One of the key components of a freelance business is time tracking. Without accurate time tracking, you might face difficulties when drafting your invoice templates.
There are several reasons you would want to track your time. Some examples include:
In these and other instances, time tracking is how you measure productivity, look for ways to improve your time spent working (time blocking can help a ton), and create invoices based on work. Even if you weren’t a freelancer, time tracking systems are becoming the norm for all kinds of businesses.
Since time tracking is such an important part of your operation, how do you best track and report? Using a timesheet, which is a method for recording the amount of time you spend on each job.
Timesheets used to be a manual record on actual sheets of paper, but now timesheets are usually prepared and reported digitally. Timesheets can record the start and end time of specific tasks, record project milestones, or simply record the entire duration of a piece of work. Information recorded on timesheets can be translated into payroll, client billing, or be used for project management tracking, time estimation, and cost estimation.
As freelance blogger Megan Elliott states, “Figuring out what is a timesheet and how to use and interpret it is a great step in learning how to manage your time properly. It can also help you better understand where your time (and thus where your money) is going, so you can make smarter business decisions and better manage your budget.”
Bonsai can provide more information on timesheets.
Knowing how important they are, what can you use as a timesheet? With a bit of effort, you can build yourself a timesheet in Microsoft Excel to serve your needs. How to make a timesheet in Excel? Let’s look at that and some of the key components you will need to figure out, as well as other options for you to use for time tracking.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with Excel and the amount of data and cells and formulas that can be tracked in it. Making a timesheet in Excel can start with a simple number of values. This won’t fit everyone’s needs but it will get you used to using Excel and including the features important to a basic timesheet. We’ll look at tracking hours for one workweek, which can then be used each week, or even be adapted to handle biweekly or monthly tracking.
The example we’ll use will have only two basic Excel formulas. Start by defining the information you need to have on your timesheet. Let’s assume it’s only for yourself, and not for any employees or contractors you may have working for you. Time really is a business metric, so it’s important that you get comfortable with the concept of tracking it.
First, open a workbook in Excel. Typically you would add a field for your name, and a field for the time period the timesheet will cover (a five-day work week in our example).
Then build a week using the rows, in our example using dates. Across the columns, you can create values several ways, depending on your work, such as by morning or afternoon work or by task. In our example, we have used two clients.
In this simple example, you then have two values to create formulas for – total work per day and total work per week.
To calculate the hours worked in a day, go to the total hours cell at the end of the first workday (last column, which is D7) and insert =SUM(B7+C7). Once you have typed in all the hours in each column, the total day’s work hours will be added up in the final column. Then cut and paste this formula into each cell at the end of each column, changing the row number to correspond correctly.
Now we’ll add another formula to calculate the entire workweek.
To do this, you go to the bottom of the column where each day’s total is displayed (in this example, D12), and insert =SUM(D7:D11). This will add up the values in column D that fall between rows 7 and 11.
You are now able to tell how much total work you do in a day, and your total work for a week. You can add sums to create work per client, which you can then use for billing. Remember that time spent on a task is not the only expense to include when billing a customer. As you get more comfortable with Excel, you can add more detail to the tracking.
If you’re finding you aren’t spending enough time doing actual work, Bonsai has some help with ways to manage your time as a freelancer.
If this sounds like a lot of effort, stress and calculations, there are other options available to you. Not everyone is savvy with Excel, with spreadsheets and building formulas.
As you are managing all the aspects of your business, maybe it would be better for you to spend your time completing proposals, finding jobs and writing – or whatever the format of your freelance business. Maybe it’s better to do the stuff you love to do, the stuff you get paid to do, rather than spend it building spreadsheets, tracking your time manually and figuring out your freelance invoices based on those spreadsheets.
Luckily, there’s an option available to you with Bonsai, which has a freelance time tracking tool that would make your life a lot easier.
With Bonsai, you can:
This time tracker solution can be fully integrated with your workflow and is available for desktop and mobile devices on web, macOS and iOS operating systems. By integrating with your workflow, I mean it brings together work on proposals, contracts and invoices, making your work seamless. In this way, you focus on the work you love, and leave it to Bonsai to handle the “back office” work that isn’t very enjoyable. After all, over 100,000 freelancers are using Bonsai. With products and resources to support your business, you can’t go wrong.
So while you can learn how to build a timesheet in Excel, you can also look to a professional system to support your work. If you’re ready to use Bonsai’s integrated time tracking solution, sign up for a free trial today.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?