One of the core pillars of a functioning business is the financial accounts it keeps. These reports help companies keep track of all their revenue and expenditure, giving them an accurate, up-to-date picture of the health of their finances.
Large companies usually have their own internal accounting departments or enlist the services of an external accounting firm, but for small businesses, it is often enough to use either a freelancer or, increasingly, specialised business accounting apps that are, in some instances, free.
Many of these apps offer more than just digitised bookkeeping services, too. They can provide your business with everything it needs to balance the books, keep everyone on the same page and create reports; all they need is internet access to acquire your financial information and the means to update their accounting records. This means that you can manage your company finances while visiting a client, in a meeting or at home.
Accessibility and mobility are usually two of the most important criteria for a small business to evaluate which app is right for its operations, but other factors may also include user ease, functionality and, of course, cost.
With this in mind, here are five of the best accounting apps on the market for small businesses.
According to the official overview on the app's website, QuickBooks has "all you need to keep your books accurate and up to date, automatically." This automation is undoubtedly one of the chief reasons why this application is one of the most popular on the market.
Self-described as a "game-changer for any small business", its main features include the ability to manage your business on the go, track expenses, create and send business forms, instantly see how your business is performing, cash flow management and free unlimited support. This flexibility allows you to be ready for that time of the year when everyone is thinking about their taxes, create professional invoices that let your clients know you are a business they can trust, and allow you to schedule payments and view customised reports - all at the same time.
The QuickBooks app is compatible with smartphones or tablets for both iOS and Android and synchronises your data automatically across your devices. The 'Simple Start' plan costs $15 per month (for one user), the 'Essentials' plan $23 for three users, or $31 for five users (the 'Plus' plan). There is also a free 30-day trial option, too, allowing you to deduce which package is the right fit for your business.
Another app that emphasises user-friendly interaction and geographical flexibility, FreshBooks is a diverse and accessible tool for small businesses.
It can accommodate all your bookkeeping and accounting needs, as well as related business process needs. It also offers "three different service plans with a range of features, from invoicing to time tracking to project budgeting." Time tracking is a particularly useful feature, giving you more time to focus on your other work, with the software saving each user an average of two days per month on paperwork.
The more you use the bookkeeping app, the more time you will save when logging your expenses and invoicing your clients, too. This is due to the app's tracking system, which monitors how much time you spend organising your financial records. When you can track your time, you can use it more wisely and, therefore, organise your workload better. This means a more efficient system is in place, while clients can quickly pay invoices from their desk or when you go for a visit.
There are three core options available:
- 'Lite': $15 per month, with a maximum of five billable clients
- 'Plus': $25, with a maximum of 50 billable clients
- 'Premium': $50, with a maximum of 500 billable clients
There is also a fourth custom-pricing option that can be negotiated, as well as a free 30-day trial.
This award-winning financial software is designed especially for entrepreneurs and even comes with an accounting guide so that those who run their own business can learn how to use the app and gain financial confidence. Wave is also practical: you can track income and expenses, create and send out of professional invoices, and even scan receipts anytime from anywhere, including from your phone.
All this is offered completely free with no trials and "no hidden fees" according to the software's website, while it can be downloaded on iOS or Android for use on smartphones and tablets.
Xero offers an accounting app for small businesses alongside its software, so business owners can manage the financial side of things wherever they are.
Like most bookkeeping apps, Xero enables you to send online invoices to customers and also notifies you when these invoices have been opened. It also imports and categorises your last bank transactions, so that you are always on top of your finances.
That is not all, either; aside from real-time monitoring of your company's financial health, you also receive access to support whenever you need it. Xero offers a time tracking feature so that you can organise your time and accounting needs better, as well as provides the ability to create purchase orders, pay your bills and attach files and documents to your data.
Xero's pricing plans are categorised into:
- 'Early': $9 per month, with a maximum of five invoices, five bills and 20 bank transactions
- 'Growing': $30, with unlimited invoices, bills and bank transactions
- 'Established': $60, with unlimited invoices, bills and bank transactions, as well as a whole host of additional features
There is also a free 30-day trial.
When using the Sage accounting app, you can access and manage your financial information from anywhere, at any time, and create and track the status of your invoices accordingly. As your business data is updated in real-time, you will be sure to trust that the information in your hands is up-to-date, saving you time and giving you peace of mind when a payment reminder is due. You can also log expenses, take photographs of receipts and attach them to expense claims, update business contacts and enable account notifications, as well as manage your cash flow so that you know exactly how much is going out and how much is coming into the business at all times.
Sage is priced at either $10 per month for entry-level accounting access or at $25 per month for established small businesses. There is also a free trial option.
There many factors that you need to consider when attempting to find an accounting solution for your business. Cost, flexibility and ease of use are undoubtedly three of them, and the apps on this list provide viable choices in all regards. As you scale and grow, you might find that you want to cultivate relationships with external accountants, or even hire your own, but for most small businesses, these apps are an excellent solution.
What accounting app do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.