How To Accept Credit Cards Online

So you’ve realized you want to start selling online. Good for you! The ecommerce market is certainly booming. But before you can start raking in the money, you probably have a few questions, like “how do I make a website?” and “how do I accept credit cards online?” Here’s the good news: There are plenty of software options and payment processors to choose from! The bad news? There are plenty of software options and payment processors to choose from. So how do you choose?

As always, there’s no one perfect solution for everyone. You need to know your business (and where you want to go with it) and have a rough idea of what you need. If you have no idea where to start, never fear! In this article, we’ll cover some of the basic considerations about accepting credit card payments online, as well as types of payment processors and how to accept credit card payments online with and without a website. We’ll also discuss some of our favorite solutions for ecommerce and provide resources to help you learn more.

5 Questions To Ask Before You Start

It’s really important, before you dive headlong into any kind of financial investment in your business, to sit down and make sure that you know what you want and what you need. I say that a lot, but with selling online it’s especially important to look before you leap because if you get any component of your setup wrong, redoing it will cost time and money.

So before anything, here are some questions to consider:

  1. How technologically savvy are you? Simply put, are you even able to build and maintain your website yourself? If you’re not exactly a technological wizard, your priority should be finding an easy-to-manage solution. You can also outsource tasks you can’t handle yourself, such as design or even data entry for the creation of products. Of course, if you have an ambitious idea and no ready-made solution exists, or you need a lot of customization, you might need a developer who can work with software APIs to create what you need. You can find freelance developers to help out as you go, but the more high-tech you go, obviously, the more you should consider having a full-time developer.
  2. Do you already have a website? If yes, do you like your website? Would you rather abandon it for a better site with more features? If you already have a site and don’t want to go through the effort of creating a new site to sell a handful of products, payment buttons or plug-ins are better options. If you don’t have a site or you don’t mind nixing your current site in favor of something better, shopping cart software might meet the brief nicely. But of course, you don’t need a website to accept payments online. We’ll talk about all of these options more below.
  3. What’s your budget? When it comes to numbers, you need to look at both upfront costs and monthly (or yearly) costs. How much can you spend at the outset, and how much do you expect to be able to afford on a monthly or annual basis? Keep in mind the more technically advanced your website, the more you can expect to pay to build and maintain it. Likewise, the busier your site — the more products you have and the more sales you make — the more you can expect to pay. Don’t forget the tangential costs, such as hiring a designer or a developer, or data entry, and of course, the costs of payment processing itself!
  4. What are you selling? Whether you’re offering digital goods, subscriptions/services, or retail products, look for service providers that cater to your industry so you don’t have to find creative workarounds. Many solutions are generalized for a broad array of merchants, but with add-ons and integrations to make them more tailored. You can also find payment processors and software that offer ready-made specialized solutions and service plans, such as micropayments for merchants who sell low-priced digital goods.
  5. How comfortable are you with handling security features? If you want to sell online, you have to make sure your website is secure. That means ensuring your site is PCI compliant. The more involved you are in the payments process and the more sensitive information your website handles, the more of a burden you are taking upon yourself. Fortunately, many payment processors and other software providers offer solutions to keep your customers’ information secure and reduce your PCI burden — in some cases, you may not need to do anything at all.

Once you’ve got the answers to these questions and a list of the features you need and want, it’s time to actually start looking at your options. One of your primary considerations should be finding a payment processor. However, depending on your business model, you might want to first look at what kind of ecommerce options work for you and then select a payment processor from the available options.

We’ll begin by talking about payment processors and go on to look at what other software or platforms you should explore.

Types Of Payment Processors

No matter how you go about finding a payment processor — choosing a standalone, going with the default processor included with your shopping cart, or choosing a recommended partner from a software provider — you need to consider what kind of business model the processor uses. If you’ve been here before and read any of my other articles, you know that I am talking about the difference between third-party payment processors versus traditional merchant accounts.

Traditional merchant accounts are very stable. It would take a clear violation of either your contract or card network rules in order to trigger an account termination, and you’re unlikely to encounter a hold on funds unless you’ve had a series of issues with chargebacks or fraudulent transactions. However, most merchant account providers expect you to have an established business and a monthly volume of $10,000 in credit card transactions. Plus, setting up a merchant account will typically take a few days. It could take longer depending on how many processors are on your short list and how much negotiation is required.

Third-party processors are not quite as stable as merchant accounts. That’s because instead of issuing separate accounts for each of their merchants, everything is lumped together in one giant, communal merchant account. It takes very little effort to apply for an account with one of these processors, and you can often get approved and set up to accept credit cards online within a day. Factor in no monthly minimum volume requirements and third-party processors provide a great way for new businesses to take payments. However, the trade-off is that you’ll face greater scrutiny and a higher risk for account holds or terminations, often with no warning. Check out our article on how to prevent merchant account hold and freezes to learn how to reduce your risk.

While third-party processors are riskier than merchant accounts, they are a great option for new businesses who don’t know what sort of volume they can expect and don’t have an established history. Even for established businesses, there are some advantages: namely, third-party processors offer predictable, flat-rate pricing, so you know exactly how much you’ll pay. The best merchant account providers typically offer interchange-plus pricing, which, while clear and transparent, doesn’t make it easy to accurately estimate processing because interchange rates vary.

It’s up to you to decide which type of processor is right for your business. I do want to point out that some software companies (ecommerce shopping carts, point of sale solutions, invoice platforms, and more) often build white-label payments into their solutions. These solutions can take the form of third-party processors or merchant accounts, so make sure you investigate before just going with the default processor. In addition to their native payment processing services, most ecommerce software providers support integrations with an assortment of merchant accounts and third-party payment processors.

Square is our top-pick for third-party payment processor. In addition to predictable, flat-rate pricing with no monthly fees or contracts, Square offers a whole suite of seamlessly integrated apps to address in-person and online sales at no charge at all. eCommerce transactions process at 2.9% + $0.30 each.

For merchant accounts, we recommend CDGcommerce, which offers flat-rate pricing and an interchange-plus option depending on the merchant’s payment volume. There are no monthly minimums and no contracts, just a $10 monthly fee. Low-volume merchants will pay 1.95% + $0.30 for most transactions, or 2.95% + $0.30 for premium, corporate, or international cards. Merchants who process more than $10,000/month are eligible for interchange-plus pricing with a 0.30% + $0.10 markup.

Does Your Payment Processor Include a Gateway?

If you want to accept credit card payments online, it’s not enough to find a credit card processor. You also need a gateway. As the name suggests, a gateway is an intermediary software program that transfers the payment data from your website to the customer’s bank to be approved or declined (and then routes the money to your merchant account).

Many payment processors offer gateways as part of their services. For example, PayPal, Square, and Stripe all offer gateways bundled with the rest of their services at no additional cost. CDGcommerce offers its Quantum gateway as part of its services for online merchants.

However, some processors will charge you a setup fee and/or a monthly fee for use of the gateway. While it’s fair and legitimate to charge for this service (especially if you’re being offered other discounts or freebies in exchange), there’s no reason for you to overpay, either. Make sure you know how much a gateway service will cost if it’s not offered for free.

While it’s rare to find a processor that doesn’t include some sort of gateway access, they do exist. In the event that you find yourself leaning toward one of these processors, you can find your own gateway. Authorize.net is nearly universally compatible and reasonably priced, which makes it a good option for most merchants. (Worth noting: CDGcommerce’s gateway, Quantum, also includes an Authorize.net emulation mode to maximize compatibility.)

Want to know more about how payment gateways figure into your ecommerce setup? Check out our article, The Complete Guide to Online Credit Card Processing With a Payment Gateway, for more information.

How To Accept Online Payments With A Website

A website is a pretty integral part of selling online (but it’s not 100% necessary — we’ll look at some alternatives in the next section). As mentioned above, the first question to consider is: Do I already have a website? Then ask yourself: Do I like that website, or would I rather start over completely? Fortunately, there are solutions for both of these scenarios. For existing sites, you can implement payment buttons or seek out a plug-in or extension that supports ecommerce.

Adding Payments To An Existing Site

best templates

If you’ve used a site builder such as WordPress, Weebly, Wix, or Squarespace, it’s fairly simple to implement online payments. Simply check out the sitebuilder’s available third-party apps, extensions, and plugins. If you already know which payment processor you want to use, you can search directly for an available add-on. Otherwise, you can browse and see what options are ready-made for you. These add-ons will allow you to securely collect payment information from your customers as well as manage the order fulfillment process. Do your research and go with solutions from your site builder rather than third parties, if possible. Check reviews of any plugins or extensions you add and make sure they are well supported and any glitches are fixed in a timely manner.

If you run a WordPress site, WooCommerce or Ecwid could be good starter options. WooCommerce is actually a free plug-in to add to your site, with a basic theme and your choice of payment processors. It’s a very modular setup, so you can choose from a mix of free and paid extensions that allow you to customize WooCommerce to your needs. That includes payment processors, subscription tools, the ability to create add-ons (such as gift wrap for products), and more. Most WooCommerce add-ons are charged on an annual basis, which could require more of an up-front investment than a monthly subscription, so be aware of this fact.

Ecwid is another plug-in designed for WordPress. However, it also works on an assortment of other website-building platforms, including Wix and Weebly, Ecwid does offer a free plan for businesses with 10 or fewer products, but for higher-tiered plans you’ll pay a monthly subscription fee. Ecwid supports a wide assortment of integrations, including payment gateways. With higher plan tiers, you also get access to expanded sales channels.

Wix and Weebly’s website builders can be used for blogging, personal portfolios, and any other purposes. They both offer online store modules. Online stores from Wix start at $20/month with no transaction fees and your choice of processors. Upgrading to an eCommerce plan is fairly simple from within the Wix dashboard and won’t require any substantial reworking. Simply add the “My Store” module to your dashboard, make the upgrade, and start creating products.

Finally, there’s Weebly. Square actually bought Weebly in the spring of 2018, so it’s possible we could see Weebly start to favor Square pretty heavily in the future. For now, though, Weebly’s online store plans start at $8/month (on a yearly plan), with a 3% transaction fee on top of your processing costs. The transaction fee drops off with higher-tier plans, leaving just the monthly fee.

The other way to add payments to an existing site is to look for a payment processor that supports customizable payment buttons. A good payment button creator will give you power over the appearance of the buttons as well as the settings for transactions. The obvious, go-to solution for many is PayPal, which offers a pretty powerful array of tools. PayPal’s buttons are a good option whether you are selling a single product or multiple ones. You can set up payment buttons to allow products to be added to a cart or to go directly to checkout. PayPal even allows nonprofits to create a “Donate” button for their site, which can be configured for one-time and recurring donations.

An alternative to PayPal is Shopify Lite, an entry-level solution. For $9/month plus transaction costs (2.9% + $0.30), you can accept payments on your website by adding payment buttons. The plan also includes access to Shopify’s mPOS app and the ability to sell on Facebook (we’ll talk about that option in the next section, too.) And it’s worth mentioning that Ecwid also supports the creation of custom buy buttons.

While adding payments to an existing site is incredibly convenient and often requires little work, you won’t get quite as many tools as you would with a hosted ecommerce software solution. Which brings us to the best solution if you would rather build a new site or have no website to start with:

Building A New Site With Shopping Cart Software

eCommerce software apps, sometimes also called shopping carts or shopping cart software, are hosted, all-in-one solutions to online sales. Adding an ecommerce feature to an existing website requires you to choose a platform, buy the domain, and pay for hosting, but with shopping carts, you’ll get everything in a single package: online sales and product management, hosting, and sometimes even the ability to buy a domain name directly. Typically, shopping carts will also help you centralize control of sales across multiple channels, so that if you sell on social media, on eBay, or through another channel, you can handle order fulfillment through a single platform. That even includes buying postage (at a discounted rate) and printing the shipping labels. Some shopping carts will offer marketing tools or integrations with marketing platforms, as well as integrations with point of sale systems.

