Choosing any new tool to assist you with running your business is no easy feat, especially when the internet is full of potential software solutions and ‘must have’ apps, promising to make your life easier.
This is especially true when it comes to choosing an invoicing solution. It only takes a quick visit to Google and you’ve got hundreds of options available at your fingertips. But with all that noise, it can often be difficult to strip out the gems from the gremlins.
There are so many options out there that it can be hard to know where to start. Whether you’re making the switch from an existing invoicing platform, upgrading from an Excel spreadsheet, or choosing your very first bookkeeping companion, there are some fundamental features that every freelancer, contractor and small business owner will want and need.
With that in mind, we’ve put our heads together and come up with what we believe to be the top 5 considerations when choosing an invoicing platform:
1. What do I actually need from a solution?
9 times out of 10, every small business owner needs the same thing – the ability to create and send invoices and log expenses quickly.
As simple as it sounds, this isn’t an easy thing to find. The online market is full of solutions that claim to be straightforward, but once you get set-up and finally pop the hood, they often turn out to be quite the opposite.
That’s why it’s important to find a solution that’s easy to use and doesn’t take a Ph.D. in accounting to understand. You should be able to hit the ground running (time is precious after all) and find a platform that’s ready to go out-of-the-box, so you can start invoicing straight away and get your cash flow moving.
2. Can I have visibility on my current financial position?
It’s important that you have an up-to-date view of what’s coming in and out of your business, without having to check your bank balance and offset it with your outstanding invoices every 5 minutes. This is especially true when you consider that more than a third of UK startups fail because of late payments or cash flow issues.
You should be able to quickly see what you’ve been paid, what invoices are outstanding and if there are any overdue payments, to help you head off any potential problems with cash flow.
On average, small businesses spend 1.2 days a month chasing late payments. But it shouldn’t be a hassle to chase due and overdue invoices and to keep on-top of late payers. You should be able to set up automated reminders to do the chasing for you, while you concentrate on other things, like running your business.
Having an easy and efficient process for chasing payments is even more of a ‘must have’ when you consider that a third of all payments to small businesses are late, with the average delay being around 6 weeks!
3. Can an invoicing platform save me time and money?
Time is precious, especially when you’re a freelancer or a small business owner with a bottomless to do list.
So why waste valuable time filling out a paper-based ledger, manually creating invoices in Excel and sending them through email, or battling with your existing feature inflated and overly complicated accounting platform? Surely there should be a better solution out there.
You should be able to quickly create an invoice, send it to a client and set up a reminder to check if it’s been paid, and it shouldn’t cost you the earth to do it.
More than half of small business owners spend in excess of 41 hours per year working on their accounts, with 40% spending over 80 hours. Now, we don’t know about you, but we can think of much better ways to spend that time on your business!
Consider your budget and make sure you’re only paying for the things that you’ll use, and not a million things you won’t. A bookkeeping platform should be simple, easy to use and give you access to the things you actually need, without the complicated fluff.
Ultimately, you want value for money with no hidden charges.
4. How and when do I do most of my bookkeeping?
As a freelancer, contractor or small business owner, you need a solution that works when you do. Whether that’s in the office or on the go, your bookkeeping system should be accessible anywhere, on any device, at any time.
So if you’re sat on a train headed to an important meeting or catching up on some quality time with the family, you need a solution that fits around your business and home life, and that’s ready to go when you are.
5. Who else needs access to my books and can I easily share and collaborate with them?
As a small business owner, you might not be the only person who has a hand in running your business. Whether you have a small team who all chip in and help out, or you have someone who’s responsible for managing your accounts, you should be able to share access to your invoices and expenses and collaborate across your whole team.
Regardless of whether you’re a freelancer, a contractor or a small business, it’s important that you’re able to quickly and easily provide your accountant with all of the information they need to manage your ongoing account submissions.
In summary, an invoicing solution should:
- Give you the features you need, be easy to use and quick to set-up
- Allow you to quickly see your businesses financial position at any time
- Meet your budget, and save you time and money
- Give you the freedom to access your accounts wherever you are, on any device
- Allow you to collaborate with multiple team members, as well as your accountant