Budgeting, like dieting, is a challenge — it requires both emotional commitment and self-restraint. But to run a successful business, you need to plan, forecast and manage a budget. 📝
Luckily, these days, you don’t have to do it by yourself — there are plenty of business budgeting software tools 🛠 available to save you time and administrative work. Here at Relay 🏦 , we help small businesses manage their finances through better banking. And after seeing all the issues that can arise with small business budgeting first-hand, we decided to put together this guide. Here's what you'll find in the guide:
THE BEST BUDGETING SOFTWARE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES:
Here are the 18 most popular budgeting platforms specifically for small businesses today:
BUDGETING SOFTWARE CATEGORIES
If you're just looking for the best solution for a specific use case, you jump straight to each category from here:
📊 Best for small business financial planning & analysis (FP&A)
First things first, before we dive into our recommendations for the best business budgeting software, we need to understand what it is. 👇
What is business budgeting software?
Business budgeting software are tools that help businesses to plan, forecast and manage their finances. Budgeting tools range from simple spreadsheets and dashboards to highly sophisticated planning tools that auto-generate financial statements (for example, profit and loss statements, balance sheets and cash flow reports).
Whether your budgeting tool is jam-packed with features or just the basics, its most important job is to actually help you save time ⏰ and stick to your business budget.
And here’s what you can expect when you implement a proper budgeting tool in your business. 👇
Benefits of budgeting software
Businesses create budgets to eliminate wasteful spending and save money. An effective business budgeting software will help you:
Plan and forecast budgets throughout your business
Integrate your planning and budgeting with reporting dashboards
Manage cash flow and operations
Improve transparency and collaboration of financial planning with your team
Inform business strategy and decision-making with financial data
Stay on track of financial goals
According to data from a report by Clutch, 50% of small businesses did not create an official budget in 2020, which suggests that some business owners see budgets as unnecessary or cumbersome. 😓 But one way to make budgeting easier is by using business budgeting software to help ease your workflow.
Best business budgeting software & tools
We’ve organized this guide into six different categories based on use-cases to compare and contrast all the budgeting tools available.
Let’s dive in! 👇
🏦 Best business budgeting integrated into banking
First up, we have some banking solutions with budgeting features. Not all banking platforms are built with budgeting in mind, but when they are, you get greater clarity into your cashflow and finances. 🔍
Relay is the best solution for actually sticking to your budget once you've figured out what you want it to be. You’ll first want to use one of the other tools on our list to actually create your business budget — and then you can carry out your plan inside Relay.
It’s also the best bank for envelope budgeting, with up to 20 free, no-fee checking accounts to help you compartmentalize your cash into multiple categories. This budgeting method gives you clarity into your spending, helps identify when you’re overspending, and keeps you accountable to the budget you’ve set.
Compartmentalize your money with up to 20 free, no-fee checking accounts, each with its own unique account and routing numbers
See how much money you have remaining in each expense category at a glance
Automate payments by scheduling transactions between accounts via internal transfers, ACH payments or wires
Track employee or departmental spending with up to 50 virtual or physical debit Mastercards
Direct bank feed integration with your accounting software, QuickBooks Online and Xero
No built-in reporting dashboards
You’ll still need another budgeting software to create your budget
Relay Standard: Free
Relay Pro: $30 per business per month
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Spendesk may seem like a bank, but they’re actually a spend management software that partners with an FDIC-insured state bank to deliver debit and credit card services.
Spendesk offers seven built-in solutions: company cards, employee expense management, invoice management, spend control and reporting, accounting automation and budget planning.
Unlimited company cards with built in spending controls to track employee expenses
Automate payments and approvals for business expenses
Need to upgrade to Essentials for multi-step approval flows, expenses categories tracking and advanced control rules on cards
Need to upgrade to Scale plan for Spending dashboard reporting
Available upon request, but there are three tiers: Starter, Essentials and Scale
💻 Best budgeting spreadsheet tools
Spreadsheets have been a staple in the finance industry way before business budgeting software came into existence. In fact, the first financial spreadsheet was created by Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston back in 1979.
The simplicity and number of available free spreadsheets make them a popular choice for business owners. Here are some of our favorites.
We can’t have a business budgeting software guide without talking about the gold standard of the financial industry — Microsoft Excel. It’s so popular that 59% of businesses reported using Excel as their primary budgeting tool in 2019. Though the number has declined since, it still remains essential to many businesses. And for good reason — it’s extremely flexible.
