SMB/SME: free accounting software round-up

Free accounting software for small businesses: our choices of what's out there for your shortlist.
14 December 2022
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Digitizing bookkeeping with small business free accounting software can be a huge timesaver and prevent human error. The idea of investing in accounting software might be daunting, with many to choose from, having varying levels of access available for free. Google searches for free accounting software also bring up results that actually only offer free trials; in other words, a waste of time in practical terms.

We look at the free options available, and whether they present a viable alternative.

Most free software options are cloud-based.

Benefits of this include:

  • Software being kept up to date
  • Built-in security
  • Double entry bookkeeping
  • Use from anywhere with an internet connection.

There are also a few shortfalls, including the need for fast broadband to operate. The key problem users might have with cloud-based accounting services is the fact that all their data will be held by a third party.

Which software should my company use?

Your needs will dictate which accounting software works best for you. Some packages offer additional services for paying users. If there’s a chance this will become viable, it’s best to learn how to use these platforms.

What small business free accounting software is available?

Wave is the most popular free accounting app available online, as well as one of the most user-friendly. Its services cover all the basics: book-keeping, invoicing, payments, and receipts. Due to its popularity, the software will likely be continually updated and improved.

Wave’s accounting software is ideal for freelancers and self-employed workers, but its capabilities could be too basic for medium-sized and companies with high growth.

If you’re willing to pay, you are given access to payroll services (only available in the US and Canada), live chat support, and taking online payments.

Adminsoft Acounts offers an in-depth package that’s completely free and has more functionality than Wave.

The extra features include:

  • Stock control and purchase order tools
  • HR and Payroll options
  • Facilityfor different users, departments, multiple companies, and currencies
  • Specialised software extensions for both the retail and automotivetrading industries.

This makes Adminsoft ideal for businesses such as cafés, particularly because it can be connected to receipt printers, cash drawers, and barcode scanners.

The drawbacks of the free version are constant background ads, the addition of the Adminsoft URL to all emails sent using the software, and the fact that when the package is closed, a browser opens immediately to the Adminsoft website.

For client-side activity, Invoice Ninja is a good option. It doesn’t offer the full scope of accounting tools that other accounting software has, but it is useful for automated invoicing, taking online payments, and automated expenses.

If you are willing to deal with a poorer interface, GnuCash is a free, open-source accounting platform that has functioned for more than 20 years. For the security-conscious, it works completely offline, so data isn’t stored in the cloud.

It is also completely free (of cost, and also freely-distributable), although donations are encouraged. In the short term, it’s a more time-consuming choice, because staff will have to learn to use its interface. The terminology it uses is more complex, but there are plenty of online user guides available. Without features to incentivize monetary investment, getting to grips with the software might be worth it in the long run.

Alternatively, the design of Pandle centers on simplicity. The interface is easily understood, and it offers:

  • Branded invoices
  • Unlimited customers, suppliers, and bank accounts
  • Bulk data editing, multiple currencies, and VAT submissions.

Lacking some of the more advanced needs of medium and larger businesses, the free version of Pandle is ideal for new starters. For those willing to invest, a subscription is only a few dollars (£5) a month and gives access to:

  • PayPal feeds
  • Unlimited users and user permissions
  • Expense receipts
  • Cash flow forecasting and bank feeds.

With a wealth of options for small business accounting software, knowing the specifics of your business needs can help decide which package is best for you.

Using small business free accounting software with a view to eventual financial investment means you can choose a platform that’s simpler to use. With a view to maintaining free use, it’s worth taking the time to train employees to use more complex software.