Software for Consultants: FreshBooks for Accounting, Invoicing & Time Tracking

When it comes to accounting, invoicing, and time tracking software, there are many solutions to pick from – ranging from simple to quite complex.

FreshBooks is one of the more intuitive options that falls under the “designed for small business owners, not accountants” category. There’s a lot you can do with it, but not so much that it’s overwhelming and impractical. Here’s a quick overview of some of the tool’s most useful features:

Feature #1: Manage Your People

Add, edit and view details about all of your clients; create invoice, project, and expense reports based on a particular client; and see how long it takes to get paid on a client-by-client basis. You can also view any emails you sent to a client. If you have employees or work with contractors, you can also add and edit their information, such as hourly rates and invoices, here.

Feature #2: Generate Invoices

Create invoices and view invoice details. For instance, you can see recent activity for a particular invoice number, when it was sent, and any outstanding invoices (and whether they’re 0-30 days old, 30-60 days old, etc.). You can get an accounts aging report and search invoices as well by number, client name, and a variety of other filters.

Feature #3: Generate Estimates

Create branded quotes and estimates for your clients. Clients are able to review, accept, and request changes to them. Estimates can also be converted to invoices and submitted to a client.

Feature #4: Track Expenses

Enter in the expense amount, date, name of the vendor (like a restaurant), categories (for instance, meals and entertainment) and any notes you want to attach (like the people you were with). You can also important expenses from other sources, such as your bank account or from a QuickBooks file.

Feature #5: Track Your Time

Track time by project or by task. You can access monthly, weekly, and daily views of your time, as well as generate invoices from a specific project. If you have a staff or contractors and you track projects by task, you can also set different billing rates for each team member and the type of work done.

Feature #6: Create Reports

Generate reports based on profits and losses, taxes, expenses, payments collected, invoices, time to pay, revenue by client, recurring revenue, timesheets, and estimated billing.

Feature #7: Integrate With Other Vendors

Integrate your FreshBooks account with other vendors, like Basecamp, SalesForce CRM, Google Apps and Constant Contact. These offer added functionality and enable you to create a workflow tailored to your practice.

If you’re an independent consultant, FreshBooks is certainly worth considering for your accounting and time-tracking needs. However, there are a few drawbacks to note. For instance, unlike other software, such as QuickBooks, you can’t pay bills via your FreshBooks account.

In addition, the tool doesn’t have a general ledger or a balance sheet. This is ok for some small business owners; but depending on the size and scope of your practice, you may need to invest in another accounting tool as well.

And finally, when sending invoices, FreshBooks forces clients to click on a web link to get a copy of the invoice, rather than having an actual invoice PDF attached to the email. Some clients are fine with this, others want an actual PDF of the invoice, which you would then have to manually create and send. If that’s the case, it adds an extra step to the process for you.

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