Every business relies on up to date financial information. To achieve this, financial-specific software must be employed. The king of the mountain in small business finances is Intuit's QuickBooks. But not every small business can afford to keep up to date with that particular software title, nor does every SMB need software with every feature offered in QuickBooks.
Thankfully there are tons of cheap (or free) options available. Some of these options offer a near feature-for-feature comparison to the mighty QuickBooks. Some are much more simple minded and offer only a fraction of the features found in QuickBooks. But regardless of how feature-rich you need your financial software to be, there are options. In fact, I've uncovered five such options you've probably never heard of. Let's take a look at each and see if one (or more) of them will satisfy your small business financial needs.
AccountEdge probably offers the most feature-for-feature comparison to QuickBooks. AccountEdge is also in the same price point as Intuit's offering (running $299.00 for the full Pro version and $99.00 for the full Basic version). There are two versions: Basic and Pro. The Pro version features: Management of banking, sales and purchases, inventory, payroll, and time billing, and offers a number of add-ons and services (including credit cards and payroll). The Basic version only offers: Bank management, general ledger, and credit cards. One advantage you will find with AccountEdge is that it allows you to work from your desktop, your iPhone, or your iPad (both the iPhone and iPad software versions are free). You can run payroll, accept credit cards, and even track time.
WorkingPoint is the only web-based entry in the list and offers many similar features to that of QuickBooks. Not only can you access your financial data from anywhere, WorkingPoint offers: Accounting, invoicing, financial reporting, tax reporting, contact management, time tracking, expense management, inventory management, cash management, a business-friendly dashboard, and much more. WorkingPoint offers two plans: Lightning ($9.00/month) and Thunderstorm ($19.00/month). With the Lightning plan, only one user can access the account and there is a limit of up to ten invoices per month. The Thunderstorm plan allows for unlimited users and unlimited invoices.
3. CS Ledger
CS Ledger is a bit of a step-down from AccountEdge, but it is free and does offer plenty of features that should appeal to many a SOHO or small business. CS Ledger features: Multi-user mode, general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, histories (customers, vendor, accounts, and items), reports, user controlled display grids, and more. The multi-user mode can handle up to twenty-five users and millions of transactions. It is only available for Windows (XP or later).
JMoney is an Eclipse Desktop application (written in Java) that offers basic accounting features and can be extended with plugins. Available plugins include: Categories Panel, Charts, Copier, Currency Page, GnuCashXML, jdbcdatastore, Bank Reconciliation, reports, stocks, and more. Because JMoney is open source, it is possible to write a plugin to further extend the application to better fit your needs. JMoney is free and is available for both Mac and Windows.
5. Account Manager
Account Manager is another Eclipse Desktop application and offers only the most basic of functionality. For those looking for simplicity, this might be the tool to use. Account Manager features: Basic accounting functions (accounts, general ledger, etc.), add as many accounts as you need, multi-user, open source. Although Account Manager won't stand on its own as a complete replacement for the likes of QuickBooks, if you're looking for a free, open source, tool to manage various accounts (and include an easy to use general ledger), this hidden gem might do the trick.
Not every application can stand up to the power of QuickBooks. But when you don't need all that power (or the price that goes along with it), it's nice to know there are alternatives. From feature-lean, open source applications all the way up to power-house, full-blown accounting packages, you'll find plenty of alternatives to what is often called the de facto standard in small business accounting software.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.