Top 6 Fave Bookkeeping Programs

Alright, you're ready. You're ready to take your business to the next level and upgrade your systems. Maybe you're still wearing all of the hats in your business, not quite ready to hire a bookkeeper, but anxious to get a true money game plan in place.

And you think--well, I should get a bookkeeping system. All the cool kids use it.

But, YIKES. Do they really all look like something your grandmother would use? Seriously, who even uses their CD-ROM anymore? And why isn't there an app for that?

Have no fear, my dear. There are bookkeeping programs made for the modern, and creative, entrepreneur. Programs that are beautifully designed, intuitive and make the whole bookkeeping experience that much more delightful.

Check out my top 6 bookkeeping programs and why I dig them.

Please note- in order to be on this list, each program had to offer a 30-day free trial. And have an online version. So you can be the jetsetter entrepreneur that you were always meant to be. 


  • Xero
    • With a tagline that says "beautiful accounting software", how could you go wrong?
    • Stand-out features: Design! It's simply gorgeous. Multi-currency capability, integrates with hundreds of applications (like CRM, time tracking, inventory, etc) and they have a wealth of small business guides
    • Drawbacks: Although intuitive, if you are not working with an accountant it may be difficult to set up correctly. It has a lot of reporting capabilities, but some accountants may find it to not be as robust as other tools.
    • This is perfect if you are a business owner that has started to earn money and have different pieces to your business like inventory, time tracking or payroll. If you appreciate great design, Xero is really easy on the eyes.
  • Wave
    • The only accounting option that is completely free! The only thing you pay for is payroll, but if you're just starting your business you probably don't need to worry about this.
    • Stand-out features: I repeat, it's free. Beautiful and simple invoicing features where your clients can pay you immediately on their phone. Personal finance feature with budgeting. Also, if you co-mingle your business and personal transactions it's really easy to separate. 
    • Drawbacks: The reporting can be a little tricky to understand because they use accrual and not cash basis reporting (it's a silly accounting thing). Basically, if you send an invoice in October, but don't get paid until November, your reports will show that income was earned in October. Technically, this is the proper accounting (read: according to accountants), but isn't helpful when you are keeping a close eye on your bank account. Your accountant will know how to deal to with this, but if you aren't ready to hire one this can be confusing.
    • This is perfect if you are a business owner that has been in business for under 3 years or are a strictly service based business. If you find it hard to separate your business and personal expenses, this is the best product for you.
  • Freshbooks 
    • They totally believe that billing a client should be painless. I happen to agree. And you should too.
    • Stand-out features: One of the best invoicing options and seamless integration with capturing receipts and tracking time. Super straight forward tool that cuts through the unnecessary accounting hoopla.
    • Drawbacks: By cutting out the accounting hoopla, accountants may not be able to run comprehensive reports. Depending on your business, this may be ok or your accountant can export your file to Quickbooks.
    • This is perfect if you are a business owner who sends a lot invoices and needs to track your time and expenses. If you are a consultant or coach, this is a fabulous choice.
  • Quickbooks Online
    • Everyone and their grandma has heard of Quickbooks. They are one of the most established companies in the world and the first to move accounting from awful paper ledgers. Thank you, Intuit.
    • Stand out features: Extremely customizable reports and the most robust accounting capability for small business owners. Also, every accountant knows how to use Quickbooks and will be comfortable working with your file once you're ready to hire her. If they don't know how to use Quickbooks Online or the Desktop version, I would give them the side-eye.
    • Drawbacks: While they are actively building their online application to keep up with competition, there still spend a lot of time and money to promote their desktop version. (Quickbooks, I love you. But, please stop this.) While I've always had a pleasant experience with their customer service, sometimes the reps are not as knowledgeable on the online version. And unfortunately, modern business owners still view them as a tool for their grandma.
    • This is perfect if you are business owner with lots of varying accounting transactions and want to use something that's tried and true. If you think your business is going to grow to include a lot of different pieces, and you want to make sure your accountant knows how to use it, QBO is a great choice.
  • Kashoo
    • One of the most innovative teams I have ever met in an any industry. Let alone the accounting industry. 
    • Stand-out features: You can create different projects within the system and track their related expenses. You can complete bookkeeping tasks off-line (super rad!) and if you happen to mess up the setup of your bookkeeping system- no worries! When you do find an accountant to work with, Kashoo has made it super easy for them to fix. And it's optimized to work on your iPad---probably why they are the top downloaded accounting application on the iPad.They also have weekly Thursday webinars where they share tips on how to grow your business. 
    • Drawbacks: It doesn't support inventory or integrate with POS systems.
    • This is perfect if you are a service based business owner that considers your work to be primarily project based. If you are an iPad lover, travel often or your accountant still uses Quickbooks Desktop (they have created a seamless integration), Kashoo is awesome.
  • Sage
    • This product will grow with your business and has the capability of handling corporate-level or enterprise functions.
    • Stand-out features: You can create different projects within Sage and if you scale your business, it will grow with you. With a monthly price that starts at $9 per month and extensive reporting capabilities/accounting functionality, it is a great tool. On a branding note, Sage is super supportive of lady entrepreneurs. Loooooove this!
    • Drawbacks: Without an accounting background, it may be a little intimidating. And as you begin to scale, Sage has some pretty heavy competition with products that provide enterprise functionality.
    • This is perfect if you are a business owner that deals with inventory in various locations and want an all-inclusive product.

Do you use any of these programs?  Leave a comment and tell me about it.

Danetha Doe is the author of a Simple Guide to Accounting and Financial Strategy for New Entrepreneurs. She is the founder of Danetha Doe Consulting, a business development agency based in San Francisco. Connect with her on Twitter, @danethadoe.

Did this post help you? Then sign up for my weekly accounting tips, below. *Muah*