Auckland-based Web Digital uses FreshBooks to manage invoices and tax time reporting—and to stand out from the competition with professional proposals.
Ahmed Omer had been employed in the IT and web design field for nearly a decade—working for brands such as Nokia Siemens Networks in Melbourne, Australia, and Spark in Auckland, New Zealand—when he decided that it was time for a change.
Originally from Pakistan, he’d already made his first major move a year earlier, relocating from Melbourne to Auckland, attracted by New Zealand’s business-friendly environment and work-life balance. Now, it was time for his second big move: starting Web Digital, a company specializing in website design, development and online marketing for small to medium-sized businesses.
“I wanted to build a career that wasn’t dependent on a 9-to-5 job, become financially stable, create my own brand, and control my destiny,” he explains.
That was 8 years ago. Now, Web Digital employs 4 people and has created websites for businesses and events such as Auckland-based chain Peak Pilates, Prestige Supply, and the African Film Festival.
Since the beginning, Ahmed has been relying on FreshBooks for his accounting needs. We spoke with Ahmed to learn more about how FreshBooks allows him to focus on his business and win over prospective clients.
After switching over to FreshBooks, my whole invoicing process became automatic, and I was able to focus more on my billable work.
Why did you choose FreshBooks for your accounting software?
Ahmed: When you start a business, you have to start thinking about having the software for accounting. I looked at Xero, QuickBooks, and FreshBooks. But I liked FreshBooks. It was very innovative and it had only 1 pricing plan at the time, which included everything—like an unlimited number of users and clients. Xero had 4 plans and QuickBooks had 4 or 5 plans. It was very confusing. I found that FreshBooks was very simple.
From that time, 8 years ago, I’m still using it and it’s improving every year. I have no plans to change it.
You’ve been with FreshBooks for almost a decade! What improvements have you seen since you started using it?
Ahmed: When I first signed on, FreshBooks didn’t have connections to New Zealand banks for expense syncing. Now I can do that, no problem.
They’re listening to me. In fact, there are a few features which I requested maybe in 2015. FreshBooks emailed me when they were added in 2019. So, it means they took it very seriously.
I had some problems with a payment gateway—at the time, FreshBooks only had Stripe—and I asked them to include PayPal. Now, PayPal is included. So, the support is very good.
How does FreshBooks support you as a business owner in your day-to-day?
Ahmed: Before using FreshBooks, I would make invoices on a Word doc and send to customers via emails. It was a manual process and required a lot of work. Every week, I would spend at least 5 to 6 hours on accounting. It was too time-consuming. After switching over to FreshBooks, the whole process became automatic, and I was able to focus more on my billable work.
The process of sending out invoices with FreshBooks is incredible. It’s very easy to set up an invoice. I can easily itemize all billable tasks and charge my clients. Once an invoice is sent, I can track all outstanding payments and set-up an automatic reminder for late payments.
We also use it for expenses and for sending proposals. I’ve given access to my accountant as well as my teammates. My accountant has got all the reports, so we can read the sales tax reports. FreshBooks also has reports for GST.
I love hearing that invoicing is much easier for you! What benefits have you seen for your clients?
Ahmed: One of the best features FreshBooks has is the option of making payment on the invoice through credit card. It became very easy for customers to make payments instantly without having to access their bank accounts.
Another feature that helped me to win more customers is the ability to send proposals for new projects. I absolutely noticed a difference in the customer experience. My proposal acceptance rate increased as customers started to trust my business more than my competitors.
It’s good software. I’ve even suggested to several other businesses in New Zealand to go for FreshBooks.
about the author
Jessica Wynne Lockhart is an award-winning journalist and fact-checker, who splits her time between Canada and Australia. She has bylines in the Toronto Star, Chatelaine, and The New Zealand Herald. She writes about e-commerce, personal finance, health, and travel. Learn more about her work at jesslockhart.com.