7 Best Accounting Software For Small Business In Australia (2024)

4.8
(50)

(50 votes, average: 4.8 out of 5)

Quick Summary: MYOB is the best accounting software for most small businesses in Australia. It is more scalable than its main rival, Xero, and more sophisticated than Freshbooks and Quickbooks. Yet, it's easy to use and not overpriced. Take a look below to see how I reached this conclusion after researching over 15 accounting software providers on the Australian market.


Last updated: June 3rd, 2024

Opinions in this review are based on my personal experience with the products. Brands don’t get to offer editorial input nor see the review before it goes live, but may compensate me at no cost to you, if you choose to purchase a product on this page. Can you trust this review? Read the financial and editorial disclaimers.


Last updated: June 3rd, 2024

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Let me start by crushing your dreams. The perfect accounting software doesn’t exist. Don’t waste your time looking for it. Some options are best for specific business types (e.g., tradies), working styles (e.g., sole traders) or sizes (e.g., revenue under $5 million).

But the brutal truth is that any modern cloud accounting package will satisfy 80% of your business needs. The SAAS accounting software industry has matured to the point where most providers cover the foundational features very well.

Expert Tip.

You could skip reading this review, buy any of the top brands (MYOB, Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Zoho or Xero) and get on with your life.

This review will help, however, if you want to nail the remaining 20% – because this is where competitive advantage often lives.

Key Takeaways:
Top brands (MYOB, Xero, QB, Freshbooks) cover the foundational features very well.
Almost all providers offer core features (e.g., expense tracking, invoicing) and bolt-ons (e.g., time tracking, payroll) – often at the lowest pricing tiers.
The battle between accounting software brands comes down to scalability (i.e., will it grow with your business?) and usability (i.e., how good is the UX?).

1. MYOB.

Best for businesses with $0-$5m in revenue and plans to scale.

best accounting software in australia

MYOB At A Glance.

Like all top-tier accounting software in this review, MYOB offers a solid baseline of accounting features.

You get expense and bill management, the ability to send quotes and invoices (as well as the option to easily convert the former into the latter, bank feeds, and total ATO compliance with BAS and GST.

More importantly, MYOB wants you to manage all of your company’s information. It can become your single source of digital truth, eliminating the need to pay for three to five separate software packages.

The software can handle inventory management, project management, purchasing and debtors, as well as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Human Capital Management (HCM).

Important!

MYOB’s big idea is that it can grow and adapt infinitely throughout the lifecycle of your business, supporting you from the day you send your first invoice right up until you’re opening your fifth warehouse and expanding into EMEA.

You will start with friendly and cheap MYOB Business, upgrade to MYOB AccountRight when you grow past about $5m in revenue, and step up to enterprise-grade MYOB Advanced Business above $10m.

If MYOB can’t cater to all your business whims out of the box, you also get access to a solid app marketplace with a decidedly Australian focus (a Bunning app, anyone?).

I just wish the apps had user ratings to help separate the wheat from the chaff.

ProsCons
Easy to use, especially at the entry-level MYOB Business Lite and Pro levels.MYOB AccountRight is a hybrid cloud/desktop product. In-browser experience doesn’t offer the full functionality of the desktop software.
MYOB Business Pro is all the accounting software most Australian businesses will ever need for only $55/month.Multi-currency support is only available on the $170/month MYOB Business AccountRight Premier plan.
You can bolt on a (rebadged Tall Emu) CRM with two-way sync for only $85/month.Phone support is available, but can be hit-and-miss. Long wait times are common.
The CRM is not the best-looking, but packs a lot of punch for the price – and doesn’t lock you into a contract. (A $600+GST onboarding fee applies).Apps in the marketplace don’t have user ratings.
MYOB’s base plan allows unlimited invoices and bills, while Xero’s offers only 20 invoices and 5 bills.
Phone support is available (but isn’t always great – see below).

Is MYOB Right For Your Small Business?

I suggest you think of MYOB as 3 products. You’ll graduate to each as your business grows:

  • MYOB Business Lite and Pro – for small businesses under $5m and less than 30 employees.
  • MYOB AccountRight Plus and Premier – for medium-sized businesses with about $7m revenue.
  • MYOB Advanced Business – for large-scale, complex organisations with revenues above $10m.

The standout plan is the MYOB Business Pro.

Your business can stay on this $55/month plan until you need time tracking, multi-currency support, huge inventory management, or to run payroll for more than 30 staff.

