Starting a business can be a scrappy affair. Sure, maybe you’ve got a few pennies saved for launching a website and getting a logo designed, but DEF not for something like bookkeeping software.
“But bookkeeping software is at the top of my financial priorities list!”….said no one ever.
And while investing in bookkeeping software might seem utterly pointless, the right bookkeeping program can SERIOUSLY save you some dough. You see, when you’re on top of your bookkeeping, you maximize your tax deductions. And the more tax deductions you have, the less you pay in taxes.
Plus, bookkeeping software helps you catch financial errors like duplicate charges, unpaid invoices, invoices paid for the wrong amount, and money conveniently hiding in other accounts (I’m looking at you, PayPal). With all the potential financial savings, bookkeeping software is not such a buzzkill after all.
Enter QuickBooks Online, our favorite bookkeeping software for freelancers. Not only does QuickBooks streamline and automate the bookkeeping process, but it also has a ton of extra features that will whip your money into shape.
But don’t take our word for it. Here are the top five QuickBooks Online features that freelancers love, and how they are using QuickBooks to run their businesses.
1. Bank syncing
One of the biggest reasons people avoid doing their bookkeeping is because it’s tedious. Going line by line through bank statements and putting that information into a spreadsheet or ledger is a giant time suck. It’s also 100% unnecessary.
QuickBooks Online connects directly to your bank accounts and downloads your transactions from the bank into the program. It also downloads key information like the date of the transaction, the amount, and the bank description.
That means all you have to do is assign a category via a handy dropdown box and tell QuickBooks who you paid, or who paid you. Instead of typing in a bunch of information and numbers, you just have to type in the payee and select a category from a drop-down. Done!
Plus, QuickBooks Online is smart. It remembers your spending patterns and will begin to categorize and enter a payee for you. You still have to review it and let the system know that it’s correct, but more often than not, it’s a matter of simply pressing Add.
- Meet Ashley, who used QuickBooks Desktop for years and manually entered in her transactions every month—from six bank accounts! Not only was her bookkeeping full of errors (which she was too overwhelmed to fix), but her bookkeeping took her four hours a month! Then, Ashley switched to QuickBooks Online and connected all of her bank accounts to QuickBooks. She went from spending four hours a month on bookkeeping to one and a half, shaving off two and a half hours just through the automatic bank syncing.
2. Digital invoicing and payments
Long ago, I used to do all of my invoicing by hand. I would create a Google Doc, make a table, and enter my billable time. I’d manually add up the lines, export the doc to a PDF, and email my invoice to my client.
Then, I’d move on with my life and forget all about the invoice until I was barely able to pay my bills and realized that Istill hadn’t been paid.
While this method of invoicing may feel familiar, it’s also prone to errors. Adding up the lines wrong. Forgetting to add billable time. Overdue invoices that never get a follow-up, which means they never get paid. These are just some of the pitfalls of manual invoicing.
All versions of QuickBooks Online include digital invoicing. When you make an invoice in QuickBooks, you just enter the product or service you are billing for, the quantity, and the rate. Then the software does ALL the math for you. ALL. THE. MATH.
Then, you press the send button and the software emails a digital invoice to your customer. Not only can your customer view the invoice online, but they can also pay for the invoice online. Real talk: people hate writing checks or even logging into their PayPal account. So when they have a quick and easy way to pay invoices, they do it.
QuickBooks Online also keeps tabs on your overdue, open, and paid invoices. Whenever you log into QuickBooks, you see a summary of the value of your current open and overdue invoices. Click on the chart and you get a list of the open invoices and their due dates.
Oh, and with just one click, you can send an invoice payment reminder to customers. It’s basically impossible for invoices to slip through the cracks in QuickBooks.
- Meet Alejandro, a freelance designer who used to keep track of his invoices by moving paid invoices from one folder to another. The only problem? He often forgot to move the paid invoices, or moved unpaid invoices by mistake. The folders became a mess and he gave up on keeping track of payments. The result was thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices, and no system for keeping track of them. Alejandro was never able to recover payments for the open invoices, but he did switch to QuickBooks Online and started sending digital invoices. Now he reviews his overdue invoices twice a month and sends regular reminders. He hasn’t missed an unpaid invoice since.
Do you ever wish you could send your tax preparer your tax info in, like, five minutes? If so, then get ready to get stoked on Quickbooks Online’s reports. With a click of a button, you can see your financial information broken down by week, month, quarter, year, and any other time frame you can think of.
And, yes, that includes sending your tax person a list of your income and expenses for the tax year.
