When running a small business, you need to keep your accounting books updated as you move from one meeting to the next. One of the benefits of using accounting apps is that they keep all of your important details in a single online platform, which means you can access vital accounting data no matter the location. There’s a wide range of small business accounting apps out there to choose from. Here’s our pick of the top choices for 2021.
We’ll kick off the list with FreshBooks, one of the best small business accounting apps particularly for micro-businesses and freelancers. If you’re self-employed with less than five clients, you can get by with the entry-level version starting at just £11 per month. The next plan is the Plus option which offers billing for up to 50 clients. FreshBooks lets you track hours worked, expenses, and payments. This makes it easy to transform billable hours into an automated invoice so that you can accept online payments. It also helps with project management and file sharing for collaborative workflow.
The next bookkeeping app on the list is QuickBooks, a widely recognised name. While FreshBooks is better suited to the smallest of businesses, QuickBooks is equally suited to freelancers and larger businesses. Beyond tracking billable hours and invoicing, this app also offers features like double-entry accounting and payment processing. Track expenses by scanning receipts and access a store of customizable templates. With live bank connections, you’ll keep track of real-time transaction data in a single user-friendly platform. Payroll is also integrated into this app, with the advanced option offering a full suite of features to keep your business compliant.
Like most accounting apps mentioned, Xero comes with multiple versions to choose from. The most basic starter version is geared to freelancers and start-ups, but you can upgrade to the Standard app for payroll integration. Xero gives you access to live bank account data along with 800+ additional integrations. You’ll also have free access to Xero’s Projects app, which is jam-packed with project management tools to better manage your workflow. Xero makes the most of automation in its tools, from online invoicing to automatic payments. This makes it feel wholly modern for 2021 and saves a great deal of time on admin.
Sage Business Cloud
Sage Business Cloud is a user-friendly bookkeeping app ideal for start-ups and small businesses. It includes a full accounting system with all your information safely stored in the cloud for on-the-go access. You can generate invoices, receive assistance with tax forms, and access profit and loss data from a central dashboard. One of the main benefits for beginners is that this app walks you through accounting processes, making it well-suited to those without an accounting background. It also helps your business comply with GDPR and Making Tax Digital requirements.
The final choice on our list of the best business apps is Zoho Books. Like the others, the app comes in a standard or basic version to suit your business size and accounting needs. Features include expense tracking, project management, sales approval forms and bank reconciliations. Zoho Books is well suited to businesses working with international clients, with currency tracking features and a bevy of related third-party integrations. Workflow automation and receipt scanning are also offered as part of the most basic package. However, there is no integrated payroll with this app.
How to choose the best app for small business accounting
As you can see, many of the accounting apps mentioned above share similar features. How can you narrow down this shortlist to the best fit? Think about:
Function: How user-friendly is the app and which features are included?
Price: Most apps work on a subscription model.
Scalability: Do you need an app suited for solo contractors or is your business rapidly growing?
Automation: Automated invoicing, payments, and notifications should all be at the top of your must-haves.
Real-time updates: Does the app offer a direct link to your bank for real-time integration?
Finally, be sure to choose a business app that helps with tax preparation. The UK government’s commitment to its new Making Tax Digital scheme should help streamline the process. Some of the best options on this list automatically calculate tax and even submit returns to HMRC on your behalf.
While there’s no single best app for small business accounting, you can find a great fit from the options we’ve listed above.
We can help
GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.