Invoicing is an important concern for small business owners and independent contractors. With so many software options for billing, it can be difficult to make a decision regarding what product is best.
Four Invoicing Software Options
QuickBooks: Full Accounting Suite
QuickBooks is a popular comprehensive financial management application designed for small businesses that can also work well for independent contractors. It is an affordable application that allows you to maintain and manage all of your company's financial information including customer and vendor data, bank statements, tax records and invoicing.
- If you want to track payables, receivables and cash flow in a single place, this program is a great choice. It is not the most sophisticated invoicing solution available, but overall provides an outstanding solution for small business bookkeeping and provides billing capabilities sufficient for many businesses.
- If your invoices are fairly straightforward and automated time billing is not essential to you, the invoicing portion of QuickBooks may be adequate for your needs. However, if you need a more sophisticated invoicing resource, but want the benefit of using QuickBooks for your financial management needs, you may want to select a trusted third-party invoicing application that can be integrated with QuickBooks.
QuickBooks is available as standalone programs for both Macintosh and PC systems and in a secure online version.
- QuickBooks for Mac - Designed for Mac users, this program provides comprehensive financial management features. It retails for $229.95.
- QuickBooks for PC - The PC version of QuickBooks is available in both Pro and Premier versions. The Pro version is a comprehensive financial management application that retails for $229.95. The Pro version retails for $399.95 and offers advanced business planning and forecasting tools in addition to all of the Pro features.
- QuickBooks Online - QuickBooks Online provides secure, web-based financial management that comes with automated records backup and on-demand expert assistance. Monthly fees range from $12.95 for the basic version to $39.95 for the full suite of financial services. Each version comes with a free 30 day trial.
Bill.com: Cloud-Based Paperless System
Bill.com offers paperless, secure solutions for managing accounts receivables and accounts payable for small businesses and independent contractors. The program is a cloud-based invoicing solution that features single click synchronization with QuickBooks and other popular accounting and bookkeeping programs. This makes it an outstanding choice for those who want the best of invoicing and the best of bookkeeping.
- One of the truly unique invoicing features of this program is the automated mail feature. As with other online invoicing programs, users can quickly and easily generate invoices to send to customers via email. However, with this program, you can also automate the process of mailing invoices to clients who prefer not to receive invoices electronically. This is a great benefit for business owners who travel frequently and do not always have access to a printer, envelopes or stamps when it is time to send bills to clients.
- The program also allows you to keep up with the customer side of the invoice transaction. When you send invoices via Bil.com, you will be able to see whether or not customers have received or viewed their invoice, as well as if and when payment has been scheduled.
- Customers have an option of paying by check, credit card, PayPal or via electronic funds transfer directly from their bank account. The system will also generate and send automatic payment reminders to customers a few days in advance of the time their payments are due.
Fees vary based on the number of users, with options available for companies of all sizes, ranging from those that will have a single user to enterprise operations.
- Solo - A good option for freelancers and independent contractors, the solo version is priced at $24 per month and allows a single user.
- Team - Priced at $49 per month, this version allows for up to five users.
- Corporate - The corporate version allows up to 15 users and is priced at $99 per month.
- Enterprise - Companies with more than 15 users should contact Bill.com for pricing options.
Transaction fees also apply for mailed invoices and electronic payment transactions.
Zoho Invoice: Ideal for CRM Integration
Zoho Invoice is a powerful web-based invoicing application that can be used independently or integrated with the full Zoho customer relationship management (CRM) suite. It is a low-cost stand-alone invoicing solution, as well as an ideal option for companies that can benefit from having their invoicing tied to a fully functional CRM solution.
- Zoho Invoice is a great option for time-based billing, because the program has built-in time tracking functionality that can be used to create automated invoices based on time tracked online or via the program's mobile application.
- The program also has a variety of built-in invoice templates that you can use to create custom, branded invoices to email to customers as PDF documents.
- You can automate the recurring invoice process and set up automatic payment reminders to be sent to clients.
- Data from Zoho can be imported into QuickBooks using the QuickBooks Web Connector (QWC), which is available from the Intuit Marketplace. Installation instructions are available on Zoho's website.
Monthly fees associated with Zoho Invoice vary from $0 for the free version to $30 per month for the professional version.
- Free version - The free version allows only one user, one project and five customers, so it's not ideal for most companies or individuals who work as independent contractors. It can, however, provide a good way for you to review the program and determine if it's a good option for you.
- Standard version - Priced at $15 per month, the standard version allows you to have up to three users and up to 500 customers. You can set up unlimited projects and can send unlimited estimates.
- Professional version - Priced at $30 per month, this version does not place a limit on the number of customers or users you can have, making it a good choice for companies with more than three employees and/or those with a large number of customers.
If you subscribe for a full year, you will receive 10 months for the price of 12. Fees quoted here are specific to Zoho invoice. Additional charges apply for CRM modules.
Ronin: Simple Solution Focused on Billing
If your primary concern is tracking time for billing, Ronin is a simple, cost-effective solution that may meet your needs.
- This program is designed specifically to be an invoicing application for small businesses and independent contractors. When you use this program, you are able to set up client accounts and projects in a manner that allows employees to easily track their time against specific projects for billing purposes.
- A unique feature of this application is the client dashboard that makes it possible for your customers to log in and view ongoing projects as well as open invoices. This means that a customer can check to see where his or her billing is in real-time to avoid being surprised by the number of hours invoiced when end-of-month billing comes in.
- It is possible to integrate with QuickBooks using the Zapier application.
Pricing options range from a limited free option to an agency package suitable for companies with five or more employees.
- Free - The no-cost version allows for one user and up to two clients. It is not time limited, so if you are an independent contractor who works with only one or two clients, this version may meet your needs.
- Solo - At $15 per month, this package allows for one user, up to 30 clients and up to two contacts per client.
- Team - Priced at $29 per month, this option allows for up to three users, an unlimited number of clients and up to five contacts per client. Additionally, it offers PayPal and Authorize.net payment integration and a custom domain.
- Agency - Priced at $49 per month for up to five users, this version includes all of the features of the team package and also allows for unlimited contacts per client. Additional users may be added for $10 per month each.
Each paid version comes with a free 30-day trial.
Choosing the Best Invoicing Solution
The four options presented here are only a few of the many possible programs you may want to consider. Each was selected because of its popularity among small business owners and to illustrate the different benefits associated with different types of invoicing options.
Selecting the best invoicing application requires understanding your company's needs and choosing a program that matches the way you work and how closely you want your company's invoicing, accounting and customer service systems to be integrated with one another.