Many independent contractors, freelancers, and other self-employed workers are waking up to the fact that, in order to run their operations smoothly and to their greatest financial potential, they need to employ the help of a bookkeeping and accounting software that will simplify, organize, and streamline those tasks.
The QuickBooks software is one of the oldest, best-known brands of its kind, which is how it becomes many freelancers' first online accounting system. Some end up loving it and sticking with it, while others realize that the features they have with QuickBooks are either too inflexible or simply not the right fit for their particular needs and start looking for something "similar but different".
If you're considering alternatives to your "QuickBooks Self-Employed" subscription, read on to see how other top brands -- Bonsai, FreshBooks, Xero, Expensify, Zoho Books, Sage, Wave, and ZipBooks -- stack up against the competition.
Note: If you want to try the top rated alternative to QuickBooks self-employed, try Bonsai Tax. Our software typically saves users $5,600 from their tax bill by automatically recording and tracking their tax deductions. Try a 14-day free trial today.
There's no denying it: QuickBooks is one of the "granddaddies" of accounting/bookkeeping software in the industry, with four million accounts around the globe. Its popularity makes sense, as the software has been around in some form since 1983 (developed by Intuit financial software company in California).
In the modern world, however, the range of accounting software consumers is so great that one bookkeeping tool, however solid, cannot serve the needs and interests of every single customer. Different online tools cater to different business demographics and, hence, prioritize different features, interfaces, scalability, integrations, and price points, depending on the size, nature, and industry of the businesses targeted by each service.
Well, as a busy freelancer, you certainly need the help of some accounting software!
Now, whether it's QuickBooks, Bonsai, or any other competitors offering analogous digital online tools for accounting for freelancers is up to you to decide, depending on your unique entrepreneurial needs.
QuickBooks is a solid, time-tested choice of accounting software, but it's not equally well-suited for every individual contractor's business needs.
Furthermore, while Quickbooks Self Employed is primarily a bookkeeping/accounting software: it does not offer the same array of freelancer-centric "customer relationship management" (CRM) tools and templates, project management capabilities, or time-tracking aides offered by other software on the market -- ones specifically designed to let freelancers get all their accounting and administrative tasks handled in a single space.
QuickBooks Self Employed offers basic accounting software for self-employed (1099) workers, with basic income and expenses tracking tools (e.g. tax receipt organizing, business mileage tracking, calculating Schedule C deductions, generating expense and financial reports, calculating quarterly tax estimates, etc.) but it is mostly limited to finances, without much to offer in the way of assisting with the workload and the workflow of a small business.
If you are looking to switch from QuickBooks Self Employed to a similar software that's a better fit for your business dealings and challenges, take into consideration both, what's missing from your current software as well as the general concerns in shopping for accounting/bookkeeping solutions.
Some of QuickBooks Self Employed software's weaknesses include:
So, if you have been missing those features in your QuickBooks experience, look for them in different accounting/bookkeeping apps -- just make sure that if you switch, you do not compromise on the features that you do value about QuickBooks.
When shopping around for accounting/bookkeeping software for your freelance business, it is useful to ask the following questions:
The majority of accounting apps will offer same or similar overlapping accounting features considered standard and necessary for any business, but it's a different story with plug-ins. Account management plug-ins allow businesses to develop/manage relationships with current and future clients: they collect/analyze consumer information, track accounts, notify/request feedback from clients, etc.
Some apps (like Xero) support many plug-ins while others don't: if you like to enhance your accounting experience with auxiliary functions, choose an app that allows for it.
For simple, repetitive tasks and accounting, basic preset templates may do the trick, but freelancers juggling a variety of projects tailored specifically to boutique client requests may need to customize their proposals, contracts, invoices, and other customer relationship management documents to each job. Make sure to sign up for a software that gives you the amount of flexibility (or rigidity) you need for the most optimal bookkeeping experience (for example FreshBooks is known for how customizable their reports and invoices are).
