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  • Matthew Duckworth

Small Business Accounting Automation: The 10 Best Accounting Software for 2021


Let's face it.


Whether you're a business owner, CFO or a division leader, you know you need accurate, timely numbers to be able to make decisions about your business. The problem is -- your accounting department isn't closing deals or making products for customers. It's a cost center. That's why so many companies try to skimp on spending money on accounting.


Although paying too little for good accounting can come with a host of troubles, there is one area business owners can look to today in order to lower their accounting costs immediately -- Automation.


With over 30 million small businesses in the United States, the market for accounting services is huge, and - as a result - new solutions are being created every day to help people just like you surmount their accounting challenges. Today, we discuss ten startups that have produced some of the most robust and best accounting software for small business operations in recent years. Keep reading to learn more.


Wave

A Toronto-born accounting automation startup, Wave has amassed over 250 employees in its 11 years of existence (2010), and was recently acquired by H&R Block. Wave has distinguished itself as the best free accounting software for new and/or small businesses, particularly freelancers and service-based businesses that don’t need payroll or inventory management features.


Wave’s creators sought to simplify accounting for non-employer and very small businesses (5 employees or less). Therefore, Wave offers most basic accounting features, including invoicing, billing and receipting, financial reporting, bookkeeping, and income and expense tracking.


You can use Wave through its mobile or web-based app. Through its premium plans, you can also access customer payment processing and payroll services.


Wave comes with its own payment gateway, and charges 2.9 – 3.4% plus 30 cents on every transaction to receive customer payments. It also charges 1% on ACH payments (minimum $1); most accounting software solutions don’t charge such high fees. However, considering it is a free solution, it stands to reason that these fees are how the company makes its money.


Strengths

  • Free invoicing, bookkeeping and receipting

  • No limits on billing or transactions

  • No limits on number of users

  • Use one account to run multiple businesses

  • Web-based or mobile app usage

Weaknesses

  • Higher fees for ACH and credit card payments

  • No inventory management

  • Limited integrations with third-party apps

  • Full-service payroll solution currently only usable in 14 US states

Kashoo

Kashoo is a robust yet simple choice for very small businesses which don’t need time-based billing or inventory tracking. Its best features include its support, income and expense management features, and its usability.


Made by a small business in Vancouver, BC, Canada (approx. 20 employees), Kashoo’s bragging right is providing simplicity for business owners who have limited accounting/bookkeeping knowledge. Their brand story attests to organic growth – solely by subscriptions of satisfied customers in their decade-long existence; no venture funding.


Kashoo was the first accounting automation service to create an iPad app for online operations. It offers free email, chat and voice support, as well as project cost tracking. You can integrate it to SurePayroll, one of the best payroll management software in the market.


Kashoo updated its website to create an attractive interface that prioritizes usability and flexibility. It can handle double-entry accounting as well as project costing and income/expense tracking. Pricing plans begin at $19.95.


Strengths

  • Simple and clean UI

  • Good income/expense management with project tracking

  • Free support

  • SurePayroll integration

Weaknesses

  • Uses non-standard dashboards

  • No inventory or time trackin

  • No mobile app for Android


ZarMoney

The best thing about ZarMoney is that it leaves no questions about pricing. More, you can connect to over 9,600 US and Canadian banks to import your bank transactions.


ZarMoney’s simple pricing plans are built for entrepreneurs and small business owners, but they also have an enterprise-scale plan. The cheapest plan begins at $15 for one user and $20 for two, including customer support in the US. A toolbar on the site allows you to add/remove users according to your present needs to automatically update your account without contacting support.


ZarMoney’s impressive features include accounts receivable management, sales and sales estimation, online credit card payment processing, early payment discounts, varying payment terms, among others. Soon, they will include recurrent invoicing.