As far as payment processing goes, some shopping carts have opted to include their own white-label payments as a default part of their services. One such cart is Shopify, which offers its own Shopify Payments service (read our review). However, this is just a white-label version of Stripe. Be aware that choosing a payment processor other than the default can incur additional fees.

Generally speaking, even if a shopping cart doesn’t offer all of the features you want, you can search the app market for available extensions and integrations to get what you need. It’s worth researching the available add-ons as well as the native software features.

There’s a lot to consider and compare with a shopping cart. Obviously, you can use a sitebuilder such as Weebly or Wix, which both offer eCommerce modules. Then there are ecommerce-exclusive platforms, including Shopify and BigCommerce, which make it easy to build your site and customize the design (and even offer blogging so you can centralize control of your website).

If you want a whole lot of freedom and have coding knowledge, an open-source platform such as Magento might be more to your liking. Open-source platforms tend to be chock-full of specialized features (particularly if they have attracted active user communities) and you have almost limitless control of your site. A closed-source, SaaS platform is certainly a lot easier and more convenient for business owners who are just starting out and want to go the DIY route.

If you aren’t sure what you want, we recommend you start by checking out Shopify and BigCommerce, both of which are affordably priced for new businesses and offer extensive customer support resources. They also both offer multi-channel sales manage so you can sell through your own site and through other platforms but manage all of your orders from a single portal.

If you’re still curious about what makes a great ecommerce platform, check out some of our other resources!

  • The Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Store (eBook)
  • Shopping Cart Flowchart: Choose the Right eCommerce Software for Your Business (Infographic)
  • Shopping Carts 101: How to Choose a Shopping Cart for Your Business (Article)
  • Questions to Ask Before You Commit to a Shopping Cart (Article)

Managing Services, Subscriptions & Other Recurring Charges

A lot of merchants, from accountants and other professional service provideres to lawn care and cleaning services, could benefit from being able to automate recurring charges. And of course, the ability to automate charges is essential for SaaS providers and subscription-box sellers.

Generally speaking, the ability to accept recurring payments — for monthly services or subscriptions — isn’t a default option for payment processors or shopping carts, which tend to be retail-focused. However, you can find plenty of solutions that will work with your existing eCommerce setup. For example, Stripe and Braintree both offer extensive subscription management tools along with their payment gateway and processing services. Add-on services such as Chargify, Recurly, and ChargeBee work with a variety of processors. Zoho Subscriptions and Freshbooks also offer recurring billing tools. PayPal offers recurring billing tools for its merchants; Square offers “recurring invoices” but not a lot of advanced customization for subscription billing.

Proper research will be very important when selecting a provider that offers all of the features you need, whether you require metered billing for usage-based online services, the ability for customers to upgrade to a higher tiered plan mid-billing cycle, the ability to offer free trial periods and extend them, or a way to calculate taxes. Tools that automatically update expired cards can also help reduce failed charges and therefore improve revenues and reduce customer loss.

Accepting Online Payments Without A Website

Most people equate taking payments online with having a website. That is the most common option, but you don’t actually need your own website. Let’s talk about a few of the alternatives for how to accept credit cards online.

Creating Online Invoices

You could create your own invoices in Microsoft Office and send them out via email, but then you’ve got to keep track of which invoices have been sent and which have been paid — and you’ve still got to deal with waiting for the check in the mail. Online invoicing solutions can eliminate every single one of these hassles.

Generally speaking, invoicing software is cloud-based, so you can access it anywhere. You can customize invoices and send them via email (or generate a shareable link to the invoice). But unlike old-fashioned invoicing, these invoices include a link to pay directly in the invoice. Your customers follow the link, enter their payment details, and bam! You get paid much quicker.

Depending on which invoicing software you choose, you can get some powerful features. For example, PayPal allows you to enable partial payments on an invoice if you are willing to accept installment payments. Square’s invoicing links up with the platform’s customer database, allowing you to send recurring invoices and even store customer cards on file to make getting paid even easier. Zoho Invoice, which starts at $0/month, also allows for a customer database, as well as project management (so you can generate an invoice based on the number of hours worked). Shopify offers invoice creation within its platform at no additional charge as well — and this feature is even available on the Lite plan.

For most merchants, Square Invoices may be the most appealing, as it’s available with a Square account at no additional charge. However, Shopify’s built-in invoicing will work for merchants who want to sell with or without a website. Merchants who need project management as part of their invoicing should look at Zoho Invoice.

Using Online Form Builders

So you don’t have a website, but you still need to collect user information and accept payment. Online form builders offer an easy way to do both. Plus, you can post links to forms on social media or send them out via email.

Off the top of your head, you might think of Google Forms, which is free to use and quite advanced for a freemium software. However, it doesn’t integrate seamlessly with payment processors. Your best option, in this case, would be to use PayPal’s embeddable buy buttons and include the button in the form’s submission confirmation page as a second step. However, you’ll have to manually reconcile the payment records versus form submissions.

Subscription-based form builders will cost you money but offer far more capabilities than Google Forms, including direct integrations with payment processors/gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, Square, and Authorize.net. Subscriptions generally work on annual or monthly plans, but one option, Cognito Forms, offers an entry-level plan that charges 1% of the transaction amount instead. (Note, that’s in addition to any processing fees.) Other form solutions worth looking into are Zoho Forms and Jotform. Zoho Forms starts at $10/month and includes unlimited forms and up to 10,000 submissions. It integrates with both PayPal and Stripe. Jotform’s paid plans start at $19/month and are limited to 1,000 submissions, but include integrations for quite a few payment processors, including PayPal, Stripe, Square, and even Dwolla. Cognito Forms’ paid plans start at $10/month plus 1% of the transactions and include up to 2,000 form submissions. Integrations include PayPal and Stripe.

And we haven’t even talked about event registration sites. There are a lot of them, but the one many people are likely familiar with is EventBrite. EventBrite allows you to put all the details of your event online and sell tickets — including setting multiple tiers of admission and promotion cards, automatically setting price changes for registration deadlines, and so on. You can even collect marketing data about your patrons, from their zip codes to how they heard about the event. Your event is searchable from within the EventBrite platform, allowing people searching for something to do to discover your event as well. EventBrite does charge fees on top of processing costs, but these can actually be passed onto event registrees, saving you some money at least.

Selling On Social Media

It wasn’t all that long ago that the idea of being able to buy products directly through social media channels was novel and experimental, but nowadays you can create your own online shop through Facebook, or sell on Instagram or even Pinterest.

With Facebook, you just need a Facebook business page to get started. You can choose your payment processor (PayPal or Stripe) and start manually uploading products, all of which have to be reviewed by Facebook before they can go live. An easier option is to link your Facebook shop to an online store builder such as BigCommerce, Ecwid, or Shopify.

Shopify is actually an interesting solution because, while its core offering is an online shopping cart, it offers a “Lite” plan for $9/month that includes access to its mPOS app, buy buttons for a website, and a Facebook store with automated tools to make the process easier. You wouldn’t necessarily have to go through the hassle of building a website with Shopify just to sell on Facebook, but you still get more tools than you would by going through Facebook directly. Check out our Shopify Lite review for an in-depth look at the plan and all its features.

Selling on Instagram requires you to have a Facebook shop (because Facebook owns Instagram) to create what it calls “Shoppable posts.” That shop can be managed directly via Facebook itself, or via Shopify or BigCommerce as one of multiple sales channels. I’d like to point out that Instagram isn’t available as a sales channel with the Lite plan; you’ll need to upgrade to Shopify Basic at $29/month to be able to manage sales via Instagram.

Lastly, Pinterest allows merchants with a business account to create “Buyable pins,” so you can sell from your Pinterest page. Unlike Facebook, where you can manage the buyable pins from the platform, to sell through Pinterest you will need to go through either Shopify or BigCommerce and actually apply for approval before you can start selling.

Shopify Lite is an ideal option if you want to start with Facebook and maybe add buy buttons to a website. You can upgrade to Shopify Basic ($29/month) to get your own site, plus access to Instagram and Pinterest if that appeals to you.

Selling In Marketplaces

Online marketplaces are a good alternative to having your own website if you’re selling retail goods. You don’t have to pay for hosting or invest anything in web design. You simply create your product listings using the tools provided and publish them. Marketplaces allow you to get your products in front of a large audience without you having to build a stream of traffic yourself. However, the trade-offs are that you generally pay more in fees (listing fees, seller’s fees, and payment processing) than you would with your own website, and you have zero control over the design of the site or even how your products are displayed. Generally speaking, you are limited to using whatever payment processing the marketplace offers as well.

A few popular marketplaces include:

  • eBay
  • Etsy
  • Amazon
  • Jet (owned by Walmart)
  • Ruby Lane

Accepting Payments Through Virtual Terminals 

The final alternative is a bit of a stretch, I’ll admit, but it can be a powerful tool for some merchants. A virtual terminal is a web portal where you can manually enter credit card information to process a transaction. (There’s the stretch: VTs require an internet connection, so they’re technically online payments.)  Virtual terminals are a necessity for merchants who want to accept payments over the phone (or even by mail).

Some payment processors offer a virtual terminal as part of their software package, others as an add-on. These providers include PayPal, Payline Mobile, Square, and Fattmerchant. However, if you want the best value for a virtual terminal, we recommend Square. You pay only the payment processing costs (3.5% + $0.15) and it is interoperable with the rest of Square’s platform.

Beyond Credit Cards: Alternative Online Payment Methods

Credit cards are the go-to for accepting payments online, but they aren’t the only options. For starters, there are ACH bank transfers, which are generally less expensive for merchants to process. They’re often preferred in B2B environments, but some consumers favor them too.

Offering ACH processing as an additional option, especially if you’re in the B2B space, could win you more customers. According to a 2017 Payment Benchmarks Survey by the Credit Research Foundation and the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), ACH transfers currently account for 32 percent of B2B transactions, lagging behind checks, which took the no. 1 spot at 50 percent. Credit cards account for just 11 percent of B2B transactions. By 2020, the survey estimates that ACH will take the top spot and account for 45 percent of B2B transactions.

Despite this, most merchant accounts or even third-party processors don’t offer ACH by default. Some offer it as an add-on plan, others may require you to look for a supplemental option for ACH acceptance.

ACH is far from the only option as far as “alternative” payment processing now, too. Mobile wallets are bridging the gap between in-person and online payments, and card networks have implemented their own online checkout options for cardholders. The major advantage to accepting these options is that they offer an extra layer of security for consumers. For example, Apple Pay on the web still requires biometric authentication before approval.

Some of these alternative payment methods include:

  • Apple Pay on the Web
  • Google Pay
  • Microsoft Pay
  • Chase Pay
  • MasterPass
  • Visa Checkout
  • Amex Express checkout

Apple Pay and Google Pay are fairly widely supported, but you may not see the other options on this list everywhere.

Two noteworthy providers that offer ACH, as well as other alternative payment options, are Stripe and Braintree. However, both are developer-focused platforms, so you’ll need someone with the technical know-how to implement them. Merchant accounts that specialize in eCommerce and provide a solid gateway might offer these options too.

