While enterprise-level accounting is still largely done online, it’s harder and harder to find small business off-the-shelf accounting software. Sometimes, you don’t want a subscription, you don’t want to log on, you just want to sit down and use a familiar program to do a familiar task.
There are still plenty of options out there for installed, bought-on-Amazon accounting packages. I’ve pulled in four of the bigger players here, so you can find the accounting software that fits your business. If you’re ready to move from Excel to a real accounting system, you’ll be happy with one of these. Presented in alphabetical order.
If you’re a fan of free accounting software and you don’t envision needing to jump on the phone for support, GnuCash might be the option for you. A long-running open source alternative to the big accounting packages, GnuCash has been making lovers of free things happy since 1998.
Like many – not all, but many – open source options, GnuCash has a steep learning curve, which rewards patience and knowledge. Consumer Research has a positive review of GnuCash, citing only one drawback: its difficulty for novices.
Given time and technique, GnuCash can generate reports, track all your accounting details, and even manage multiple currencies. As I said in our Top Free Accounting Software piece, you’re stuck with double-entry accounting, which isn’t going to make learning this any easier.
All this being said, open source junkies love GnuCash. You can download it for free on SourceForge, where GnuCash is rocking 4.5 out of five stars.
This is the brand that everyone knows and either loves or hates. QuickBooks still sells its installed accounting software as an alternative to its QuickBooks Online offering. The 2016 version of Pro has added in some new reporting features and a form management system.
Generally speaking, if you want to do it, QuickBooks can manage it. Print deposit slips, print checks, track your bills and income, generate reports, have your accountant log in, and just about everything else. Even with the general disdain that some businesses have dropped on QuickBooks, the 2015 version managed to get four out of five stars on Amazon with almost 1,000 reviews. Clearly, Intuit is doing something right.
QuickBooks is currently $200 on QuickBooks’ site and $190 on Amazon. You can tack on an extra $27 plus $2 per employee, per month for QuickBooks to manage your payroll.
Quicken Home & Business
Quicken was the accounting software of my youth – I have no idea why – and it’s still kicking around out there. Compared to the other options presented here, Quicken is pretty bare-bones, as it’s geared toward small business owners.
It has basic functions like job tracking and invoice management, but it lacks QuickBooks’ payroll features, multiple users, and integration with Microsoft Office products. To make up for that, it’s cheap. Customers on Amazon have given it a middling three out of five stars, with many having technical difficulties with the newest version. It sounds like previous versions worked fine, though, so I imagine Intuit – makers of both Quicken and QuickBooks – will sort things out.
Sage 50 Pro
Sage 50 Pro is a direct competitor to QuickBooks. Geared toward a slightly more accounting-savvy audience, Sage 50 offers a lot of dashboard and report customization to give you more out of your data. The flip side of that is that Sage 50 has a steeper learning curve.
The software does come with a year of support, though, so any bumps you encounter should be manageable. According to the Simple Dollar, Sage has an edge over QuickBooks on customer support. This is a product that can grow with your business, so companies in a period of quick growth may find it a flexible fit.
You can pick Sage 50 Pro up on Amazon for $300.
If you need more options, you can always check out our accounting software directory. If you’ve got a favorite off-the-shelf option not listed here, let me know in the comments.
Header by Rachel Wille
Looking for Accounting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Accounting software solutions.