Highly customizable budgeting templates and charts
Large number of functions available for data analysis, planning and financial modeling
Integrates seamlessly with the rest of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 suite of tools
Wide selection of budgeting templates available
Collaboration with team members through mobile, desktop and web
Steep learning curve
Easy to make mistakes in the spreadsheet or for formulas to break
$159.99 for one device OR
$6.99/month for up to 6 users
Google Sheets is undoubtedly one of the most popular tools for budgeting. Not only is it free, but it is incredibly flexible, powerful and collaborative, making it a good tool for businesses of all sizes.
FREE, no software needed
Built for collaboration with team members
Wide selection of budgeting templates available
Seamlessly connects with other Google apps
Can export as raw data and import into any other system
Fewer functions than Microsoft Excel
Free, but if you want to buy Google Workspace, plans start as low as $7.80 per user per month
If you love Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets but want something more advanced, there’s Tiller. It takes all of your information — your bank accounts, credit cards and investment accounts — and feeds them directly into a Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets file. From there, you can design your own spreadsheets or use their pre-made budgeting templates.
Auto-pulls and categorizes transactions from the bank and syncs them to Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel
Prebuilt templates for budgeting, expense tracking
Create custom auto-categorization rules
Set up daily emails summarizing your transactions
No advanced financial planning features
30-day free trial, then $79/year
🧮 Best accounting software with budgeting bundled in
If you’re already using an accounting software with robust features and don’t want to adopt a new tool, then chances are you don’t need to expand your tech stack. Many of today’s industry standard accounting softwares have budgeting features already bundled in. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones.
While Xero is better known as a cloud accounting software, it comes with some built-in budgeting features suitable for small businesses. If you already use Xero as your accounting software of choice and are just looking for some basic budgeting functionality without having to adopt anything new, then Xero is a great option.
Generate budget reports
Track your finances with accurate accounting reports
Robust integration partners
Not ideal for larger businesses
Limited reporting features
QuickBooks Online (QBO) is a small business accounting and budgeting tool used by small business owners and their accountants all over the world. QBO is one of the most robust accounting tools in the market and comes packed with budgeting features including: expense tracking, budget plans and custom reporting.
All-in-one accounting and budgeting tool
Multiple users for ease of collaboration
Robust integration partners
As an industry standard tool, there are a lot of resources available online and experts who can advise on QBO
Steep learning curve for people without formal training in finance
Requires additional time to set up
Simple Start plan: $15/month
Essentials plan: $30/month
Plus plan (unlimited features): $40/month
Freshbooks is a relatively newer player in the cloud accounting space, but like many of its direct competitors, the platform also offers basic business budgeting tools for small businesses. With FreshBooks, you can create and view estimates and manage your budget efficiently with their expense tracking system.
Freshbooks is ideal for businesses that conduct project-based work. Not only can you create customized budgets for each project, but you can also track time, project performance and profitability within the software.
Track expenses and generate income statements, balance sheets and other financial statements easily
Sophisticated project-based reporting and time tracking
Easy to use
Limited features for complex enterprise budgeting
Lite Plan: $15
Plus Plan: $25
Premium Plan: $50
If you’re just looking for a free, open source tool and don’t care about the aesthetics of the program, then GnuCash’s financial management solution is for you.
Wide range of financial planning tools: budgeting, financial statements and accounting features
Steep learning curve
Unintuitive, not user friendly
📊 Best Small business financial planning & analysis (FP&A) software
Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) tools help companies perform planning, forecasting, reporting and analysis that support key business decisions. FP&A relies heavily on data and reporting, which is exactly what these next few tools specialize in.
Budgeto is a financial management platform used by small businesses to create annual budgets, financial projections and reports and manage cash flow.
Budgeting features include: financial reporting and analysis, forecasting and projections
Can import data from QuickBooks Online or Xero
No CSV import of data available or auto-save feature
Lack of more advanced features as tool is still relatively new
14-day free trial
Basic plan: $25/month and options to a max of $45/month
You Need a Budget
If you’re creating your first budget and have no idea where to start, then You Need A Budget (YNAB) is the app for you. YNAB is easy to set up, syncs with all your bank and credit card accounts and will guide you through the process of creating your first budget.
