( jur - nay - sic ) Entrepreneur / Software Engineer
Harvest vs. FreshBooks

Harvest vs. FreshBooks

There are three things that a solopreneur needs to do: tracking time spent on projects, invoicing clients, and tracking expenses. There are plenty of ways to accomplish these. But if you want to accomplish them as quickly and easily as possible, I put forth these two excellent cloud accounting solutions: Harvest and FreshBooks.

Harvest Vs FreshBooks

I have been freelancing part time since I graduated from college. Being part time imposed restrictions on the tools I used that were costly. In contrast, the expense of such tools put restrictions on my efficiency. It didn’t take long for me to realize that manually creating invoices in Word and tracking expenses for taxes in Excel were imposing on the growth of my business. I went on the hunt for a better solution and quickly came upon FreshBooks.

Recently I outgrew the FreshBooks free plan. Before paying for the service monthly I went looking to see what else was available. That’s when I gave a serious look into Harvest.

Similarities

The two are competing companies. They are shooting for the same audience, and as such they have very similar offerings:

  • Free accounts (functional, though limited)
  • Time tracking and timesheet approval
  • Project budgeting
  • Invoicing
  • Expense tracking
  • Saving pictures of receipts
  • Extensive 3rd-party integration
  • Both increase in rate at about $10/user

They both cover the basics very well, and that made it hard to choose between the two.

Differences

If you need more, then the difference really becomes more apparent. Here are the important things I found to be different.

Harvest FreshBooks
FREE PLANS
Number of clients 4 1
Allowed projects 2 Unlimited
PAID PLANS
Cost for access to all feature $12.00 $19.95
Allowed clients Unlimited 25 (lowest level)
Freshdesk support Yes No
Apps Desktop / Web / Mobile Web / Mobile
Snail mail invoices No Yes
Has a cute squirrel mascot No Yes

I put who I think the champion of each of item is in bold.

The Winner

If you don’t do a lot of freelancing, the free version on either platform should suffice. As I started adding more clients I needed more than free. I ended up leaving FreshBooks behind and moving over to Harvest, and I am not regretting it.

I love Harvest’s desktop app. It is very intuitive and makes it easy to start and stop my time tracking on projects. Since I don’t really invoice people but use the invoice feature for tracking income from Apple and Google, I really did not have a need for the snail-mail invoicing FreshBooks offers, but it was a feature that I have used in the past and I still think it is pretty cool if you need it.

The biggest thing I originally did not like about Harvest was that the mobile app was seriously old and lacking, but literally a week after I upgraded to a paid plan they released the next version of their iOS app. I have to say it’s pretty good. I have no regrets about switching now.

The Harvest web app is cleaner to use and easier to navigate. I find the time tracking feature to more intuitive than that of FreshBooks’. Still, FreshBooks was a good company to use.

I would suggest trying the free plan on each service and go for a test drive. In the end, neither one is a bad choice. I just think that Harvest is better.

  • Thanks for the breakdown! I am at the beginning stage of this journey and I’m leaning towards Freshbooks. It is disappointing that I do not have the ability to attach the pdf invoice to the email and this is why I’m still reading reviews.

    • Not a bad choice. I had problems uploading PDF’s to Freshbooks. I found that if I printed the PDF as a PDF on my Mac I could upload it, but it would deny PDF’s straight from Verizon. Very annoying.

      I am currently using Freshbooks still for my expense tracking, but I’m not very good about uploading the receipts. I’m probably going to move my expense tracking over to Harvest in the new year.

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