When we started Capterra in 1999, the very first business software purchase we 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.
According to legend, Mike Ortner walked into Staples and purchased a copy right off the shelf. No research, no comparisons, just following the trend – and what a trend it is. Twenty years after that fateful day and QuickBooks still has something approaching 80% of the accounting software market, making it far and away the most popular choice.
Its popularity doesn’t mean it’s always the right solution, though. Competitors like Xero and Wave are changing the way accounting software is designed and valued. FreshBooks and Billy are making software specifically for small businesses. Even QuickBooks has changed, taking more users into the cloud than ever before.
Before the alternatives, a QuickBooks overview
QuickBooks now has offerings for most businesses sizes. Between its online version and its desktop offerings, you can manage just about any business. Recently, it’s made a strong push for more integrations to extend its feature set, and the app store now features over 450 apps.
Despite some backlash for being the popular option, QuickBooks is still highly rated, with 4.5/5 stars on Capterra from over 2,200 reviews. If it were on this list, it would rank a respectable 8th.
People look for alternatives because they need more focused software or a different feature set or just because they’ve had a bad QuickBooks experience in the past. There is no one-size-fits-all accounting software.
To help you make the right choice for your small business, we’ve pulled together ten QuickBooks alternatives. This list is pulled from a combination of our Most User-Friendly and Most Affordable Accounting Software rankings. I gave out points for placement (20 for 1st, 19 for 2nd, 18 for 3rd, etc.), combined the lists, and then ranked the results.
The options are presented here in their ranked order. QuickBooks came in 11th, by the way.
1. Zoho Books
Zoho Books is Zoho’s accounting offering. The company also makes popular CRM, service desk, and email software. Books uses automation tools to give small businesses as much time back as possible.
Zoho Books has a great dashboard, which acts as a sort of command center for your business finances. It includes all sorts of reports that give you a view into your cash flow, receivables, and payables.
If you’re already using another Zoho product or you like the idea of getting deep into your financials, this is a great option. If you’re looking for something with only a few buttons to press, you might check some of the other options.
Some of the standout features include a client portal, which allows your clients to log in and view recent or pending payments; customer management tools built right into the system; and inventory tracking that ties right into purchase orders, keeping your whole business running smoothly.
You also get classics like automatic bank reconciliations, reporting tools, and recurring billing.
“Very good feature set, ease of use, and excellent support.”
“[Customer] service is really really fast, you have a problem or a questions they will get to you within minutes.”
“I love that our bank account(s) are linked with Zoho and sync automatically to ensure our books are almost always up to date.”
“Inventory support for Books is a bit primitive.”
Prices start at $9 per month, with access for two users and most of the basics. At the top end, you’ll pay $29 per month and be able to use the system’s inventory and purchase order management tools.
Billy accounting is a solution specifically for small businesses and, like FreshBooks, is focused on getting you paid. Invoices, which are the way you get paid, take center stage in Billy. Getting paid is a small business’s biggest hurdle, and any tool that helps you bring is cash is a welcome addition.
While invoices are the real focus, Billy also walks you through the entire quote-to-cash process. If you were attracted to QuickBooks for its wide range of integrations, Billy might not be your first choice, but if you want something that works right out of the box, it’s an excellent option.
We’ve touched on invoices, which you need to get that sweet cash, but Billy also has tools for issuing recurring invoices, accepting credit cards, tracking your finances through reports, and easily processing discounts. The recurring billing and discounts are great tools for smaller businesses.
Of course, the reconciliation and tax time prep are here. You can even invite your accountant to come in and view your books when the time comes.
“I love that I am able to add images to the invoices.”
“The ability to invoice customers and give them options on paying their invoices [has] made this process easy. We do not need to sign up with a merchant account service.”
“I have to say the customer service is exceptional and they helped make the transition from [QuickBooks] to Billy seamless.”
“Customer management has incredibly limited options.”
The Basic plan runs $11 per month and includes the basics. For $15 you get recurring invoices and quotes. At the top end, you’ll pay $19 per month and you can accept credit cards for payment.
Xero is one of the more popular cloud-based accounting options. Based out of New Zealand, Xero has been making inroads in the US for the last few years and now has 92,000 Stateside subscribers.
Xero’s capabilities mirror QuickBooks in many places, making it a solid QuickBooks Online alternative. If you’re looking for simplicity and handholding, Xero might be a little intimidating, but if you want to get stuck into the numbers, it’s a great choice.
No matter what price plan you opt for, Xero comes with reporting tools, invoicing, bank reconciliation, quotes, and mobile apps. Xero has also focused on building a strong app community to extend its basic functions, giving you access to all sorts of third-party add-ons.
