What is the best accounting software for Australian small businesses? (2023)

We get contacted a lot about what is the best accounting / bookkeeping software to use in Australian businesses. The standard consultant and right answer is always “it depends”. It depends on so many things:

  • What industry you’re in?
  • What business goals you have (an exit, growth, status quo etc)?
  • Who is going to drive the system and what experience/skills do they have?
  • How big is the company?
  • What problems are you trying to solve?
  • Do you have an existing system and what is it?
  • Does your bookkeeper or external accountant have a preference?
  • Do you need mobility in your business around data entry and reporting?
  • …and the list goes on

Realistically, whilst the list of “it depends” questions can be very long, different answers still end up with the same recommended solutions, time and again.

This is especially the case when your turn-over is less than $3m and you have less than 20 employees (the majority of companies in Australia). Above that, I’d call you a mid-sized business, you’ll likely be confronted by the SMERP Dilemma, you should read this and then you should come and talk to us at Value Adders, to help guide you in your decision making.

But if you do fit into the small and micro-business majority demographic, and you’re interested in choosing the right software, then read on.

Reality check – most “will do”

First thing is first: most available retail bookkeeping/accounting software will do the/a job. Invoicing. Expenses. Projects. Estimates. Bank feeds…. There is some level of homogenisation.

In accounting terms, a Dr is a Debit and a Cr is a Credit and realistically any one of the top dozen most popular options will work for most small and micro businesses.

By our calculations, the top 12 most popular accounting / bookkeeping software in Australia are:

These mostly satisfy the baseline prerequisites I always advise when choosing business software for small and micro-businesses:

  • To ensure the software will more likely be around 5 years from now, go for the browser and mobile-based options only (this includes all of the above except for MYOB AccountRight which will have a browser front end soon, apparently);
  • To ensure the software vendor will be around 5 years from now, go for well-known, established brand with a decent sized client base over the flashy and new (most of the top ten will likely be here 5 years from now);

I know at this point, some people will just be thinking, what’s the cheapest? And I’ll always say the lowest price is rarely the best value, knowing some people won’t hear me and will just look at the pricing, at which point:

Those wanting the best value and not just the cheapest, read-on.

The question is then what will be the best fit, over a period of time, delivering the fewest compromises and providing a genuine return on investment?

To help narrow in on an answer, I’ve unpicked the things I see as the key considerations:

Key considerations for choosing the best accounting software

1. Your Accountant’s / Bookkeeper’s software preference

I stress this relates to SMALL and micro businesses only (<20 staff, sub $3m turnover).

(Video) WHAT IS THE BEST ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE FOR SMALL BUSINESS IN AUSTRALIA? 💻

  1. Are you delighted with your existing external Accountant / Tax Agent?
    • If yes, go and ask them what software they’d recommend/prefer you use.
    • If no, the first place to start (almost in business let alone in choosing business software) is to work with a good external accountant. One that delights you, not just the one you know. The technology they use, *should* influence your decision whilst you are small.
    • Hnry is interesting as they offer freelancers the “whole package” – software and tax accounting.
  2. Do you use or do you intend to use a bookkeeper that delights you?
    • If yes, go and ask them what software they’d recommend. My view is, the bookkeeper’s opinion/preference (due to regularity of use and intimate knowledge of your business) trumps the accountant’s.
    • If no, see question 1.

Invariably, I would suggest more accountant’s and bookkeepers these days will prefer Xero, followed by MYOB and QuickBooks Online.

If you’re accountant or bookkeeper is industry focused (such as creatives or trades), they may favour the lesser known products like Rounded or Freshbooks – but most will suggest one of the BIG 3.

I am obliged to emphasise once again that I personally find the value of external accountant and bookkeepers preferences on business systems, as inversely proportional to company size.

What is the best accounting software for Australian small businesses? (1)

2. Integration with operational software

The bookkeeping software is often not the key operational tool these days. If you’re in retail or hospitality, you need a Point Of Sale System like Square, Vend, Kounta or Hike.

