While I’m addressing “Freelancers”, this doesn’t just apply to Freelancers. Any business that needs a better system for billing, tracking expenses, collecting payments online and/or via your mobile (accounting software) can benefit by reading this article.
When I first started my business there were several different “invoicing systems” available, however, there were two things I was looking for.
- No-to-low cost
- Something that was easy for my clients to use
I decided I would build the invoicing system into my website. Obviously not the solution for everybody, but this solved my two concerns.
My first solution, which I wrote about in 2011, wasn’t perfect, but it worked for a few years. Over time the plugin I used became out dated and lacking.
After realizing that although it appeared that the system didn’t “cost me anything”, it was eating away at my time as the updates would break the whole system and I would spend way too much time fixing things.
So I started to hunt for a better solution.
My original priorities, no-to-low cost and user friendly were still a requirement.
After about a week and a growing pile of unsent invoices, I was expressing my frustration to a friend, who is a freelance programer, and he suggested I try Freshbooks (Fbks).
Keep in mind, this was probably in late 2011. The things that sold me at the time, a free account for up to 3 clients, which meant I had unrestricted access to really test it out, and it was supper easy, email the client a link to the invoice and they pay online, just like my last system, but flawless.
I don’t think I even bothered to research it further. I prefer to skip the instructions and learn from doing.
After maxing out my new free account and seeing that invoices were being paid faster, I jumped in and upgraded my account to the 25 client plan.
Today, the Freshbooks trial and plans are a bit different, but still amazing prices for such a powerful application.
Now the trial is a 30 day unlimited account. And the plans are even better priced.
If you were to ask me, why I still use Freshbooks, these are a few of the main reasons:
- Time Tracking
- Accountant Access
- Detailed Reports
- Recurring Profiles with Auto Pay
- Sweet Mobile App
- Payment Processor Options
- Client Management
- Mobile Card Reader (NEW)
As a business consultant, I encourage everybody, regardless of the work they do or how they bill, to track their time. It’s a great way to evaluate your productivity, analyze your value, and make sure you’re charging enough. You can use the web and/or mobile app to track your time on a specific project, or even better, a specific task.
You can also use a 3rd party app like ChronoMate to integrate with your Fbks account.
This may not seem important to the solopreneurs, but pay attention.
The consultant in me says, regardless of your size or perceived “need”, every business owner should have a bookkeeper or accountant. When you’re small, a bookkeeper is super cheap. In the beginning I paid less than $40 per month. She only worked a couple of hours for me. As I got bigger, I stayed with her, just payed her more. However, I hated that I had to export data from 3 or 4 different programs, and email it to her so she could do her job.
Now with Fbks, I just setup a user account, which was created for this purpose, and now she can login and get everything she needs whenever she wants too. She even does all my invoicing for me.
When someone else is managing your books, it can be a pain to get the reports you need to make financial decisions. However, if you’re using Fbks at it’s capacity, you’re able to run a lot of those financial reports directly from your account. Not to mention, there are a bunch of other reports available that are crucial to success. Some of my most used reports are in the “Client Reports” section.
Recurring Profiles with Auto Pay
The “set it and forget it” mode! Stop chasing down payment! I love this feature. One of the exclusive services I provide is webhosting, and before Fbks, I had to use at least three different applications to setup recurring and auto pay profiles.
These are two different things.
You can have recurring profiles that are not on auto pay.
When I setup a recurring profile I encourage my clients to select the option for auto pay. That way they don’t have to think about it. However, when they don’t do auto pay, Freshbooks stills does all the work. It automatically creates the invoices, emails it, and follows up until the invoice is paid.
And the really cool thing, every client that does not select auto pay at the start, switches within three months because they don’t like getting bugged by the system and realize it’s so much easier.
After running a mobile application development company for three years, I know a good app when I use one, and the Freshbooks Mobile App is top notch. They have put a lot of effort into making this right.
One of my favorite functions is the in app timer tool. I track time for everything that I do, as already mentioned. So when I’m in a meeting or consultation I pull the app out and start the timer.
The other feature I use heavily in the app is the invoice feature. I can invoice a client before leaving their office or them leaving mine. When I do this, the invoice are most often paid instantly. Emotionally and psychologically it’s the best time to “give them the bill”.
Payment Processor Options
You can integrate with 3 different processors as of this writing.
And you can give your client the option of using the processor of their choice.
Although it’s not intended to be a CRM tool, having your clients and the business contacts in the system makes it a great place to easily access that data. With the mobile app it doesn’t matter where you are, you can always find your clients contact info.
Mobile Card Reader
This is a new add-on that is still only available to select Fbks users. However, it is absolutely brilliant. I use to hate that I had to use my PayPal card reader when I did all my invoicing in Fbks. It was extra work and wasn’t as organized.
But now that they are releasing their own mobile card reader, getting paid and staying organized will be so much easier.
I’m a customer for life and I’d be willing to pay $150/month for an application like Freshbooks!
Avoid some of your growing pains and start using a complete accounting software solution. Fbks was built out of a need to solve a problem, and the best solutions are.
I’ve been through it, I’ve coached others through it. Don’t hesitate because it’s $25/month. Do it because it’s only $25/month! You won’t see prices like that for this kind of feature rich software anywhere else.
It’s true that I’m an affiliate for Freshbooks, but that’s not why I write these articles. I do it because it’s a real solution for a serious problem that many small business owners deal with daily.
I write about these type of products to help you avoid some of the pain associated with growing a business.
Now it’s your turn…
I’d love to hear some of the struggles you’re facing with Accounting software, invoicing software, time tracking tools, and the like. Use the comments and let’s see what we can resolve together!