Every once in a while we like to take a few minutes to introduce you to ways to make your job easier by using clever software solutions. Your phone or tablet can be just another thing to lug around that you use solely for texting or it can be one of the most powerful tools in your pocket — an all-in-one solution that can perform multiple tasks with ease and efficiency.
We’ve covered a few different areas on our blog throughout 2017. We wanted to get the ball rolling and look at some great apps for creating and delivering invoices to your customers in 2018. Let’s go.
If you are going to start anywhere, you might as well start with the granddaddy of them all: QuickBooks. If you own a small business, you probably use this sucker already, there’s a reason it’s as common as nail salons in a strip mall — it just works.
We are going to talk only about the invoicing features in the QuickBooks Accounting app. Of course, if you use QuickBooks you know that it integrates seamlessly with TurboTax and Mint, and if you are already using QuickBooks but not using their invoicing feature, you’re missing out.
The creation of new invoices couldn’t be any more simple. After setting up your own account with your business name and details, the creation of an invoice is as simple as plugging in your customer’s information and then creating line items. QuickBooks makes the whole process easy by including standard line item categories specific to your type of work. For example, I said that Ryan’s Getter-Done-Boyz was a construction company (we can get anything done) and so QuickBooks automatically includes products and services that are common in the sector: installation, labor, material, service, etc. If they don’t have the product and service you want, you can add your own simply by clicking the (+) sign in the app. I had to add the service “Taking Care of Business” so that I could include that as a line item for my customers. Once this is done, the invoice can be saved and then sent immediately to your customer. I sent Joe Schmoe his $500 bill for all the taking care of business I did for him last week.
Once your customer pays you, tracking the remaining balance (if there is one) is easy as well. The invoices created via QuickBooks can be customized for your company and they are clean and professional. Simply put, QuickBooks makes invoice creation a snap.
QuickBooks comes with a 30-day free trial and after that, they charge a monthly fee. Paying for multiple months at a time can help you save money and occasionally you can find promotional prices to help with the monthly cost. QuickBooks Accounting can be found in both Google and Apple’s app store and downloaded for free.
FreshBooks is another leader in the invoice app market. They certainly do more than just invoicing, they boast their product as a great all-around financial tool to add to your arsenal, but in terms of go-to products when it comes to easy invoicing, FreshBooks ranks right up there. In giving the app a test drive, it proved to be straightforward and offered a few little goodies that could set it apart from the others.
Once again, the Getter-Done-Boyz were hard at work getting stuff done — it’s what we do best — and it came time to bill our customer. Time spent from downloading the app to sending an invoice was about five minutes — incredibly simple. Not only that, FreshBooks makes it quite clear during the process where I can set required deposit amounts (either as a dollar amount or as a percentage of the total) as well as payment options (formatted the same way as the deposit). While other apps offer this time of customized option, I found that FreshBooks brought the most clarity to the process — the option was virtually unavoidable.
Overall, the look and feel of the app is great — there’s very little clutter or unnecessary junk that you have to maneuver around. The customization of your invoices is a bit more complicated than it is with other apps but that isn’t to say it cannot be done — it will just require a bit more work on your end whereas other apps allow you to quickly scroll through options and choose the one that is best for you.
The downside of FreshBooks will undoubtedly be its cost — it isn’t free and it’s not necessarily cheap. However, our experience and the outstanding reviews online would suggest that FreshBooks is worth the cost and will save you quite a bit of time and help automate your billing process.
As mentioned, FreshBooks is only free for a 30 day trial period. Once this period ends you will have to choose from three different monthly plans ranging in cost from $14.99 for use with five clients to $49.99 for use with five hundred clients. We suggest checking it out for the trial and seeing if its value makes sense for you. FreshBooks can be downloaded in the Apple and Android App Stores.
Zoho Invoice & Time Tracking
We like things that look nice. We don’t always deserve them, but we like them. As attractive as QuickBooks and Freshbooks are to use, Zoho has created an app that gives them both a run for their money — it is both easy to use and well-designed.
Zoho has apparently decided that its users would rather have multiple apps that offer specific capabilities rather than one app that does everything. I, for one, appreciate this approach. Instead of having to navigate through multiple menus within an app, I can simply turn to Zoho’s Invoice & Time Tracking app when that is what I want to do. Besides this, what sets Zoho apart for me is their design sensibility — both the app interface and the template options for your customizable invoices are sharp looking with a creative yet professional feel.