If you are a tradie, whilst you can probably get away with just using the bookkeeping apps on their own (particularly the mobile friendly QuickBooks, Xero and Freshbooks), you might consider tradie specific apps like ServiceM8, Tradify, NextMinute and Simpro

If you’re a yoga studio or gym you need apps like Mindbody to book your appointments and manage your classes. I could go on…

My point is that the accounting/bookkeeping software is less important than the key operational software. This means the key value of the bookkeeping software is its ability to integrate with these operational tools and the number of options that these integrations make available.

Xero wins hands down in Australia in this regard. Followed by QuickBooks (who’s add-ons suffer from different connections per region and so often good apps only connect with the US QBo). Then MYOB.

Whilst most offer integrations to best-of-breed 3rd party operational tools, Zoho probably deserves a special mention, with ZohoBooks being one small part of a comprehensive suite of products the company bundles under the ZohoOne offering. From accounting to reporting, inventory management to email marketing, CRM to project management and beyond… ZohoOne is marketed as “The Holistic Approach To Business Software”. It is impressive at the price point.

3. Best accounting software mobile apps

10 years ago the concept of allocating bank statement transactions such as customer payments on a mobile device would have sounded ridiculous to me. Now, its where I do most of my bookkeeping. I personal value the mobile capability of an app highly and think it shows a company who understands and keeps up with the technology and customer demands.

What is the best accounting software for Australian small businesses? (3)
(Video) TOP 5 Accounting Software For Small Businesses 2022 - Quickbooks vs xero vs freshbooks vs wave

On this score I rate QuickBooks (Online and Self-Employed) slightly ahead of Xero, as far as comprehensive solutions on a mobile. ZohoBooks also scores well with a comprehensive mobile solution. Meanwhile small Australian player Rounded aren’t as comprehensive with their mobile solution, but rate very highly in the app stores for user satisfaction.

MYOB’s offering on mobile is disjointed and weak compared to its competitors.

4. Accounting Software Automation

If the last few years have been about the trend to mobile, then I believe beyond 2021 is about automation in the form of workflows and Artificial Intelligence.

The best systems offer functionality such as:

  • Automated debtor reminders (Xero, MYOB Essentials, ZohoBooks);
  • Recurring transactions such as invoices, bills and journal entries (QuickBooks Online, Xero, ZohoBooks)
  • Auto-coding of banking transactions – evolving from customer defined rules to suggestions driven by big data and AI (QuickBooks, MYOB, Xero)
  • Automation of bill/expense entries, from pdf or image to entered and coded (Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks and ZohoBooks)

All told, it takes large datasets and significant resources to build automation engines that work effectively.

Automation is the economic moat or barrier to competition where global players have a massive competitive advantage. We are already seeing the likes of Intuit (QuickBooks), Xero, Sage and Zoho deliver in this area and I can only see them accelerating away from smaller players because of their size, access to data and significant human capital to build such things.

5. Integrated Payroll

Single-touch payroll is a requirement for any business with employees. If you have staff, you need a modern payroll software to give you compliance and ease of process. If you’ve set-up as a company, chances you’ll be paying yourself as an employee and need a payroll system.

QuickBooks has partnered with KeyPay to bundle Payroll as part of their Australian QuickBooks Online solutions. Ironically so too has Sage with Sage Business Cloud Financials. KeyPay as an embedded “best-of-breed” probably wins on this front.

Xero‘s Payroll is not its absolute strength, but it is more than decent and is definitely getting better and is light years ahead of the payroll dished up in MYOB (Essentials particularly).

Saasu, ReckonOne and Q6 all offer OK integrated Payroll solutions included or at a small additional cost.

