Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing the website FreshBooks. It is basically an online billing service that allows you to bill your clients and track your staff’s time as well. Although admittedly I don’t have a use for such a service for either of the two side businesses that I run, I can tell you that if I had the opportunity to introduce FreshBooks to my “day” job, that it would be quite the breath of fresh air.
FreshBooks offers what they like to call “painless billing.” With the service, you can bill your clients with just a few clicks.
A catch phrase on their site states that “We wanted something better, so we built it.” And as far as I can tell, they did. Their so-called “Un-accounting” services save you time, they’re easy to use, they give your business an air of professionalism, they let you manage your books without an accountant, and their service is fully secure, safe, and available 24/7.
Perfect For Small Business Owners
As I stated, I do not need one of these services for either of the side businesses that I run…yet. But one thing that I can tell you is that I absolutely hate dealing with the accounting side of either of the businesses. I do not generate enough revenues to be able to hire someone to handle all of it, so I am basically the accountant for both. Truth be told, I dread spending my time on this stuff. What I‘d rather be doing is concentrating on ways to grow and expand my business. FreshBooks can help you do this.
FreshBooks allows you to streamline your entire invoicing process. Some of the awesome features includes:
- You can set up auto billing to automatically charge your clients’ credit card.
- You can collect payments online using a variety of different online payment services (not just PayPal).
- Your data is backed up and secure.
- You can bill your clients in any currency.
- You can generate invoices based on a variety of factors (time, expenses, etc.) and can even send your invoices via snail mail should you so desire!
FreshBooks clients on average get paid about two weeks faster according to the results of a recent survey. The product also helps to make your business more legitimate since it can give your clients online access to their invoices and account history.
This is a great feature of the site. With it, you can keep track of your time as well as your team’s time as you go. You can keep track of your staff and what they are doing to give you real time updates on the progress of your projects. Your clients can utilize this to make sure they are staying on budget. You can easily generate reports based on these time sheets. Basically, this time tracking feature allows you to stay on top of your business. FreshBooks also offers you a MiniBooks application which allows you to track all of this from your phone.
Estimates & Expenses
With FreshBooks, you can create professional looking estimates and email them to your clients for their approval. You can manage and track the estimate acceptance process. You can easily convert these estimates into invoices, and the estimates are reusable for repeat projects.
With their expense tracking capabilities, Freshbooks allows you to easily keep track of your expenses so you can see exactly where your money is being spent. You also have one-touch accessibility to these expense reports.
Clients & Staff
In another small business-focused benefit to the site, FreshBooks minimizes the time you spend keeping track of your clients and your staff, and lets you concentrate on growing and expanding your business. You can run reports to see who you’re most valuable and profitable clients and staff members are. They have a dashboard tab which gives you an overview of what your clients and staff have been up to in a snapshot. And, as mentioned earlier, Freshbooks gives you the ability to give your clients access to their own accounts so they can view their estimates, invoices, support tickets, and more.
FreshBooks has an entire section devoted to contractors. There, you can invite your contractors into your projects, while still never giving them access to your client lists. There, they can track their time on your project from their very own FreshBooks account. You can also receive all of your invoices from your contractors in one place.
The term “branding” is obviously one of the new catch phrases of building a new and successful business. You see this term bandied about in just about any conversation dealing with a new small business. FreshBooks has got you covered here. You can look and feel more professional as your business grows and expands with your company logo. You can personalize your emails and other communications to your clients. You can even “brand” your log-in page by removing the FreshBooks logo there and replacing it with your own. You can also look like a bigger company than you are by customizing your account with your coronate colors or design your own with a variety of preset color schemes. You can even design your very own, customized log-in page with the help of FreshBooks (for a one-time fee of $279).
Pricing and Signup
They have a bunch of catchy names for all the different levels that you can sign up for. In a nutshell, you can go as low as an absolutely free account if you only need to manage three or less clients. Or you can go all the way up to $39.95 per month. This level gives you the ability to have one additional member of your staff gain acccess to your records, and it also gives you access to project managers, team timesheets, and the ability to track expense reporting. There is never a long-term contract involved that will tie you down; it is month-to-month forever. You can cancel at any time and there is a thirty-day money-back guarantee for any and all accounts.
FreshBooks also offer a variety of both 1st party and 3rd party add-ons that expands the functionality of FreshBooks. For example, their Mac OS X widget lets you do time tracking from your desktop or even offline. Many other add-ons are available as well.
Summing up, I think that FreshBooks would be an asset to any business. There just seems to be too much here to simply dismiss. It seems like they’ve done their homework in finding out exactly what their clients need, and they deliver. I’d fully take advantage of their free trial offer, but when the time comes, I can definitely seeing myself signing up for their services.
Anyone out there with firsthand experience with FreshBooks? We’d love to hear your comments below.