think it would help this article to include a comparison on major features most small businesses needs. (Last time I checked, very few QB alternatives had inventory tracking.)

These are all on line providers, not actual accounting software. Not really an alternative to QuickBooks. Switching between accounting systems is a big deal to a growing company. That is something these online people can really take advantage of. QuickBooks was a good deal in the beginning too. Now it is a scam of forced obsolescence, forced upgrades at increasing prices, features like payroll are now separate, additional costs that exceed what the entire program used to cost. They make the lower versions limited now to only handle ridiculously small files to force you into premier versions at 400% of the cost. They really need a competitor, just not sure one scan is better than another, just because they are newer to the game.

[…] what is out there to use.  Here are a few great resources, of other quickbooks alternatives (Capterra – Top 10 QuickBooks alternatives for small business  | Exact […]

Thanks for this recap. Do any of those programs have the ability to carry inventory? That wasn’t a feature mentioned in the recap and that’s the only reason my company is tied to quick books. Thanks!

Shoshanna – Sage 50 has fairly advanced inventory functionality and Xero has basic inventory functionality. As far as I know, all of the others do not but they make it pretty easy to integrate with great inventory products such as Tradegecko.

I agree. Thanks for sharing those list. It’s really informative and it can really help lots of business owners to know some quickbook alternatives for small business accounting.

What would be useful heer is to know what could hosting firms allow one to import from QB? I have encountered numerous that do not import! Part of the issue is that we all need historical data, and just doing another financial package “going forward” is a non-starter…

Most (if not all) of these products allow you to import from QuickBooks. Each one differs so be sure to check out the vendor websites for more details.

[…] further. If you would like information on some other good low-cost accounting solutions out there, this article will […]

That’s really nice, like the alternate sites will gonna use it definitely.

Nice article Michael! Thanks for mention sage5o here.

Informative post, i think xero and sage are the best accounting software. Thanks for sharing such an great list of quickbooks alternatives…

Michael, your readers should also be aware that Quickbooks will not let switch between an existing subscription and a cheaper 1-year subscription you may have purchased at a Best Buy. I’m on the phone as I type this and they make it impossible to do, Quickbooks Online (in Canada) has no facility for exporting your transactions.

I’ve been told I would need to manually re-enter all transactions to switch over. As I’m trying to switch from a monthly sub of Quickbooks Essentials ($21/month) to a 1-year Quickbooks Essentials ($50 on sale), I suggested that since they’ve made it near impossible to switch, then simply reduce the fee I pay monthly to match the Best Buy offer … not possible is what I’m told.

Before my company grows any more and we end up even further down this dead-end road, I’m using my extensive time on hold to locate a competing product! Thanks for highlighting the options for me.

I cannot urge folks enough not to even start down the road with Intuit on ANY product. Online is most definitely the future of accounting software but do not be suckered into QB Online. Intuit has run unchallenged for the most part for so long that they have gotten very accustomed to bait and switch tactics and a very deep rooted and HORRENDOUS customer service reputation that has been going on for years and years. A absolutely terrible company to start a relationship with especially one that is such a pain to change once you figure out it isn’t what you want to be doing with your accounting.

I also tried e-conomic and I can highly recommend it.

[…] of QuickBooks or a software package like FreshBooks or Xero or LessAccounting or Outright or others  is not altogether appealing either. I would rather spend the extra cash on something else – […]

One of the most perplexing challenges we face as a service based small business, is the single most tied to value that keeps us with Freshbooks. Somehow, the other software companies didn’t get the memo! It’s about collaboration with your clients!

Freshbooks allows us to have clients actually log into the software and see their invoices, estimates, tickets and history with us. right in the software! NOT through email or snail mail with cheesy links that easily get broken, but right there online. Our clients get things like creating their own ticket, closing them, re-ordering from an old invoice, adding notes to the estimates, etc.

Why these other software companies have not created this has absolutely left me dumbfounded with confusion as to where they think online software is heading?? And more importantly, shouldn’t the super quick rise to fame in Freshbooks make other software companies say… Hmmmm, we might want to incorporate some of these values!!

Now the dirt! What Freshbooks lacks, and what we’ve been complaining about for ages with them is things like inventory management, distributors, suppliers, etc. Freshbooks has a VERY weak inventory management system and very limited financial system.

This is what keeps Freshbooks from totally wiping out Quickbooks all together in the small business market. If Freshbooks doesn’t close the gap soon, another company will capture the values which makes Freshbooks unique and close that niche which Freshbooks has enjoyed up until now.

Thank you for sharing all this wonderfully useful information! I do have a question for you… I need a free or inexpensive program for tracking inventory (around 150 items).
I only need to track my inventory, nothing more. Do you have any suggestions? I appreciate your help!

I work for a kitchen and bath showroom and we use Quickbooks Enterprise. I wish I could say that it is a great program for us, but I cannot. We have so many problems with the software. We are looking for other alternatives with the same features. Thank you for some help towards that direction.

Indeed sounds promising. There’s another accounting tool for small business, isn’t free but having lots of functionality. that is http://www.asiahawk.com

Thanks for sharing the alternative list. I have used Sage 50 and FreshBooks.

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