Lisa Munro, founder of Merida Collective Writing Project describes her experience managing her business on simple cloud accounting.
Lisa longed for a career that would literally take her places, but knew she wouldn’t be able to do so if she worked for somebody else.
So in 2015, she started her own business, Merida Collective Writing Project, where she provides writing, editing, coaching and remote writing retreats for academics.
“I refer to writing retreats as opportunities to ‘get more writing done with less shame and more joy,’” Lisa explains. But while she was a natural with words and a champion in community-building, there was one thing she had to quickly get accustomed to: Entrepreneurship
Learning Entrepreneurship Is Not Easy
“I’m an academic historian by training,” she says. “Unfortunately, learning how to handle entrepreneurship is not a part of a PhD program. So all of a sudden I thought, ‘well this is a whole new world.’”
For Lisa, what started out as a series of writing projects for one friend, quickly flourished into a full-blown business. Before she knew it, Lisa was hit with the responsibility to keep track of all her new clients and the work they brought in. So to keep track of it all, she turned to spreadsheets.
“I was trying to invoice people, keep track of my invoices and send receipts all from an Excel spreadsheet and it was a huge mess,” she recalls. What’s more, she ran her business across a number of different tools—like time tracking on Toggl and payments through Google Wallet, PayPal and Square’s Cash App.
“Accounting was so not on my radar,” Lisa admits. “I thought I could just do what I liked and that was my business.”
Accounting: Is There Even a Better Way?
Lisa turned to a group of peers for advice. “We had a group discussion about how to run your business better,” she explains. “We all felt we were good at the technical stuff, but we were all lost in the admin work.”
That’s when she learned about cloud accounting. Understanding that she was at the end of her rope and needed a way to manage her business faster and better, Lisa experimented with a number of different cloud accounting solutions, based on recommendations from her peers.
“For a while I was managing FreshBooks, QuickBooks and my Excel spreadsheet to find out which one worked the best,” she explains. “It was definitely always FreshBooks because it was always significantly easier to use. One of the things that stood out to me as I was researching, was that a lot of people said FreshBooks is great if you have a really small business or if you’re freelancing. That’s what won me over.”
A Night and Day Experience: Managing Business Better on FreshBooks
As a new FreshBooks customer, Lisa immediately noticed an improvement in how she manages her business day-to-day.
“I’ve just been with FreshBooks for a little while, but it’s already so much easier for me to manage basic stuff like invoicing,” she says. “For example, in my Excel sheet I wasn’t tracking my invoices very well. So I’m happy I now have something that automatically generates things like an invoice number for me. The automation is really helpful and I don’t have to think about it.”
And when it comes to time tracking, Lisa says it’s been a lifesaver, giving her the ability to accurately measure her rates against time.
“I do a lot of hourly work so it’s really helpful for me,” she explains. “What I really like is being able to plug in time entries and generate an invoice from that. I don’t even have to do any of the math—this is sorcery; this is magic!”
Why Pay for Cloud Accounting When Excel Is Free?
At first, Lisa said she was both skeptical and scared to move her business to the cloud, even after she made the final decision to do so.
“For the first couple of weeks, I continued to track on Excel because I was like ‘what if this doesn’t work?’” she says. “But FreshBooks has been completely reliable.”
Lisa admits she was hesitant at first to pay for a service that she could easily do on a spreadsheet. She quickly realized, however, that not investing in the proper solutions was actually costing her business more.
“My thing was why would I pay for this thing that I could take care of on an Excel spreadsheet?” she says. “Even if you think you’re being really good at managing your business, you can’t really keep up with that. It’s just not sustainable. There’s just a point where you do some serious adulting and buy some accounting software.”