(Because you get charged $1.5 per every employee on your payroll, upgrading to the $136 / month MYOB AccountRight Plus will begin to make sense at some point).

Important!

I don’t love that the MYOB AccountRight product is a hybrid web /desktop solution; this remains the product’s main Achilles heel.

The company is rumoured to move 100% into the cloud in 2025, but for now, you’ll have to use the two interfaces in tandem.

The majority of AR’s everyday functions (e.g., bills, payroll, banking) are available in-browser, but you’ll need to switch to the desktop app for complex reporting and transactions.

Despite the shortfall with the MYOB AccountRight tiers, MYOB remains an industry-leading business accounting software and the best accounting software for Australian SMBs.

How Does MYOB Stack Up?Score
Scalability5/5
Features5/5
UX & UI4/5
Value5/5
Reporting4.5/5
Support4/5
Integrations4.5/5
Mobile App4.5/5
OVERALL4.6

2. FreshBooks.

Best for sole traders, freelancers, and micro-businesses (sub $250K in revenue).

best accounting software

Freshbooks At A Glance.

FreshBooks is a budget-friendly accounting software that sole traders can use to track billable hours, manage their interactions with the ATO, create professional-looking invoices, streamline expense tracking, and handle online payments.

The UI is the friendliest and most intuitive of all the Big Four (MYOB, Xero, Quickbooks and Freshbooks) accounting software packages.

FreshBooks is also the cheapest (unless you start adding users, which are charged at $16/month).

Unfortunately, FreshBooks isn’t the best accounting software for detailed reports.

While Xero, for example, offers 30-, 60-, and 90-day cash flow reports (albeit with a paid upgrade for the longer timespans), Freshbooks offers none.

Project accounting is also unavailable; while inventory management is, the feature lacks grunt.

It’s good for selling T-shirts through an online store but not for running a warehouse.

ProsCons
Simple interface with exceptional user experience. The learning curve is very gentle, and you don’t need any experience with accounting software to get up and running.Payroll is not part of the FreshBooks ecosystem. You’ll need to integrate it using an external HRIS.
Unlike MYOB and Xero, includes multi-currency support and time tracking across all plans.Cash flow forecasts are not available and require an external app.
Pricing takes into account the number of clients your business bills. Freelancers love this, as it scales the costs in line with revenue.Additional users are charged at $16/month. This adds up quickly and erodes the software’s price advantage.
Cheapest among the Big Four (MYOB, XERO, QB and FreshBooks).

Is FreshBooks Right For Your Business?

Let’s start with the bad news – if you want built-in payroll or cash forecasting, FreshBooks isn’t for you.

To access those features, you’ll need to integrate the former via a dedicated platform like EmploymentHero (for the former) or CashFlowFrog (for the latter).

This omission strongly suggests that Freshbooks is aimed at the sole trader and micro-business (revenue under $250K) segments of the small business market.

The cheap monthly fees, the ability to track time, and the ability to work in multiple currencies across all pricing tiers will appeal to this crowd.

However, larger businesses must not rule Freshbooks out altogether. If, for example, your existing tech stack already has a great HRIS that includes payroll, Freshbooks becomes more attractive.

Moreover, not all businesses need cash flow projections.

One of mine, for example, has very predictable revenues and expenses (plus we take payment upfront), so monitoring cash flow via the accounting software isn’t a huge priority.

How Does FreshBooks Stack Up?Score
Scalability3.5/5
Features4/5
UX & UI4.5/5
Value5/5
Reporting3.5/5
Support4/5
Integrations4/5
Mobile App4.5/5
OVERALL4.1

3. Xero.

Best for small businesses that don’t plan to grow above $10m in revenue.

best accounting software in australia

Xero At A Glance.

Xero is cloud-based accounting software that offers a huge amount of features out of the box.

You get all of the fundamental accounting features you’d expect (e.g., expense tracking, invoicing, quotes and bank feeds), robust reporting tools, and optional bolt-ons I’ll talk about in a moment.

If that’s not enough, you expand its functionality with over 1,000 compatible apps, available through the Xero App Store.

Some apps are generic (e.g., integration with Square POS), while others have very niche uses (e.g., increase the security of your Xero data with biometric logins).

While Xero costs the same or less than MYOB out of the box (depending on tier), there are strict usage limits for each tier.