In terms of usability, the app is pretty slick and straightforward. Just like QuickBooks, creating an invoice is a simple process that merely requires you to fill in the necessary information. Itemization isn’t quite as seamless as QuickBooks — preset categories aren’t present here — but it’s simple enough: just fill in the work that has been done.
Just like QuickBooks, you can email the invoice directly to your customer but, and this is a plus, unlike QuickBooks you have the capability to export to the invoice to a PDF and print it straight from your mobile device — an element of the app that will certainly be appreciated by both you and your customer — after all, we always seem to run out of ink at the worst times, right?
Bottom line: Zoho is beautiful in its simplicity. It gets the job done with little to distract you or complicate the process.
Zoho Invoice & Time Tracking is a free app in both the Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Using it with no more than five customers is free but to use it with a larger customer base will cost anywhere from $9/month for 50 customers to $29/month for unlimited customers.
Invoice Maker by Billldu
One of the clear leaders in the invoicing app world is Billdu. Their website boasts that they have over 50,000 subscribers and, to be honest, I can see why. When fiddling around with their iPad app, creating invoices for the often imitated but never repeated Getter-Done-Boyz, I found their product to be about as clean and clear as they come. There’s a reason they are near the top of the mountain — they’re that good.
We’re only three apps into our invoicing app dive and you realize pretty quickly that it is the little things that set one app apart from the others. Sometimes these differences are big and obvious — the app crashes or isn’t very user-friendly — other times the differences are subtle — the design makes sense, the app is ridiculously adaptable across different fields, etc. Invoice Maker sets itself apart in the small things: its invoice templates are attractive, it is highly customizable, and an added bonus is it offers users the ability to know exactly when a customer views the invoice — thus allowing you to call their bluff when they say they didn’t receive it! (Not really, right?)
A quick test of the app proved its value — in about three minutes I opened the app, inputted the Getter-Done-Boyz information, charged my client, Neil Diamond, $1000 for one unit of Taking Care of Business, and I was done. The invoice was prepped and could be sent off via email to Neil in all his sequined glory.
All of this comes in an attractive app that also allows you to track other basics for your business — expenses, outstanding account payable, client lists, and more. All of this and more is why Billdu is one of the leaders in the field and why it boasts such incredible reviews from its users.
Invoice Maker from Billdu is free to download. After a free trial you will need to pay a monthly subscription fee ranging from $1.25/month for one user and 24 clients to $11.66/month for ten different users and the freedom to create an unlimited number of invoices.
It’s free. Need I say more? Ok, I’ll say a bit more.
Invoicely has a business model that is a bit different than the rest, they aren’t trying to make money via the invoicing side of things, they are aiming to make it through other add-ons that will benefit your business. BUT, the great thing about this for you is that IF you just want to use their web-based app to roll out your invoices, it won’t cost you a thing and you’ll get a highly customizable, slick-looking, and easy to use invoicing app that will give you what you want. Best part: with Invoicely you can send an unlimited number of invoices to your customers without paying a dime.
In terms of the nuts and bolts, when running a few examples for the Getter-Done-Boyz, we found that billing Kenny Rogers $1000 for the Taking Care of Business that we did for him was a snap. From signing up for the service to filling out Kenny’s info and shipping his invoice off to him via email (with the PDF attached), I was only out about eight minutes — all in. Once you are set up, of course, the process is much quicker and if you have recurring customers, Invoicely will save all their information to make the next invoice that much easier.
The invoice options from Invoicely are not plentiful, but the options they offer are attractive and professional so no worries there. On the basic free play they are somewhat customizable but if you want to get real crazy with customization you will need to pay.
I mentioned before that Invoicely is not an app purchased in an app store but is a web-based app. This means that Invoicely assigns you a custom URL — yourbusiness.invoicely.com — and you can access your information from any platform. Creating an app icon on your home screen is as simple as saving the webpage to your desktop on your mobile. Once you do this, the Invoicely icon will appear on your home screen just like all of your other apps and you won’t know the difference from this point forward.
As mentioned earlier, Invoicely is free when you only use their basic invoicing service. To customize, add users, and more beyond invoice creation and distribution, you will have to pay for a monthly subscription. However, if you simply want to use it as your go-to for invoicing, it is free. Just be sure to “SKIP” the page that has you choose a plan so that you can make use of the free offerings.
So what does this all mean? It means that there is a great supply of invoicing apps to help you make some of your back-office processing that much easier. In the five apps we reviewed, we found that each had a few features that set it apart from the others. The result is that there really is something for everyone — when does that happen?!? Here’s the bottom line: there is a ready supply of great apps that will make this part of your job easier. Get back to doing what you love — selling customers and delivering great results.