Three popular online bookkeeping services that business owners often compare are Pilot, ScaleFactor, and Botkeeper.
The right bookkeeping solution for you depends on many factors and specifics of your business, so it’s important to think about things such as:
In this article, we dive into features, pricing, and key differences between Pilot, ScaleFactor, and Botkeeper, then explore some other considerations you should keep in mind. For a quick overview of how Pilot, ScaleFactor, and Botkeeper stack up, we included a comparison chart.
For a deeper take on Pilot vs. ScaleFactor vs. Botkeeper, read on for:
Note: You might have noticed we’re writing about the difference between our service and someone else’s. We’ve done our best to give them a fair shake because we want you to make an informed decision. That said, we think we offer the best bookkeeping services around. Want to give Pilot a try? Get started with a one month risk-free here.
Pilot, ScaleFactor, and Botkeeper are all more than capable when it comes to basic bookkeeping tasks — they can handle most aspects of bookkeeping that you want to get off your own plate.
All three services offer regular monthly bookkeeping, and that includes categorizing transactions, reconciling your accounts, and producing some financial statements (like a statement of cash flows and profit and loss statement). Each bookkeeping service offers their own version of catch up or clean up bookkeeping, too.
That said, while any of the three will cover your bases, there are some key differences in the features each offers.
One of the big differences between Pilot, ScaleFactor, and Botkeeper is the bookkeeping method they offer. While all three services offer both cash and accrual-basis bookkeeping, not every pricing tier includes both.
Pilot defaults to accrual-basis bookkeeping for every customer on every pricing tier (though we can do cash-basis if you need it). With both ScaleFactor and Botkeeper, the lower priced packages only include cash-basis bookkeeping.
At Pilot, we think accrual-basis bookkeeping is the way to go for the vast majority of business situations. For one, it gives business owners a more realistic picture of income and expenses, as they’re earned and incurred. For that reason, it’s preferred by investors and venture capitalists.
Accrual-basis bookkeeping is also a requirement to account for certain financial situations, like inventory, accounts payable, and accounts receivable.
Some business owners get started with cash-basis bookkeeping when their financial needs are small and simple — but if you start with cash-basis and switch when you get larger, it’s a hassle to file paperwork with the IRS.
Most businesses will have to do this at some point as they grow (some are even required to use accrual-basis by the IRS), and that can complicate how you move between pricing tiers with ScaleFactor and Botkeeper as your needs expand.
Other than having clean, accurate, and organized financial books, providing your key financial statements is one of the most important functions of a bookkeeping service. Those often include your Profit & Loss Statement, Balance Sheet, and Statement of Cash Flows.
At Pilot, we put together key financial statements for you every month — regardless of what pricing tier you’re on. Both ScaleFactor and Botkeeper provide reports only quarterly on the lower-priced packages they offer.
While quarterly versus monthly financial statements can seem like a small difference to highlight, those statements are the primary deliverable of your bookkeeping.
Most business owners can’t draw conclusions from a huge general ledger full of transactions. That’s why we use financial statements — they pull together the data in your books and present it in a way that contextualizes transactions around the bigger picture of your business operations. Financial statements are the tools you use to get a better understanding of your financial position and make real business decisions based on that.
Having access to that information every month, instead of once per quarter, means your decisions are always informed by the most up-to-date version of your finances.
As a reminder, all three of the bookkeeping services we’re comparing here offer the basic bookkeeping features most businesses need. The difference is that some offer additional accounting, tax, and other features on top of bookkeeping. Those can include:
Pilot offers standard monthly bookkeeping, plus inventory management, and tax filing for Delaware C corporations. ScaleFactor offers all of those features on their highest pricing tier, and Botkeeper offers payroll, inventory management, and invoicing/bill pay on a few of their higher tiers, too.
It can be convenient to have all of your business finances centralized in one place. That said, it can also be complicated to migrate all of your accounting and bookkeeping functions from your current solution to a bookkeeping software. The same goes if you ever decide to leave that bookkeeping service.
Two of the bookkeeping services we’re comparing here are focused on one thing: automating the back-end and data-entry functions involved in bookkeeping.
