On April 1st 2022, the UK Government introduced the ‘‘Making Tax Digital’ (MTD) legislation, which effectively aimed to get rid of the old paper and pen system of recording and filing tax returns. Businesses earning more than £85k per year were mandated to move their tax returns online. Despite the earnings requirement, many traders have still moved their books to the cloud thanks to the benefits that good quality accounting software brings to the table.
Moving forward, we’ll be helping you determine the ideal accounting software for your specific position in the business landscape. We have curated a selection of the market’s most popular products, delving into their pricing tiers and highlighting the associated benefits, so you can assess if the software aligns with your individual requirements.
Now, let’s delve into the realm of open accounting software and explore what it truly entails. This is particularly valuable for those new to the business or digital world. Subsequently, we will delve into a selection of the market’s top-rated products, offering you valuable insights into their capabilities and features.
Open Accounting Software – A Quick Breakdown
Accounting software is a cloud-based tool that helps simplify the financial management of your business. Although appearances will vary between companies, the tools work through easy-to-use interfaces, and can help simplify essential tasks such as invoices, tracking your income and expenses, monitoring your inventory, and even managing your employees. The technology can be accessed via mobile app or online, so you have access to your accounts no matter where you are.
Although all open accounting tools in 2023 aim to cover all your financial needs, some still excel beyond others in certain areas. Simplicity and useability are always appealing traits for any software user, especially if you are busy with the other time-consuming tasks that come with a rapidly expanding business, however, there are other things to consider. Some software is preferred by sole traders for example, due to prices and a focus on pleasing small businesses, while larger businesses aim at more scalable software that continues to work efficiently as more users and different functions are added to the interface.
With these considerations in mind, let’s explore some of the best accounting software of 2023 and the compelling benefits they have to offer.
We should begin with one of the most popular options on the market. QuickBooks’ user interface is renowned for its user-friendly design, streamlined functionality, and seamless transfer of crucial financial data, making it an excellent choice for those taking their first steps in accounting. With its scalability, it also continues to be highly efficient no matter how large your enterprise gets.
Because QuickBooks is favoured amongst professional accountants, it can also benefit newcomers to the business or digital world to start with this accounting software. With its award-winning customer support, no necessary long-term contracts, and over 700 application integrations, QuickBooks stands out as one of the most accessible accounting tools in 2023. Ahead, we can see an overview of QuickBooks prices and benefits.
QuickBooks price plans and benefits
- Self Employed (£10/month) – Advertised as tailored for sole traders not VAT registered, this plan is perfect for those starting their business journey or moving into digital. It covers essential functions such as invoicing and self-assessment preparation.
- Simple Start (£14/month) – Ideal for small businesses needing to manage VAT and income tax. This plan introduces Making Tax Digital (MTD) integration and live phone support for assistance with new features.
- Essentials (£24/month) – Recommended for small businesses dealing with suppliers. The Essentials package includes all previous features, adds multi-currency support, and is accessible for up to three users.
- Plus (£34/month) – Suited for businesses managing large scale projects and stock. It offers stock management, budget control functions, project productivity tools, and supports up to five users.
- Advanced (£70/month) – QuickBooks’ most comprehensive plan, designed for businesses requiring batch actions, automated data backups, customised reporting, and bespoke insights. It supports up to 25 users, with a ‘manage employee expenses’ tool in development.
QuickBooks is so popular because it has a plethora of online training tools available. It has a welcoming forum where queries can be raised, and you can also currently try QuickBooks on a 1-month free trial, so why not check it out yourself today!
While discussing some of the top accounting platforms available in the market, we wanted to share how our own AI-powered solution can be beneficial for small businesses looking to handle their own accounting tasks.
With Pulse, you gain a comprehensive view of your business’s financial health, allowing you to steer clear of potential pitfalls. You’ll receive detailed insights on key data points such as Gross Margin, Debtors/Creditors Ratio, Turnover Trend, and Profit & Loss accounts. These insights will help you understand the implications of your financial data and make informed decisions for your business.
