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What are the best small business accounting software options for easy compliance management, invoicing and monitoring financial performance?
Below, I will closely examine 7 top small business accounting software choices on the Australian market for December 2023. I’ll compare their similarities (there are many of those) and their most important differences.
Some of these software packages are best for specific types of businesses (e.g., tradies) or businesses of a specific size (e.g., revenue of under $5 million).
Others have a more general focus and will satisfy just about any SMB owner.
Best overall accounting software.
MYOB has been one of Australia’s best accounting software options for over 10 years.
While MYOB originated in Australia and still has its headquarters in Cremorne, Victoria, the IT company now belongs to an American private equity firm. It is no longer listed on the ASX.
MYOB’s product tiers include:
- Lite (best for sole traders, individuals, and startups).
- Pro (best for small to midsize businesses).
- AccountRight Plus.
- AccountRight Premier.
- Payroll Only.
MYOB Business Lite and Pro have optional monthly payroll per employee (maximum of two for Lite and unlimited for Pro). Both AccountRight plans have unlimited payroll included.
MYOB easily supports multiple currencies, making it a great pick for companies with international clients.
The accounting software is also cloud-based, enabling your team to access accounting data anywhere they can connect to the internet.
With several plans available, MYOB allows business owners to choose the features that will really enhance the business process instead of paying for an advanced package or tools they don’t need.
- For example, MYOB offers a payroll-only option for businesses that need a simple solution for paying their employees.
If you’re the only employee or just starting up, MYOB Business Lite, the cheapest plan, is an excellent place to start with online accounting software.
When your company starts growing and bringing more people on board, you can easily upgrade your plan to include more features as you start to need specific upgrades.
Regarding the accounting software’s usability, the dashboard is simple and gives a quick overview of essential info, such as money in and out, bank accounts, transactions, and invoices.
Navigating the accounting tool is intuitive, an excellent benefit for smaller companies looking for a user-friendly cloud-based accounting solution.
While MYOB is one of the few accounting software solutions offering customer support via the phone, its support experience doesn’t seem as quick and hassle-free as other companies.
If outstanding customer support is a top priority for your operation, MYOB might fall down a few pegs on your list of the best small business Australian accounting software options available.
As far as pricing goes, this bookkeeping software is a little more expensive than similar programs.
Understandably, the higher price might be due to this company’s long-standing reputation as a leading accounting software in Australia, so it is completely up to you to decide whether it is worth stretching your budget for the brand name.
- One of the downsides of the MYOB accounting software is the setup process. Are you or someone in your team a seasoned accountant with extensive experience?
If not, MYOB might be quite challenging to implement.
Alongside a support service that’s typically slow to respond, setting up MYOB to cater to your needs could be lengthy.
If you have data to transfer from another accounting system, prepare to sit in front of your screen for a while.
(Related: 7 Best E-Commerce Platforms For Small Businesses).
As a whole, MYOB remains an industry-leading business accounting software with a range of helpful features, from expense tracking to tax management.
It has a solid reputation, translating into potentially inflated prices compared to other accounting programs. However, it also offers an easy-to-navigate user interface.
MYOB is well worth it for Australian SMBs with less than $5 million in turnover. It’s a comprehensive accounting software package that includes solid business management features.
|How Does MYOB Stack Up?||Score|
Best accounting software for freelancers.
FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting software Australian business owners use to create professional-looking invoices, streamline expense tracking, and handle online payments.
The pricing for FreshBooks considers how many billable clients you have, which is part of why freelancers are so enthralled by what it offers.
The Lite version allows unlimited invoices to a maximum of five billable clients. Small businesses with more clients requiring advanced features can opt for the Plus or Premium plans.
- Plus has a maximum of 50 clients.
- Premium allows unlimited customers and introduces accounts payable, user accounts, and project tracking.
With FreshBooks, you won’t have the features of an all-in-one cloud ERP suite.
However, it does provide a very simple solution for small businesses that need an organised and intuitive accounting system.
It is also a great option for self-employed workers with its ability to track time on tasks or projects and bill clients accordingly.
The UI is clean and well-designed, offering one of the more pleasant user experiences among the choices for reliable accounting software in Australia.
Whether you’re on a desktop computer or smartphone, you can easily monitor your cash flow, create invoices, or manage finances.
Businesses can use FreshBooks to design a personalised, on-brand invoice for clients, helping your brand look more professional with very little effort.
Automated reminders and seamless integration with payment gateways also bring excellent advantages to save time and offer convenience to your customers.
FreshBooks seems to be leagues ahead with consistently good feedback from users on the immense help and responsiveness of the support team.
