Accounting software products are as varied as they are designed for different business sizes, dynamics, industries, number of users… the list goes on. They are powerful business solutions, but only if they match your needs. For the small business owner who doesn’t have a team of accounting experts at hand, it’s important to understand the key differences between these solutions.
To show how complex the differences can be, let’s compare five solutions, each one positioned for specific needs. Note that these accounting solutions are all marketed to small businesses and may seem to share common accounting features, but each one is hardly the same as the other in the context of their use.
Here are the five products we compared:
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It acts like a third-party collection agency, sending out payment reminders to clients and even making live phone calls after 90 days of pending payments. The app focuses on accounts receivables or unpaid invoice. Think of ZenCash as your collection agency in the cloud at a fraction of the cost; that means it’s not a full accounting software. In fact, the first thing that the app does is to connect to your accounting application (ex. QuickBooks, Freshbooks, Clio, etc.) to track your collection process. Then again, if you’re a small business or professional consulting service, accounts receivables may be the only streamlining and automation you need.
As an accounts receivables-focused app, ZenCash springs up surprises that are not seen in a full accounting software:
If you have a serious collection backlog or you’re happy with your existing accounting solution or a spreadsheet but want to level up collection, ZenCash can add real value. Likewise, if you want to migrate your third-party collection from an agency to the cloud, ZenCash is a cheaper alternative, a lot cheaper. It also gives you an option to pay only when you get paid. However, it’s an unnecessary cost if your collection is manageable or already streamlined by an existing accounting software, QuickBooks or FreshBooks, for instance.
ZenCash SmartScore and Customer Satisfaction
Our B2B experts reviewed ZenCash features, user experience, customer support and other key elements of the service. Final results as summarized by the SmartScore system gave ZenCash a score of 8.4/10 while the results provided by the Customer Satisfaction Algorithm place the overall user satisfaction rating at 95%.
Why is FreshBooks included in our accounting software comparison small business? To start, it’s one of the most popular solutions used by over five million users, mainly by small businesses that need an entry-level accounting software. You can custom brand invoicing to make you appear more credible to clients and justify higher rates. Furthermore, FreshBooks allows you to collect payment online through major credit card, PayPal or Google Checkout (skip the hassle of bank trips for check clearing). In short, this can be your first serious accounting software that takes your business financials from manual to automation. More than just invoicing, you get full basic accounting features, such as: expense tracking, time tracking, sales and item tax and reporting. If you’re getting FreshBooks, ZenCash may be redundant (unless you have a full blown collection problem).
It’s one of the best entry-level accounting software for a small business because you get a full basic accounting platform, while keeping the cost low. Since it’s not scalable to meet a large enterprise’ needs, the infrastructure costs are kept at a minimum. This setup is a plus if you expect your small business to remain small over a long period; you need not incur extra costs for scalable tools.
FreshBooks SmartScore and Customer Satisfaction
Our B2B experts reviewed FreshBooks functionalities, user experience, customer support and other key elements of the service. Final results as summarized by the SmartScore system gave FreshBooks a score of 6.5/10 while the results provided by the Customer Satisfaction Algorithm place the overall user satisfaction rating at 97%.
When your business grows so does your accounting needs. An entry-level solution like QuickBooks or Freshbooks won’t suffice if you start to expand the business, for example, increase inventory, open branches or new offices or get more clients with varied payment terms. Okay, maybe entry-level solutions can meet your current needs; but what about tomorrow when you expect to double, triple or even quadruple operations? In this scenario, it’s best to get a scalable accounting software like Denali. It includes inventory data, reporting, customer transactions, fixed assets and regulatory updates. Furthermore, the main functions are modularized to help you scale up as business improves.
If you’re a startup that expects to grow into a major industry player in 2-3 years, you need to scale. Companies with disruptive products or services are ideal for this type of software. They keep the system but level up the functions to avoid the messy data migration from one platform to another. Unsurprisingly, it’s pricier compared to entry-level solutions because it has added infrastructure to accommodate future specialized modules. Think of it as buying an incomplete building (just its foundation plus a couple of floors) versus buying a complete house that you cannot add future floors on. Denali can strain the cash flow of a promising but struggling startup.
Denali SmartScore and Customer Satisfaction
Our B2B experts reviewed Denali features, user experience, customer support and other key elements of the service. Final results as summarized by the SmartScore system gave Denali a score of 6.5/10 while the results provided by the Customer Satisfaction Algorithm place the overall user satisfaction rating at 100%.
An accounting software that’s specific to your industry is often superior to a general version because it knows the nooks and crannies of the business. Chargebee targets the subscription business, automating repetitive billing, the cumbersome nature of this industry. The software at once addresses three specific areas of a subscription business: trial period, online payment gateways and customer portal. You can manage and extend trial for special cases; offer multiple payment channels like PayPal, eWay and Pin Payments; and offer self-service portal, where customers can view their account details. General accounting solutions may have one of these functions, but not all in one basket.
Chargebee also supports processes tied up to billing, such as, discounts and promotions, price change and payment notifications. Expectedly, the software integrates with CRM, accounting and email marketing platforms.
Subscription business, such as: newspapers and magazines, software vendors, fitness clubs, pay-per-views, cable TV and other memberships. The app is a must-have add-on to a separate accounting system if your business belongs to the industry.
Chargebee SmartScore and Customer Satisfaction
Our B2B experts reviewed Chargebee functionalities, user experience, customer support and other key elements of the service. Final results as summarized by the SmartScore system gave Chargebee a score of 6.9/10 while the results provided by the Customer Satisfaction Algorithm place the overall user satisfaction rating at 100%.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but a free snack is possible. It’s called a freemium; you get a basic module that you can use forever. Express Accounts uses this model for companies with five or less employees. Although the freemium only offers basic accounting—document and report incoming and outgoing cash flow—it’s designed for large companies. Features included in the paid version include: sales and accounts receivable; accounts payable; and financial analysis and reports.
Freemiums are ideal for proprietors with five or less employees today, but who expect to grow the business one gradual step at a time, or not at all. If you’re unsure if the business will expand soon, don’t get a Denali (see above); get a freemium like Express Accounts. Not only are you not paying for anything in case you’re stuck with five employees forever; you can also scale up (and pay up) in case the sixth employee or more are needed sooner than expected.
Express SmartScore and Customer Satisfaction
Our B2B experts reviewed Express Accounts features, user experience, customer support and other key elements of the service. Final results as summarized by the SmartScore system gave Express Accounts a score of 6.5/10 while the results provided by the Customer Satisfaction Algorithm place the overall user satisfaction rating at 98%.
We hope this accounting software comparison small business helps you to compare apples to apples. These five accounting solutions reflect the available software for a small business today, but expect more niches soon as vendors crowd the industry. Likewise, the best software isn’t the one with the most functions, but the one that meets your needs.
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