6. Can you just Google it?

What is the best accounting software for Australian small businesses? (4)

Not sure how to do something? What’s the quickest way to work it out. Just Google it…

I think giving weighting to a product based on the availability of online content for a wide range of How Tos, from wikis to community help, Facebook groups to Youtube… is a fair assessment point as it is the modern way people learn systems.

(Video) Accounting Basics in Australia - 3 Things Every Small Business Should Do!

Logically the big players have more content online from themselves and their communities/partners. For mine, Xero is best in Australia for “just googling it”. QuickBooks Online has the most content but suffers from American dominant focus, where the product is slightly different. MYOB deserves an honourable mention for the volume of market specific content, though there are multiple versions and you can get lost in which product, which version etc.

7. Support

On customer feedback alone, Rounded probably scores the highest on support satisfaction. Its only fair to point out that customer support in software for small and micro businesses, is very difficult to scale well. I would suggest Rounded leads the way as they remain small and haven’t yet experienced the scaling problem and their key directors are still very hands-on in supporting their clients.

QuickBooks scores well for support in Australia, probably ahead of the other BIG players by offering phone, email and live chat support. MYOB offer phone and other forms of support to a high level (though my experience is not as timely as QuickBooks). Xero cops a bit flack for not offering phone support (see this thread for example), but not everyone wants phone support in 2021 and in general Xero do OK, given their size and their responsiveness to online queries.

8. Pricing

I’ve accused QuickBooks of price dumping in the Australian market before (big US player looking to muscle Xero in their home market). I think there has been a noticable shift away from this though in recent times, under a new CEO. They have increased their prices, but still under-cut the Xero and MYOB price for equivalent offerings.

Reckon used to have very aggressive pricing on ReckonOne using a modular approach and an entry point at just $8/month – but we note this has changed a bit of late and the base entry point with customer invoicing now seems to be $20/m – still cheap, but not significantly cheaper.

Saasu is good value for what you get, starting at just $15/month.

Freshbooks and ZohoBooks seem great value too, but I really dislike how they use pricing per contact/customer, as even really small businesses can have loads of contacts.

I don’t think MYOB is the best accounting software as I believe they over price their solutions for comparative functionality, relying on the goodwill of their long-standing brand and rusted on, boomer client base.

Xero price relevant to their market-leadership and the premium offering they deliver. You’re unlikely to pick Xero on price alone, though I do believe it offers great value when all factors are considered.

Conclusion – what is the best accounting software?

I could go on with many more factors to consider when choosing small and micro-business accounting software. The fact is the same names keep popping up.

I genuinely don’t think you can go too wrong choosing any of the top 10 products. If you’re planning to be in business for a while and to grow over time, then I suggest the major players like Xero and QuickBooks is where you should be looking. I think their products are already market leading and the future of automation should see them delivering even better solutions.

If you’re a freelancer, who works and bills on jobs and appreciate a nice aesthetic in your software with great local support, Rounded is a decent option.

If you just want to get your first invoice out and don’t want to spend much/any money yet, Freshbooks is not a bad solution at all.

(Video) What Are The Best Accounting Software Programmes For Small Businesses?

Looking for “one-throat-to-choke”, a broad toolkit of integrated solutions from one vendor, at a reasonable price, then checkout Zoho.

Want to support Australian manufacturing / companies? Xero is listed on the ASX but still thinks itself a Kiwi company (reporting and paying company tax in kiwiland). MYOB whilst based here, are now owned by KKR, a big international equity firm. This leaves Reckon, Saasu and Rounded as the genuine local players in the top 10.

___

[This article was last updated March 15 2022]

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FAQs

What accounting system does Australia use? ›

Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB)

The AASB is an agency of the Australian Government. AASB standards are known as Australian Accounting Standards and include Australian equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs).

What is the easiest bookkeeping software? ›

Top 5 Easy-to-Use Accounting Software for Small Businesses
  • SlickPie.
  • QuickBooks Online.
  • Sage 50.
  • Kashoo.
  • Xero.

