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QuickBooks for Small Business: Which Version Do You Need?
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Table of Contents
QuickBooks accounting products at a glance
How to choose the right quickbooks accounting product, quickbooks accounting alternatives, quickbooks accounting comparisons, other quickbooks-related products.
QuickBooks offers six accounting products, but one of its online accounting plans will be the best choice for most small businesses. Freelancers and independent contractors may opt for simpler options, while larger small businesses might turn to QuickBooks products with advanced inventory, sales and reporting features.
Here's a look at all of QuickBooks' small-business products, including accounting, point-of-sale and payroll software. Plus, you’ll find details on how QuickBooks stacks up against its competitors, as well as alternatives to consider.
» MORE: How much does QuickBooks cost?
QuickBooks Online — often considered the industry standard for accounting software — is fairly user-friendly, but some basic accounting knowledge will help you get started. Higher-tier plans include more advanced capabilities like inventory management and job costing. Because the product is cloud-based, it’s accessible anywhere with an internet connection.
QuickBooks Online Review
QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop
QuickBooks Self-Employed helps freelancers and independent contractors separate their business and personal expenses and prepare their taxes. It includes basic invoicing capabilities, a receipt capture feature and mileage tracking. Top-tier plans also offer direct support for tax filing.
QuickBooks Self-Employed Review
QuickBooks Pro Plus
QuickBooks Pro Plus is the most basic version of QuickBooks Desktop. This is a desktop product, meaning you download and install it on your computer. QuickBooks Pro Plus has a full range of features including invoicing, inventory tracking, reporting, billing, and income and expense tracking.
QuickBooks Desktop Pro Plus Review
QuickBooks Premier Plus
Premier Plus is also a QuickBooks Desktop product, but compared with Pro Plus, it offers more in-depth capabilities — especially for reporting, job costing, inventory management, sales orders and project profitability. Additionally, Premier Plus includes industry-specific features for manufacturers, wholesalers, nonprofits and retailers.
QuickBooks Premier Plus Review
QuickBooks Desktop Pro Plus vs. Premier Plus
QuickBooks Enterprise is the most customizable and powerful version of all the QuickBooks products, making it ideal for larger businesses with complex finances. It builds on Premier Plus with QuickBooks’ most advanced inventory, reporting and pricing capabilities. Enterprise is more easily scalable than other QuickBooks Desktop products, offering four plans and the option to add remote access.
QuickBooks Enterprise Review
QuickBooks Mac Plus
QuickBooks Mac Plus is similar to QuickBooks Pro Plus, but it's the only desktop version of QuickBooks that is compatible with Mac systems.
QuickBooks for Mac Review
Consider these factors when determining which version of QuickBooks is best for your small business.
Think about the specific features you want in your software and which are most important to your business’s success. Use a free trial or ask QuickBooks for a software demo if you’re stuck between products.
If you want to use your software anywhere you have an internet connection, you’ll likely want to focus on QuickBooks Online or pay more to add remote access through hosting to QuickBooks Enterprise.
Consider what the system’s interface looks like, how the navigation works and what setup entails. Your familiarity with accounting concepts and the availability of customer support is also worth weighing.
Not all versions of QuickBooks offer multiple plans or make it simple to move your business from one product to another. If you think you’ll need more advanced features in the future, it’s important to make sure you choose an option that can accommodate those needs.
All QuickBooks products have a maximum user limit, so think about who will need access to your account, especially since the desktop products are priced based on the number of users. Also consider whether you’ll work with an accountant or bookkeeper, now or in the future.
Some QuickBooks products can be much more expensive than others — like the higher tiers of QuickBooks Online, as well as QuickBooks Enterprise — so evaluating what your business can afford ahead of time can help as you narrow down the options.
If you’re looking for an accounting product with features QuickBooks doesn’t offer — like a free starter plan — consider these alternative solutions.
Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses
Best QuickBooks Alternatives
These articles contain more in-depth information on how QuickBooks differs from competitors.
Xero vs. QuickBooks Online
FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks Online
Wave vs. QuickBooks Online
Sage 50cloud vs. QuickBooks Online
NetSuite vs. QuickBooks
Quicken vs. QuickBooks
In addition to accounting products, QuickBooks offers payroll and POS software, along with payment processing services.
QuickBooks for Nonprofits Review
QuickBooks Payroll Review
QuickBooks POS Review
Best POS Systems That Integrate With QuickBooks
QuickBooks Payments Review
QuickBooks GoPayment App Review
» MORE: 11 most common QuickBooks questions, plus answers
On a similar note...
Home > Finance > Accounting
The Best QuickBooks Products for Small Businesses 2023
Data as of 12/12/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our editorial guidelines and advertising disclosure .
The bottom line: QuickBooks Online is the best small-business QuickBooks product for accounting , especially for businesses that want easy collaboration with multiple users.
As a cloud-based accounting solution, QuickBooks Online is ideal for small businesses that need remote accounting access. And with four plans, it’s scalable for small businesses that want to add features like bill management as they expand.
But if QuickBooks Online isn’t a good fit for you, QuickBooks Self-Employed is a cheaper, less fully featured version of QuickBooks Online for freelancers. If you prefer a desktop version of QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Premier Plus and QuickBooks Enterprise are solid choices for midsize and large businesses.
- QuickBooks product comparison
Cloud-based vs. desktop-based QuickBooks products
Quickbooks online: best overall, quickbooks self-employed: best for tax-conscious freelancers, quickbooks premier plus: best for specific industries, quickbooks enterprise: best for big businesses.
- QuickBooks for Mac Plus: Honorable mention
If you're searching for accounting software that's user-friendly, full of smart features, and scales with your business, Quickbooks is a great option.
Compare the different versions of QuickBooks
Data as of 11/1/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *For the first year only. Plan automatically renews annually at a higher price unless canceled by the customer.
QuickBooks offers two main types of accounting software for small businesses : cloud-based software and desktop-based software.
The QuickBooks cloud-based products are QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed .
You can access cloud-based software from any web-enabled device—your data isn’t tied to one location but stored on an external server for easy access. QuickBooks’ online software costs a monthly fee, not an annual one.
Online software works best for small-business owners who don’t own a desktop computer, travel frequently for work, and like the flexibility of paying for a service each month instead of as a lump annual sum. QuickBooks Online plans also allow for up to 25 users, which is more than most desktop plans allow.
QuickBooks Desktop includes QuickBooks Premier and Enterprise. You download these software programs directly to your desktop computer.
If you want to access financial data remotely, you usually have to pay an additional fee for offsite hosting. QuickBooks Desktop plans also cost an annual fee per user, and most plans only allow for up to five users.
Past desktop users could choose between a one-time-purchase QuickBooks Desktop software (good for three years) or an annually renewing subscription. But as of 2022, QuickBooks Desktop’s single-purchase option has been discontinued. Now, all QuickBooks Desktop plans renew on an annual basis—you do not have the option to pay just once for three years of use.
Desktop-based software programs like QuickBooks Enterprise work well for business owners with limited internet access, such as businesses that depend on metered satellite internet.
QuickBooks for desktop also has a more complicated interface than QuickBooks’ online software. If you’re already familiar with business financials (including if you’re an accountant), QuickBooks Desktop plans give you heftier fiscal reports and more complex accounting features.
QuickBooks Online is the most versatile and well-rounded of the QuickBooks suite of products. Since it’s cloud based, QuickBooks Online is easy to access from any phone, tablet, or laptop. And if you frequently work remotely or travel to different job sites, QuickBooks Online’s fantastic mobile app will let you track mileage, send invoices, accept client payments, and check financial reports on the go.
As an extremely popular accounting solution, QuickBooks Online integrates with hundreds of the best third-party financial apps, from payroll companies like Gusto to point-of-sale systems like Square . Plus, with four plans, QuickBooks Online has a plan and price point for most small businesses.
QuickBooks Online’s most affordable plan, QuickBooks Simple Start, costs $25 a month and includes one user plus accountant access. And its most expensive plan, QuickBooks Advanced, starts at $200 a month and lets you add up to 25 users—that’s 20 more than most QuickBooks Desktop plans. (For a more thorough comparison of QuickBooks Online versions, check out the plan comparison tables in our in-depth QuickBooks Online review.)
When you sign up for a QuickBooks Online plan, you have two choices: activating a 30-day free trial or subscribing for three months at 50% off. If you choose one choice, you waive the other.
