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For years, accounting has always been a tiresome hassle that tends to strike fear in the hearts of most small or independent business owners. This is because of the costs and time involved in balancing out those books.
This is why accountants study for years to understand the nature of the process and do it as effectively as possible. However, thanks to the advent of cloud-based computing, even the last great leap in bookkeeping – the invention of accounting software, has recently been overshadowed. By what, you ask? By the next great advent of the IT generation – cloud-based software.
For many, the idea of cloud-based software and computing is abstract and complicated. What is the cloud, how does affect my accounting and why is it better – or rather, is it better at all? The short answer to this is yes, it is, in almost every way one could imagine an upgrade to be.
As someone who doesn’t enjoy dealing with paperwork and paper trails at all, I was very interested in finding out more about how this amazing software works when I first heard about it and since then, I’ve never even considered the thought of going back. If you’re a small business owner or are interested in saving some money and streamlining your accounting system, then I highly recommend that you keep reading as you’re in for a treat. FreshBooks can change your business and your life.
Cloud-based Accounting Software Explained
If you’re in business today and don’t know about cloud-based computing or software then let this be the wake-up call you need to get back in touch with reality. That might sound a bit cold, but the truth is that the information age has lead to an incredibly dynamic environment for businesses to both flourish and fail in.
Those caught unaware of the rapid changes that happen on an almost weekly basis are more likely of falling behind or simply being overtaken by those that are in tune with new nature of business in the internet age.
Knowing how to utilize these new products and services is a great way to increase your business’s chances of succeeding or simply streamlining your operation and saving you both time and money – both of which are crucial commodities in the real-time rush of the business world.
Cloud-based accounting is a revolution in business administration and should be seen as big leap forward for small business, freelancers and business in general for that matter.
Instead of having a clunky, expensive accounting software on your PC or Mac that takes up space and costs a lot of money – not to mention being a real challenge to use, cloud-based accounting software like FreshBooks helps simplify the process and make cost tracking, invoicing, time-tracking and project management among others an easy and efficient process.
This is done by removing the need to physically install the software onto your harddrive, instead running it remotely from a server through a portal over the internet where your data is stored, managed and even analysed to ensure that your machine runs smoothly and that your data is safe.
By storing your data on a remote server, you also protect it from any crashes or disasters that may cause the loss of your machines. This is a lot cheaper than data recovery services in general and means your data is always secured regardless of any eventuality. It’s a bit like having a remote control for your TV – except you’re running your accounting software on the remote, rather than changing the channels on a TV screen.
What Is FreshBooks?
FreshBooks is an award winning online, cloud-based accounting system that is currently used by over 5 million businesses around the world. This places it at the top of a lot of people’s lists in terms of being an effective and efficient way to keep track of costs, produce customized financial reports and balance your books easily, safely and in a way that saves you money over time.
It’s main features are centered around helping to create invoices, project management and even time tracking – which are especially important if you’re a freelancer as providing your clients with a proof of your services (and the value thereof) will really help to set you apart from the competition.
Besides that, FreshBooks will also help to keep track of your client list, manage team members or collaborators (as well their their respective time sheets, invoices and responsibility management), collect payments, review your bookkeeping stats and sync your reports with your accountant or enable you to create a smooth workflow should you opt to do your own accounting.
The software is not bound to a particular operating system because of the fact that all the information is stored on a remote server which is accessed online through a portal. This means that you can access your information anytime, anyplace and on almost any device (so long as it meets the minimum compatibility requirements to run the software smoothly and you have a good internet connection).
You can even download mobile apps for both iOS and Android thus giving you the freedom to carry your business with you in your pocket – anytime, anywhere. This also gives you the freedom to split the task of tracking costs, time tracking and general project management amongst your colleagues or collaborators, ultimately reducing some of the burden on your shoulders and making the workflow more streamlined in general.