You’ll pay extra to send more invoices and bills (Starter tier) and the number of people using payroll, time tracking and projects (all tiers).

ProsCons
Easy and intuitive to use. For the most part, the UX is simple and clear.Hubdoc is not a native feature and is a bit clunky to use.
Excellent set of basic accounting features, strong reporting and automated bill and receipt capture through Hubdoc.A lot of apps that expand Xero’s capability are mediocre at best. Expect a lot of trial and error.
Includes basic inventory tracking on all four tiers.Low limits on bills and invoices on the Starter plan.
Advanced features (90-day cash flow projections, project tracking, time tracking) are available for extra cost. You don’t pay for features you don’t need.The payroll module doesn’t allow file upload to an employee’s record (e.g., to store doctors’ certificates and contracts) – you’ll need to store those in Dropbox, which is clunky.
Suggested matches help with reconciliation. While not always accurate, Xero allows you to set custom rules that will improve the matches.Support is via ticket only, which frustrates many users. Slow responses and lots of back-and-forth are common.
Standard and Premium plans give you the option to group transactions and reconcile them all at once.

Is Xero Right For Your Small Business?

Xero caters to the micro and small end of the market. It is a good fit if you are:

  • Just starting out and are about to send your first invoice (congratulations!).
  • A few years in and are still managing your accounting with spreadsheets (gah).

It doesn’t scale as well as MYOB Business or Zoho, so it’s not the best choice if you have very ambitious growth plans.

But remember that most small businesses prefer to stay small.

A hairdressing salon in Sydney, for example, may add a few extra chairs or an extra location) but probably doesn’t think about interstate expansion or franchising.

Xero is a fantastic option for this type of business.

A SaaS startup that just nailed product/market fit and raised a Series B round, meanwhile, is likely shooting at the big leagues and would be better served by MYOB Business.

How Does Xero Stack Up?Score
Scalability3.5/5
Features4.5/5
UX & UI4.5/5
Value4.5/5
Reporting4.5/5
Support3.5/5
Integrations4.5/5
Mobile App4.5/5
OVERALL4.2

4. QuickBooks Online.

Best for businesses with complex inventories.

best bookkeeping software for small business

Quickbooks At A Glance.

Quickbooks Online is a good all-rounder, geared toward small and medium businesses that manage a lot of physical stock.

All pricing tiers include a robust set of features, including invoicing, record management, expense tracking, and receipt management via a simple mobile app.

BAS and GST management are also included, as is excellent inventory tracking (on Plus and Advanced plans only) that allows you to track the cost of goods and set up reorder points.

Like MYOB, Freshbooks and Xero, the company offers a comprehensive app store, with user ratings to help you find the best ones quickly.

But QuickBooks is not without limitations.

I was surprised that bill management isn’t included in the cheapest ($25/month) Simple Start tier, and the number of users is capped at 1.

This will force many users to upgrade to the $40/month Essentials package, making Quickbooks Online effectively more expensive than the other accounting software packages I’ve covered so far.

ProsCons
Excellent user interface (albeit with a steeper learning curve than MYOB and Xero).Capped number of users at every tier (1, 3, 5 and 25).
Outstanding 90-day cash flow planner that allows you to mock up future financial scenarios.Learning curve is steeper than that of MYOB, Freshbooks and Xero.
Best-in-class inventory management features with sync to Amazon and Shopify.No bill management on the entry-level Simple Start tier.
Payroll is available via native integration with (excellent) Employment Hero.Payroll is a paid add-on on all tiers.
Phone and live chat support with generous hours (830am-630pm Mo-Fri for phone, 8am-10pm Mo-Fri and 8am-8pm weekends for chat)Can be intimidating at first.
No cap on the number of clients you can invoice.
Multi-currency feature is standard on the relatively cheap Essentials price tier.

Is Quickbooks Right For Your Business?

Quickbooks’ pricing structure is slightly different to that of MYOB, Xero and Freshbooks.

While the company offer best-in-class inventory management features, it stings you for payroll across all pricing tiers ($5 per head).

If your business has a reasonably large, complex inventory but a small headcount (or you already pay for payroll through a separate HRIS), this is a pretty good option.

The company’s decision to include multiple currency management on the cheap ($40/month) Essentials plan is also a nice touch that will appeal to e-commerce businesses that ship overseas.

However, the low user limits will become an issue for businesses that expect more logins per license.

