There are many advertised free accounting software packages when completing a search on the Internet. Most of these companies are only offering a free trial of anything between 30 and 90 days.
Once you have started using the software and invested some time in it, you may need to continue paying the monthly fee.
Some packages are entirely free like Zoho Books and typically have a paid-for version for extra features or additional support. The advantage of some of them is that your software can grow with your business.
We look at some of the best free accounting software for small businesses.
Why use Accounting Software
If you run your own small business, you have two options for accounting, do it yourself or employ a bookkeeper or accountant to do it for you.
There are advantages for both, and it will depend on your bookkeeping skills which you use. Accounting software has developed over the last few years and is much more user friendly than it used to be.
Most packages have a simple to use dashboard and make it easy to add sales invoices and bills. They can even have apps where you can invoice on the go as you finish a job. Using accounting software can save you both time and money.
If you complete most of the work yourself, you will save money for bookkeeping or accounting fees. You can invoice clients instantly and, in some cases, get paid online.
Free Cloud-Based Accounting Software UK
When looking at free software, most of the options are cloud-based.
Using Cloud accounting has some advantages and disadvantages.
Cloud Accounting Advantages
- You can use the software from anywhere that has an internet connection
- The software is always up to date
- With some, you can share a link with your bookkeeper or accountant
- Double entry accounting
- Security built-in
Cloud Accounting Disadvantages
- It would help if you had a good broadband speed
- Can get locked into a provider as a third party holds all the data
- Learning a new system
What are the options for Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses?
I have tried and tested products are Bokio, GNUCash, FreeAgent, Pandle, QuickFile, Wave apps and Zoho Books, these are all cloud-based, but Manager is downloaded to your computer.
Some are completely free, while others have an upgraded version with additional features or support.
There are a few different reasons they offer it for free, including advertising, paid support and upgrades.
How to Choose the Best Accounting Software
When looking at small business accounting software, start by writing down what you need from the software. This may include sales invoices, track expenses, stock, debtors, creditors, multi-currency support, time tracking, payroll, online payments and linked bank accounts.
You will not find some of these features in free accounting software, and you will be better looking at a paid-for option. Some of the best accounting software options are FreshBooks, Zoho Books, QuickBooks, Xero and Freeagent.
Most of the software packages are easy to set up and use. They have a simple dashboard giving an overview of the business finances and links to add new transactions.
9 Best FREE Accounting Software for Small Business
Below is a quick rundown of 9 FREE bookkeeping software packages.
- Bokio – Great for Freelancers and Self Employed
- Crunch – Choice if you want to pay for accounting support
- FreeAgent – Choice for NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank NI business account users
- GNUCash – Download application, an alternative to Excel
- Manager – Download application, another alternative to Excel
- Pandle – Great for small business, upgrade to paid version for more features
- QuickFile – Easy to use dashboard
- Wave Apps – US or Canada best options due to support
- Zoho Books – Will grow with your business. Read our full review
As a business grows the needs of the accounting software will change. It might be worthwhile comparing free versions to paid software.
Making Tax Digital
You may have heard of making tax digital but not know what it means.
Making Tax Digital is the new way the government wants small business to report their accounting. At the moment, it is running for companies who have to register for VAT.
In the future, plans are being made for self-assessment to use, making tax digital ITSA as well. This will mean that you will need to either use an accountant, compliant software or bridging software.
Bokio Accounting Software
We have recommended Bokio accounting software, due to being free. Bokio has announced that in 2022 they will start to introduce payment plans. Some of the biggest changes are that the free plan will not include adding a logo and colour to invoices, invoice reports, accepting card payments with Stripe and no quotes. Although Bokio is worth a look it is worth comparing to the alternatives.
Bokio is completely free accounting software and has the advantage that it is linked to accountants. It means if you have a problem, there are people available to help but at a price.
It is suitable for small businesses, sole traders and freelancers.
The dashboard is straightforward, giving a breakdown of expenses and customers. I have set up one of my clients on Bokio, and they picked it up very quickly. They had previously used Wave Apps, but they decided it was time to change due to bank feeds and support withdrawal.
Advantages of Bokio
- Record as many transactions as you want free of charge
- VAT returns are making tax digital compliant
- Automatic banks feed with most banks.
- Easy to use dashboard
- Will do most simple accounting tasks.
- You can invite other users, bookkeepers, or accountants to share the software.
- Manage Expenses
Disadvantages of Bokio
- Not much choice for invoicing layout.
- Not many financial reports are available.
- It can be expensive if you need support.
Crunch Accounting Software
Crunch was started in 2007 by its founder Darren Fell after he found shortfalls in accountancy firms. He, therefore, decided to set up an all-inclusive service for freelancers, contractors and small businesses.
Crunch Accounting software is ideal for self-employed, freelancers and small businesses. They offer a free version, which is simple to use.
On reviewing the software, I can not see any reports, which I feel is essential as a bookkeeper.
Crunch Accounting Software Advantages
- Easy to use dashboard
- Easy to setup
- Free version
- Upload bank statements
- Unlimited transactions
- Accounting invoicing on the go
- Unlimited Expenses
- Cloud-based accounting software
Disadvantages of Crunch
- No financial reports available
- Can’t set the VAT rate
- Straightforward invoice template with no options.
If you are planning to complete the accounts yourself, then Crunch, I feel, is not the best option.
If you need support with the bookkeeping and submitting accounts, you will need to upgrade at £71.50 per month. This is not the cheapest option for software but may suit some businesses for the support and additional features.