We recommend Stripe because of its extensive developer tools, customizable checkout, and resources for recurring billing. The company also offers round-the-clock customer support (an admittedly recent addition to its feature set). Plus, Stripe is great for international merchants who want to be able to accept localized currencies in Europe and Asia.

Begin Accepting Payments Online

Starting an online store and learning how to accept credit cards online can seem like a daunting task! There are so many factors to consider, but I hope I’ve been able to shed some light on the process and point you in the direction of some good options. A merchant account can give you security and stability, but it may not be the most cost-effective option for low-volume merchants. A third-party processor can get you set up quickly with predictable pricing that often favors low-volume merchants, but the trade-off is account stability. And of course there’s the matter of compatibility: You need to make sure that whatever payment processor you choose offers a gateway compatible with the software (and sales channels) you want to use.

But you also need to have a good idea of what you can afford to spend up front and on a monthly basis and understand your limitations when it comes to technology and software. If you want to go the DIY route, you’ll need to be fairly tech-savvy. Otherwise, be prepared to outsource tasks to designers, developers, and even admin assistants. Some software solutions make it incredibly easy to do everything yourself, others will require lots of hands-on effort to make them work.

If you’re still not sure where to go from here, we recommend you check out our article: The Best Online Credit Card Payment Processing Companies. You can also view our merchant account comparison chart for a quick look at our favorite providers.

Have questions? We’re always happy to hear from our readers, so please leave us a comment!

The post How To Accept Credit Cards Online appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Zoho Books VS QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books VS QuickBooks Online

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Accounting

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Features

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Pricing

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Hardware & Software Requirements

User Permissions

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Ease of Use

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Mobile Apps

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Customer Service & Support

Negative Reviews & Complaints

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Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Integrations

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Security

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Final Verdict

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Review Visit

Review Visit

We all love a good underdog story. But when underdog Zoho Books takes on one of the biggest names in accounting, QuickBooks Online, can this lesser-known software give QBO a run for its money? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.

Redesigned and relaunched in 2014, Zoho Books continues to only get better. The software offers ample features, the most beautiful invoicing out there (including the ability to send invoices in multiple languages), excellent customer service, and strong mobile apps.

QuickBooks Online has been around since 2004. With advanced accounting, an impressive feature set, almost 280 integrations, and a brand new lending feature, it’s easy to see why QuickBooks Online is so popular.

But which accounting software is better, Zoho Books or QuickBooks?

At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to find the best software for your small business needs. To make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll compare Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online (QBO) based on features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to.

Don’t have time to read the whole post? Or looking for a different accounting option? Check out our top-rated accounting solutions to see our favorite recommendations.

Accounting

Winner: Tie

Both Zoho Books and QuickBooks offer strong accounting. Each uses double-entry accounting and supports both accrual and cash-basis accounting. In terms of accounting features, both offer a customizable chart of accounts, ample reports, journal entries, and bank reconciliation.

Features

Winner: QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books VS QuickBooks Online

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Multiple Invoice Languages

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Estimates

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Expense Tracking

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Bank Reconciliation

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Chart Of Accounts

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Fixed Asset Management

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Depreciation

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Contact Management

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Accounts Payable

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Time Tracking

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Project Management

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Inventory

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Reports

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Tracking Categories

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Budgeting

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Print Checks

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Multi-Currency Support

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Sales Tax

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Tax Support

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Importing & Exporting

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Lending

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Note: Feature availability varies by pricing plan.

Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online are mostly on par in terms of features. Each offers beautiful invoicing templates and invoicing automation, as well as inventory, contact management, expense tracking, accounts payable, and project management. While Zoho Books puts up a great effort, QuickBooks Online edges out the competition — but just barely.

QuickBooks Online offers several features that Zoho doesn’t, including budgeting and small business lending. In addition, QuickBooks Online has a much more developed time tracking feature and more tax support. QuickBooks Online gives users the option to add payroll to their software (for an extra cost), whereas Zoho Books has no payroll support.

One place where Zoho Books actually trumps QuickBooks is international invoicing. QuickBooks doesn’t allow you to send invoices in multiple languages whereas Zoho Books does. However, this unique touch isn’t enough to make up for the lack of budgeting and limited time tracking.

Pricing

Winner: Zoho Books

QuickBooks Online offers three pricing plans ranging from $15 – $50/month, with payroll support costing an extra $39 – $99/month (plus $2/month per employee). Zoho Books offers three pricing plans as well ranging from $9 – $29/month.

Zoho Books takes the cake as far a pricing goes, especially considering that you get nearly all of the same features as QuickBooks Online for almost half the cost.

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Zoho Books

As cloud-based software, QuickBooks Online works with nearly any device so long as you have an internet connection and are using one of the following browsers:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Internet Explorer 10+
  • Safari 6.1+

Similarly, Zoho Books is also cloud-based and compatible with nearly any device and works with these browsers:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Safari
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera

Both also offer mobile apps available for Apple products and Androids, although Zoho takes it up a level by offering mobile apps for Microsoft phones and Kindles as well. This, along with supporting Opera, is why Zoho Books wins in terms of hardware and software requirements.

Users & Permissions

Winner: QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books’ largest plan offers 9 users plus one accountant; QuickBooks Online’s largest plan offers 5 users plus two accountants. Additional users can be added to each plan.

Zoho Books offers very limited users permissions, making QuickBooks Online the clear winner here. With QuickBooks Online you can set multiple user roles and control each user’s access to certain features. Because of this important distinction, QBO wins this category despite offering few users.

Ease Of Use

Winner: Zoho Books

Both Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online are relatively easy to use. Both have modern UIs that are well-organized and easy to learn. However, each software suffers from the occasional navigational difficulty. That being said, Zoho Books has far better customer support and fewer bugs and glitches making it easier to learn and navigate.

Mobile Apps

Winner: Zoho Books

Both Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online offer strong mobile apps. Zoho Books receives 4.8/5 stars on iTunes and 4.5/5 stars on the Google Play Store. QuickBooks Online receives 4.7/5 stars on iTunes and 4.3/5 stars on the Google Play Store.

While both company’s apps are fairly close in ratings, Zoho Books’ mobile apps are full-featured and compatible with Microsoft phones and Kindles in addition to iPhone and Androids, making it the winner here.

Customer Service & Support

Winner: Zoho Books

Zoho Books has the better customer support by far. In my experience, representatives respond quickly to emails and I have hardly ever been put on hold when calling their support team. Representatives are generally kind and informative. Additionally, Zoho Books has a well-developed knowledge base with tons of articles, videos, guides, and more — and it all can be accessed directly from within the software to boot.

In the past, QuickBooks Online had notoriously poor customer support and extremely long phone wait times. While the company has been remedying this over the last year or so, QBO still has a ways to go if they want to top Zoho Books in the customer service arena.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: QuickBooks Online

This is one category QuickBooks Online should not want to win. QuickBooks Online has received many complaints. Most complaints revolve around poor customer service experiences, bugs, limited apps, and even a few unauthorized charges.

Zoho Books, on the other hand, has received far fewer customer complaints (granted Zoho Books has far fewer customer reviews in general, but the ratio of negative to positive reviews is smaller). The complaints that do exist revolve around the lack of payroll and limited integrations.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Zoho Books

While QuickBooks Online has a higher number of positive reviews overall, Zoho Books has a higher percentage of positive reviews, which is why it wins this category. Zoho Books receives 4.5/5 stars on Capterra and 4.6/5 stars on G2Crowd. Users love that the software is easy to use, affordable, and updated frequently. They also like the mobile apps.

Integrations

Winner: QuickBooks Online

There’s no question here. QuickBooks Online offers around 280 integrations as opposed to Zoho Books’ 33.

Security

Winner: Tie

Both Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online implement strong security measures. Each uses data encryption, redundancy, routing testing, and physical security measures to protect their data centers.

To learn more about cloud security read our posts Is My Accounting Safe In The Cloud? and What Is SSL? A First Look At Online Security.

And The Winner Is…

Zoho Books VS QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books definitely gives QBO a run for its money. However, there a few areas where QuickBooks Online beats out its opponent. QuickBooks Online offers more integrations, more advanced features, better tax support, and payroll. The lack of payroll, or any payroll integrations, seriously rules Zoho Books as an option for many businesses, solidifying QuickBooks Online’s place as the winner.

QuickBooks Online is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses in need of strong accounting, so much so that we’ve named it the Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses. The software offers strong accounting, decent mobile apps, ample integrations, and beautiful invoicing. QuickBooks Online also has a unique new lending feature, QuickBooks Capital, so you can potentially have your small business accounting and financing all in one place.

However, just because we named QuickBooks Online the winner, doesn’t mean that Zoho Books isn’t the better choice for your business. Zoho Books is ideal for small businesses looking for an easy-to-use accounting software with strong mobile apps and plenty of features. It’s also a great choice if you need international invoicing. If you don’t require payroll or budgeting, you could save a chunk of change by going with Zoho Books instead of QuickBooks — plus, you’ll get much better customer support.

Or, maybe after reading this post, neither option seems right for you. Don’t worry! Our comprehensive accounting software reviews can help you find the perfect bookkeeping solution for your business. If you need extra help deciding, read our Complete Guide To Choose Online Accounting Software.

Check out our full Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online reviews for more information. Be sure to take advantage of the free trials each software provides and feel free to reach out with any questions you might have.

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Box.com Cloud Storage Review

There is no shortage of options when it comes to selecting the optimal cloud storage platform for your business. Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and more compete as solo options, while innumerable other services offer their own native storage options. Into this mix comes Box, an app with an unfortunately generic name attempting to offer non-generic features and services. Do they really manage to set themselves apart from the competition? Is this service worth a subscription? To find out, read on! We’ll review Box’s pricing, available features, and ease of use.

Pricing

Box Cloud Storage offers three separate pricing plans, each targeted at a different set of users. These are:

Starter

  • $5/user/month
  • 100 GB storage

This option is designed for small teams with minimal storage requirements. Really, you probably don’t want to subscribe at this level, though the price tag may seem tempting.

Business

  • $15/user/month
  • Unlimited storage
  • Data loss prevention
  • User and security reporting

The business subscription is almost certainly the option you will end up with, and though it is three times more expensive than the starter plan, you get unlimited storage and data loss prevention. These two major perks are almost enough for me to recommend it on the spot, but this tier also comes with admin features like user and security reporting, as well as a number of others, that make it an even better deal. Still, if you want the ultimate Box experience, you can take it one level higher.

Business Plus

  • $25/user/month
  • Unlimited Storage
  • Unlimited external Collaborators
  • Admin role delegation

This tier is primarily intended for graphic designers and other professionals that interact regularly with clients. By adding customers as external collaborators, you can bring them into the creative process and grant access to the files you create for them. The business plus tier also steps up the level of admin control you have, including allowing you access to all user activity.