So, it provides a straightforward user interface that makes managing your finances much easier, on top of amazing customer service for assistance on the go.
FreshBooks isn’t the best accounting software for detailed reports. It lacks features other accounting services have for in-depth insights into your company’s finances or operations.
For example, you won’t find comprehensive details on cash flow or sales trends.
But does FreshBooks compete for the spot as the best small business Australian accounting software?
- If you have an online business that has a large stock inventory, FreshBooks doesn’t cut it.
It doesn’t have an inventory management system for keeping track of items, and it limits integration options for third-party tools.
As an invoice-focused accounting software, FreshBooks integration options stick to payment tools, which can be a problem for companies using other programs they want to connect to the accounting software.
These inconveniences increase with the complexities of your business. And the prices for anything more than basic features sting compared to other accounting software for small businesses.
Its mobile app also doesn’t stack up with other accounting software, as it can be clunky when tracking expenses.
In terms of project accounting, Freshbooks makes it easy to track time for invoices but doesn’t offer many other helpful features for tracking or analysis.
FreshBooks keeps things simple. However, it could be a perfect solution if you primarily want basic accounting features such as:
- Expense tracking.
- Customisable invoices.
- Automated payment reminders.
- Recurring payments.
- Time tracking.
- Standard reporting.
If you’re working with an outdated accounting process or just starting your business, FreshBooks offers a convenient, easy option.
However, the more FreshBooks features you want, the more expensive the plans get, so you might find more cost-effective pricing from other accounting software packages.
|How Does Freshbooks Stack Up?||Score|
Second-best accounting software in Australia.
Xero is an internationally renowned accounting tool from New Zealand. It includes all the essential features of good accounting software for small-to-medium-sized businesses, such as:
- Cash flow monitoring.
- Transaction management.
- Automated bank feeds.
- Online payments.
- Integration with other tools.
- Expense management.
- Inventory tracking.
- Payroll and more.
As an online accounting software, Xero is accessible on any device. With features like the Practice Manager tool, you can assign tasks, track time, and manage jobs.
However, Xero’s seamless accounting features and affordability make it perfect for small business owners with growing brands.
The three cost tiers include the following:
- “Early” for startups, sole traders, and individuals
- “Growing” for small or developing businesses
- “Established” for bigger brands
Xero is a user-friendly accounting software with numerous tools to help small to midsize businesses manage finances efficiently.
The pricing plans are simple to understand, and the costs are budget-friendly compared to other accounting management software options.
The cloud-based structure also allows you to access your business transactions, financial reports, and other data from anywhere. So, if you’re a business owner working from multiple locations, Xero is convenient.
Anyone without accounting expertise will manage their finances and books with Xero. The platform is generally intuitive, streamlining detailed tasks like creating and sending invoices.
Xero’s seamless balance sheet presentation also offers a straightforward analysis of financial accounts from a zoomed-out perspective to inform your business strategies.
Do you like the sound of an extensive selection of third-party apps?
That’s another valuable bonus of using Xero for top-notch integrations with customer relationship management software and secure payment gateways.
Select what you need from various add-ons, whether payroll, project management, or inventory management options.
As one of the best small business Australian accounting software choices, Xero automates countless basic accounting processes, such as invoice reminders.
(Related: 7 Best CRMs In Australia).
Xero has the essential features that small and midsize businesses in Australia need to stay on top of their finances.
However, it doesn’t have advanced customisation features. It also offers limited capabilities for financial reporting, primarily offering summaries of only critical financial data.
The initial configuration can be difficult, with issues surrounding integrating banking and other third-party tools. For example, bank feeds unexpectedly drop the connections.
Xero might be better for smaller businesses needing a simple financial management solution. Larger businesses with more complicated structures will find the software lacking.
- For instance, even the premium plan carries a maximum of 200 employees for payroll and then charges for each employee added.
Another issue with Xero is the lack of responsiveness from its customer support. If you suddenly have issues logging in, hearing from Xero’s support team might take days.
That’s very bad for business if you use the software to process outstanding payments or other time-sensitive accounting tasks.
Xero does standard accounting features incredibly well, allowing any size business to adeptly manage their online financial accounts using an easy-to-use interface.
You will be able to quickly handle billing and invoices or bank transactions and extract relevant financial reports to monitor your profits and losses. Better yet, you can do it from anywhere because it is online.
While the business reports are easy to read and well-organised, it lacks the depth for more profound insights.
There’s some consolation in the versatility of the add-ons for this accounting software, which makes it easier to collate management tools, but the costs can add up quickly.
|How Does Xero Stack Up?||Score|
Best accounting software for Aussie tradies.
