Small Business Software Free

Small Business Software Free

When you run a small business, or perhaps even just a side-gig, software can be hard to afford. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find free business software as well. We’re going to look at some sites where you can get some useful software for your business and it won’t cost you anything.

Have you ever wondered what the best software for small business is? It can be overwhelming when you’re trying to compare software for your website or office computers. We’ve compiled a list of free downloads for small business. These free small business software downloads will help you grow your business and save time with accounting, inventory management, invoicing, payroll, and more.

I was just tidying up my computer and found some software I use for my small business.

If your business is fairly small, chances are you will have a limited budget. You will want the best free small business software to help run your business. Although many free options can be found on the internet, they mostly require lengthy training courses or charge monthly fees.

If you’re a one-man show, ready to start your own business, or just outgrowing the online tools that helped you build clientele in the past, then this article is for you.

The 7 Best Free Accounting Software of 2023

We evaluated the best free bookkeeping software by user friendliness, accounting features, customer service, and more.

Best overall

Zoho

Zoho Invoice

4.1 out of 5 stars

4.1

Free for life

  • proOnline payment acceptance
  • proClient portal
  • proLate invoice reminders

Best for new businesses

Lendio

Lendio

3.9 out of 5 stars

3.9

Free for life

  • proEasy expense categorization
  • proTax guidance
  • proBuilt-in loan application

Best for freelance

Wave

Wave

3.8 out of 5 stars

3.8

Free for life

  • proIncome and expense tracking
  • proMulti-business management
  • proHelpful reports

Best spreadsheet

GnuCash

GnuCash

2.9 out of 5 stars

2.9

Free for life

  • proThorough reports
  • proOpen-source software
  • proMulti-currency management

Best for basics

ZipBooks

ZipBooks

2.8 out of 5 stars

2.8

Starting from

$0.00

  • proVendor management
  • proCustomer management
  • proPayment acceptance

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Kylie McQuarrie

By Kylie McQuarrie

Business Accounting Staff Writer

November 29, 2022

7 min read

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We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our editorial guidelines and advertising disclosure.

The bottom line: Zoho Invoice is our favorite free accounting software. Even though it’s technically an invoicing product, Zoho Invoice lets you scan receipts, track expenses, generate reports, accept payments—all tasks that most accounting software programs charge you for. 

Plus, Zoho’s full-fledged accounting software, Zoho Books, has a free plan for businesses that earn less than $50K USD per year. Coupled with Zoho Invoice, Zoho Books is a well-rounded and completely free solution for freelancers on a budget.

But if Zoho isn’t the right fit for you, there are other free bookkeeping software picks for you. We review the best free bookkeeping apps and software choices below.

Best free accounting software 2023

  • Zoho Invoice: Best overall
  • Sunrise by Lendio: Best for new businesses
  • Wave: Best for freelancers
  • GnuCash: Best spreadsheet
  • ZipBooks: Best for basics

Best free accounting software for small business

Software brandPricingUnlimited invoicingReceipt scanningPayment acceptanceGet started
Zoho InvoiceFree for lifeIcon Yes  DarkYes*Icon Yes  DarkYesIcon Yes  DarkYesSee Plans
LendioFree for lifeIcon Yes  DarkYesIcon Yes  DarkYesIcon Yes  DarkYesSee Plans
WaveFree for lifeIcon Yes  DarkYesIcon No  DarkNoIcon Yes  DarkYesSee Plans
GnuCashFree for lifeIcon No  DarkNoIcon No  DarkNoIcon No  DarkNoSee Plans
ZipBooksStarting at $0.00/mo.Icon Yes  DarkYesIcon Yes  DarkYesIcon Yes  DarkYesSee Plans

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Invoices are free up to 1,000 invoices/yr.

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Zoho Invoice: Best overall free accounting software

Zoho Invoice

Zoho Invoice

4.1 out of 5 stars

4.1

Free for life

  • proInvoicing, account reconciliation, time tracking, project management, client portal
  • proMultiple users
  • proHighly rated free bookkeeping app

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Don’t be fooled by Zoho Invoice’s name. This software does much more than send invoices (though you shouldn’t overlook its stellar invoicing features—Zoho Invoice is actually our top pick for billing and invoicing software).

While it’s not quite as fully featured as Zoho Books, Zoho’s accounting-specific product, Zoho Invoice has more than enough features to recommend it—and, obviously, they’re entirely free: 

  • Professional, customizable invoices with multi-currency and multi-language support
  • Automatic recurring invoicing and customer payment reminders
  • Estimates (easily convertible to invoices)
  • Expense tracking, receipt scanning, and time tracking

Thanks to its its built-in time tracking (which syncs easily with invoices), estimate-to-invoice conversion, and client portal for straightforward collaboration, Zoho Invoice is ideal for freelancers who frequently collaborate with customers.

With a stellar (and again, free) bookkeeping and invoicing app, it’s also good for freelancers on the go.

