If you’re a business consultant, you’re a problem solver, relationship manager, project juggler, big-picture expert, truth-teller and savvy communicator.
You need a direct line of sight to your triumphs and challenges, tools that help you keep your productivity on point. You also need a place to collaborate with your clients so everyone is on the same page and a system that gets you paid swiftly and efficiently.
Sure, there are apps for all of the above, but do you have the time to bounce around between “time-saving” technology? (We’re going to go out on a limb and guess that’s a no.)
Believe it or not, the answer to a lot of your accounting, productivity and collaboration challenges may reside in one simple solution: cloud accounting. Whether you work on contract with one big client at a time or manage multiple projects at once, you need software that can keep up with your wide and varied workload.
If you’re considering accounting solutions, here’s why cloud accounting should be at the top of your list.
In your line of work, time literally is money. Accurately recording every billable moment is critical. With a time-tracker built right in, cloud accounting ensures you never miss a dollar. Simply start a timer—on your computer or mobile device—and work your magic. When you’re done, you’ll have an accurate time log which you can pull onto an invoice in a few quick clicks.
The Time Tracking feature is a great big-picture tool too. When you record exactly how you’re spending your time, you’ll spark some business insights of your own, including which clients you want to work with more—and which ones you could stand to let go.
You can’t provide killer business advice without developing a keen understanding of how a client’s enterprise works. This requires collaboration. Some cloud accounting software allows you to invite employees or contractors to collaborate, manage and share information, files and updates.
You can even track your own team’s hours so you know exactly how much time sub-contractors are spending on project work. And when it’s time to invoice, you’ve got everything you need.
It’s not unusual for a prospective client to want to see what your services will cost before they consider engaging you. With cloud accounting, creating a professional-looking estimate can be done in just a few clicks. Even better: when that smart prospect becomes a customer, their information is already in the system so time tracking and invoicing is quick and easy.
Forget about Ye Olde Shoebox or spreadsheet: cloud accounting offers a digital solution to managing your expenses so tax time is a breeze.
All you do is enter your expenses and your cloud accounting software will digitally store and automatically organize them for you. You’ll know at a glance what you’re spending and how profitable you are, without the headache of crumpled papers cluttering up your desk.
Perhaps no small business owner can appreciate a good reporting feature more than the business consultant. You want at-a-glance access to important data like your business’s profit/loss. Reports features allows you to dig deep into all the ins and outs of your business so you know where to focus and what to tweak.
When you have access to important information about your business at your fingertips, you can make smart, big picture business decisions. Plus, all your numbers will be in one place–from the money you’ve collected to the taxes you’ve already paid and everything in between.
FreshBooks’ research indicates that you’ll get paid 11 days faster when you accept credit cards online. While many of your clients may issue a check or direct deposit by default, there’s a good chance they’d appreciate the efficiency associated with paying online, straight from a link in an invoice.
Most cloud accounting platforms allow your clients to pay by PayPal, Stripe, credit or debit card, bank transfers and e-checks. And since you’re being paid through your cloud accounting platform, it’s easy to keep track of who’s paid and when. No need to manually file earnings anywhere.
The efficiency expert in you will recognize this small-business challenge: Most entrepreneurs put off doing basic accounting tasks until they “have time” aka “are sitting at their desks and face no other pressing priorities”. When does that happen, exactly? It’s tough to block off time to send invoices and estimates, manage expenses and review accounting reports.
Cloud accounting makes it easier for you to take care of your accounting in small increments. All you need is your laptop, tablet or phone and you have all your accounting information and functions at your fingertips.
Send an invoice from the car the second a project wraps up. File an expense while waiting for a conference call to start. Take look at who owes you money anytime the thought strikes you. Simply log in wherever you are. Cloud accounting makes invoicing and expense-management a series of small tasks you can manage instead of one huge task.
It’s an awkward and time-consuming task to keep track of who’s paid when—and follow up with tardy clients with a tactfully worded email or phone call.
Cloud accounting with FreshBooks takes this unpleasant chore off your plate with the Payment Reminder feature.
You can set up incremental payment reminders into your accounting software so an email is automatically sent to clients who miss your payment terms. It’s a professional way to track your payments and send a clear message.
As a business consultant, you may work on retainer for some of your clients, which makes sending invoices a little like Groundhog Day each week or month.
Remove that small task with a recurring invoice feature that automatically sends out invoices for you. You can even set up an auto-billing function that automatically (and securely) charges your clients’ credit card in seconds.
Many small business owners have already discovered the many benefits of streamlining common business activities by using an accounting solution that helps them manage their financials and get paid faster. No consulting required.