Accounting | What is

What Is QuickBooks & What Does It Do?

Tim Yoder, Ph.D., CPA

REVIEWED BY: Tim Yoder, Ph.D., CPA

Tim is a Certified QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets) Pro, QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and CPA with 25 years of experience. He brings his expertise to Fit Small Business’s accounting content.

WRITTEN BY: Mark Calatrava

Published January 31, 2023

Mark has researched and reviewed accounting software at Fit Small Business since 2019 and has developed an extensive knowledge of accounting software features and how unique business needs determine the best accounting software.

This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software .

QuickBooks is the most popular small business accounting software used to manage income and expenses and keep track of financial health. You can invoice customers, pay bills, generate reports, and prepare taxes. The QuickBooks product line includes several solutions to support different business needs, such as QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Payroll, and QuickBooks Time.

While QuickBooks offers several accounting software options, we recommend QuickBooks Online for most new businesses. You can try it for free with a 30-day trial or get a 50% discount for three months with no credit card required.

Other QuickBooks Products

Being one of the top accounting software providers in the market today, QuickBooks offers supplementary products to augment your overall QuickBooks experience. These include:

15 Ways Small Businesses Use QuickBooks

1. Create, Send & Track Invoices

All QuickBooks Online plans allow you to create invoices and either print them or email them to customers. QuickBooks will record the income and track how much each customer owes you automatically. You can view the number of your outstanding invoices—known as your accounts receivable (A/R)—and how many days they’re overdue by running an A/R aging report.

You can also create an invoice from scratch or by converting an existing estimate into an invoice . Then, customize the invoice by changing the color and adding your company logo.

An example of invoice in QuickBooks Online.

Sample invoice in QuickBooks Online

2. Keep Track of Bills & Expenses

QuickBooks keeps track of your bills and expenses automatically by connecting your bank and credit card accounts to QuickBooks so that all of your expenses are downloaded and categorized. If you need to track a check or cash transaction manually, you can record it directly in QuickBooks in a few minutes.

You can also enter bills into QuickBooks when you receive them so that QuickBooks can help you track upcoming payments. You can ensure that you pay your bills on time by creating an accounts payable (A/P) report. This report will provide you with the details of your current and past-due bills. The ability to pay bills and track unpaid bills is available in QuickBooks Essentials and higher plans.

A/P Aging report in QuickBooks Online.

A/P Aging Summary report in QuickBooks Online

3. Pay Bills Online

You can pay bills online in QuickBooks using the online bill payment feature. Available in QuickBooks Online Essentials and higher plans, QuickBooks Online Bill Pay allows you to pay bills via bank transfer or check directly from QuickBooks in a few seconds and pay several bills at once. It also allows you to pay any vendor or supplier with a credit card. QuickBooks Online Bill Pay is integrated with QuickBooks Essentials, Plus, and Advanced.

To pay your first bill, you need to enter your bank account information, the payment method you’d like to use, and how your vendor would like to receive their payment. QuickBooks Online will then use this information automatically to process future transactions, reducing data entry. QuickBooks Online will mark your bills paid automatically and will remove them from the list of outstanding bills.

Note that you must first enter your bills in QuickBooks Online and then pay them online by clicking the + New button and then selecting Pay bills online.

Paying bills online in QuickBooks Online

4. Customize Your Expense Classifications with a Chart of Accounts

Your chart of accounts in QuickBooks provides a complete listing of all the accounts you need to track your financial data. These accounts are useful for tracking income, expense, assets, liabilities, and equity accounts that might be required on your tax return.

It’ll make tax-time easier if your Chart of Accounts includes all the line items required on your tax return. In addition to those line items, create enough detail in your Chart of Accounts to provide whatever information will help you better manage your business. Our chart of accounts setup guide walks you through how to add, delete, and customize accounts in QuickBooks Online.

5. Print Financial Statements for Your Business

By managing all of your cash inflow and outflow activities in QuickBooks, you can print financial statements that provide useful information about how your business is performing. Lenders often require financial statements when you apply for a small business loan or line of credit.

You can produce three primary financial statements in QuickBooks: Profit and Loss report, Balance Sheet report, and Statement of Cash Flows. Below is a brief description of each, along with a snapshot of what they look like in QuickBooks Online.

The Profit and Loss report will show you how profitable your business is by summarizing its income minus its expenses. The report shows you the bottom line net income (loss) for a specific time period, such as a week, a month, or a quarter.

Example of Profit and Loss report in QuickBooks Online.

Profit and Loss report in QuickBooks Online

The Balance Sheet report shows what your business owns (assets), what it owes (liabilities), and its net worth (equity) at a particular point in time.

Example of Balance Sheet report in QuickBooks Online.

Balance Sheet report in QuickBooks Online

The Statement of Cash Flows in QuickBooks will show you all of the activities that affect the operating, investing, and financing cash inflows and cash outflows for your business.

Example of Statement of Cash Flows in QuickBooks Online.

Statement of Cash Flows in QuickBooks Online

6. Track Employee Time & Expenses

Employees or subcontractors can enter their own time as they progress through the day, or a bookkeeper can enter their weekly time if the employee submits a manual timesheet. Time entered and assigned to a customer will be available to add to the customer’s next invoice.

Also, any expense entered can be marked as billable and assigned to a customer. As with time, these billable expenses will be available to add to the customer’s next invoice. You don’t need the payroll add-on to track employee time for billing purposes. You need at least QuickBooks Essentials to track billable hours and Plus to track billable expenses.

7. Monitor Project Profitability

You can use QuickBooks Online Plus or Advanced to create and manage projects, assign income and wages to a project, and track expenses associated with labor and materials. QuickBooks Online’s project accounting module also allows you to generate project estimates and include inventories, labor, and sales taxes.

While you can’t compare actual and estimated costs, QuickBooks Online allows you to monitor the profitability of each project you’re working on by creating a project profitability summary report.

Project Profitability Summary report in QuickBooks Online.

Project Profitability Summary report in QuickBooks Online

8. Manage Payroll

Payroll is an area that you don’t want to skimp on and try to do manually. Mistakes made in calculating paychecks can result in steep penalties and unhappy employees. QuickBooks has its own payroll function that can calculate and run payroll as often as you need automatically.

When you enter employee time as discussed above, the hours not only flow to your invoices but also to the payroll module. This way, you can be confident that every hour you pay your employee is also considered for billing to a customer.

The best thing about using QuickBooks Payroll is that it’s integrated with QuickBooks so that your financial statements are always up to date as of the latest payroll run. You have to purchase a [QuickBooks Payroll subscription to run payroll, but you have several levels of service to choose from to fit your needs.

Running your payroll through QuickBooks will allow you to:

Here’s a video link from Intuit on how small businesses use QuickBooks Payroll:

9. Track Inventory

Available in Plus and Advanced, the inventory management feature helps you track the quantity and cost of your inventory. As you sell inventory, QuickBooks will allocate a portion of your inventory to the cost of goods sold (COGS) automatically, which is an expense account that reduces your income. This allocation is a requirement for calculating taxable income and very cumbersome to do by hand. QuickBooks can also remind you to order inventory automatically when quantities are low.

Below is a sample Inventory Valuation Summary report from QuickBooks Online. This report shows a list of your inventory products, quantity on hand, average cost, and their total value:

Example of Inventory Valuation Summary report in QuickBooks Online.

Inventory Valuation Summary report in QuickBooks Online

10. Simplify Taxes

Perhaps the most important thing QuickBooks can do for your small business is to simplify tax time. By far, the largest headache in preparing a tax return is compiling your income and expenses. If you use QuickBooks during the year, all you need to do at tax time is print your financial statements. Better yet, with QuickBooks Online, you can invite your tax preparer to access your account directly so that they can review your numbers and print whatever information they need to prepare your return.

11. Accept Online Payments

One of the best ways to improve your cash flow is to offer customers the option to pay their invoices online. You can add QuickBooks Payments (formerly known as Intuit Merchant Services) so that customers can pay online directly from their emailed invoice. QuickBooks Payments is similar to other merchant services. However, because it’s integrated completely within QuickBooks, the sale, credit card fee, and cash deposit are all recorded automatically as they occur.

12. Scan Receipts

Another key to making tax time a breeze is being able to organize your receipts in QuickBooks. All QuickBooks Online subscribers can download the QuickBooks app to their mobile devices for free, take a picture of a receipt, and upload it to QuickBooks Online in a few minutes.

QuickBooks allows you to attach a receipt to the corresponding banking transaction. You can upload an unlimited number of receipts to QuickBooks Online as the receipts are stored in the cloud along with your data.

Receipt capture in QuickBooks Online mobile app.

Receipt capture in QuickBooks Online mobile app

13. Track Mileage

Many self-employed individuals and employees use their personal vehicles for business purposes. This provides a generous tax deduction of 58.5 cents per mile for 2022. However, to receive the deduction, you must keep a record of the date, miles, and purpose of your trip.

QuickBooks Online makes this incredibly easy. Its mobile app will use the GPS in your phone to sense every time you’re in a moving vehicle automatically. Then, you can review your trips, classify them as personal or business, and mark them as billable to a customer. Billable mileage expenses will then be available to add to the next invoice you create for that customer automatically.

14. Connect Your Apps

QuickBooks Online integrates with hundreds of business applications available in the QuickBooks App Store . These integrated apps are designed to help you simplify the various aspects of your business, from bill management and payment acceptance to cash flow forecasting.

In addition to some native QuickBooks Online integrations—such as QuickBooks Payroll, QuickBooks Time, and QuickBooks Payments—QuickBooks Online connects with popular apps. These include PayPal, Melio, HubSpot, Expensify, LeanLaw, Square Payroll, and Expensify.

15. Perform Accounting On the Go

The QuickBooks Online mobile app allows you to execute various accounting tasks from your mobile devices. Available for Android and iOS devices, it lets you create and send invoices, accept payments online, and assign expenses to projects or customers.

You can also track your business mileage and view financial reports from your smartphone. The QuickBooks Online mobile app is available for download on Google Play and App Store, but you need an active subscription to use its features.

QuickBooks Options & Pricing

QuickBooks comes in both a cloud-based online platform and a traditional desktop program. You can read about the pros and cons of each in our QuickBooks Online vs Desktop comparison . Most of the online and desktop versions will perform the tasks discussed above, but they come with an extensive variety of advanced features and a wide range of prices.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based product that doesn’t require software installation, allowing you to access your data from any computer with an internet connection by using your secure login. It’s available in four subscription levels, Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced, and is ideal for any business without complicated job-costing requirements.

Read our review of QuickBooks Online to learn more about the tool. We compared its four versions in our QuickBooks Online comparison .

QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Desktop comes in three versions: Premier, Enterprise, and QuickBooks Accountant Desktop. Each requires you to install the software on your computer:

If you want to learn more about the four QuickBooks Desktop versions, read our QuickBooks Pro review , QuickBooks Premier review , QuickBooks Enterprise review , and QuickBooks Accountant Desktop review .

We break down each of these products to help you understand the various versions in our QuickBooks Desktop comparison article.

You can be more productive with QuickBooks Desktop by getting a hosting provider. QuickBooks hosting lets you access your Desktop software anywhere through a remote server. Check out our list of the best QuickBooks hosting providers .

QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Self-Employed is ideal for freelancers, real estate agents, and independent contractors, like Uber and Lyft drivers. Similar to QuickBooks Online, it’s a cloud-based product that can be accessed with your secure login from any computer with an internet connection.

It includes unique features that are unavailable in QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, like the ability to track business and personal expenses from the same bank account and transfer data to TurboTax. It will even calculate your estimated quarterly tax payments and remind you when they’re due.

There are three QuickBooks Self-Employed pricing plans: Self-Employed, Self-Employed Tax Bundle, and Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle. To learn more about it, read our QuickBooks Self-Employed review .

If you’re a startup with plans of expanding your workforce, QuickBooks Self-Employed won’t be the best fit as it cannot be upgraded to other QuickBooks versions.

QuickBooks for Mac

QuickBooks for Mac is the only QuickBooks desktop product available for Mac users. This edition is very similar to QuickBooks Desktop Pro, and it works well for most small businesses that don’t manufacture products. Read our QuickBooks for Mac review to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is quickbooks used for.

Depending on your QuickBooks product and plan, you can use QuickBooks to create and send invoices, manage and track unpaid bills, handle inventory, keep track of project profitability, view financial reports, and more.

What is the difference between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop?

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based software that can be accessed anytime and anywhere from any internet-enabled device and has monthly subscription options. QuickBooks Desktop is an on-premise software that needs to be installed on the computer where you use it and is available as an annual subscription. For more information about the differences between the two programs, read our article on QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop.

Is there a free version of QuickBooks?

There’s no free version of QuickBooks for businesses, but there’s a free trial for the first 30 days for new users. QuickBooks Online Accountant is free for professional bookkeepers. If you want a free alternative, check out our top-recommended free accounting software .

How is QuickBooks different from MS Excel?

Excel and QuickBooks are drastically different programs. QuickBooks is by far the most popular small business bookkeeping program in the United States, whereas Excel is a spreadsheet program the advanced users may be able to use to create their own custom bookkeeping program. While we don’t recommend using Excel as your base bookkeeping program, Excel has many great accounting uses . Our QuickBooks Online vs Excel comparison will help you better understand the differences between the two programs.