While we love QuickBooks Online’s accessibility, low learning curve, and simple scalability for multiple business types and sizes, it’s one of the pricier cloud-based accounting solutions. (In comparison to QuickBooks’ $25 starting price, Zoho Books and FreshBooks both start at $15 a month, Xero starts at $12 a month, and Wave Accounting is free for life.) If you’ve just launched your first small business and want to minimize expenses, QuickBooks Online might not be the best choice.
QuickBooks Self-Employed shares many of QuickBooks Online’s benefits. As a cloud-based bookkeeping solution, it’s easy to use on the go: you don’t have to wait until you’re in front of the computer to check crucial financial data or enter a bill or receipt. But the most important aspect of QuickBooks Self-Employed for contractors, freelancers, and sole proprietors are its tax features .
For example, the app includes built-in mileage tracking, which is crucial for traveling freelancers who claim mileage or car expenses as a key tax deduction . The app also scans receipts and tracks expenses, which the software then sorts by tax write-off category. Plus, QuickBooks Self-Employed syncs with TurboTax (which is also owned by Intuit) to make tax filing a little simpler.
But if you want more than basic bookkeeping and tax deduction features, QuickBooks Self-Employed likely won’t work for you. Unlike the other QuickBooks plans (including QuickBooks Online), QuickBooks Self-Employed doesn’t have the extensive accounting tools QuickBooks is known for.
In particular, you can only generate annual financial reports, not month-to-month reports, which complicates making wise financial decisions that benefit your business. QuickBooks’ self-employed solution is also more expensive than some other self-employed accounting software —and it has fewer features, too. (Crucially, its invoices are fairly standard and not very customizable.) If you want to do more than file taxes , even as a sole proprietor, QuickBooks Online is honestly a better fit.
With plans starting at $15 a month, FreshBooks is well-suited for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small-business owners alike.
- Track time and expenses
- Create custom invoices
- Accept online payments
Data as of 12/12/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *Subscription renews annually unless canceled by customer.
QuickBooks Premier Plus and Enterprise offer QuickBooks’ only industry-specific plans. With either QuickBooks version, you can choose one of six accounting plans tailored to certain types of businesses:
- General businesses
- Retail businesses
- Manufacturing and wholesale businesses
- General contractors
- Professional services
If you choose an industry-specific plan, you’ll get thorough financial reports customized to your industry. (The general business version still includes excellent reports—they’re just more broad.) For instance, the general contractor plan includes job costing and reports that organize costs by vendor. The wholesale version breaks down profitability by product, and the nonprofit version lets you generate donor contribution summaries and end-of-year donation statements.
You can also collaborate with up to five users with QuickBooks Premier Plus. As with all QuickBooks Desktop plans, each additional user costs an annual fee—if you add all five users to your account, you’ll pay around $2,750 a year. (If collaboration without extra costs is important to you, providers like Xero include unlimited users with each plan.)
All QuickBooks plans—even plans limited to one user—include free accountant access. You can work directly with a certified QuickBooks accountant (a.k.a. QuickBooks ProAdvisor ), but most accountants should be familiar with both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online.
Along with its higher price, QuickBooks Premier Plus has the same drawbacks as QuickBooks’ other desktop software. Most importantly, it’s definitely harder to learn and use than any QuickBooks Online product, so non-accountants will face a steep learning curve. And while the QuickBooks Desktop mobile app is fine, that’s really all it is—fine. For general contractors who travel between job sites and need fast, on-the-go account access, a QuickBooks Online plan could suit better.
Data as of 12/12/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *Plan automatically renews annually at a higher price unless canceled by the customer.
QuickBooks Enterprise offers around 200+ industry-specific reports to Premier’s 150+ financial reports. It also includes more advanced customizations and inventory management features . And with up to 40 users, it works best for big businesses that emphasize financial collaboration and can shoulder the higher cost of an enterprise-level solution.
According to the QuickBooks site, individual businesses interested in Enterprise can work out a customized pricing solution that saves them some money. But without any sort of discount, and if you add all 40 users to your account, you’re looking at more than $52,000 a year.
Most midsize businesses can’t afford to (and don’t need to!) spend that much cash on accounting software. You can infer this from the plan's name alone, but with a cost that high, Enterprise’s price is best suited to enterprises. Still, bear in mind that with only 40 users and a focus on accounting, Enterprise is far from a total enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.
In other words, QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise doesn’t have enough features for international enterprises, and it doesn’t have a low enough cost to make it suitable for small and midsize businesses either. It might work well for some big businesses interested in industry-specific software and good customer service, but that’s about it.
QuickBooks Online is easily the best QuickBooks product for small-business owners who want affordable on-the-go accounting. (Don’t just take our word for it—Intuit itself encourages users to switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online.)
But if you don’t think QuickBooks Online will work for you, QuickBooks does have other accounting software products:
- QuickBooks Self-Employed’s three plans give freelancers basic bookkeeping features, including mileage tracking, quarterly tax estimation, and tax optimization assistance.
- QuickBooks Desktop Premier Plus offers thorough reporting for midsize to large businesses running on a Windows operating system.
- QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise is a hefty accounting solution for larger companies. Nonprofits, construction companies, accountants, manufacturers, and retail businesses can all take advantage of its industry-specific plans.
Want to add another QuickBooks product to your accounting software? QuickBooks’ payroll solutions integrate perfectly with both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop.
- QuickBooks Inventory Management Review 2023
- 7 Construction Pros Reveal Their Favorite Accounting Software
- Accounting 101: A Guide for Small-Business Owners
- What Are Generally Accepted Accounting Principles?
QuickBooks products FAQ
There are six main QuickBooks products for small, medium, and large businesses. The most popular cloud-based QuickBooks program is QuickBooks Online, a browser-based system for small-business owners who want a straightforward approach to bookkeeping and accounting.
QuickBooks’ other cloud-based product, QuickBooks Self-Employed, focuses on freelancers and contractors who want to maximize end-of-year tax-write offs. It works best for self-employed business owners who file their taxes with TurboTax, another Intuit product.
QuickBooks also offers several desktop versions of its cloud-based accounting software, including QuickBooks Desktop Premier Plus and QuickBooks Enterprise.
Most small businesses should try QuickBooks Online. It has four plans, which means businesses can scale up to plans with more features and users as they grow. Its mobile app is great for on-the-go accounting and bookkeeping. And even its basic plan has more accounting tools than many competitors , including built-in receipt scanning , expense management, 1099 contractor management, and extensive financial reporting.
What happened to QuickBooks Pro Plus?
QuickBooks Pro Plus was QuickBooks' least expensive and least customizable desktop-based plan. As of 2023, you can still purchase QuickBooks Pro Plus, but only if you reach out directly to QuickBooks' sales team. If you contact the sales team, they'll most likely try to sell you on QuickBooks Online rather than a desktop Pro subscription.
Is there a better accounting product than QuickBooks?
QuickBooks Online is one of the best accounting products for small businesses. But whether it's the best accounting software for you depends on what accounting features your business needs and how much you want to spend on accounting software.
For instance, while QuickBooks offers some of the most fully featured accounting programs, most of its products cost more than comparable accounting solutions for small businesses. Its invoices aren’t very customizable, and you can’t use any versions of QuickBooks to interact with customers the same way you can with FreshBooks’ or Zoho Books’ client portals.
But there isn’t just one version of QuickBooks—if QuickBooks Online doesn’t work for you, another one of the six different versions of QuickBooks could. Plus, QuickBooks isn’t the only accounting solution in the world—far from it. Plenty of QuickBooks alternatives can meet all sorts of business needs, including your business’s needs.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.
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QuickBooks Online Pricing: How Much Does QuickBooks Cost in 2023?
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QuickBooks Online pricing plans begin from just $15 per month for the Self-Employed tier, but its cost can run all the way to $200 per month for 25 users on the QuickBooks Advanced plan. Fortunately, QuickBooks Online often offers special deals to keep costs low, which means you can currently get 50% off your first three months . You can see how this stacks up against the competition by checking out our accounting software comparison .
Of the QuickBooks rivals we've reviewed, Zoho Books is the one you really need to know about, offering a 14-day free trial for its accounting software. QuickBooks has its own free 30-day trial, but you have to choose between that offer and the 50% off deal – you can't have both.
