People typically think that consultants have everything under their control. However, this is not true. You, as a consultant, still have to spend your precious time with accounting instead of dealing with your clients. Thankfully, there is a solution: online accounting software. By having your bookkeeping up in the clouds using this online software, you can say goodbye to shoeboxes full of receipts and that ugly mountain of Excel spreadsheets. Online accounting software, whether you access it from your desktop or from your phone, is virtually capable of everything: you can record your expenses, create and manage various projects, add your services to an inventory with their respective price tags, send estimates to your clients and turn them into invoices once accepted, get auto-generated business reports and the list just goes on.
Accounting solutions have many features, but do not think that most of them are useless. Although you won’t need all of them, who knows when they will become handy in the future? There are some features your software must have. Here is a non-exhaustive list of them:
If your software has this “storage” feature, you can add all the types of services you or your company offers with their respective price tags. So any time you have to create a new quote or an invoice, you just pick the most fitting service from the inventory, and add it to your quote/invoice.
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A good offer means a new client, but it also helps you keep the older ones. With an accounting software you can quickly and easily create new quotes, so your client can see your prices in advance and decide whether he/she accepts your offer and you have to further negotiate with him/her. However, if your quote is accepted, you only have to turn that quote into an invoice with a few clicks, send it to your client, then sit back and wait for your payment—after the job is done, of course.
This feature not only allows you to build fixed price or time-based projects from scratch, but you can turn your accepted estimates into projects as well. Furthermore, this feature usually works the other way around too, meaning you can create estimates, invoices and expenses from your projects.
Tracking your expenses is crucial in this type of business and cloud-based accounting solutions are definitely capable of that. Whenever you have a receipt, just grab your mobile device, take a picture of that receipt and the software will process it for you. Furthermore, you can attach expenses to ongoing projects and invoices so you can get refund from your clients.
Integrating Other Software and Services
If you are already using business software that you like and you wish to keep using it along with the online accounting software, then fear not. It is very likely that you can integrate the software into the new one if the accounting company offers and supports an API. And they usually do: some companies have products that can integrate with over hundreds of different third-party applications – from CRMs, time tracking tools to software for payroll, invoicing, expense, project and document management, reporting, and many more.
Such software that can be integrated into your accounting solution is Expensify, a well-known expense reporting tool with which you can easily manage your expenses, capture and process your receipts – whether you are online or offline. Other software includes Float, a simple budgeting and cashflow forecasting solution, Proworkflow, designed for easy invoicing, quoting and projecting, WorkflowMax, that is capable of handling time sheets and job management as well, CapsuleCRM in which you can store all necessary data about your customers, and, not surprisingly, Google Apps like Drive and Gmail.
Online Accounting Solutions Recommended for You
There are plenty of online accounting solutions to choose from, but if you want to be really successful, you should choose leading software that has all the features we listed above. We decided to present two relatively similar solutions, QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks, and let the choice be yours.
If you are self-employed, QuickBooks offers you a product called Self-Employed, but it is too basic for businesses like yours. Therefore you should choose one of the three QuickBooks Online products, intended for all types of businesses. The product has all major features you need: creating estimates that could be turned into invoices, managing projects, tracking your expenses, and adding an unlimited number of clients to your contact list. QuickBooks Online is available on iOS and Android devices as well, and if you miss a feature you need, you can integrate your software with over 300 different third-party apps. QuickBooks Online has a 30-day trial, and, if you are not satisfied with the company’s services, you can get a full refund within 60 days from subscription.
Although FreshBooks is intended for smaller businesses, it is a complete online accounting solution with everything you need for your work: easy-to-create estimates which can be turned into invoices, a superb project management feature with a built-in time tracking add-on, expense tracking, and auto-generated business reports. With the exception of the latter one, all of these features are available in the stellar iOS and Android apps. Although the software can only integrate with approximately 40 third-party applications and services, the most important and useful ones are all available for integration. FreshBooks, which offers a 30-day free trial before purchase, has four pricing plans; however, they only differ in the number of clients you can add to the contact list.