What is the best QuickBooks product for me?

The best QuickBooks product depends on your needs and the size of your business. SMBs needing remote access to their account files should choose QuickBooks Online. If you want the speed and usability of a desktop software, then QuickBooks Desktop is preferable. If you’re a freelancer, you should consider QuickBooks Self-Employed. Learn which is right for you in our QuickBooks Online version comparison guide.

How easy is it to learn QuickBooks?

One of the best things about QuickBooks Online is that they have a user-friendly interface. All QuickBooks Online products have the same interface, and so do all the QuickBooks Desktop products. There are also available free online training resources that you can use to get up to speed quickly. To get started, check out our free QuickBooks Online tutorials .

Bottom Line

QuickBooks is the most popular small business accounting software. It comes in a variety of editions and has web-based and desktop programs. QuickBooks includes features that allow you to keep track of your income and expenses, pay your employees, track your inventory, and simplify your taxes.

About the Author

Mark Calatrava

Find Mark On LinkedIn

Mark Calatrava

Mark Calatrava is an accounting expert for Fit Small Business. He has covered more than 50 accounting software for small businesses and niche industries and has developed an in-depth knowledge of the important features of accounting software and how the importance of these features vary by business.

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Best alternatives to QuickBooks accounting software in 2023

The best alternatives to quickbooks accounting software offer a more tailored bookkeeping package to your personal needs..


QuickBooks is accounting software that enjoys a very high profile, thanks in part to extensive advertising in the media and on TV, but the best alternatives to QuickBooks accounting software have plenty to offer too. 

If you’re on the lookout for a quality cloud-based accounting software package then QuickBooks looks like it fits the bill. However, there are other options open to you even if some of them don't have quite the same advertising budgets in order to promote themselves.

In fact, when it comes to cloud-based accountancy software and tax filing packages too, there are all manner of variations on the theme. Our buying guides, some of which are listed below, should therefore be your first point of call to get an overview of the main packages worth considering. 

Inside these guides we’ve selected the pick of the current crop, although many others feature in our reviews sections too.

There’s no doubt that QuickBooks is a pretty excellent all-round accountancy package, but different things suit different people. You may already be using QuickBooks and might possibly have found that it provides more features and functions than you really need. 

If you’re a sole proprietor or a freelancer, for example, it may be that you just need something super simple.

Keeping on top of your accounts is vital of course, but some accountancy software can be needlessly complicated. If you’re going to be filing annual returns and don't have a huge turnover then it seems pretty pointless to sign up for an accountancy bundle that does way more than you’ll get full value from.

We've compared these accounting software solutions on several points, from their interface and features to the ease of setup and learning curve. We looked at their pricing plans, what sizes and types of businesses they'd be best suited for, and their documentation and tutorials. We also evaluated their performance, tools, and pricing plans, among other things.

The best alternatives to QuickBooks accounting software in 2023 in full

Our expert review:

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid.

So, what to look at if you’re bypassing QuickBooks? Xero is a great place to start as this is an accountancy software package that boasts similar features and functionality, but is more affordable. That’s mainly because it doesn't charge you based on the number of users it has. 

Therefore, if you’ve got staff that need to access an accounts package this works out as a good alternative. Equally, the Xero Early package is ideally suited to very small businesses, so there’s a package to suit all.

Xero is a scalable software option and runs pretty smoothly as long as you're connected to the internet and using a swift web browser. Xero even performs well on Android and iOS devices, and the overall experience of using it on a smartphone or tablet is great. 

Read our full Xero review here. 

Next up, Wave is an ideal option if you’re looking to do things on the cheap. It delivers a great user experience and sports loads of the same features found in the premium-level QuickBooks. It’s aimed at everyone from freelancers and sole traders through to small businesses and those seeking to scale up their work. 

Best of all though, Wave is free, and for that you also get the benefit of being able to add in multiple users. Considering you can get it for nothing this is a pretty impressive solution for anyone needing to tackle everyday accounts on a budget.

Wave's interface for the laptop browser and phone apps (iOS and Android) is slick and works smoothly. There's a solid payroll feature too, but it can currently be used by US and Canadian users only.

Read our full Wave review here. 

3. Freshbooks

If you’re a freelancer, then chances are your needs will be a little more straightforward than a small business that has employees. Therefore, FreshBooks is a solid bet. This is an easy to use program that has a wealth of great tools built-in. 

Pricing is very competitive and there are versions to suit all pockets. Pay a little more and the features and functionality increase to match, but even in its most basic guise, FreshBooks is a winner. The try-free option is quite convenient because it lets you explore the package and cancel within 30 days if it’s not suitable for your needs.

In the UK, Freshbooks has collaborated with Barclays to provide joint bookkeeping solutions for customers, offering new ways to help with invoicing and wider business management tasks.

Read our full FreshBooks review here. 

4. Zoho Books

The popular Zoho Books is just one product in a whole portfolio of software tools from this publishing house. The benefit of that is you can get Zoho Books to work in unison with other software in the range. That means it is fairly easy to ‘plug in’ expense accounting, billing and invoicing functionality into your standard accountancy tasks. 

If you are running a multi faceted business with quite a lot of complex chores to complete , then Zoho Books is well worth looking into. It is quite scalable and offers beefier versions for users with larger business concerns, or anyone intent on expanding their operations. It comes in a range of affordable options too.

Along with the desktop app, Zoho Books' mobile apps are also pretty robust. 

Read our full Zoho Books review here.

5. ZipBooks

Not everyone enjoys tackling their bookkeeping and accountancy duties, so if you’re running a small business and fall into that category, then ZipBooks is worthy of investigation. This is a robust alternative to QuickBooks and comes with a weighty collection of features and functions. 

ZipBooks' basic format revolves around four key areas: accounting, billing, expenses, and intelligence. The secret to the last feature is a powerful collection of reporting tools that offer practical and relevant insights into your financial affairs.

The added bonus with ZipBooks is that you can opt to pay for handing everything over to a qualified bookkeeper instead. There is also the provision to mix your own efforts with the help of an advisor, with prices to match.

The basic plan is free and lets you send unlimited invoices, manage unlimited vendors and customers, and check basic reports and supporting connections to one bank. 

Read our ZipBooks review here.

6. Spendwise

If you’re a business that specialises in selling products rather than services, you’ll want to check out Spendwise (opens in new tab) . This is a very practical solution that delivers lots of tools for managing inventory and tracking any type of product range. 

While you’ll need to buy into the more advanced package to enjoy better accountancy-focused features, Spendwise is a powerful option. Product-focused businesses of any size might find this one a good alternative.

The software boasts multiple core features to maximize time and money, with tools for creating multiple purchase orders, managing budgets, and keeping track of bills and expenses. Spendwise can be set up for multiple users and the reporting functionality is quite powerful too.

Packages are attractive for smaller ventures, but with plenty of punch for businesses looking to scale up their operations. 

Read our full Spendwise review here.

7. FreeAgent

The appeal of FreeAgent is mainly due to its affordability factor, with a range of accounting tools on offer for just a few dollars a month. However, there are some limitations although it does possess a raft of cloud-based software essentials, including the ability to manage projects, send invoices, keep track of time as well as staying on top of your accounting tasks too. 

If you’ve got pretty standard requirements and want an easy-to-use solution that won't break the bank then FreeAgent is another accountancy package that merits further investigation.

FreeAgent only offers a single tier, making the choice of this accounting solution a more simple ‘all or nothing’ choice that starts with a free 30-day trial. From there, new users get a generous 50% discount for the first 6 months, and then it goes to full price.

Read our FreeAgent review here. 

The simplicity of accounting package OneUp (opens in new tab) makes a lot of sense if you’re after a straightforward solution. This isn’t just an accounting package either, because while you can do your bookkeeping with OneUp, the software is also able to assist you with invoicing, inventory management, and also CRM needs. 

OneUp does boast a power-packed feature set, but it can also be quite complicated to use. Meanwhile, pricing comes in a tier-based arrangement and there’s a 30-day free trial too, so you can see for yourself just how it ticks.

All the different tools in OneUp were easy to configure, and populating templates for invoicing and inventory orders feels effortless. Overall, OneUp runs smoothly and efficiently thanks to its basic interface, but a weak spot would be the limited third-party integration it offers.  

Read our full OneUp review here.

Last, but not least, is Sunrise (opens in new tab) , which was known previously as Billy. This is an accounting package aimed at small business owners who want the added benefit of being able to work with a professional bookkeeper. 

Considering the extra weight that adds to the beefiness of the package, the pricing is still very appealing, with access to advisors coming as part of a Starting package that is $99. There’s even a free self-service edition if you prefer a more do-it-yourself approach.

Sunrise covers many bases, from creating customized invoices and financial reports to expense tracking and payment processing. There are four different plans, with the most basic one being free.  It offers unlimited customized invoices and bank transactions, cash flow reports, double-entry accounting and the ability to accept credit card payments. 

Read the full Sunrise review here. 

As you can see from our selection, there are quite a few options if you're looking for an alternative to using QuickBooks. While many people love QuickBooks, and it’s easy to see the appeal of this cloud-based software package, the other selections we’ve highlighted here might be more useful for more specific needs.

As is often the case, many accountancy packages come with the benefit of a free trial, so dip into our best accounting software guides and reviews and, perhaps, check them out for yourself.

How to choose the best alternatives to QuickBooks accounting software for you?

When selecting the best alternatives to QuickBooks accounting software for you, start with considering your budget, the size and nature of your business, and the essential features you need on your accounting software. 

If you're on a tight budget and need only basic accounting features, then free tools will suit you. But if you can invest in accounting software and have more complex requirements, then paid software services are a more efficient option. 

Keep in mind that some accounting software are better for product-focused businesses and they'll have tools that'll help these businesses with managing inventory and tracking products. 

Also, look out for the ease of setup, the learning curve, user interface, third-party integration, and quality of customer support.

The best alternatives to QuickBooks accounting software: How we test

We tested the best alternatives to QuickBooks accounting software across numerous points, like their interface, learning curve, features, and pricing plans. 

We checked how easy it was to set up the different software and how simple the interface was to get started with. We looked at the documentation available and whether the software had a comprehensive knowledge base/FAQ section. 

We evaluated what software were suited for the different business sizes and types. We assessed whether they had extra features like inventory management, product tracking, payroll, invoicing, etc.  

We also looked at their pricing plans, third-party integrations, and the quality of their customer support, among other aspects.

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.

What is QuickBooks & How Does Small Businesses Use QuickBooks

After reading this guide, you should have a thorough understanding of how QuickBooks works , how your small business can benefit from QuickBooks, and how businesses just like yours are leveraging the power of QuickBooks to enhance business efficiency.

So What is QuickBooks?

QuickBooks is a popular accounting software system for small and medium-sized businesses. It’s an ideal way to keep business finances organized and accurate – even if you have little to no knowledge about accounting.

In the past, QuickBooks came in the form of physical desktop software that you installed via CD-ROM. Today, QuickBooks is most often purchased as a cloud-based service. Businesses can access the software online using the web-based platform or download desktop clients.

Editor’s Note: Looking for information on payroll services? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

What Does QuickBooks Do?

Some of the valuable tasks you can do with QuickBooks include:

How Do Small Business Owners Use QuickBooks?

QuickBooks is the world’s most popular accounting software for small and medium-sized business owners. The software is easy to use, which makes it easy for business owners to navigate the software without needing any professional accounting training.

The software isn’t as fully-functional as hiring a full-time accountant. Nevertheless, it provides basic-level accounting that is sufficient for many small businesses.

At its most basic level, QuickBooks lets you easily track money coming in and out of your business. You can see how much money people owe you – and how much money you owe others. You can receive a visual breakdown of your small business’s financial picture with just a single glance.

This is useful for the day-to-day operation of your small business, but it’s also useful for tax time. Instead of scrambling to find old receipts and invoices during tax time, you can view a clear summary of your business’s financial picture simply by firing up QuickBooks .

During tax season, many small business owners simply give their accountant a read-only login to their QuickBooks account. This lets the accountant view, process, and submit QuickBooks data in preparation for tax season.

QuickBooks Lets You Create Invoices and Track Money Owned

For small businesses, invoice creation is one of the most popular services in QuickBooks. QuickBooks lets you quickly and easily produce a professional-looking invoice featuring your business’s logo and brand. You can produce multiple invoices for multiple clients that feature the same branding for your business.

When you create an invoice with QuickBooks, you get a report that lists everything you need to know about your outstanding invoices (i.e. the invoices you’ve previously created).

The software lists unpaid charges separated by the customer and job. You can double click a given invoice to get a detailed summary of that particular account’s activity.

Ultimately, this makes tracking the money owed to you by your customers (the “accounts receivable”) very easy.

Larger businesses also appreciate using QuickBooks to track the money they owe to their customers (the “accounts payable”).

QuickBooks Helps You Out During Tax Season

During tax season, QuickBooks will virtually pay for itself. QuickBooks can save an enormous amount of hassle during tax season for both you and your accountant.

QuickBooks has a feature called Tax Reports that organizes all of your tax information in an easy, readable way.

If you use an accountant, you can simply give your accountant a read-only login to your QuickBooks account. Then, they’ll take it from there and process all of the forms as they need to be processed.