FreeAgent Software for Small Businesses
FreeAgent is an excellent small business accounting software if you are a current account holder at NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank NI. Otherwise, prices start from £9.50 per month for a sole trader or £14.50 for Limited Companies.
The advantage of FreeAgent is that if you can get it for free, it is a fully integrated, easy-to-use software package. It is a good alternative and has some advanced features to paid software of QuickBooks or Xero.
It might even be worth looking at switching bank account to get the best accounting software for your business. If you are thinking of switching, look into it fully and check out the bank charges.
Features of FreeAgent
- Free if business banking at NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank NI.
- Easy to use Dashboard
- Integrated Payroll
- Open banking integration
- VAT returns are Making Tax Digital compliant
- Lots of invoice templates and unlimited invoices on the go with the App
- Accepts online payments
- Time and expense tracking
- Good customer support
- Easy to use bank reconciliation
- Lots of financial reports including Profit and Loss and Balance sheet
Disadvantages of FreeAgent
- It is only free for some business current account holders
- Pricing matches other packages
- Reported as clunky and awkward
GNUCash is a free open source accounting software for small businesses that you download to your PC.
GNUCash is not a cloud-based software, so it will only allow a single user.
GNUCash is not as pretty as some of the other accounting software we have looked at, but it is usable and has all the features for sole traders to manage their accounts.
- Downloaded to your PC no internet connection needed
- Open Source software
- Enter sales invoices
- Ideal for personal or freelancers
- Financial Reports available
- Alternative to Excel Templates
- Not as user friendly as others
- Very basic invoicing
- Will calculate VAT but not making tax digital compliant
Manager Accounting Software
Manager is a free accounting software package that is downloaded directly to your PC. There are paid-for versions if you require more users.
Advantages of Manager
- Quick to set up
- No internet connection is required.
- Easy to use
- Send invoices directly to customers.
- Most reports are available.
- Lots of on-page support topics
Disadvantages of Manager
- Full version expensive
- Not compatible with Making Tax Digital, but they are planning to add this in future editions.
Read the Manager Accounting Software review.
Pandle Accounting Software for Small Business
Pandle is free to use, but you will require the paid-for version if you want bank feeds.
I recently set up an account for a small charity in the UK; after a couple of hours of training, they were up and running the software themselves. They have now used the software for a couple of years, and it does everything they need.
Advantages of Pandle
- Easy to use dashboard
- Issue Customer Invoices
- Keep track of outstanding invoices.
- Reports are available, and they are adding more.
- Videos on how to complete transactions
- Developed by Accountants
- set up credit card account
Disadvantages of Pandle free accounting software
- Bank feeds a paid-for version.
- Not as many reports as some of the more popular packages
Read our Pandle Review to see if the software is suitable for your business.
Visit the Pandle website to sign up for free accounting software.
QuickFile Free Accounting Software UK
QuickFile Free Accounting Software – Dashboard
A lot of work has gone into QuickFile over the last few years. When I first looked at it, I didn’t include it as I struggled with the layout. It now has a clear dashboard and is easy to set up. It also has some features as standard, which are paid for in other apps.
QuickFile is free until you reach 1000 nominal transactions per year. An example of a nominal transaction is a sales invoice that will record in the customer account and a sales account and therefore has 2 nominal transactions. Once you reach 1000, the price is £45 + VAT.
Advantages of QuickFile
- Easy to set up
- Choice of invoice design
- Upload documents
- Can handle estimates, purchase orders and delivery notes
- The clear layout of the dashboard
- At a fee, they can send out accounting invoicing by post.
- VAT Returns completed directly with HMRC
- Lots of reports to download or view on screen
Disadvantages of QuickFile
- automatic importing of bank data have an annual fee.
- If your business expands, you will need to pay for the software, but still cheaper than other packages.
Wave Apps was one of the recommended cloud accounting software for small business. In recent years they have concentrated in the United States and Canada.
They have closed all new UK customers and may withdraw customer support in the future. If you are a Wave user, you will also notice that the bank feed is not working.
It is an excellent option for any business based in the US or Canada investing in new features.
Zoho Books has a free version of their accounting software, making it an ideal starter, knowing that it can grow with your business.
Zoho Books is a full accounting software package offering all the features you would expect plus, mileage and time tracking.
They have also developed 40 integrated apps, so if you need another solution for the business they may have something available.
Advantages of Zoho Books
- Full accounting software
- 1000 invoices per year on free plan
- Expense and mileage tracking
- Excellent Dashboard with easy use
- Full mobile app
- email support
- 40 apps to integrate
- Can transfer to paid version as business grows
- Making Tax Digital VAT
Disadvantages of Zoho Books
- Bank Feeds are a paid option
- Can be harder to learn then others
Visit the site of Zoho Books.
Are there any other Free Accounting Software options?
If you are just a small business and do not need all the accounting package features, then there are free Excel bookkeeping templates available. We offer a couple which is found on the page.
Our templates include a Cashbook for recording simple income and expenses and a combined budget and cashbook, enabling you to compare the budget and actual figures during the year.
In the past, we did offer a free accounting software called Account-It, but due to having to keep it up to date and better software packages available, we withdrew it from the website. If you already have it downloaded, you can continue to use it, but no support is available.
Paid for Accounting Software
Although a free version might be suitable to start, if you are planning to expand the business, it might be better to use a paid version with more features from the start. In the long term, it might save time and money to transfer the accounts.
Please read our guide on the best accounting software for small businesses. It includes the best software for start-ups, products, service businesses and is free. We have listed the pros and cons for each one and included pricing.
Below are a few Accounting packages that offer a free trial.
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