Read on for a breakdown of all of QuickBooks Online's offerings and costs, and info on which package might be best for your business. From pros and cons to hidden fees and add-on functions, we'll touch on everything you'll find in this top-rated accounting software.
In this guide:
- QuickBooks Online Pricing Plans
Who Is QuickBooks Best For?
- QuickBooks Additional Fees
QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop
- Integrations & Payment Gateways
Which QuickBooks Online Pricing Plan Is Right For Me?
- Our Methodology: How We Evaluated QuickBooks as the Best
- Verdict – Is QuickBooks Online Good Value?
QuickBooks Online Pricing Plans 2023
QuickBooks Online pricing offers five main plans, plus a host of add-ons for an extra monthly charge.
There are no contracts, and all plans are available through a 30-day free trial, which is useful for letting potential customers try it out first. QuickBooks is also currently running a special deal: opt out of starting with the free trial, and you can get your first three months half price.
Here are the prices and features for each plan.
- $7.50 per month for first three months
- $15 per month for first three months
- $30 per month for first three months
- $45 per month for first three months
- $100 per month for first three months
QuickBooks Self-Employed plan
First, there's the Self-Employed plan. This is available for just $15 per month and supports a single user.
This plan is designed for freelancers who file a Schedule C IRS form to report their income as sole proprietor.
Features include the ability to track income and expenses, photograph and organize receipts, estimate quarterly taxes , send invoices, accept payments, create basic reports, and track miles on the mobile app. 61% of freelancers in 2023 say their biggest problem is landing clients, so streamlining their process can clear room in their schedule to pursue their next gig.
Features that are not included in the self-employed plan, but are available with the Simple Start plan, include sales and sales tax tracking, 1099 contractor management, and the ability to create and send estimates.
See how QuickBooks compares to a key rival in our QuickBooks vs FreshBooks head to head guide
The QuickBooks software interface is easy to use.
QuickBooks Simple Start plan
The QuickBooks Simple Start plan costs $30 per month and supports one user. As part of a special deal, the first three months will only cost you $15 per month , provided you skip the free trial.
This plan is best for small businesses, whether an LLC run by just one individual or a simple partnership. It'll help someone keep their accounting data in one place, although it doesn't offer many bells and whistles that could be useful for a larger operation.
Simple Starts includes all the features from the Self-employed Plan but adds a range of helpful additions covering everything from basic bookkeeping to budgeting.
For example, you can start recording fixed assets. You can also create a supplier database and generate purchase orders to help manage your accounts payable.
Similarly, you can create a client database and track overdue client payments to keep on top of who owes you what.
Finally, you can start creating budgets and cash flow projections based on your client and supplier information.
You can create an unlimited number of invoices and estimates, as well as tracking your expenses, managing business contacts — you can also manage up to 1,099 contractors. You can bring live bank feeds into your account and access a range of third-party integrations.
Reporting tools are available on the Simple Start plan but they are a bit limited. Vehicle tracking is included, too, should you need to invoice for fuel and driving time for any job.
QuickBooks Essentials expands access to expense management tools.
QuickBooks Essentials plan
The Essentials plan costs $60 per month , supports three users, and brings a range of accounts payable functions to small businesses compared to the Simple Start plan. If you take part in the deal and skip the free plan, the first three months will only cost you $30 per month . These prices have risen slightly since early 2023, when this plan cost just $55 per month.
The Essentials plan is a great fit for growing small businesses that have an increased number of suppliers, employees, and clients.
You'll be able to track bills, set up recurring billing, track expenses, record payments in multiple currencies, and scan bills to keep abreast of all the money your company is owed.
Time tracking is another new feature this plan offers. With it, users can track their billable hours, categorizing them under the correct client and employee, while automatically adding them to invoices. These hours can be added by the manager manually, though the employee in question can also be given permission to add their hours themselves.
Invoicing templates can be created and re-used with QuickBooks software.
QuickBooks Plus plan
The QuickBooks Plus plan costs $90 per month , supports five users, and includes several advanced features compared to the Essentials plan. If the three-month deal is applied, this price is dropped to $45 per month . As with Essentials, Plus prices have risen by $5 a month since earlier in 2023, when it cost $85 per month.
The Plus plan is best for mid-sized businesses that need to manage the complexities of billable hours across a raft of clients, as well as any businesses with an inventory of products or a growing number of ongoing projects that would be tough to manage otherwise.
The ability to track project profitability is another big benefit to this plan: A project management feature gives users a single location to view all projects, letting them see any given project's labor costs, payroll, and expenses, in order to efficiently track project profitability and generate reports.
Under the Plus plan, products and the cost of goods can also be managed, with automatic notifications signaling when certain inventory is low and needs to be reordered. Product data can be imported from Excel or synced with Amazon, Shopify, Etsy, and other platforms.
Tracking project profitability through QuickBooks software.
QuickBooks Advanced plan
The QuickBooks Advanced plan offers the most features for the highest cost: It's $200 per month, supporting 25 users. The special deal drops this to $100 per month for the first three months.
QuickBooks Advanced is best for enterprise businesses with support for extra users and the new features which help businesses operate more efficiently at scale.
For example, it brings a dedicated account manager, priority customer support, customer user permissions, and online training courses.
It also supports batch importing, to help a single user create, edit, and send multiple invoices, checks, expenses, or bills. You can also automate key accounting tasks such as setting reminders for invoices, payments, or deposits. You can automatically notify customers when their payments have been received and you can route invoices through pre-set approval flows.
You can track KPIs with in-depth analysis tools, consolidate data from multiple companies into singular reports, and compare different companies, clients, or franchises. You also get access to exclusive premium apps such as LeanLaw, HubSpot, DocuSign, Bill.com, Salesforce, and more.
The QuickBooks software offers dropdown menus for easy access to its many tools.
QuickBooks Online has a large potential customer base. Our researchers ranked it the highest overall with a research score of 4.7 points out of 5, meaning that it's the top pick for the average business, small or large .
If you need a rock-solid, feature-packed accounting solution at a fair price, QuickBooks is the best. But other accounting tools come with slightly different strengths, so read our complete guide to the best small business accounting software to see if another option is best for your unique needs.
QuickBooks Additional Fees and Features
That's not all, folks: QuickBooks offers a host of useful add-ons for an extra monthly charge. First, there's payroll processing, a function that's hugely useful for a business with more than a few employees, but one that's rarely included in an accounting software service's main offering.
QuickBooks Payroll pricing comes in three plans — Core, Premium, and Elite — with each offering more features than the previous one. Here are their features and standalone prices:
- Core – $75 per month , plus $5 per employee , per month . This plan does the basics: It automatically runs payroll, files payroll taxes, and offers employee services like health benefits and workers' comp.
- Premium – $160 per month, plus $8 per employee, per month . This plan adds role-based access, same-day direct deposit, and automatic time tracking for more granular, yet still automated control over paychecks.
- Elite – $125 per month , plus $10 per employee , per month . This plan includes tax penalty protection, and a professional to offer hands-on help with setting up and troubleshooting.
The plans can be upgraded at any time, so if you're in doubt, start with Core and see if it works for your payroll needs.
Core can also be packaged with either the Simple Start accounting plan for $75 plus $5 per employee, per month , or the Essentials plans for $100 plus $5 per employee, per month .
The QuickBooks Payroll software tracks employees by name, pay rate, pay method, and current status.
QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping
Paying for software doesn't fully keep your accounting on track: You'll still need to know how to use QuickBooks properly in order to get the most out of it. The QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping service solves this issue by connecting businesses with a live, certified expert to keep their books in order. The expert will categorize transactions, reconcile accounts, create reports including an income statement and balance sheet, and close the books every month.
The custom price varies depending on the size of your business but should be somewhere between $200 and $600 per month.
QuickBooks Setup Fee
Worried about setting up your QuickBooks account? For just $50 , QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping will set you up with an expert for one session.
Setting up the software involves plenty of one-time tasks that you'll want to get right the first time, like connecting your bank account and setting up a series of automated processes and templates. Through Live Bookkeeping, you'll get a single one-on-one session that can clear up any questions and start your accounting software subscription off on the right foot.
Also available from the service is a lending program called QuickBooks Capital. Those with QuickBooks Online accounts are potentially eligible, though they'll still need to qualify on the strength of their accounting history.
