November 11, 2021 By SmartBiz Team

Shoebox accounting (tossing everything together and sorting it out later) can cripple your company. These days, small businesses need an accounting system that’s cost effective, up-to-date and can handle all financial tasks you need to run your company. If you’re not happy with your current system or need to establish one, consider using one of these free accounting software systems.

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1. GnuCash®

GnuCash is a great fit for a business in need of organized and easy bookkeeping. GnuCash is widely available for Android ® , Linux ® , Windows ® , OS X, FreeBSDm ® GNU ® and OpenBSD ® . The software features accounting tasks like invoice management, accounts payable and receivable along with expense tracking and payroll.

Review site Capterra® has this to say:

Simple, resembles check register and most people can use it effectively immediately. It is free and malware free. More interested users can scale up their use to include complicated accounting steps (year-end closing, splits across accounts, etc.) as much as they wish.

2. CloudBooks®

CloudBooks is a cloud-based accounting solution designed for small businesses and freelancers. It includes features for billing, invoice creation, project management and time tracking. CloudBooks is free for 30 days, and then it’s priced at just $10 per month. reviews the features:

CloudBooks ® tracks where and how users are spending their time to ensure that invoices are accurately generated. Expenses are also tracked in real time and can be added to invoices. For collecting payments, clients can pay with credit cards, PayPal ® , checks or cash on a recurring or one-time basis.

3. Wave®

If you’re a sole proprietor or run a small business, Wave might be the best fit for you. It's 100% free for accounting, invoicing and receipts. There’s no payroll features and you’ll have to pay if you need personal technical support.

Wave has a 4 out of 5 stars ranking on Capterra. Read pros and cons from actual users here.

4. Forward AI Predict®

ForwardAI Predict harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to help small businesses properly forecast their cash flow to best avoid interruptions in their business. This platform offers the ability to set up and compare cash flow projections, generating forecasts up to 12 months in advance. This tool works by connecting directly to your current accounting software, including leaders like QuickBooks ® and Xero ® . The AI then uses these data to make smart predictions about your future expenses. Best of all, this tool is completely free.

5. Inv24®

Inv24 is online invoicing software with Excel and PDF invoice templates. Basic accounts are free. The pros are ease of use, convenience and safety. Their main claim is “to make invoicing even more comfortable”.

6. Brightbook®

“Hate accounting? Love Brightbook.” This is how Brightbook, a free online bookkeeping system, describes itself for freelancers, contractors & small businesses. The web-based program has unlimited use and claims that no accounting experience is required to get started. From the moment you login, you can immediately see where you stand; who owes you money, who you owe money to and what your cash flow is. Online review site Cloudwards ® outlines two weaknesses; Brightbook is lacking many advanced functions and there are no bank feeds. Get more details about the pros and cons from Cloudwards here.

7. Adminsoft® Accounts

Adminsoft has more features than many other free accounting programs. It bills itself as “a complete money-management toolkit for small business owners”. More than 300,000 people have taken advantage of this 100% free program that doesn’t include advertisements like some others. Adminsoft doesn’t just handle invoicing and statements. It also includes stock control features, purchase orders, budgeting and some HR capabilities.

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8. ZipBooks®

On the ZipBooks website they state: “Not Fake News: ZipBooks users spend 15% less time on mundane bookkeeping tasks”. We’re not sure how they calculated this percentage, but this free accounting software is easy-to-use and was designed to help small businesses level up. Features include unlimited invoicing, unlimited vendors and customers, unlimited bookkeeping, the ability to connect and manage one bank account and more. You can get more capabilities with pay plans that range from $15 to $125 monthly.

9. Akaunting®

Akaunting is an open-source free accounting solution designed for small business use. You can use Akaunting as a downloadable platform, an option that Akaunting says 270,000 users have opted for. Another 150,000 customers use Akaunting’s cloud-based free accounting software.