If you want more extensive accounting features, Zoho Books has a free plan for businesses with under $50K USD in annual revenue. If that describes your business, we highly recommend adding Zoho Books to your Zoho Invoice plan.

Otherwise, pricing for Zoho Books starts at $15 a month. But if you’re fine with basic invoicing and transactions, it’s honestly hard to beat Zoho Invoice.

Find Your Money—and Keep More of It

With plans starting at $15 a month, FreshBooks is well-suited for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small-business owners alike.

  • Track time and expenses
  • Create custom invoices
  • Accept online payments

Lendio: Best bookkeeping software for new businesses

Lendio

Lendio

Lendio

3.9 out of 5 stars

Free for life

  • proEasy expense categorization
  • proBasic report generation
  • proIn-app loan application

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

As a comprehensive lending marketplace, Lendio focuses on simplifying options to save its customers time and money. So it makes sense that Lendio’s free) small-business bookkeeping software, Sunrise, does the same thing.

Sunrise’s easy-to-use software has a low learning curve and useful bookkeeping app. It’s especially helpful for freelancers who rely on tax write-offs to bring home extra cash and save on taxes at the end of the year. 

But where Sunrise really stands out is with its built-in loan application process. Depending on the type of loan you’re applying for, you might need financial documents like profit and loss reports, cash flow statements, and balance sheets. If you use Lendio’s accounting software to track your business’s cash flow, you won’t have any problem wrangling the documents you need to submit when you’re ready to get a loan.

Wave Accounting: Best bookkeeping for freelancers

Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting

Free for life

  • proInvoicing, account reconciliation, expense management
  • proUnlimited users, business management, and bank account connections
  • conNo mobile accounting app

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Even if Wave weren’t completely free, we’d still be blown away by how much it offers. It’s one of our top accounting software picks for small-business owners, and for good reason. With Wave, you get perks like these:

  • Automatic bank account and credit card syncing for accurate, up-to-date financial records
  • Unlimited bank account and credit card connections
  • Easy, customizable income and expense tracking
  • Crucial accounting reports and general ledger
  • Invoicing and billing reminders
  • Automatically generated journal entries
  • Customer support (email only)

Wave’s easy-to-read dashboard shows you your most important financial info at a glance. Its billing, invoicing, and expense tracking features make it perfect for freelancers, but the software can work for larger businesses too, especially since Wave doesn’t limit the amount of users you can add (unlike competitors like QuickBooks Online). You and the rest of your financial team can jump on your account to check numbers and enter information, free of charge.

GnuCash: Best spreadsheet-only bookkeeping software

GnuCash

GnuCash

2.8

Free for life

  • proIncome and expense tracking
  • proCustomizable open-source software with solid community support
  • conNo invoicing, billing, payment acceptance, etc. (basic spreadsheet reporting only)

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

If you want basic bookkeeping only—the ability to track income and expenses, generate reports, and easily look up customers and vendors—try GnuCash. Unlike the other software on our list, you can’t use GnuCash to send invoices, collect payments, or upload receipts. Instead, it functions like a free spreadsheet template with pre-filled formulas that give you a bookkeeping edge.

GnuCash is open-source accounting software, which means the software’s code is readily available online for anyone who wants to use and improve it. You and your developers can tweak GnuCash’s code to make the app fit your industry, like construction or marketing.

It also means GnuCash is a community project, so there isn’t any customer support—but there is a robust wiki full of advice that you can both learn from and contribute to.

ZipBooks: Best for basics

ZipBooks

ZipBooks

2.7 out of 5 stars

2.7

Starts at

$0.00/mo.

  • proInvoicing and digital payment acceptance (PayPal or Square only)
  • proUnlimited billable clients and vendors
  • conLimited reporting, users, and bank account connections

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

ZipBooks definitely doesn’t have the most features of our top picks. Instead, it sticks to the basics, offering just a few accounting features for free: 

  • Unlimited customizable invoices, estimates, and quotes
  • Multi-currency payment acceptance
  • Expense and receipt tracking
  • Chart of accounts generation

We know, we know—that doesn’t look like much, especially when compared to Wave and Zoho Invoice. But what few things ZipBooks does, it does quite well.

Its chart of accounts is straightforward and user-friendly, which is crucial for first-time business owners with limited financial knowledge. And while ZipBooks’ free plan includes just two business financial statements, they’re the most important ones (the profit and loss statement and balance sheet)—you won’t be overwhelmed by too many complex reports, but you’ll still get the basic information you need to make wise investment choices as you grow your business.

If you like ZipBooks’ user-friendly interface but want more features, its paid plans start at $15 a month and allow for five users. (The free plan limits you to just one.) 

Still not sure which accounting software is best for you?

If you’re having trouble narrowing down your free bookkeeping options, enter some basic information about your business’s accounting needs. We’ll get back to you with a list of up to five accounting providers we think work best for you.

