Review of: FreshBooks
Reviewed by: Christine C. Renee
Last modified: June 29, 2018
FreshBooks is a cloud-based invoicing and accounting software specially designed for small businesses and those who are self-employed. FreshBooks makes it easy for you to manage finances, client invoices, track projects and timekeeping, and communicate with team members. However, it does not offer payroll services, and the pricing plan may be too high for solo-run businesses who have more than five clients.
- Bill paying
- Smartphone users
- Small business owners
- Medium-size business owners
If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, you’ve got enough stress to manage. And invoicing, in particular, can be a colossal pain in the neck.
FreshBooks was created to help take the pain out of invoicing, but that’s not all it does. I took a closer look into this business accounting and management software, and this is what I found.
What Is FreshBooks?
FreshBooks is a cloud-based invoicing and accounting software specifically designed for the small and micro business owner. Whether you run your business solo or manage a small team, FreshBooks has the software you need to keep track of projects, invoices, clients, contractors, timekeeping, payments, and finances.
FreshBooks started in 2006 as an online invoicing software, and it has since expanded into a feature-rich business accounting and management software.
Today, not only can you create professional-looking invoices, but you can also create estimates and proposals, add team members to projects, create client portals, manage business transactions for tax time, and integrate FreshBooks with your favorite apps like Asana or Gusto.
|Price||$15.00 - $50.00/month|
|Access||Website, iOS App, Android App|
|Point of Sale|
|Third Party Intergration|
|Import QFX, QIF Files|
|Promotions||Try It Free for 30 Days|
How Does FreshBooks Work?
You can try FreshBooks free for 30 days, no credit card required. All you need to do is sign up with your email and a new password.
Once your email is confirmed, you’ll have access to your FreshBooks dashboard where you can start putting together your company profile and listing all your services and products (this is the information you’ll use to fill out invoices, proposals, estimates and projects faster).
After putting together your business information, you’ll want to set up your bank connections (which is done through Yodlee), so you can start importing transactions.
Once you’re set up with bank connections, you’ll get set up to accept credit card payments through the FreshBooks platform using the WePay system. Your account will have to be verified, so be sure to check your email.
You can also get set up to accept payments through Stripe if you have international clients.
From there you can add team members and start creating invoices and playing around with the different features.
Once you set up your company profile and a list of your service items with pricing, you can start creating invoices.
The system is simple to use. You can create and send a new invoice in just a couple of minutes and get on with the rest of your day. It beats trying to use an Excel sheet and PDF form.
FreshBooks lets you send and manage professional invoices that include line items for the following types of expenses:
- Project expenses
- Hourly wages
- Other fees
FreshBooks is also the most flexible invoicing software that I’ve used yet:
- Invoice a client before the project starts; FreshBooks will automatically keep track of the project and will help you manage the rest of the invoice
- It allows for partial payments
- FreshBooks lets you create ongoing/recurring payments
- The software allows clients to pay a percentage of a total payment
FreshBooks also makes it easy to manage invoices after they’ve been sent out. Here are some options you’ll see:
- Send clients payment reminders
- Charge late fees
- Change currencies and language
- Add taxes
- Customize payment terms
- Invoice from a desktop or mobile
FreshBooks makes it easy to accept payments from clients directly from within the invoice. They can pay with a credit card, PayPal, Stripe or Apple Pay, so you can accept payments from anywhere in the world.
Signing up to accept credit card payments through FreshBooks is free and is done through WePay. You’ll need to verify your account and link your bank within 14 days.
Here are the fees for accepting credit card payments through FreshBooks:
- Visa, MasterCard and Discover credit cards: 2.9% + $0.30
- American Express credit cards: 3.5% + $0.30
Link PayPal and Stripe to accept payments through those apps to give clients other payment options.
However, if a client wishes to pay you by ACH bank transfer, check or another form of payment, FreshBooks doesn’t support it. You will need to make outside arrangements with your client.
You can, however, manually mark that invoice as paid/complete as soon as you receive payment.
The best part about FreshBooks’ payment feature is that it integrates with your expense tracking.
The newest version of FreshBooks allows you to manage all your business accounting in one place.
No more having to use two or three different apps to track your business expenses. It’s nice to have one place to manage the accounting side of things.
Connect your business bank accounts, including PayPal and any business credit card accounts, and FreshBooks automatically imports all your transactions to manage in one place.
Take pictures of receipts and save them to FreshBooks so you can access them at tax time on desktop or mobile. You can also categorize your expenses as they happen, and in one place and FreshBooks will remember the rules you set for future transactions.
Bill project expenses more efficiently when it comes time to invoice clients once you’ve set all your expense rules and categories in order.
Show clients a project’s expense receipts and project progress in the client portal. I really like how you can keep things organized in the new FreshBooks, even if transactions are made from different accounts.
Time is money, and if you’re a small business owner with billable hours, FreshBooks makes it easy for you to keep track of the time you and your team members spend on projects.
You can download a Chrome extension for desktop or open the app on your smartphone and start tracking your time.
If you forget to stop the timer when you’ve finished working on a project or forgot to start one, you have the option of manually inputting your time.
