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.
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.
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
- 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.
If you need more, then the difference really becomes more apparent. Here are the important things I found to be different.
|Number of clients||4||1|
|Cost for access to all feature||$12.00||$19.95|
|Allowed clients||Unlimited||25 (lowest level)|
|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.
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.
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.