As a small business, accounting software can transform your working life. It's the easiest way to monitor money flowing in and out, bill customers, and simply process your finances at the end of the year.
If you're a freelancer or an agency, there are other benefits to using accounting software: you know exactly how much time you've spent on each client and project, and can easily process invoices when it's billing time.
Two of the most popular accounting tools for small businesses are FreshBooks and QuickBooks. While they are both powerful tools and popular for good reasons, they work best in different use cases and for different types of businesses.
Read on for our summary of FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks and work out which accounting tool is best for you.
P.S. Also considering Xero? Read our comparison of Xero vs. QuickBooks Online here.
When to choose QuickBooks
When we talk about QuickBooks in this post, we're focusing on QuickBooks Online (QBO), the cloud-based accounting tool from Intuit, rather than their traditional desktop version. Cloud-based SaaS solutions are always our top recommendation, since you can keep all your business apps synced and updated without having to do the manual work.
1. If your business sells products
QuickBooks is the stand-out choice if you're selling a product such as software or retail goods, while FreshBooks is our top pick for managing clients and billing as a freelancer.
With QuickBooks, you can record your daily sales from every channel and sync sales systems like PayPal, Square and Shopify. QuickBooks also offers inventory management to easily see what you have in stock and on order from your vendors.
If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, take a look at QuickBooks Point of Sale to simplify your in-person transactions. As you'd expect, it integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks Online, so you can see your POS purchases alongside all your other accounting data.
2. If you need a scalable solution and aren't scared of complexity
QuickBooks offers fully-fledged accounting software that's built to scale. It's designed for a much wider array of business types and sizes than FreshBooks – and has a very comprehensive set of features. One Capterra review from a long-term QuickBooks user says: "The proverbial 800 pound gorilla still works!"
3. If you want just one financial tool in your stack
QuickBooks is a great all-in-one solution for your accounting and invoicing needs. There are no major gaps – and if there are, other QuickBooks products like QuickBooks Point of Sale will fill many of these. This means you can get away with a smaller app stack.
On the other hand, FreshBooks is focused on a narrower audience: freelancers, small businesses and solopreneurs looking for simple and hassle-free software. Since it avoids complexity, you're more likely to need to sync FreshBooks to other tools.
4. If your accountant prefers QuickBooks
While your accountant's preferences may not determine your decision, being aligned on the tools you're using can make both your lives easier.
QuickBooks tends to be the top choice for accountants in the U.S., while Xero is popular among accountants in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. It’s unlikely that your accountant will have any issues working with QuickBooks, which may speed up your tax return compared to giving them access to tools like FreshBooks.
5. If you have a mid-sized or fast-growing business
if your business is currently mid-sized or fast-growing, QuickBooks Online may be a better fit for you. FreshBooks has a fantastic feature set for small businesses, but when your business grows, you'll need to switch tools.
If you try out QuickBooks and love it now, you'll likely still love it when your business doubles or triples in size.
When to choose FreshBooks
1. If you're a freelancer
FreshBooks is designed with small business owners in mind, especially freelancers. If you listen to entrepreneurship podcasts like Being Boss, you might have heard their ads and recognize their brand.
Of businesses that reviewed FreshBooks on G2 Crowd, 18.6% are in marketing and advertising – many of which will be self-employed consultants. Most QuickBooks Online reviewers, by contrast, are accountants (what did we say earlier about accountants loving QB?).
The exception is QuickBooks Self Employed, which offers simple invoicing and expenses tracking. However, its lack of time tracking functionality can be an issue for solopreneurs.
FreshBooks, however, makes it easy to track time spent per client or project, so you can check your productivity in any time period. And when it comes to invoicing, you can quickly turn the hours into an invoice or mark hours as already billed without creating an invoice from them.
Other FreshBooks advantages include simple project management, integration with Stripe to get paid online, and automated and manual invoice reminders for unpaid bills.
2. If you're just getting started with your business
If you're working on a side hustle or just getting started with a small business idea, you may not want to go all-in with a fancy accounting software just yet.
FreshBooks is a better choice than QuickBooks Online for simplicity, although QBO's complexity has its own advantages – you can do much more with the system.
3. If you want user-friendly software that's quick to set up
FreshBook's main benefit is that it's extremely easy to use. On G2 Crowd, it has a rating of 9.5/10 for ease of use, 9.3 for ease of setup and 9.4 for ease of admin. In comparison, QuickBook's rating for ease of use is 8.1.
4. If you want quick responses from support
FreshBooks' support team gets a whole lot of love. One long-term user writes that for the relatively few times it may be needed, FreshBooks support is extremely responsive. They offer a website contact form, an actual email address managed by humans and toll-free phone numbers.
With your personal support key, you can easily give the FreshBooks team secure access to your account to make any fixes or help you set things up. FreshBooks is also known for having a great refund policy, which makes upgrades and downgrades more straightforward.
5. If you want native integrations with your other tools
FreshBooks has a remarkably easy-to-navigate integrations library with the most popular tools for small business owners. When it comes to CRM integrations in particular, FreshBooks offers accessible out-the-box syncs, including tested connections with HubSpot, Capsule and AgileCRM.
If you need a guaranteed two-way contact sync between FreshBooks or QuickBooks and your other favorite apps, check PieSync's connections between hundreds of tools.
QuickBooks pricing vs. FreshBooks pricing: which is the better deal?
Both FreshBooks and QuickBooks are affordable accounting tools for small businesses and solopreneurs, but their pricing depends on your business size and the features you need.
FreshBooks’ pricing plans have a maximum number of billable clients, which can push businesses with a wider client base to choose QuickBooks instead.
However, if your business needs time tracking and you’re price-conscious, FreshBooks is likely to be a better choice: it’s available from $15 on their Lite plan, compared to $40 onwards with QuickBooks.
The recap: QuickBooks Online vs. FreshBooks and when to choose which accounting tool for your business
While QuickBooks is the stronger all-round accounting tool for businesses of all sizes, FreshBooks tends to be the better choice for small and one-person businesses.
|When QuickBooks is best||When FreshBooks is best|
|Your business sells products||You're a freelancer or solopreneur|
|You need a scalable solution and aren't scared of complexity||You're just getting started with your business|
|You want just one financial tool in your stack||You want user-friendly software that's quick to set up|
|Your accountant prefers QuickBooks||You want quick responses from support|
|You have a mid-sized or fast-growing business||You want native integrations with your other tools|
Whichever accounting tool you choose, make sure to integrate it with the rest of your app stack. Use PieSync to sync your contacts two-ways between your CRM and accounting software and know exactly which contacts have paid, need to be billed or have upgraded or downgraded.
You can also use PieSync to connect FreshBooks and QuickBooks if you decide to use both tools in combination.