A Comparison of the Best Online Accounting Software for Small Businesses in 2021

  • Online accounting software for small businesses is becoming more and more popular in Australia. 
  • You don't have to buy expensive online accounting software options for your business anymore. Cloud computing software solutions are here to help you.
  • What is the best program for small business accounting? We've compared the key differences, benefits and features between popular online accounting solutions from MYOB, Xero, Quickbooks, Reckon, Saasu and Moneyworks.
  • Read on to decide which out of these big names in online accounting software can provide the best package for your business.

online accounting software options

If you are an Australian small business owner, you no longer need to buy expensive online accounting software packages for your PC or MAC. Now there are different online accounting software packages for small businesses to choose from.

Before we go into the details, let’s take a look at what makes cloud accounting software different to traditional desktop accounting software packages for small businesses.

What Are the Key Differences Between Cloud and Desktop Accounting?

The biggest difference between the two is that Cloud Accounting offers you mobility; you are no longer bound to your desk and you can access your accounts from anywhere and anytime as long as you have access to the Internet. All your accounting data is securely held in the “cloud” hence the term Cloud Computing.

The other major difference is the cost; you will generally be paying for the Online Accounting software option on a subscription basis. Most companies like Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Freshbooks and Saasu will offer monthly payment plans and you can cancel at any time whereas you would only pay once for the desktop version (although more costly up-front).

One of the benefits of the cloud based software for small business is that future upgrades and new features are included in the ongoing payment plans and you don’t need to worry about backups, maintenance, future upgrades; allowing you to focus on your business. They are taken care off by the software provider.

It is also a lot easier for you to work with your accountant because they can have up-to-date access to your accounts and you can collaborate a lot easier, unlike the old days where you had to send Zip files of your backup file and you'd never know who had the master or most to up-to-date version.

What Are the Best Online Accounting Software Options?

The good news is there are now plenty of choices which can also make it difficult to choose from, making the comparison for online accounting software for small business a much easier process.

It can be dizzying looking at the various options available but at the end of the day, it’s about finding the right online accounting software package that will satisfy your business and accounting needs and budget.

You can expect all the accounting packages to do all the basic functions like paying invoices and invoicing customers, general ledger and BAS reporting so here are just a few other things for you to consider when comparing online accounting software options:

  • Payroll (important as you bring on more employees)
  • Fixed Assets (if you have a lot of equipment requiring depreciation)
  • Inventory (keeping track of your stock)
  • Time Capture and Billing (important for professionals and services industry)
  • Recipient Created Tax Invoice (essential for some industries)
  • Bank Statement Imports
  • Bank Feed (can save you lots of time)
  • Link to POS (Point of Sales) - particularly important for retailers
  • Link to E-Commerce - makes sure your E-Commerce invoices can be imported into the Accounting software
  • Integration with other Add-Ons (sometimes you may not find a package will satisfy all of your requirements and need extra Add-ons to address this)

A Cloud Accounting Software Comparison for Small Businesses

Below is a high level table showing some of the popular online Accounting software packages for small business and their available features:

Feature Moneyworks Express MYOB AccountRight Basics MYOB LiveAccounts QuickBooks Online Simple Start Reckon Accounts EasyStart 2013 Saasu Xero
Quoting Y Y Coming Soon Y Y Y Y (manual process)
Invoicing Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Purchases Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Inventory Y Y N Y Y Y N
Bank statement import Y N Y N Y Y Y
Bank feed N Y Y Y N Y Y
Multi-currency Y Y N y Y Y Y
Payroll N Y (basic) Y N Y y Y
Time recording and billing Y Y N N Y N N
Contacts Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Budgets Y Y N Y Y Y Y
  Balance sheet Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
  Profit and loss Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
  Sales Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
  Purchases Y Y (but not a standard report) Y Y Y Y Y
  SBR lodgement N N N N Y N N
Mobile access Y N Y (but not mobile-specific) Y N Y Y
Tagging Y N N N N Y N
Integration with other services Y Y N Y Y Y Y
Multi-user Y Y N Y Y Y Y
Data import and/or export Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Source: www.bit.com.au   

What online accounting software features do YOU need for your business?

Editor's Update 09/07/20:

Thanks for reading our article by Phil Joel. We hope it has helped you gain a better understanding of the cloud accounting options available for SMEs. It can feel like a big decision when you switch over from one type of software to another, and many SME business owners have concerns about using cloud-based software.  We've answered some of these FAQs below.

Phil Joel

Director at SavvySME

Comments (2)
Ling Lee

Ling Lee at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Great article! Thanks for the comparison table too! By the way, I recently wrote a comparison article between Xero, Quickbooks and MYOB: https://www.savvysme.com.au/article/1528-reviewed-accounting-apps--myob-xero-and-quickbooks :D

Shail Akhil

Shail Akhil, MD / Chief Calcul8or at

If "The biggest difference between the two is that Cloud Accounting offers you mobility", and you generally use your laptop for all business purposes (like I do), does it really matter whether you're connecting to the cloud or storing your data on your local drive? One of the greatest advantages of the latter is that you don't even need an internet connection.

Sure, some risks of keeping data locally is that your hard drive could crash, or it might be stolen, resulting in the loss of all your data. But if, like me, you are in the habit of regularly backing up your data, then that risk is drastically reduced.

What really astounds me about the rush to the cloud is that noone ever seems to talk much about the associated risks of doing so. Some of these are:

1. Handing over your precious data to people you've never met, and wouldn't know if you bumped into on the street.

2. Governments all over the world have consistently shown their growing keenness to get their hands on as much data on individuals as possible. Some see this as a good thing, while others are alarmed by the idea. Placing your data in the hands of organisations who could have their arms twisted by governments in the future will expose you to that risk whether you like it or not.

3. If you were a malicious hacker, who would you go after, little old me and my puny laptop, or the motherload of data you could get your hands on that online SAAS providers hold?

To be honest, the very thought of handing any kind of data, whether accounting or anything else, to an online provider makes me feel a bit sick in the stomach. Am I the only one?