Strengths

  • Connection to 9,600 US and Canadian banks

  • Robust account receivable management features

  • Includes productivity enhancing features

  • Transparent pricing

  • Intuitive user management

Weaknesses

  • Basic bookkeeping

  • No recurrent invoicing


Brex

Brex Corporate Card has changed business card expense management, particularly for new and very small businesses (actual startups). New businesses lack the revenue/credit history that provides a credit report/ guarantee for lending. Before Brex, such startups had to charge business expenses to personal credit cards – an accounting nightmare.


Brex provides a host of services along with card expense management – business account management, expense tracking, instant payouts, rewards accumulation, and, for premium subscribers, bill pay and spend control features.


The business receives up to five charge cards without personal credit checks or personal guarantees. You can get one of three cards, made for startups, e-commerce businesses, and life science businesses. Brex provides premium spend management services for unlimited users for just $49 per month.


Strengths

  • No foreign transaction or annual card fees

  • Up to 5 cards for free, then just $5 per card for additional cards

  • Receipts may be uploaded onto the Brex app, texted or emailed, for automatic reconciliation

  • On-time payments reported to credit bureaus to build business credit

  • Reward points on spend

  • Dynamic expense limits

Weaknesses

  • UI/UX for receipt upload could be improved

  • No approvals in the platform

  • Limited integrations with other accounting software


Ramp

Ramp is another company card and spend management software made for small to medium-sized businesses. By their own reporting, it is made for finance teams of SMBs and enterprise-level businesses, and can save such teams over five days monthly by using the platform.


Businesses use Ramp to control and track corporate spend, perform reimbursements, match receipts and fast-track accounting and financial reporting. Other features include, managing vendors, issuing instant cards, cutting expenes, streamlining approvals, and setting expense policies. It provides intuitive user experiences to improve bottom lines and maximize value on spend.


Ramp provides a competitive pricing plan with a free version and a free trial. Beyond the free version, it’s website doesn’t provide a clear overview of whether there are premium plans and charges thereof.


Strengths

  • Integrations with top-level accounting software like NetSuite, Xero, Sage Intacct, QuickBooks

  • Integration with Slack and 1Password

Weaknesses

  • Limited integrations

  • Premium pricing plans not clear


Divvy/Bill.com

Bill.com, which acquired Divvy, is a modern credit card and expense management tool that helps businesses to manage their accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) portfolios. It provides an intuitive automated AR management, invoice tracking, fixed ACH payments, and recurring invoice sending, among other features.


Using, Bill.com, businesses can send automated payment reminders or overdue notices to follow up payment delays. It leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to eliminate human error and reduce tedious data entry. The AI tool gets more intelligence when used, increasing the custom intuitiveness and offering greater control over bill management.


The platform offers robust integrations with other central accounting solutions like Xero, Intuit QuickBooks, NetSuite, and Sage Intacct for seamless reconciliations. Pricing plans start at $39 per user monthly, with options for enterprise customization.


Strengths

  • Easy to learn and use

  • Seamless integration with other tools

  • Easy to approve expenses for payment

Weaknesses

  • Expediting payments not possible

  • Interface changes that can be confusing


Plooto

Plooto gives small businesses host of affordable automation options, especially credit-based businesses. It is arguably one of the most robust accounts payables/receivables (AP/AR) management systems, offering robust cash monitoring features for efficient cash flow management.


You can use Plooto to manage your payments from a single location. This way, you can credibly evaluate your financial health, process payments and approvals, perform reconciliations, and generate reports from a single dashboard.


Plooto features secure e-payment processing and smart approval workflows to speed AP/AR processing. You can get both AP and AR automation to help collect on past-due accounts or send reminders thereof. Pay all your vendors on a single platform, including international suppliers, and add payees within seconds by leafing through the Plooto database of over 120,000 suppliers.


Where Plooto doesn’t shine, it readily integrates with full-service accounting software for small businesses like QuickBooks and Xero. It is the best choice for businesses that need a robust and affordable way to manage accounts payable and accounts receivable from the same platform.


