Overview of QuickBooks
QuickBooks is to online accounting what Microsoft was to PCs in the mid to late 1990s – the entire field is synonymous with its name.
But its brand position isn’t undeserved. It boasts advanced invoicing features, integrates with over 650 third party apps, keeps comprehensive track of your tax needs and manages lending.
In fact, QuickBooks’ online offering has features the desktop version never did like automatic receipts, split transactions, scheduling your invoices and location and class categories for products and inventory. It’s the industry leader for a reason.
Overview of FreshBooks
FreshBooks might not say so out loud, but it’s been built for – and is most popular among – one-man bands, often freelancers who sell a billable service rather than an actual product (made most obvious with the notable absence of a native inventory tracking tool).
It doesn’t offer many of the tools you’ll need out of the box if you’re an ecommerce shopfront or have a handful of staff like budgeting, accounts payable, payroll or tax calculation. Although many of those functions are offered through third party integrations they can cost extra money, and it might be cheaper in the long run to simply opt for a more full-featured program as you grow.
Major features in common between Quickbooks and Freshbooks
Most of what each platform has in common is in providing you with the absolute basics – invoicing customers, noting receipt of payments and keeping track of your everyday accounting needs (general ledger, balance sheet, etc) without much fuss or prompting.
Both connect with third party integrations to manage other functions like tracking inventory, automatically connecting your sales data from your Shopify store or connecting to a payment gateway like Stripe.
Like every other online accounting platform worth its salt, both QuickBooks and FreshBooks have worked hard to offer user-friendly mobile components to their services. iOS and Android app versions of their platforms let you fully manage your finances on the road with almost their entire native feature sets on offer and easy to access and use.
Major differences in Quickbooks vs. Freshbooks
FreshBooks had a big advantage with its project management tool, but in adding its own QuickBooks has recently drawn even. Together with features like process invoicing and multilingual invoicing, it makes QuickBooks the more rounded-out solution that covers any accounting function you might need.
FreshBooks is more stripped back and single user-friendly, which is more suited to a freelancer offering a white collar service who just needs the basics.
FreshBooks also sets it per-month price according to the number of billable clients in your business ($6 for 5, $10 for 50 and $20 for 200), whereas QuickBooks simply charges per month – $12.50, $20 or $35 per month for three months depending on the features you want).
For what ends up being around the same amount of money if you don’t have a huge amount of clients or customers, QuickBooks gives you more features and is much more customizable.
In just two examples of those customization options, FreshBooks gives you two invoice templates to choose from where QuickBooks gives you five, and Quickbooks has almost 80 reports you can generate versus only 10 in FreshBooks.
Overall, if you’re starting from scratch, FreshBooks is built more for the beginner, where there’ll be a steeper learning curve if you dive right into the whole feature set of QuickBooks. If you reach the tipping point where QuickBooks (or some other fuller-featured platform) makes more sense, there are connection protocols between the two in either direction, making importing data into a new service easy.
Choosing the best small business accounting software
The choice between QuickBooks and FreshBooks comes down to the size and style of your business. As we’ve said, FreshBooks is better suited to self-employed sole traders in the service and knowledge industries, where QuickBooks features are more suited to a slightly larger SME selling physical products.
The cheapest FreshBooks plan costs $15 per month ($13.50 if you purchase an annual plan) but $10 per month extra for each new team member you use. So as soon as you grow beyond yourself and one offsider, QuickBooks’ most affordable plan at $25 per month wins out as it includes unlimited team member access.
If you’re a sole operator you’re also a lot less likely to understand everything you need to know about your accounts, which makes FreshBooks’s far superior tech support invaluable. That goes doubly so because anecdotal evidence among the non accounts-savvy suggests QuickBooks’ interface is a little less intuitive than the much more user-friendly FreshBooks.
QuickBooks wins out when you compare the simple number of features, but if you’re in an industry with no need for inventory or other ecommerce-based tools, you’d only be paying for features you don’t need.
All that said, QuickBooks also offers a $15/month online-only plan for freelancers that can give FreshBooks a run for its money. It includes handy extras like the ability to accept payments and track travel mileage along with the basics like invoicing, accepting payments, capturing receipts and tracking income and expenses, and in one big plus FreshBooks doesn’t have, tax reporting.