Features

A Box subscription comes with a heap of features, all designed to increase the effectiveness of your document management. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Management: Box gives you control over who uses your data, then gives you information about how they use it. This includes reporting geographic location of access points, as well as timestamps and more. Basically, you get to choose who sees what, then know when and where they saw it.
  • Workflow Management: With this feature, box delivers a sort of “project management lite.” Using Box relay, you can set up workflows, assign tasks and due dates, and generally keep your team on the same page. If you need a basic task management app, you might find that the feature alone meets all your needs, without having to look for a third-party service.
  • Data Security: It wouldn’t be much of a cloud-based storage service if it was not secure. Box takes security seriously, using AES 256-bit encryption, and maintaining numerous redundant servers around the world. On that point, some subscription tiers gain access to Box Zones, which allows you to select which geographic regions you want your data in.
  • Machine Learning: Using Box Skills, you can put AI to work for your businesses. You start by creating smart labels and workflows, and over time the AI will learn your systems and find new ways of making your business more efficient. It is pretty impressive, and Box seems convinced it is the way of the future. This feature is in Beta currently but undergoes constant improvement.
  • Integrations: One of the best things about Box in my book is the sheer number of third-party apps it integrates with. This is one versatile platform and the fact that you can pretty much count on your other business services playing nicely with it means your experience is that much more likely to be comfortable and confident.

Ease Of Use

I am of two minds about Box’s ease of use. At basic levels, this is a pretty run-of-the-mill cloud storage service. It is easy to get signed up, easy to start storing documents. So far, so simple. However, when we start getting into the higher subscriptions, things get a little more difficult. While I wouldn’t say any feature is exactly hard to use, they definitely take more forethought and planning, where the more basic capabilities can be operated intuitively. It definitely feels like the kind of thing that would take a considerable amount of time to set up, but once that setup process is complete, your work is done.

Final Thoughts

From one perspective, it doesn’t really matter if you use Box or some other cloud storage service. If that is, you only plan to use it for cloud storage. If that is you, just looking for a place to dump your files in the cloud, then my recommendation is to take a look at several storage services and pick the one you like best from a visual and mechanical design standpoint.

But if you are looking for a cloud storage service that does a bit more, then Box takes a step into the limelight. In another post, I compared Box with similarly-named Dropbox, and I will stick to what I said there. If you are in a position where you need limitless storage and lots of customer interaction, Box becomes your best bet. Add to that basic task management features and lots of admin tools to keep on top of access to your files, and you have what is now an extremely desirable option.

As always, I do recommend test it out before committing completely, and fortunately, Box offers a two-week trial to give you the chance to try before you buy. Go try it out, then make your decision from there.

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Box VS Dropbox: Storage Wars

Cloud storage. It is the kind of thing you don’t want to think about when setting up your business; you want to focus on the exciting things like prototyping products, hiring employees, and making sales. But, as with so many other parts of life, the fundamentals can often make the biggest difference. In the world of cloud storage and file sharing, that means figuring out which provider offers the best value for money, the best supplemental features, and the one that best suits the style of your team.

While there are plenty of options out there if you want to store your files and other documents online, two apps, in particular, seem to have the most brand recognition at the moment: Dropbox and Box. They share frustratingly similar names (seriously, whose idea was that?), and they aim to achieve similar goals: secure storage of files and folders. To learn which is best, we need to go in for a closer look. This is storage wars: Box vs. Dropbox.

Pricing

Right off the bat, Box jumps into the lead with a $5 pricing option. Described as a small-team subscription, this comes with just 100 GB of storage, so for some businesses, particularly those with lots of files, this will not be enough. The next steps up for Box are their Business and Business Plus plans, which cost $15 and $25 respectively. The difference between these plans is not in the amount of storage available, since both offer unlimited data, but rather in the supplemental features that accompany them. The Business Plus plan has more admin features and allows for unlimited external users and collaborators. If you work in graphic design or closely with clients in any field, this might be the subscription for you.

In the other corner, Dropbox begins their business subscriptions with the “standard” level at $12.50/user/month. For that price, you get two TB storage, as well as Dropbox Paper and a number of other snazzy features. As starting subscriptions go, this one isn’t too bad, though you’ll note it is significantly more expensive than the basic Box subscription. Having said that, though, I feel that the “standard” Dropbox account subscription is better compared with Box’s Business level. Both come with plenty of storage space for files, and both include basic admin tools.  With that as our premise, I think Dropbox might squeak by with the win. Two terabytes will be sufficient for most teams, and Dropbox Paper is pretty interesting (more on that later). If the “standard” level is not enough, you might opt for the “advanced” subscription. This comes with “as much space as your team needs,” which, I’ll note, is not the same as claiming unlimited storage. The advanced plan also comes with an array of security features all designed to keep your precious data safe.

Verdict: This is pretty much a tie. Box starts out cheaper, but with much less storage available. In terms of value for money, Box and Dropbox are basically even.

Features

Obviously, both Box and Dropbox offer cloud-based document storage. Within that broad umbrella, each offers slightly different approaches to the general goal of allowing remote collaboration on a variety of file and document formats. Both boast seamless integrations with Microsoft office and both claim they are designed to allow keep everyone connected across all devices. To pick which is best for you, though, we need to understand what makes them different. Let’s start with Box.

The team at Box would rather you refer to their product not as “cloud storage,” but as “content management.” Sure, you can store your pdfs and Microsoft Word documents here, but Box is also optimized to view 3D files as well. Box’s website is filled with case studies and testimonials from multiple industries sharing how Box allowed them to consolidate and streamline their process. In particular, though, I found that Box seems to have two major strengths in comparison with Dropbox. First, this app allows users to have greater collaboration on files with non-account holders. Basically, you can create guest accounts to allow clients to join in on the collaborative process. Dropbox also has this capability, but with Box, you are not limited in the number of external users. Second, Box seems better suited for integrations and customization. If your team includes people comfortable with coding, or if you use a particular their-party app, Box is well situated to fit in well with your needs.

Dropbox, on the other hand, brings an important feature to the battlefield: Dropbox Paper. Paper is a collaborative tool allowing you and your team members to clearly track and process your work. Basically, Paper is a timeline with a record of your projects and tasks. That’s right; Dropbox business plans come with light project management tools. For me, that is the biggest strength of Dropbox for business. You can assign various documents to different team members and monitor their progress in completing their task. Dropbox also has more admin tools that can restrict or grant access to users as situations demand.

Verdict: It really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are looking for a flexible platform to work on and view all sorts of documents, pick Box. If you want a more focused approach to getting work done, a Dropbox folder may be the better choice for you.

Final Thoughts

Some wars are fought with decisive victories that bring the conflict to a conclusive end. Others drag on for years, decades, even centuries (hey, they didn’t call it the 100 years war for nothing, right?). The conflict between Box and Dropbox is one of those, where both sides trade blows without any clear end in sight.

The problem is these apps basically accomplish the same thing. Though they are priced differently and seem to have different strengths when compared directly, the reality of the matter is that both Dropbox and Box allow you to store your files in the cloud and access them from any of your devices. From that macro perspective, there is very little difference between the two. In their marketing materials, they both even use the same example of collaborating on a slide show! From a micro perspective, I would say that Dropbox offers tighter control over your documents, especially if you opt for the “advanced” subscription. Box, though, seems more flexible and allows for greater customer interaction.

Fortunately, both offer free trials, which will allow you to try them out and see which one you prefer for yourself. My recommendation: use this comparison to pick the one you think will be a better fit for your business. If you aren’t satisfied, opt out and try the other option. Happy storing! Stay safe out there.

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5 Project Management Software Apps With Time Tracking

The project management world is growing increasingly crowded as new methods, frameworks, and philosophies are introduced, all designed to help your business be as efficient as possible. As you might expect, these management styles have their strengths and weaknesses, designed to serve primarily in specific industries. However, across all of these industries, one feature remains consistently useful: time tracking. Some developers opt not to include their own timesheet functions, relying instead on integrations with the likes of TSheets (read our review) or Time Doctor (read our review). Others, though, go for a more all-in-one approach and integrate time tracking features natively within their own software.

But which of these project management apps does the job best? What other tools do they bring to the table? And are they all worth the cost of admission? Let’s dive in and find the answers we seek!

1) Wrike

Wrike (read our review) is one of the industry standards for project management. It is a classic all-rounder and remains a popular choice across the internet. Prices for Wrike range from free (though you can only have 5 users maximum with this version, and only a very limited feature set) through $34.60/user/month. To access the time tracking features, though, you will need to subscribe to the Busines level or higher, which starts at $24.80/user/month. That is on the pricier side of the project management spectrum, but may well be worth it to your team if they mesh well with the sensibilities of this app.

Wrike handles time tracking in what is my favorite manner possible. You can start a live timer by clicking a button, which tracks time associated with whatever task or project you choose. Or, you can enter time manually after the fact. This sort of flexibility makes Wrike useful in all situations, which is great!

2) Mavenlink

Mavenlink (read our review) takes an expansive approach to project management, including resource management, business intelligence, and more. The widespread nature of Mavenlink does mean that you pay a considerably higher premium to access its capabilities. Plans with time tracking start at $39/user/month and only go uphill from there.

However, the product you get for that price is pretty impressive. Time tracking and accounting, in particular, are some of Mavenlink’s many strengths and go far beyond simple timesheets. With this app you are given the functionality to estimate the time expenditure for tasks, then analyze the time actually spent on that task. This might seem like an obvious feature, but Mavenlink executes it flawlessly, providing the data you need to make better, more efficient decisions in the future.

3) Clickup

Clickup (read our review) was one of the standout project management apps I reviewed last year. With a remarkably thorough feature set that still manages to be unintimidating and a UI that communicates everything you need to know without being overwhelming and busy, it has earned a spot as one of the top 5 project management apps I recommend most frequently, especially with a starting cost of zero dollars per month.

Clickup has its own timesheets that allow for automatic time tracking and for employees to add time after the fact — as such, it is one of the best simple project management software options with time tracking built-in. Tasks here can be set to recurring, which is handy if you have repeat customers or need to be doing the same set of tasks or duties day after day. In terms of communication, Clickup is a little weak, but it does feature threaded comment chains. While I would like to see a dedicated chat, the comment threads are likely serviceable, and if you want more, there is an excellent Slack integration.

4) Streamtime

After a massive redesign in 2015, Streamtime (read our review) is leading the way in terms of creative approaches to project management. Their goal? Make project management approachable, easy, and maybe a little fun! With automatic scheduling and impressive quoting and reporting features, this app may well be the fix you need to make your business more efficient.

In terms of the service industry, Streamtime’s task list/scheduling features stand out to me. When you create a task and assign a due date and team member, it is automatically added to their weekly schedule. When they finish that task, they can mark it as done. That part might not seem so revolutionary, but when you realize this also serves as Streamtime’s time tracking feature, it becomes clear just how smart this app is. The downside of Streamtime is the lack of native communication features in the app. Depending on your situation, this may not matter as much to your business, but if communication tools are needed, you may be able to use a third party app such as Slack!

5) Redbooth

Redbooth (read our review), one of our favorite project management apps here at Merchant Maverick, brings a clean aesthetic to project management, married to incredible ease of use and excellent features. For me, the best thing about this app is how intuitive it is to use. Honestly, I think that you could have just about any employee sit down with Redbooth and have them confidently using it in about half an hour. It is that easy to use.

Redbooth’s time tracking is pretty lackluster, but it gets the job done. There is no option to track time live, but you can enter how much time you spent on each task after the fact. It might seem strange to include an app like Redbooth on this list, whose time tracking features compare so poorly. However, Redbooth is excellent in so many other respects you may find it worth the sacrifice in order to gain access to this app’s legendary ease of use, as well as its fantastically flexible approach to project management.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the best choice of these five apps comes down to how you plan to use them. If you can afford a higher price tag and are looking for a thorough project management app that has all the features, Wrike or Mavenlink might be the right answer for you. If affordability and usability are higher in priority for you, Redbooth or Clickup may be better. If you want to think outside the established time tracking box, Streamtime offers a great way to do that.