Now, here’s the best part: Pulse is completely free! There are no charges involved. As a small business owner, all you need to do is log into your bank account and grant Pulse view-only access to your transactions. Once you do that, you’ll be on your way to obtaining game-changing insights!
Next on our accounting software list is Crunch, which has risen in popularity in the UK as an ideal replacement to Wave accounting. It is popular amongst freelancers and micro businesses, as well as contractors looking for user friendly software. Crunch is unique in that it gives its customers access to an active accounting team who can help guide them through their Crunch data.
By keeping their packages aimed at smaller demographics – between sole traders and small businesses – Crunch’s accountants can maintain great relationships with their clients, which is welcomed by traders who are newer to the market. Their customer service also offers ‘in-app chat’ and live video calls for users who have queries not just about using their service, but also regarding their business. In 2023, Crunch is highly regarded as a reliable, cost-effective choice with its straightforward pricing and robust features.
Crunch prices and benefits
- Sole Trader Pro (£24.50/month) – An ideal package for freelancers and self-employed individuals, particularly those earning under £35k. This upgraded software offers easy access to accountants and includes self-assessment.
- Limited Company Pro (£79.50/month) – Perfect for growing limited companies, Company Pro is aimed at those with earnings over £35k. This plan includes ‘director’s payroll’ and unlimited tax advice. There is also an option to add a ‘Year End Accounts’ service as well.
- Limited Company Premium (£121.50/month) – Suited for businesses in need of extra support. It includes everything in the Limited Company Pro plan, plus Self-Assessment and a Tax optimisation review.
- Small Business (from £159.50/month) – Designed for growing companies, this plan comes with a dedicated accountant. Features include real-time income and tax reports, seamless ecommerce linking, and hassle-free bookkeeping.
Each package that Crunch offers is aimed at businesses at different stages in their growth. As you grow, you can be sure your increasing needs will be catered for, plus the knowledge that you have dedicated, real accountants you can go to for niche advice should bring a peace of mind to your choice. All of Crunch’s packages are currently available for a free 14-day trial.
Next up on our radar is Xero, a software that has garnered praised for its exceptional ease of use and thoughtfully designed interface. The software is efficient at processing real time data, which as businesses scale up can become particularly useful. Just like other software solutions, Xero grants you the flexibility of accessing its app and desktop programs. This means you can effortlessly oversee your business’s financials, from monitoring invoices to managing bank transactions, regardless of your whereabouts The great range Xero offers, along with its competitive pricing makes it a leading name in the industry.
In addition to its core features, Xero distinguishes itself with its impressive array of integrations, boasting compatibility with over 800 business apps. The notable advantage of this expansive coverage is its ability to meet the varied demands of businesses, including inventory management and time tracking. Its commitment to making accounting accessible and straightforward is evident in their past awards for customer service, and they are outspoken in their pursuit of keeping these standards up through 2023.
Xero price plan and benefits
- Starter (£14/month) – Ideal for sole traders, new businesses, and self-employed individuals. This plan allows you to send 20 invoices, enter 5 bills, reconcile bank transactions, submit VAT returns to HMRC, and capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc.
- Standard (£28/month) – Xero’s most popular plan, most ideal for growing small businesses. It includes everything from the Starter plan, but with no limits on sending invoices, quotes, and entering bills.
- Premium (£36/month) – This option is suitable for established businesses of all sizes. It has the same features as the Standard plan, including unlimited invoices, quotes, bill entries, bank reconciliations, VAT submissions to HMRC, CIS calculations and reports, and more!
- Ultimate (£49/month) – The most comprehensive plan, again it includes everything from the Premium plan plus payroll for up to 10 people, expenses for up to 5 people, projects for up to 5 people, and advanced insights with Analytics Plus.
As we can see, each Xero plan is designed to cater to different business needs. Depending on the stage of your business journey, you should select the package which best fits you. Xero offers 50% off their packages for the first 4 months for new customers, so if you’ve been eager to explore these features, now is an excellent time to take advantage of this promotion and put Xero to the test.
Our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning FreshBooks, a software designed with small businesses and freelancers in mind. The appeal of FreshBooks lies in its simplicity, intuitive design, and emphasis on time-saving features. Its comprehensive invoicing and time-tracking capabilities are particularly well-praised features.
