The Best Accounting Software for Consultants

Perhaps more than most professionals, consultants know exactly how much their time is worth. That’s why so many decide to make the move from doing their own bookkeeping on an Excel spreadsheet, to either outsourcing it entirely or using an accounting platform that streamlines their monthly tasks.

If you’re choosing between accounting solutions, here are some of your best options.

What do consultants need from accounting software?

Here are the features and functions that are especially important to consultants:

  • Easy integration with other software platforms

  • User-friendliness

  • Accounting support

  • Cloud accounting

  • Time tracking

  • Expense billing

  • Mobile accessibility

  • CRM software to keep multiple clients’ financial information in one place

Factors to consider when choosing accounting software

Which accounting solution will work best for your consulting business depends on factors such as the stage of your business, your particular accounting system and needs, and your budget.

Best accounting solutions for consultants

Every consultant has their own priorities when it comes to an accounting system. Here are some of the most effective accounting solutions to streamline your business, based on various considerations.

1. Bench

Because Bench is a full-service solution, offering both software and professional bookkeepers who manage your books for you, it can saves you the most time of all the accounting solutions listed here.

Bench’s bookkeepers do your monthly bookkeeping, and can even complete historical bookkeeping for those business owners who are behind on their books. Unlike some accounting software solutions, Bench relies on its own proprietary software, rather than services such as QuickBooks.

Pricing

Bench offers two pricing plans:

1. Essential –$299 monthly ($249 if billed annually.) Includes:

  • Monthly bookkeeping

  • Dedicated bookkeeping team

  • Year-end tax ready financial statements

  • Direct, unlimited communication with our in-house research team

2. Premium –$499 monthly ($399 if billed annually.) Includes:

  • One-on-one income tax consultations

  • Unlimited tax support

  • Annual income tax filing for businesses (partnerships, S corps, C corps)

  • Annual income tax filing for individuals (sole proprietors, contractors)

Sole proprietors receive federal and state income tax filings as part of the Premium plan. For S corps, C corps, and partnerships, you can add on personal tax filing for one partner or shareholder for $59 per month when billed annually or $69 per month when billed monthly.

Bench features include:

  • Free 30-day trial

  • Cash basis accounting, with the option to convert to accrual

  • Bank reconciliation

  • Bookkeeping team

  • Cash management

  • Project accounting

  • Works in tandem with CPA firms

  • 24/7 customer support and advice

Pros

  • Easy to use. Business financial accounts are linked to the Bench account, so there is no need to send Bench any documents manually.

  • Requires minimal input from you, as your bookkeeper will reach out for assistance when needed.

  • Bench offers catch-up or historical bookkeeping for those businesses that have fallen behind, for an additional fee.

  • Clients receive a tax-ready Year End Financial package that makes filing your taxes fast and easy.

Cons

  • No CFO services.

  • Pricing can be inaccessible for businesses with small accounting budgets or sole proprietors.

Best for:

Small businesses that are growing and/or evolving, including partnerships, S corps, and C corps.

2. FreshBooks

With FreshBooks, consultants who are confident in their bookkeeping skills can get easy to use, DIY online accounting software that lets you automate many of your regular accounting tasks. This solution also offers a free 30-day trial.

FreshBooks accounting software for consultants features:

  • Invoicing

  • Client billing

  • Expense reports

  • Automated entries

Pricing**:**

FreshBooks offers four pricing tiers:

Lite –Those professionals with basic needs may find this $15 per month package suitable. It includes:

  • Unlimited invoicing for up to 5 billable clients

  • Unlimited expense tracking

  • Unlimited sending of estimates

  • Sales tax tracking and reports

  • Payment by credit card and bank transfer

  • Access on iOS and Android

Plus–Additional features for $25 per month, such as:

  • Unlimited invoicing for up to 50 billable clients

  • Automatic expense tracking

  • Unlimited sending of proposals

  • Recurring billing and client retainer set-up

  • Automatic receipt data capture

  • Double-entry accounting reports

  • Mobile mileage tracking

  • Business health reports

Premium– This $50 per month package includes:

  • Unlimited billable clients

  • Project profitability tracking

  • Email signature customization

  • Customized email templates

  • Accounts Payable tracking for vendors, bills, and bill payments

  • Automatic sending of late payment reminders along with late fee billing

  • Checkout link payments

Select– Businesses with more complex needs may benefit from Select, which offers custom pricing. While this package has specialized features depending on client needs, it includes:

  • Dedicated account manager

  • Dedicated support number

  • Accept credit cards securely by phone

  • Minimum two team member accounts

  • Custom onboarding services

  • Access to lower credit card transaction rates

  • Capped ACH fees

Pros

  • Good tool for recurring invoices.

  • Helps enhance small businesses’ professionalism.

  • Good financial reporting software.

  • The company logo can appear on invoices.

  • Solid customer service.

Cons

  • Metrics need improvement.

  • No inventory management or tracking.

  • No tracking of income or expenses by class.

Best for:

Small business owners. However, if your business is rapidly expanding, you’ll need to choose the Premium or Select options.

3. QuickBooks

No matter the nature or size of your business, you’ll need software you feel comfortable using. Frankly, accounting software that’s not user-friendly is not worth your time, no matter the price and number of features. There’s a reason QuickBooks Online is the most popular DIY accounting software, and much of that has to do with ease of use.

