Accounting software can help your clients thrive—if it's right for them. Here's how to know if FreshBooks is the answer.
For the right business owner, FreshBooks is transformative, helping them understand their business better and elevating you to a trusted partner with your client.
The FreshBooks platform has 2 primary benefits: First, it’s built to be intuitive enough for a business owner to complete day-to-day bookkeeping tasks easily and accurately. Second, it’s robust enough to satisfy the reporting and tax requirements for most small businesses.
But it’s not for everyone. Businesses with complex inventory management needs, for example, may need a different solution.
So, how can you decide which business owners will thrive with FreshBooks and which won’t? Here are some questions to ask.
1. What’s the Size of Their Business?
Growing small businesses have the most to gain from FreshBooks. “Small” might mean a self-employed individual with no employees, a sole proprietor with contractors, or a small team of full-time or part-time employees. In some cases, even businesses with 50 or more employees have found FreshBooks works for them.
The platform is particularly suited to business owners looking to grow—whether that means adding more employees or bringing in more revenue. Freelancers can dip a toe in with a plan that includes 5 clients per month and the ability to track expenses, accept payments, and run simple reports.
As they progress, they can move up to more comprehensive plans with unlimited clients, automated billing and invoicing, and advanced reports.
That focus on small businesses is what prompted accountant Rebecca Kittel to get FreshBooks certified. “I really like that it’s focused on the same type of person I enjoy working with—small business owners, solopreneurs, and creative individuals.”
2. Do They Have a Service-Based Business?
FreshBooks is well-suited to businesses that provide services to clients—whether that’s short-term jobs or longer-term projects. Businesses like this include plumbers, tree removal companies, or career coaches providing a one-and-done service, as well as marketing agencies, general contractors, and other businesses that work on ongoing or long-term client projects.
Less ideal are businesses with lots of physical inventory or operational assets, such as machinery.
Some of the many industries that these FreshBooks users fall into include:
- Trades and home services
- Marketing and creatives
- Development and IT
- Legal and consulting services
- Health and wellness
- Professional services
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it gives you an idea of a typical FreshBooks user.
Best Features for Service-Based Businesses
For businesses with billable clients, FreshBooks offers anything-but-basic accounting features that come standard with all FreshBooks plans except the Lite starter plan. For example, unlimited invoicing, unlimited expenses, time tracking, and project profitability tools.
As they grow, business owners can add even more powerful invoicing and double-entry accounting features, like recurring invoices, recurring billing, client retainers, mobile mileage tracking, advanced reports, and customizable chart of accounts.
Here’s a quick roundup of accounting features in FreshBooks that are perfect for small service-based businesses:
- Estimates and proposals
- Professional invoices
- Online payments
- Expense-tracking and categorization
- Flat-rate and hourly-rate projects
- Operational and financial reports
Other bookkeeping software is built to serve big enterprises that need a lot of bells and whistles. [For] small businesses…it’s too overwhelming.
3. Do They Struggle With Accounting?
You likely have one (or many) clients who struggle with tasks like tracking expenses, categorizing business expenses properly, keeping on top of billable hours, and understanding their business finances.
Most accounting software is too complicated for the average small business owner. FreshBooks is different. It’s designed to be painless for business owners use for their business tasks, even for those “non-numbers” people. And yet, still provides powerful features for accountants to support their clients’ reporting, tax, and advisory needs.
Kate Josephine Johnson is a bookkeeper who specializes in FreshBooks customers specifically because it’s a great fit for solo entrepreneurs and small business owners. “Other bookkeeping software is built to serve big enterprises that need a lot of bells and whistles. When small businesses try to implement those bells and whistles, it’s too overwhelming.”
Megan Justice, EA, has found that “clients who don’t do their accounting, a lot of times don’t do it because they’re intimidated by the software.”
No accounting experience is required to set it up or use the features in FreshBooks. And the user-friendly interface is built atop a powerful, industry-standard double-entry accounting engine.
What this means is that clients who previously weren’t able to handle pre-accounting tasks (or were doing it haphazardly or poorly) using other accounting software options can successfully manage day-to-day bookkeeping tasks like invoicing and payments, creating proposals, team time tracking, project profitability, and payroll in FreshBooks.
For you, having clients successfully take on some of the pre-accounting workflow can pay off in big ways. Here are a few:
- Less avoidance of necessary day-to-day tasks on the part of your clients since it’s not intimidating for them
- Empowers your clients to take part in their business finances
- Gives your clients the foundational knowledge they need so you can work with them in a higher-value advisory capacity
As a bonus, FreshBooks offers responsive, personalized support for business owners (as well as dedicated Partner Specialist support for FreshBooks Certified Partners). This means you can spend less time troubleshooting and fielding client questions.
4. Do They Need Easier Workflows?
Who doesn’t? But small business owners in particular need friction-free processes to build good habits around bookkeeping.
FreshBooks integrates with more than 100 apps that small business owners use to manage customers, manage teams, book appointments, nurture customers, run payroll, and more.
