Bonsai: The Best Independent Contractor App To Help Run Your Freelance Business

12

Min Read

Maria Malyk

Independent contractors, freelancers, and other self-employed workers have unique business needs, challenges, and "headaches" in comparison to people who work for others. As such, they need an easy-to-use, affordable digital tool that is designed specifically for them.

The Bonsai all-in-one independent contractor app has helped hundreds of thousands of self-employed entrepreneurs simplify and streamline administrative, financial, and customer relations tasks necessary for being in business. If you are self-employed and looking to save time and optimize your workflow, read on to see how the Bonsai digital tool-kit of integrated templates, tax tracker for deductions, and accounting features could be the solution that takes your business to the next level.

Note: If you need help managing invoices, taxes, or payments as a freelancer, we can help. In fact, try a 14 day free trial of our all in one product suite and see for yourself why 1099 contractors love us.

Freelancers Do It All

Unlike traditional employees who work for someone else's company that comes with its own rules and expectations, independent contractors are responsible for building their own business infrastructure -- in terms of the finances, the customer relations, the product output, the legal compliance, etc. -- often all by themselves.

Furthermore, unlike W-2 employees who have their taxes automatically withheld from each paycheck, self-employed (1099) workers are responsible for calculating and setting aside their tax payments to the IRS -- and making sure they are filed/paid on-schedule and in full.

Self-Employed Workers Could Use Some Help

Doing independent business is liberating but tough -- especially when all the organizational tasks, as well as professional labor, falls on the freelancer's own shoulders. Which can be disorienting, exhausting, and, ultimately counter-productive: how can one focus on delivering the highest quality product/service to one's clients, if one's time and mental bandwidth are stretched too thin among all those responsibilities?

In short: many modern independent workers are overwhelmed with the demands of being both, their own employer and employee, as those roles can snowball into two separate full-time jobs.

The independent workers who aren't as overwhelmed typically have help.

Ideally, that help would come from a small army of specialized human assistants that manage various facets of the business -- but how many freelancers have that kind of budget??

Luckily, we live in modern times when help also comes in the form of software and apps designed to alleviate certain aspects of the job -- the best of which is the Bonsai all-in-one product suite (available as software for computers and an app for mobile devices).

Why Independent Contractors Need Customer Relationship Management / Accounting Software

It's tempting to think that one person can "do it all", but for their business to be successful and sustainable for years to come, the independent entrepreneur needs to work smarter, not harder. And that means automating processes that lend themselves to automation, utilizing templates for customer outreach/business forms, and employing digital bookkeeping and tax filing tools to handle the bulk of number-crunching necessary for running a business.

Independent Contractor Challenges

Running one's own small business, even if it's a one-person operation, is not an easy or simple feat, and certain challenges and struggles happen only in the world of independent contractors.

Soliciting Clients

Regular W-2 employees don't have to worry about bringing customers to the business they work for (unless that's specifically their job). Self-employed workers, on the other hand, are responsible for finding -- and "hooking" -- their own clients, which is an ever-challenging and time-consuming part of running a business.  

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The notion of "customer relationship management" refers to principles, practices, guidelines, strategies, tools, and technologies a business adopts vis-à-vis its customers. Any successful business needs a well-streamlined customer relationship management toolkit/system that allows the freelancer to easily reach out to clients with project pitches, price quotes, contracts, invoices, and other communications.

Task/Time Management

When self-employed and juggling different projects from multiple clients, keeping track of how much time one spends working on which job is definitely a challenge -- one that cannot be left unchecked but requires a management system to keep things from unraveling into chaos.

Independent contractors have a tendency to underestimate the amount of time they put into a project when invoicing clients for payment, when they guess at (as opposed to track) the number of their billable hours.

Let's face it: independent workers and creatives have been known to undervalue their time and downplay their labor. This is why it is crucial for the self-employed to keep track of the time they spend working with objective tools: smart technology that registers and reports billable hours in real-time, in real numbers (and without low-balling oneself!)

Bookkeeping/Accounting/Tax-Filing

Independent contractors are notoriously not great at income and expense tracking, setting (and keeping to) budgets, keeping track of bureaucratic deadlines, filing 1099 taxes correctly and on time, and other bookkeeping and financial management practices.

Independent contractors find it particularly difficult to keep and organize all the receipts for business expenses -- after all, their focus is on delivering excellence to each and every client they have. Unfortunately, neglecting to keep track of receipts for work-related expense-tracking purposes results in having to pay higher taxes on a higher net income. That's money out of the independent contractor's pocket! The app will automatically know what receipts to keep for taxes and organize them for you.

