What do you use for small business accounting?

For the past 2 years I've been using Quickbooks to handle the bookkeeping for my business. But, I freakin' love FreshBooks and I want to use it for invoicing. The problem that I have is that I can't import FreshBooks invoices/payments into Quickbooks so it means I have to do double entry in order to keep my Quickbooks accounts up to date. So I'm on the hunt for a replacement for Quickbooks.

My needs are pretty minimal. I need to be able to keep a journal for a paypal account and a checking account. I need to be able to enter bills for things like rent, hosting, contractors, etc… I then need to be able to track when I pay those invoices. And, as stated above, I want to be able to import (an auto-import would be ideal) invoices from Freshbooks. Even if I have to manually mark those invoices as paid, that's fine.

I tried using Wave Accounting for a little bit, but didn't care for it much. (side note, you can check out a review of Wave Accounting at Cloudwards) I've been looking around trying to find another solution, but I'm at a loss.

My wife suggested I ask my network of friends as they are a smart bunch and probably have this solved. So I'm asking, what accounting system do you use? Please leave a comment and let me know! I'd really appreciate it!

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  1. Scott Hack on February 15, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Jumping in because I’d like to hear what others say as well. I also am using Wave, but I’m not sure it is a great fit for me either.

  2. Tony Perez on February 15, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I was going to recommend Wave.. ha ha.. The other one you might look into is Outright: http://outright.com/. I have heard different stories about it, but might be what you’re looking for. I tried it momentarily but ended up sticking with Wave. Just a thought.

    • John on February 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      My problem with Outright, and I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong, it seemed that the only way to create an account was to connect directly to my online bank account/paypal account. That’s not exactly what I want.

      Appreciate the input!

  3. Sheri Hofeling on February 15, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Hi John, I always have used Quick Books but am curious about FreshBooks. I have never heard of it. Why do you like it better for invoices?
    I do have some thoughts though on your questions about quick books. You should go to LinkedIn and join QuickBooks Tips & Tricks group. I have been able to get a lot of information there on add ons and work arounds, etc. There is probably someone out there who knows how to import your FreshBook invoices.

    • John on February 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      Hi Sheri!

      FreshBooks is a web-based invoice system that has an excellent API that lets other web developers integrate 3rd party programs to push info directly in to it. For instance, I’m building my own CRM application that I plan on releasing to the public at some point, and I intend to include integration to FreshBooks.

      I’ll definitely look on LinkedIn for the group and see if anybody has a solution. Unfortunately, I’ve looked at both Freshbooks and QuickBooks’ own sites and there is talk of integration, but sadly no results yet. That would be my perfect scenario, but alas, it’s just not there yet.

  4. Mike Bijon on February 15, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    We built a custom integration of Harvest with the QuickBooks Online API. Without the integration we’d be doing manual entry again, not worth it.

  5. George Diab on February 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I like freshbooks, but I don’t use quickbooks. I had thought you could do invoicing out of quickbooks?

    Another thought is that I knOw fresh books has an API, and maybe it could be leveraged in some way to make it work for you?

    • John on February 15, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      Quickbooks does have invoicing built in. But, to automate the sending of the emails via email, you have to use Outlook. I use a different email program so it means I need to manually print to PDF and send the email. I’ve done it for the past 2 years and I just think there has to be a better way.

      • jbledsoejr on October 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm

        John, that is exactly what I am dealing with. I have used QB for about 5-6 years. But FB is sooo much better at invoicing, and I want that! Have you come up with a solution yet?

        • John on October 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm

          Sadly, I have not come up with any sort of solution for this. I had to quit using FB since I was so frustrated by having to do duplicate entries in QB. One day…

  6. matt mcinvale on February 16, 2012 at 5:32 am

    QuickBooks + Bookkeeper. Stop wasting your time with books, hire someone to do that for you. With the version of Quickbooks we have, you definitely don’t need Outlook to send invoices.

  7. Aaron on February 16, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I’m using Outright but it falls into the “I hate it less than I hate everything else” category. Like you, I’d love to have something that falls into the “I like it” category.