When your client can connect their account data with apps they already use, it reduces the friction of switching accounting software. It saves time for your clients. too. For example, if they work on an hourly rate and track time, they can use the FreshBooks Chrome extension to pull their hours into FreshBooks from any tool they use across the web or automatically record minutes in Zoom meetings as billable hours.
If your clients use the Square POS, they can automatically import transaction data into FreshBooks. And e-commerce businesses can connect with a Magento integration to automatically import orders as invoices and import payment fees as business expenses.
Instead of paying me to do data entry, [my clients] are paying me to actually do what I’m good at doing.
5. Do They Need Your Expertise (Beyond Just Bookkeeping)?
Sure, your clients may need you to clean up their expenses, do a bank reconciliation, or run financial reports.
But that’s not where you can provide the most value. What small business owners really need—even if they don’t know it—is longer-term financial insight and guidance from an accounting professional.
When you can offer those higher-level services, it results in deeper client relationships that are more valuable for you and for your clients.
But when you’re spending all your time on your clients’ accounting admin, it’s hard to get to a place where you can advise and consult.
When business owners use a no-nonsense accounting software that they can understand, they can take on some of the administrative burden. Now, you can focus on your areas of expertise with your clients, build stronger relationships with them, and maybe increase your prices, too.
“Our goal is to put most of our service-based business, Schedule C clients on FreshBooks because it’s something they can manage on their own,” says CPA and firm owner Nicole Davis. For example, with one client, Nicole’s firm takes on reports and tax returns while the client takes care of 100% of the bookkeeping in FreshBooks.
“Estimates and time tracking and getting the bill out the door are all very easy to understand,” says Megan Justice, “So my clients aren’t relying on me to do the work, but to be a kind of coach instead. Instead of paying me to do data entry, they’re paying me to actually do what I’m good at doing.”
What’s more, when your client is comfortable working in the same platform with you, there’s a seamless workflow. You have immediate access and insight into their data and real-time financial reports so you’re always on the same page and it’s even easier to give them valuable financial guidance.
The customer service is fantastic. Anytime I have a query, someone is always on hand.
6. Do They Need 1:1 Support?
Most small business owners are not accounting experts. The upside is that if they were, they wouldn’t need you. The downside? You can spend all your billable hours explaining the basics of accounting to them and helping them figure out their accounting software.
Choosing an accounting software with excellent customer service for your clients takes the pressure off of you. FreshBooks is known for its highly responsive, 1:1 real-human phone and email support.
“That’s something I liked about FreshBooks from the very beginning,” says FreshBooks’ customer and software digital compliance specialist Samantha Simms. “I work with a lot of software companies. That customer care is not something that you often see in the software business.”
“When I called and talked to FreshBooks, reaching someone right away who was knowledgeable was very comforting to me,” says glass services professional Heidi Smith. “FreshBooks’ support people have been really helpful in finding solutions to help me do what I was trying to accomplish.”
1:1 Support Is for Accountants, Too
The same philosophy around customer support for business owners extends to accounting professionals, too. It’s steeped in FreshBooks’ 4E Philosophy: Execute extraordinary experiences every day.
FreshBooks-certified members of the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program have a dedicated account manager (called a Partner Consultant) to reach out to when they need it. Plus, Partner Support Specialists with accounting expertise provide email support as well as video calls.
What Business Owners Say
If the answer to the questions posed here is yes, FreshBooks is probably a fit for your client. The advantages for a small business owner boil down to these points:
- It’s easy to use and understand
- I know how my business is doing at a glance
- I’m saving time on invoicing, expenses, and chasing down payments
- I’m more organized
- My accountant is happier with me 🤩
But don’t take it from me. Hear from some of our customers instead:
It Saves Me Time and Money
“Invoicing that used to take many, many hours (2 full days, at least) is now down to about half a day.” –Shannon Eddings, owner of Shannon Eddings Interiors
“I wanted something far more user-friendly [than QuickBooks], and that’s why I chose FreshBooks. It made sense visually. It wasn’t intimidating.” –Alexis Carreiro, communications consultant and coach
It Gives Me Better Insight Into My Business
“FreshBooks has the best user interface, in my opinion. I enjoy the automated report section. It’s one click, and I can get a pretty good understanding of where I’m at.” –Michael Landry, owner of marketing agency The Influence Agency
“We did a lot to compare software features, and I think just hands down FreshBooks was the most approachable; it gave us the most visibility on our business and allowed us to do a lot on the scalable side.” –Erik Ibarra, owner of health tech business ORDRS
“The peace of mind I get from seeing the profitability of every project right in front of me is just something you can’t put a price tag on.” –Zachary Martz, owner of marketing agency zamartz
It Makes Me Look Good
“Customers make so many positive comments about estimates [in] the FreshBooks platform. It really stands out. I think having FreshBooks makes us look even more professional.” –Marc Harbourne-Bessant, owner of F.B. & Sons, Lawns & Lanscapes
“Anybody that I talk to that has a business, if they don’t have an accounting background, I tell them FreshBooks is the thing. I love it.” –Jennifer Snyder, Certified Professional Organizer
Written by Laura Crean, ACA, Senior Partner Program and Education Specialist, FreshBooks
Posted on September 8, 2023