By Mark Prosser

With the recent boom in cloud-based business solutions, it is easy for business owners to get overwhelmed with options when they search online. This is certainly true with bookkeeping software, with new contenders in the space sprouting up like weeds. However, when picking an accounting software solution for your business, it is very important to make sure that accountants in your area know how to work with whichever software solution you choose. Although there are lots of different bookkeeping software solutions, there are three main players in the industry with the best professional accounting networks. We’ll tell you which solutions those are and compare how they stack up against each other.

Xero – Safe in the City but Sketchy in the Soybean Fields

Xero is a full-blown bookkeeping/accounting solution with features and functionality similar to QuickBooks. It can handle all 5 kinds of accounts (assets, liabilities, equity, expenses, and revenue), send invoices, accept payments, calculate payroll, import bank account information, and more. With plans starting at $9/month, Xero is a solid bookkeeping option for the small business owner.

Although Xero is certainly growing in popularity, its network of certified US accountants is still pretty small. For example, in the state of Ohio, there are certified accountants in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, but that is it. So, if you happen to live fairly close to one of these cities, you are in luck. But, if not, you may have to drive several hours to find an accountant who can work with Xero. Also, due to the fact that there are so few Xero qualified accountants, your business is more at the mercy of their pricing. If you need an accountant and there is only 1 within 3 hours of you, they can get away with charging quite a bit more than if there were 3 or 4 other certified accountants in the area they were competing with for your business (as is often the case with QuickBooks and Wave).

Wave – Solid Accountant Network in Most Areas

Wave offers a full-featured accounting/bookkeeping solution for small business owners. Like QuickBooks and Xero, it can handle all 5 accounts, send invoices, accept payments, calculate payroll, import bank info, and more. Wave’s distinctive, is that it offers the majority of these services for free (payroll is an additional fee), which is why Wave is a rapidly growing business. Small business owners love free and functional solutions.

Another thing Wave has going for it, is that its certified accountant network is strong, the 2nd biggest in the industry behind QuickBooks. Let’s use Ohio again as an example. Xero only has 4 certified accountants in the state and those were only in the largest cities. Wave has quite a few more options, with 35 certified accountants in a variety of cities/towns across the state. In other words, there is a pretty good chance you can find a Wave accountant within 45 minutes to an hour of where you live.

QuickBooks – 30 Miles or Less

QuickBooks is and has been the industry standard when it comes to accounting/bookkeeping software. You can manage all 5 kinds of accounts, send invoices, accept payments, calculate payroll, import bank account information, and even add-on other features such as Point-of-sale, inventory management, and more. If it needs to be done, QuickBooks can do it. QuickBooks’ main negative, is that they are often not quite as cutting edge as newer providers in the industry, meaning their software is generally a bit more clunky and often they take longer to respond to customer needs/requests in software updates.

When it comes to QuickBooks accountant support network, they simply blow the competition away. I searched over 20 zipcodes form around the country, purposefully picking rural areas, and the farthest QuickBooks accountant was around 50 miles away. In all cases except for 2, there was a certified accountant within 30 miles or less of the searched zip code. In Ohio alone, there were over 100 certified accountants, which is ⅔ more than either Xero or Wave.If there is not a QuickBooks certified accountant in your town, odds are there will be in the next town or two down the road.

Marc Prosser is the publisher and co-founder of Fit Small Business. Prior to starting Fit Small Business, Marc serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of a well known company in the financial services space. Follow him at @FitSmallBiz.