You can also manage payroll for your employees in over 35 states, at the higher pricing tiers.
“This software is the real deal that has whole package. [Truly] feel in control of your business with easy to use features from invoicing, reconciling, payroll, leave management, time sheets.”
“The accounting processes are so simple and easy to follow, it has saved me a huge amount of time.”
“It seriously cover [360 degrees] of accounting there is nothing that they did not cover.”
“As it does a lot, there is a lot that you need to know before you are using it properly.”
Xero starts at $9 per month, giving you five invoices per month, five bills, and just 20 automatically reconciled bank transactions. Fine for a small, small business, but a little limiting for anyone else. For $30, you get all the caps on invoices, bills, and reconciliation removed, and you’ll get five employees on payroll.
For $70+ per month, you can run payroll for 10 employees. At that level, you’ll also have access to multi-currency functionality.
Wave is a free, cloud-based accounting solution for small businesses. The company actually offers a few separate pieces of financial software, including receipt management, invoicing, and payroll. Payroll is the only one with a fee.
Wave’s accounting app has all of the basic functionality a small business needs, with a few of the more useful bells and whistles. If you need something that can be extended to cover inventory or other more power-user rolls, Wave might not be the perfect fit. For everyone else, it’s a great option.
Wave offers invoicing, receipt tracking, expense management, and reconciliation all for free. As with many of these options, there’s a big focus on getting your business paid, so you can easily find out who owes you what on Wave’s dashboard.
If you want to accept payments through Wave or add on payroll, that’s a simple process and th only time you’ll spend anything with the company.
Selected User Reviews
“This tool is incredibly simple but effective.”
“The most highly rated part of Wave for me is the ability to set up and manage recurring billing.”
“Wave is fairly user friendly and it’s features work for many basic small businesses.”
“Couldn’t connect to my Business bank account because it’s a smaller branch of bank.”
Wave is free. If you decide to add payroll to your business, it’s a flat fee of $15 per month plus $4 per user, per month.
SlickPie is another free option for small businesses. While you can pay for access to more automated receipt entry, all of the software’s other features are available for free. There are a lot of features, by the way.
If you’re looking for a system that can manage a small business and you want it free, this is a great option. There aren’t many integrations and payroll is missing from the feature line-up, so if those are important to you, keep looking.
Apart from payroll and integrations, SlickPie has most of the features you’ll need. Inventory support, invoicing, reporting – though some users would like a more robust set of tools here – sales tax, recurring invoices, and payment processing (fees apply).
The only feature you really pay for is SlickPie’s MagicBot, which is an automated receipt entry system. Even then, the free version comes with 100 receipts per month. If you’re not fussed by the lack of payroll, it’s unlikely you employ enough folks to care about a limit on the receipt entry feature.
“The best thing about this app is the attaching source documents feature. It makes my company saves a lot of papers and it is very helpful for my customer to see their payment.”
“It is just nuts the amount of features offered for a free app. At least in my case there are more features than I even need.”
“The tutorial video is very helpful at the beginning to help me start up my business system.”
“It needs more charts.”
$0 gets you all the features and 100 MagicBot receipts each month. $10 per month gets you unlimited receipts.
6. ONE UP
ONE UP is focused. It’s a streamlined accounting system that invoices and reconciles. There’s some additional focus on small retailers, with tools for inventory management, sales tax calculations, and a CRM, but that’s it.
If your business is straightforward, your books as basic, and you just hate the monotony of accounting and reconciliation, ONE UP is a nice choice. If you were considering QuickBooks for any of its more advanced features, this might be too narrowly focused for you.
Bank reconciliation, profit and loss reporting, inventory management, and sales tax calculations. That’s basically the program. The real trick is ONE UP’s algorithm that learns from your bank entry categorizations.
After you do it a few times, it figures things out and just automagically categorizes entries.
Selected User Reviews
NB: At the time of writing, ONE UP has only one review and it has no details.
ONE UP starts at $9 per month for one user and no support. At $19 per month, you get two users and support. The price then goes up from there until you hit $169 per month for unlimited users.
FreeAgent bills itself as being for freelancers and small businesses. To make that claim a reality, the software is centered on the generation of cash. It focuses on invoicing, time tracking, and project reporting so you can figure out which clients are making and costing you money.
FreeAgent is an excellent option for those small businesses that run on a time-and-materials billing system. If you were looking at QuickBooks for its integrations or its incredibly broad reporting package, FreeAgent might feel too thin.
FreeAgent comes with invoicing tools to help you track the money you’re owed. Sent invoices automatically roll up into an invoice timeline, which allows you to see how much is currently out to be collected.