Who Can Benefit From The Bonsai Software/Mobile App?

Most independent contractors wish they could simply focus on delivering the best goods/services to their clients -- but, in the modern world, if you want to work independently, you are now a small business (and are subject to rules and regulations that apply to being a small business, not to mention the unavoidable business expenses).  

As the result, most independent workers from a wide range of professions would benefit from the help of the Bonsai digital tool suite -- just to name a handful:

  • graphic designers
  • software developers
  • copywriters
  • photographers
  • personal trainers
  • truck drivers
  • dog walkers
  • real estate agents
  • social media influencers
  • consultants of every type

The Bonsai CRM/accounting software is designed for 1099 workers (i.e. independent trade/profession/business entities providing services to the general public) -- therefore the majority of self-employed workers will be at home with Bonsai.

Note: Listen, if you are a freelancer, Bonsai can make your life a LOT easier. We can help you store digital receipts for taxes, manage invoices, send proposals...you name it. Try a 14 day free trial on the house and see for yourself.

The Bonsai All-In-One Product Suite: Everything You Need To Run Your Business As An Independent Contractor

In addition to the fact that Bonsai offers the highest-quality product, dedicated customer service, and an accuracy guarantee, its key value lies in providing you with a toolkit designed for you by combining and interweaving features that target each of freelancer "headache" items:

  • templates for frequently-used forms/documents: proposals, contracts, and invoices worded for transactions/conditions applicable to independent contractors
  • organizational features/functions such as task management and time tracking
  • accounting/tax help with reporting income, tracking business expenses (including mileage tracking), sorting/calculating tax deductions, quarterly tax payment estimates, generating expense reports, end-of-the-year tax returns, etc. No need to use an excel template for 1099 expenses.

The Bonsai all-in-one app for independent contractors eliminates the necessity to go back and forth between multiple software solutions -- by providing a unified online cloud-based account where these features can be accessed and used with ease, as well as integrated with each other.

Why Reinvent The Wheel When You Can Use Bonsai Templates?

Independent contractors tend to like to do things their own way (that's why they became independent!) so, they often draft proposals, contracts, and invoices from scratch.

But while that is an admirable work ethic, when it comes to formal documents/paperwork, it really does help to save time and effort with templates.

Document templates are guidelines: they can be used "as is" or, as most professionals prefer, be customized to one's business' unique characteristics/parameters. Their main purpose is to suggest content items that are helpful and to create structure/format for various formal documents in accordance with the latest standards and practices.

So, if you're of those stubborn independent workers who likes things "just so", using Bonsai templates for proposals, contracts, and invoices will not cramp but enhance your style: you are free to adjust them however you need while having the benefit of useful suggestions and basic structure.

Proposals

There's nothing like a neat, crisp business/project proposal to informatively outline the highlights of what you can do for the client!

Bonsai's flexible proposal templates:

  • Can be customized to add your own branding/offerings
  • Let you showcase multiple service package options for each client to choose from (great for upselling)
  • Notify you when your proposal is viewed and allow the client to accept the proposal from any device, any place
  • Add to your image of excellence and professionalism with their sharp, minimalist design

Proposals have been shown to win gigs and improve one's acceptance rate: let the Bonsai proposal templates assist you with this most essential part of your business!

Contracts

Any legal advisor, as well as a well-weathered independent contractor, will agree that written agreements are the legally secure way to go when entering into an exchange of goods/services for money with a client (verbal agreements may serve for some small-stakes transactions, but they are infamously difficult to prove in court!)

This is to say: you need a contract. You can easily compose all the contracts you need using Bonsai's well-vetted freelance contract templates, which:

  • Come in a range of versions, including non-disclosure agreements
  • Let you sign, store, and send the contracts electronically
  • Automatically remind your client that their signature is requested and update you when the contract is signed

When it comes to creating legally binding documents like work contracts, it is difficult to anticipate all the legal clauses and language that usually goes into such materials. Bonsai contract templates are composed by legal professionals, with the most typical and frequent legal caveats and hurdles already anticipated on behalf of the independent contractor.

Invoices

Clear and punctual invoicing is a key component to making money as a freelancer. Invoices make customers feel secure about transactions; they also serve as polite but insistent reminders to the client that it's time to settle the bill.

Bonsai invoice templates:

  • Automate every process from creating the invoice to sending it, to reminding customers to make a payment, to applying late fees for late-payments
  • Allow for a variety of global payment options (e.g. credit card, "automated clearing house" payments, PayPal)
  • Offer advanced/pro features such as partial payments, attachment-locking, etc.

