Raj Ghatalia, Founder of Creara shares why easier invoicing with FreshBooks has saved him hours of time each week and supercharged his business growth.
Industry: Branding & Design
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Bogged down by tedious and prehistoric ways of invoicing
FreshBooks Invoicing and Time Tracking
Raj Ghatalia’s business growth has come on his own terms. As a designer and branding expert based out of the heart of Toronto, Canada, his business Creará is a mostly digital design agency with clients stretched across different industries with various project scopes. He’s been able to accomplish this without leaving his remote setup from the comfort of his own home.
Raj’s business is one that focuses on “all kinds of design”, as he puts it, and he has just moved into a new apartment, successfully turning a second bedroom into a fully functional office space. Now that he’s fully remote and adapted his space, he’s feeling confident about the new workflows and convenience.
Raj Ghatalia has always had a knack for aesthetics and design, but his background in business has bolstered his ambitions and understanding of business growth. “After getting my MA in Business at The University of Toronto, I was able to take my creative and branding acumen and couple that with a very solid business and marketing understanding”, said Raj. “It gave me both sides of the coin and ultimately a way to work with my clients more comprehensively, to build out and package the things that I could do for them.”
We sat down with Raj to understand more about how he successfully scaled his agency by relying on this acumen and with the added help of FreshBooks, and what his aspirations are for his business’ future.
How would you describe your business?
Raj: I started my career working in marketing, and I had decided that I wanted to try being a graphic designer on a freelance or consulting basis. I ended up really enjoying it, and I didn’t realize how much I could actually enjoy my work and I just kind of got this entrepreneurial spirit that led me to run with it. I registered a business and, so many years later, I turned it into something pretty good. I focus on everything from visual branding and brand guidelines to websites and business cards and Deck templates.
How did you first learn about FreshBooks?
Raj: I guess you could say I’ve been pretty computer savvy my whole life, but initially I tried to do everything with a hardcore Excel sheet. Eventually, I realized it was just too time-consuming and too costly to take away from my billable hours. In looking for a better solution, I came across FreshBooks pretty early in my career and have been with FreshBooks for a long time now.
Initially, as I was starting and first getting all these smaller projects, there was a great need to keep track of all the billing and stay timely and diligent.
How has FreshBooks aided your understanding of your own business growth?
Raj: Like I said, I wanted to be able to focus my time and hours on being a better designer and building my clientele, not the ins and outs of accounting and invoicing. FreshBooks was perfect for me because it was so accessible, because of the pricing and three levels. I’ve been using FreshBooks since very early in my career and it’s been a huge help.
It’s a lot at that stage for me to worry about how to create an invoice, how to send it out, and how to keep track of it all. At this point, I actually consult my own clients to use FreshBooks based on what it has done for me.
What FreshBooks features have been most useful in your day-to-day business?
Raj: Invoicing and being able to template and send over invoices very quickly is massive for me. The idea that once I Invoiced, everything was tracked, stored, and organized under a specific client and project was so convenient.
There are also smaller features like pressing a button for snail mail which I don’t use that often but when I do, it makes a huge difference. Think about the time saved if I were to actually have to go to a post office and mail the invoice or information requested to a client! Now, at the push of a button, I can have snail mail sent over easily.
I absolutely noticed a difference in the marketing and customer experience value of FreshBooks. It made me look a bit more polished and bigger than I probably was.
What does that added boost in efficiency do for your business?
Raj: For me, the killer was all the little mini tasks along the way with accounting – figuring out how to lay things out and format them, attaching and emailing the PDF to the right contact. With all those things being done at the click of a button now, it’s probably saved me 30 minutes each time in my process which is an investment back into my own time and billable hours.
Did you notice any change in comments or general impressions from clients after implementing and using FreshBooks?
Raj: Since early on, I absolutely noticed a difference in the marketing and customer experience value of FreshBooks. With the invoices looking as good as they do and being sent out as timely as they were, it made me look a bit more polished and bigger than I probably was.
That is an incredible leg-up for a one-man show or an entrepreneur looking to impress and compete with clients who are attracted to the services of bigger agencies. I think it helps provide a more trusting experience for the client and they feel better about what they’re investing in once they see how put together you are.
If someone is looking for designers, they are often looking for multiple designers. So, if one designer is using a quick and dirty Excel sheet to give quotes or estimates that’s one thing, but if I’m sending in my FreshBooks proposal which has a broken-down estimate and much better presentation, it puts you at an advantage.
How do you and your business plan to evolve and grow in the future with FreshBooks?
Raj: While I heavily lean on Invoices and Projects in FreshBooks, I don’t use enough of the Expenses feature, or the estimate system. I’ve been meaning to sit down and read through your content on those things to get myself caught up and comfortable to see where I can add value in those other aspects of my business. I’m definitely looking forward to it.
What would you tell business owners about using a system like FreshBooks?
Raj: FreshBooks is the most modern and efficient way there is to keep track of your own money and projects as a business owner. While there might be an upfront cost depending on what you’re looking to achieve, it’s a very efficient and accessible tool. I don’t know of another tool where you can quickly invoice and accept payment directly in the app itself, and keep track of your projects and clients. I couldn’t recommend it enough.