Is Xero or QuickBooks easier to use? ›

Xero and QuickBooks Online are both cloud-based software with accounting features you'd expect like invoicing and inventory management. However, Xero stands out for its strong security and supported users, while QBO is easier to use and has better mobile apps.

Does QuickBooks work in Australia? ›

In Australia, you'll fuel their success with our cornerstone product, QuickBooks. A leading cloud accounting solution for millions of customers and small businesses worldwide. We provide elegant and intuitive web, mobile, and cloud innovation that helps business owners do more, create more, and be more.

Is QuickBooks available in Australia? ›

In Australia, QuickBooks offers cloud-accounting solutions that serve the needs of self-employed, small business, accountants and bookkeepers with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Online Accountant and QuickBooks Self Employed.

What do small businesses use for accounting? ›

Small business accounting typically involves three key reports: the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.

What is the most commonly used accounting software? ›

QuickBooks Online has become one of the most widely used accounting suites on the market today, and QuickBooks Desktop is the legacy accounting software. The Enterprise Solutions Suite offers the same as Online or Desktop, but with the capacity to handle accounting and finance for the large businesses.

Can I get QuickBooks for free? ›

One of my colleagues, @ChristieAnn, mentioned that QuickBooks offers a 30-day free trial for each version of QuickBooks Online. You can use all the features available for each plan and decide if you want to continue using it. There will be no charge unless you confirm to continue with the subscription.

How many people use QuickBooks in Australia? ›

More than 100,000 Customers use QuickBooks in Australia | QuickBooks Australia.

Is MYOB easy to use? ›

Luckily, the software is designed to be easy to use, so a simple MYOB short course should be all you need to get started. MYOB software is the perfect choice for any small to medium business owner looking to take control over your finances.

Is Xero used in Australia? ›

The company was originally called Accounting 2.0. In 2017, Xero claimed to have more than one million customers globally, and the following year, in December 2018, Xero claimed to have more than one million subscribers in its home markets of Australia and New Zealand.

Do I need an accountant if I use Xero? ›

Can I operate Xero without the help of an accountant? The honest truth is that Xero is so user friendly that you probably could handle all of your finances yourself. That is one of the reasons why we use it over every other platform available.

Is Xero a competitor to QuickBooks? ›

Xero's cloud-based software is a QuickBooks alternative that means business - whenever, wherever you are.

What is the difference between Sage and Xero? ›

Xero is suitable for small businesses who have limited accounting knowledge as it is cheaper and enables quick access to cash flow statements, whereas Sage is suitable for more complex and established businesses of all sizes. Overall, being cloud-based makes Xero the recommended software.

Do I have to pay monthly for QuickBooks? ›

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based software that charges every month, whereas QuickBooks Desktop is a locally installed software that charges on a licensing basis.

How much does it cost to add a company to QuickBooks Online? ›

QuickBooks Online Pricing Plans
PlanPrice
QuickBooks Online Simple Start$30/month
QuickBooks Online Essentials$55/month
QuickBooks Online Plus$85/month
QuickBooks Online Advanced$200/month
29 Jul 2022

Does QuickBooks charge GST? ›

The monthly subscription price excludes HST/GST.

Is reckon and QuickBooks the same? ›

Does Intuit belong to Reckon and vice versa? The answer is “No”. Intuit is the maker of QuickBooks and has now developed an Australian version of its latest offering QuickBooks Online a true cloud accounting solution.

What is Intuit QuickBooks used for? ›

QuickBooks is user-friendly accounting software that tracks and organizes your financial information for you, eliminating manual data entry. It automates tasks such as bookkeeping, invoicing, time tracking, sales tax management, budgeting, bank reconciliation, and inventory management.

Do you have to pay to upgrade QuickBooks? ›

They are free. You will get a notification when you launch QuickBooks that an “Update” is available and it will ask you if you want to install it. You don't have to install it right away, and you can skip this message a few times, but eventually, you should install it.