So what is your next move? Take a closer look at the apps that appeal to you most. Sign up for a free trial, and give one or two of them a try. Then commit and take your team to new heights of project efficiency!

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Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Finding accounting software is never easy. Finding nonprofit software is no walk in the park either. But finding nonprofit accounting software that you can actually afford can seem downright impossible.

Sure there are plenty of fund accounting nonprofit options, but if your organization is looking for something easier to use and more affordable, QuickBooks Online may be the perfect way to go.

While QuickBooks Online doesn’t have features that are specifically designed for nonprofits, it does have several key nonprofit integrations. With QuickBooks Online covering the accounting and a nonprofit software covering your nonprofit management, you may be able to find a great alternative to traditionally expensive, convoluted fund accounting.

In this post, we’ll cover the top four nonprofit integrations for QuickBooks Online and how to choose which nonprofit software is right for you.

Overview Of QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online (see our review) is one of the most popular accounting programs on the market — and for good reason. The software offers strong accounting, tons of features, and is completely mobile. This cloud-based accounting software has been giving other programs a run for their money since 2004, and since then, QuickBooks Online has grown to support over 2.2 million users.

What makes QuickBooks Online such a popular choice? It’s easy to use and requires very little previous accounting knowledge. It has a large feature set at an affordable price — and what features it doesn’t have are covered by 200+ integrations. While the customer service has left users wanting in the past, QuickBooks Online is working hard to improve their support.

In terms of nonprofits, QuickBooks Online doesn’t offer nonprofit-specific features. When you create your QuickBooks Online account, you can mark your company as a nonprofit, which will create a customized nonprofit chart of accounts, but that’s about it. Instead, the main benefit of using QuickBooks Online for nonprofits is the strong accounting (and the nonprofit integrations, which we’ll cover in this post).

Features

For the most part, QuickBooks Online is intuitive and its features are easy to use. QuickBooks Online covers all of the features you’d expect from an accounting software, like invoicing, estimates, contact management, expense tracking, project management, time tracking, and then some.

Best Integrations For QuickBooks Online

You’ll also find key accounting features like accounts payable, bank reconciliation, reports, and a chart of accounts.

Some of our favorite additional features include:

  • Inventory
  • Budgeting
  • Printing checks
  • Tax support
  • Client portal
  • Multi-currency support
  • Class tracking

It’s also worth noting that QuickBooks has one of the best invoicing features out there. Not only are the templates customizable and attractive, you can also autoschedule invoices to automate your billing process.

The only downside of QuickBooks Online is that some of these features are only available with the most expensive plan, and the software doesn’t support more than 25 users. See our full QuickBooks Online review for details.

Pricing

QuickBooks Offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo – $50/mo. Each tier gives you access to more user and features. There is a free 30-day trial if you’d like to test the software before buying.

The highest plan only supports 5 users, so you’ll have to pay extra for additional users. Payroll is also an additional $39-$99/mo depending on your plan. Luckily, QuickBooks Online often offers a discount on the Intuit website. Be sure to take advantage of this, especially because you’ll have to pay for QuickBooks Online and the nonprofit integration of your choice.

Now that you have an idea of what QuickBooks is capable of and how much it costs, let’s see how your nonprofit organization can benefit from one of the QuickBooks Online nonprofit integrations.

1) SumacBest Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best For…

Nonprofit organizations looking for a highly customizable nonprofit software and CRM solution.

Sumac is a locally-installed nonprofit software founded on the motto “do more good.” The software offers everything from basic CRM to pledges, course registration, auditions and submissions, and more. The best part about Sumac is that the software is incredibly customizable and can be tailored to fit your organization’s specific needs. Well, maybe the best part is that the basic CRM package is completely free. We’ll let you decide.

Features

Sumac has an incredible number of features that are relatively easy to use. The design of the locally-installed version of Sumac is less attractive than the other nonprofit software options in this post, but if you can look past the outdated UI, you’ll find that Sumac is easy to navigate.

The software begins with basic CRM features: invoicing, contact management, reporting, email marketing, donation management, event management, and time tracking. These features are included in every plan.

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

You can then add these additional modules to Sumac:

  • Memberships
  • Volunteers
  • Grant management
  • Pledges
  • Ticketing
  • Reminders
  • Course registration
  • Forms
  • Tour booking
  • Proposals/prospecting
  • Auctions
  • Sales
  • Auditions and submissions
  • Job search
  • Collection management
  • Awarding grants

In general, users seem incredibly happy with the number of features they receive from Sumac. They also praise Sumac’s customer support, how easy the software is to use, and how customizable it is.

Pricing

Sumac offers four different pricing plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each plan varies in the number of add-ons, contacts, and users available. Each plan integrates directly with QuickBooks Online to connect all of your data.

  • Bronze: The Bronze plan is free and includes all basic CRM features, email support, 1 user, and up to 500 contacts.
  • Silver: The Silver plan is $20/mo and gives you the basic CRM features, 2 add-ons, phone and email support, support for 1 user, and up to 1,000 contacts.
  • Gold: The Gold plan is Sumac’s custom pricing option where you can add the exact number of add-ons that your organization needs. It also includes the Basic CRM features, phone and email support, unlimited users, and up to 30,000 contacts.
  • Platinum: The Platinum plan is $400/mo and includes the basic CRM features, 5 add-ons, phone and email support, unlimited users, and unlimited contacts.

If you prefer cloud-based software over locally-installed software, you can upgrade to the cloud version of Sumac for an additional $25/mo.

Takeaway

Sumac is a great option for nonprofits who need a customizable software with ample features. Sumac has the only free nonprofit software option on this list and is also the only locally-installed option. If you are looking for a cheap nonprofit CRM, you can’t beat Sumac. Pair Sumac with QuickBooks Online and you may have a winner on your hands.

To learn more about Sumac, visit their website and take the software for a spin with their free trial. You can also schedule a demo of Sumac.

Get Started With Sumac

2) KindfulBest Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best For…

Nonprofits in need of a cloud-based nonprofit software with ample integrations. 

Kindful is a fully-featured, cloud-based nonprofit software that is used by organizations like the Special Olympics, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Habitat for Humanity. Kindful has been helping nonprofits since 2011. Their motto is “your mission is our mission” and they offer tons of features to help nonprofits succeed. The software is intuitive with a beautiful design and offers the most integrations of any nonprofit program on this list.

Features

Kindful’s UI is both appealing and easy to use. While Kindful doesn’t have quite as many unique features as Sumac, the features it does have are done well. Kindful offers contact management, donation management, event management, pledges, letters, and more.

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Kindful is well-suited out to meet the needs of real nonprofit organizations. You can accept online donations and recurring donations, create contact groups, enter gifts, and email receipts automatically. There is also an unlimited number of customer donation pages, and donors receive their own Kindful login where they can view and manage their pledges and donations.

Some other great Kindful features include:

  • Donation campaigns
  • Scheduled reports
  • Activities
  • Donor analytics
  • Tax receipts
  • Activity trail

For the most part, Kindful has positive customer reviews. Users appreciate how easy the software is to use, which saves them time so they can focus on their nonprofits.  They also find the customer support team helpful and enjoy the 30+ integrations Kindful offers.

The only downside is that the software can be a bit spendy for smaller nonprofits with a large number of contacts.

Pricing

Kindful offers four different pricing plans. Each plan comes with all of the same features; the only difference is the number of contacts available. Each plan integrates with QuickBooks Online as well.

  • Up To 2,000 Contacts: $150/mo (billed annually)
  • Up To 5,000 Contacts: $200/mo (billed annually)
  • Up To 15,000 Contacts: $300/mo (billed annually)
  • Up To 25,000 Contacts: $400/mo (billed annually)

There is no additional charge for tech support and the only payment processing fees you pay are those charge by your specific payment processing company (i.e. Stripe, PayPal, etc.).

Takeaway

Kindful’s UI and customer donations pages make it a great choice for nonprofits. The software offers great CRM features and good donor management, as well as a unique donor login feature. If integrations are important for your organization, Kindful has the most offerings out of all four programs in this post.

To learn more about Kindful, visit their site and schedule a demo. You can also see how other real-life nonprofits are using Kindful in their customer stories.

Get Started With Kindful

3) BreezeBest Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best For…

Small to medium-sized churches in need of church-specific nonprofit software.

There are plenty of nonprofit programs out there that churches could make work, but Breeze wanted to make a software specifically create with churches in mind. This church management software is ideal for small to medium churches. The software is cloud-based, easy to use, and — best of all — it’s affordable.

Features

Breeze offers an impressive number of features designed specifically for churches. It allows you to manage contacts, tithes, and events, as well as online giving and volunteers.

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

One of the features users love most about Breeze is the children’s ministry check-in feature. Breeze allows parents to check in their children to Sunday school and even lets you print name labels. You can also create custom forms to suit your church’s needs.

Church members get their own Breeze login where they can view their statements and donate online.

Other Breeze features include:

  • Event registration
  • Contact groups
  • Built-in emailing and texting
  • Donation tracking
  • Reports
  • Year-end statements
  • Pledges

Existing Breeze users praise the software for being so easy to use that everyone in their church can learn it, no matter what level of tech experience. Users also praise the customer support and the low cost of the software.

The only potential drawback we see with Breeze is that larger churches may outgrow the software’s capabilities.

Pricing

Breeze has a single cost of $50/mo. This includes every Breeze feature, unlimited users, phone support, email support, upgrades, and even data transfers.

Takeaway

When it comes to churches, there are very specific needs and requirements that a software must meet. Breeze offers the key features churches need, all while maintaining an affordable price. The software is easy to use and has a beautiful UI, and you can’t top unlimited users.

To see if Breeze is right for your church organization, schedule a demo or sign up for a free trial on Breeze’s website.

Get Started With Breeze

4) NeonCRMBest Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best For…

Nonprofits in need of a comprehensive CRM solution.

NeonCRM is a cloud-based nonprofit software founded back in 2004. Over 85% of NeonCRM’s staff has a nonprofit background, so they know exactly what nonprofits need. With several pricing plans and a nice selection of features, there’s a little something for everyone with this software.

Features

NeonCRM has an attractive UI that is well-organized and highly developed. A few users have complained that the software is unintuitive at times, but the majority find NeonCRM easy to use.

The software offers a good number of features, including contact management, volunteer management, donations, event planning, and more.

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

If you go with the smallest NeonCRM pricing plan, you’ll have to choose between either the fundraising or membership module, though with any other plan you get access to both. NeonCRM has good automations like automatic receipting and batch donations. You can also create custom fundraising pages and can even indicate the relationship between contacts.

Like Kindful, users get their own contact login where they can view their history and manage donations.

In addition, NeonCRM offers:

  • Campaigns
  • Thank yous and gifts
  • User permissions
  • Volunteer project management
  • Prospects
  • Grants
  • Event registration
  • Reports
  • Letters

In terms of customer reviews, NeonCRM receives relatively high praise. Users appreciate the software’s ease of use and praise the customer support team. The software also offers a handy MailChimp integration.

The only drawback of the software is that it can get a bit expensive.

Pricing

NeonCRM has three different pricing plans: Essentials, Impact, and Empower. The exact cost of each plan varies depending on how many contacts you need and if you need data entry assistance.

  • Essentials: Starts at $50/mo. Must choose between fundraising or membership. Includes event management, campaigns, automatic receipts, reports, contact management, and volunteer management. Does not include a QuickBooks Online integration.
  • Impact: Starts at $110/mo. Includes both fundraising and memberships. Includes all of the features from the Essentials plan, plus web forms, online store, customer survey builder, peer-to-peer fundraising, and a QuickBooks Online integration.
  • Empower: Starts at $200/mo. Includes all of the features form the Impact plan, plus donor search, live chat, and visual phone support.

