As I get ever close to launching my own eCommerce website, my attention increasingly turns to the bottom line: profit & loss (hopefully, mostly “profit”). For me, though, I’m terribly bored by crunching numbers. Don’t get me wrong: I love making money and counting it. But my background is not in accounting. So the challenge for me is to keep my accounting in order, my tax information in check, and my sanity in tact!

For personal finance, I’m a longtime user of Intuit Mint, which is a great app for personal use. But for my small business, I want to keep my business expenses and transactions separate from my personal finances. Ideally, to achieve this, I’m interested in a tool that is as efficient and accurate as Mint, but aimed at small business – not to mention, affordable.

Here are three small business accounting apps, tested by me, the App Guinea Pig.

App Guinea Pig: Three Small Business Accounting Apps for Dummies (Myself Included!) image quickbooks 80x801.png1

1. QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is an obvious starting point for me, as a Mint user. I’ve looked at QuickBooks Online before, here at GetApp, for various reasons, and while I haven’t always loved what I’ve seen, I have to say, there are some great features of QuickBooks Online.

For one thing, Intuit has unrivaled bank synchronization. My personal banking is done through a regional bank in the southeastern U.S. and my bank syncs perfectly with Intuit products. What’s more, as the original cloud-based small business accounting app, QuickBooks Online has refined visualizations. There’s no denying how plainly pretty graphs, charts, and other visual elements are in QuickBooks Online.

Features of QuickBooks Online:

  • Create & manage invoices
  • Track sales & expenses
  • Multi-device document sharing
  • Print checks
  • Track payments
  • Automated online banking
  • Create estimates
  • Enter & manage bills
  • Export data to Excel
  • Smart phone compatible
  • Support for Mac23
  • Free Trial
  • Dashboards and feeds
  • Mobile receipt capture
  • Actionable insights
  • Banking data synchronization
  • Create custom invoices
  • Automatic tax calculations
  • Pay online link in invoices
  • Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet reports

Visually, I love QuickBooks Online. The only downside is that I think I might be able to get everything I need for a little less than $26.95 a month. That said, my business is basically micro, at this point. If you have even a couple of employees, QuickBooks Online quickly becomes worth the price.

App Guinea Pig: Three Small Business Accounting Apps for Dummies (Myself Included!) image Xero5 300x300.jpg

2. Xero

Xero, a rapidly rising name in the cloud-based small business accounting app space, again makes its way into my line of sight. I love Xero, for many reasons. Its simple interface, its strong bank compatibility, and its appreciable $9 price tag.

Xero’s interface is incredibly clean – a refreshing splash of white and high-contrast charts that splits bank reconciling into two columns. Aside from that, I like the fact that it is free for small business to share data in Xero with accountants and other advisers. Since it’s easy to foresee myself getting in over my head when it comes to accounting, I’m liking Xero’s ability to let me call in some professional help without costing me additional funds.

Features of Xero:

  • Online Accounting – Access Xero anytime, anywhere
  • Bank Rec – Automatically import and code transactions
  • Invoicing – Create and send invoices automatically
  • Add-ons – Pick from a wide range of powerful add-ons
  • Dashboard – Instantly see your bank balances, sales & bills
  • Files – Attach documents to your financial data
  • Smart Lists – Segment contacts based on purchase history
  • Contacts – Keep track of customers and suppliers
  • Login from anywhere
  • Payroll
  • Multi-currency
  • Purchase orders
  • Expense claims
  • Inventory
  • Quick & easy 1099s
  • Mobile apps (iPhone,iPad, Android)
  • Receive bills electronically
  • Free, Unlimited Email Support
  • Multi-currency
  • Financial Reporting

Xero is an able, stable small business accounting app. I dig it – there’s no other way to put it. That said, I’m an ever-so-slightly bigger fan of the visualizations in QuickBooks Online. That said, it’s hard to argue with the price of Xero.

App Guinea Pig: Three Small Business Accounting Apps for Dummies (Myself Included!) image Freshbooks logo.png

3. FreshBooks

FreshBooks is one of the biggest names in small business accounting apps – and it’s with good reason, too!

A big part of my small business is invoicing. FreshBooks has solid invoicing functions, which is an immediate draw for me. What’s more, FreshBooks has great visualizations, much like QuickBooks Online. FreshBooks also works with my regional bank, so that’s another feather in its proverbial cap.

There’s no mistaking, though, that the focus of FreshBooks is on invoicing, recurring billing, and time tracking. Those elements all feature heavily in my small business, so that makes FreshBooks a particularly interesting package, for me, specifically.

Features of FreshBooks:

  • Online Invoicing
  • Time Tracking
  • Recurring Invoices & Auto Payment
  • Team Timesheets
  • Late Payment Reminders
  • Expense Tracking
  • Accounting Reports & Taxes
  • Automatic Expense Import
  • Mobile Apps
  • Attach receipts (PDF or Image)

FreshBooks has great billing features and clean visuals. That makes it a strong contender for my purposes. At $19.95 per month, FreshBooks falls nearly in the middle, between the other two offerings on this list. That’s another compelling reason to pick FreshBooks over the competition.

And the winner is..


As you could probably tell from my comments up to this point, FreshBooks is my choice for a small business accounting app. QuickBooks Online, Xero, and FreshBooks are all great contenders, truly. QuickBooks Online has the best visuals of all. Xero has the cleanest overall interface. But, for my purposes, FreshBooks has the best balance in terms of graphics, ease-of-use, and pricing.

If you don’t think one of these three apps is the right one for your small business accounting needs, be sure to check out GetApp’s rolling, regularly updated list of all the small business accounting apps currently on the market!


This article was written by GetApp from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.