How Does Quickbooks Stack Up?Score
Scalability3.5/5
Features4/5
UX & UI4.5/5
Value4.5/5
Reporting4/5
Support4/5
Integrations4.5/5
Mobile App4.5/5
OVERALL4.2

5. Zoho Books.

Good all-rounder accounting software.

Zoho Books At A Glance.

Yes, Zoho Books allows you to manage your invoices while keeping expenses in check.

Yes, it allows you to reconcile your bank accounts through integrated feeds.

Yes, it offers excellent reporting features that give you detailed insights into the financial health of your business.

Important!

But Zoho’s key differentiator is its ability to natively integrate with the rest of the Zoho ecosystem, making the software almost infinitely scalable.

Zoho People, for example, can become your HRIS – and share data with your accounting software.

Meanwhile, Zoho’s CRM, Desk and Mail software packages can handle your contact management, support and communications.

This is a unique capability that not even MYOB can match.

Will every business take advantage of this potential? Probably not.

A hard switch to “everything Zoho” would cause a lot of short-term disruption, and not every small business owner is willing or able to upend their business to this extent.

Is Zoho Books Right For Your Business?

Zoho will appeal to businesses that already use other digital tools in its inventory, such as its CRM, HRIS, project management, or invoicing software.

It is not the best standalone accounting software product, but when considered as part of the Zoho ecosystem, it offers a great deal of value.

Unusually for a premium accounting software provider, it offers a reasonably well-featured free tier.

Aimed at micro-businesses with less than $50K in annual revenue, it offers a good taste of what paid versions of the software can offer.

How Does Zoho Books Stack Up?Score
Scalability5/5
Features4/5
UX & UI4/5
Value4.5/5
Reporting4.5/5
Support3.5/5
Integrations4/5
Mobile App3.5/5
OVERALL4.1

6. Thriday.

All-in-one banking and accounting software package.

Thriday is an Australian accounting software provider that combines banking, accounting and tax.

Despite its commitment to simplicity and budget-friendly pricing, Thiday packs a decent punch on the features front. You get:

  • BAS lodgment.
  • GST compliance.
  • Smart invoicing.
  • Automated accounts payable‍.

Because the company is based on Australian shores (in Melbourne, to be exact), it knows exactly what Aussie small businesses need – and what they don’t.

Integration with the ATO and major banks is included, as is the ability to send gorgeous invoices (with customisable templates) scan receipts on the go.

Support, meanwhile, is excellent and offered via email, live chat, and phone.

Important!

Unfortunately, Thriday doesn’t offer bank feeds of your existing accounts. As a workaround, it can set you up with a new bank account and Visa debit card that natively integrates with the software.

The company tries to position this as a benefit (no need to set up bank feeds – hooray!), and this may be somewhat true for brand-new businesses, but established operators will find this frustrating.

The company offers a free plan without BAS and other pay-as-you-go lodgement features, making it pointless.

I recommend you sign up for the (very competitively priced) $29.95/ month Timesaver plan to test-drive the software. A 30-day trial is included (and you won’t get charged until you start receiving funds).

How Does Thriday Stack Up?Score
Scalability3/5
Features3.5/5
UX & UI4/5
Value4.5/5
Reporting3/5
Support3.5/5
Integrations4/5
Mobile App4.5/5
OVERALL3.75

7. Reckon.

Budget-friendly small business accounting software.

Reckon is a simple and affordable Australian accounting software.

Although intended as a budget alternative, it allows you to monitor your income, forecast budgets, and track expenses.

Did You Know?

Originally known as Reckon Quickbooks, the software was introduced to Australians in 1994 under a licensing agreement. In 2014 it ditched Quickbooks and launched its own product.

Despite its humble offering, the company itself is huge. Listed on the ASX, it employs over 300 staff worldwide.

Outstanding customer service is one of its differentiators.

While the Internet is full of upset customers feeling neglected by top brands (not always the company’s fault, BTW), Reckon has a loyal customer base that raves about its support.

Unfortunately, the prices are no longer rock-bottom, jumping up by about 30% last year.

While the company offers an entry-level $12/month Accounting Essentials tier, I’ll skip right past it, as its quite thin on features.

Your small business is likely to start with the $20/month Accounting Plus tier, which includes everything except timesheet and project management and advanced reporting.

Payroll is available as an add-on for between $12 and $50 per month, depending on your company’s size, with the sweet spot at $25/month.