Customer support may cost extra depending on the plan. Download NeonCRM’s pricing .pdf for all of the details.

Takeaway

NeonCRM is a comprehensive CRM solution with a few great nonprofit additions. The software is beautifully designed and is a great choice for organizations seeking to build an appealing online presence and brand. While Neon CRM can get expensive (especially considering that the QuickBooks Online integration is limited to the two higher plans), it may still be worth it for some medium to large-sized nonprofits.

Learn more about NeonCRM on their website, or contact NeonCRM directly for a free trial or demo.

Get Started With NeonCRM

Which Nonprofit Software Is Right For Me?

When it comes to choosing the perfect nonprofit software to integrate with QuickBooks Online for your organization, think carefully about your nonprofit’s needs. Which features do you need? How many users need to use the software? Do you need cloud-based software or mobile apps? All of these factors, as well as your budget, will determine which nonprofit software is right for.

QuickBooks Online does have two other donor management integrations — Method:Donor and Donor Receipts — if you need an even simpler solution. That said, Sumac, Kindful, Breeze, and NeonCRM are your best bets if you want to integrate fully-featured nonprofit software with QuickBooks online.

If you’re still not certain if QuickBooks Online is the best choice for your nonprofit, take a look at our Top 10 Best Nonprofit Accounting Apps For 2018 for more options.

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Best Apps For Scrum Project Management

Scrum. It was originally a rugby term, describing the interlocking formation of players as they get ready to…you know…do rugby stuff. Now that I have alienated our entire British commonwealth audience, let’s turn our attention to Scrum’s other meaning, the one in the field of project management. In snazzy technical terms, scrum project management is “an iterative and incremental framework for managing product development.” But, since that definition is just a collection of buzzwords, let me just show you:

Unlike Waterfall project management, in which you follow a very black and white, linear process, the idea here is that you and your team start tasks in the “to-do” column, move them to “in-progress” while you work on them, then send them through verification and Q/A. When put like this, it makes perfect sense! More than that though, it is clear why this method of organization might be beneficial.

The original Scrum concept used a whiteboard and post-its in order to create the classic grid and moving tasks, but that is far from the only way to use this methodology. As you might expect, a number of software developers have created different apps capable of replicating the original pen-and-paper version. Which of them is best? Let’s take a look and see.

Trello

Trello (read our review) is the first app I thought of when preparing an article on scrum project management. One of the originators of the now popular Board View, Trello is ideally suited to arrange into a Scrum configuration. You can create boards for each section of the scrum, then add cards to those boards and drag them back and forth as you see fit, which is vital to effective use of scrum and agile methodology.

Trello also has the advantage of being free to use. While there is a paid version available, in most ways it is just not necessary, especially if you are only interested in using it for Scrum applications. Perhaps most important of all, though, Trello is fantastically easy to use. Every step of the process of signing up is a breeze, and there is effectively no learning curve.

Redbooth

Redbooth (read our review) employs a similar system to Trello, wherein you may create task lists, populate them with tasks, then drag and drop them into other lists as you need. This, though, is about where the similarities end. Redbooth is a much more developed tool, with such additional features to sweeten the pot as subtasks (oooh), reporting (aaaah), and even some communication tools (round of applause). Some of those features, especially the reporting tools, are pretty useful in understanding how effective your Scrum techniques have been, and in identifying possible trouble spots.

Of course, those nice extra features come at a price. Sure, Redbooth offers a free version of the software, but all those nice, juicy extras could be yours for less than $10/user/month. Fortunately, the price is probably worth it; Redbooth is both easy to use and also beautiful to look at.

Binfire

Binfire (read our review) is designed from the ground up for Scrum project management. Each project is fully customizable with different “bins” for you to file tasks under, allowing you to decide project-by-project how you want to organize your work. This, of course, means you can easily set up a wide variety of Scrum configurations. Binfire also specializes in communication features, with a pretty excellent group chat. My favorite part of this instant message-style chat is that it stays with you as you navigate through the program, allowing you to look at your work as you communicate with team members, rather than clicking back and forth between screens.

Unlike the first two apps covered here, there is no free version of Binfire. However, the lowest subscription level is just $5/person/month, which is pretty good value for money. It should be noted, however, that the minimum user count is six, so if you happen to be working on an extremely small agile team, this might not be the best choice for you.

Asana

best ecommerce apps

Asana (read our review) might take the cake for prettiest Scrum project management app. The clean design just invites users to drag-and-drop tasks back and forth between boards. In addition to the Scrum project view, Asana offers Gantt charts, excellent integrations, project reporting, and more. Really though, the biggest appeal in Asana is the absolute beauty of the UI. Some might consider this of little importance in a piece of software, but I personally feel that if you are going to be spending considerable time in an app, it had better be a nice place to be.

The pricing for Asana is incredibly simple. There is a free version (limited to just 15 users), a $10 version, and an enterprise version that you have to contact the sales team to learn the pricing for. Most of the good features in Asana only come from the paid version, so even if you are part of a team with less than 15 users, it might be worth paying the fee to get the rest.

Teamwork Projects

Teamwork Projects (read our review) is perhaps less adaptable to Scrum project management than some of the others on this list. However, with the recent addition of Board View to the app, it will be more than serviceable in this regard. One of the things I appreciate about Teamwork is that it is a very scalable product; if you have aspirations of growing your business beyond the “small” label, this could be the project management app for you.

Like Redbooth and Asana, Teamwork has a free option, offering a reduced feature set to users for either limited use or use as a trial phase. If you want the rest of Teamwork Projects’ features, you are going to be shelling out $9/user/month. This pricing category goes all the way up to 100 users. If you need more than that, the price per user will go up.

Final Thoughts

Scrum project management is one of the most approachable iterations of Agile methodology and could represent a huge boost in productivity and efficiency for your business. While the original whiteboard approach might work for some, for others a more technological approach will be more appealing. If that is you, any of these five options might suit you.

If I were pressed for a single recommendation, I honestly think I would go with Trello. While it offers fewer features than the other items on this list, it also is available completely free and is an absolute joy to use. But honestly, it would be difficult to go wrong with the others as well. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose completely blindly. Start by reading the complete reviews of the most likely candidates for your business, then sign up for one of the free trials before making your final decision.

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QuickBooks For Nonprofits 2018

QuickBooks For Nonprofits

As a nonprofit, you want the absolute best for your organization — and that includes accounting software. If you’ve started your search for the best accounting software for nonprofits, I’m sure you didn’t get far without hearing the name QuickBooks.

But is QuickBooks the right accounting solution for your small business or not-for-profit organization? Which QuickBooks product is best for nonprofits? And how do you know if QuickBooks has the nonprofit features you need?

We’ll answer these questions and more!

QuickBooks Nonprofit Products

First off, QuickBooks doesn’t have a separate product specifically designed for nonprofits. However, several of its existing products offer nonprofits features.

QuickBooks Premier

QuickBooks Premier (see our review) is a full-fledged, locally-installed accounting software designed for small to medium-sized businesses. QuickBooks Premier offers six industry-specific editions, including a nonprofit edition.

QuickBooks Enterprise

Like QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise (see our review) is a locally-installed software targeted to large businesses and enterprises. This product also has a nonprofit edition.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online (see our review) is a cloud-based accounting software with tons of features and over 200 integrations. While there aren’t any built-in nonprofit features in QuickBooks Online, there are a ton of integrations that can give you the nonprofit features you need.

If you’re looking for simple, web-based accounting software for nonprofits, QuickBooks Online is an excellent place to start. However, in this post, we’ll focus specifically on the nonprofit edition of QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise.

Pricing

One of the biggest differences between QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise is the cost. While both offer the nonprofit edition, QuickBooks Enterprise allows for more users, advanced inventory, and lead management. If you’re looking for discounted or free software for nonprofits, QuickBooks isn’t your best bet, but you get a lot for your money when you use one of the QuickBooks nonprofit editions.

QuickBooks Premier

QuickBooks Premier offers two pricing options. You can either purchase a QuickBooks Premier license for $499.95 or purchase a yearly subscription of QuickBooks Premier Plus for $499.95/yr.

A QuickBooks Premier license is good for three years, after which QuickBooks drops support. Phone support costs extra. The QuickBooks Premier Plus subscription includes phone support, updates, and data backup. Additional users cost extra.

Going with QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit Edition instead of the Standard Edition doesn’t cost any extra. For more details, visit QuickBooks Premier’s pricing page.

QuickBooks Enterprise

QuickBooks Enterprise has three pricing plans:

  • Silver (starts at $1,100/yr)
  • Gold (starts at $1,430/yr)
  • Platinum (starts at $1,760/yr)

The price of each plan is determined by your number of users. Subscriptions are renewed annually and include phone support, updates, and data backups. You can calculate how much your QuickBooks Enterprise software would cost on Intuit’s site. Like QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit Edition has no additional cost.

Basic Accounting Features

Both QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise have strong accounting features and are incredibly well-developed. Here’s an idea of the features you can expect to find with each software.

QuickBooks Premier Features

QuickBooks didn’t earn its strong reputation for nothing. QuickBooks Premier is one of the most comprehensive accounting programs out there. The software offers strong accounting features, including a customizable chart of accounts, journal entries, bank reconciliation, accounts payable, and over 135 reports.

QuickBooks for Nonprofits

QuickBooks Premier also offers invoicing, contact management, expense tracking, project management, inventory, and time tracking.

Some of our other favorite features include:

  • Tax support
  • Budgeting
  • Sales orders
  • Mileage deductions
  • To-do list and calendar
  • Print checks
  • Letter templates

All of these features do come at a price — the software has a steep learning curve. For accountants and those with accounting experience, QuickBooks Premier’s traditional setup may be easy to understand, but for those with limited accounting knowledge, the software will take some time to learn.

On the plus side, QuickBooks Premier offer decent customer support and receives extremely high praise (especially when compared to QuickBooks Pro). Read our comprehensive QuickBooks Premier review for all the details on these features and more.

QuickBooks Enterprise Features

Much like QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise has an impressive number of features, but with 6x more storage and advanced inventory capabilities, QuickBooks Enterprise is designed for large businesses and enterprises. QuickBooks Enterprise has the accounting features you’d expect including a chart of accounts, journal entries, bank reconciliation, fixed assets management, and accounts payable.

QuickBooks for Nonprofits

QuickBooks Enterprise also includes expense tracking, contact management, project management, and time tracking. While the invoicing is slightly more limited, there are several features that you won’t find with QuickBooks Premier like lead management, advanced inventory, a loan manager, a business plan tool, and the option to add Intuit Field Service Management.

QuickBooks Enterprise also provides:

  • Tax support
  • 140 reports
  • Class tracking
  • Mileage deductions
  • To-do list and calendar
  • Letter templates
  • Print checks

While there is a steep learning curve, QuickBooks Enterprise offers better customer support than QuickBooks Premier, making it ultimately easier to learn. Customer reviews on the software are mixed; you can check out our full QuickBooks Enterprise review for all of the details.