It's not always about logic, but different software interfaces work differently for different clients. Certain familiar ways of organizing things, or recognizable template styles, or other visual patterns that appeal to us: these factors can put our minds at ease and let us relax with the tasks at hand.
Also, some apps may be offering cutting-edge accounting features and operations -- but the learning curve may be too steep and, hence, too daunting for a novice to take on. Sophisticated features are of no value to the users who can't get past the set-up screen (Bonsai, on the other hand, offers a variety of flexible features and is still incredibly easy to navigate).
This is why it's useful to take advantage of a free trial, if one is offered: then, you can poke around the different features of the software and see if the whole thing feels intuitive enough to commit to.
Accounting/budgeting/taxes are already an anxious topic for many freelancers, who are overextended with their professional work -- and nobody wants accounting software to add to the confusion and stress of it!
Many freelancers operate from limited budgets, so the pricing of software subscriptions is a top priority for the majority of them (let's be honest, pricing is a top priority for just about all of us!)
Entrepreneurship is always a tricky balance between staying frugal -- but without compromising the features you need to operate your business properly. Depending on your business' demands, you may find yourself being perfectly content with the free alternatives (like Wave)-- or decide to spring for the pricier, deluxe package that fully covers and integrates all the disparate operations you need to perform, with multiple income streams from different clients and sales, numerous collaborators, and a whole array of tax forms to be processed at tax time.
So, for the most simple business needs, a free QuickBooks alternative will suffice -- but if your business operations involve sophisticated multi-tasking with multiple players, it is wise to opt for a plan that covers what you need, even if it's not free or bottom-dollar-cheap. Because, when it comes to quality vis-a-vis price, you get what you pay for. Consider it an investment into the longevity and excellence of your business!
Here are some of the QuickBooks Self Employed competitors that are also providing independent-contractor-oriented software solutions, beginning with the #1 product suite for freelancers.
A favorite digital business tool/solution among freelancers (with a 200K+ users among self-employed workers and small business owners), Bonsai is the top choice for accommodating independent contractor CRM and accounting requirements, as well as 1099 worker income and expenses tracking, sorting, and filing for tax purposes.
Founded in San Francisco in 2015, Bonsai enjoyed the support of world's top investors, including the famous Y Combinator startup accelerator. Designed to be a one-stop-shop software/digital space for all independent contractor business operations, the Bonsai independent contractor app does away with the daunting task of having to juggle/sync different business management tools. Instead, it provides a secure, cloud-based online account where a busy freelancer can have multiple professional, administrative, and accounting needs met, all within just one super-user-friendly interface.
The Bonsai 1099 expense tracker tax app -- the accounting software application that takes care of balancing the books, tracking income and expenses, and calculating and filing quarterly taxes and end-of-year tax returns -- is actually an add-on to a much larger Bonsai all-in-one product suite for independent contractors. Therefore, with Bonsai, you get the benefit of not only having your freelancer taxes taken care of, but also a wide array of other independent worker necessities. From versatile proposal and contract templates to invoicing to time tracking to project management to other CRM tools -- with integrations between the apps, as well as the option to share projects and time tracking with other collaborators).
Note: On average, our users save $5,600 from their tax bill by using our app. Try the software for yourself and see how much money you save. Claim your 14-day free trial here.
Time and project management tools. Working on multiple projects for multiple clients? Bonsai will keep you on track with both, tracking billable hours and the numerous tasks you juggle in the process.
Templates for proposals, contracts, invoices, etc. Bonsai offers loads of customizable templates for all freelancer administrative, communication, invoicing and other agreement materials to choose from and customize.
Features are integrated with each other. The personal and business information you enroll into the system and the invoices/contracts/proposals you compose within your account can be integrated with each other, with other projects and tasks and time-tracking functions -- and shared with collaborators in real time.
