I’d highly recommend two great online programs: Freshbooks and Quickbooks Online.
Invoicing Made Easy
Freshbooks is the easiest invoicing system in the world. There is nothing that comes close to this program. Stop looking for another option and try Freshbooks. It is incredible. A number of my painting clients want to switch but can’t because they use Quickbooks (which I’ll talk about in a minute). Why do they want to switch so bad? Because it is “Invoicing Made Easy!”
Freshbooks offers the following great features for a small service business: Basic Customer Database, Create & Send Estimates, Invoices, Expenses, Run Simple Accounting Reports: Balance Sheets and P&L, Track Time and Bill Clients and Accept Online Payments. Why is it easy? You don’t have to open an email program or attach anything. Everything is done within Freshbooks.
How Does Freshbooks Work
First, you type in a client’s contact information. Second, you create a new estimate. A contractor can have a template for his/her services along with prices. Once you create the estimate, it gives you a couple of options. You can send as a PDF by email, email it through Freshbooks (recommended) or USPS using Freshbooks to do the sending (envelope, stamped and mailed). Once the client views the estimate, he can either comment on changes he’d like to make or click “Accept Estimate.” Freshbooks then converts it right into an Invoice for you to approve and send your client. The client then has the option to mail a check or click “Pay Online.” If they select to pay by Credit Card, you will receive a confirmation once the transaction goes through and Freshbooks will mark the “invoice” as paid!
I use Freshbooks for my entire accounting system as I don’t have employees. So I use the “expense” tap to keep track of all my expenses, which are imported using my bank and Expensify. I then email my report to my account during tax season. Give Freshbooks a Try! You’ll love it!
Quickbooks is the leader in small business accounting software. A couple of years ago, they created Quickbooks Online (QBO). It was not until the last year that QBO became a viable option for service companies. This is because Intuit made some pretty substantial upgrades to the online program and enticing low monthly cost. One of the best things about Quickbooks Online is that everything is “in the clouds.” You don’t have to purchase QB upgrades each year. Instead you just have one low monthly bill: typically $25-35 a month. This is worth it, because it includes technical support.
QBO is a full accounting system: invoicing, job tracking, budgeting, estimates, automatic bank reconciliation and much much more. I’ve heard from a few accountants that they are not ready to switch to QBO because it is still a smaller version of the PC software “Quickbooks Pro.” So, talk to your accountant and see if it will do what you want. I tried it out for a month or two, and all though it was too big for my company, it was pretty easy to use.
Now, if you are a contractor, what program is right for you? In most cases, I’d suggest Quickbooks Online, but do talk to your Accountant. Some accountants don’t like QB online because it lacks a few key features such as good Payroll and Job Costing. Freshbooks, even though it will do estimates and basic expenses, Quickbooks really has a lot more features. Freshbooks also does not claim to be an accounting program. It specializes in invoicing. It also integrates with a lot of 3rd party online programs, and I hope someday it will integrate with Quickbooks. Right now, Quickbooks Online will do everything Freshbooks can do. The difference is that QBO is not as fun to use as Freshbooks, it does not have a company branded website (Freshbooks does) and Quickbooks only allows for emailing or mailing invoices: in other words, a client can’t accept estimates and invoices through Quickbooks Online. So for now, contractors, use Quickbooks…and if you have another $25-30 extra a month, use Freshbooks! Freshbooks is really geared toward the freelance and very small business owners such as a web designer, marketing guy like me or even an online retailer.
If you have further questions, let me know.