Nonprofit Accounting Features

In addition to the standard features that come with QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise, the nonprofit edition for both programs adds:

  • Pledges: You can create and manage pledges. When creating a pledge, you can record the item, description, class, amount, and tax.
  • Donations: You can record donation made by check, e-check, credit card, debit card, or cash.
  • Programs/Products: The Programs/Products tool lets you track specific projects and programs run by your nonprofit.
  • Donor Letters: With QuickBooks Nonprofit, you can create donor letters using QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise’s existing letter templates.
  • Customized Chart Of Accounts: The Nonprofit Edition comes with a default chart of accounts specifically designed for nonprofits. You can customize this chart of accounts to fit your organization’s needs.
  • Nonprofit Reports: One of the best parts about QuickBooks’ Nonprofit Edition is that you have access to nine additional nonprofit reports (in addition to the existing 135+ reports that come with QuickBooks Premier and Enterprise). You’ll find reports like a Statement of Financial, Position, a Statement of Functional Expenses (990), the Biggest Donors/Grants, the Budget vs. Actual Programs/Projects, and more.

The only downside of the QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit Editions is that you can’t change the title of your contacts; so all of your donors and volunteers will be called ‘customers’ and ’employees’ within the software.

Learn more about how real nonprofit organizations are using QuickBooks Nonprofit Edition.

Is QuickBooks Right For My Nonprofit Organization?

QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise are fully-developed accounting solutions. Each has a bit of a learning curve but offers impressive features and key nonprofit features. But how do you know if QuickBooks Nonprofit Edition is right for you?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have time to learn how to use QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise?
  2. Do the QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit and/or QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit Editions include all of the features I need?
  3. Can I afford nonprofit accounting software from QuickBooks?

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, great! QuickBooks may be a good fit for your nonprofit organization.

Before committing to QuickBooks, we recommend you take the software for a spin. Sign up for a free trial of QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit Edition. There is no free trial for QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit Edition, but you can still get an idea of what to expect using the Enterprise trial. Don’t forget to look at The Complete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide to see the key differences between QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise.

If you can’t afford QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise, or if you want something easier to learn, check out our Top 10 Nonprofit Accounting Software Programs.

Read our Complete QuickBooks Premier Review

Read our Complete QuickBooks Enterprise Review

Read our Complete QuickBooks Online Review

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Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

Easy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

If you’re reading this, you’re in the market for a simple accounting solution. Maybe you don’t know anything about accounting and need a program that’s easy to learn. Or maybe you’ve been using Sage or QuickBooks Desktop Pro and are tired of the confusing accounting lingo.

The good news is that accounting doesn’t have to be difficult, and neither does finding easy accounting software. Thanks to the Cloud, there are plenty of full-featured, capable accounting programs that are easy to use and can help small business owners gain control of their business’s finances.

In this post, we’ll cover the top seven easiest accounting software programs. Each program on this list is easy to use and makes learning how to manage your accounting a breeze. We’ve included options to fit every budget and multiple business types.

Each program is ranked by how easy it is to use, how well the software is designed, and how quickly it can be mastered. Read on to see which is right for you!

1. WaveEasy Accounting Software For Small Businessses

Wave (see our review) is an eminently easy to use accounting software — and with a price of $0, it’s easy on the budget as well. Excellent customer support, competitive pricing, and great features have earned this software 4.5/5 stars on our site.

Best For…

Small businesses on a tight budget that still want strong accounting capabilities. Ideal for Etsy sellers and micro businesses.

Wave Pricing

As we mentioned earlier, Wave is free, no gimmicks or strings attached. With a Wave account, you get access to all Wave features and unlimited users. The only extra costs to be aware of are payroll and payment processing. Read our complete Wave review for all of the pricing details.

Wave Features

Wave is well-developed software that even rivals some paid programs in terms of features. This app is incredibly easy to navigate, and the learning curve is minimal, making it a great choice for business owners with little previous accounting experience. The software covers all of the accounting basics including invoicing, expense tracking, accounts payable, bank reconciliation, and more.

Easy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Wave also has several unique features. In Wave, users can separate personal and business expenses, which is ideal for freelancers or side hustlers who don’t have a separate business bank account. Wave also offers Lending by Wave, which helps business owners gain access to capital through a partnership with OnDeck (see our review). Learn more about this financing option in our post Lending by Wave: Everything Small Businesses Need to Know.

Other features include:

  • Item management
  • Reports
  • Receipts
  • Contact management

Wave doesn’t offer as many integrations as its competitors; however, it does have a Zapier integration, which connects Wave with over 750 third-party apps. Besides Zapier, there are only three other integrations. (The Etsy integration makes Wave a great choice for Etsy sellers in need of simple accounting.) Wave also has several mobile apps.

There are a ton of customer support resources that make the software easy to learn. Only payroll users have phone and chat support, but Wave’s support team answers emails quickly and there’s a thorough help center with how-to videos.

The only downside to the software is that there is no project management feature and time tracking is limited to payroll users. There also isn’t a true inventory feature. If these features are integral to your business, you’ll have to use an integration. Or you can take a look at one of the other options on this list.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for an affordable accounting option, it doesn’t get better than Wave. With positive customer reviews, excellent customer support, and a well-organized UI, it’s no wonder this free accounting software is so popular. It’s easy to jump straight in and start using Wave, even with little previous accounting experience.

To learn more, read our full Wave review or sign up for an account to test the software yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose — after all, it’s free.

Read our full Wave review

Visit the Wave website

2. Zoho BooksEasy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

Created in 2011, Zoho Books (see our review) offers unbeatable invoicing and strong mobile apps. In fact, recent updates have put Zoho Books on par with QuickBooks Online in terms of features, but with better customer service, cheaper pricing, and a more user-friendly UI, Zoho Books is a great option for small businesses.

Best For…

Small businesses in need of strong online accounting, affordable pricing, and good invoicing. Ideal for international business.

Zoho Books Pricing

Zoho Books offers three affordable pricing plans ranging from $9/mo – $29/mo. Each plan comes with basic features and unlimited invoices. The larger the plan, the more contacts, users, and advanced features you’ll have access to. Read our Zoho Books review for the details.

Zoho Books Features

Zoho Books has an impressive number of features. With good customer support and a well-designed UI, the software is easy to use and learn. The software has all of the features you’d expect from a fully-developed accounting solution including invoicing, contact management, expense tracking, time tracking, inventory, project management, and even tax support.

Easy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

The best part about Zoho Books is its invoicing offerings. Zoho Books offers 15 customizable invoice templates, a client portal where customers can pay invoices directly online, recurring invoices, and the unique ability to encrypt invoices. There are also many automations that make it easy to invoice customers, like the ability to autoschedule invoices to be sent at a later time. In addition, you can send invoices in over 10 languages, making Zoho Books a great choice for international business.

You’ll find these key accounting features as well:

  • Accounts payable
  • Charts of accounts
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Fixed asset management
  • Reports

Zoho Books offers 30 integrations, including 12 payments gateways options and a Zapier integration that connects Zoho Books to over 750 other third-party apps. Zoho Books also has easy accounting apps that are highly developed and praised by existing users.

Zoho Books is known for great customer service. Phone support and email support are both available. Representatives are generally helpful and quick to respond to questions. The majority of customer reviews are positive, and users especially like the level of support they receive.

The only drawback is that Zoho Books has no payroll feature. You’ll either have to find a payroll integration or opt for a different software.

Takeaway

With almost as many features as QuickBooks Online, Zoho Books is definitely a contender worth considering. The software is easy to use and its invoicing features are unbeatable. Great customer support, a good number of integrations, and international features are also perks of the software.

If Zoho Books sounds like it might be a good choice for your small business, start a free trial or read our complete Zoho Books review to learn more.

Read our full Zoho Books review

Visit the Zoho Books website

3. ZipBooksEasy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

ZipBooks (see our review) is an up-and-coming accounting software that was launched in 2015 and offers a free accounting software plan. The software may be new, but it has already mastered simplicity. ZipBooks is one of the easiest accounting programs out there, and with a free plan, unlimited users, and ample automations, it’s not hard to see why this software gets 4/5 stars.

Best For…

Small businesses in need of affordable, strong accounting. Ideal for business owners with little previous accounting experience.

ZipBooks Pricing

ZipBooks offers three pricing plans ranging from $0/mo – $35/mo. Each plan comes with unlimited invoicing and unlimited users, which is almost unheard of (especially for the free plan) Each pricing level adds more features. Read our complete ZipBooks review to see which plan’s features suit your needs best.

ZipBooks Features

ZipBooks offers a good number of features that are easy to use and has one of the most attractive interfaces out there. The software’s design is simple and intuitive, using automations to save you time. The UI is even color-coded to make navigation a breeze. ZipBooks offers the basics you’d expect from accounting software, including invoicing, contact management, and expense tracking.

Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

One unique aspect of ZipBooks is that the software takes the data you input and uses it to provide helpful business insights, including a business health score and business recommendations specific to your financial situation.

In addition, ZipBooks offers:

  • Time tracking
  • Project management
  • Reports
  • Category tracking

ZipBooks only comes with eight integrations, so if you’re looking for ample add-ons, this may not be the software for you.

If you’re looking for good customer support, ZipBooks has you covered. Representatives are quick to respond to questions. Phone support is available for the paid plans. Other support options include email, in-software chat, a knowledge base, and a blog.

Before purchasing ZipBooks, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider. Compared to the other choices on this list, ZipBooks has very limited invoicing and only a small number of accounting reports. There also is no item or inventory feature. Despite these shortcomings, ZipBooks receives many positive customer reviews.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for easy accounting software, ZipBooks is hard to beat. With a great design, good learning resources, and ample automations, ZipBooks does everything it can to make accounting simple.

If ZipBooks sounds like a good fit for your business, use the free plan to take the software for a spin. Read our complete ZipBooks review to learn more.

Read our full ZipBooks review

Visit the ZipBooks website

4. FreshBooksEasy Accounting Software

FreshBooks (see our review) is invoicing software with a few bookkeeping tools tossed in. Although it’s not true “accounting” software, we kept in in the mix because it is incredibly easy to use and free of accounting jargon.

Best For…

Small businesses looking for strong invoicing and basic bookkeeping but not a full accounting software.

FreshBooks Pricing

FreshBooks offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo – $50/mo. Most features are included in all plans, so each larger level mainly adds more billable customers.

FreshBooks only supports a single user (additional users cost an extra $10/mo each). Read our full FreshBooks review to learn more.

FreshBooks Features

FreshBooks has always been easy to use, but a recent redesign has made the user experience even simpler and the UI more attractive. Setup is simple and the software takes very little time to learn. In terms of features, you’ll find invoicing, expense tracking, contact management, and more.

Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

FreshBooks offers two customizable invoice templates and a client portal where customers can pay their invoices directly online. One of the coolest features in FreshBooks is the ability to chat with your customers directly on their invoices.

Other features include:

  • Project management
  • Time tracking
  • Reports

FreshBooks offers 60 integrations, which is significantly more than most invoicing programs. There are also mobile apps available.

FreshBooks has great customer support. Representatives are friendly, helpful, and quick to respond. There is phone support, email support, a help center, and several other resources to help you learn the software.

For the most part, FreshBooks receives positive customer reviews; however, there are some recurring complaints.

In addition to not being true accounting software, FreshBooks only supports a single user — and this invoicing software is already more expensive than most accounting software. Instead of purchasing additional users, you’d get more bang for your buck by choosing a full-fledged accounting program (or a less expensive invoicing program like Zoho Invoice or Invoicera).

