I’m in the process of gearing up for a return to the freelance lifestyle. One thing I’ve never done, since I started as a real freelancer, is actually use accounting software. I know, I know, I know – bad decision. Well accounting and taxes are among my least favorite things in life so that’s why I’ve justified it but that’s kind of being a child about it. Ignoring something does not make it better so one of my 2017 resolutions was “Deal with Accounting / Taxes”.

Requirements

Here are my requirements for an accounting tool for freelancers in 2017:

  • cloud based / hosted
  • ability to bill clients
  • ability to record an invoice but NOT actually send it (I don’t necessarily want to lost X% to credit card processing)
  • mobile app (ios)
  • ability to make an invoice
  • ability to record a client
  • time tracking is possibly desirable but unclear

Options

I looked at three options:

  • Quicken
  • Hurdlr
  • FreshBooks

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QuickBooks

Like, I suspect every other entrepreneur, I’ve used Quick Books in the past so it was my first stop along this path. Sadly, for what should be such a strong product, I rejected it almost immediately. The version I was examining was the very low end, $10 / month version, Quick Books Self Employed - left most option. Here’s what I found wrong with it:

  • As a web product it is incredibly slow (to amuse myself, I tried holding my breath during page refreshes; sometimes I wasn’t able to)
  • It is very, very limited. For example there wasn’t a way to cleanly track clients.
  • It felt like it had been designed poorly at best. My guess is that the product manager has never been a freelancer him or herself and it really, really shows.
  • Just the fact that googling for QuickBooks self employed takes me to a page where it isn’t even listed tells me that my business isn’t a priority for Intuit
  • It is strong on the traditional tax side of things and that’s a plus but account software should help me run my business not just my taxes.

Hurdlr

I found Hurdlr somewhere and I’m intrigued by the promise and absolutely terrified by the reality. This is a brand new app / website seemingly and they’re not even charging yet. Sure I can use it for free – and what happens when they fail? Can I get my data back? Can I trust them with passwords to my bank account? Will they stay in business? They do a good job of talking the talk but I’m not going thru this selection process again. I hate to not risk my efforts on a startup given my predilections for startups but this is just too risky.

FreshBooks

Surprisingly to me I ended up picking FreshBooks as my choice. Here’s how it matched up against my criteria:

  • cloud based / hosted - YES
  • ability to bill clients - YES
  • ability to record an invoice but NOT actually send it - YES
  • mobile app (ios) - YES. Please note that you want the Cloud Accounting app.
  • ability to make an invoice - YES
  • ability to record a client - YES
  • time tracking is possibly desirable but unclear - YES

I’ve had one problem so far - expense import brought in far more than I wanted but Support helped me out and did a great job.

I have the app on my phone; my wife has it on her phone and for the first time since I’ve been a freelancer, I have a heads up view as to the money that’s coming in. Honestly it feels fantastic.

freshbooks_dashboard.png

Note: Actual number above removed.

Further Reading

While FreshBooks was right for me, you may need more information. I found very good info on the CarefulCents.com site.