Tax Forms & Support
QuickBooks sells tax forms directly to its users for an extra cost that will vary depending on which state your business is located within. They also sell some as kits, which come with the correct envelopes too. Here's which forms you'll likely need:
QuickBooks has also stopped allowing users to file their sales taxes online through the service. You'll now need to file business taxes manually, and update your QuickBooks account with the information afterward.
Some Payroll plans include printed forms at no additional cost. The Premium and Elite plans also support automatic filings for state new hire paperwork.
QuickBooks also sells physical checks. You can buy:
- Standard checks – Starting at $60.98 for 50
- Wallet Checks – Starting at $47.07 for 50
- Manual Checks – Starting at $70.79 for 300
- Secure Plus Personal Checks – Starting at $42.79 for 120
- Voucher Checks – Starting at $71.68 for 50
- Office and Away Checks – Starting at $113.74 for 250
Are they worth getting? Well, they're far pricier than many other vendors selling similar checks, so likely not.
However, the “Secure” brand of checks offer in-depth fraud protection measures that may justify the price, provided you anticipate security risks at your business.
QuickBooks sells branded paper checks.
QuickBooks Online Pricing vs. Competitor Pricing
QuickBooks isn't perfect for every business.
FreshBooks' pricing starts at $17 per month , so it costs a little more than QuickBooks' $15-per-month plan. FreshBooks stands out for a great set of features, but it does not offer the payroll processing or advanced tools that QuickBooks has.
Zoho Books is a top choice for small and growing businesses. Zoho Books has a free plan , while QuickBooks does not, and both Zoho Books and QuickBooks offer a large range of features on their higher-priced plans. However, Zoho Books plans (after the free one) tend to be equal to or more expensive than comparable QuickBooks plans: Zoho's popular plans cost $15, $40, and $60 per month , compared to QuickBook's $15, $30, and $60 per month costs.
Some of Xero's plans cost less than QuickBooks' plans, but most do not. Xero's plans cost $13, $37, and $70 per month , compared to the QuickBooks $15, $30, and $60 per month plans.
If you're trying to decide between two of these specifically, check out our direction comparison guides, like Zoho Books vs. QuickBooks .
Before we dive into the details of each QuickBooks plan and its value, here's a look at the latest accounting software deals and discounts from the biggest and best QuickBooks alternatives on the market.
At the most basic level, QuickBooks Online is the cloud-based version of QuickBooks. All your data is stored in QuickBooks' cloud and you'll be able to access it anywhere on any device. QuickBooks Desktop, on the other hand, is locally installed with a license pricing model.
However, there are a serious of other changes which are worth considering. For instance, with QuickBooks Online, your security is handled by QuickBooks. However, as QuickBooks Desktop is locally installed, you'll be responsible for your own data security.
QuickBooks Online has a monthly pricing structure — you pick the right plan and then pay every month for the service. QuickBooks Desktop, however, has a three-year license, or you can pay for yearly updates.
QuickBooks Online allows up to 25 users on its most expensive plans. However, the QuickBooks Desktop Pro requires you to pay $299 for every additional user, up to a maximum of three. Desktop Premier and Enterprise, meanwhile, allow up to five and 30 users, respectively.
QuickBooks Online also offers more automation features, which might be a better fit for small businesses — the more tasks you can delegate to the software, the more efficient your business will be. QuickBooks Desktop also has a more dated and harder-to-navigate UI than QuickBooks Online.
QuickBooks Online Integrations & Payment Gateways
Any sized business has paperwork, even just a single freelancer. But with the right accounting or invoicing software for small businesses , filing tax information can be a simple and streamlined process. QuickBooks makes this process even easier thanks to a huge range of integrations and plug-ins you can use, with familiar names such as PayPal, Shopify and MailChimp all present and accounted for.
QuickBooks Online Integrations
QuickBooks' range of over 650 integrations will help you connect your account to useful third-party apps and services. Perhaps you've already used some, like Google's G Suite or Microsoft's 365, or perhaps you just need to be able to accomplish something that QuickBooks doesn't support. Whatever the case, the right integration will make your business operations even more streamlined.
Here's a quick, non-exhaustive list of the most popular QuickBooks Online integrations, how they work, and how much they cost:
- PayPal — free — import PayPal sales, fees, taxes, tips, discounts into QuickBooks as well as generating sales receipts.
- Square — free — import transactions into QuickBooks, review transactions, support multiple locations.
- Shopify — starting at $30 — automatically bring your sales data into QuickBooks.
- TSheets (now QuickBooks Time) — starting at $8 per user per month plus $20 per month base fee — access accurate employee time tracking for easy payroll.
- Fathom — starting at $44 per month — adds extra analysis tools and metrics to see how your business is performing.
- Gusto — starting at $40 per month plus $6 per month, per employee — payroll automation tool with automatic federal, state, and local tax filings.
- MailChimp — $7.99 — automatically updates new and changed customer records from your QuickBooks records.
- Housecall Pro — starting at $49 per month — allows you to easily keep track of jobs and customers with scheduling, dispatch, CRM, and automatic estimates and invoices.
QuickBooks has over 650 third-party integrations.
How does that compare to all the best accounting solutions? Find out now:
QuickBooks Online Payment Gateways
QuickBooks also offers connections to a variety of online payment processing services. PayPal and Square are included, as our integrations section above touches on, while Stripe and Authorize.Net are two more potential payment services.
In total, QuickBooks Online support around 25 payment processors. If you'd prefer to keep it in-house, there's QuickBooks Payments, which supports a variety of payment mediums, each with a different transaction fee:
- 1% charge for ACH transfers, up to a maximum of $10
- 2.4% + $0.25 for swiped cards
- 2.9% + $0.25 for invoices
- 3.4% + $0.25 for keyed-in cards
Supported credit cards include Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and Apple Pay.
Your business size and structure will determine which QuickBooks Online plan is best. If you're a single freelancer, you won't need to manage any other employees, and you won't need to track many sales (if any) – so the Self-Employed Plan is best for you. We've ranked the best self-employed accounting software , and QuickBooks is at the top.
If you're a small business looking for accounting software , you might want the Simple Start Plan , which allows you to create and manage invoices, estimates, bills, and sales taxes.
Once your business is large enough to require more automation and more employees, the Plus Plan likely makes sense, as it allows for recurring payments in addition to time tracking. It also includes inventory tracking, making it a must for an operation that sells more than a few products. Due in part to these reasons, QuickBooks is our pick for the best hospitality accounting software .
Finally, there's the QuickBooks Advanced plan. This option is best for large businesses that could benefit from the extra support features, like a dedicated manager or virtual training classes.
Our Methodology: How We Evaluated QuickBooks Online Pricing
In order to accurately compare top accounting software, the Tech.co research team picked out the eight core categories to divide their efforts along, from help and support to accounts payable tools.
But for this guide, one of those categories was deemed the most important: “Pricing Factors,” the research category that covers price plans and the features included with each, as well as free trials or demos, deals, add-ons, and hidden costs. By comparing plan costs with the number and quality of features they provide, our team could determine whether the ratio of features to price made the plan a good deal or not.
Our team ranked all the best accounting solutions using a points-system for each category. Once they were done, they compiled all category scores for each brand into a single 5-point score. This allows us to rank each software in comparison to the rest while tracking each and every feature. Once the dust had cleared, the winner was QuickBooks with a top score of 4.7 points overall.
Verdict – Is QuickBooks Online a Good Value?
Yes, QuickBooks Online offers good value for its price across all plans. Granted, the right plan for you will vary depending on your needs, and there are alternative accounting software options on the market that may also be a good fit. Still, QuickBooks Online offers an unbeatable range of features, packaged in a solid interface with good support.
QuickBooks Online Pricing FAQs
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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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Accounting | How To
How To Start a Bookkeeping Business in 8 Steps for 2023 + Checklist
Updated June 24, 2023
Updated Jun 24, 2023
Published March 13, 2023
Published Mar 13, 2023
REVIEWED BY: Tim Yoder, Ph.D., CPA
WRITTEN BY: Danielle Bauter
This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software .
- 1. Create a Business Plan
- 2. Earn Your Certifications
- 3. Register & Organize Your Bookkeeping Business
- 4. Set Up Business Operations for Your Bookkeeping Business
- 5. Get the Right Accounting Software
- 6. Fund Your Bookkeeping Business
- 7. Set Up a Home Office for Your Bookkeeping Business
- 8. Market Your Bookkeeping Business
- Stay on Top of Industry Trends for Bookkeepers
Bookkeeping is a great home-based business that’s easy to start with very little cash. Whether you’re looking to make a little extra money or want to grow a business to support you and your family, our eight steps on starting your bookkeeping business—from creating a business plan and registering the business up to getting the right software and marketing—will help you achieve your goal.
