Choices for Free Accounting and Bookkeeping for Your Small Business


Your Choices for Accounting and Bookkeeping for Your Small Business Along with Pros and Cons

Are you starting a new business? There are so many things that go into running a small business. You need the right tools and software to take care of your behind the scene activities. On the top of that list is how to keep track of your Accounting and Bookkeeping needs. It can get tricky if not done right and expensive if you go with an Accountant fulltime. So, what can you do to make this a little easier and lighter on your budget?

In this new digital age, you have so many choices. It can get a little overwhelming. It all depends on the features you need and the budget you have. There is software to download on your computer and/or accounts you can run and keep your accounting information online. You can even have someone else take care of your accounting and bookkeeping tasks, and it doesn’t have to be an accountant. You can hire a virtual assistant. The choice is yours.

Which Accounting or Bookkeeping Choice Is Right for Your Small Business?

Deciding to have systems in place before you start is a great way to get on the right track. If you have already started without a system, you can start now. But your decisions don’t stop there. First you need to decide on a budget. There are a few free choices out there and a lot of paid options. After you decide on your budget, you need to figure out what features you need. And what features you can afford. I am going to go over these options in a little detail, so you can make the best decision for you and your small business.

Bookkeeping Software Available for PC Use Only

There is an abundance of accounting and bookkeeping options available for your small business. Software that doesn’t require you to be online to keep up with your books. Programs that can be ran right on your computer and you can buy them from places like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, etc.

Express Accounts will run you about $129.99, QuickBooks Desktop Pro runs about $179.99, Quicken runs about $104.99, and Bookkeeper for $33.79. These can be bought as a download or a PC disc option. You can find them all on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=bookkeeping+software&ref=nb_sb_noss_1.

As for the pros and cons of these, it just really comes down to preference. These will be downloaded on your computer and you will not be able to access them from another computer. A few have apps that can be used with them for when you are on the go. For someone who doesn’t like having their financial information out in the cloud or an online account, this would be the best option for you.

QuickBooks Desktop and Online for Small Business

QuickBooks is a popular tool that has a desktop and online version. It deserves to be its own topic.

The desktop version is offered in a few versions on their website, Desktop Pro and Desktop Premier with available upgrades as well. You can get these from their website https://quickbooks.intuit.com/desktop/pro/. The Desktop Pro will run you about $299.95 for a one-time payment, with the Pro Plus running $299.95 annually. The Desktop Premium will run $499.95 for a one-time payment and Premier Plus $499.95 annually. Both have discounts available making them a little more affordable.

There are also many different desktop options available on Amazon by going to https://www.amazon.com/s?k=quickbooks&i=software&ref=nb_sb_noss_2. The prices there range anywhere from $149.99 to $339.99, depending on the version you choose. You can also add on payroll and accept credit cards for an additional fee.

QuickBooks Online Version

The online version can be purchased with a monthly subscription. It ranges from $20 per month for the Simple Start plan up to $150 per month for the Advanced plan. They often offer a free trial and discounts when you first sign up. You can also add the payroll option and accept credit card payments for an extra fee just like the desktop version.

QuickBooks ProAdvisor

The QuickBooks ProAdvisor program is a free program to teach you how to use QuickBooks. It will take you through each feature as a step by step process. You can take the quizzes at the end of each lesson to practice what you have learned and become QuickBooks certified at the end of the program.

Pros of QuickBooks

Now that you know a little about the pricing lets take a look at the pros of QuickBooks. The top pro is that it is a user-friendly software. It will save you time and generate reports easily. You will have so many choices when it comes to picking the right fit for your small business. You also have access to free phone and live chat support to get problems solved quickly. When it comes to adding your bank account it is a quick and easy setup. Integration with QuickBooks is easy to manage, making your bookkeeping tasks so much simpler. It includes integrations such as PayPal, Shopify, and Square. The software offers you the basics like accounts payable, payroll, inventory, invoicing and payment processing. You also have the ability to access it on your mobile phone. Today, you never know when you might need to access your account. You may be on the go and can easily check up on your phone without being tied to a desk or computer.

