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FreshBooks: Cloud Accounting Software for Small Business


What if your clients don't understand how you're billing them for your services? What if your customers have problems paying you for your products? At the end of the day, all the work you put into your business is useless if your invoicing is hard to understand or otherwise problematic.

 

Mike McDerment co-founded FreshBooks back in 2003 as a better way to bill clients. He was running a small design agency at the time, using Microsoft Word to create invoices, and learning that Word left a lot to be desired. His solution? He spent the next few years working on better ways to send, receive, print and pay invoices. 

Ten years later, FreshBooks has users in 120 countries. There's no denying FreshBooks has become a contender in the cloud accounting for small businesses arena—particularly service-based businesses. In fact, only QuickBooks Online has more paying subscribers. 

To begin, you can try a 30-day trial of Freshbooks without paying anything. In fact, you can continue to use the free account forever. The free version of FreshBooks allows you to manage up to three clients per month. After entering your login info and company details, you'll quickly have your own login page and account with  a customized URL. Paid packages start at $19.95/month. 

Even if you aren't technologically inclined, FreshBooks is easy to learn to use. And, as always, you can contact us here at CoolHead Tech if you have any questions. 

You start by creating a "new client." Then you create a project, select client, billing method, project rate and time budget (how long you think it'll take to accomplish a project). Taking a look at the "timesheet" view, you can see weekly, daily and monthly views of your work. You can even using a built-in timer (if you want to time yourself while working). For some contract workers, this is a great way to accurately bill for your hours.

Kelly Phillips at SmallBizTechTools had the following to say about FreshBooks: 

"I've recommended FreshBooks to freelancers and small business for quite a while now, but they have done such a great job of developing this tool and adding some advanced features that it is going to rival the other accounting software out there."

"It's easy to use, and it's cost-effective. They're constantly developing it and creating new efficiencies with this software," she adds.

The top tabs of the application give you to "clients," "team," "invoices," "estimates," "expenses,"  "time tracking" and "reports." Start at the "clients" tab to add your client, log in their info and keep up with staff and contractors. This is where you can also assign employees to jobs and track their time. 

The "invoices" tab automatically calculates the balance due and allows you to add notes to your client. An "estimates" tab tracks project proposals and easily converts them to a real invoice if the client accepts your bid. 

"There are even team timesheets if you have multiple people working together," Kelly says in her review.


Technology writer Mary Shaw also had some nice things to say about FreshBooks in a review. 

"A nice thing about FreshBooks is you can upload your own logo for branding purposes, you can customize outgoing emails, and you can also add staff and contractors to the application, which is quite nice." 

"FreshBooks comes with some generic "assign tasks" and you can add or subtract from this as you wish," Mary says. "This is nice because you can assign this task to all the projects that you mange or you can check if you want to bill hours performing this task." 

"You can also set up online payment through PayPal and other online gateways, which is nice," Mary adds. 

The client generally gets a PDF invoice via email, but of course you can opt to send it via snail mail or any other means you prefer.

When you receive payment, you can mark it accordingly in FreshBooks. "When you do this, you automatically communicate to your client that you have received payment," Mary says. "And then you're ready to archive your invoice." 

What are some of the other features that make FreshBooks a great customizable solution for many businesses? Well, a newer feature is "Project Dashboard," which allows you to establish a budget of hours against a projects, which you can easily check at a glance. There are also some third-party APIs that expand the application's functionality.

Some of the many add-ons to customize FreshBooks to the needs of your business:

  • Mobile Project Management, Customer Support, CRM

  • Accounting, Expenses, Time Tracking, Generating Leads

  • Marketing, Payment Gateway, Productivity, Invoicing

  • Google Document Sharing, Connector Tools

  • Electronic Signatures, Workforce Management, eCommerce and POS

 

Tyler Rooney is a FreshBooks customer. His company, Form and Method, develops web and mobile applications. He says FreshBooks is easy to use and saves him "quite a few hours a month."

"Invoicing is essentially a waste of our time. But it's part of the business that has to be done," Tyler says. "Freshbooks gets it done quickly and cleanly."

"I can just log in, create an invoice, and be done with it in five minutes."

Just last month, Freshbooks won a "Best Front-Line Customer Service Team" award at the Stevie Awards in Las Vegas. The Stevie Awards are sales, contact center and customer service awards; past winners include Office Depot and Rackspace.

Randy Pante, a customer advocate at the company, wrote about getting the honor on the FreshBooks blog:

"Customer support specialists at FreshBooks are able to make decisions that foster a positive relationship with our customers. Being able to resolve issues without needing “manager approval” and even contacting users before they have a question just to ensure everything is running smoothly are normal behaviors here, rather than the exceptions."