It may not be the best part of being a freelancer, but accounting and invoice template management is an essential part of running your own business.
Tracking expenses and revenue, keeping on top of cash flow, preparing for tax time, and of course invoicing and getting paid are all key to a successful freelance business. And you want to spend as little time as possible doing all that, so it’s worth looking for a solution other than your own spreadsheets and an annual panic at tax time.
Xero is a solution that helps small businesses through its cloud-based accounting software. But it may not be ideal for your freelance business, so it’s good to know there are other options.
In our list, you’ll learn about 10 great options to use instead of Xero, helping you tackle the important work of managing your accounting and finances.
Bonsai has an integrated suite of products made specifically for freelancers, including an impressive financial system and a tracker for 1099 expenses. Its invoicing tool is connected to proposals and contracts, making it easy to ask for payment, and customize the settings to allow partial payments, lock files until payment is made, and more, and it’s connected to several different payment systems.
An accounting tax assistant allows you to track expenses, including the ability to import expenses from your credit cards or bank. It will help you find tax deductions automatically, give you profit and loss reporting, provide quarterly estimated tax and annual filing reminders, and allow access by your accountant to make tax time easy. It's the perfect app to track receipts for taxes.
With the ability to work in 180 different currencies, your freelance business can be truly international. More than 200,000 freelancers and agencies have trusted Bonsai to date - are you ready to sign up for a free trial?
QuickBooks by Intuit is a great Xero alternative as it offers the same functionality, including the ability to download information from your credit cards and bank accounts. With the connection to your accounts, you’ll be able to track income and expenses and easily view profit and loss numbers. You can use your phone to take pictures of receipts to add to your expense tracking. Send invoices, know when they’re viewed and paid, and have the ability to do payroll as your business expands. QuickBooks offers added functionality too, like time tracking, sales tax tracking, inventory management and more.
FreshBooks is a cloud-based system for small businesses that offers an all-in-one invoicing and accounting solution. Its invoicing system includes the ability to customize, send reminders and offer a variety of online payment alternatives. Time tracking and expense tracking, project views, estimates and reports are all part of this robust system. FreshBooks is good for solo freelancers or teams, and will also prepare you for tax time with all its bookkeeping and accounting tools.
Wave is an accounting software designed specifically for small business, making it a good choice for freelancers. It has everything you need for accounting: track income and expenses; scan receipts from your phone to make it easy to stay on top of expenses; customize and send invoices; accept online credit card and bank payments; add payroll capacity for employees or contractors, including tax calculations; and generate reports to stay on top of the progress of your business. Wave’s pricing system is a bit unique, too. Accounting, invoicing and tracking receipts is free. Payments are on a per-use basis, and the payroll service has a monthly base fee and cost per employee or contractor.
Zoho Books provides an online accounting software and the ability to add apps for other functions, such as a CRM or a Bookings app. In the accounting system, you can create estimates and convert them to invoices, send payment reminders and give your clients easy payment options. You can connect your bank to track transactions and be ready when tax season arrives. You can also do time tracking and create invoices from within projects. And then there are over 50 business reports including a custom dashboard, and the ability to schedule reports and email them to you and your team if you work with one. Filter the data to generate the reports that work for you.
ZipBooks is another system that provides online invoicing and accounting services. For free, you get limited functionality, including online invoicing, the ability to accept digital payments from PayPal or Square, connect to one bank account, and receive basic reporting. You can add features with subscription plans that will provide capacity for tracking time, sending recurring invoices, automated reminders, connection to multiple accounts and the ability to add team members. The final level has greater reporting capacity, categorization of accounts, organization of books in a variety of ways, and the ability to securely share documents. It all depends what your freelance business needs, and you can scale when needed.
It may seem like it’s more suited to a larger business, but Odoo still has the financial tools you need to run your freelance business. It’s basically a suite of apps from which you choose depending on what you need for your business. On the financial side, there’s an invoicing app, an accounting app, an expenses app and more. You get the idea. You build the system you need and scale it as you require. Add a CRM, build a website, do planning and book appointments. You decide what you need and what you don’t need.
Sage Intacct bills itself as a leading accounting software for any size of business. The core accounting and financial services track accounts payable and receivable, cash management and more. Use it as a tool for planning and budgeting, automating revenue and billing processes, and even generating industry-specific dashboards that provide details on financial and operational performance. For freelancers, the industry would likely be “professional services,” which includes digital marketing, IT services, consulting and more.
Invoiced is - you guessed it - an invoicing system with added functionality. It’s an accounts receivable system built in the cloud, and intended for businesses with a lot of customers. The pricing reflects that, with the entry plan intended for up to 100 clients and 5 users within your business. Using it, you can offer your customers AutoPay, payment plans, subscription billing, and a customer portal to make it easy for them to interact with you - and make it easier for you to get paid. A simple payment platform makes it easy to get paid online too, speeding up the payment process and keeping it simple for clients.
NetSuite by Oracle is a full-service system that includes ecommerce, along with Enterprise Resource Planning tools with financials, CRM, and more. A good choice for a freelance business that has employees or is looking to scale, the accounting software includes a Planning and Budgeting tool, with financial planning tools including modeling capabilities, and integration with Microsoft Office tools such as Outlook, Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Financial Management includes billing, revenue recognition and insight into the financial performance of your business, from a consolidated level down to individual transactions.
Do you want to get started with Bonsai, the best Xero alternative? You can sign up for a free trial - no strings attached - and explore the powers of Bonsai to transform how you run your freelance business.
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?