QuickBooks Online is unparalleled in its reporting features. From a basic Profit & Loss report, to reports that detail your unbilled time and sales by customer, you can answer virtually any financial question about your business through the reports.
Plus, all of the reports are customizable, which means you can drill down into the minutest details of your business…or keep it general. You decide.
- Meet Asher. Asher used to bring a shoebox full of receipts to his tax preparer every year (it’s not just an urban myth people!), and then he would spend hours sorting through tiny scraps of paper, trying to organize it all. Needless to say, his tax person was burnt out. Then Asher started using QuickBooks Online and having all his financial information organized digitally. Instead of a shoebox full of receipts, he brought his tax person a two-page report, and they completed his taxes in record time, earning him a sweet discount.
4. Mobile app
Still can’t bear the thought of sitting down and doing your bookkeeping every week? With the QuickBooks Online app, you don’t have to!
Instead, you can break down your bookkeeping into small, manageable chunks and do it when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, chilling on public transportation, or waiting at the doctor’s office.
You can even use the app to gamify your bookkeeping. Feeling guilty about all those Lyft rides? Make it up to yourself by doing your bookkeeping in the back seat. Want a happy hour drink but all your friends are busy? Bring your bookkeeping with you to the bar. Want to play hooky and spend the day in the park? Do your bookkeeping while lounging on a grassy knoll.
You can perform most of your core bookkeeping functions—like categorizing your income and expenses, creating and sending invoices or estimates, receiving payments on invoices, and running reports—directly in the QuickBooks Online app.
- Meet Alexis, a freelance photographer with a resistance to bookkeeping. Even the QuickBooks Online dashboard was no match for Alexis’ procrastination when it came to bookkeeping. The problem? She was falling behind on her taxes every year. Until she discovered the QuickBooks Online app. Instead of hunkering down every week at her desk, Alexis started doing her bookkeeping on public transportation. Within a few months, all of her bookkeeping was caught up, and it’s stayed that way.
5. Third party apps
If you’re using other software in your business and are worried about having too many things in too many places, fear not! QuickBooks Online has its very own app store, where you can install free and paid apps that integrate QuickBooks Online with other software.
This means that data from other platforms you use, such as Shopify as an example, will be written into QuickBooks Online, saving you from doing the same work twice.
Some of my favorite apps for QuickBooks Online are:
- Square Payments integration
- Shopify integration
- Business Payments (syncs Stripe transactions)
- Tsheets time tracker (imports billable time tracked, which can easily be added to invoices)
- Acuity integration (syncs payments made through Acuity)
- Connect to PayPal (syncs PayPal sales data, including sales tax information)
- Seller Zen (integrates Amazon sales and expense data)
- Gusto (syncs Gusto payroll data and splits out employer payroll taxes)
- Dubsado (syncs Dubsado invoices, customers, and payment details)
- Yearli (imports QuickBooks data to complete and file 1099s)
- Zapier (connect 1,400 + apps to QuickBooks Online)
I could keep going, but I think you get the gist. The best part of integrating your platforms to QuickBooks Online is that you create a central hub for your financial data, and you can stop logging in to five million dashboards.
- Meet Katy, a freelance virtual assistant, and an avid Dubsado user. While Katy loved Dubsado for its advanced invoicing features, the bookkeeping feature wasn’t robust enough for her business. Instead, she used QuickBooks Online for her bookkeeping. But Katy hated having to check Dubsado for new invoice payments when she was doing her bookkeeping in QuickBooks. The constant going back and forth between the two tabs was exhausting! And she had to manually transpose her Dubsado payment information into QuickBooks. Then she discovered the Dubsado to QuickBooks integration, which automatically syncs all of the invoices she creates in Dubsado to QuickBooks, AND syncs full and partial payments. Now Katy just logs into QuickBooks Online and can see all of her financial activity in one place.
QuickBooks Online is a small investment, considering how much easier it will make your bookkeeping, and all the money you’ll save by having your information organized. For as little as $20/month, you could be riding an epic wave to bookkeeping glory, dubbing yourself the Dude of Bookkeeping while you’re at it.
Andi Smiles, small business financial consultant and coach, teaches rad business owners to take control of their finances so they can step into their personal power.
She’s helped hundreds of self-employed folx organize and understand their business finances, while also uncovering their emotional relationship with money. Andi’s core belief is that when business owners are engaged with their finances, their personal awareness around money deepens, creating more sustainable and authentic businesses. She loves helping business owners connect with and feel good about their finances- no matter how many dollars are in their bank account.