A fully-featured small business accounting software package with payroll for $45? Not bad at all.

How Does Reckon Stack Up?Score
Scalability3.5/5
Features4/5
UX & UI3/5
Value4.5/5
Reporting4/5
Support5/5
Integrations4/5
Mobile App3.5/5
OVERALL4.9

Why Did I Write This Accounting Software Review?

I’ve been running small businesses for the past 15 years.

Important!

Unlike clueless Forbes or PCMag “product experts” who write accounting software reviews (alongside kettle reviews) despite having zero on-the-ground business experience, I’m a small business owner who has grown multiple 8-figure companies.

I have first-hand experience dealing with the ATO, bookkeepers and accountants while keeping my businesses’ financial health on track.

This is why my knowledge isn’t theoretical.

I have trialled, bought (and migrated away from) many accounting software packages below in search of the best one for my business needs. Hopefully, I can help you find yours.

My Scoring Criteria For Best Accounting Software In Australia.

Years of experience have taught me that these are the most important attributes.

1. Scalability.

Yes, this is #1. You need a software package that will grow with your business.

Regardless of what software providers will tell you, migrating from one provider to another is a monumental pain in the rear – and you’re unlikely to ever do it.

And if you do, the cost is not insignificant.

While the software provider often covers the cost of migration itself, the time involved (and the need to retrain your team on new software) is very costly.

Important!

Don’t ignore scalability. You must choose an accounting software package that meets your current – and future – business needs.

2. Features.

Ensure the software is a good fit for a business of your scale and type.

If you’re a part-time hairdresser who makes $20,000 per year and has no plans to grow, you don’t need all the bells and whistles of Xero or MYOB.

Conversely, if you have ambitious plans, don’t be a cheapskate and try to save $20/month by choosing a budget accounting software package that you’ll quickly outgrow (see “Scalability” above).

Meanwhile, Thriday offers a bundled integrated bank account with a Visa debit card. This is nifty because it makes your bank feed more reliable but clunky if you already have your banking processes set up.

Hnry has a strict focus on tradies, and goes as far as handling their taxation obligations.

I suggest you go through the list of features below and rank them in order of importance.

Expert Tip

The tricky part is projecting into the future, as you’re buying accounting software to satisfy your current needs and the needs you’ll have in one, three, five, or maybe ten years’ time.

This is another reason I love the extreme flexibility of MYOB.

You can choose between a $5/month bare-bones version, the fully featured MYOB Business AccountRight Premier version, or the enterprise version that can handle global payroll and workforce management needs.

3. UX & UI.

Accounting is boring and arduous enough.

Don’t make it more so by buying an accounting software package that looks like it was made in the 1990’s. If you learn to tolerate it, your staff won’t.

‘Nuff said.

4. Value.

The prices of all software packages are fairly comparable at the lowest tiers. The range is between $24 (Freshbooks) and $32 (Xero) per month.

Expect to get lured in with heavily discounted introductory periods, with MYOB Business being the most generous ($5 per month for a surprisingly well-featured MYOB Business Lite plan).

Rather than fretting about a few bucks at the entry tiers, compare prices at the level that your business is likely to mature to within the next 3-5 years. This is where costs can really differ.

For example, the MYOB AccountRight plan includes unlimited payroll and expense tracking for $136/month, whereas the comparable Xero plan starts at a much lower $85/month, but only includes payroll for 5 people and charges extra for expense tracking, projects and improved analytics.

Important!

It may not seem like much, but these costs add up quickly. Prevent surprises by checking upfront how much it costs to add enough users and the right features for your small business.

5. Reporting.

Can you check the financial health of your business in real time?

Most accounting software providers offer foundational reports that show who owes you money, which of your products are selling well, and how much you owe in taxes.

Be sure that your provider also offers more sophisticated reports that allow you to understand your business:

  • Balance sheet.
  • Statement of cash flows.
  • Profit and loss.

You’ll need them once you start growing your business – especially if you start seeking capital from banks or outside investors.

6. Support.

Accounting software packages simplify your life, but every now and then you’ll have questions.

Ideally, the software should offer an instant (live chat or phone) and overnight (ticket or email) support option. It’s also important that the former, if offered, is in the Australian timezone.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of an excellent online knowledge base. You won’t want to speak with a human or submit a support a ticket to every question.

