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freshbooks-logo-blueAs your resource for working capital financing, Summit Financial Resources can’t emphasize enough the importance of putting the right accounting software in place. These programs help to ensure that your financials are accurate and reliable, and we have seen first-hand how they can speed up your cash flow, reduce costs, and improve efficiency.

In response to questions about which options are user-friendly for small businesses, we decided to post overviews of some of the most popular programs. Freshbooks is the second in our series; you can read the first installment on Xero here.

Not Exactly Accounting Software

FreshBooks is 100% web based, meaning you can access it anywhere and there’s no software to install on your computer. It has over 10 million users in 120 countries and is the second most used accounting software in the U.S. (Quickbooks is the first). FreshBooks has also won countless awards for its customer service.

That said, it’s important to understand right out of the gate that it is not accounting software in the truest sense. It is more accurately described as a time tracking, invoicing, and expense-tracking platform.

Accounting professionals and financial institutions live in a double-entry accounting world, so the bulk of the Web-based accounting solutions follow that structure. FreshBooks does not use double-entry accounting, offers limited reports, and has limited banking reconciliation capabilities. This makes it a less-than-ideal choice for companies looking for robust accounting features.

However, if you’re a small and growing business that is not tied to an old-school accounting system, FreshBooks is definitely worth considering. In fact PC Magazine rates it “the site to beat when it comes to managing and tracking invoices, time, and expenses for the very small business that doesn’t need full-blown double-entry accounting.”

Simple and Intuitive

FreshBooks was a breath of fresh air when it launched in 2003. It replaced established double-entry structures with a user-friendly interface and words and phrases that non-accountants could understand. FreshBooks set the standard for straightforward, user-focused design with a distinct personality.

Today FreshBooks describes itself as “simple and intuitive” cloud-based accounting software, and by all accounts there is nothing challenging or intimidating about setting it up or using it. The clean, uncluttered interface uses standard conventions like drop-down lists, buttons and icons, interactive lists, and blank fields for navigation, data presentation, and data entry. This organizational scheme makes it easy to get around.

Although it started as a simple online invoicing service, FreshBooks has incorporated countless changes that have made it more capable, while retaining its simplicity and ease of use. It provides invoicing, billing, time tracking, and client management tools, plus some bookkeeping and accounting functions. Additional features include expense tracking, contact management, client portals, and light inventory, with extras such as snail mail invoicing and client credit.

FreshBooks has 35-plus integrated add-ons that extend the site’s usefulness. However, it lacks direct connections to Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, a feature that makes sites like GoDaddy Bookkeeping useful to many sales-oriented small businesses.

Time-Saving Features

Freshbooks is built for speed, making it ideal for those who want to invoice clients, get paid quickly, and spend far less time on paperwork (FreshBooks claims its customers are paid up to 11 days faster.) These are just a few of the time-saving features:

  • Contacts: FreshBooks contains fields for standard contact information in its client records. Once you’ve created and saved a record, FreshBooks displays an informative secondary page for it (beyond the contact info). This screen includes links to related screens that you might want to see quickly, such as Sent Email, Hours Logged, Account Statement, and Invoices.
  • Invoices: The invoice form is exceptionally well designed and easy to complete. FreshBooks does all of the calculations necessary and presents you with a total. Estimates are handled similarly, and other tools allow you to create recurring profiles and credit receipts. You have numerous options for accepting payments, including FreshBooks’ own merchant account, PayPal, and Stripe.
  • Time, Expenses, Reports: FreshBooks has strong time-tracking tools. You can toggle between daily, weekly, and monthly views, entering the number of hours spent each day or carrying them over from the site’s timer. The program displays similar usability and flexibility as you track and manage expenses. Reports are more plentiful than what competitors such as QuickBooks Self-Employed offer.

Going Mobile

The majority of accounting software products have mobile apps that allow you to do your accounting anytime, anywhere. But FreshBooks makes it easy and affordable to manage your finances on the fly, one of the reasons it’s popular with small businesses, consultants, freelancers, and self-employed professionals. The app is free and usable with your purchase of a FreshBooks subscription. You can even test it out via a 30-day free trial.

From both a navigation and functionality standpoint, the Freshbooks mobile app offers countless ways to save time and make accounting as stress-free as possible. Here are just a few:

  • Invoicing: Create, send, and manage invoices straight from your phone and tablet.
  • Receiving payments: When you create an invoice, you can choose an option to accept credit card payments so clients can pay online right from the invoice. Each invoice also tracks client payments so you don’t have to do it manually.
  • Expense logging: Quickly track and categorize expenses wherever you are, and link them to associated clients and vendors. You can even go paperless by taking a photo of receipts and attaching it to the corresponding expense.
  • Seamless integration with your phone: The FreshBooks app works with your device to further streamline functions. For example, you can add a new client by importing the information from your phone’s contacts. When a client accepts a project estimate, you can quickly convert it to an invoice.

Stellar Customer Service

According to online user reviews, the customer service alone makes this software worthwhile. Freshbooks has top-notch phone and email support, and also provides a support center with user guides, tutorial videos, and searchable FAQs. (One downside for businesses that operate 24/7 is that live support is only available weekdays from 8am to 8pm EDT.) App support is super simple: just tap the Help link to access the company’s support contact information.

Affordable for Any Size Businesses

FreshBooks offers some of the most competitive pricing models for accounting software. Scalable plans starting at $15 per month make it affordable for nearly any size business. Payments are made monthly with no contract necessary, and you can cancel the service at any time. Like its competitors, the company offers a free 30-day trial.

FreshBooks is a great example of how a good accounting system can empower you to do far more than track your numbers. It will improve efficiency and take the stress out of managing your finances, so you can spend more time growing your business.

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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.