Throughout 2019, we featured many types of small business software. To start the new year, we are gathering our software review posts into a larger small business software guide.

We look at accounting software, project management software, and hard-to-categorize apps and tools. Manage better in 2020 by using the best software for your needs.

The Best Accounting Software for Small Business

Is QuickBooks the only game in town when it comes to small business accounting software? No one can question its popularity—QuickBooks claims to have 80% market share and over 2 million users.

Some small business owners, however, prefer other software. Let’s talk about additional accounting programs you should consider.

First up, what does accounting software do?

These are the 7 most common functions:

  1. Invoicing
  2. Purchase orders
  3. Bill management
  4. Payments
  5. Expense tracking
  6. Financial reports
    • Profit and loss statements
    • Income statements
    • Cash flow statements
    • Balance sheets
    • Customer balance summaries
    • Accounts receivable aging summaries
  7. Inventory management

What small business accounting software offers an alternative to QuickBooks?

FreshBooks

Website
Lite plan: $6/month
5 billable clients
Plus plan: $10/month
50 billable clients
Premium plan: $20/month
500 billable clients
Custom pricing for 500+ billable clients

Xero

Website
Free 30-day trial

Early plan: $9/month

  • 5 invoices and quotes
  • 5 bills
  • Reconcile 20 bank transactions

Growing plan: $30/month

  • Invoices
  • Quotes
  • Bills
  • Reconcile bank transactions

Established plan: $60/month
Features of Early and Growing plus:

  • Multi-currency
  • Expenses
  • Project tracking
  • Customers can pay from invoice with PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay.

Zoho Books

Website
Free 14-day trial

Basic plan: $9/month

  • Maximum of 50 contacts (customers and vendors)
  • 2 users
  • 5 automated workflows
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Custom invoices
  • Expense tracking
  • Projects and timesheets
  • Recurring transactions
  • Sales approval

Standard plan: $19/month
Features of Basic plan plus:

  • 500 contacts
  • 3 users
  • 10 automated workflows
  • Bills
  • Vendor credits
  • Reporting tags
  • Purchase approval
  • Budgeting
  • Twilio integration

Professional plan: $29/month
Features of Standard plan plus:

  • 500+ contacts
  • 10 users
  • 10 automated workflows/modules
  • Purchase orders
  • Sales orders
  • Inventory
  • Custom domain

Wave

Website

  • Free accounting software designed for entrepreneurs
  • Fees for payments: 2.9% + 30 cents per credit transaction, 1% per bank transaction
  • Multi-currency
  • No limits on transactions or users
  • Intuitive interface

Fun fact: In July 2019, Wave was acquired by H&R Block for around $400 million.

Did we mention that Wave is free?

For comparison, here is the pricing for QuickBooks:

Self-Employed plan (for freelancers): $5/month.
For small businesses there are four plans:
Simple Start plan: $10/month
Essentials plan: $17/month
Plus plan: $30/month
Advanced plan (6 or more users): $60/month

Most small business accountants and bookkeepers are familiar with QuickBooks. There are over 50K accountants/bookkeepers who have been certified by QuickBooks as QB Pro Advisors.

If you choose a QB alternative, make sure your financial people are okay with it. If you haven’t hired an accountant or bookkeeper, you can choose your software first. Then find an accountant who is familiar with your software.

For New Business Owners

Starting your first business? Congratulations! We wish you success. Here is some basic information you should understand before choosing accounting software.

What is QuickBooks?

QuickBooks is the most popular accounting software for small business.

What is the difference between QuickBooks and QBO (QuickBooksOnline)?

Before cloud computing, QuickBooks was sold as a product you installed on your business computers. You paid a one-time upfront cost. You used the software for a few years and paid again if you upgraded to the latest version.

With QBO, the software is housed on Intuit’s (the company that makes QuickBooks) servers.

This method of delivering software to customers is also called Software as a Service or, more commonly, the acronym SaaS. SaaS is pronounced ‘sass.’

What is the ‘cloud?’

The cloud is another name for the internet. With cloud computing, software is housed on remote servers hosted on the internet. You access the software with a web browser.

How do you pay for QBO?

Software hosted in the cloud works like a subscription service. Instead of buying the software in a box and paying once, you pay a monthly fee. The software described in this post is cloud-based as well.

Project Management Software for Small Business

Capable project management is key to achieving business objectives. Yet few teams believe they are successful. Expressed in starker terms: few teams believe they do their work well.