When you Google your question and combine it with the brand name (e.g., Freshbooks how do I set up inventory tracking) – does a useful, actionable answer show up?

7. Integrations.

Contrary to what accounting software providers want you to believe, accounting software will not likely become the epicentre of your business operations.

Important!

MYOB and Zoho are the only exceptions to this rule for reasons I’ll describe shortly.

On a daily basis, you and your team are likely to rely on other parts of your SaaS toolkit:

  • CRM / ERP – for contact management, enquiries, deal flow.
  • Workforce management / HRIS – for payroll, rostering, managing leave.
  • Payment processing / POS -for taking orders, managing inventory.

To grow their annual recurring revenues, accounting software providers started offering features that can handle some of these tasks.

This creates a lot of redundancy in your tech stack.

For example, MYOB, Xero and Freshbooks include inventory tracking on all their plans, while Quickbooks offers it on Plus and Advanced plans only.

The catch is – your POS will likely have (more advanced) inventory management features included for free, as is a payment processor like Stripe.

Expert Tip.

Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and decide which software package will handle which task. Then use integrations (and open APIs, if necessary) to stitch the stack together.

MYOB and Zoho, meanwhile, want to become a legitimate “single source of truth” for your business operations.

Zoho is a fully integrated ecosystem of bona fide, enterprise-grade tools that freely share data, while MYOB is a collection of both in-house tools (e.g., Advanced Workforce Management) and integrated acquisitions (e.g., MYOB CRM, which is a rebadged Tall Emu CRM).

8. Mobile App.

Mobile is important – to an extent. For example, the ability to quote and invoice on the fly is a huge plus, especially for tradies and freelancers.

But the more your business grows, the less you’ll rely on mobile.

Freelancers and tradies like to do everything on the run. They pride themselves on allocating transactions while waiting for the bus.

Eventually, they (hopefully) establish boundaries to prevent the “I’m always at work syndrome”.

Reconciling bank accounts and allocating transactions becomes a fortnightly recurring appointment in their diary, and something they do via the software’s desktop app.

Expert Tip.

Most accounting software apps are not fully featured. For example, Xero’s mobile app doesn’t show transfer rules to help you reconcile.

Compare Specs Of The Best Accounting Software Packages.

Here’s how the top four packages stack up side by side.

MYOBFreshbooksXeroQuickbooksZoho Books
Bill trackingYYYYY
Expense managementYYYYY
Online invoicingYYYYY
QuotesYYYYY
Inventory managementYYYYY
Project accountingYNYNY
Bank feedsYYYYY
GST managementYYYYY
Multi-currency invoicingYYYYY
Purchase ordersYYYYY
Time trackingYYYYY
Budgeting / forecastingYNYYY
Online rosteringYNYYY
Native CRM optionYNNNY
Mobile appYYYYY
Ticket / email supportY?Y??
Live chat / phone supportY?N??

Why Small Businesses Need Accounting Software.

Contrary to the popular opinion of many Australian small business owners, accounting software isn’t just an invoicing tool.

From simplifying payroll to providing business intelligence, the best-fitting accounting software package will help your small business thrive. Here are the top three benefits.

1. Save Time On Accounting And Bookkeeping.

Reduce repetitive data entry (say goodbye to spreadsheets) by automatically tracking your income and expenses.

Moreover, you can manage your client and vendor information in one place because you have “one source of truth” that you can access from desktop or mobile.

2. Quick Invoicing And Payments.

Say goodbye to manually issuing invoices at 6pm, after a big day on the road. With accounting software, you can send invoices on the fly after each job.

Moreover, you don’t have to rely on clunky bank transfers – just add a “Pay Now” button to your invoice so the client can pay instantly using a credit card.

3. Insights Into The Financial Health Of Your Business.

Get visibility into your cash flow, profitability and tax obligations of your business with accurate reports, and share them with the right stakeholders.

Frequently Asked Questions About Accounting Software.

If you’re a small business owner, you’re probably unsure about the following.

Should You Consider Desktop-Based Accounting Software?

You can no longer purchase 100% desktop-based accounting software packages in Australia.

Cloud-based accounting software is superior when it comes to:

  • Accessibility.
  • Scalability.
  • Security.
  • Backups.
  • Integrations.

But this was not always the case.

For decades, desktop-based accounting packages have been considered the “big boy” tools for serious businesses. They were expensive, cumbersome, and not user-friendly.