QuickBooks is also easy if you do your own taxes. QuickBooks is compatible with popular tax filing software like TurboTax. All you need to do is transfer the information between programs with a few clicks. Then, you’ll barely need to enter any information into the form before submitting it to the government.

Obviously, the QuickBooks Tax Reports feature saves you a lot of time and effort. But it also helps you avoid costly mistakes.

QuickBooks Analysis and Report Options Make it Easy to View Business Statistics in Seconds

Want to get a visual representation of the health of your business? QuickBooks makes it easy to do that by providing you with dozens of business financial reports. The three most useful reports for most businesses are:

QuickBooks Profit and Loss Report (Income Statement)

The Profit and Loss Report is arguably the most important report in QuickBooks. It’s the report that tells you how much money your business has earned or lost over a set period of time.

Basically, this report explains…

QuickBooks subtracts your expenses from your income to give you your net income from that period (either positive or negative).

QuickBooks lets you easily customize the period of time during which you’re tracking the profit and loss of your business. You can look at your net income week to week, for example, or break it down quarterly and annually.

QuickBooks Cash Flow Statement

Cash Flow is obviously an important part of any business. Many businesses have been successful and profitable – only to go out of business because they did not have adequate cash flow to pay bills when they were due.

To prevent this rookie mistake happening in your small business, use the QuickBooks Cash Flow reporting tool.

The Cash Flow statement looks similar to the Profit and Loss statement mentioned above. However, it’s only concerned with the amount of money going into and out of the business (and it does not factor in any other parts of your business).

Some of the key things you can see with the Cash Flow statement include:

All of this information can be broken down into certain periods. QuickBooks will tell you the amount of cash you had at the beginning of the period and the amount of cash you have at the end of the period.

QuickBooks Balance Sheet Gives you a Comprehensive Summary of your Business’s Finances

If you want a comprehensive view of your company’s financial position, then the QuickBooks Balance Sheet is the best way to do that.

The QuickBooks balance sheet provides all of the following information at a glance:

Assets: Your business’s assets include all entities of real value. That includes physical objects (like inventory, real estate, office supplies, and cash) as well as intangible things (like a trademark, brand value, or a patent).

Liabilities: Liabilities include debts your business is legally-obligated to pay. Taxes, debts to vendors, and bank loans are included in this category.

Equity: When you subtract your assets and your liabilities, you get your equity. Your equity is any money you have invested in your business added to any earnings you have not yet withdrawn from your business. If your business has lost money over a certain period of time, then you would subtract losses your business has taken during that period from your equity. The best way to understand equity is that it’s the amount of your business that would be left over if you shut everything down today, sold off everything you owned, and paid all your debts.

Who Makes QuickBooks?

QuickBooks is made by a company called Intuit . That company was founded all the way back in 1993. Over the years, QuickBooks has grown from a small basement startup to the world’s largest accounting software for small and medium-sized businesses.

Today, Intuit Inc. is headquartered in Mountain View, California. The company reported total equity of $3.531 billion in 2013. The company is publically traded on NASDAQ and the S&P 500.

Intuit, Inc.’s address is:

2632 Marine Way

Mountain View, CA 94043

You can contact the company by phone at 650-944-6000. The company also maintains divisions around the world, including its small business division in Reno, Nevada, its customer contact center in Tucson, Arizona, and its corporate affairs center in Washington DC.

Intuit Inc. offices can also be found in five cities around the world: Edmonton, Alberta and Mississauga, Ontario in Canada; Bangalore in India; Singapore; and London, UK.

History of QuickBooks

QuickBooks was founded in 1993 by two engineers named Scott Cook and Tom Proulx. The two lived in Mountain View, California.

Prior to launching QuickBooks, the pair had had success creating accounting software called Quicken (which is still around today and remains very popular). Quicken was launched in 1983 and was catered primarily towards larger businesses.

Inspired by the success of Quicken, Cook and Proulx decided to launch a similar solution catered towards small business owners.

QuickBooks had one more advantage over Quicken : it used a double-entry accounting system. In 1994, Intuit purchased the right to use a double-entry accounting program called MoneyCounts. By integrating MoneyCounts with Quicken, QuickBooks was born.

Within 5 years, QuickBooks had claimed “up to 85% of the small business accounting software market.” The accounting software was exceptionally popular among small business owners who had no formal accounting training. These business owners appreciated the ability to minimize accounting costs while simplifying their business.

Over the years, Intuit, Inc. would release many more versions of QuickBooks. Subsequence releases sought to bridge the gap between professional accounting services and desktop-based software.

By 2000, Intuit had released two versions of QuickBooks, including the Basic and Pro versions of the software.

Then, in 2003, QuickBooks started branching into different industries and launched industry-specific versions of their software. These industry-specific versions featured workflow processes and reports designed for each of these business types. They also featured the unique terminology associated with different professions.

Some of the popular software versions included QuickBooks for:

Over the years, QuickBooks also branched into international markets. The Canadian and UK divisions of QuickBooks address region-specific accounting needs, including the UK’s VAT and Canada’s GST, HST, and PST sales tax.

What is QuickBooks Online?

Today, QuickBooks Online is Intuit’s future for QuickBooks. QuickBooks Online (QBO) is cloud-based accounting software that requires users to pay a monthly subscription fee instead of one upfront fee.

Users logon to the accounting software securely via their web browser, and then Intuit provides regular updates through the server. There’s no need to download patches for your software or upgrade to new accounting software every few years: as long as you pay the QBO subscription fee, you’ll receive constant access to QuickBooks accounting.

The cloud version of QuickBooks is accessible on virtually all internet-connected devices. You can access QuickBooks on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 10, Safari 6.1, Chrome for Android, and Safari for iOS.

There are also dedicated apps available for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone. These apps let you view and edit QuickBooks data on-the-go.

Some of the QuickBooks Online subscription plans include:

Intuit QuickBooks Simple Start

Intuit QuickBooks Essentials

Intuit QuickBooks Plus

All plans also come with a 30 day free trial. You get full access to QuickBooks Online during this free trial, although you’ll need to remember to cancel your subscription at the end of the trial if you are not interested in paying for a QuickBooks Online subscription (your card will automatically be charged after the trial).

Ultimately, QuickBooks maintains a massive market advantage in the world of small business accounting software. The software has millions of users all over the world and is estimated to have an 85% to 90% market share.

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What Is QuickBooks Software? A Guide to Choosing the Right Solution

By: Zach Hale on October 17, 2019

When you hear “small-business accounting software,” you probably think of QuickBooks. Since Intuit launched its flagship product over 25 years ago, the financial management platform has dominated the accounting software marketplace , resulting in an impressive 11 consecutive years of stock gains

Currently, QuickBooks software holds more than 80% of the small-business market share. If you’re researching small-business accounting solutions, QuickBooks is on your list.

But which version is right for you? On-premise or cloud? With payroll or without?

QuickBooks has a product for nearly all of your accounting needs, but sorting through the options can feel like an insurmountable task.

To simplify your search, we’ve created this QuickBooks comparison report, which outlines the different versions and who/what type of business they’re best suited for.

Are you a small business seeking cloud-based accounting? Jump to: QuickBooks Online

Are you a small or midsize business seeking desktop accounting? Jump to: QuickBooks Desktop

Looking to enhance whichever version of QuickBooks you already use? Jump to: QuickBooks Apps

QuickBooks Self-Employed

The newest edition of the QuickBooks product line is a cloud-based financial management service designed for self-employed and/or freelance individuals.

the reports screen in quickbooks self-employed

Reports in QuickBooks Self-Employed ( Source )

Pricing: Available through a monthly subscription that includes the cost for phone support, data backups, and system maintenance.

The solution comes in three packages:

QuickBooks Online

In 2014, Intuit reported a major turning point for QuickBooks products. For the first time, more new customers chose QuickBooks Online over desktop versions.

Since then, QuickBooks Online has grown to over 1 million subscribers, signaling that small businesses are growing more confident hosting their accounting solutions in the cloud .

quickbooks online dashboard

Dashboard in QuickBooks Online ( Source )

Pricing: Available through a monthly subscription that includes the cost for support, automatic data backups, and upgrades.

QuickBooks’ cloud-based solution is designed for small-business users and comes in four packages: Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced.

QuickBooks Online: Common capabilities

Accounts payable and accounts receivable: Monitor and manage income and expenses.

Billing and invoicing: Send unlimited estimates and invoices. Essentials and Plus also offer recurring invoices.

Expense management: Track and process work-related expenses such as travel and supplies.

Financial reporting: Simple Start has over 20 prebuilt reports, Essentials has over 40, and Plus has over 60 (includes sales and tax reports).

QuickBooks Desktop products

It’s important to note: while QuickBooks Online will be the best choice for many small businesses due to ease of use and access, the online version is not identical to the vendor’s desktop products.

They offer similar capabilities, but the breadth and depth of the features differ. For example, with QuickBooks Online, users can automatically schedule and send invoices, a feature absent from the desktop version. QuickBooks Desktop, meanwhile, allows for the calculation of job costs and individual customer discounts.

There are several QuickBooks products under the Desktop umbrella (in this article, we’re discussing the 2019 versions of each. They include:

The desktop products have a similar base feature set, with functionalities becoming more advanced as the packages scale.

QuickBooks Desktop: Common capabilities

Core accounting: Accounts receivable, accounts payable, general ledger, and bank reconciliation.

Payroll (limited): Track employee hours and print checks and deposit slips. Enhanced payroll is available for an additional fee (calculates payroll taxes and files tax forms).

Billing and invoicing: Automates invoice creation and sharing, as well as payment collection.

Inventory management: Tracks orders, sales, and deliveries to maintain product supply levels.

Financial reporting: Tracks and visualizes trends, evaluates KPIs, and reports profitability on profit and loss (P&L) statements, balance sheets, etc.

QuickBooks Desktop for Mac

Businesses should note that QuickBooks’ Mac desktop product is not scalable, whereas the Windows versions of Pro, Premier, and Enterprise are.

quickbooks online sales

Sales transactions in QuickBooks Desktop for Mac ( Source )

Pricing: User licenses are sold outright for a one-time fee. This package supports up to three concurrent users, but requires a unique user license for each. Phone support is available 24/7 for an additional fee, sold in recurring 90-day support plans.

In addition to the common desktop capabilities listed above, QuickBooks Desktop for Mac includes:

QuickBooks Desktop Pro

QuickBooks Desktop Pro is designed for small businesses that are just getting started. It’s simple enough for business owners who lack advanced accounting knowledge, and makes it easy for them to share files and data with their accountant.

quickbooks desktop pro estimate

Estimate in QuickBooks Desktop Pro ( Source )

Pricing: Businesses with an existing IT infrastructure can purchase Pro for a one-time payment. Phone support, data backups, and product upgrades are available for an additional fee.

Pro can also be purchased as a “Plus” package. With an active annual subscription, businesses receive new features and upgrades as they become available. This package also includes 24/7 phone support and data backups.

Businesses without an existing IT infrastructure—or those who wish to reduce their overall IT costs—can purchase Pro and opt to use a cloud hosting service (for an additional fee). This allows remote access through a virtual desktop, which provides greater connectivity (anytime, anywhere access on any device).

Pro allows up to three users to work within QuickBooks at the same time (however, this requires separate user licenses). The Pro package offers the common capabilities listed in the table above, as well as the following:

QuickBooks Premier

QuickBooks Desktop Premier targets small-business users that have industry-specific needs. It is especially beneficial for industries such as non-profit, retail, professional services, contractors, and manufacturing.


Homepage in QuickBooks Desktop Premier ( Source )

Pricing: Premier can be purchased outright for a one-time payment. Support, upgrades, and data backups are available for an additional fee.

Businesses can also opt to purchase Premier as a “Plus” package through an annual subscription. The annual subscription includes the cost for phone support and automated data backups.

Customers can also choose to purchase Premier and pay an additional fee for cloud hosting . This allows businesses to access Premier remotely through a virtual desktop.

Premier supports more concurrent users than Pro or Mac; Up to five users can work in QuickBooks Premier at the same time (this also requires separate user licenses).

Premier has all the features of Pro, as well as:

QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise

QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise is Intuit’s most comprehensive business and financial management solution, because it includes several applications, such as QuickBooks Payroll (see QuickBooks Apps below). Enterprise is designed for both small and midsize businesses, supporting up to 30 user licenses.


Sales order management in QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise ( Source )

Pricing: Enterprise is available as an annual subscription. Users can opt to pay their annual subscription in equal payments over 12 months. The annual subscription includes the cost for support, upgrades, and data backups.

Businesses can also pay an additional fee for the cloud hosting service . This allows access to Enterprise through a virtual desktop, which provides remote access and greater connectivity (users can connect to Enterprise anytime, anywhere, and on any device).

Enterprise is sold in three packages: Silver , Gold, and Platinum . Each Enterprise package includes the same capabilities as the Pro and Premier packages plus several others, including:

Features unique to the QuickBooks Enterprise packages:

quickbooks enterprise features in a chart

QuickBooks Apps

Intuit has several branded applications designed to enhance the functionality of the above-mentioned platforms. Businesses can purchase these add-ons for an additional fee:

QuickBooks Payments: Available via mobile or as an extension to QuickBooks for desktop, this app allows businesses to email invoices and accept payments online via credit card or ACH transfers.

