Every great idea is borne of necessity. To understand what motivated Michael McDerment to found FreshBooks, we’ve got to travel back in time (way back in the early aughts) to the day Mike McD mistakenly saved over an invoice he was creating in Microsoft Word. Now, we all know that Word wasn’t made for invoicing, and so did Mike. But at the time, there simply wasn’t a great alternative. So McDerment set out with friend Joe Sawada to create that alternative: FreshBooks.
Freshbooks has grown significantly since those early days, operating out of a basement. Today’s Freshbooks has more than 100 employees, serving customers on nearly 150 nations. In North America they are second only to QuickBooks in the Cloud Accounting sphere. In recent years, FreshBooks has continued to distinguish itself in its sector, for excellence in customer service and the innovation and usability of its apps. They’re also known for their likable attitude, something difficult for an accounting service to manifest. But they’ve got a dog on staff (Vice Pres of Cross-cultural integration), and they find ways to project fun. So there’s that.
FreshBooks First Impressions
FreshBooks is in constant expansion. I believe that they are becoming the accounting solution that they will one day be, but for now, I can’t say that they’re more than an awesome invoicing service, with some bookkeeping services built in. What they do, they do really well. But don’t think they are a fully featured accounting service just yet. If you are an individual, or represent a small business, I think FreshBooks is still an awesome solution for what you likely do. So if you’re still on board, read on.
You can try FreshBooks out for 30 days, no charge and no credit card necessary. If you want to continue, there are several pricing tiers to choose from. You can use the service however long you want, with no contracts or cancellation fee nonsense. If you need to invoice only a single client, you can use FreshBooks for free indefinitely. But if you need more complex operations, you can choose from Spout ($9.95/mo), Seedling ($19.95/mo), Evergreen ($29.95/mo), and Mighty Oak ($39.95/mo).
Each of these tiers has its own perks and functions. If you’re a sprout, you don’t have to display the pesky FreshBooks logo on your invoices (free advertising for FreshBooks through their “free” users). You can also add automatic late fees and other options. As a seedling, you have everything that is offered the sprouts, but for up to 25 clients. As an Evergreen, you get unlimited clients, and you can add one other user. Mighty Oaks get the real perks, with team timesheets, project management, and expense reporting, plus 5 extra users. You also get 25% per year, if you refer a new client.
A Deeper Look
FreshBooks is in the Cloud, so you never have to worry about downloads, drivers, updates, anything like that. Just remember your password, and you’re good to go. For the same reason, it’s compatible with all OS’s and most browsers. You can also use it on Apple and Android mobile devices. With these and the above features, FreshBooks will help a small contractor or service-based business increase their level of effectiveness and professionalism.
In my experience, setup is extremely simple. So is use, right out of the gate. FreshBooks’ interface is simple. People, estimates, expenses, lots of tracking and reports, and more is available in well organized tabs. You can also add options for your own business or store. The FAQ is about all I’ve ever needed to answer my questions, but I tried out customer service and got almost immediate responses.
I hope that FreshBooks continues to advance their accounting features, which I think are somewhat lacking. For instance, you can’t link files to invoices, nor can you customize these invoices. These are complaints that you see if you look around, but generally the feedback is favorable. Your information is available at a glance, including active projects, outstanding invoices, and other info. Estimates can be quickly converted into invoices. Time tracking is a breeze, for you and your staff. PayPal, and other payment gateways, are supported. There are many other features and services, but if you are still interested at this point in the review, I suggest that you take advantage of the free trial and see for yourself that FreshBooks is a great solution to your invoicing and basic bookkeeping needs.
While there are some more feature-rich services out there, you can’t beat FreshBooks’ ease of use. If you are a small business or independent contractor, I suggest you try it out. You’ll either mesh with it or you won’t. But I think you’ll like it. For basic to median invoicing and bookkeeping, it’s hard to find a better service. They are very responsive and helpful, and they seem to have a lot of growth ahead of them.