Here are some things the time tracking feature can do for you:
- Create reports for daily, weekly and monthly time sheets for you and/or your team members
- Log hours manually
- Track time against clients
- Track time against projects
- Add detailed notes to each timesheet
Proposals and Estimates
A new and exciting feature in FreshBooks is the ability to create professional-looking proposals and estimates for clients that link directly to projects and automatically generate invoices when the project is complete. No more using different applications to get this task done!
You can create a detailed proposal that includes an overview, the scope of work, timeline, and pricing:
- FreshBooks will automatically turn an estimate into a project and a project into an invoice once it’s approved.
- Clients can review, comment and approve all within the FreshBooks platform.
- Create a proposal and send it from your smartphone just as fast as you would from the desktop.
Another excellent feature of the new FreshBooks is the ability to track and manage entire projects. FreshBooks lets you create a space where team members and clients can view and share files, chat, and collaborate on a project. On the platform you can:
- Assign due dates
- Manage and share project statuses and overviews
- Create client portals
- Share images and files, including proposals, estimates, expense receipts and reports and invoices
- Manage and control access and permissions
- You can also separate both flat rate and hourly rate type projects
FreshBooks helps you stay on top your business by helping you create different kinds of reports. View them to get an idea of how things are going with the business or print them out for your accountant, team members, contractors, or clients.
FreshBooks lets you create the following types of reports:
- Profit and loss reports
- Sales tax summaries
- Invoicing details
- Expense reports
- Color-coded spending reports
- Accounts aging reports
- Payments collected
- Time-entry details reports
Filter reports by clients, teams, team member, dates, projects, etc. When you’re ready, you can print or export your reports to an Excel sheet to share with your bookkeeper or accountant.
Third-Party Apps, Add-ons and Integrations
FreshBooks may not offer payroll features, but it does have a third-party integration with Gusto, a favorite payroll app designed for small business.
Along with Gusto, FreshBooks partners with a long list of other popular third-party apps to seamlessly work together to help your business get stuff done.
Here’s a partial list of some of the integrations they have available with FreshBooks:
- G Suite
- And more
FreshBooks has a beautifully redesigned mobile app available on Android and iPhone and whatever you do on your phone will sync with your cloud account.
The mobile app is free to download.
With the FreshBooks mobile app, you can do the following:
- Send and manage invoices
- Take pictures and upload receipts
- Track expenses
- Respond to clients and team member questions
- Track time spent working on projects
All pricing plans come with a no-obligation 30-day free trial for you to try premium features, no credit card required.
There are three plans:
Lite – 5 Clients
$15/month or $13.50/month if billed for a 1-year plan
The Lite plan is for micro businesses with less than five clients (no team members).
Here’s what you get:
- Create professional and customized invoices – Unlimited
- Time tracking
- Accept online payments and credit cards
- Import expenses from your bank
- Send estimates
- Create reports
Plus – 50 Clients
$25/month or $22.50/month if billed for a 1-year plan + $10 per team member add-on
The Plus plan is for small businesses with up to 50 clients. If your business has team members, there is an additional $10 per team member for them to be able to track time to projects, track expenses and help manage projects within your FreshBooks account.
Here’s what you get with the Plus plan:
- All features included in the Lite plan
- The ability to send invoice payment reminders
- Charge late fees for overdue invoices
- Schedule recurring invoices
- Send proposals for pending projects
Premium – 500 Clients
$50/month or $45/month if billed for a 1-year plan + $10 per team member add-on
The Premium plan is structured for small businesses with teams and agencies. You get all the features that come with the Lite and Plus plans with support up to 500 clients.
If your business has more than 500 clients or bill more than $150K a year, FreshBooks has a plan called FreshBooks Select that offers high volume invoice processing.
Pros and Cons
- Efficient Invoicing — Save money and time by allowing FreshBooks to manage your invoices.
- Integration — FreshBooks will interact with thousands of banking institutions, along with PayPal and Stripe.
- Time Management — FreshBooks' internal and mobile timers help you determine if you're spending too much time on a project.
- Cloud Based — There's no app to install, and you can access your account from any device with internet connectivity.
- Easy to Use and Multi-Platform Friendly — I got started and sent my first invoice within 30 minutes.
- Pricey for Small Business Owners — Pricing may be high for small business owners who fall somewhere in between the features of the Lite and Pro plans.
- No ACH Transfers — FreshBooks does not support ACH bank transfers for payment.
- Limitations When Adding Product — When you add a new product or service, there is nowhere to add fee options, only taxes.
FreshBooks has come a long way since starting in 2006 as an online invoicing software. After trying other invoicing apps like 17hats, QuickBooks, and PayPal, as well as manually creating invoices on Word and sending them on PDF, I really like how FreshBooks puts everything you need for invoicing and managing projects in one place and makes it so easy to use.
The newest version of FreshBooks is surprisingly smooth and fast to set up both on the desktop and on a smartphone. The time it took me to sign up, set up my account/company profile, and send my first invoice was about 30 minutes. And it took that long because I was poking around the dashboard.
I just wish the pricing was a different. As a solo business owner, the most value I get when it comes to invoicing is to be able to have the software remind me of when an invoice is due and to send clients payment reminders automatically.
Overall, I think FreshBooks is worth the try, especially since it offers a 30-day free premium-feature trial. However, you may find the Pro plan features worth the price if you can do everything with just one app (manage invoicing, project and time tracking, and accounting).