QuickBooks Point of Sale : A cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) system that allows businesses to ring up sales, accept credit cards, and keep track of inventory through a POS dashboard.

QuickBooks Payroll : Allows businesses to pay up to 50 employees by check or direct deposit. Available as a self-service or full-service solution, with the latter offering the ability to file year-end W-2 tax forms and automatically calculate federal, state, and local taxes.

Next steps: Finding the right solution for your business

QuickBooks has established itself as a major player in the small to midsize business accounting market . Whether you’re just starting out or you’re expanding and have more advanced accounting needs, QuickBooks has a solution designed to fit your business.

If you’re looking for more information about QuickBooks products or other leading accounting solutions, here’s what you can do next:

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what is quick books accounting software

QuickBooks Accounting Software

author avatar

Elise Williams

2022-06-22 17:56:43 • Filed to: Quickbooks Solution • Proven solutions

The Intuit QuickBooks accounting software is an application that was developed by Intuit, as a desktop program that assists with all types of businesses and commercial activities of an organization. To further answer the question “what is QuickBooks accounting software”, it is an app that helps with all aspects of bookkeeping in a business. QuickBooks accounting software is also cloud base in the aspects of database keeping, thereby eliminating the risk of any data loss or theft. It is easily accessible at accounting. QuickBooks or

Key Features of QuickBooks

The key features or functions Quickbook accounting software are

FreshBooks- A Better Alternative to QuickBooks

FreshBooks is a software that can also be used as an alternative to accounting QuickBooks because it possesses all the features that the QuickBooks accounting software has, and the most important thing that makes it a better option for business owners is that it was developed for, or with small and medium-sized enterprises in mind. Its services are easier to understand and use than the QuickBooks accounting services. It was designed bearing in mind the advantages and disadvantages of QuickBooks.

liabilities in accounting

Key Features of FreshBooks

Why Choose FreshBooks

FreshBooks is a better accounting software mainly because it does not need any training to be able to operate the application, thereby reducing the cost of training on how to use it. It is more than just a spreadsheet or a point of service, or POS machine app or software because it offers all the services a POS provides a user and even more. It is an application that can serve for both online uses such as payments and verification via the internet, also known as the cloud-based or it can function as the on the ground accounting, record keeping and issues such as receipt development and printing.

It is known to possess features such as cloud accounting, online invoicing and inventory management and accounting reports. The app is being updated yearly to improve old services and also to put in new functions.

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Sage Vs. QuickBooks (2023 Comparison)

Cassie Bottorff

Reviewed By

Updated: Dec 31, 2022, 9:23pm

Sage Vs. QuickBooks (2023 Comparison)

Table of Contents

Sage vs. quickbooks: at a glance, how the products stack up, bottom line.

Keeping your finances in order is critical to the success of your business. Deciding which accounting software is best can be daunting, with dozens of options available. Do you choose the industry-leading QuickBooks or the more affordable Sage? In this Sage vs. QuickBooks guide, we’ll compare these two popular accounting software options to help you determine which is best for your business.

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Sage Business Cloud Accounting is cloud-based accounting software designed for small businesses. It offers features such as expense tracking, cash flow management, invoicing, automation, Mac compatibility and reporting. It comes in two plans: Sage Accounting Start and Sage Accounting. The Start plan is $10 per month, and the Accounting plan is $25 per month. Both plans come with a free 30-day trial to test drive before committing to the plan.

Intuit QuickBooks offers both Desktop and Online versions, with a variety of plans under each option. It provides features such as a mobile app, invoicing, income tracking, cash flow management, management of 1099 contractors, mileage tracking and app integrations. Chances are, whether you outsource your accounting or keep it in-house, your accountant or bookkeeper knows how to use it. This is because it’s one of the most popular accounting platforms available.

QuickBooks plans start at $15 per month for its Self-Employed version, and its Desktop plans go up to $1,340 per year. None of its Desktop plans can be paid annually and to pay annually with its Online plans, you make the switch in the settings after signing up for a monthly plan.

Starting price

Integrated payroll, sales tax returns.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting is online accounting software that helps small businesses manage their finances. The software is easy to use and provides a variety of features to help businesses track their income and expenses, create invoices and estimates, and manage their cash flow. It’s an affordable and comprehensive solution for small business accounting needs.

Its Sage Accounting Start plan costs $10 per month and is best for entry-level accounting needs, such as micro-businesses or those who are self-employed. Its full-fledged Sage Accounting plan costs $25 per month and is best suited for small businesses. If you need unlimited users, this is an ideal solution for you. Upload receipts, send quotes, deliver estimates, manage invoices and forecast cash flow with Sage.

A key feature of Sage is the ability to automate workflows in your business. This means you can auto-invoice, auto-expense and auto-pay right from your connected accounts. It integrates with Stripe, which means you get paid quickly when a customer clicks on the “pay now” button on your invoices. Another attractive feature is it works from the cloud, so you can collaborate in real time on the go, no matter the device.

Plus, get 24/7 chat support and speak with an expert Monday through Friday during business hours for a live Q&A session with a Sage Success Coach. With phone support, its hours are limited to 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. If you need assistance outside business hours, check out the step-by-step guides, online community and instructor-led courses. There are also prerecorded webinars and video guides to assist you.

Starting Price

$15 per month

QuickBooks is a popular accounting software that offers both online and desktop versions. There are two versions available, each with multiple plans. QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based software that allows users to access their accounts from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection.

With QuickBooks Desktop, the software is installed locally and isn’t reliant on internet connectivity. QuickBooks Online is cloud-based, so you can access it from anywhere you have an internet connection. It’s important to understand if you pay for both versions, you cannot sync between the two—they’re separate products. However, you can collaborate with other users, provided your plan comes with multiple users.

For Desktop, you pay an annual fee starting at $349.99 and get features such as sales tax tracking, invoicing, up to three users (although they must pay for their own accounts), time tracking, inventory, reports, unlimited customer support and accounts payable.

Online is available with a monthly fee starting at $15 and includes self-employed features such as Schedule C deductions, mileage tracking and automatic calculation of quarterly estimated taxes. Or, starting at $25 per month, invest in one of its small business plans and send invoices, accept payments, manage cash flow, track mileage, send estimates, manage 1099 contractors and take advantage of its robust mobile app.

Sage offers two plans for its accounting-specific software. The first plan is a light version intended for freelancers or those who are self-employed and it costs $10 per month. QuickBooks’ equivalent plan is called Self-Employed and starts at $15 per month. The other Sage plan is $25 per month and is intended for small businesses. QuickBooks’ other plans start at $25 per month and go up to $1,340 per year, depending on if you need Enterprise solutions or something simple.

QuickBooks limits the number of users who can access an account, and with some plans, even requires those additional users to pay for their own account. Sage, on the other hand, includes unlimited users, making it ideal for small and medium offices.

Both providers charge a fee for payroll services. Bundle your payroll and bookkeeping plans with QuickBooks to save money, otherwise, payroll-only plans start at $45 per month. Sage HRMS Payroll is available as a stand-alone or bundled with your plan, but you need to contact Sage for a custom quote for this.

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While Sage has an option to reimburse employees for gas purchases, there’s no real mileage-tracking feature such as what QuickBooks has with its plans. Depending on which plan you choose with QuickBooks and Sage, you can forecast your cash flow. Invoicing is also a standard feature with both providers.

Sage and QuickBooks are strong contenders, which is why they’re both on our list of the best accounting software . Both of these solutions include mobile apps, an easy-to-use interface, reports, invoicing and payroll options. Depending on which plan you choose, they can also be comparable in price. However, a few things set these products apart.

Choose Sage if you need unlimited users and automated tasks. QuickBooks is ideal for small businesses that need advanced features, such as 1099 contractor management and mileage tracking. It’s also best for more complex Enterprise needs, provided you don’t need more than 40 users.

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Kathy Haan, MBA is a former financial advisor-turned-writer and business coach. For over a decade, she’s helped small business owners make money online. When she’s not trying out the latest tech or travel blogging with her family, you can find her curling up with a good novel.

Cassie is a deputy editor, collaborating with teams around the world while living in the beautiful hills of Kentucky. She is passionate about economic development and is on the board of two non-profit organizations seeking to revitalize her former railroad town. Prior to joining the team at Forbes Advisor, Cassie was a Content Operations Manager and Copywriting Manager at Fit Small Business.

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what is quick books accounting software

What is QuickBooks, and how does it work? Top guide

Panna Kemenes

Panna Kemenes

QuickBooks is accounting software designed for keeping track of income and expenses.

Many small to medium business owners use QuickBooks. As of 2019, there were already 3.3 million QuickBooks Online subscribers, 40% of which were small businesses.¹

QuickBooks Online has several subscription levels you can choose from. Most of the QuickBooks Online subscription levels also offer multi-currency features . This is useful for businesses working with international customers and suppliers.

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This article will focus on what is QuickBooks Online , but you can also find information on the Desktop and Mac versions.

What is QuickBooks, and how does it work?

QuickBooks is an accounting software package created by Intuit, which offers solutions for managing personal, business, and tax finances.

It is available as a desktop software for Windows, with several editions. You can also choose the Mac, or Online version.

Businesses can use QuickBooks to automate processes such as invoicing , payments, accounting, and more. These features make it easier to manage and track business finances.

How does QuickBooks work?

QuickBooks Online works with either the monthly or annual plan . Once you sign up, you’ll be able to use features that accommodate the type of business you own. Desktop versions are also available.

Features are geared towards freelancers , small, and medium-sized business owners.

QuickBooks Online integrates with other Intuit software . These include TurboTax (for preparation of personal income tax returns) and ProConnect (tax software for accounting professionals).

It also integrates with many other software packages and apps.² These include ones that manage charitable donations, scheduling, time tracking, document management, payment processing, and inventory management, to name just a few.

These integrations and compatible tools allow users to manage and automate a wide variety of business processes.

There’s a free 30-day trial option you can take advantage of before you have to part with your cash. This is a good opportunity to discover what QuickBooks Online is for, and whether it can help your business.³

What is the difference between Quicken and QuickBooks?

As they are both popular finance tools, people often draw comparisons between Quicken and QuickBooks. They do not serve the same purpose, however.

QuickBooks is accounting software designed for business owners.

Quicken is a personal finance software , for individuals and families looking to track their finances.

QuickBooks versions

QuickBooks is compatible with most devices, but each version has slight differences that you should know. Before you decide, check if the software is compatible with your operating system and device.

QuickBooks for Mac

QuickBooks for Mac is a version of the accounting software designed for Mac users . It is not identical to the Desktop and Online versions, as some features are optimized for the Mac platform.

The Mac 2021 version is available for a one time-payment of $399.99.⁴

QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Desktop is designed to run with Windows. It offers most of the accounting software’s main features.

Users can choose between three different packages. The largest package contains extra features such as enhanced granular user permissions and automatic data encrypted backups.⁵

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is designed for convenience, as you can access it from your internet browser or mobile device.

One of the standout features of QuickBooks Online is the QuickBooks Multicurrency feature . This feature is useful if you do business on an international scale. Multicurrency is available with the Essentials, Plus, and Advanced subscriptions.⁶

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What is the difference between Online and Desktop?

You will only be able to use QuickBooks Desktop (as well as QuickBooks for Mac) on the device on which the software is installed.

As the software requires installation, there are certain system requirements. You can check the full requirements on the QuickBooks site .

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based subscription service that gives you access to the software from wherever you are. You can use any device that has internet connection to login to your account.

As a cloud-based service, all your data will be backed up automatically to Intuit’s servers, along with the data of all other QuickBooks Online users. This means you will not need disk space as you would with the desktop version.

QuickBooks online or desktop

What is QuickBooks good for?

QuickBooks offers customers many finance-related features. Each can help small-to-mid-sized business owners get a handle on their company’s accounting.

So, what does QuickBooks do exactly?

Here are some of the features you can expect when you sign up:

One of the biggest problems with invoicing is that it can be time-consuming and can even slip your mind if you aren’t careful.

The way QuickBooks tries to solve this issue is by automating the invoicing process.

You can set up recurring invoices and also schedule them so that the recipient receives them on your timeline. What’s more, you can even have the software send out automatic reminders if your customers are overdue on payments.

You can take care of most of your bookkeeping needs with the tools on offer.

For example, you can manage both your cash inflow and outflow activities. You can also print out financial statements to get a visual of your company’s financial health at a glance.

You can even scan and store receipts and track mileage through the mobile app. This allows you to keep track of any potential tax deductions and store all the information in one place.

Customers of QuickBooks can also make the most of the many integrated tools and services that come with the software. Some worth noting are inventory management and time-tracking.

Managing payments can be stressful as a business owner. You’ll be relieved to know that QuickBooks offers flexible payment solutions.

Whether you run a virtual business or a brick-and-mortar store, QuickBooks can help streamline the payment process.

QuickBooks offers invoice payment with credit and debit cards online. Contactless payment is available through the mobile app and card readers. It also facilitates ACH and eCheck payments. As such, the customer can pay how they prefer.

There are fees associated with the various forms of payment, but QuickBooks’ fees stack up well against the competition.