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Step 1: create a business plan.
Writing a business plan is something that everyone should do before starting a business. While a business plan can be used to obtain funding for your business, the real value is the thought that goes into the process of writing a plan.
During the business plan writing process, you should think about every aspect of your business—such as what products and services you will sell, how to market those products and services, and who your competition is. You will also create a financial plan that should include a 12-month profit and loss projection, projected cash flow, and a projected balance sheet.
Here are the key items that should be included in every business plan:
- Executive summary
- Company overview
- Competitive analysis
- Marketing plan
- Startup costs
- Financial projections
Identify Your Target Market
You should first decide whether your target market will be limited to your surrounding area, or if you’ll offer online services. While it’s tempting to offer your services online to a worldwide audience, it adds a lot of complexity to your operations. You should plan on paying for help with online advertising, web design, search engine optimization (SEO), and website content management.
The next decision is whether to focus on a particular small business niche or offer services to all small businesses. It’s much easier to become an expert in accounting for a particular business niche than for all businesses in general.
The best niches to consider are those that have unique bookkeeping challenges. For example, construction companies compute their profit by project, truck drivers have special tax rules for computing travel expenses, and restaurants have a very high volume of relatively low-value inventory items to track. While choosing a niche will greatly reduce your available client base, it makes it much easier to gain expertise and distinguish yourself from your competitors.
Choose What Services You’ll Offer
You should decide what services your bookkeeping business will initially offer. You might add more later, but knowing your initial offerings are important so that you can choose the right certifications and software. Here are some of the common services offered by bookkeeping businesses:
- Basic bookkeeping: Basic bookkeeping usually includes entering banking transactions, classifying payments, and reconciling bank statements. The result is typically a basic set of financial statements at the end of each month.
- Invoicing: Some bookkeeping businesses will prepare and mail invoices to their client’s customers. Even if you don’t prepare and mail the invoices, you can collect, deposit, and track customer payments.
- Bill payment: You can provide value to your clients by tracking their unpaid bills. You can submit payments to their vendors or simply provide a list of bills that need to be paid.
- Payroll: If your bookkeeping business provides payroll services, you’ll need to not only issue payments to your client’s employees but also track and pay payroll taxes. Be sure to pick a client software package that can easily be expanded to include payroll.
- Tax returns: Only provide tax return preparation to your clients if you have tax expertise. It’s not difficult to learn how to fill out tax forms, but there’s much more to know to adequately advise your clients. If you do decide to prepare tax returns, be sure to get professional liability insurance.
Step 2: Earn Your Certifications
One of the fastest ways to gain credibility with potential clients is to prove that you have the knowledge necessary to do bookkeeping, payroll, and perhaps tax returns. If you’re a certified public accountant (CPA), you probably won’t benefit from becoming a certified bookkeeper, but you still might consider becoming certified in whatever accounting software you choose to use.
Even if you don’t have formal education in accounting or bookkeeping, you can become a certified bookkeeper before starting your own bookkeeping business. Unlike CPAs, these certifications aren’t regulated by the state, so be sure to choose a large, reputable organization so that the certification is meaningful and respected.
There are two top professional bookkeeper organizations that we recommend you certify with:
- American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB): To become AIPB-certified, you must meet the 3,000-hour work experience requirement and pass a certification exam, which costs $574 for members and $734 for non-members. Once certified, you’ll earn the right to put the letters CB (stands for Certified Bookkeeper) behind your name and display this on your resume and business cards, which will give you an edge with potential clients. This certification is ideal if you don’t have any formal education in the bookkeeping and accounting field. As an AIPB member, you’ll get access to personal help regarding bookkeeping and payroll, and membership discounts. Membership comes in three tiers: $60 for one year, $120 for two years, and $180 for three years. A longer membership plan has added benefits than a shorter membership plan.
- National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB): To earn certification through the NACPB, you must take courses in bookkeeping, payroll, QuickBooks Online, and accounting principles and pass an exam for each course. You’ll also need one year of experience before applying for the license. If you’ve had college accounting courses, you might be able to substitute them for required courses, but you’ll still need to pass each exam. Once certified, you’ll earn the credentials CPB (stands for Certified Professional Bookkeeper). You can put these letters after your name on resumes, business cards, and other materials to display your accomplishment to future clients. NACPB Annual membership is $200 for Members and $250 for Pro Members.
Accounting Software Certification
Some of the best small business accounting software offer a certification program so that bookkeepers can demonstrate they’re proficient with the solution. Most of the certifications are free and even come with free accounting software for your firm. Here are a few of the most popular accounting software and their certification programs:
- QuickBooks ProAdvisor: QuickBooks is by far the most popular small business accounting software in the United States, and you’ll very likely have clients using it. QuickBooks offers ProAdvisor certifications for both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop. The Online certification is free, but the Desktop certification requires the purchase of QuickBooks Desktop Accountant software, which starts at $499.99 per year. You earn your certification by completing self-paced lessons and taking exams.
- FreshBooks Partner Program: FreshBooks is popular accounting software for service-based businesses requiring exceptional invoicing features. It offers a partnership program with accountants that includes FreshBooks certification and skills training. It’s free to join, and there’s no cost to use the FreshBooks software for accounting professionals. FreshBooks offers a 30% discount for accountants and bookkeepers on the first six months of their clients’ paid subscription to FreshBooks.
- Xero Partner Program: Xero, while not as popular as QuickBooks in the US, is a comparable program at a lower cost. Similar to FreshBooks, Xero offers a partnership program that includes Xero certification. There are three levels to the program: the basic, which is free; Xero Partner + Payroll for $5 per month; and Xero Partner + Tax for $29 per month.
No certification is required for a paid preparer to sign a client’s tax return, but I highly recommend not preparing returns unless you’re a tax professional or willing to put in the work to become one. Many bookkeeping firms prepare financial statements that their clients take to CPAs or other tax pros to prepare a return. You may find yourself working closely with their tax preparer, and together, you can provide outstanding service to your mutual clients.
If you’re not a CPA and want to prepare tax returns, I recommend becoming an Enrolled Agent (EA) through the IRS . EAs must initially pass an examination and then complete annual continuing education to renew their certification every three years. While no formal education or classes are required, the examinations are difficult and will prove you have the knowledge to serve tax clients properly.
Online Bookkeeping Classes
Non-accounting degree holders who would like to pursue a bookkeeping career can take bookkeeping courses online. It’s significantly shorter than a full accounting college course. We recommend choosing courses that provide a certificate so that you can include it on your resume. You can get bookkeeping courses from Accounting Coach , Coursera , or LinkedIn .
Step 3: Register & Organize Your Bookkeeping Business
This step is important because it establishes your business as legitimate and may help to limit your personal liability if your company is ever sued. Whether you’re doing this part-time or full-time, you don’t want to skip this step.
You need to do the following to establish your business at the local, state, and federal levels:
1. Select a Business Name
Naming your business can be both a fun and stressful exercise. Your name must convey your brand since that is what a potential customer will see before they sit down with you for that initial consultation. Make sure your business name says exactly what you do. This is not the time to be cute, unless you can also be clear about what it is that you do.
Here are some great tips on how to name your business:
- Aim for clarity: Your name needs to tell people what you do. If you’re focusing your bookkeeping business on a niche, include the niche in your name.
- Use a term with an established brand: For example, you could use the name of the city where you are located, such as Scranton Bookkeeping.
- Get input from others: Ask family and friends for their input. Make it fun and put it out on your social media that you are looking for suggestions on what to name your business. You could even offer a prize to the winner.
- Test it out: Try it out on potential customers to see what they think. Compare your name to competitors’ names to see if it stands out enough, but not too much.
2. Choose a Business Structure
There are four common business structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation. The structure that you choose will determine your personal liability if the company is ever sued, your tax liability, and your ability to raise capital.
To assist you with this decision, I recommend that you get an introduction to the four common business structures by reading our best small business structure guide.
