Meet Teresa, a Freelancer Who Uses Time Tracking to Help Effectively Measure Her Productivity and Determine Her Rates
June 4, 2018
Teresa Ruiz Decker, owner of TRD Communications, shares how FreshBooks has been a game changer when it comes to tracking her time.
Teresa may have only started freelancing full-time in 2017, but the road to becoming a business owner was a long one. For five years, she planned her journey—reading books about entrepreneurship, listening to podcasts and accepting small freelance projects for practice.
It wasn’t until she lost her job in the summer of 2017 that she realized this was her chance. So she started TRD Communications, where she provides digital marketing and freelance writing for nonprofit and social good organizations.
“I really think a lot of these organizations deserve good communications,” she says, explaining why she chose to cater to such a niche client. “They don’t have the staff that they could hire full-time, but they can hire someone like me for specific projects to give them a lot of impact.”
Luckily, all of her careful planning in becoming a full-time business owner paid off when it came to managing her accounting—an area many small business owners neglect early on.
Calculated Business Moves Meets Early Success
Learning from the podcasts she consumed, Teresa identified that in order to look like a “real business owner” to her clients, she needed to ensure everything behind the scenes was functioning effectively.
That meant she needed to find a way to send invoices and keep track of her business’ health in a way that wouldn’t be time-consuming.
“The podcasts mentioned how investing in cloud accounting was really important,” Teresa explains, but she admits, “I really didn’t want to spend the money on another tool. But I told myself I’d just look into it.”
The Search for a Tool to Master Organization, But Not Break the Bank
Since she had already taken on small projects before becoming a full-time freelancer, Teresa kept a mental checklist of what she wanted in a cloud accounting tool:
- Ability to easily track income
- Keep track of time
- Overall nice user experience
So she tried a couple of accounting platforms. FreshBooks (which she heard of from a podcast) and Wave, a similar tool.
“I signed up for the free trial,” Teresa says. And after carefully testing each one, she found the winner: FreshBooks.
“I think it’s the best stuff out there for people at my level. I don’t think that free is always necessarily better.”
How FreshBooks Makes Running a Small Freelance Business a Breeze
After using FreshBooks to help manage her business early on, Teresa saw a lot of success in finding and keeping clients—a result of better organization and time management.
“I feel like I’m polished, know what I’m doing and have the systems in place,” she explains. “It does help me get clients and stand out from other people who might be bidding on the same work. When you have tools in place as an entrepreneur, it puts you in a different caliber compared to the competition.”
A Key Contributor to Success: Time Tracking
For many, time tracking may seem counter-productive. But Teresa found tracking her time as a huge advantage.
“If I’m using an hourly rate and quoting people, I want to know how much time the work actually took,” she says. “It helps me understand if I’m bidding right. Am I being accurate in saying how long it actually takes me to work on something? I won’t know it unless I’m keeping track of time.”
In addition to helping determine her rates, Teresa says time tracking in FreshBooks has given her the ability to measure her focused work.
“Keeping track of that is really important for me. I do need to understand how much work I’m really putting into these projects.”
Why Cloud Accounting? Teresa’s Advice to New Business Owners
For many business owners who just start out, forking over the money for a tool can seem unrealistic. However, Teresa encourages other freelancers to reconsider.
“I think when you first start out and you’re so small, you think is a new tool worth it?” she empathizes. “Everything adds up in terms of what it costs to run your business. But I found that it’s really important that you do invest in these things. If these are tasks that you’re going to be doing every single day, you need to make it easier on yourself and actually help you get work done faster.”
So she sees cloud accounting as just one of those tools—and it’s done wonders for her business in its first year.
“Without FreshBooks, I certainly wouldn’t have had a clear picture of what I am bringing in every month,” she says. “You can spend 3 hours on invoicing or get cloud accounting and save time on that. That way you’re actually saving money because you focus on doing the work that will make you money and help you build relationships.”