For $10 a month, you can add the Bonsai Tax application to your Bonsai all-in-one suite and enjoy the following integrated functions:
The Bonsai CRM/accounting/bookkeeping software is very easy to use and comes with the following assurances:
The main downside of the Bonsai suite/financial bookkeeping digital tool-kit is that is is not for everybody: it is specifically created for freelancers, independent contractors, and other micro-businesses that are classified as "self-employed 1099 workers".
Therefore, those who are not freelancers/small business owners will be better served by accounting software designed for their specific needs. Even medium-small businesses are perhaps too large to benefit the most from the Bonsai app (at least for the time being) Certainly W-2 workers should find a different tax bookkeeping app (QuickBooks, for example has a bundling option with TurboTax). And large corporations -- well -- they should hire full-time human accountants versus tax softwares (preferably a whole team of them, as large corporations have massive accounting/bookkeeping demands).
Within the narrower niche of accounting apps for freelancers, however, Bonsai digital toolkit/solution is unbeatable! Given all of the above-listed features, the Bonsai software/mobile app for independent contractors makes for a great alternative to QuickBooks Self Employed -- as well as all the other online, cloud-based, freelancer-oriented accounting and workflow tools on the market. See for yourself why Bonsai Tax is hands down the best tax software for self-employed folks.
Expensify is a simple software that makes it easier for people and businesses to keep track of their spending and related information. It allows them to save time and effort that would otherwise be wasted just documenting expenses. It can be accessed through the cloud or through apps for Android and iOS mobile phones.
This app is praised for its simplicity but does run into issues with duplicate charges.
Here are some alternatives to Expensify.
Founded in 2003, FreshBooks is one of the biggest names in the accounting software niche, operated by Toronto-based 2ndSite Inc.
Like Bonsai, FreshBooks is a full-service product suite for freelancers, providing CRM templates (estimates, proposals, invoices, etc.), time tracking, income and expense recording/organizing, tax filing, etc. (though how many of those features you can access and what numbers of billable clients and project members you can have, depending on the price plan/add-ons you choose).
Clients praise the following features of FreshBooks:
Clients criticize the following features of FreshBooks:
Founded in New Zealand in 2006, Xero is popular QuickBooks alternative among freelancers and small business owners, known to be an easy-to-use, reliable choice for a bookkeeping software.
Clients praise the following features of Xero:
Clients criticize the following features of Xero:
Released in 2011 by the Zoho Corporation headquartered in India, Zoho Books is among the top of QuickBook alternatives offering accounting, CRM, HR, and other scalable administrative tools to help small businesses grow.
Clients praise the following features of Zoho Books:
Clients criticize the following features of Zoho Books:
Formerly known as Sage 50, and re-branded as Sage 50Cloud in 2021, this UK-founded software is another all-in-one business suite contender worth considering as an apt QuickBooks alternative.
Clients praise the following features of Sage:
Clients criticize the following features of Sage:
Wave is a Toronto-based free accounting alternative to QuickBooks, designed for small businesses (founded in 2009, parented by H&R Block).
Clients praise the following features of Wave:
Clients criticize the following features of Wave:
ZipBooks is a Utah-based software, released in 2017, offering accounting, invoicing, and time-tracking tools to contractors and small businesses.
Clients praise the following features of ZipBooks:
Clients criticize the following features of ZipBooks:
As you can see, there is a variety of QuickBooks alternatives (including free ones) out there. Picking the right one for you is a matter of:
The good news is that, with modern technology, freelancers/small business owners can't go terribly wrong with any of the above-mentioned QuickBooks alternatives, as they are all top-rated, respected accounting services.
But you do owe it to yourself and to your business to invest into the best-fitting accounting/business operating solution that will:
Being in control of your business accounting and taxes makes all the difference in how well your business performs. Finding the best-fitting smart software to automate the majority of the labor on your behalf, lets you save your energy -- and sanity! -- for doing your best work for your clients.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?