Basically, it’s the accounting equivalent of sliced bread – if not better. It’s affordable, effective and can be taught quite easily. This means that you no longer have to fork out huge sums of money to employee a third-party to manage your books and invoicing/costing and ultimately gives you more control over how you run your business from top to bottom. Freelancing and small business has never been easier thanks to FreshBooks – not to mention all forms of business in general.
The company has very humble beginnings. It started in a basement in Toronto with only 4 employees. Originally, the company had nothing to do with accounting, billing or cloud-based services whatsoever and was actually a design agency run by a man who was working out of his mom’s basement.
The story of FreshBooks began when the owner was in the process of creating an invoice for a client and accidentally saved over a previous invoice – as they were still using Word and Excel at this point.
Frustrated by this, the owner decided to develop an easier way to manage his invoicing system and over the course of 2 weeks, he coded a rough outline of what would later become the FreshBooks software as we know it today.
Since then, the company has moved on to employ roughly over 200 people and has become one of the largest and most trusted cloud-based accounting systems available in the world. It’s a success story that is both inspiring and a testament to how effective and solid a service FreshBooks actually is.
With over 5 million active subscribers and a total of 10 million users over the course of the company's history – it’s easy to see why so many trust FreshBooks when it comes to managing the financial side of their business, large or small.
FreshBooks Features Explained
FreshBooks boasts a wide array of user-friendly features that really make this package hard to beat in terms of its pricing when compared to its competitors. The features of FreshBooks can be broken down into 9 separate categories namely invoicing, expenses, clients, time tracking, projects, payments, reporting, add-ons and mobile.
In fact, there are so many of these features that it would take me far too much time to get into the nitty gritty of each individual feature (which may bore you). So instead, I’ll list them all – if you’re interested in finding out more about what each does or how they work in specific, I’d recommend clicking here.
-Customizable invoices -Payment reminders
-Accepts credit cards -Received invoices
-Automated late fees/penalties -The ability to preview before sending
-Recurring invoices -Duplicate Invoices
-Due Dates -Simple summaries
-Multi-language invoices -Multi-currency billing
-Automatic tax calculations
-Tax-friendly categories -Receipt attachments
-Multiple currencies -Remembered vendors
-Easy-to-read summaries -Easily editable expenses
-Log hours -Daily breakdowns
-Track time against projects -Track time against clients
-Team-based time tracking -Bill for tracked hours
-Collaborate with your team -Project due dates
-File sharing -Project overview
-Accept credit cards -Easy to setup
-Accept international currencies -Automatic expense recording
-Safe and secure -Late Payment reminders and fees
-Automatic payment recording -Fast bank deposits
-Summary of profits and outstanding revenue
-Sales tax summary -Expense report
-Account-friendly reports -Accounts aging
-Invoice details -Invoice details
-Profits and losses
-Contact info -Relationship feed
-Easy access to common clients -Internal notes
-Easy editable clients
-Additional apps and plugins available through the Google store
So I think it’s plain to see that FreshBooks really wants to make sure that you get your money’s worth when you choose them. This is an impressive list by any standards, but is all the more impressive due to the fact that they offer cost-effective payment services , support and a reliable service that has ensured the support of over 5 million businesses around the world.
FreshBooks Competitors Breakdown: Xero, Zoho and QuickBooks
FreshBooks vs. Xero Accounting Software
Xero is also an award winning accounting software that is dynamic, robust and reliable. It is generally thought of being the immediate alternative to FreshBooks because it offers a wide range of services (a little more than FreshBooks for that matter) and can be used to help deal with and manage inventory, payroll and asset management making it ideal for start-ups, traders, e-commerce, retail and creatives.
It is easy to use and is also cloud-based, meaning that you can access your personal dashboard from any platform be it PC, MAC or mobile.
It also allows you to track payments in real-time (or very quickly for that matter) which means you’re always up to date with your accounts regardless of where you are in the world or what platform you’re using.
One of my personal favorite aspects about Xero is that it allows you to connect and integrate with roughly over 500 other business-related apps, which means you can have one, centralized platform from which to monitor, manage and maintain the monetary aspects of your business. This is a great way to save time and money – not to mention stress.