QuickBooks is one of the best small business Australian accounting software choices that are just as recognised globally. Why is it so massively popular?
The online platform helps smaller businesses extract financial reports and manage their expenses and income, payroll, accounting, and more, depending on the price tier of your accounting package. QuickBooks has the following three plans:
- Simple Start: emerging businesses and self-employed individuals.
- Essentials: small businesses with some suppliers.
- Plus: any businesses with suppliers that need project and inventory management.
Besides strong brand awareness and a high potential for longevity, one of the reasons QuickBooks offers exceptional ease of use compared to similar options.
QuickBooks offers a long list of features and add-ons—so many that it can be overwhelming to determine which ones your business really needs.
However, impressive scalability is a definite plus for companies as they develop and expand their operations. The features QuickBooks does the best include:
- Automated accounts payable and receivable.
- Integrations with third-party software.
- Invoice tracking.
- Inventory management.
- Cash flow and expense management.
Another stand-out bonus of using QuickBooks is its automatic categorisation of transactions using rules you create. This AI sorting process learns how to categorise your data over time based on how you first organise financial transactions.
If you want to boost productivity and save time, this feature makes it easy to sift through numerous transactions as needed.
With QuickBooks, businesses also gain access to several invoice templates to customise with a logo, colours, fonts, and so on.
Like other options on our list, the QuickBooks accounting software for small businesses also offers mobile apps to use on nearly any device, allowing you to scan and upload receipts on the go.
It also integrates with a vast range of third-party apps, such as payment software or document management tools.
Even QuickBooks has some limitations. For example, the cheapest plan does not offer recurring invoices, so companies that need to charge clients monthly will have to pay more for a plan that includes this convenient feature.
- The basic plan also leaves out bill management, multiple currency support, and user management.
If you work with QuickBooks Online and want to manage multiple companies, you might want to think again. It only allows one company per account.
If you have three companies you want to manage with QuickBooks, you’ll need to fork out extra to purchase three separate licenses.
One of the features of QuickBooks, while convenient, might be risky when maintaining business transactions.
The system allows you to edit past entries, which helps with correcting errors but makes accountants’ lives much harder when tracking those changes at a later stage.
The major hang-up most businesses will have over QuickBooks is its pricing. There are three tiers, and the more you add, the steeper the price gets.
If you need more than the basic accounting software for small businesses, you might struggle to manage the costs.
QuickBooks has a great reputation as a reliable accounting software that small businesses can use to manage financial transactions, monitor cash flow, track invoices, and more.
As a cloud-based business accounting software in Australia and elsewhere, QuickBooks is highly convenient to use anywhere you have internet.
QuickBooks competes as one of the best small business Australian accounting software options, and its main strength is its perfect starter solution.
However, pricing is a little high to label as budget-friendly. Larger companies with extensive data sets might also struggle with the lack of depth and customisable accounting tools.
It allows you to automate and speed up tasks like bank reconciliation, data entry, inventory tracking, cash management, and more. However, you’ll need to accept the lack of advanced accounting capabilities.
|How Does Quickbooks Stack Up?||Score|
5. Zoho Books.
Good all-rounder accounting software package.
Zoho Books is an excellent accounting tool for exceptional automation options, customisation, and financial management features.
Do you need reliable accounting software in Australia and don’t mind a learning curve? Zoho Books can streamline your invoicing, reporting, and expense management.
Undeniably, Zoho Books overtakes its competitors with its customer portal. Your clients can sign in, view invoices, pay bills, schedule appointments, and contact your business.
So, you can provide a higher tier of customer service and beautifully personalise the customer experience.
At a relatively low price point, any business now has easy access to advanced accounting reports. That’s outstanding value from one of the best small business Australian accounting software options that’s not a big brand.
The top feature at Zoho Books is the discrepancy warnings, which stop users from making mistakes when the system detects that things aren’t adding up.
If you find yourself conducting a tedious bank reconciliation, you won’t be able to complete the process until the accounts match. You also can’t edit amounts pulled from bank transactions, ensuring extra fraud protection.
Setting up Zoho Books might be a challenge without accounting knowledge and experience. The platform’s setup isn’t self-guided, with all the feature descriptions chock-full of accounting jargon.
The software’s forms also don’t contain any helpful tools or tips to help on fields that might seem confusing to those starting out.
You’ll have to take the time to organise them manually. But don’t expect any customer support for the task because Zoho Books doesn’t receive much praise for its responsiveness and unhelpful support processes.
It is not the best accounting software in Australia, but Zoho Books still offers extremely reasonable pricing and impressive functionality.
