- Straightforward design
- Simple use
- Easy invoicing, projecting
- Clever time tracking solution
- All features available for all pricing
- Fast payment option offered
- Lacking features in the app
- Invitation for extra fee only
- Limited number of clients
FreshBooks was founded in 2003 in Canada as an invoicing, billing and time tracking software, but over the past years it became a full-fledged online accounting solution ideal for sole proprietors and smaller businesses. With this neat cloud-based software, which underwent a thorough overhaul in 2016, you can easily and quickly create and customize invoices (whether using the desktop account or the Android/iPhone apps), record expenses, plan and realize projects, and track your time. You can integrate a decent amount of third party applications and services, and check reports FreshBooks automatically creates for you. You also have the option to enable fast online payments, set up recurring invoices, and even customize your account. Regardless of your chosen plan, almost all features remain available during and after the 30-day trial period. Furthermore, you also get unlimited customer support with your subscription, which can be as low as $15 per month. So if you need an accounting solution that includes all major functions and you work with a small number of clients and employees/contractors, then FreshBooks is your choice.
The start page of your account is where you can find an extremely straightforward, app-like dashboard that displays your outstanding revenue, your total profit on a chart, your spending on a diagram and the (by default hidden) business report options. The left side of the screen is the place where you can see your profile, company and team info, enable online payments and even switch between your businesses if you have more than one. All of the important features (invoices, clients, expenses, projects and time tracking) can be found on the left side of the starting screen as well. If you want to quickly create a new invoice/expense – or you want to add a new client, employee or contractor – you can do that by clicking the relevant quick button. Despite all these fantastic features, the option to create estimates and turn them into invoices, and making your 1099s are out of question.
The only user who gets full access to the account is you and your contractors (albeit they get a separate one), but thankfully your employees are only limited in a few things: they cannot see other team members’ profiles and they can only join projects, not create them. However, the maximum number of employees you can have is limited to 5, while you cannot exceed 500 clients – unless you contact FreshBooks to have a customized account set up for you.
To create an invoice, all you have to do is select a client, provide the necessary data, discounts, taxes, offer a deposit option and then you can save, or send the invoice. Moreover, you can further customize your invoice by changing its likeness, the issue and due dates, set up reminders, late fees, determine the currency/language, plus you can make it recurring and/or payable online. And as a little extra, you can see when your client viewed the invoice, did he/she pay it and if yes, was it just a deposit or a full/partial payment.
With this extremely simple feature you can create new projects, set up their due dates, and after inviting employees/contractors/clients, you can share files with the contributors and communicate with them like you were using a chat client.
To track your time you just have to manually log it or use the built-in timer, and set it to the right client, the project (new or existing one), the provided service and whether you are billing the work time or not. When a project is finished you can generate the invoice by choosing the client, adding the worked time, providing other necessary data, and then you just have to hit save or send.
Upon seeing a mobile-friendly version of the company website we assumed that we could access our account using a mobile browser. We succeeded, but unfortunately FreshBooks doesn’t adapt to mobile screens too well, limiting its use to tablets. This is a bit of a problem, because the mobile apps are only capable of providing certain functions of the desktop version. Albeit all available features work perfectly fine, the most important feature, time tracking, is not present.
The Android app we tested is less advanced compared to the iPhone app, because it can only manage your invoices and your clients. However, invoicing is even simpler than in the desktop version and you also have the option to send messages to your colleagues via the invoices. In the clients’ section you can add or remove your clients and even see which invoices are associated to those people. The iPhone app knows all of the same, but you can capture receipts with it and attach them to invoices/expenses and you can receive in-app notifications of the latest business updates.
Integrations & Extra Services
Unfortunately the number of available third party applications and services for FreshBooks is very low, only 14, but as an API is offered and supported by the company, the number of available apps and services will continuously increase in the future. Thankfully, the variety of the available third-party apps and software is quite impressive: whether you need a CRM, scheduling software, online payment solution, payroll, project management tool, report maker, or other utilities – you will definitely find a handy application that can be integrated into your FreshBooks account. Some of these solutions include Hurdl, Revamp CRM, easyBI, Gusto, Capsule, Shopify and most importantly, OneSaas and Zapier, tools that can be used as umbilical cords to connect other software with FreshBooks.
Intergation with Gusto
With this software you can set payrolls to run on a recurring pay schedule, get payroll taxes automatically calculated, paid and filed, and give access to employees to manage their own W-2’s and 1099’s.
Integration with Hurdl
This mobile app uses your FreshBooks invoice payments and expenses to give you not just insights into your profitability, but also prepares real-time quarterly tax estimates.
Integration with easyBI
A reporting tool with which you can create appealing reports, charts and dashboards to expand the built-in basic FreshBooks reporting.
One of FreshBooks’ greatest strengths is the option to try out one of its products in a risk-free 30-day trial – although certain features like sending payment reminders and charging late fees are restricted. Furthermore, you get an additional 30 days once you have officially subscribed, meaning that cancelling your contract within the above period of time entitles you to a full refund and no further obligations.
Like we said, FreshBooks offers 3 different, month by month-only subscriptions: Lite, Plus, and Premium for $15 per month, $25 per month and $50 per month respectively. All three products have the exact same features you were promised, the only difference is in the number of clients you can add to your software: Lite only allows 5 customers, with the most popular Plus you can manage 50 customers, while Premium is the only product that allows you to have the maximum amount of 500 clients. There is one huge catch which is unfortunately not advertized on the site at all: to include the option to provide employees or your contractors account access, you have to pay an additional $10 per capita per month. However, like we already said in the Features part, the maximum amount of employees/contractors entitled to use an account provided by you is only 5. In order to be able to exceed that number, or the amount of 500 clients for that matter, you have to contact FreshBooks.
And as in the case of all online accounting solutions, allowing your clients to be able to pay not just with a bank transfer or check costs an extra. So should you turn on the fast online payment option for your invoices, it will be $0.30 + 2.9% of the invoice amount per transaction.
Although the customer support of FreshBooks is not 24/7, it still has rather long opening hours: you can contact the company from Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm EST. The support included in your subscription is completely free of charge, and it provides you the option to ask help by phone on a toll-free line. Our experience shows that FreshBooks is very quick to answer any incoming calls in a courteous and prompt manner, not only giving us tips on how to continue using the service free of charge after the free trial period has expired, but also setting up the account for us after said expiration. Aside from the phone assistance you can also get in touch either by writing an email or filling out a contact form with your question. You can also leave a message on one of the many social media pages the company has, but we recommend Twitter as it is updated more frequently with system statuses and various news.
FreshBooks’ support site is also full of frequently asked questions; some of them even contain complete tutorials both in written format with illustrations. Once you have your account you can also attend webinars. And if you want to educate future business leaders, you can ask FreshBooks to provide you and your students free accounts with complete classroom materials including learning modules, activities and assignments.
Despite its origins, FreshBooks is a decent online accounting solution with minor hiccups yet to be corrected. Certain features such as estimating, creating 1099s, check printing, decent inventory management, are missing. The mobile versions are not on par with the desktop version, and there are no major differences between the plans aside from the number of clients you can add to your account, which is limited just like the number of users.
However, FreshBooks has many strengths that outweigh the negatives. The monthly prices are acceptable and you can use the 30-day trial completely free. Its user-interface is even more straightforward, creating invoices, recording expenses and managing projects are better than ever and the software’s advanced time tracking capability is outstanding. Overall, we think that FreshBooks is on a good path of becoming a worthy competitor of the market’s giants.