Choosing the best project management software can help improve your outcomes. Project management software allows you to organize, track, assign, and visualize project tasks and timelines. This results in higher quality products and services. Well-designed software helps you stay within your project budgets. Meet project deadlines to better serve your clients. Just as importantly, good software improves performance and job satisfaction.

Project Management Software Features

Task Management

  • Milestone Tracking
  • Recurrent Tasks
  • Percent-Complete Tracking
  • Resource Management
  • Critical Path
  • Time Tracking
  • Gantt, Kanban Charts

Financials

  • Budgeting
  • Cost-to-Completion
  • Billable Hours

Collaboration

  • Discussions
  • Notes
  • Assign Tasks
  • Activity Feed
  • Auto Email Updates

Project Management Software Recommendations

Here are our picks for project management software. The following five platforms are top sellers for good reason. They contain the most popular tools and are intuitive to use. On multiple software review sites they have received hundreds of 5 Star Ratings.

1. Wrike

  • Website
  • Paid Plans: $9.80-$24.60/month/user
  • Free Version
  • Free Trial

2. Monday.com

  • Website
  • Starting Price: $7/month/user
  • Paid Plans $25-$118/month

3. Zoho Projects

  • Website
  • Free plan 5 users/2 projects
  • Paid Plans $25-$150/month

4. Asana

  • Website
  • Starting Price $9.99/month/user
  • Small team discount
  • Free Version
  • Free Trial

5. Freedcamp

  • Website
  • Free Version
  • Paid plan $1.49/year/user
  • Free upgrades for non-profits, students, teachers

Workforce Management

Managing your workforce is as important as managing your projects. Human Resources software has similar tools and features that help you manage your labor force. Project management software used with Human Resources software transforms productivity.

SwipeClock’s WorkforceHUB is an all-in-one Human Resources portal. It handles all core HR functions from one web-based interface.

If you are shopping for project management software, consider workforce management software at the same time. That way, you’ll get the most bang for your buck. They work together to help you successfully manage your projects and people. Smart businesses use both.

Proven Apps and Tools for Small Business

Looking for proven apps and tools for small business?

Let’s tap the wisdom of the Reddit business community.

What are the apps and tools that YOU use in your small business?

Here are solutions to real-life business needs not mentioned on software review sites.

Do you purchase business supplies on Amazon?

camelcamelcamel can track millions of Amazon prices and let you know when a price drops. If you buy the same supplies on Amazon every month you can save time and money.

How can I separate calls from two different businesses?

With Dialpad, I pay $20 a month for two lines one for my side business and one for my main business as a cell phone so customers don’t have my personal line. Makes it easy to completely shut down for the day without the customers calling you at 9:00 p.m. with the flick of a toggle switch in the app.

Need to link Outlook to Android?

Akruto links Outlook contacts and calendar events with Android calendar and contacts apps

Need easy-to-use project and information management?

I use Trello both for to do lists and general information we all need access to all the time—like when staff members are not available.

Do you want to save time with online forms?

Streak for CRM and waiver management. Zapier for automation. If you’re on Gmail, and use any sort of online forms, both are excellent. When I found Zapier last year it saved us 20 hours a week.

Do you lose track of voicemails?

Phone: FreePBX – self hosted on a Raspberry Pi type device (SBC). Love it because I can forward voicemail recordings to my email, since I’m always on the go. Plus the IVR that gives clients key options, based on the nature of their call

Want a free alternative to QuickBooks for receipt and expense tracking?

Many Redditors recommend Wave Accounting.

The invoicing system works great and helps me stay on top of getting money from clients. I’ve been using the payroll system as well, it helps me a lot with calculating all the employee / employer taxes as well as direct depositing money. (Source)

How can I improve mobile sales efficiency?

Google Maps/Google My Maps: Plan your potential client canvasing geographically to make the most use of your face-to-face sales campaigns.

How do I automate IT support?

Hesk is a simple open source way to track customer tickets, projects, and requests.

Need to create cool infographics for your website?

Try Visme, Canva, or Venngage. Create basic infographics with templates.

Looking for time and attendance software to sync with a biometric time clock?

TimeWorksPlus supports a wide range of standard hardware clocks. Options include clocks with PIN-based identification, magnetic and RFID readers with proximity cards and FOBs. All data collection devices can be used in conjunction with TimeWorksPlus services for reporting, time card management, and PTO accruals and payroll integration. (Source)

TimeWorksPlus and TimeWorksExpress are employee timekeeping solutions from SwipeClock. Small business owners on a budget can use TimeWorksExpress for only $3/employee per month + $15 site fee.

TimeWorksExpress also lets you create employee schedules and manage PTO from your cell phone.

By Liz Strikwerda