My Experiences with Online Bookkeeping, Invoicing & Job Tracking Software: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!
One of the many hats we small business owners are forced to wear is bookkeeper (at least for invoicing & job tracking). In addition to having to do my own bookkeeping, I previously spent a lot of time bookkeeping on the side to make ends meet during the last recession. Needless to say, I have had to perform more than my fair share of this dreaded task.
While working as a bookkeeper I used several iterations of QuickBooks and grew to know it well. For a desktop app, it had many strengths and is overall a great product. When I decided to open up my own company, I knew I would need a way to track my time, customers, and expenses. So, naturally I went to the product I knew best, QuickBooks. However, I would need a cloud-based solution since I had to be able to access invoices & job tracking on the go. I felt the natural progression would be to try the online version of QuickBooks.
After confidently subscribing to the online version of Quickbooks I was surprised to find out that the online version didn’t have anywhere near the features the desktop has. Unfortunately, several key features I needed were not there. So, the search was on for another bookkeeping app that met all my specific requirements.
After searching for some time and finding out what other small business owners I knew were using, I found FreshBooks. So, I tried the 30-day free trial version and found that it worked well on several fronts.
- It had an easy to use invoicing feature that allowed me to create custom items & services. I could easily send invoice links to my clients where they could make a payment right off the invoice link using a credit card or PayPal.
- I can customize the look of invoices by adding my logo and branding colors. This gives them a familiar & professional look.
- It allowed me to track expenses by client or job. The ability to assign an expense directly to a job is nice as well as the ability to enter recurring expenses.
- One of the most useful features, and this was a major requirement of mine, was the ability to track my time by task and job. I can create custom tasks and even assign them a rate (flat or by the hour). The next time I generate an invoice for a client, any blocks of time I am tracking show up automatically. That way I don’t forget to bill for my time! Very nice.
- Finally, the reporting feature is wonderful. At the end of each tax year I can generate expense and income reports. I can also generate expense reports for individual jobs.
The best thing is, as a small business owner, using FreshBooks is simple and is cloud-based. This means by using the FreshBooks mobile app, I can view or modify invoices while I am out of the office. I can even add billable time for a meeting I just had before I forget! I receive notifications when payments are made and there is even a automated reminder sent out to clients if their invoices are late. Oh ya, the FreshBooks customer service people are easy to get a hold of and are very helpful … try that with QuickBooks!
If your like me, you want to spend more time working with clients and on their jobs and MUCH less time on paperwork. FreshBooks has allowed me to do this. As a word of caution though, FreshBooks is NOT full-on accounting application. It is a simplified time & expense tracking / invoicing / & reporting cloud-based app.
Below is a link if you would like to try it out for free. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I am an affiliate for FreshBooks. However, I only became one after using their product for almost 2-years and recommending it constantly to my clients without being an affiliate. Try it out for free for 30-days!