How much is QuickBooks for small business? ›

QuickBooks Online

$30/month. Basic accounting tools on a single-user license. $55/month. All Simple Start features for up to three users, plus bill management and time tracking.

What is the best accounting software package? ›

The 5 Best Accounting Software for Small Business of 2022
  • Best Overall: QuickBooks Online.
  • Best for Micro-Business Owners: Xero.
  • Best for Service-Based Businesses: FreshBooks.
  • Best for Part-Time Freelancers: QuickBooks Self-Employed.
  • Best Free Software: Wave.

How do small businesses keep financial records? ›

7 Tips to Help with Business Financial Record Keeping
  1. Establish Business Bank Accounts. ...
  2. Avoid Using Cash. ...
  3. Schedule a Specific Time Each Week. ...
  4. Purchase the Right Accounting Software. ...
  5. Tax Obligations. ...
  6. Keep a Complete Record of Accounting Documents. ...
  7. Invest in an Experienced Bookkeeper.
2 Jan 2018

Is QuickBooks desktop being phased out? ›

What does service discontinuation mean? Your access to QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Services, Live Support, Online Backup, Online Banking, and other services through QuickBooks Desktop 2019 software will be discontinued after May 31, 2022.

What are the three types of accounting software? ›

Types of Accounting Software
  • Billing/ Invoicing Software. Accounting software in the operational field of invoicing/billing takes care of companies' basic billing activities. ...
  • Payroll management system. ...
  • ERP Systems.
20 Nov 2019

Is Excel an accounting software? ›

Excel continues to be one of the most popular accounting tools used by small-business finance managers. Smaller businesses tend to have and use less financial data when compared with enterprises, and Excel allows such businesses to focus on basic accounting tasks, such as budget planning and forecasting.

Is there a simple version of QuickBooks? ›

QuickBooks Simple Start is the easiest and quickest way for single users (freelancers, gig workers, solo entrepreneurs) to manage all of their income and expenses in one simple tool.

How do I use QuickBooks for my small business? ›

QuickBooks Online for Small Business Owners - Tutorial by ... - YouTube

Does Google have something like QuickBooks? ›

Accounting by Wave - Google Workspace Marketplace. 100% free, easy to use accounting and invoicing software for you and your small business.

How do I add GST to an invoice in Quickbooks Australia? ›

Adding GST to an invoice
  1. Click Invoices from the menu tab.
  2. Go to Create Invoice.
  3. Enter the necessary information in the invoice.
  4. Click Add work.
  5. Type in Sales Tax in the Description field.
  6. Use Flat rate.
  7. Enter the amount.
  8. Click Add to invoice.
22 Dec 2017

Where is Quickbooks from? ›

History. Intuit was founded in 1983 by Scott Cook and Tom Proulx in Mountain View, California, USA.

How do I speak to a live person at Quickbooks? ›

Need to speak to a live person
  1. Go to the Help menu.
  2. In the Assistant window, you can enter “Chat” in the field.
  3. Enter your concern, then click Let's talk.
  4. Start a chat with a support expert.
30 Apr 2021

What is the disadvantage of MYOB? ›

MYOB Challenges

Though MYOB has many benefits it also has some drawbacks. One major drawback is the Manual Data Entry. Yes, you need to enter some of your accounting Data Manually in MYOB and manual work means human error and this error can cause damage to your business.

Is Xero better or MYOB? ›

MYOB Business has 101 reviews and a rating of 3.77 / 5 stars vs Xero which has 2212 reviews and a rating of 4.34 / 5 stars. Compare the similarities and differences between software options with real user reviews focused on features, ease of use, customer service, and value for money.

Is Xero and MYOB the same? ›

Xero's access control is superior to MYOB's, as it offers multi-factor authentication options. Xero is certified in Payment Card Industry (PCI), Data Security Standards (DSS) and SOC 2, while MYOB is not.