But rich in features.

Meanwhile, cloud-based accounting systems were viewed as nothing more than cute and friendly invoicing apps.

In recent years, we have seen a convergence towards the middle, with all providers except MYOB building out 100% of their offerings in the cloud.

MYOBMYOB Business Lite and Pro are 100% cloud-based. MYOB Business AccountRight Plus and Premier offer a web and desktop version.
Freshbooks100 % cloud-based
Xero100 % cloud-based
Quickbooks100 % cloud-based
Zoho100 % cloud-based

MYOB is rumoured to become 100% cloud-based in 2025. What I think of the current web/desktop product is listed under “Cons” of the MYOB section above.

Should You Consider An Enterprise ERP Instead?

It depends, but probably not yet.

This is a difficult question to answer precisely without insight into your business’s size and structure, as well as knowledge of your industry, budget, and growth plans.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the Australian accounting software landscape:

  • Easy-to-use, inexpensive, and easy-to-deploy accounting software packages like Freshbooks, Quickbooks Online, MYOB Business and Xero occupy one end of the spectrum. They’re aimed at small and micro businesses (less than $5m in revenue).
  • Enterprise ERPs like MYOB Advanced and Oracle Netsuite offer more grunt and are aimed at businesses with revenues exceeding $7-10 million. They’re more clunky, less user-friendly, and usually take a few weeks (sometimes months!) to deploy. Oh, did I mention that you miss out on basic features like bank feeds?
  • Wiise, and to some extent, MYOB Business and Zoho occupy the middle ground, aiming to offer a balance of usability, scalability, and features with their native and integrated product ecosystems.
Accounting SoftwareHybrid Accounting / CRM / PayrollEnterprise ERP
Ideal Business Size<$5m$5-10m>$10m
Example Of ProductMYOB Business, XeroWiise, Zoho, MYOB BusinessOracle Netsuite MS Dynamics 365
Ease Of UseExcellentGoodAcceptable
FlexibilityGoodGoodExcellent
CostLowMediumHigh
ImplementationEasyAcceptableComplex
Single Source Of Truth?RarelySometimesAlways

Expert Tip.

As a rule of thumb, once your business becomes complex and revenues exceed $10 million, you could consider switching to an ERP like Oracle Netsuite or MYOB Advanced Business from SMB-focused packages like Xero, MYOB Business, or Quickbooks Online.

You will trade off ease of use and some features for the ability to:

  • Build custom workflows, tailoring the software exactly to your business’s needs.
  • Replace a half-dozen apps (CRM, HRIS, Payroll, Procurement, Project Management, Accounting, etc) with a “single source of truth” under one login.
  • Get niche features (e.g., supplier credit limits).

What are the downsides?

  • First, the cost of upgrading to an ERP is not insignificant. Apart from the licensing fees, expect hefty bills for implementation and ongoing support.
  • Second, the SMB accounting software market has matured to the point where it can offer you the majority of ERP features – with no usability gaps.

Yes, you do miss out on the holy grail of having your CRM, inventory, HR, and finance under one roof, but this is why I think that MYOB Business is the best choice for most businesses under $5m, as it offers a (relatively good and cheap) Tall Emu CRM within its ecosystem.

And when (or if) you’re ready for big boys leagues, you can stay on brand and upgrade to MYOB Enterprise.

Important!

Create a weighted data-driven scoring system to guide your decision. Don’t rely on gut feel or —worse — HiPPO (highest-paid person’s opinion). The HiPPO effect is the leading cause of catastrophic business decisions.

Does Your Accountant’s Opinion Matter?

Yes, but only if you run a small business (roughly less than $5m turnover, 15-25 staff).

A great accountant can make or break your business. Unfortunately, finding a good one isn’t easy – you will have to kiss a few frogs before you find your princess.

Your accountant will likely have a firm preference for accounting software they want their clients to use, for two reasons:

  • This minimises complexity in their business.
  • They get perks from the provider for opting wholly into a single system.

If you find a great accountant who has a firm preference for accounting software that isn’t your first choice, choose the accountant over the software.

You’d be a fool to break a relationship with an outstanding accountant to gain some extra software features.

Expert Tip.

If your business is turning over more than $5m, the accountant’s preference will matter less.

By the time you get to enterprise level (roughly more than $10m), you’ll expect accountants to adapt to your processes, rather than the other way around.

Should I Use Free Accounting Software Instead?