Cons of QuickBooks

With the many pros, there are still a few cons we need to address. The pricing for the software can start to get a little steep depending on the add-ons you may need. You also run into limitations on the number of users you can have. The online version has less features than the desktop version and has a history of extended downtime. It does have an ease of use but may be a little overwhelming for beginners. For a small business it is a great fit, but if you have a lot of employees you may need to check out some other options out there.

Free Accounting Options

Wave Online Accounting

Free Version

Wave is a free resource for accounting. All you have to do is sign up. It gives you access to the accounting software, invoicing and receipt scanning all for free. The free accounting software gives you unlimited bank and credit card connections and income and expense tracking. And did I forget to say it’s FREE. Check it out at www.waveapps.com.

Fee Based Add-ons Available

There are a few features that you can add on to your free account. You can enable Payments with a 2.9% + 0.30 fee per transaction for credit card processing and 1% fee per transaction for bank payments with a $1 minimum. And payroll can be added for a $20 to $35 monthly base fee depending upon whether taxes are involved.

Pros of Wave

Let’s start off with the most important pro ever, it is free. No need to add an extra expense to your budget. This means unlimited invoicing and unlimited estimates. You get access to expense tracking, accounts payable, basic inventory and reporting. You get access to a dashboard that gives you a summary of your business with graphs for overdue invoices, bills, expense breakdown and many more. You can reconcile your banking, enter bills and payments. You can integrate many business accounts so that you do not have to manually input all your data.

Cons of Wave

With Wave being a free software, the cons would really need to be pretty big to get you to not give it a try. One of the cons of Wave is the lack of telephone support. This may slow down the time it takes to have your issue solved. You may be waiting for someone to email you back, only to have the email not answer your question or solve your issue. Then you will need to send another message to have it addressed. Another con is the taxes. It does not have a very robust tax capability, leaving you with extra work at tax time.

ZipBooks Accounting

ZipBooks is an online accounting software that has a free option. You can increase the functionality and features by investing in the paid versions. These range from $15 per month to $150 per month. Paying $150 per month gives you your own personal bookkeeper. The free version will give you unlimited invoices for unlimited customers. If you need more options, like advanced reporting and intelligence, you will need to pay. Visit www.zipbooks.com.

ZipBooks Pros

Let’s start with the obvious pro, it has a version that is free. The free version includes unlimited invoicing, unlimited vendors and customers, accepts credit card payments and PayPal (with fees associated), unlimited bookkeeping, connect and manage one bank account, and business health and invoice quality score. It is said to have good customer support and is easy to use. It does offer an add-on for $49 per month called Growth Plans. Growth Plans allows customers to leave review, track ranking for keywords, manage leads, and ZipBooks creates a webpage to host the reviews and information about your company.

ZipBooks Cons

With the fact it has a free option, there are going to be some down sides. The customizations on your invoicing will be limited. There is no option to add or track inventory. It also has limited mobile applications. So, it has some limited functionality. To get any advanced features, you are going to have to pay.

SlickPie Expense Management Software

Another free option for your small business is SlickPie. It does have a paid option that will cost you $39.95 per month. It gives you the ability to receive phone support and to store up to 50 different companies contact information. Check it out at www.slickpie.com.

SlickPie Pros

SlickPie is a free online software that allows for unlimited users for your business. In the free plan you can support up to 10 companies. It has numerous automations like MagicBot, which is an automated receipt data entry tool that captures and pulls important information and adds it for you. You can send unlimited invoices, create quotes, manage bills, look at live bank feeds, and use PayPal, Stripe and credit card processing for your business. Clients can accept, reject, and pay invoices directly online through the client portal. You can see and manage your business on any device and upload and attach important files when needed. The website has a help center with how-to articles if you need help or to use as a guide. There is no credit card required to sign up.

SlickPie Cons

Like most free accounting software, you will have some limitations on the capabilities of the software. In SlickPie, you will have limited invoice customizations, features, and integrations. The integrations are limited to three, PayPal, Stripe, and Dropbox. It does not include time tracking features or project management capabilities. To use the MagicBot, you will need to have access to Dropbox. Customer service for the free service consists on email only. If you want telephone support, you are going to have to upgrade to the paid version.