FreshBooks vs. Zoho Books
After reviewing both FreshBooks and Xero – although I only briefly looked into Xero, it’s hard for me to recommend other software systems for this kind of work.
Frankly, all the other software out there seems to just be riffing off the basic foundation on which these systems were developed and Zoho Books is no different.
While it is a perfectly capable and in some ways, slightly cheaper software, Zoho Books just doesn’t stand out as being extraordinarily different from either Xero or FreshBooks – at least enough so for me to recommend it to you. It has all the same features as FreshBooks and simply costs a little less – kind of like a legal bootleg.
I also wouldn’t really recommend cutting costs in this department as it’s imperative for your business to always run smoothly and having a good accounting software is key to that process.
So if you’re a really small business or simply just a freelancer looking for something to help you out in this department, then Zoho Books might be worth looking into. It’s just that when you consider how much better the quality gets when you pay only a little more for the other two platforms – it simply makes more sense to invest in either Xero or FreshBooks instead.
FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks Accounting Software
As I mentioned in the Zoho Books review, it’s hard for me to really recommend other forms of software in this category after having reviewed both Xero and FreshBooks simply due to their efficiency, streamlined process and the fact that they basically invented the method that all other software seem to follow.
So it would make sense to stay with them – at least until something really new and revolutionary comes out.
However, QuickBooks does manage to present itself as being a pretty decent go between if you’re struggling to make up your mind and it offers competitive pricing and basically tries to bridge the gap between both of these two top platforms (at least in my opinion).
QuickBooks offers all the same features that you’d expect from a cloud-based accounting software – with a twist. It grants you 3 different payment types ranging from $15 to $50 a month.
Each of which gives you access to different features and functions that ultimately enhance your experience. This means that you can customize the type of experience you’d like to receive, based on the specific needs or requirements of your business.
On top of that, they also give you the option of being able to install the software directly onto your system(s) or server in your business. So if you’re a bit skeptical of cloud-based computing or simply want to ensure that your data is 100% secure and private (for whatever reason), you know have that ability.
So if you’re not able to invest in either FreshBooks or Xero or simply can’t make up your mind regarding either, I would recommend QuickBooks as the ultimate go-between.
— FreshBooks (@freshbooks) November 28, 2017
FreshBooks Training Explained
While FreshBooks themselves don’t offer a specific training course, they do have a helpline and online assistance available for you to make use of should you encounter a problem or get stuck with something in specific. I’ve also noticed that they do offer free YouTube videos guiding you through the basics – so that’s half the battle won already.
Thankfully, the software has been designed to be as efficient as possible and easy to use as well, which means that it’s user friendly. So, given that you take your time to read through the instructions or guidelines when you start using the software, you should be fine.
On top of that, there are a great deal of free online tutorials and paid for textbooks or educational services dedicated to teaching you the ins and outs of FreshBooks – and I mean literally everything.
So, you certainly won’t be left out in the dark stumbling around as you try to orientate yourself. Personally, I found it quite easy to navigate the software and I had little to no experience with accounting software before starting out. So I’m pretty sure that if you’re a business minded person, the tech stuff will be easy to get used to and vice versa.
Ultimately, unlocking the ability to manage your business’s finances by yourself is like taking hold of the steering wheel of a car for the first time. It might be a little scary at first and takes some getting used to. However, once you’ve mastered the process it’s one of the most freeing experiences you can have.
Stay on top of things and have a real-time bird’s eye view of how your business is working and have the power to make decisions based on factual reports and direct reflections of your profit and loss indicators.
FreshBooks is the key that you can use to start that car and once you get going. I guarantee you won’t want to stop – it’s simple, efficient and streamlined. Whether you’re an independent freelancer, a small business, mid-sized business or even a larger company – cloud-based accounting is the way forward. Don’t get left behind, grab the wheel of your own future now.