Most people operating a part-time bookkeeping business with no employees will operate as a sole proprietorship, which works fine. However, if your business grows to the point of hiring employees, you need to consider becoming an LLC or corporation. In addition to tax consequences, your personal liability in the event of a lawsuit can vary dramatically by business structure, so be sure to consult with an attorney.
Step 4: Set Up Business Operations for Your Bookkeeping Business
Now that you’ve organized your business, you can start setting up operations, like getting the one of the best small business insurance and leading business checking accounts . It’s important to separate your business operations from your personal finances to make your accounting easier and potentially affect your liability in the event of a lawsuit.
Set Up a Business Telephone Number
Getting a unique phone number for your business is incredibly easy and often free. You can get a free Google Voice number that includes a local area code, voicemail, texts, and unlimited calling. You can explore other options in our guide to the top-recommended business phone systems .
Hire an Answering Service
As a one-person operation, you may find it hard to get back to clients right away, especially during tax season. Sending prospective customers to voicemail when they need your services can cost you business. Go Answer is a bilingual answering service that connects your customers to live customer service agents via phone, text, web chat, or email 24/7. You can get started today with a 30-day free trial.
Set Up a Business Bank Account
It’s important to separate your business finances from your personal finances. While most think they should wait until the business starts to generate cash flow, it’s important to track expenses immediately so that they can be deducted as startup costs.
Establish a Business Mailing Address
If you plan to lease office space, then your mailing address will be wherever your office is located. However, if you plan to set up a home office, you’ll need to obtain a business mailing address so that you don’t have to use your home address. This will make your business appear more professional and maintain your privacy.
There are a couple of options. First, you can rent a post office box from your local post office. On average, you will pay $60 for six months or $120 for the year. Of course, the price will vary based on your location. Another is to rent a UPS mailbox instead, and the UPS Store will give you a real street address to use. A benefit to using a UPS mailbox is some merchants won’t deliver to P.O. boxes and require a street address.
Get Bookkeeper Insurance
As a bookkeeper, you should have liability protection in case you get sued for a mistake on your client’s books. Insurance can both cover the cost of settling a lawsuit and the lawyer fees to defend against a lawsuit.
Step 5: Get the Right Accounting Software
Determining which software to use to manage all of the various aspects of your business can be an overwhelming task. To get you started, the following is a list of the areas of your business for which you’ll need to decide which software tool to use:
You need to decide what accounting program you would like your clients to use. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the same platform that you use to manage your bookkeeping business. A few things to consider when selecting a software to recommend to your clients are:
- Can you access the client’s books remotely?
- How much will it cost each client for basic bookkeeping?
- How much will it cost to add client payroll?
- Is it easy for your client to learn to use?
- Does the software offer a certification program or partnership program for bookkeeping firms to help attract clients?
You’ll also need to choose a bookkeeping software for your bookkeeping business. Some accounting solutions offer a bookkeeper or accountant edition specifically designed for bookkeeping companies to use both for their books and as a portal to their client’s books.
My recommendation is that you use QuickBooks Online, which we rated as the overall best small business accounting software . As discussed earlier, you can get QuickBooks Online Accountant for free when you join the QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor program, which is also free.
Payroll Software or Provider
Depending on the bookkeeping/accounting software you choose, there generally will be a payroll processing option you can turn on when you’re ready to hire employees. If you decide to go with QuickBooks, it offers a variety of payroll options from which to choose. You can learn more about the solution in our in-depth QuickBooks Online Payroll review .
Practice Management Software
Another tool that will make your life easier is practice management software. This can help you organize and track the progress of client work and, in some cases, provide a portal to access your client’s books. QuickBooks and Xero offer the best accounting practice management software that’s integrated with their accountant software.
Electronic File Sharing/Management
A document-sharing program will allow you to share information—such as bank statements, copies of receipts, invoices, and accounting files—with your clients no matter where you’re working. Dropbox is a popular document sharing program.
You can create a dropbox for each client, and they can start submitting their information. This system is much more secure than sending files via email or flash drive. To access the information in the document-sharing program, you need a user ID and password. And more importantly, there’s no need for physical backup because files are in the cloud.
Step 6: Fund Your Bookkeeping Business
After completing your business plan, you’ll have a good idea of what your estimated startup costs will be. In general, the startup costs for a bookkeeping business can be low if you work out of a home office as opposed to leasing office space, which we’ll discuss in the next section. The experts say that you should always have at least six months’ worth of expenses in the bank. Also, even though your business is brand new and hasn’t generated any revenue, you may still qualify for startup business financing .
You’ll also want to open a business credit card account soon. A business card will likely be the first form of financing you’ll qualify for, and it can be a great financial tool to help you with cash flow or necessary expenses early on in your business. It can also be a great way to track your business expenses easily—this will go a long way toward making tax time a breeze.
New bookkeeping businesses will typically use a credit card to float working capital expenses, earn rewards, and manage employees. Check out our guide to the best business credit cards for startups to find one that fits the bill.
Step 7: Set Up a Home Office for Your Bookkeeping Business
When starting out, keep your costs low by setting up a home office. If possible, plan to meet your clients at their offices or virtually. I don’t recommend inviting clients to your home office unless you know them very well and have a private room where you can work. Read our home office setup ideas to learn about the must-haves and productivity hacks.
Also, don’t forget to take those home office tax deductions. You can deduct repairs and maintenance to the area used for business and a portion of utilities, real estate taxes, and insurance on your home.
If you can’t make a home office work, look into virtual office spaces or office sharing. Typically, these spaces include a mailing address, local telephone number, receptionist to answer calls, physical office space, and access to a conference room that you can rent by the hour.
Step 8: Market Your Bookkeeping Business
Marketing is one of the most difficult things for accountants and bookkeepers to master. Whether this is your side gig or full-time business, you can get a website customized for your business with a company that offers specialized marketing services, like CPA Site Solutions.
It’ll have one of its webmasters reach out to you for a quick 15-minute conversation before it goes on to create your website fitted with your logo, images, and content. It’ll focus on designing a website that increases revenue, improves client loyalty, and drives brand awareness. It even offers a free 30-day trial so that you can see if it works for your business.
In addition to a website, there are many ways to market your bookkeeping business:
- Become a business advisor with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
- Be an adjunct instructor.
- Get certified in accounting software.
- Sign up with bookkeeper websites for freelancers.
- Join a local meetup group of bookkeepers and accountants.
- Establish a client referral program.
- Establish professional social media accounts.
- Target a niche industry and join their industry association.
Bonus Tip: Stay on Top of Industry Trends for Bookkeepers
It’s tough to stay on top of new trends and changes in the industry. For example, one of the most popular trends in the software industry is that installed desktop software is becoming a thing of the past and is being replaced with subscription-based cloud software, also known as software-as-a-service (SaaS). This is a trend that’s changing how bookkeepers and accountants do business, so it’s important that you understand how it works since it’ll have a direct impact on your business.
Here are a few tips to “stay in the loop” on what’s going on in the bookkeeping/accounting industry.
1. Attend Accounting/Bookkeeping Conferences
Investing the time to attend a conference will give you those continuing education credits you need to keep your bookkeeper or CPA certification. It’ll also enable you to learn what the hottest trends in the industry are and what’s becoming obsolete. A great conference to attend is QuickBooks Connect, which is hosted by Intuit. The 2023 details for QuickBooks Connect haven’t yet been announced.
2. Sign Up for Blogs & Newsletters
You may be surprised by how much valuable information you can get from monthly blogs and newsletters. You may not want to sign up for every accounting/bookkeeping blog that you come across, but here are a few worth checking out:
- e-News Subscriptions (IRS.gov)
- Journal of Accountancy
- The QuickBooks Blog
- Insightful Accountant
- American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB)
3. Join a Professional Bookkeeper Association
You should be a member of at least one professional bookkeeper association. The AIPB and the NACPB are the top two associations for bookkeepers. Professional associations often promote or host seminars and training. Sometimes, members can get discounted rates on these events as membership perks. Being part of these associations can also help you build your network with other bookkeepers, CPAs, and tax experts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is a bookkeeping business profitable.
Because of the relatively low overhead costs, bookkeeping businesses can be profitable if they have a steady flow of clients and can manage their expenses effectively. The profitability of the business also depends on its size, the number of clients, the level of competition in the market, and the pricing strategy.
Do you need a license to become a self-employed bookkeeper?
Unlike other finance professionals, such as accountants and financial planners, bookkeepers don’t need any licenses or certifications. Some bookkeepers may decide to earn optional credentials, such as the certified public bookkeeper (CPB) designation.