Among the most exciting features of Akaunting are the following:

  • Customer management. With Akaunting, you can create files for each customer and grant your customers easy access to your client portal. There, the client can receive and pay your invoices.
  • Fee-free payments. When you send invoices through Akaunting, you won’t pay any fees to receive your payments.
  • Automated invoices. You can automate your invoices, bills, and other revenue-related processes to keep your cash flow uninterrupted.
  • Financial reporting. Akaunting includes reporting tools that provide comprehensive overviews of your business to keep your finances in check.
  • Open-source software design. Since Akaunting is open-source, you can tweak its code to bolster your data security and structure the platform however you please.
  • Multi-language and multi-currency. Akaunting is available in 50 languages, and you can use it with any currency.

Akaunting’s strength is the throughline among all the above features: versatility. Its drawback is that reaching a customer support agent can be more difficult than with paid platforms.

10. Zoho® Invoice

Zoho’s free accounting software for small businesses focuses on invoices. Small business owners like yourself can use it to generate and send professional invoices and remind overdue clients to pay you. Zoho Invoice also includes features for expense and time tracking.

The standout features of Zoho Invoice include:

  • Customizable invoice templates. Zoho Invoices includes a gallery of templates from which you can build your invoices. You can modify these templates however you please and add your logo to them.
  • Multiple invoice sending channels. Through Zoho Invoice, you can send your invoices via SMS, email, or your Zoho client portal.
  • Status tracking. Zoho indicates whether your invoice has been sent, received, followed up on, or paid.
  • Automated invoices, payments, and reminders. With Zoho, you can save time invoicing your clients, following up on unpaid invoices, and collecting recurring client payments.
  • Multiple payment methods. Cash, check, ACH, and credit card are all on the table with Zoho Invoice.
  • Multiple currencies and languages. You can use Zoho in a wide variety of currencies and languages, thus allowing you to work with clients from across the globe.

Zoho stands out for its user-friendly, modern interface. It also includes easy integrations with other Zoho tools such as Zoho Books (bookkeeping software) and Zoho Inventory (inventory management software). However, these extra tools will cost you money, so Zoho’s big drawback is that a fully integrated Zoho Invoice experience isn’t free.

11. Express Accounts®

Express Accounts by NCH Software® is a free accounting platform focused on sales, accounts payable and receivable, and financial reporting. It breaks its features down into four silos:

  • Sales and accounts receivable. Track the money you’re owed while creating and automating your recurring orders, invoices, and financial reports. You can create quotes in Express Accounts as well.
  • Financial analysis and reports. Create 20 types of reports, generate balance sheets and income statements, streamline your tax return creation, and break sales down by customer, item, or salesperson.
  • Accounts payable. Track the money you owe, and then pay it. You can also create purchase orders and checks.
  • Additional accounting features. If you opt out of the free version and purchase the commercial version, you’ll get advanced features such as multi-business accounting. The free tier still includes automatic data backup and integration with the inventory management platform Inventoria® .

Express Accounts is a solid pick for small business owners who need solely the basics in their accounting software. If you need more advanced features, Express Accounts might not be an ideal choice. For all business owners, the somewhat clunky and outdated user interface might prove challenging to work with.

12. Sunrise®

Although Sunrise is primarily a bookkeeping consulting service, it also offers free self-service accounting software. You can use Sunrise to:

  • Manage your revenue and expenses. The moment you link your bank and credit card accounts to Sunrise, you can start tracking and categorizing all your transactions.
  • Manual and automatic transaction importing. In addition to the above expense and revenue automation, you can manually add new entries whenever you please.
  • Customize and track invoices. Add your logo to your organized, visually appealing invoices. You can often create and send your invoices with just a few clicks.
  • Online and mobile payments. Through Sunrise’s SunPay ® tool, you can accept online and mobile payments from your clients. The result is fewer barriers between you and your customers when payment time arrives.

Sunrise gives small business owners much of what they need for comprehensive accounting in a free, user-friendly package. However, the only obvious way to contact Sunrise is through an online form, meaning you could find yourself stuck in times of urgent need.

More small business accounting resources

Ready to get started with a free small business accounting platform? Before you sign up, read the following SmartBiz Loans® accounting guides to get yourself ready:


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