What Is the Best Small Business Accounting Software?

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Another reader submitted question. This time a reader was asking about accounting packages for small business. There are many accounting programs out there, and I plan on reviewing these programs in the future as well. If you are serious about your business, then you must look professional to your customers. Doing it via pad and paper is a nonstarter in today's electronic business world.

Reader Question:

I read your review of Mint.com. It sounds good, but I [have] some questions. I'm very familiar with MSN Money for managing my personal accounts, but now need an accounting program to help me manage contacts, create invoices, perform AR & AP, and track inventory as well as personal finances.

Will the basic edition of Mint do this, or would it be better to go with one of the other programs out there? (I'd like to stay with a free program if possible.) Also, have you reviewed GnuCash? – Tasha

Answer:

Hi Tasha,
Mint.com is NOT suitable for a business. You are really asking about two different types of programs. Mint.com was designed for personal finance only. In addition, Mint is read-only and does not have any features needed for a business. It does not have the ability to manage contacts, create invoices, perform accounts receivable, manage accounts payable, or track inventory.

It's also typically not a good idea to mix business with pleasure. I personally like to keep my personal life separate from my business. It's also the fact my business is incorporated. So in my case from a legal perspective I must keep them separate. Otherwise you run the risk of piercing the corporate veil.

I typically like open source software. Most of my business uses open source, but not my accounting and billing. In addition, I prefer something that my accountant can work with, which in their case is Quickbooks. So while GnuCash might not be a terrible option, be prepared to support it yourself.

Fortunately Intuit, the maker's of Mint.com, has a few other options available for your small business. From the ones listed below, Quicken and Freshbooks are not owned by Intuit. Though at one time Intuit did own Quicken.

There are quite a few small business accounting software packages available:

  • Freshbooks — Which is really just for invoicing customers.
  • Quickbooks Online — Which is the most like Mint.com and lives in the cloud.

Freshbooks

FreshBooks

Freshbooks is web-based service that does online invoicing, expense management and time tracking of your employees or consultants. I particularly like this software since you get up and online in no time.

It's not a fully featured accounting program, so it's simple to use. For those of you who need integration into an accounting system, it offers this as an option. You can accept payments online via PayPal, Authorize.net and quite a few other merchant systems.

The nice thing about Freshbooks is you can try it free for 30 days.

Quickbooks Online

QuickBooks

This is Inuit's online version of Quickbooks. It lacks some of the features of the desktop edition, but for most small businesses Quickbooks Online edition will be all you needed. If you are looking for web 2.0 application that's in the cloud, Quickbooks Online is your best option. Unlike the desktop edition, where you pay a one-time fee (though this isn't really true as the app lifespan is 3 years), Quickbooks Online you pay monthly.

I suspect in the long run this is the future of Quickbooks, and the desktop application will be discontinued.

Quicken Home, Business & Rental Property 2019

This is the business edition of Quicken's popular personal finance software (see my review of Quicken). It really falls in between Quicken and purchasing Quickbooks instead. I am assuming Home, Business & Rental Property targets DBA entrepreneurs that are not incorporated and individuals who own rental properties. If this fits your profile, you might want to choose using this edition. However, personally, I would rather opt for Quickbooks.

Larry Ludwig

Larry Ludwig was the founder and editor in chief of Investor Junkie. He graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor of science in computers and a minor in business. Back in the ’90s, I helped create some of the first financial websites for firms like Chase, T. Rowe Price, and ING Bank, and later went on to work for Nomura Securities. He’s had a passion for investing since he was 20 years old and has owned multiple businesses for over 20 years. He currently resides in Long Island, New York, with his wife and three children.

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5 Comments

    1. The site, accountantbluebook.com, gives a warning from Google that it is a phishing site. I continued on past the warning window and checked out the site:

      1. It has non-standard English grammar, so I suspect it is in a country outside the USA.
      2. The About page and Contact page do not reveal the company’s address or HQ or persons to contact.

      I will not be using this site.

  1. Unfortunately, these days “accounting” is not always associated with double-entry, or at least such a tendency can be observed in the cloud. And most accounting software (double-entry systems) can manage a/p and a/r. But not all can manage inventory, even though they majority in the cloud offer “inventory management” it is in fact a quantity management, and nothing about stock value on hand, etc., so you don’t treat balance sheet statement seriously at all.

    Now if we narrow down into a solution with a/r, a/p, inventory management, then your decision mostly depends on your preferences of reporting and user roles management.

    Best regards,
    Talibro.com

  2. I agree to your statement that it’s not good sometimes to mix pleasure with business, if you will I think you can compromise one and especially if it’s all about money.

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