That’s the approach that both ScaleFactor and Botkeeper take. They automate your bookkeeping and take it off your plate. At ScaleFactor, that means offloading your bookkeeping to what they call their “smart finance software.” At Botkeeper, it means using a combination of bots, machine learning, and a large human workforce based in the Philippines.
At Pilot, we aim to be more than an automation system — we want to be a trusted and supportive business partner (who also happen to handle your books). That’s why we work with a small team of super talented bookkeepers who are with your business for the long-haul.
Pilot bookkeepers are empowered by automation of the most error-prone parts of bookkeeping. That means they have more time to spend on the aspects that really need a human touch, like being your trusted advisor and answering your questions on everything finance. Rather than dealing with bots or software, our customers interact with real people who are dedicated to helping their businesses grow and thrive.
When it comes to pricing, it can be tricky to compare Pilot vs. ScaleFactor vs. Botkeeper head-to-head. That’s because each service uses a different pricing model, and they don’t always line up for easy comparison. That said, here’s an explanation of each bookkeeping service’s pricing model and details on how, when, and why costs increase.
At Pilot, our pricing model is based entirely on the dollar value of expenses your business incurs on a monthly basis.
We base our pricing on expenses because as your expenses grow, so typically does the complexity of your business. By using expenses as our pricing metric, it’s easier to predict your monthly cost and understand how and when it may grow.
Our pricing breaks down into two plans: Pilot Core and Pilot Plus.
Pilot Core starts at $195 per month and runs up to $795 per month (based on your monthly expenses). Core plans include:
Pilot Plus starts at $1,000 per month. We customize the exact plan to your individual business’ needs and expenses. The Plus plan includes everything in Pilot Core, plus support for:
We also offer a risk-free guarantee for your first month on all pricing tiers.
ScaleFactor offers three main plans — Get Started, Growing Business, and Scaling Business — and their pricing scales based on a few things:
Get Started plans start at $399 per month and include:
Growing Business plans start at $699 per month and include:
Scaling Business plans start at $999 per month and include:
It’s important to note that even ScaleFactor’s highest pricing tier limits your business to four connected financial accounts. That means your cost of bookkeeping can increase steeply if you need to connect more than two bank accounts, a credit card, and a payroll account.
Botkeeper’s pricing is among the more difficult to predict. Prices are based on the volume of transactions (not the dollar amount). That means as your business earns or spends more frequently, your monthly cost will rise in turn — regardless of how much you spend or earn.
For example, if your business runs payroll twice a month for 11 employees, you’ve already exceeded the 20 transactions allowed on the Free plan.
Botkeeper also offers the most pricing tiers to choose from, and they have a (limited) free plan.
Features and pricing tend to get the highest billing when it comes to choosing between bookkeeping services — but there are other factors unique to your business that you should take into consideration, too.
For example, Pilot has historically specialized in bookkeeping for startups and high-growth businesses. Since taking on investments and scaling quickly come with their own challenges and financial realities, it’s useful to work with a team that’s experienced and well equipped to handle those challenges.
We’ve also worked with businesses in many other sectors (including e-commerce and health and fitness), and we’re always growing — so we’re ready to tackle any financial situation you can throw at us.
Another consideration is your experience working with each bookkeeping service. We’ve already mentioned that, at Pilot, our goal is to be your trusted human partner. When you work with ScaleFactor or Botkeeper, you might not have the same, reliable, dedicated account management due to employee turnover and how heavily they rely on software. When you work with Pilot, you’re working with a knowledgeable and experienced human bookkeeper who’s always available to explain your books and reports and answer your finance questions.
Now that you have all the information you need, which bookkeeping service is right for you? We made a few recommendations on our chart at the beginning of the article:
That said, there’s a lot more to choosing a bookkeeping service than features and pricing — so the ultimate decision comes down to the individual needs and preferences for you and your business.
You might have noticed that we’re writing about the difference between our service and someone else’s. We’ve done our best to give them a fair shake because we want you to make an informed decision. That said, we think we offer the best bookkeeping services around. Want to give Pilot a try? Get started with a one month risk-free here.