For example, an invoice paid with a credit or debit card is 2.9% of the payment sum plus 25¢ with QuickBooks.⁷ This fee can be compared to 2.9% with an extra charge of 30¢ with competitor Square .⁸

But the greatest unique advantage of using QuickBooks Payments is that payments and fees are automatically entered for you in QuickBooks Online. Your accounting is done!

QuickBooks doesn't only equip small business owners with the tools to process customer payments. It also allows them to pay their employees with several payroll features.

Once you’ve selected a QuickBooks Online subscription level based on your needs, choose a payroll service that suits you (extra fee applies).⁹ This leaves you with more time to focus your energy on running the business’ day-to-day.

What’s more, you can also have your payroll taxes completely taken care of with the software. Putting the software in charge should ease any tax-related stress as it will calculate, file, and pay the taxes.

You can even incentivize your team through the software by managing HR and employee benefits in your account.¹⁰

Multicurrency accounts

If you’re a small business owner with global ambitions, you may need assistance with international payments.

The QuickBooks Multicurrency feature helps you track transactions in different currencies.

Multicurrency is available in the following QuickBooks Online versions:¹¹

You may have customers and suppliers with whom you transact using a currency different from your country’s default (“home”) currency. With QuickBooks, you can set up profiles for them in each currency.

The software will also keep you abreast of any currency exchange gains or losses you might incur.

There is a caveat, though, since QuickBooks uses the IHS Markit exchange rate.¹² But your bank may charge you a different rate, to add to their bottom line. Foreign transaction fees may come on top of that. As such, the numbers you receive might not add up until you factor in the extra fees.

This is where Wise can step in and save you money by doing away with nasty hidden fees.

With Wise Business, you can have up to 10 local account details. This way, the customer or supplier can pay your invoice in their local currency.


Is QuickBooks easy to learn?

QuickBooks is quite intuitive; that’s why the company is called Intuit! But it works differently from other accounting software packages.

Consequently, some traditional accountants and bookkeepers find it complicated at first, because it doesn't “behave” the way manual ledger bookkeeping used to.

There is a learning curve to mastering it, as there is for other accounting software options.

However, the software has been around since 1983, so they have gained a vast amount of user experience and feedback over the years.¹³

There are a wealth of resources and knowledge base articles on the QuickBooks website, with many Q&As and tutorials that answer questions about the software.¹⁴

With hundreds of thousands of articles, there’s a strong chance that any question you may have about QuickBooks has already been answered.

If not, then you can ask the QuickBooks community, where you can find over one million contributors to answer your questions.

QuickBooks pricing

QuickBooks Online offers various pricing plans for different business needs.

For freelancers, the ‘self-employed’ plan covers everything from tax deductions to basic reports. Then there are two other plans that include various tax services.

For small business owners, there are four different QuickBooks small business price plans.¹⁵

Users can often take advantage of time-limited promotional pricing. There’s also the option of a 30-day free trial you can take advantage of to try before you buy.

It’s important to note that if you choose the free trial, you will lose the promotional pricing. You will have to choose between the promotion or the free trial in this case.

⚠️ The prices shown here are the full price subscriptions. These prices can be subject to change, so please check the QuickBooks site for any promotions.

Small business pricing

Self-employed pricing.

Once you select your business plan, you can also optionally add a payroll plan. There are three different packages to choose from. These also work with a monthly subscription fee.

QuickBooks pricing

Can I get QuickBooks for free?

Yes and no.

You can get a 30-day free trial to use the software (if you do so, you won't receive any time-limited promotional pricing for new users). Once it expires, you will no longer have access to the information, unless you pay for a subscription.

If you’re planning to try out the software for free and find that you like it, you need to start one of the pricing plans to keep your data.

To continue using QuickBooks after the trial, you will need to provide your credit card information for authorization. A monthly fee will be applied according to the plan you choose.

The 30-day free trial is only available to new QuickBooks customers and cannot be combined with other offers.¹⁸

Save hours on admin when you connect QuickBooks with Wise

Next time someone asks 'what is QuickBooks?' you will be equipped with all the answers, as well as some handy tips.

But it's also worth knowing how you can use other services, such as Wise, with Quickbooks.

Business often deal in currencies other than their own.

For example, if you do business in USD, but live overseas, getting paid and paying others is complex and can take up a lot of time. Not to mention the costs involved.

Luckily, you can use Wise Business to pay and get paid like a local, at the real mid-market rate .

You can also add your Wise account details to your QuickBooks invoice templates. Customers can pay in their preferred currency, which can help your invoices get paid faster.

What's more, you can sync your Wise account with Quickbooks Online to track your bills in real-time. This could save you hours of admin.

Open a Wise Business account in minutes 🚀

All sources checked 31 August 2021.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Wise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.

So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Here is a list of our partners .

How Much Does QuickBooks Cost?

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Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

If you’re shopping for QuickBooks as an accounting solution, first decide whether you’d like online, cloud-based software or a desktop product that locally stores your information. QuickBooks pricing varies quite a bit depending on which product you choose, as well as on how many users you need.

While cost is an important consideration, it shouldn't be the only deciding factor when evaluating your accounting software options. Each version has its pros and cons, so factor in ease of use and key features before making a final decision.

» MORE: QuickBooks for small business: Which version do you need?

QuickBooks Online pricing

QuickBooks Online products are offered on a monthly subscription basis. Click the product name to read its full review.

QuickBooks Online

The cloud-based product is one of the company’s most popular accounting software choices for small-business owners. First-time QuickBooks Online users can typically receive a free 30-day trial or a discount for the first few months of service.

Users can switch plans or cancel without having to pay termination fees.

QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Self-Employed is a “lite” version of the Online product, designed specifically for self-employed freelancers, contractors and sole proprietors. It’s ideal for people who earn income from a variety of sources and helps to separate personal and business finances.

QuickBooks Desktop pricing

QuickBooks Desktop products are offered on an annual subscription basis. Unlike QuickBooks Online plans, which each come with a set number of users, QuickBooks Desktop plans come with one user license. Business owners must pay extra for each additional license, regardless of plan. Click the product name to read its full review.

QuickBooks Desktop Pro Plus

Small-business owners who prefer to work on software that’s locally installed on their computers will appreciate the simplicity of QuickBooks Desktop Pro Plus.

Plans for up to three users are available and payroll can be added for an extra $500/year, plus $5/employee each month.

QuickBooks Desktop Premier Plus

This version of QuickBooks Desktop is more robust than Pro Plus, and will suit businesses that need to forecast revenue and expenses for the future. Premier users also have access to industry-specific reports.

Plans for up to five users are available and payroll can be added for an extra $500/year, plus $5/employee each month.

» MORE: QuickBooks Pro Plus vs. Premier Plus

QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise

QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise is one of Intuit’s most robust business accounting products and offers a host of additional services, like access to more than 200 report templates and priority customer support. Plans support up to 40 users and business owners can purchase varying levels of cloud access.

The prices listed below apply to local access plans only; annual pricing rises with more users and cloud access.

QuickBooks Mac Plus

As the name suggests, this version of QuickBooks is specifically designed for business owners that operate on Apple computers and want locally installed accounting software.

Plans support up to three users and business owners can add on payroll services for an extra cost.

» MORE: NerdWallet's best small-business apps



Streamline your accounting with quickbooks tool hub: a user-friendly and cost-effective solution.

what is quick books accounting software

In the modern business environment, reliable accounting software is essential, and QuickBooks has become a game-changer by providing a complete solution for small and medium-sized businesses. However, as QuickBooks continues to add more features, users may struggle to keep up with the updates. Fortunately, QuickBooks Tool Hub is available to help users navigate these changes

QuickBooks Tool Hub simplifies the process of resolving QuickBooks errors by providing a central location for all diagnostic and repair tools needed. Users with varying technical expertise can easily navigate the application, which allows them to diagnose and resolve common issues related to installation, updating, or managing QuickBooks. The application offers several diagnostic tools, including QuickBooks Connection Diagnostic Tool, QuickBooks File Doctor, and others. Moreover, users can download and use the application for free. Once installed, they can access the various diagnostic tools available

QuickBooks Tool Hub offers users a comprehensive diagnostic solution that is one of its primary benefits. Users can access diagnostic and repair tools conveniently in a centralized location through the Tool Hub. This eliminates the need to search through various websites and forums to find solutions to common issues. The Tool Hub streamlines the diagnostic process, allowing users to save time and concentrate on other critical aspects of their business

The QuickBooks Tool Hub helps users quickly identify and fix problems they run across while using the programme, which improves the overall QuickBooks user experience. Users’ overall user experience is enhanced when they download and install the Tool Hub since it considerably lowers their annoyance levels and demand for customer help. In consequence, this enables people to work more productively and efficiently. We know things can break sometimes. The QuickBooks Tool Hub gives you tools to fix common QuickBooks Desktop issues. Get the most recent version of the QuickBooks Tool Hub ( to help fix these errors and issues:

Users may quickly traverse the Tool Hub’s user-friendly interface and find solutions to their QuickBooks problems without any technical expertise. By including all required diagnostics tools inside the application, it saves users time by removing the need to look for solutions on numerous websites and forums. Business owners who need to effectively manage their time will find this tool especially helpful.

The very last solution is QuickBooks Tool Hub free download . The Tool Hub programme can be downloaded for free. This makes it possible for people to fix their problems without having to pay for expert and technical support for diagnosis. Because users may save money utilising the Tool Hub, it is a sensible choice for companies of all sizes.

Finally, the QuickBooks Tool Hub is a crucial tool for QuickBooks users. The programme streamlines the process of addressing QuickBooks problems by offering a complete solution in one place. A thorough diagnostic solution, improved QuickBooks user experience, user-friendly interface, time-saving, and cost-effectiveness are just a few of its advantages. Businesses can simplify their accounting procedures and concentrate on other important business elements by using QuickBooks Tool Hub, resulting in profit maximization and effective running.

what is quick books accounting software

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The Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses in 2023

Keeping a tight grip on finances is critical for the success of small businesses and freelancers. We've tested the best small business accounting tools to help keep your company in the black.

Kathy Yakal

I write about money. I’ve been reviewing tax software and services as a freelancer for PCMag since 1993. Along the way, I took on reviews of other types of business and personal finance technology. Prior to that, I had spent a few years writing about productivity and entertainment applications for 8-bit personal computers (my first one was a Commodore VIC-20) as a member of the editorial staff at Compute!  

Intuit QuickBooks Online

Sage 50cloud accounting, patriot software accounting, trulysmall accounting.

The last three years must have been brutal for you if you own a small business. You survived the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, only to be slammed with crippling supply chain issues. Rising inflation in 2022 added to your financial woes. You’ve had to focus more than ever on money in and money out.

Online accounting software can help you make smarter and better-informed plans for an uncertain future by organizing and automating your daily financial tasks. Every year, we test and rate the top web-based accounting services. Some are better for sole proprietors, freelancers, and companies with only one or two employees. Others accommodate slightly larger businesses. Below you'll find summaries of these applications, with an explanation of what makes them differ, along with what to look for when choosing the right software for your business. We also include links to the in-depth reviews of each software if you want to learn more.

The Best Small Business Accounting Deals This Week*

*Deals are selected by our commerce team

Best for Sole Proprietors and Very Small Businesses

Why we picked it.

FreshBooks' good looks and simplicity are deceptive. FreshBooks is actually a full-featured, double-entry accounting system that happens to offer an exceptional user experience. It has won numerous PCMag Editors' Choice awards for these reasons. FreshBooks is one of the first accounting options a very small business should consider because it's intuitive enough for novice bookkeepers to learn but it supports all the elements that a larger business would need, including payroll. 

Who It's For

We recommend FreshBooks especially for sole proprietors and companies with perhaps an employee or two—though it's capable of handling more. Very small businesses could use it for basic money management, like sending invoices, monitoring financial accounts, accepting payments, and tracking income and expenses. More complex companies can add advanced tools that include projects and proposals, mileage and time tracking, and reports.

Best for SMBs

Intuit QuickBooks Online has been the small business accounting service to beat for many years. It puts highly effective accounting functionality into an exceptional user experience. The service stands out because it's easily customizable, comes in multiple versions with hundreds of add-on apps, and offers better mobile access than most rivals.

Intuit QuickBooks Online is expensive, so it's most appropriate for small businesses with a technology budget. It's easy enough for an inexperienced bookkeeper to learn but feature-rich enough that a more demanding user can make use of its advanced accounting tools. Because it's so customizable and user-friendly, it would appeal to a wide variety of business types.

Best for the Smallest Businesses

Wave is one of only two online accounting services that you can use for free, unless you need payroll and payments, which you do have to pay for. Wave follows standard accounting rules and is especially skilled at invoicing and transaction management. It's one of the cleanest, most understandable business services available. It supports multiple currencies and has a smart selection of features for very small businesses. It doesn't have a dedicated time-tracking tool, comprehensive mobile access, or inventory management, though.

Wave is for sole proprietors and freelancers who need an online accounting service and may want a little room to grow. Integrated payroll and double-entry accounting support make it a potential option for small businesses with a few employees, though there are better choices for those companies. And because it has a simple user interface, even financial novices could use it.

Best for Mobile Access

Zoho Books is the small business accounting element of Zoho's ecosystem of productivity applications. Your accounting data can be tightly integrated with numerous related apps and functions, like CRM , customer service, and email. Zoho Books' usability, flexibility, and depth in standard bookkeeping areas (sales and purchases, time and project tracking, and inventory management) equals and sometimes surpasses what's offered by competitors.