Pricing:

QuickBooks Online, which works on any device, has four plans:

Simple Start— This basic plan is available for $30 per month. Under the plan, only one user is permitted. Features include:

  • Income and expenses tracking

  • Capturing and organizing receipts

  • Maximizing tax deductions

  • Mileage tracking

  • Managing cash flow

  • Unlimited invoicing and payment acceptance

  • General ability to run reports

  • Creating and sending estimates

  • Tracking sales and sales tax

  • Manage 1099 contractors

Plus–QuickBooks Online Plus, at $85 per month, allows up to five users. In addition to those features offered by Simple Start, Plus includes:

  • Comprehensive report runs

  • Entering employee timesheets

  • Managing and paying bills

  • Tracking inventory

  • Tracking project profitability

Advanced–At $200 per month, the Advanced plan permits up to 25 members. Additional features include:

  • Powerful reports

  • Customizing access by role

  • Batching invoices and expenses

  • Business analytics with Excel

  • Managing employee expenses

  • Enhanced custom fields

  • Exclusive app integrations

  • Dedicated account team

  • On-demand online training

  • Automating processes and tasks

  • Restoring company data

Desktop Pro Plus– At $349.99 per year, Desktop Pro Plus is an annual subscription providing unlimited support. Installed on one computer, it includes one user with the ability to add up to three users at $200 each annually. It features “premium time-saving and money-management features,” as well as the ability to organize business finances and track performance to aid in the decision-making process.

Pros

  • Easy to learn to use and navigate.

  • Easily accessible from any device.

  • Good integrations with other systems and third-party applications.

Cons

  • QuickBooks lacks direct customer support of some competitors. Its focus is on online forums for information.

  • Not designed for larger businesses.

Best for:

Small businesses and simple business models, including consultants.

4. Xero

Just getting your consulting business off the ground? Consider Xero, an easy-to-use DIY bookkeeping platform.

Pricing

Xero offers three monthly pricing plans:

Early–$12. Recommended for new businesses, startups, the self-employed, freelancers, and sole traders.

  • Send quotes and 20 invoices

  • Enter 5 bills

  • Bank reconciliation

  • Basic inventory management

  • Send purchase orders

  • Short-term cash flow and business snapshot

Growing–$34. The most popular plan, suitable for growing small businesses. Similar to Early but without any limits on invoices, quotes, and bills. Bulk reconciling transactions.

Established–$65. As its name suggests, designed for established businesses. Additional features include:

  • Multiple currencies

  • Claim expenses

  • Track projects

  • View in-depth analytics for up to 90 days of future cash flow prediction

If your consulting business has employees, all three plans offer the optional add-on of Payroll With Gusto. This add-on starts at $39 per month plus $6 per month per person.

Pros

  • User-friendly.

  • Easy to use on phones.

  • Perfect for those with small bookkeeping budgets or businesses just starting out.

Cons

  • Customer service needs improvement. When necessary, getting hold of a live representative can prove difficult.

  • Xero does not offer as many plug-ins as competitive accounting software.

  • Provides only basic global search functionality.

Best for:

The self-employed and consulting businesses.

5. Sage

Sage Intacct, better known as Sage accounting software, specializes in small and medium businesses, with a focus on those in the construction and real estate, healthcare, non-profits, and hospitality industries, as well as CPAs. However, its platform can work well for consultants, too.

Its cloud accounting financial management software offers real-time metrics. Its core financials include:

  • Accounts receivable

  • Accounts payable

  • Cash management

  • Intelligent general ledger

  • Purchasing

  • Order management

  • Project costing and billing

  • Subscription and contract billing

  • Online payments

Sage offers additional modules for total financial management. Streamline key functions of your financial operations and workflow with Sage’s advanced functionality. Its project management module helps produce the client’s desired results.

Sage Intacct offers custom pricing based on the organization.

Pros

  • Excellent platform for team members to collaborate.

  • Manage financial and operational data in one place.

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountant’s (AICPA) preferred cloud financial management software.

Cons

  • Pricing is not transparent.

  • While very customizable, Sage may prove overwhelming for small business owners needing basic online accounting software.

  • Not designed for freelancers.

Best for:

Growing small to mid-size businesses and franchises.

How Bench can help

The best accounting solution for consultants doesn’t rely on purchasing and installing your own software at all. That’s where Bench comes in. Just link your financial accounts and let us do the rest!

We’re America’s largest professional bookkeeping service for small businesses! We can handle your bookkeeping and tax filing for you while you focus on running your business. Why spend your precious time doing your own bookkeeping, or—perhaps even worse—learning a complex software platform that still has you DIY’ing your numbers?

With Bench’s services, you don’t have to worry about record-keeping—our team (plus our intuitive software) manages all of that for you. With quick onboarding and professional support available every step of the way, Bench can take the bookkeeping load off your shoulders. We can even file your taxes for you!

Learn more about how Bench works.

The bottom line

Before deciding on the best accounting software for your needs, make sure you have a thorough understanding of exactly what those needs are. Because most accounting software for consultants offers a free trial period, take advantage of that option if you aren’t sure which software package is best for you.

What's Bench?

We're an online bookkeeping service powered by real humans. Bench gives you a dedicated bookkeeper supported by a team of knowledgeable small business experts. We’re here to take the guesswork out of running your own business—for good. Your bookkeeping team imports bank statements, categorizes transactions, and prepares financial statements every month. Get started with a free month of bookkeeping.


This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

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