Accounting is a core business function. When you have healthy, up-to-date books, you know exactly where your business stands and are able to make confident business decisions. The right accounting software makes all that possible. And since all businesses and personal preferences are different, you've got options.
QuickBooks Online is the Cadillac of accounting software products. Depending on who you are and what type of business you run, that could mean different things. On the one hand, QuickBooks Online is almost always accountant-preferred. The cloud-based app handles invoicing, expenses, reports, bank reconciliation and add-ons like payroll. Mac users can download the QuickBooks Mac app and the iPhone and Android apps are great for on-the-go invoicing and expense capture.
Bottom line: QuickBooks Online is still the undisputed champion of the accounting software world.
Actual bottom line: QuickBooks Online plans start at $15 per month.
Xero has worked hard over the years to appeal to the small business owner who's not an accountant. It delivers true double-entry accounting without it feeling like true double-entry accounting. Standout features include great mobile apps (especially for iPad), tons of integrations with business apps like Square, Shopify, PayPal, Stripe and Squarespace, and outstanding customer support via live chat, email and knowledge base.
Bottom line: Xero is a strong accounting option, particularly for business owners who do a lot of the bookkeeping and data entry themselves.
Actual bottom line: Plans start at $9 per month.
Freshbooks is all about making things simple and easy, particularly for freelancers, the self-employed, solopreneurs and small companies like marketing agencies and business consultancies. By design, Freshbooks strips away all the accounting "features" their target customer doesn't really need while making it simple (and even fun?) to handle estimates, invoices, expenses, time-tracking, and getting paid. Plus, they have a real phone number that real people answer for all your support needs!
Side note: Check out the story of how Freshbooks came to be.
Actual bottom line: Plans start at $15 per month.
Bench takes a hybrid approach to bookkeeping. They have a team of dedicated bookkeepers that handle their customers' bookkeeping needs. (Think "bookkeeper in a box.") Your Bench bookkeeper starts each month by gathering your financial statements. They reconcile your transactions and ping you with questions (ideally infrequently). At the end of each month, you get your reports. Come tax time, Bench will produce your year-end financial package inclusive of everything your accountant is going to want: income statement / P&L, balance sheet, trial balance, journal entry summary, and general ledger.
Bottom line: Personal service like Bench comes with a price. Plans start at $115 per month. But if you're the type of business owner that just wants to have things taken care of, it's worth considering Bench.
Want to take a look at a few other accounting and bookkeeping products? Check out Kashoo, GoDaddy Bookkeeping, Wave, FreeAgent, Less Accounting or even try searching for your industry plus "accounting software" (i.e., photography accounting software) as some services address specific verticals.