The software also offers project reporting tools so you can track profitability by project. Time tracking makes it easy to record and bill for the time you put into a project. All of these features can then be reviewed in FreeAgent’s dashboards.
“[FreeAgent] has transformed our business from cumbersome spreadsheet accounts and Word invoices to a really convenient and efficient system.”
“Live bank feeds, easy to use, perfect for invoicing, accounting for small businesses, keeping the accountant and bank manager happy with the efficiency!”
“All and all the software works well, it just needs some enhancements… to make it easier to use.”
FreeAgent has one plan and one plan only – $24 per month. That gets you everything FreeAgent has to offer.
Officewise offers an accounting solution for small businesses as part of its suite of small business products. The system brings together features found in larger systems with a clean look and feel found in some of the newer, smaller offerings.
If you’re managing a business that includes inventory management, shipping, or purchasing, Officewise is a nice way to get those features. If you’re a freelancer or you’re looking for something project-based, this might not fit the bill. Ha.
As mentioned, Officewise has inventory management capabilities as part of its basic package. That can be a huge deal for businesses that rely on having the right items in stock. While the tools are going to be as robust as a standalone inventory management system, you can get a lot of what you’ll need.
Every pricing tier gets invoicing, quoting, and expense management, and all the paid versions have access to reporting tools. At the higher-priced tiers, Officewise also offers some budgeting and forecasting tools normally seen in bigger systems.
“The simplicity and pleasant GUI make doing my job easy.”
“It’s easy to use, I get email notifications when I have an invoice to approve, I can clearly see what the invoice is for.”
“The approval hierarchy is great.”
“The reporting could be easier to filter or add vendors, etc. I can’t really create a report that works for my needs and often find myself looking through everything one by one.”
Officewise has a pricing structure that adds features and users as you go up the chain, so check the website to make sure you know exactly what your needs are going to cost. That said, the price starts at $0 for a limited feature option and runs up to $40 per month for five users, all the bells and whistles, and custom user roles.
Manager is like Ragu Old World Style – robust. This is one of the first software options I’d point to for a medium business perusing the list. Manager offers a lot of control, allowing you to download a single-user version (free, by the way), run an instance hosted in the cloud, or install one on your local servers.
If you’re worried QuickBooks might not be customizable enough or big enough for your growing business, you might have luck with Manager.
Unlike Ragu, Manager has a massively long list of ingredients. Accounts receivable and payable management, inventory, sales tax, payable and receivable aging, reporting, recurring billing, accrual or cash accounting – an option you almost never see anymore – payroll management, quotes, and the list goes on.
Every version gets the same set of features, too. So if you just need one login and want a local installation, that’s all free.
“I have been using it for the last three years. No problems at all, [what’s] beautiful is that you [don’t] need internet.”
“Easy to use and intuitive. Much simpler than others I’ve tried.”
“I tried to back up my data then the program shut down on me. Otherwise very easy to use.”
There are three options for Manager. You can get a locally installed copy with one user for free, which is also $0 or nothing. You can use a cloud installation for $29 per month and get unlimited users and businesses. Finally, you can host your own installation on a local server for a one time $299 payment, also with unlimited everything – upgrades free for a year.
Kashoo is a cloud-based accounting solution along the lines of QuickBooks Online or Xero. If you’re familiar with any sort of online accounting, Kashoo will be a familiar face and should cover all of your needs.
Kashoo has integrations to help you extend its features, but there are fewer than you’ll find with QBO or Xero. That’s not a horrible thing, as the integrations it does offer are well-chosen, but it might be an issue for your business. If it’s not, I love the straightforward pricing and excellent UI Kashoo offers.
Kashoo comes with everything most small businesses will need, including invoicing, reporting, expense management, and payment acceptance (transactional fees apply). It also sports some well-regarded mobile apps and the usual bank reconciliation features.
One of Kashoo’s defining features is its support system. You call and talk to a real person, which reviewers love. [Segue]
“I love Kashoo, because the support is great and they understand Canadian needs.”
“The charm of this web app is that it is simple, easy and yet versatile enough that you can make complex transactions clean while still keeping people accountable.”
“Very simple and does almost everything the giant products on the market do.”
“ I like everything about it, but encourage further development of the mobile capture services.”
Kashoo is one price fits all – $20 per month.
Parting words of wisdom
I’ll finish off with an extended quote from the original version of this article from Capterra’s founder, Mike Ortner.
“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.”
If you have any favorites not listed here, drop a line in the comments to let the world know.
Looking for Accounting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Accounting software solutions.