Small businesses can also easily access in-depth reports, a feature that more expensive software often lacks. If you want profit and loss information and cash flow statements, you can download it as needed.
However, if you’re looking for accounting software to integrate apps and business management solutions, you might prefer MYOB’s all-in-one business software.
If you go for Zoho Books, you’ll save time on accounting tasks but miss some advanced features.
Another decent all-rounder accounting package.
Wiise is a cloud-based ERP software that consolidates business processes, including accounting, into one platform.
The company started with a mission to provide small-to-medium businesses in Australia with the same valuable tools that larger enterprises have, but at an affordable price.
With Wiise, your business gets management tools for the following:
- Bank feeds.
Wiise provides speedy transaction processing, even with an extremely high volume of entries, saving you lots of time while maintaining your accounts.
The platform has effective workflow solutions, too.
This reliability is especially valuable for companies that are expanding and looking to improve their procedures.
Wiise uses Microsoft servers and seamlessly integrates with the Microsoft business suite, a huge advantage for companies that use Office 365.
With this link, the dashboard is intuitive and easily customisable to accommodate your preferences and needs.
The software company also receives many compliments for its excellent customer service, providing a dedicated partner who gets to know your company and provides personalised support.
The Wiise reporting feature is basic and lacks the depth needed for thorough insights. However, integrating your preferred analysis software, such as PowerBI, is a simple task.
As one of the best small business Australian accounting software options for smaller firms, your experience with Wiise will hinge on the level of support from your Wiise partner, particularly with setup.
If you don’t get the right person, you could struggle to implement the platform into the business process.
Overall, Wiise offers great software for streamlining your business, but it might overwhelm solo business owners or freelancers.
However, with some practice, you can use its extensive business management features to increase the efficiency and productivity of your business.
One of the top advantages of using Wiise is the seamless integration with Microsoft apps, including Office 365 email and Excel.
And while you can use it alongside various programs to enhance its capabilities, the out-of-the-box product is suitable for some small businesses.
You can even link accounting firms, bank accounts, customised invoices, and credit card payment options.
7. Oracle Netsuite.
Enterprise-level ERP package for large multinationals.
As the final choice, Netsuite presents an all-inclusive online ERP software that allows you to automate central processes.
You’ll get a comprehensive picture of your business’s finances and operations to manage the following with ease:
- Order processing.
- Supply chain and warehouse operations.
Netsuite offers far-reaching business solutions for small to large businesses, but it might not be the best accounting software if you don’t handle inventory or production.
The platform primarily improves the supply chain’s efficiency, order management, and warehouse processes.
Netsuite has a wide range of features that benefit small businesses and enterprises alike. It’s a highly versatile software with great features you can customise to fit your company’s needs.
Why not use Netsuite to send and track invoices and automate many of your accounting processes, such as accounts payable? It makes payments quick and secure.
Despite its depth and complexity, Netsuite is relatively easy to use and features intuitive navigation.
Learning how to use the software is also simple, so you can quickly grasp the Netsuite tools for use in your business tasks.
Although, compared to similarly elevated brands with even lower price points, the user interface is a bit outdated.
Netsuite is pricey compared to some software options out there. Small business owners searching for a simple accounting solution might also struggle to use the software—it is well-designed but takes time to learn.
The platform also lacks accessible customer service, making it difficult when you encounter problems or need to find quick solutions.
If you aren’t an ERP expert, you might be better off choosing software that offers reliable customer support, such as Xero or MYOB.
While Netsuite has many options to tailor its features, it lacks a few quality-of-life features that many other accounting software options include, such as bulk bank reconciliation features for transactions of the same type.
When you implement Netsuite, you will notice a surprisingly arduous process requiring you to follow their specific document requirements.
Do you want to monitor, analyse, and optimise every aspect of your company’s accounting? Netsuite could be the way to go.
On the other hand, small businesses rapidly evolving into more complex entities might find Netsuite a great option when switching from some previous accounting software.
Online accounting platforms like QuickBooks offer amazing solutions for Australia’s small businesses but lack the advanced capabilities of Netsuite.
What Are The Dangers Of Using Free Accounting Software?
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.
100% free accounting software is typically OK for core accounting tasks, like 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.
Don’t be so sure.
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 uncheked, it suffocates a business through inefficiency and interpersonal frustration.
Problem is, 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.
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.
Final Word On Best Small Business Accounting Software In Australia.
MYOB and Papaya are my top picks for best accounting software for Australian SMBs – because they allow you to forget about accounting and focus on what matters – making sales and delivering products.
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.