How much should I charge as a bookkeeper?
To determine how much to charge as a bookkeeper, it’s important to first evaluate your level of experience, your location, the services you offer, the frequency and complexity of the work, and whether you want to charge an hourly or fixed rate for your services.
See our guide on How Much Bookkeepers Charge for an up-to-date review of bookkeeping rates by state.
What does a bookkeeper do?
A bookkeeper is responsible for maintaining a company’s financial records, including recording financial transactions, reconciling accounts, generating financial reports, paying bills and issuing invoices to clients, and monitoring cash flow. A bookkeeper may also assist with the preparation of tax returns and other regulatory filings. The specific tasks and responsibilities of a bookkeeper may vary depending on the company they work for and the nature of their role.
Now that we’ve provided you with a roadmap to get your bookkeeping business started, I want to challenge you to pick a date for when you would like to be ready to take that first client. Then, take this guide and create a weekly to-do list based on the steps we have shared with you.
About the Author
Find Danielle On LinkedIn
Danielle Bauter is a writer for the Accounting division of Fit Small Business. She has owned Check Yourself, a bookkeeping and payroll service that specializes in small business, for over twenty years. She holds a Bachelor's degree from UCLA and has served on the Board of the National Association of Women Business Owners. She also regularly writes about travel, food, and books for various lifestyle publications.
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QuickBooks Online Pricing – Which Plan is Right For You in 2023?
QuickBooks Online offers four pricing plans for a wide range of small businesses and independent contractors. However, choosing the right plan can be a bit tricky. If you are wondering which plan is right for you, keep reading.
The goal of this post is to discuss The QuickBooks Online pricing plans namely Simple Start, Plus, Advanced and Self-Employed , and help you make an informed decision.
Try QuickBooks Online for free.
QuickBooks Online Pricing Comparison: Which Plan Should I Pick?
1. simple start, best quickbooks online plan for small businesses with few transactions.
This is the smallest QuickBooks Plan suitable for startups with relatively small numbers of transactions. However, many established businesses also use this plan. It costs only 12.50 per month.
How do you know if it is the right plan for you? Well, it depends on the size and type of your business. The plan offers only the basic features intended for accountants, doctors, lawyers, service consultants, repair shops, hotels, SaaS businesses and other industries .
If you have a target market and are running a business that does not require many features other than tracking income and expenses, the Simple Start plan may be a good pick for you.
Best QuickBooks Online Plan for Established Organizations
According to the statistics published by the company, QuickBooks Plus is the most popular of the five packages. This plan provides great functionality and allows you to add up to five users .
The Inventory Tracking feature is very useful for wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers. It allows you to see the effects of your stock turn on your profitability.
The Plus plan is suitable for service contractors, web design agencies, eCommerce businesses, work contractors, Amazon sellers, multi-channel online sellers and retail shops.
Best quickbooks online plan for fast-growing businesses.
This plan is intended for fast-growing service-based businesses. It costs $75 per month. Up to 25 users can use this plan simultaneously . This plan helps organizations create invoices, track expenses, produce reports, and manage other essential tasks.
This plan is known for providing automated workflows, customizable tracking tools, cash flow and real time revenue management tools. This plan makes it very easy to manage individual projects .
Best quickbooks online plan for freelancers, contractors and independent artists.
The Self-Employed plan is very popular among freelancers with a passion for creating real abundance . The plan comes with useful features such as expense tracking, quarterly tax calculator, invoicing, deductions, and some useful reports .
The plan allows you to maximize business deductions and figure out business profits. It categorizes transactions for your annual tax return. The plan offers a free trial, and you can cancel it any time.
What Features Do The Different QuickBooks Plans Include?
You can choose the right plan only if you know what features different QuickBooks plans offer. Now we will go a little bit deeper into the features.
1. Features of the Simple Start Plan
This is the most basic plan intended for businesses that are just getting started. The Simple Start plan provides enough features for a small business that does not have lots of transactions . As your business grows, you may need to upgrade to another plan. The Simple Start plan allows you to
- Capture and organize receipts – If you take photos of your receipts, the tool automatically matches the photos to your existing expenses. Your transactions are automatically sorted into tax categories.
- Track income and expenses – This plan lets you know what you are actually doing with your money. You can import transactions from your credit cards, bank, Square, PayPal, and more.
- Maximize tax deductions – This plan helps you avoid tax-time surprises. The tool makes it very easy to export important documents. Your important books are automatically shared with your accountant. Your business expenses are automatically sorted into tax categories.
- Track miles – With the Simple Start plan, you can use your smartphone’s GPS to track miles automatically. Your business and personal trips can be categorized with a swipe. You can also add trips manually. QuickBooks provides you with reports that can be shared easily.
- Run general reports – You can export reports including expenses, profit and loss, and balance sheets. Your dashboard shows reporting and cash flow, so you do not have to deal with unpleasant surprises.
- Manage cash flow – For business banking, you can open a cost account inside QuickBooks. You can get paid in person or online, and the payments are deposited instantly. Better, yet, you do not have to pay any extra cost for this.
- Send estimates – To fit your business needs, you can customize estimates. The Estimate status is displayed instantly. You can accept mobile signatures. Estimates can be easily converted into invoices.
2. Features of the Plus Plan
QuickBooks Online Plus plan provides all features provided by the Simple Start and Essentials plans. Apart from these features, the Plus plan offers some other features such as tracking inventory quantities. Here are the features at a glance:
- Create custom classes – To track profit and loss, you can create classes by product type or anything you wish.
- Create locations – With the Plus plan, you can track profit and loss by location. It allows you to view a particular store’s profit and loss.
- Set pricing rules – This feature is for assigning special pricing rules to customers or customer types. For example, you can group your most loyal customers into a particular type and assign a different pricing rule to that group.
- Track inventory cost – The software allows you to track the cost of your inventory items. QuickBooks Online Plus uses the FIFO method to determine the cost.
- Create projects – To track the profit and loss for specific jobs, you can also create projects. You can assign expenses and labor to projects. And when you assign labor to a job, the software also assigns the cost of employee benefits and payroll taxes to the job.
- Budget expenses – For each account, you have an expected amount of expense. By inputting this amount, you can create your fiscal-year budget. You can also break down the budget by location, class, and project.
3. Features of the Advanced Plan
QuickBooks Advanced is for relatively large-scale businesses with lots of transactions. It provides all the features that come with QuickBooks Online Plus and some additional features provided by higher-end accounting software tools . Here are the additional features:
- Business analytics and insights – To have a better understanding of the performance of your business, you can use some in-depth analysis tools and track your financial and non-financial KPIs. You can also create customizable and easy-to-read reports.
- Customize access by role – With this feature, you can control who can see your sensitive data. To increase the productivity of your team, you can also assign work to particular users. This feature also allows you to create custom permissions for sales transactions, deposits and expense reports.
- Batch invoices and expenses – With batch invoicing, you can create invoices 73% faster. The feature makes it very easy to edit and send multiple checks, invoices, expenses and bills.
- Dedicated account team – The Advanced plan also includes VIP support. You can get in touch with a dedicated account team. Whenever you need support, you can email, call or schedule an appointment with the team. The top-tier experts resolve technical issues quickly.
- Restore company data – The software backs up your data automatically and continuously. You can easily view the version histories, and based on a chosen time, you can also restore a previous version of your company.
- On-demand online training – QuickBooks offers free online training for you and your team. This training can help your team master new skills. There is no rigid timeframe. You can get the training whenever you feel convenient.
- Automate workflows – Automated workflows help you mitigate risks and save time. Configure triggers and reminders based on the rules you have made for your business.
4. Features of the Self-Employed Plan
QuickBooks Self-Employed is suitable for people who work for themselves. If you are a self-employed individual with inventory or employees, you may need to upgrade to a more advanced plan. Here are the features that come with the self-employed plan:
- Connect bank accounts – This feature allows you to mark credit card transactions as personal or classify them into business expenses.
- Generate invoices – The process of generating invoices is intuitive. And you can easily email the invoices to your customers.
- Track mileage – Even if the mobile app is closed, it captures all trips and makes it easy to classify them as personal or business. And if you want to enter trips manually, you can do so easily.
- Run basic reports – The software provides you with the summaries of miles driven and invoices sent. The profit and loss reporting shows how much you are earning.