Brightbook Accounting

Brightbook is a free online bookkeeping system for small businesses. You get basic functions that are needed to keep your small business finances together. Look it up at www.mybrightbook.com.

Brightbook Pros

Brightbook’s obvious pro is that it is free. It has unlimited invoicing capabilities with the multi-currency feature. It features a dashboard that highlights money you are owed, money you owe, and cashflow. You can import your bank statements to help you reconcile money paid in and out. Your data is backed up daily and profit and loss and tax reports are available for your accountant when needed. For your invoices, you can send emails with a link to your PayPal so you can get paid. You have access to all your companies in one login.

Brightbook Cons

Brightbook lacks a lot of modern features. It does not have a mobile app or any third-party integrations. It’s reporting features are minimal. To get branded invoices and statements and ability to design templates, you must pay.

Paid Accounting and Bookkeeping Tools

Xero Accounting Software

Xero is a paid online accounting tool for small businesses. It has a free trial and ranges from $9 to $60 per month after your free trial depending upon your needs. It has real-time communication with the people you give access to. It also has an option for multicurrency. You can check it out by going to www.xero.com/us.

Pros of Xero

Xero allows you to reconcile, send invoices, and create expense claims on the go. If you are running around town or between meetings, you can get work done from your mobile phone. You have access to real-time collaboration. Your accountant, bookkeeper, or any one else you deem worthy can look into everything as it’s being put in. You can have an unlimited number of users, so things can get done. A free trial is offered to get you started to see if this is a great fit for you. You get access to customized invoices and integration with PayPal and Stripe for payments. If you only need a few basic features you can get it for a low monthly fee of $9. It also has 24/7 support.

Cons of Xero

When it comes to some more advanced features like payroll, it gets rather pricey. You may want to look at some other options if this is something you need. The basic plan is very limited, only giving you the ability for five invoices, quotes and bills, along with only 20 bank transactions a month. This is very limiting, even for a small business.

FreeAgent Accounting Software

FreeAgent accounting software is another online option for small businesses. It has a free trial and charges $12 per month for six months and $24 per month thereafter. It offers many different features without the need for add-ons with extra fees. It can be found by going to www.freeagent.com.

FreeAgent Pros

FreeAgent is another easy to use cloud-based software. Your free trial does not require a credit card and you get a discount for paying the annual amount in full. You have the ability to have unlimited users and the cost is pretty affordable. The dashboard gives access to charts and graphs that show your business activity. When sending invoices, you can set them to be recurring invoices and set reminders. These invoices can also be sent in 28 different languages. The contact management allows you to keep contact information for clients or vendors. It saves their history so that you can easily access prior invoices, projects or bills. It also offers project management, which allows you to create projects and add tasks, rates, notes, etc. to show your overall job cost and if you made a profit.

FreeAgent Cons

There are a few cons to the FreeAgent software. It does not have a payroll option and there is no integration available to add this to your tracking. If you need the payroll feature you may need to move on to something else. The invoicing has limited customization available. It also is a bit lacking in the reports area, but it does at least cover the basic accounting reports.

FreshBooks Accounting Software

FreshBooks is an online cloud-based application that was built for small businesses and designed to help you bill clients. It has plans that range from $15 per month to $50 per month. It also has a custom pricing option for someone who has over 500 billable clients. The pricing is based on number of clients you will be billing with a few added features at each step. You can add team members by pay $10 extra per person each month. It is a simple program to help manage expenses, invoices, reports, and time tracking. Visit www.freshbooks.com.

FreshBooks Pros

FreshBooks allows for unlimited and customized invoices. You can accept credit cards and bank transfers online. Tracking your time is easy with its unlimited time tracking.

FreshBooks Cons

For what you get with FreshBooks, it is a little pricey. It is basically used for small businesses that invoice a lot of people. The reports are a little lacking and don’t really cover all your accounting needs.

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