Like all its other templates within the suite, the Bonsai invoicing materials are professional-looking, customizable, and easily shareable with collaborators and customers.

Bonsai Time And Project Management

Working in multiple projects at a time takes discipline and planning if one wants to accurately track the billable hours spent on each job.

The Bonsai task and time-tracking features include:

  • Easy billability -- just set your hourly rate for the job, and Bonsai will take care of invoicing
  • Options to share tasks with collaborators, adding comments for each other and tracking time to see how many hours are yet to be invoiced
  • Availability across all popular online platforms: can be used online as a mobile app, a macOS app, and a Chrome extension

Bonsai Taxes/Accounting Software For Freelancers

Many entrepreneurs will confess that business accounting and tax filing are the most daunting and dreaded chores of running a company.

Having to log income, keep track of expenses, sort and calculate tax deductions, report quarterly estimated taxes, and file tax returns at the end of the year are confusing, frustrating, and, to some people, downright mystifying.

Bonsai Tax accounting software to the rescue! After you answer some basic questions to help it figure out which forms are applicable to your taxpayer status, the app will take over the majority of the tax-related chores, such as:

  • Tracking of your income
  • Tracking your business expenses by auto-importing credit card and bank account data from attached accounts, and by scanning in (with your help) the original receipts that don't exist in digital form
  • Sorting and your expense records into appropriate deductible categories and calculating your tax write-offs (with "actual gas expenses"/mileage tracking for those who qualify for travel cost deductions)
  • Generating profit/loss expense reports to keep you on-budget
  • Calculating quarterly and annual taxes / helping you file them

The Bonsai Tax accounting software is great for 1099 workers across the spectrum of professions, such as:

Pro tip: don't be intimidated by tax law and bureaucracy: it may have a bad reputation as a scary and boring process, but it was created by mere mortals, and you can absolutely wrap your mind around how it works, if you don't let it psych you out psychologically. Instead, try to get excited about it -- it may sound crazy but even the world of taxes can be interesting if you let it!

Once you get past the "dryness" of it, the process of regular tax bookkeeping, as well as the quarterly and end-of-year filings, can become not only "not as dreadful" but rather satisfying. Running a tight ship with one's accounting (budget, receipts, deductions, taxes, etc.) brings not only financial gains but also the priceless spiritual rewards of feeling proud and in control of one's career and business.

And don't forget: with the Bonsai Tax app, you are not on your own! Our accounting software will not only guide you through maintaining your finances and taxes throughout the year, doing the bulk of the tracking, sorting, and calculating on your behalf --  it will also make you more knowledgeable and, hence, comfortable with the whole process.

The Bonsai Solution

As any experienced independent contractor knows (from having learned it the hard way), working smarter means organizing, streamlining, outsourcing, optimizing, and, when possible, integrating the different "pieces of the puzzle" of the workflow.

It is also about maintaining meticulous records -- but being a minimalist about it (e.g. getting rid of paper receipts, invoices and other "hard copy" clutter). Read for yourself some reviews from real customers.

It is also about choosing the best tool for the job.

Bonsai Rules Over Apps For Independent Contractors

The value of processing all your business forms, archives and financial/tax bookkeeping within a singular secure online digital Bonsai platform (which you can access 24 hours a day) is not to be underestimated!

Additionally, versatility matters -- and the Bonsai suite and tax software/mobile apps for independent contractors are:

  • Designed to accommodate the needs of a wide range of independent workers, allowing multiple account-holders to collaborate with each other (price plan includes a basic and an advanced version of the product suite, with a free "Collaborations" and optional "Partners" and "Bonsai Tax" add-ons)
  • Covers the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia (+more) and supports 180 currencies
  • Entirely cloud-based. No need to download software: as long as you have an internet connection to your Mac, Pc, iOS, or Android device, you can access your online account from anywhere, at any time (and you data are safely stored too!)
  • Famously user-friendly (just ask our 250,000+ users!)

At Bonsai, We Put Our Money Where Our Mouth Is

Every freelancer owes it to themselves to research their options and elect the most optimally-suited and priced tool for their company's requirements.

This is why we invite freelancers to try the Bonsai suite + Bonsai Tax software/apps on a free trial basis: it gives them two weeks to acquaint themselves with the interface (available on PC and Mac computers as well as iOS and Android smartphones) and to get a practical sense of whether this set of apps and functions serves their needs.

Give Bonsai a try and watch your workflow really flow!

Maria Malyk
Maria is a freelance copywriter and language translator, with a PhD in sociology of culture and cognition and a background in academic, legal and financial writing. A digital nomad, Maria also keeps a travel blog while working on a guidebook for solo travelers on a budget.

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