Takeaway

While FreshBooks isn’t accounting software, many small businesses are able to look past the lack of double-entry accounting because the software is so simple and easy to use. This easy bookkeeping software is ideal for small businesses that only need to send invoices and track expenses.

If the simplicity of FreshBooks sounds appealing to you, take the software for a spin with a free trial or read our comprehensive FreshBooks review to learn more.

Read our full FreshBooks review

Visit the FreshBooks website

5. QuickBooks Self-EmployedEasy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

QuickBooks Self-Employed (see our review) is tax software designed to help freelancers with basic bookkeeping and tax support. While QuickBooks Self-Employed isn’t exactly accounting software, it offers easy bookkeeping and tax support for freelancers.

Best For…

Freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed individuals needing basic bookkeeping and tax support. Ideal for managing estimated quarterly taxes and maximizing deductions.

QuickBooks Self-Employed Pricing

There are two pricing options for QuickBooks Self-Employed. There’s a $10/mo plan that includes all of the software’s features. Going with the $17/mo plan adds a Turbo Tax integration, so you can easily file your self-employed taxes.

QuickBooks Self-Employed Features

QuickBooks Self-Employed is well-organized and easy to use. The features help simplify estimated quarterly taxes and allow freelancers to manage their expenses and track their deductions.

Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

This software also makes it easy to separate personal and business expenses, which is ideal for freelancers who don’t have a designated business bank account. LIke Wave, QuickBooks Online also has a built-in lending feature called QuickBooks Capital (see our review) that helps small businesses manage gain access to working capital to manage their cash flow.

In addition, QuickBooks Self-Employed offers:

  • Invoicing
  • Fixed asset management
  • Schedule Cs
  • Tax checklist

QuickBooks Self-Employed offers a small number of integrations, but the Turbo Tax integration is the best part of the software by far. This integration makes self-employed taxes a breeze and makes it easy to file taxes online.

Unfortunately, QuickBooks Self-Employed is known for poor customer service. With no phone support and limited additional resources, it can be hard to find help, though the company is working to improve this. There is a live chat feature, a redesigned help center, and a small business resource center with helpful business advice.

While QuickBooks Self-Employed is a great option for managing your federal taxes, our one concern is that the software lacks state tax support. This means you’ll have to find another way to file state taxes.

Takeaway

If you’re a freelancer looking for a way to manage your finances and taxes, QuickBooks Self-Employed could be a good option for your business. The software is easy to use and comes with good mobile apps for quick access to your data.

To learn more about this software, read our complete QuickBooks Self-Employed review. If you’re already convinced, sign up for a free trial or start using the software today.

Read our full QuickBooks Self-Employed review

Visit the QuickBooks Self-Employed website

6. SlickPieEasy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

Founded in 2015, SlickPie (see our review) is an easy-to-use accounting software that has already received positive customer reviews and press coverage. Like Wave and ZipBooks, SlickPie offers an impressive free plan and a beautiful interface.

Best For…

Small businesses on a tight budget in need of basic accounting features and bookkeeping automations.

SlickPie Pricing

SlickPie offers a free plan and a paid plan which costs $9.95/mo. Both plans come with basic features and unlimited users. The main difference is the number of invoices you are allowed to send. Read our complete SlickPie review for all of the pricing details.

SlickPie Features

As we mentioned earlier, SlickPie is easy to use and offers several automations to help save you time and energy. There are a few occasional navigational difficulties and the organization could be improved, but overall the software is simple to set up. Features include invoicing, expense tracking, contact management, accounts payable, and more.

Easy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

One of the coolest features is SlickPie’s MagicBot, which is a data entry tool that automates your receipts. When you take a photo of your receipt, SlickPie will automatically gather the information from the photo and enter the data for you.

Here are some other features found in SlickPie:

  • Chart of accounts
  • Item management
  • Reports

SlickPie only offers three integrations, which might not cut it for many small businesses.

This app does have good customer support, however. Emails are responded to incredibly quickly. There is also phone support and a helpful knowledge base. SlickPie receives positive customer reviews, especially where support is concerned.

There are a few limitations to consider when comparing SlickPie to the other options on this list. While SlickPie is still easy to use, the software is difficult to navigate at times. There are also no project management or time tracking features. Unlike the other options, SlickPIe does not have mobile apps.

Takeaway

SlickPie is simple accounting software with basic features and a few promising automations. However, its limited automations, missing features, and occasionally unintuitive organization may rule this software out as a viable option for some small business owners.

If you’d like to learn more, read our complete SlickPie review or see the software in action for yourself by signing up for a free account.

Read our full SlickPie review

Visit the SlickPie website

7. QuickBooks OnlineEasy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

QuickBooks Online (see our review) is a fully-featured accounting software program that is generally easy to use. With 200+ integrations, strong mobile apps, and tax support, it’s no wonder this software receives 5/5 stars.

Best For…

Small businesses looking for a full-featured accounting solution that is relatively easy to use. Ideal for businesses with five users or fewer (though you can add up to 25 users for an additional cost).

QuickBooks Online Pricing

QuickBooks Online offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo – $50/mo. The larger the plan, the more feature you have access to and the more users you can have.

Payroll costs an additional $39 – $90/mo (plus $2/mo per employee). Read our full QuickBooks Online review to learn more and to see if Intuit is running any sales promotions.

QuickBooks Online Features

While this cloud accounting software is not quite as easy to use as the other options on this list, the trade-off is more advanced features. Set up is a bit involved and the organization is occasionally difficult to navigate, but compared to other big-name programs like Xero, Sage, and AccountEdge Pro, QuickBooks Online is a piece of cake.

Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

QuickBooks offers double-entry bookkeeping and strong accounting features like bank reconciliation, accounts payable, reports, and a chart of accounts. You’ll also find invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, project management, and more. In terms of invoicing, QuickBooks Online offers the second best templates and automations (with Zoho Books being the first).

Other features include:

  • Class tracking
  • Client portal
  • Tax support
  • Contact management
  • Budgeting
  • Inventory

With over 200 integrations, QuickBooks has more integrations than any other accounting program on this list. This includes 15 payment processing options and great mobile apps.

As we mentioned earlier, QuickBooks has been known for poor customer service in the past. Recently, QuickBooks Online has made great strides to improve their customer support. While the company still has a ways to go, phone response times have greatly improved and a redesigned help center makes it easy to find assistance.

Takeaway

While QuickBooks Online may not be quite as easy to use as the other options on this list, this online accounting software might be a good fit for businesses looking to get the most bang for their buck in terms of features.

Read our comprehensive QuickBooks Online review to learn about all that this software has to offer, or sign up for a free trial to see for yourself.

Read our full QuickBooks Online review

Visit the QuickBooks Online website

Final Verdict

Any one of these simple small business accounting software options will allow you to easily manage your business’s finances and balance the books, no matter what level of accounting experience you bring to the table. Ultimately, the decision will come down to your budget and the features your business needs.

Want a good double-entry accounting solution that’s more robust than the options we discussed above? I suggest trying Xero, Sage, AccountEdge Pro, or QuickBooks Pro. These apps aren’t quite as easy to use as the seven programs in this post, but they come with far more advanced features. If you need higher-level inventory management, payroll software, or a more refined method to track bank accounts, credit card payments and/or credit card charges, you’re going to be better off with one of these solutions. Conversely, for small business owners who are in the market for something very simple and don’t want to pay anything for an accounting app, we’ve compiled a list of the best free online accounting software programs out there.

If you need more help deciding, read the Complete Guide to Choosing Online Accounting or 20 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Accounting Software. And don’t forget to download the Beginner’s Guide to Accounting — in this free ebook, we make accounting simple and teach you everything you need to know without the confusing accounting jargon.

As always, let us know if you have any questions, and happy hunting!

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What Is Waterfall Project Management?

It should come as no surprise that there are several methodologies out there for managing projects. Likewise, with different priorities, goals, and habits, it should make sense that different project management apps exist to meet the needs of those varied methods. The most basic, traditional, and universal of those methods is Waterfall project management.

In the tech world, Waterfall is seen as something of a pariah. Newer, shinier, sexier options have eclipsed the old school methodologies and left them behind. But just as old muscle cars still have proponents who insist they are way better than those new-fangled electric cars, the Waterfall method is still considered completely valid, even superior in some fields. But what is it? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this most traditional of project management styles?

Looking for project management software? Check out our quick comparison chart of the top project management apps on the market today.

What Is Waterfall Project Management?

When you think of working on a project, you likely think of that project in terms of the Waterfall method. You come up with a concept, do some research, build a model, test it out, and put it into production. The whole thing is linear, simple, and makes sense, at least on the surface.

The idea is that once your idea gets going, it continues through until brought to completion. I can think of many a school project completed in this fashion, and it gels well with what you expect when working on a project

In contrast, Agile methodology has taken the tech world by storm in the last decade or so. Rather than thinking of projects as purely linear, those working in an Agile mindset allow for iteration upon iteration at every step of the project. This allows for rapid development of multiple versions of a product, each suited to a slightly different set of variables.

Unsurprisingly, Agile has found a perfect fit in the software industry as the cycle of testing, implementing, redesigning, and iterating makes sense in an app-driven world. But the Waterfall method, while less and less common in Silicon Valley and among tech startups, is still a mainstay of manufacturing and other, similar industries. To understand why, let’s take a closer look at the advantages of Waterfall project management.

Advantages Of Using Waterfall To Manage Projects

Waterfall’s linear nature fits nicely in any industry where change is difficult to implement once a project has begun. With software, your product is line upon line of computer code, but industries like construction and manufacturing find it exceedingly difficult to change details of projects once they have been physically put together. For example, once a part has been milled from a block of solid aluminum, it is tough to just…put some of the material back.

This is just one of many reasons why Waterfall management might make more sense for your business. Others reasons to use Waterfall include:

  • Allows more multitasking
  • Rewards thorough pre-planning
  • Intuitive and approachable

Basically, Waterfall rewards those who approach it seriously but also have three or four projects going at once. For that reason, it is important that every part of a project be immediately discernable at a glance. Where Agile may have a bewildering maze of iterations to wade through for project managers, teams working a Waterfall approach know exactly where the project began and exactly where it will end.

Disadvantages Of Waterfall Methodology

Of course, the reverse of many of these is true as well. If you are on a team that intends to devote itself to a specific and single project, it may be more advantageous to take a rapid, open-ended approach that will allow a product to be created early in the process and then refined over time. As mentioned above, this is most possible in the software world, where developers continuously tweak, update, and redesign as they go, sending improvements out to users over time. However, a form of this thought process can be seen in the car world, where each model year brings some refinements and changes.

Waterfall doesn’t handle that level of flexibility well, at least not in the short-term. Additionally, you may experience some of these other drawbacks:

  • Delivery happens at the end of the process, not before
  • Once the process is started, it is hard to change course
  • Most variables must be known early in the process

Again, certain industries will find these disadvantages no trouble at all. If you feel like you can handle the lack of flexibility and are fastidious in your preparation, Waterfall will likely be rewarding for you.

Final Thoughts

When it comes right down to it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Waterfall project management in the correct context. This most traditional methodology is time tested and proven to get results consistently. So if you are in manufacturing, construction, or any similar industry, you probably should be using it.

Fortunately, since Waterfall is kind of the OG project management method, nearly every app out there will be entirely serviceable for you. My personal favorites include Redbooth (read our review), Teamwork (read our review) and Clickup (read our review).

We’ve written in-depth reviews of the major cloud-based and on-premise project management apps on the market today, whether you’re using Waterfall, Agile, Scrum, or some combination of the three.

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