Create financial data reports based on real-time data
Track, manage and pay off business-related credit card debt
Budget anytime, anywhere with the mobile app
Intuitive and easy to use app
YNAB was initially built with personal budgeting in mind, so business features may be limited
Free 34 day trial
$84/year for full version
Not confident with your financial knowledge? Do you hate spreadsheets? If so, then LivePlan may be the perfect budgeting software for you.
LivePlan takes you step-by-step through the process of creating the powerful financial reports you need for your business plan — simply fill out all the questions they ask you and their system will do the rest.
Automatic financial statements
Full financial forecast
Database of over 500+ sample financial reports
Need to upgrade to sync to QBO or Xero
🔮 Small business cash flow and forecasting
Cash flow and forecasting software is used to plan financial resources that are needed to support business activities in the future. This type of software allows companies to estimate future expenses and revenues across different departments.
Float is a visual forecasting and budget management software that helps to provide more clarity to your company’s budgets and cash flow.
Visual reporting helps bring clarity to financial reporting
Budgeting features include: cash flow forecasting, expense tracking and business budgeting
Integrates seamlessly with QBO and Xero
Float expert available for consultation
Not ideal for day-to-day or week-to-week forecasting
Pricing can get expensive
14 day free trial
PlanGuru is a business budgeting tool focused on budgeting, forecasting and strategic planning. With features such as cash flow projections, debt modeling and financial ratios, you can easily budget and plan a decade into the future.
Budget and forecast up to 10 years
Automatically create financial statements including cash flow statements, balance sheets and financial ratios
Compatible with QB, QBO, Xero or Excel
Imports only 5 years of data
$99/month + $29/ additional user
Scoro combines budgeting features with other tools to manage your entire company in one system. You can also manage expenses and resources, analyze financial data, and manage project budgets all in one dashboard. This, combined with its project management tools, makes Scoro perfect for agencies and professional service firms that work on a project-based model.
Combines tools for budgeting, CRM and project management into an all in one business solution to access financial information
Budgeting features include: budget planning and forecasting, financial reports and analysis, KPI dashboard and project-based budgets
Built for agencies and consultancies, so may not be ideal for other business types
Limitations with sales pipeline forecasting
14-days free trial
$26 to $37 per user per month depending on requirements
🏢 Best enterprise budgeting solutions
If your business is growing and you need budgeting software that has a bit more customization, then these enterprise solutions may be what you’re looking for.
Workday Adaptive Planning
Workday Adaptive Planning is an enterprise planning software solution designed for businesses of all sizes.
This software makes consolidating any number of spreadsheets and other sources of data a breeze. You can organize, plan, model, budget, and easily analyze your financial data once it’s in Workday.
Comprehensive budgeting and forecasting tools including revenue management, capital management, expense management and financial statements
Easy to produce balance sheet and cash flow data with a few clicks
Visual spreadsheets and presentation dashboards
Syncs with excel
Extremely robust features, so there may be a bit of a learning curve
Ideal for larger businesses
Can be very costly
Pricing available upon request
Cube provides a 360-degree view of business finances with tools for data management, reporting, analysis, planning and modeling. For companies that have a CRM and an ERP, Cube can be that tech stack connecter that provides a single source of truth for all your data.
Pull data from CRM, ERP and other tech stacks into an intelligent spreadsheet reader
Features include: financial planning, analysis and reporting, performance management
Provides an auto trail of data so you can see who, when and why a change was made
Collaborate seamlessly across departments
Can be very costly
Ideal for larger businesses with an ERP
Custom: available upon request
Prophix is a corporate performance management (CPM) software that provides organizations with tools to gather, analyze and report their financial data. Prophix automates data collection, providing businesses with consistent, accurate and real-time information that can be used for daily, monthly or long-term financial planning.
Capable of complex financial reporting and analytics
Clean interface with clear visuals in the form of graphs and charts
Can drill down into data to a fine granular level
Provides financial workflow automation
In-house implementation team supports onboarding
Seamless data integration with Microsoft 365
Can be very costly
Ideal for larger businesses
Robust features that can be overwhelming at times
Available upon request
And there you have it, a full buyer’s guide for the best small business budgeting software! You should now have a much better understanding of your available options and be one step closer to making the best decision for your business.
And if you’re looking for an online banking solution with built-in budgeting features, make sure to check out Relay — you can sign up here in just 10 minutes!