  8. Kasey Bayne on February 16, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Hey John!

    I’m Kasey from FreshBooks, LOVE this post!! Lots of good suggestions, but thought I’d add in my FreshBooks POV as well 🙂

    There are a TON of awesome integrations with FreshBooks that make the data transfer really smooth, taking away a lot of that unpleasant data entry – http://community.freshbooks.com/addons/#14 has a good list to start.

    Definitely second the API suggestions! Our API team is awesome and can help as well – support @ freshbooks.com is a good place to start (and http://developers.freshbooks.com/) if you wanted to look into this route a bit more.

    And… let’s say that you wanted to make the FreshBooks/QuickBooks process a bit easier until you found something new…

    We’re part of the Intuit IPP roll-out, so there will be a seamless integration between FreshBooks and QuickBooks, making many business owners and their accountants very happy folks 🙂 Let me know if you want to hear more (we have some guides for the meantime too),

    I’m [email protected], or 1-877-262-5122. Feel free to get in touch anytime (anyone else with questions too :)) – it’s what I do!

    Thanks again (we love you too! 🙂 and keep me posted on how things go!

  9. Kara on February 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Hi John,
    I have some experience with many of the software tools that you mention. I also am a big fan of Freshbooks. When I had my practice, I used Freshbooks and Xero together due to the seamless integration, mobility and ease of use. Most of my clients used this set up also, and I liked it because it let them do what they did well – invoicing, and let me handle the accounting side in Xero. http://www.xero.com/ I am proud to say that there were no tears with this combination. Often there is friction in an all in one solution or competing solutions due to duplicate efforts as you mention, and also end users unintentionally making errors in the general ledger. With any of the software tools mentioned, one of the key pieces in making any successful is a solid set up and structure! 🙂

  10. Catherine-Xero on February 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Hi John – great to see Xero get a mention here – thanks for posting your question. Looking through your list of requirements Xero certainly can handle all of those! Your PayPal account can be set up in Xero to behave like a bank account with transactions automatically coming into Xero from PayPal. Your FreshBooks invoices and payments can also be automatically imported and synched in Xero. As for loading bills, you can use repeating invoices for regular bills (or customers) so they’re automatically entered on a regular schedule (& even automatically emailed out to your customers), or enter supplier invoices you receive and then if you hook up your bank account, these transactions will be automatically imported into Xero and matched up to the invoices you’ve entered – magic bank reconciliation!!
    You’re welcome to use our free trial and let us know if you’ve got any questions.
    Here are some links to our Help Center on the things I’ve mentioned:
    – PayPal account in Xero http://goo.gl/5ajWG
    – FreshBooks integration http://goo.gl/lvuJf and video http://goo.gl/e0zx6
    – Repeating invoices http://goo.gl/l6y7k
    – Add a supplier invoice http://goo.gl/DRAzi
    – Bank feeds http://goo.gl/uHxU4 and reconciliation http://goo.gl/ViFd3
    – Free trial here https://www.xero.com/signup/

  11. Jim Raffel on February 28, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Great post and comments! Struggling with this very issue myself at the moment. Love QuickBooks and have used it since it was a beta product. It just lacks sophisticated collaborative capabilities and as I outsource some of our bookkeeping and invoicing it’s making it tricky.

  12. Richard on March 15, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Hey John. I haven’t used it myself, but I have heard pretty good things about ZenCash (www.zencash.com).

  13. Peggy from WizardofeBooks.com on March 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Gotta say, I really love Wave. I just switched this year to doing my own books, and I find it to be a very friendly interface. Some minor glitches, but I have found their tech support people to be quite responsive.

  14. aquarterit on July 4, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Hey John,

    I’ve seen that this is an older article – but in case you are still looking for a solution, have you heard about zapier.com? It’s a neat integration solution that allows you to connect various services and exchange information (amongst others freshbook and quickbook).

    • John on July 4, 2013 at 1:45 am

      You absolutely rock! I’ve actually been using zapier for a while, and never thought to look for quickbooks in there. Since I switched to QuickBooksOnline, I know take payments directly through their online payment network, so I don’t know that I’m in need of FreshBooks integration anymore, but I’m stoked to see it’s at least an option!

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