Aside from being an impressive all-round accounting tool, FreshBooks offers excellent customer service and a host of integrations, making it flexible and adaptable. Its popularity continues to rise, as evidenced by the rave reviews and loyalty it has garnered amongst its users. As far as accounting software in 2023 goes, FreshBooks continues to be a strong competitor on the market.
FreshBooks prices plus benefits
- Lite (£12/mo) – Best for professionals with basic needs. Key features include sending unlimited invoices to up to 5 clients, tracking expenses, and VAT return filing. Add-ons available.
- Plus (£11/mo) – Aimed at owners desiring automation and insights. The package expands to 50 billable clients, automatic expense tracking, recurring billing, and business health reports.
- Premium (£17.50/mo) – Ideal for growing businesses. This plan offers an unlimited number of billable clients, project profitability tracking, and accounts payable tracking.
- Select – Custom pricing for businesses with more complex needs. Provides all Premium features with additional tailored functionalities. Pricing and benefits can be discussed with the FreshBooks team.
FreshBooks excels in its time-saving features, user-friendly design, and customer service, making it ideal for small businesses and freelancers who prefer a more sociable touch to the products they use. They are currently offering 50% off for free months across the range of their pricing brackets, or a variety of free trials on different products.
Finally, we come to Sage, a prominent name in the realm of accounting software worldwide. It is most known for its comprehensive feature set and scalability, which has made it a natural choice for businesses of all sizes. Its powerful suite of tools cover everything from invoicing to inventory management, and while it is not known for its most user-friendly interface, it is widely agreed that once its tools are mastered, it is one of the best products out there for business finance management.
Sage has some unique offers to its customers which set it apart from other accounting software companies and go much further than what an entrepreneur can access from its software alone. The platform’s Member Masterclass gives users access to insights from top experts, helping them overcome business challenges and build resilience. Sage’s community forums also allow customers to connect with like-minded businesses and industry experts for valuable advice and insights.
Sage price plans and benefits
- Start (£14.00/mo excl VAT) – Designed for sole traders and freelancers. This plan offers the ability to create and send sales invoices, track payments, perform automatic bank reconciliations, and calculate and submit VAT, ensuring you’re Making Tax Digital ready.
- Standard (£28.00/mo excl VAT) – Tailored for sole traders and start-ups, this is Sage’s most popular plan. It includes everything from the Start plan plus additional features like the ability to manage and submit CIS, run advanced reports, send quotes and estimates, forecast cash flow, manage purchase invoices, and automate receipt capture. An unlimited number of users can access the software under this plan.
- Plus (£36.00/mo excl VAT) – Suited for growing small businesses and allows for unlimited users. This plan offers all features included in the Standard plan, and expands to include multi-currency banking and invoicing as well as inventory management.
Although Sage may seem a little overwhelming for beginners, the investment in learning this tool can pay off in the long run. With its comprehensive feature set and great scalability, Sage continues to maintain its position as a reliable and professional choice in accounting software in 2023. New clients can claim valuable gift cards when they sign up, ranging from £30 – £100 depending on the product which can make for a nice welcome gesture!
While we can see that many of the popular accounting software options available in 2023 offer similar services, there are distinct differences that can help businesses make the right choice. Ultimately, the best accounting software for you will depend on factors such as business size, what industry you are in, your current budget, and your specific needs. By considering these factors, reading reviews, and making queries with the companies who offer these software, businesses can make an informed decision that aligns with their requirements. Once you are all set up, consider integrating a fintech company into your software and get an even greater perspective of your business finances to help rapidly expand your operations.
Let Pulse Help Today!
At Pulse, we offer accounting software users a quick sign-up process that grants access to real-time insights into your business. With Open Banking and Open Accounting seamlessly integrated, you can empower yourself with actionable intelligence on turnover trends, gross margin analysis, and cash flow issues. It’s free to use, and you receive monthly snapshots via email. Your data will remain perfectly safe, too, as Pulse has limited access and cannot take any action on your account, plus, you can revoke access at any time. Contact us today to learn more!
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