While it's at least as capable as some of the best of its competitors, Zoho Books is surprisingly affordable, and it even has a free version, though prices for paid plans  increased this year. Overall, though, Zoho Books is best for businesses that use some of Zoho's other applications, but its appeal isn't limited to such cases. We also recommend it to small businesses, growing businesses, and established businesses that want its customizability, depth, and usability. That said, the depth of its features might be overwhelming to very small businesses but welcomed by companies with more advanced needs.

Best for Inventory Tracking

Sage 50cloud Accounting is a massive small business accounting application that's designed for desktop use. It's the most comprehensive, customizable accounting program in this group of applications, though it does more than what many small businesses need, and it costs a bit more as well. The software offers built-in online connections that support some remote work, and it integrates with Microsoft 365 Business . Sage 50cloud Accounting is a powerful piece of software, so why didn't it receive a higher rating? A dated interface, lack of mobile access, and the requirement to install the software locally keep it from receiving a higher score.

Sage 50cloud Accounting is especially appropriate for companies who need robust inventory-tracking capabilities. Additionally, it's best suited to companies that need more advanced accounting capabilities, customizability, and data capacity; who aren't averse to desktop software; and whose remote employees have their own installations of the software so they can share company data through Sage's Remote Data Access.

Best for Integrated Add-Ons

Xero supports every major financial element you expect in a double-entry small business accounting solution: sales, purchases, bills and expenses, inventory, and payroll. Xero offers exceptional reports and advanced analytics and provides tools for tracking projects. It makes good use of artificial intelligence to automate processes and improve connectivity with related financial websites. Its usability, features, integration options, and network of advisors make it one of the best small business accounting applications available today. 

Xero is industrial-strength accounting. It's best used by small businesses that would make use of the lion's share of its well-integrated features, and that need more powerful reporting options than many of its competitors offer. It also allows you to track fixed assets, which is an unusual tool in the category of small business accounting software. While the user experience is not exactly on the cutting edge, it's still fairly easy to learn.

We don't recommend Xero for sole proprietors or freelancers, even though it has a starter pricing level that would suit those budgets.

Best for Accounting Novices

Patriot Software has a payroll application , which we've reviewed for years, and we wanted to see what the company's integrated accounting counterpart was like. It’s affordable and simple, with robust support. Uncomplicated navigation, an attractive, intuitive UI, and exceptional mobile access add to its appeal. It’s missing some features that competitors offer, and it includes some language and concepts that rivals keep in the background, but it’s a solid, inexpensive solution.

Who It’s For

Patriot Software Accounting Premium is  best for uncomplicated small businesses who probably won’t outgrow it. The integration with Patriot’s payroll application is a definite plus, but the accounting side lacks depth in areas like contact records, inventory, time tracking, and merchant account choice. Its price, voluminous support, and usability make it a great choice for a novice or a small startup.

Best for Microbusinesses With No Employees

Truly Small Accounting comes from Kashoo, the company that produced Kashoo Classic , which we’ve reviewed for many years. Truly Small Accounting supports only transaction and contact management, invoices, and bills at this early stage, and it’s likely to stay small and uncomplicated. We liked it for its simplicity, its affordability, its usability, and its unusual approach to accounting when so many competitors are going the opposite direction and offering more features and services. 

It was refreshing to see a software developer take a step back and develop a very simple accounting application for the many millions of microbusinesses that process fewer than 500 transactions per year. The user experience was clearly designed for novice bookkeepers who are just starting out, or for established but still small companies that just don’t need many accounting features.

What Do Small Business Accounting Services Do?

Financial bookkeeping is complicated and time-consuming. Business owners find it challenging enough to cover the basics—paying the bills and tracking incoming revenue—let alone answering critical questions: Are we profitable, and why or why not? Can we make required tax payments? Should we invest in new equipment? Do we need to explore financing? Will we hit our budget numbers? Where can we cut expenses? Can the appropriate team members access all our accounting data online if they have to work from home?

A good small business accounting service provides information in seconds that will help you answer these questions, based on the input you supply. Once you populate the service with information about your financial accounts, your customers and vendors, and the products or services you sell, you can use that data to create transactions that the software can, in turn, use to create insights. Instant search tools and customizable reports help you track down the smallest details and see overviews of how your business is performing. Android and iOS apps give you access to your finances from your mobile devices.

How Do You Set Up Accounting Software?

Depending on how long your business has been operating, getting started with a small business accounting service can take anywhere from five minutes to several hours after signing up for an account. Most of them offer free trials or a demo account and charge monthly subscription fees once you're ready to commit. Generally speaking, the more you need an accounting service, the longer it takes to set one up and the higher the monthly payment.

Early setup involves creating an account and answering questions like when your fiscal year starts and what type of business you have.

Next, you have to ask yourself whether you want access to the transactions you have stored in online financial accounts (checking, credit cards, and so on). Enter your login credentials for that account and the software imports recent transactions, usually 90 days' worth, and adds them to an online register. This process is not as simple as it used to be. Banks have been tightening up their security (which is a good thing), but you may have to jump through a couple more hoops to get connected.

Would you like to let customers pay with credit cards and bank withdrawals? Then you need to sign up with a payment processor such as PayPal or Stripe (extra charges will apply). It's also a good idea to browse the accounting software's settings. All the accounting services reviewed here come with default settings that you may need to change. For example, do you plan to use specific features such as purchase orders and inventory tracking? You can usually turn tools on or off, which can help you either simplify the user interface or maximize the functions available to you.

It is possible to do minimal setup and then jump into creating invoices, paying bills, and accepting payments. All the accounting services included here let you add customers, vendors, and products during the process of completing transactions. You need to do so anyway as you grow and add to your contact and inventory databases. You just have to decide whether you want to spend the time upfront building your records or take time out when you're in the middle of sales or purchase forms.

Most small business accounting services also offer the option to import existing lists in formats such as CSV and XLS.

What Is the Best Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses?

For the very smallest businesses, Wave if the best free accounting software. It's free as long as you don't need to run payroll and make payments.

The other small business accounting software with a totally free version is Zoho Books. It's a better choice for anyone who already uses other Zoho software, as well as businesses that plan to grow.

What Is the Easiest Accounting Software for Small Businesses?

Accounting can be complicated, and it needs to be done correctly. The companies that make small business accounting software have worked hard to present this discipline as simply and pleasantly as possible. Notably, Intuit QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks are among the easiest accounting programs to use.

Accounting professionals love to use terms like "accounts receivable" and "accounts payable" to describe the primary elements of accounting: recording and tracking income and expenses or tracking sales and purchases. QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks are still understandable if you don't use that terminology. Their dashboards provide a real-time overview of the financial information you need to see frequently, including charts comparing income and expenses, account balances, and invoices and bills that need immediate attention.

In general, accounting services are easy to use, with standard navigation tools, icons, and colors (like red for urgent) to help you figure out what you need to know. If you're in need of the easiest ones, however, QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks are the two we recommend.

How Do You Create Accounting Records for Contacts and Products?

After you've supplied information about your company structure, one of your next setup tasks will be to add information about your customers and vendors. Some online accounting software lets you include more than basic contact details ("customer since" date, birthday, and other similar fields), which can be helpful as you develop and maintain relationships with them. You do the same thing for the products and services you sell, so you can add them easily to transactions.

One of the great things about using small business accounting software is that it reduces repetitive data entry. Once you fill in the blanks to create a customer record, for example, you never have to look up that ZIP code again. When you need to reference a customer in a transaction, they will appear in a list. The same goes for vendors, items, services, and employees. No more filling out card files or messy spreadsheets.

Once you complete a customer record and start creating invoices, sending statements, and recording billable expenses, you can usually access those historical activities within the record itself. Some accounting programs, such as Zoho Books, display a map of the individual or company's location and let you create your own fields so you can track additional information that's important to you.

These record templates vary in complexity, so you need to understand the differences before you go with one accounting service or another. Some, such as Patriot Software Accounting Premium, simply let you maintain descriptive product records. Others, such as Intuit QuickBooks Online, do more. They ask how many of each product you have in inventory when you create a record and at what point you should be alerted to reorder. Then they actively track inventory levels, which provides insights on selling patterns and keeps you from running low.

Which Transactions Do Accounting Services Support?

Accounting services let you easily create any transaction that a small business is likely to need. The most common of these are invoices and bills, and most of the services we reviewed support them.

Xero and Zoho Books go further, allowing you to produce more advanced forms, like purchase orders, sales receipts, credit notes, and statements. They provide templates for them, too. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and select from lists of variables like customers and items.

How Are Completed Transactions Handled?

Once you have completed an invoice, for example, you have several options. You can save it as a draft or a final version and either print it or email it. If you do the latter and have established a relationship with a payment processor, then your invoice can contain a stub explaining how the customer can return payment via credit card or bank withdrawal. You can create a PDF version of the invoice, copy it, record a payment on it, and set it up to recur on a regular schedule.

Can You Manage Expenses and Bills With Accounting Software?

Accounting services pay special attention to your company's expenses—not bills that you enter and pay (though some support this), but rather other purchases you make. This is an area of your finances that can easily get out of control if it's not monitored. So, small business accounting software separates them into expense types. Then the software compares them to your income using totals and colorful charts.

If you're traveling and have numerous related expenses on the road, for example, then you can often take pictures of receipts with your smartphone. Some accounting services attach these receipts to a manually entered expense form. Others, such as Intuit QuickBooks Online and Xero, read the receipts and transfer some of their data (such as date, vendor, and amount) to an expense form using optical character recognition technology. 

Why You Should Import Transactions and Bank Balances

While much of your daily accounting work probably involves paying bills, sending invoices, and recording payments, you also need to keep a close eye on your bank and credit card activity. If you have connected your financial accounts to your accounting service, then this is easy to accomplish. For one thing, their balances often appear on the dashboard. You can also view each account's online register, which contains transactions that have cleared your bank and been imported into your accounting solution (along with those you have entered manually).

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You can do a lot with these transactions once they appear in a register. For one thing, they should be categorized (office expenses, utilities, travel, and meal costs are some examples) so you know where your money is coming from and where it's going. Every accounting service guesses at how at least some transactions might be categorized. You can change them if they're incorrect and add your own. Conscientious categorization will result in more accurate reports and income tax returns.

You can also match related transactions, such as an invoice that was entered into the system and a corresponding payment that came through. Again, some accounting services make educated guesses here. You can split transactions that should be assigned to multiple categories, make notes, and reconcile your accounts with your bank and credit card statements.

Creating Reports to Improve the Business

Reports are your reward for keeping up with your daily work and completing it correctly. Every small business accounting service comes with templates for numerous types of insightful output. You select one, customize it by using the filter and display options provided, and let the software pour your own company data into it. It only takes a few seconds to generate a report after you have defined it.

There are two kinds of reports. The bulk are the type that any small business owner could customize, generate, and understand. They tell you who owes you money, which of your products and services are selling well, whether you're making money, which expenses and services haven't yet been billed, which customers are buying the most, and how much you owe in sales tax, for example.

There are other reports, though, that aren't so easy to understand. They're considered standard financial reports—such as balance sheet, statement of cash flows, trial balance, profit and loss—and they're the kind of documents you need if you ever want to get a loan from a bank or attract investors. Small business accounting software can generate them, but you may need an accounting professional to analyze them to tell you in concrete terms what they mean for your company.

What If I Need Help?

All online accounting services simplify the accounting process, but there will undoubtedly be times when you have questions. You can often get help via chat, email, or phone. Some apps also provide context-sensitive help along the way and a searchable database of support articles. 

Intuit has an option called QuickBooks Live that adds bookkeeping support to Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus. You communicate with a dedicated bookkeeper through one-way video chat (they can't see you) or email. This individual and their team work with you on customizing your setup and monitoring your transactions so they're accurately entered and categorized for tax purposes. They reconcile your accounts and close your books at month's end to prevent errors. Plus, they're available for questions during regular business hours. Finally, they generate the reports you need so you're ready to prepare your taxes or hand them off to your accountant. Wave offers fee-based bookkeeping services, but they lack Intuit QuickBooks Live's interactive quality.

What Is the Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses?

Choosing a small business accounting application is challenging. The best one for you depends on your business needs. You want the product to allow room for your business to grow, but you don't want to spend a lot of extra money on features you may never need. Most of the accounting services we reviewed are available in multiple versions, so you can start at the low end and upgrade to a more powerful edition that looks and works similarly.

We recommend reading our in-depth review of any service first to make sure it fits your needs—and your budget.

While you're thinking about your money, you might also like to consider our reviews of online payroll services and personal finance managers .

Compare Specs The Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses in 2023

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After working at Lawson Associates, now Lawson Software, I switched my focus to accounting but learned that personal computer applications were more progressive and interesting to cover than mainframe solutions. So I served as editor of a monthly newsletter that provided support for accountants who were just starting to use PCs. I still ghostwrite monthly how-to columns for accounting professionals. From there, I went on to write articles and reviews for numerous business and financial publications, including Barron’s and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine.

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what is quick books accounting software

Small Business Trends

Best accounting software for small businesses in 2023.

Table of Contents

What is Accounting Software?

Benefits of accounting software for small business.