Nothing in this world is free. Haven’t you learned this yet? Instead of looking for the best free accounting software and hoping to save a few bucks, ask yourself – “what’s the catch here”?

Because there’s always a catch.

Expert Tip.

100% free accounting software is typically acceptable for core accounting tasks, such as tracking sales, recording accounts receivable, and calculating sales tax.

But as your business grows (or you start running multiple businesses), you will need advanced features that even the best free accounting software won’t provide.

“But I’ll change when my small business grows”, I hear you say.

Don’t be so sure.

Important!

Operational debt is the #1 killer of businesses in Australia. It is the inevitable backlog of non-revenue-generating work that piles on a business owner’s shoulders as the business grows.

Left unchecked, it suffocates a business through inefficiency and interpersonal frustration.

The problem is that it competes for your finite time with a hundred other things you must tackle.

You will avoid getting choked under a mountain of operational debt by investing in cloud-based software that can scale with your business.

This applies to all software – not just accounting.

This means choosing small business accounting software from one of the paid providers I recommended above.

Yes, it will add a monthly subscription cost to your overheads. But in net terms, it will cost less than moving your entire accounting system to another provider during rapid growth.

How Do I Switch To MYOB?

MYOB offers a free migration service that will move your data away from Xero, Quickbooks Online or Reckon.

After setting up your account, submit your migration request to MYOB’s conversion partner, MMC Convert.

Can You Get MYOB For Free?

Yes, but there are limitations. The 30-day free trial is available on the more expensive MYOB Business AccountRight Plus and Premier tiers.

MYOB Business Lite and Pro don’t offer a trial, but are available for $5 and $8/month respectively – a minor outlay.

You can cancel your MYOB account on any tier at any time.

Can You Get Xero For Free?

Yes. Xero offers a legitimate, fully featured 30-day trial – without asking for your credit card.

Enter your name, email and phone number, and you’re ready to test all the features the software offers.

Which Transactions Do Accounting Services Support?

All accounting software providers offer the ability to track invoices and bills.

Important!

More comprehensive packages – like MYOB, Xero and Zoho – go further, offering purchase orders, sales receipts and credit notes.

They offer you the ability to customise their templates, too, to ensure you only capture data that’s relevant to your business.

How Safe Is Cloud-Based Accounting Software?

Very safe – as long as you take reasonable precautions.

This means making 2FA mandatory for all users, using cryptic passwords and resisting the urge to log in when connected to public Wi-Fi networks (e.g., in cafes and airports).

Is Wave Accounting Still Available In Australia?

Unfortunately, no. Wave is a very impressive accounting and invoicing app that allows you to send invoices and receive payments from customers.

The company announced in 2020 that it will cease offering services in Australia, and focus solely on serving its North American customers.

Final Words On The Best Accounting Software In Australia.

MYOB and Freshbooks are my top picks for the best accounting software for Australian SMBs.

They allow you to forget about accounting and focus on what matters most (i.e., making sales and delivering products).

Too many businesses stall because of inefficient, outdated accounting practices.

They waste hours on account reconciliation and chasing invoices, refusing to spend a few hundred dollars each year on a modern, streamlined accounting software package.

Don’t be the owner of that business. Pick one of the accounting software packages recommended in this review and use it to streamline your operations.

But remember what I said at the start of this comparison – the perfect accounting software doesn’t exist.

You will need to accept compromises. The best accounting package is one that fits your business best – not one that has the most features or the least flaws.

Steven

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3 responses to “7 Best Accounting Software For Small Business In Australia (2024)”

  1. I noticed with all these apps – they hide the true price behind stuff like try it free or %x off for x months … even in this report … you don’t get a comparison of the true price after all of the free and discount stuff … next time, please just print a comparison chart with prices, features etc etc so readers don’t have to waste time trawling through data

  2. Thank you for this in depth review of accounting software.
    Very helpful.
    I am looking at going from Reckon Accounts hosted to Xero, however Xero cannot migrate the 7500 customers and linked address to each customer.. ie, I have one customer with 1000 job addresses, and unfortunately Xero cannot migrate my customers accross in that format.

    Thanks any Kind regards

    Darryl.

    • Hi Darryl, you’re welcome and yes – yours is a use case that may be solved with an enterprise-grade accounting software package with more flexibility than what Xero can offer. Reach out to MYOB and Wiise – see what they have to say.

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