- Capture receipts – The mobile app allows you to create new transactions and take pictures of receipts. The tool automatically matches the existing transactions.
QuickBooks Online Add-ons: Payroll, Tax Forms, Integrations, and More
QuickBooks is already loaded with lots of features. The software also provides amazing add-ons to propel your business better. Here are the top ones:
1. Receipt Bank
Quickbooks add-on for managing invoices, receipts and other documents.
Receipt Bank is a powerful accounting tool that can enrich your QuickBooks arsenal. The tool is powered by an advanced machine learning technology that does data-entry which can be very time-consuming if done manually.
Receipt Bank’s core features include one-click publishing, receipt scans, managing employee expenses, and collecting invoices automatically .
The features are intuitive. The add-on comes with a 14-day trial. So, you can try before you buy.
QuickBooks Add-On for Time tracking, Scheduling and GPS Tracking
eBility is one of the most well-known QuickBooks add-ons to help keep time-tracking and payroll easy. This add-on has an average rating of 4.5.
With this add-on, you can highlight particular projects, employees and clients that you deem important to your business. The platform shows data that can eliminate or significantly reduce operational inefficiencies .
eBility is also used for time tracking, GPS tracking and scheduling. By combining payroll, time tracking and invoicing, the add-on saves hours of manual work. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset , you know how valuable this automation can be.
Quickbooks add-on that simplifies management.
Method:CRM is an add-on that simplifies the process of managing your clients. This CRM can be easily integrated with invoices. And it is very easy to use.
On the QuickBooks store, Method:CRM has more than 1200 five star reviews, making it one of the most popular sought-after CRMs on the market .
The add-on comes with a sophisticated sync technology that pulls payments and invoices instantly.
Method:CRM’s features include managing leads and customer information, and streamlining workflows by producing reports and templates.
This CRM is especially useful for small business owners. There is a 30-day free trial.
QuickBooks Add-On That Helps Your Business Overcome Cash Flow Gaps
Fundbox is very useful for small businesses that need some extra investment. Fundbox supplies credit to help small businesses grow. But it does not supply credit in a traditional way.
To help optimize cash flow for businesses, Fundbox uses engineering, big data analytics and protective modeling .
It works in a pretty straightforward way. You have to connect your QuickBooks account and share basic information about your business. Fundbox lets you know whether you qualify. And if you qualify, you can draw funds anytime.
Quickbooks add-on that automates bookkeeping needs of amazon sellers.
Taxomate is a great time saver for QuickBooks users who run Amazon marketplace businesses. This add-on makes it super easy to import transactions from Amazon.
And it is automated, so you do not have to pay someone to input transactions. Taxomate goes to your Amazon account and finds settlements. It automatically creates journals and sends them to QuickBooks .
Whenever you initiate a new settlement, QuickBooks detects it and makes a summary of expenses. The summary includes other transaction data.
The pricing plans are reasonable and they scale appropriately when your sales increase.
For Amazon store owners, it is an incredibly helpful tool with many glowing reviews.
QuickBooks Alternatives: Pricing Compared to Its Competitors
QuickBooks has gained popularity for its reliability, affordability and ease of use, but there are some pretty good QuickBooks alternatives . Let’s take a look at them:
1. Sage Business Cloud Accounting
Best quickbooks alternative for less tech-savvy users.
Sage Business is a small business accounting software mostly known for its user-friendliness. Originally known as Sage One, Sage Business was launched in 1981 in England. That means, the software is actually older than QuickBooks.
However, over the years, Sage has not changed a lot. If your business requires full invoicing and you prefer accounting software with a simple interface, consider using Sage Business .
This accounting application can be a powerful tool for a business owner with a strong work ethic .
There are two pricing plans: Sage Accounting Start and Sage Accounting. The former starts at $10 per month.
Best quickbooks alternative for self-employed people.
FreshBooks started as time-tracking and invoicing software. Over time, it has emerged as one of the best accounting tools for the self-employed. Many small businesses, even consulting businesses find FreshBooks useful.
FreshBooks lets you collaborate with your subcontractors, track your expenses, and collect payments .
FreshBooks provides customized solutions with the help of some external applications. It is also known for providing excellent customer service. The people at the help desk typically reply within an hour.
FreshBooks has four pricing plans that start at $15 per month. Most small business owners get things done for $25 per month.
3. Wave Accounting
Best quickbooks alternative for tight budgets.
Wave Accounting provides double-entry accounting capability for free. Yes, this QuickBooks alternative is a cloud-based application and it is free!
Wave Accounting is especially suitable for sole proprietors and freelancers. The application comes with useful accounting features such as double-entry accounting, purchases, sales, and banking .
If you have a tight budget, you may prefer Wave Accounting to QuickBooks. The application offers customer management and custom invoice creation capabilities. It is better suited for small businesses that offer services, not products .
Wave Accounting is free. But if you get the online payment application, you will have to pay $2.9% and $.30 per transaction. The base fee of the payroll application is $35.
4. AccountEdge Pro
Best quickbooks alternative for desktop systems.
If you are a tech-savvy business owner, AccountEdge Pro may be a great pick for you. This robust application comes with lots of features for both small and mid-sized businesses. These features include banking, account management, time billing, sales, purchasing, and inventory.
With this add-on, you can track time and bill your customers. Businesses with product inventory find AccountEdge Pro very useful , thanks to the robust inventory module.
AccountEdge Pro allows you to customize all reports. The application also offers free email support.
If you do not like QuickBook’s payment model, which requires you to pay fees every month, you may find AccountEdge Pro’s one-time fee model appealing .
A single user has to pay a one time fee of $399. For each subsequent user, the charge is $249. You have to pay the fee once, not annually.
Best QuickBooks Alternative for Sole Proprietors
Kashoo has a very easy setup process. You can easily add tax details, connect bank accounts and set up your business.
Kashoo’s inbox feature is basically a central repository that shows your imported transactions. You can easily sort and edit the transactions.
Kashoo has a more intuitive interface than that of QuickBooks .
This accounting application has rather limited reporting options but it still provides fairly standard financial statements. Whether you are running a physical shop or operating on an eCommerce platform , you will find Kashoo useful.
Kashoo has only one pricing plan: $199 per year, or 19.95 per month.
QuickBooks Online Pricing FAQ
QuickBooks has four pricing plans that range from $25 to $150 per month. The plans come with features intended for businesses of different types and sizes. When you buy a plan, you have access to the accounting platform. However, your business may require some extra add-ons such as live bookkeeping support and payroll. You will have to pay for these add-ons. Therefore, you may have to pay more than the fee of your actual plan.
There are four QuickBooks Online plans, and the Plus plan is the most suitable one for small businesses. The Plus plan allows up to five users, and that is a great advantage for most small businesses. The Classes and Location Tracking feature allows you to keep a close eye on a particular segment of your business. This plan allows you to use first-in, first-out valuation to track inventory . You can also create purchase orders and monitor stock status. The Plus Plan also allows you to organize income and expenses, and measure profitability. It helps you figure out which projects are making greater contributions to your business.
If you are a freelancer or independent contractor, QuickBooks Self-Employed is ideal for you. It provides many features that independent contractors find very useful. These features include expense tracking, quarterly tax calculator, invoicing, deductions and a few reports . It also allows you to track personal expenses and business expenses separately. This plan allows only one user because the plan is for independent contractors. You can unsubscribe at any time because there is no annual contract. Another great thing about QuickBooks Self-Employed is that it offers a 30-day free trial.
There are several cheaper alternatives to QuickBooks. They include FreshBooks, Xero, Sage50 Cloud, ZohoBooks, and Wave Accounting. FreshBooks is better than QuickBooks in terms of the ease of use, and quick removal of overdue invoices. Wave Accounting deserves some special attention because it is free, and it provides you with a receipt for every expense . And Wave Accounting is pretty user-friendly. Like some other accounting applications, Wave Accounting allows you to separate your personal expenses from your business expenses.
Next Step: Get Your Accounting Workflows in Order with QuickBooks Online
For most small businesses, QuickBooks Online is the most efficient accounting application. This software can definitely add value to your business. QuickBooks can streamline your processes and thus help you manage your workload more efficiently.
QuickBooks lessens your data entry work. You also benefit from the flexibility that the application provides. There are other accounting applications and some of them are pretty good, but QuickBooks Online remains the best one.
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Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.
This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.