Honorable mentions

  • Odoo: Runner up
  • NCH Software: Runner up

Best free accounting software: Honorable mentions

Brand namePricingUnlimited invoicingReceipt scanningPayment acceptanceGet started
OdooFree for lifeIcon Yes  DarkYesIcon No  DarkNoIcon Yes  DarkYesSee Plans
NCH SoftwareFree for lifeIcon Yes  DarkYesIcon No  DarkNoIcon Yes  DarkYesSee Plans

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Odoo: Honorable mention

Odoo

Odoo

3 out of 5 stars

3.0

Free for life

  • proBasic invoicing, expense tracking, and financial reports
  • proOne aspect of a fully integrated, free CRM solution
  • conLimited third-party integration and customer support

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Odoo is another open-source software that anyone can customize, improve on, and share with other users. Its community version is pretty basic, but Odoo offers a slew of paid apps for everything from inventory management to ecommerce. If you want to start with a free bookkeeping software base and add features as needed, Odoo is a good option.

NCH Software: Honorable mention

NCH Software (Express Accounts Accounting Software)

NCH Software

NCH Software

2.3 out of 5 stars

2.3

Free for life

  • proInvoicing, accounts payable, and sales tracking
  • proThorough financial reports
  • conBasic features only

Data as of 11/29/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Express Accounts Accounting Software is an accounting product owned and distributed by NCH Software. Its primary focus is giving new business owners a clear picture of their business’s financial situation, starting with offering 20 thorough, customizable financial reports. Express Accounts also easily tracks accounts payable and accounts receivable. You can also use the software to print checks and streamline bill payments.

However, Express Accounts’ customer service is much less robust than our other top five picks. You can reach out to technical support over email if you have an issue with your download, but that’s the extent of your support. On the other hand, most customers use Express Accounts solely to track their business’s figures—so you shouldn’t need the kind of support you would with more complex accounting or payroll software.

The takeaway

If you want a free small-business accounting solution with nearly as many features as the best paid software, we recommend Zoho Invoice. Zoho Invoice’s automatic invoicing, simple customer portal, and multi-currency support are just right for freelancers who want basic accounting with stand-out customer collaboration tools.

But if Wave isn’t your thing, a few other options could work even better:

  • Wave Accounting has unlimited features that even most paid software can’t match, including unlimited invoices, users, bank account transactions, and businesses.
  • Sunrise by Lendio offers helpful tax guidance and makes business loan applications as easy as possible.
  • ZipBooks’ customizable invoices, simple payment acceptance, and basic financial reports are ideal for first-time business owners who want free software without too much complexity. 
  • GnuCash is a solid open-source solution for code-literate business owners who want a free, customizable spreadsheet program.

Want affordable payroll to match your free cloud-based accounting solution? Check out our piece on the best free payroll software for small-business owners.

Free accounting software FAQ

What is the simplest bookkeeping software?

The simplest bookkeeping software to use is Zoho Invoice, an extremely user-friendly invoice, billing, and completely free online bookkeeping software. 

Used in conjunction with Zoho Books—especially its free plan, which you can access if your business makes under $50K USD in revenue per year—Zoho Invoice is a sleek, streamlined bookkeeping option for freelancers and other small-business owners.

If you’re looking instead for the most basic free bookkeeping software for small business, we like ZipBooks and Sunrise. These are two of the simplest, easiest to use, and best accounting software for small business, especially freelancers who don’t need the bells and whistles of thorough (and more expensive) accounting software.

What is the most commonly used accounting software?

Intuit QuickBooks is one of the most commonly used accounting software in the world. It’s been around since the 1980s, which puts it ahead of the curve. (The other options on our list are relatively new—Intuit QuickBooks had the advantage of establishing a successful desktop accounting program before the internet was more widely accessible.)

However, because QuickBooks is both popular and fully featured, it has a much higher starting price than nearly any other accounting software we recommend. If you’re looking for a QuickBooks-esque solution at a lower price point, we recommend Zoho Invoice (for a free option) or Xero (for an affordable paid option).

Is there a free alternative to QuickBooks?

Wave, ZipBooks, and Express Accounts are particularly solid alternatives to QuickBooks. Of all the free software reviewed here, these three match many of QuickBooks’ selling points, like sales tax tracking, financial reports, integrations with other cloud accounting software, and charts of accounts.

What is the best accounting software for small businesses?

The best free accounting software for your small business honestly depends on your business’s industry, aims, and size. If you freelance, work for yourself, or have just a few employees, free accounting software like Wave’s can help you track your finances, make wise financial decisions, and feel prepared for tax season. But if you have 10 or more employees and want help with heavy financial lifting, paid accounting software like Zoho Books (starting at $15 a month) or Xero (starting at $13 a month) could be a better fit for your midsize business.

Methodology

We analyzed each software brand’s value based on the number of features offered for free, customer service, business reputation, scalability, paid options, and user-friendliness, among other factors.

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