Is Xero easy to use? ›

Xero is an easy and user-friendly piece of software, and it can make a huge difference to the way you can manage your company's finances.

How do you avoid having duplicate bills in Xero? ›

Create a bill for purchases that you've made. If you're using multicurrency, you can add bills in other currencies. Approve a bill to then apply payment or credit to it. To help you avoid duplicate bills, Xero warns you if the reference and customer name of a bill you're adding match any existing bills.

Which software is best for accounting? ›

The 5 Best Accounting Software for Small Business of 2022
  • Best Overall: QuickBooks Online.
  • Best for Micro-Business Owners: Xero.
  • Best for Service-Based Businesses: FreshBooks.
  • Best for Part-Time Freelancers: QuickBooks Self-Employed.
  • Best Free Software: Wave.

Who are MYOB? ›

MYOB is an Australian multinational corporation that provides tax, accounting and other business services software to small and medium businesses. It is owned by American private equity KKR.

What is accounting system? ›

An accounting system is a set of accounting processes with integrated procedures and controls. The intent of an accounting system is to record business transactions, summarize those transactions into an aggregated form, and create reports that can be used by decision makers to monitor, analyze, and improve operations.

What do small businesses use for accounting? ›

Small business accounting typically involves three key reports: the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.

How much is QuickBooks for small business? ›

QuickBooks Online

$30/month. Basic accounting tools on a single-user license. $55/month. All Simple Start features for up to three users, plus bill management and time tracking.

Is Excel an accounting software? ›

Excel continues to be one of the most popular accounting tools used by small-business finance managers. Smaller businesses tend to have and use less financial data when compared with enterprises, and Excel allows such businesses to focus on basic accounting tasks, such as budget planning and forecasting.

Why is MYOB good for small business? ›

MYOB Essentials

Like QuickBooks, it offers cash flow tracking, financial statements, tax management, etc., and allows you to import data from other platforms. It also allows you to manage your business from your mobile, manage invoices and customer payments entirely online, and pay and manage staff on any device.

Who is XERO owned by? ›

History. Xero was founded in Wellington during 2006 by Rod Drury and Hamish Edwards. Xero Limited's headquarters are still located in Wellington. The company was originally called Accounting 2.0.

What is XERO used for? ›

Xero is a cloud-based accounting software product that lets small-business owners manage their finances from anywhere and integrate with more than 1,000 apps. It's less expensive than competitors like QuickBooks Online and doesn't charge extra for additional users, making it an affordable option for growing businesses.

What are the three types of accounting software? ›

Types of Accounting Software
  • Billing/ Invoicing Software. Accounting software in the operational field of invoicing/billing takes care of companies' basic billing activities. ...
  • Payroll management system. ...
  • ERP Systems.
20 Nov 2019

What are the 2 main types of accounting? ›

The two main accounting methods are cash accounting and accrual accounting. Cash accounting records revenues and expenses when they are received and paid. Accrual accounting records revenues and expenses when they occur. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) requires accrual accounting.

Which system of accounting is most widely used? ›

The double entry system is the one widely used and recognized in the accounting world. Some salient features of this system are, All three types of accounts are maintained in this system – real, nominal and personal.

What size business is QuickBooks good for? ›

QuickBooks Online is the best accounting software for a medium-sized business. It supports up to 25 users, is chock full of features for growing businesses, and is easier to use than other accounting programs, such as Xero.

Is QuickBooks easy to learn? ›

Learning to use QuickBooks is easy for someone familiar with accounting concepts and how the accounting software works, but it can be hard for someone tech-challenged or with no bookkeeping knowledge. While Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks, markets QuickBooks as ready to use – it all depends on the end-user.

Why small business should use accounting software? ›

From basic invoicing and billing, to tax calculations and project management, accounting software is an essential tool for your business' financial data. It also helps manage clients, reconcile bank accounts, and generate insightful financial reports that help your business grow smoothly and continuously.

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