Strengths

  • Robust AP/AR management

  • Ease of AP/AR/expense tracking on a single platform

  • Database includes over 120,000 vendors, with multi-currency support

Weaknesses

  • Some complaints regarding customer support

  • Can increase the currencies the platform supports


Airbase

The third spend management tool on this list, Airbase is the only platform that truly consolidates accounts payable automation with corporate card management and program reimbursements. With the increased adoption of corporate card expense systems, finance teams in SMBs need robust methods to document, track and reimburse transactions according to custom organizational policies.


The all-inclusive platform Airbase offers truly innovative spend management services, giving businesses greater visibility, automation, and control of their payment systems. It can handle all non-payroll payments and payables at all stages of a company’s growth, from startups to enterprise level companies.


Airbase has four pricing plans, including a free version and enterprise suite, but you must contact them to get a quote.


Strengths

  • Personable and friendly customer support

  • Excellent user interface/user experience (UI/UX)

  • Efficient and secure system

  • Unified approach to spend management

Weaknesses

  • Declined charges without warning when business runs low on funds

  • Virtual cards only available on desktop portal

  • Mobile app has limited controls


Mainstreet


MainStreet makes this list because it offers a truly unique service to businesses of all sizes, including weeks-old startups. Not to be confused with the online class management and web hosting counterpart with a similar name, little being said about this app doesn’t downplay its enormous potential to bring cash to businesses.


What MainStreet does for US-based software, hardware or VC-backed businesses to help them identify and claim all tax credits – including those frequently missed by the most conscientious accountants. All you need is a three-step process:

  • Connect payroll (can integrate with Justworks, Gusto, QuickBooks, ADP, and Rippling, among others)

  • Free scan payroll monthly (an automated process) to find federal, state, local tax credits

  • Receive cash advance on all credits at 0%APR, no waiting for refund checks

MainStreet is truly risk-free for the business – they only get paid if you find any credits and it’s free to check. The platform keeps 20 percent of the savings you make. Now that’s something worth exploring, even if you’re just starting out – you might be pleasantly surprised!


Strengths

  • Risk-free for businesses

  • Data secured with 256-bit encryption

  • Audit support and protection

  • Up to $1,000,000 coverage on paperwork/credit claim errors

Weaknesses

  • Limited online information and reviews other than their main site


MineralTree

Final on the list (but certainly not least) is MineralTree, an accounts payable and automated payments solution for SMBs. This little-known solution is trusted by over 2,000 mid-sized enterprises and 25 financial institutions, according to their latest data.


MineralTree includes features to optimize and digitize AP management and payment processing, including invoice-to-payment workflows, vendor relationship nurturing, and ROI maximization, among others. It promises to decrease AP management costs by over 75 percent, decrease risk and fraud, improve cash flow management, and increase control and visibility of AP systems.


This complete AP management is divided into four segments: Capture, Approve, Authorize, and Pay. The application takes over tedious and time-consuming micro-tasks, freeing teams to focus on high-value aspects.


MineralTree has an all-inclusive pricing plan, with additional fees on users, transactions, or workflow configurations. You’ll contact them to get a custom annual or monthly fixed price for your business.


Strengths

  • Robust AP management features

  • Seamless integrations

  • Excellent customer support

Weaknesses

  • Changes not synced immediately to the platform

Final Thoughts


Accounting operations are arguably the most important administrative function in any business. Through proper accounting, the business understands its progress and can make informed decisions to improve its outlook.


There are dozens of small business accounting automation solutions in the market today, and finding the right solution can be difficult without reliable information. Now you know the solutions to explore further depending on your small business needs.


To learn more about accounting automation, keep following our site for more details. Alternatively, join our newsletter to get notified about more articles like this whenever they come out.

 

Post-Script


If you're evaluating new accounting & finance system and you believe it would allow you to save money and get better results by working with a specialist, Rhapsodi can work in a number of different capacities to help your organization evaluate its needs, select the right solution, and implement it more quickly, painlessly and affordably.


If you'd like to discuss your project, contact us today by using the one of the forms on the site or by reaching out to Matt Duckworth at matt@rhapsodi.net or 501-270-0636.

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