This is one of the top questions I hear from entrepreneurs out there. And here’s my 2 cents.

First things first, you need to define what is important to you: a free service or a more robust paid service?

If you’re all for DIY, and LOVE spreadsheets, as long as you’re organized and your business is not that big, you can stay with the spreadsheets. I still recommend reconciling your spreadsheet with your bank accounts monthly to ensure you didn’t miss anything (more about bank reconciliation here).

Now, if you LOVE good automation, there are a LOT of systems out there. My top 2 are:

  1. Quickbooks online
  2. Accounting Suite – and yes, they’re DOG branded! – you know I love it!

Other systems out there, to name a few:

  1. Xero
  2. Freshbooks
  3. Wave

Wave has a free subscription if this is what you’re looking for. In my, unbias opinion, I’m not a fan. Their systems look busy and confusing. Transactions will duplicate and so many other weird little things.

Now, let’s talk about paid accounting systems. I like them because they’re more robust, and can grow with your business.

They have better customer service and resources. So, IMHO, this is a no brainer if you’re at that stage.

Quickbooks Online

I use QuickBooks online and I love it. While it’s not the easiest to set it up if you don’t know accounting and all, but once it’s all there, it can be simple and is user-friendly.

They have a lot of integrations to make your life easier and make sure your systems are connected. They allow you to receive payments on your invoices, send reminders, set up automatic late fees, etc. The dashboard shows nice metrics and you can easily change the period of display.

See below a 9 minutes videos of some of the features:

Accounting Suite

This is a “newer” system with a great pricing point and very good features. The interface is a bit “old-school” – but the features, especially if you’re in manufacturing are AMAZING.

They have this nifty little feature called “Build Assembly”: you can “tell” the system which materials go into each product you sell. It “builds” a new item when you sell, accounting for the costs of the raw material. Pretty neat right? Here’s a quick video of an overview:

I love how I can see different tabs and their support. They also allow “consolidate reporting” – which means if you have more than 1 business, we can see their reports all in one.

I think their system can be prettier, but overall, very robust and does what it says. And dogs.

Xero

This is a popular one, but not as intuitive or pretty as I’d like. Here’s an overview of their system:

It’s a fine system but could be way better.

Freshbooks

If you’re creative, this is a pretty system. I don’t use myself as I don’t think it has all the features I want and, as a bookkeeper, I expect certain things at my fingertips. It’s an OK system if you plan on keeping small.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the best accounting system is the one you are going to use. Setting it up yourself can be easy, as long as you’re not looking into a lot of customization on your reports.

Think about which systems can integrate with your banks, credit cards and any other software you use – this is what will save you time and give accurate reports.