Here are six key benefits of having accounting software in your small business:

What is the Best Small Business Accounting Software Option in 2023

Best accounting software: our top picks in 2023, 1. quickbooks online.

Best for Overall Accounting Software

QuickBooks Online is a leading accounting software due to its powerful features, scalability, and capacity to cater to small businesses with intricate financial requirements. It has a vast user base globally, making it likely that your accountant is familiar with it. The software’s all-in-one dashboard allows for efficient bookkeeping.

Click here to try QuickBooks Online

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2. FreshBooks

4. sage business cloud accounting.

Best for Budget Accounting

Click here to try Sage Business Cloud Accounting

5. Wave Accounting

6. netsuite cloud accounting software.

NetSuite’s accounting software is ideal for businesses that want to automate their accounting tasks. The software has several automation features, including creating journal entries and reconciling statements, and provides financial compliance tools and insights.

Best for Self-Employed

Neat is a popular choice among self-employed entrepreneurs for its ease of use. Users can filter transactions, match receipts, customize invoices, and view business insights.

Click here to try Neat

8. Zoho Books

Zoho Books is an affordable accounting software with advanced features like project accounting and time tracking. It integrates well with other Zoho apps and offers different plans, including a Free plan for businesses with less than $50,000 in revenue.

How to Choose the Best Online Accounting Software

Do your research, compare prices.

By selecting an option that works within your budget, you can ensure that you are not overpaying for a solution that does not meet all of your needs.

Test It Out

Get support, types of accounting software, final words, accounting software faqs, how much does accounting software cost.

Some software is subscription-based, while others are available as one-time purchases. When selecting accounting software, it’s important to compare prices and features to find the best fit for your budget and needs.

What is the simplest accounting software?

Which accounting system is useful for small businesses, which accounting software is the cheapest, is accounting software secure.

It’s also important to research different options to find the accounting software that best meets your security needs.

Is there any free accounting software?

What is the difference between erp and accounting software, how does accounting software work.

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Portfolio Management

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Best Accounting Software

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what is quick books accounting software

We recommend the best products through an independent review process , and advertisers do not influence our picks. We may receive compensation if you visit partners we recommend. Read our advertiser disclosure for more info.

Accounting software is an essential tool for managing business or personal finances. For businesses, accounting software can keep financial data organized and reduce the risk of human error, assist with budgeting, track inventory, and manage either accounts receivable or accounts payable tasks. For families, accounting software is helpful for household budgeting, tax return preparation, retirement planning , investment tracking, and bill payment management. 

One of the most important features of accounting software for businesses and personal finances is expense tracking. By automating the process of tracking expenses, it is easier to collect and categorize tax-deductible expenses, which allows for major tax savings each year.

We examined 13 software companies before settling on the five best accounting software solutions. Key factors used in the consideration of the best accounting software included cost, ease of use, reputation, and functionality.  

The 5 Best Accounting Software of 2023

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Self-Employed

Frequently Asked Questions

What is accounting software, what does accounting software do, how to choose accounting software, what does accounting software cost.

Best Overall : QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online was chosen as the best overall because of its reputation, usability, and strong customer support options. Business owners can access their financial reports and collect payment from customers easily using the app or website.

User-friendly and customizable

Scalable for business growth

Full-service mobile app

ProAdvisor program for accountants and bookkeepers

Quickbooks Community forum for support

Monthly subscription required

Limitations on the number of users

QuickBooks Online, owned by Intuit, is the leader in accounting software for small businesses . It was founded in 2001 and has over seven million customers. There are four levels of online cloud-based software available:

QuickBooks offers a 30-day free trial. Alternately, accountants who are registered with QuickBooks are able to offer their clients preferred subscription pricing. The fee varies, depending on whether the client or the accountant is billed. All plans can be used online through a web browser and on the QuickBooks mobile app.

The Simple Start plan is a great entry point for basic small businesses. As a business grows and has more needs, it is easy to upgrade to the next level. The upgraded levels offer features like more users, bill management, time and project tracking, inventory, more customizable reporting, and more automation for efficiency.

QuickBooks Online also offers three levels of a payroll add-on, which can be accessed on the same dashboard as the accounting software. Additionally, there are third-party apps that can integrate with QuickBooks Online to share data seamlessly.

The ProAdvisor Program allows accountants and bookkeepers to participate in QuickBooks training courses and become a certified ProAdvisor. Customers can search the ProAdvisor Directory to find someone in their area for accounting assistance. There is also a QuickBooks Community forum where users can ask questions and find answers to common questions. 

Best Solution for Individuals : Quicken

Quicken is the best solution for individuals because of its robust features. This software is scalable and can support a household’s financial needs as they grow more complex over time. 

With Quicken, a household can manage and pay bills, track retirement and investment accounts, and design customized budgets. There is also a rental property management feature that allows individuals who own rental properties to track rental income and expenses. 

Strong reputation

Bill pay feature

Retirement planning

Robust budgeting and investment-tracking tools

No third-party app extensions like Quickbooks

Since 1982, Quicken has offered management and tracking tools that allow individuals and families to be financially organized and prepared. Quicken can be used for household budgeting and income/expense tracking, which can help individuals prepare for tax season.

There are three to four levels of software plans available, depending on whether you have a Mac or Windows operating system:

A 30-day free trial is available. The software is downloaded onto a computer and data is stored locally, however, most key features can also be accessed using a web browser or the Quicken mobile app. 

The Starter plan allows users to track and categorize transactions and manage bills. The more advanced plans add features such as investment, loan, retirement tracking; bill pay; and even basic business invoicing and tracking. The business features can be accessed through the Home & Business plan and can run Schedule C and Schedule E tax reports and manage lease terms, rental rates, and security deposits.

Best Free Solution for Home Use : Mint

Mint is a great place for households to start when it comes to budgeting and bill tracking and is the best in our review for home use. The software is intuitive and easily accessible. Since Mint is completely free, it is worth trying out before moving to the more robust and costly personal finance software.



Free credit score monitoring

Limited retirement tracking

Limited investment tracking

Some syncing delays depending on your bank

Mint is a free personal finance tool that launched in 2007 and was purchased by Intuit in 2009. Mint can be used online or on the mobile app. The software’s primary use is for personal budgeting. The key features include monthly bill payment tracking, a customizable budget planner, credit score monitoring, and options for various spending alerts.

Mint is perfect for individuals and families who want to gain a better understanding of how they are spending their money and then use that information to set new spending or saving goals for the future. After creating an account online or on the mobile app, users can sync their bank accounts and credit cards with the Mint platform. From there, Mint will help to categorize transactions by type and summarize financial activity.

The bill payment and budgeting trackers are powerful tools that will remind users when payments are due and show how spending is aligning with the budget goals on a daily basis. The Mint interface is intuitive and easy to navigate.

While Mint is less robust when it comes to retirement and investment tracking, the website does have some resources for personal loans, retirement options, investing, and credit cards.

Best Solution for Businesses : Wave

For service-based businesses with simple business structures, Wave provides a free starting point for bookkeeping and invoicing needs. Businesses can always move to more comprehensive accounting software as they grow, but Wave is a great cost-saving option and is the best in our review for businesses. 

Simple and easy to use

Invoicing and accounting software included in the free version

Payroll add-on available

Limited integrations

Not as widely used by accountants as its competitors

Payment processing fees of 2.9%-3.4% and $0.60

Launched in 2010, Wave began as a Toronto-based startup offering accounting software. By 2019, though, Wave’s workforce had grown to 250 employees, and the company was acquired by H&R Block. Entrepreneurs and freelancers are the company’s target audience. This free accounting software is available online and through its mobile app. The free features include income and expense tracking, financial reports, invoicing, and receipt scanning. 

Wave offers credit card and bank transfer payment processing, which costs 2.9% plus 60¢ per transaction for Visa, Mastercard, Discover; 3.4% plus 30¢ per transaction for American Express; and 1% per transaction ($1 minimum fee) for bank transfers (ACH).

A monthly subscription for payroll services is also available but has some limitations. For $40 per month plus $6 per employee or contractor, Wave offers full-service payroll in 14 states. Cost in all other states is $20 per month plus $6 per employee or contractor for limited-service payroll, which means that Wave will calculate the payroll tax cost, but the user is required to pay and file payroll taxes on their own.

Best for Micro-Businesses & Freelancers : QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Self-Employed is perfect for independent contractors who use TurboTax to prepare their annual tax return but need an expense tracking and invoice sending solution throughout the year. This software is our top pick for micro-businesses and freelancers because it's easy to use and provides straightforward financial reporting.


Connects directly to TurboTax

Mileage tracking

Limited customizations & reporting

No inventory feature

Data cannot be migrated to higher-level QuickBooks Online plans when upgrading

QuickBooks Self-Employed, owned by Intuit, is a basic online and mobile app designed primarily for freelancers or independent contractors who file a Schedule C for tax purposes. Key features include tracking mileage, categorizing business expenses, excluding personal expenses, full integration into TurboTax, and estimated quarterly tax payment calculations.

There are three different types of plans available:

Accounting software is an automation tool that reduces the need for manual data entry by syncing and categorizing transactions on a single financial reporting platform. Individuals can use accounting software in their homes for budgeting , bill tracking, retirement planning, investment tracking, and personal tax preparation. Businesses can use accounting software for income and expense tracking, invoicing, bill payment, financial reporting, inventory management, and corporate tax preparation.

The key features that all accounting software offers are bank and credit card transaction syncing, transaction classification, and basic profit and loss statements . More advanced subscriptions add detailed customization options. Paid add-ons include payroll services, more comprehensive financial reporting, bill pay in addition to bill tracking, and invoice payment options.

The first step is determining whether you need accounting software for either business or personal purposes. Next, decide how complex of a financial situation you have. 

If your activity is very simple, it’s best to start with free software and scale up as needed. For businesses, simple accounting primarily includes small service-based businesses without inventory. For individuals who do not own businesses and have minimal investments, free software provides basic bookkeeping options with reconciliation features.

If you have a more complex situation, it is important to make a list of the specific functionalities you will need so that you can inquire about those capabilities with an accounting software company prior to your purchase. For businesses, complex accounting could include inventory, payroll, and loans. For individuals, complex accounting could include investment accounts, business ownership, and rental properties.

Accounting software ranges from $0 to $100 per month, with many different options in between. The average cost of personal accounting software for comprehensive household budgeting is around $50 per year. The average cost of fully functioning business accounting software for a small business is around $50 per month. Payroll services are the most common add-on to business accounting software, which can range from $30 to $150 per month depending on the number of employees or contractors.

How We Chose Accounting Software Companies

After looking at 13 different accounting software companies, we used factors such as cost, usability, integration options, and reputation to narrow our list down to the five best software programs. We also specifically researched free software versus paid software and determined the best free software for personal use and for business use, as well as the best paid software for each.

Eva-Katalin / Getty Images

Intuit. " QuickBooks Online Advanced ."

Intuit. " QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program for Accountants | Intuit ."

Crunchbase. " Quicken - Crunchbase Company Profile & Funding ."

Intuit. " Intuit Completes Acquisition of ."

Crunchbase. " Wave - Crunchbase Company Profile & Funding ."

Wave. " About Wave - Wave Financial ."

Wave. " Wave Payments Processing Fees and Timelines – Help Center ."

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Best Accounting Software for the Self-Employed: Comparison & Guide

what is quick books accounting software

Our content is funded in part by commercial partnerships, at no extra cost to you and without impact to our editorial impartiality. Click to Learn More

QuickBooks Online is the best accounting software for the self-employed because of its low price, great features, and high customizability.

Freelancers and those who are self-employed tend to look for a few core qualities when settling on accounting software: basic accounting features, an easy-to-use yet flexible service, and an inexpensive price plan. According to our independent testing team, QuickBooks meets those needs the best.

To test all the top accounting software options, we ranked features, support, and pricing across eight different research categories. Other top accounting solutions worth considering include FreshBooks , which stands out for its flexibility and the tools needed to invoice billable hours or track inventory; and Xero , which offers a wide selection of great features.

Best Software for Self-Employed Accounting:

Zoho Books – Best for Very Small Businesses

Also in this guide:

Why Is Accounting Software Important & What Should You Look for?

QuickBooks – Best Overall

Best accounting software for self-employed overall Pricing: from $15 per user, per month

Our team of researchers gave QuickBooks our highest overall rating (4.7/5) because it offers extensive features at a competitive rate. However, you'll have to pay to get the most value out of the service as the top features are only available on its pricier plans: QuickBooks has a stripped-down plan called “Self-Employed,” but it won't include features like basic bookkeeping and budgeting. That said, users on all plans can create cash-flow projections, automatically track mileage, and calculate quarterly estimated freelance taxes – which makes it the best accounting software for self-employed people overall.

QuickBooks logo

what is quick books accounting software

These are all useful perks that not every accounting software supports (Freshbooks and Wave don't offer any budgeting or forecasting tools), but QuickBooks also offers core functionality, including income and expense tracking, basic reporting, and receipt capture. Another plus is that the software comes with strong support options as well.

What is the difference between QuickBooks and QuickBooks Self-Employed?

The QuickBooks Self-Employed plan won't be enough for all self-employed creatives out there. It does not offer basic bookkeeping, budgeting, project accounting, fixed assets recording, purchase order generation, overdue client payment tracking, or cash flow projections. If those are essential to your business, you'll need to chose the QuickBooks Simple Start plan.

The Self-Employed plan offers fewer features than the other QuickBooks Online plans, so it comes at a lower cost as well. Self-Employed costs $15 per month , while the next lowest QuickBooks plan, Simple Start, is $30 per month (with deals, those costs are $7.50 and $15 per month , respectively).

QuickBooks Pricing

In addition to Self-Employed and Simple Start, QuickBooks users can get Essentials for $55 per month (and $27.50 per month for three months). This plan supports time tracking and accounts payable features, including bill and expense tracking, recurring billing, and bill scanning.

The Plus plan is $85 per month ( $42.50 per month with the three-month deal) and supports five users, adding project management and automated notifications. Finally, the Advanced plan costs $200 per month , supporting 25 users. If you're self-employed, you'll likely want Self-Employed or Simple Start, but you can check out our  QuickBooks Online pricing guide for more on which plan is best and for whom.

FreshBooks – Best for Usability

Best for usability Pricing: from $17 per user, per month

FreshBooks stands out for the flexibility it offers to self-employed workers in certain fields, receiving an overall score of 3.8/5 in our in-depth research. It allows users on all plans to track billable hours and quickly add them to invoices, making it a great pick for freelancers who track their hourly rates, from marketing professionals to graphic designers.

Freshbooks logo

FreshBooks: adding other income

Since all FreshBooks plans offer inventory management and integrate with big ecommerce platforms, it is also a great pick for individuals running their own online retailer or dropshipping operations.

However, there are a few limitations. Unlike top services Xero and Quickbooks, FreshBooks has no budgeting or cash-flow projection tools. In addition, FreshBooks comes with a limit on clients that is only lifted with its pricey Premium plan.

FreshBooks Pricing

FreshBooks starts at $17 per month for its Lite plan, and has three additional plans to choose from: Plus (for $30 per month ), Premium (for $55 per month ), and Select for a custom price. Lite offers the features that most self-employed users will need because it offers unlimited expensing, time tracking, and estimates, plus custom invoicing. The downside here is that it has a maximum of five clients. The Plus plan does add automations and it boosts the client limit to 50.

Check out our FreshBooks pricing guide for more detail or read our QuickBooks vs FreshBooks comparison guide for more information on how the two services stack up to each other.

Xero – Good All-Around

Good all-around accounting software Pricing from: $13 per user, per month

Xero has a near-unbeatable feature selection, matching QuickBooks' perfect 5/5 scores for features across many research categories, including bookkeeping, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and financial reporting.

Xero logo

xero accounting dashboard

Xero's overall score is a healthy 4.5/5, and is only brought down by its mediocre support options (neither live chat nor phone is offered, and live support is not 24/7), but it's a great choice for general use and functionality. It even supports unlimited users across all plans, unlike QuickBooks.

Xero is the rare accounting solution to allow fixed asset recording across all plans and, since it also integrates with top hospitality POS systems (Square, EPOS Now, and Nobly), it's a great fit for a self-employed hotelier. It's also a standout pick for budget creation, as it offers simple and painless budgeting on all plans.

Xero Pricing

Xero has three plans: Early, for $13 per month ; Growing, for $37 per month , and Established, for $70 per month . Early is the best for freelancers and self-employed users, since it has the right price point while tracking all bank transactions and managing bills and receipts. Early does have restrictions, however, with a limit of five bills, 20 invoices, and 20 quotes. Growing removes these caps, although only Established adds a project accounting functionality. It is worth noting that none of its plans offer cash flow projection.

Read our Xero Invoice pricing guide or check out our QuickBooks vs Xero comparison guide for more.

Best accounting software for very small businesses Pricing: Free or from $15 per user, per month

Zoho Books (4/5 overall score) is the best accounting solution for small businesses for a simple reason: it offers a plan that has the most core accounts receivable features at the lowest cost.

Zoho Books

zoho books dashboard

Those who may find Xero's invoice cap of 50 to be a problem will love Zoho Books' invoice cap of 5,000 per year – with no limit on clients at all. Small businesses can also benefit from Zoho Books' integrations with many payment processing services.

Zoho Books also offers inexpensive project accounting features and automations, and it has comprehensive accounts receivable tools that include management for any outstanding client payments. Support options include live chat and phone in addition to email, which means that Zoho Books gives customers more support channels than Xero or FreshBooks (although Zoho Books does not offer around-the-clock live support, so QuickBooks still offers the best support on the whole).

Zoho Books Pricing

Zoho Books offers a whopping six pricing plans, although self-employed users will likely want to pick from the lowest two plans. Its entry-level plan (Zoho Books Free) is free , but it comes with a big restriction: it's only for businesses making $50,000 or less per year. For freelancers, that's not an unreasonable limit, and Free includes recurring bills, expense tracking, and a client database. However, it doesn't include inventory management, analytics, or detailed reports.

The pricing of the other five plans (Standard, Professional, Premium, Ultimate, and Elite) ranges from $15 per month to $240 per month . Check out our Zoho Books pricing guide for more information on each plan.

Wave Accounting – Best Value for Money

Best value for money Pricing: Free

At no cost, Wave Accounting provides unlimited income tracking, unlimited expense tracking, and unlimited collaborators. You'll be able to add bank and credit card connections, and can access reports that include “Overdue Invoices & Bills” and “Profit & Loss.”

wave financial

wave accouning dashboard

Our researchers gave it a solid 4/5 overall score, noting that admin work can be reduced further with the Wave Receipts mobile app thanks to its bill-scanning functionality, although this app is only available on iOS, unlike QuickBooks' bill-scanning app that's found on both iOS and Android.

Granted, the features available to you are limited, with no budgeting, cash flow projection, project accounting, or inventory management functionality, but that's the cost of getting a free service. If you want a stripped-down solution on a tiny budget, Wave has the best accounting software.

Wave Pricing

Wave Accounting just offers one take-it-or-leave-it plan at no cost, so there's not a lot to say about pricing. You may want to consider the other apps Wave offers, though: Wave Invoicing and Wave Banking are also free, while users can integrate Wave Payroll starting at $40 per month , plus $6 per employee or contract worker. The Wave Payments service lets users accept credit card payments, starting at 2.9% plus $0.60 per transaction .

Check out our FreshBooks vs Wave comparison guide to learn more about each service.

Any self-employed worker or freelancer needs to consider a host of tasks to stay on top of their finances and taxes: you'll need to send invoices and collect bills, manage projects or clients, and reconcile all your revenue streams to complete your federal, state, and local taxes on time. Since freelancers need to complete taxes on a quarterly basis, you'll have four times the paperwork that any other employee deals with.

It's all a challenge to track, but accounting software is designed to streamline the entire process. The best accounting solutions will add financial reporting as well, so you can see trends in the data at a glance, and will integrate with other core work software, such as payroll or POS systems. If you're just starting out, these are the basic needs that accounting software should help you with, if relevant:

Our Methodology: How Did We Evaluate Accounting Software for the Self-Employed?

Our unbiased software research team has tested and rated the top eight accounting software solutions on the market. To determine how every function of each software compared with the others, our researchers crafted eight different categories, each of which cover a small range of quantifiable tools or qualities.

Our testing categories include:

After ranking each software option within each category, our team condensed all the scores down into a single five-point score for each one, allowing the strengths and weaknesses to be compared  directly.

Verdict: QuickBooks is the best self-employed accounting solution

FreshBooks remains a strong pick, and may be best for two type of self-employed workers: Freelancers who often track and invoice billable hours and online retailers who need strong ecommerce integrations and inventory management tools. It's downsides are a lack of budgeting or cash-flow projection, as well as a limit on the number of clients it supports.

How much does accounting software cost?

Is there a quickbooks for self-employed, what budgeting software should i use for self-employed, what is the easiest home accounting software to use.

If you click on, sign up to a service through, or make a purchase through the links on our site, or use our quotes tool to receive custom pricing for your business needs, we may earn a referral fee from the supplier(s) of the technology you’re interested in. This helps to provide free information and reviews, and carries no additional cost to you. Most importantly, it doesn’t affect our editorial impartiality. Ratings and rankings on cannot be bought. Our reviews are based on objective research analysis . Rare exceptions to this will be marked clearly as a ‘sponsored' table column, or explained by a full advertising disclosure on the page, in place of this one. Click to return to top of page

We're sorry this article didn't help you today – we welcome feedback, so if there's any way you feel we could improve our content, please email us at [email protected]

Written by:

Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.


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    QuickBooks is the most popular small business accounting software used to manage income and expenses and keep track of financial health. You can invoice customers, pay bills, generate reports, and prepare taxes.

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    QuickBooks is a great option for small businesses that want full-featured accounting software, but if you're just using it for invoicing purposes, you may want to consider an alternative....

  7. Best alternatives to QuickBooks accounting software in 2023

    QuickBooks is accounting software that enjoys a very high profile, thanks in part to extensive advertising in the media and on TV, but the best alternatives to QuickBooks accounting...

  8. What is QuickBooks?

    QuickBooks is a popular accounting software system for small and medium-sized businesses. It's an ideal way to keep business finances organized and accurate - even if you have little to no knowledge about accounting. In the past, QuickBooks came in the form of physical desktop software that you installed via CD-ROM.

  9. QuickBooks Accountant Desktop Accounting Software

    QuickBooks Accountant Desktop Accounting Software - Intuit QuickBooks Accountant Desktop 2023 Help your clients get more visibility and control with QuickBooks Desktop 2023 QuickBooks Desktop gives you and your clients visibility across their business so you can help them improve decision-making, efficiency, and productivity.

  10. Home & Personal Accounting Software

    QuickBooks home accounting software helps you: Pay a nanny, gardener or housekeeper Track expenses & stay on budget Manage rental income and taxes Start Now for Free Makes total sense: home accounting software It's just easier when it's organized Run your home like you'd run your business. Or run a business out of your home.

  11. Small Business Accounting Software

    QuickBooks is a user-friendly, simple accounting software that tracks your business income and expenses, and organises your financial information for you, eliminating manual data entry. QuickBooks simplifies small business accounting and automates tasks such as Bookkeeping Invoicing Time tracking Sales tax management Budgeting Bank reconciliation

  12. What Is QuickBooks? Learn Which Version is Right for You

    QuickBooks' cloud-based solution is designed for small-business users and comes in four packages: Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced. QuickBooks Online: Common capabilities Accounts payable and accounts receivable: Monitor and manage income and expenses. Billing and invoicing: Send unlimited estimates and invoices.

  13. What Is QuickBooks Accounting Software

    QuickBooks accounting software is also cloud base in the aspects of database keeping, thereby eliminating the risk of any data loss or theft. It is easily accessible at accounting. QuickBooks or Key Features of QuickBooks The key features or functions Quickbook accounting software are

  14. Sage vs. Quickbooks (2023 Comparison)

    QuickBooks is a popular accounting software that offers both online and desktop versions. There are two versions available, each with multiple plans. QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based software ...

  15. Quickbooks Online Accountant, Grow and Manage Your Firm

    QuickBooks Online Accountant works hard for you. Manage everything from one place with accountant-only features for greater efficiency and insight. So you can grow your clients' business (and your own) in more ways than ever. Explore more Provide personalized guidance

  16. What is QuickBooks, and how does it work? Top guide

    QuickBooks is an accounting software package created by Intuit, which offers solutions for managing personal, business, and tax finances. It is available as a desktop software for Windows, with several editions. You can also choose the Mac, or Online version.

  17. How Much Does QuickBooks Cost?

    Plus. $85/month. All Essentials features for up to five users, plus project tracking and inventory tracking. Advanced. $200/month. All Plus features for up to 25 users, plus a dedicated account ...

  18. Streamline Your Accounting with QuickBooks Tool Hub: A User-Friendly

    In the modern business environment, reliable accounting software is essential, and QuickBooks has become a game-changer by providing a complete solution for small and medium-sized businesses. However, as QuickBooks continues to add more features, users may struggle to keep up with the updates. Fortunately, QuickBooks Tool Hub is available to help users navigate these changes […]

  19. QuickBooks

    QuickBooks is an accounting software package developed and marketed by Intuit. First introduced in 1983, QuickBooks products are geared mainly toward small and medium-sized businesses and offer on-premises accounting applications as well as cloud-based versions that accept business payments, manage and pay bills, and payroll functions. History

  20. The Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses in 2023

    Patriot Software Accounting Premium is best for uncomplicated small businesses who probably won't outgrow it. The integration with Patriot's payroll application is a definite plus, but the ...

  21. Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses in 2023

    QuickBooks Online is the best small business accounting software option for 2023, offering scalability, being commonly used by accounting professionals, being cloud-based, and having a mobile app. It offers integration with over 750 third-party applications, live, in-house bookkeeping, comprehensive reporting, invoicing, inventory management ...

  22. The 5 Best Accounting Software of 2023

    QuickBooks Online, owned by Intuit, is the leader in accounting software for small businesses. It was founded in 2001 and has over seven million customers. 1 There are four levels of online cloud ...

  23. Best Accounting Software for the Self-Employed

    QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Xero are among the top accounting software for self-employed workers and freelancers. Written by Adam Rowe. Updated on February 28, 2023. Our content is funded in part ...