by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 21 June 2012
At some point of time, all of us have been there.
We take on too many projects and too much work. The result is that we find ourselves confused and distracted. For freelancers, such frenzy can be especially debilitating since inefficiency and confusion can result in serious revenue loss.
This week we will review FreeAgent - an accounting application that makes time-and revenue-management easy for freelancers. We will look at its features, interface, and see how it can be of use to you.
In its introductory video, FreeAgent promises to free you from "spreadsheet hell." It does this by providing an intuitive, uncomplicated method of managing accounts that allows the user to take full control of their business's finances.
By using FreeAgent, you have a real-time view of how your business is performing - as well as being able to manage your expenses and invoices, automatically chase payments, import bank statements and explain transactions, submit estimates/proposals, manage your expenses and view your real-time cash flow. It's a substantial toolbox that makes it easier and less stressful for small businesses and freelancers to stay on top of their finances and know how profitable their business is.
In its simplest sense FreeAgent is a business bookkeeping and accounting application that allows you to manage your clients, projects, time and expenses, while keeping on top of your business's financial position at all times.
After registering for FreeAgent, you're asked to provide overview information such as accounting dates, bank account information, and your opening balance. Once this is complete, you can then start entering all of your projects and contacts, generate invoices, enter estimates, or enter additional bank account information individually or associate them with a project.
However, FreeAgent's strongest benefits are to be found in its accounting features. It enables you to see where your money is coming from, how much you owe and generate a real-time profit and loss statement for your business. You can manage your expenses and invoices, automatically chase payments, upload bank statements and collaborate with your accountant all within the app.
It looks great. The interface is simple and the homepage consists of an overview page, which displays a snapshot of all the important information you need to know about your business - such as cash flow, payment timelines, and profit and loss for the current year. You can also prioritise this information to make sure you're seeing the things that are most important to your own business.
I especially like that the global horizontal panel is categorized based on essential tasks - Work, Bills, My Money, Banking and Accounting. From this panel, you can navigate to individual menus, which provide additional details (and sub-menus) for each task.
The biggest positive about FreeAgent is that it provides the right level of detail for project management and accounting. As someone who freelances quite a bit, I was pleased that the system was intuitive enough for me to start working on it immediately. It meant that, FreeAgent became a facilitator to my work, instead of being an add-on and an extra chore. In addition, it is also conveniently split into individual and project modules - so I can generate multiple invoices or estimates that need not necessarily be associated with a project. This is especially helpful to track multiple bid projects. FreeAgent also has an extensive support community and videos, there is a support team to help with any questions and also regular webinars which is another big plus for users.
That said, its tax features seem to be targeted specifically at users in the UK. Although FreeAgent offers a Universal option for international customers, this does not include any tax forecasting or filing capabilities - so it might be an idea to develop these features for other countries in the future.
This one's a winner all the way! FreeAgent has a simple no-nonsense standard price, and this strategy seems to be a stroke of genius because it takes into account their target audience's fluctuating work fortunes. As a freelancer, it is important for me to budget a standard price for expenses, since that enables me to set a standard price for my services.
FreeAgent also has a great referral program in place. If you're referred by another user, you get a ten percent discount when you use the service. If you then encourage new users to use the system, you'll get another ten percent off your subscription fees for each successful referral. In the end, it might turn out that FreeAgent pays you to use their service
I have already signed up for the service and intend to convert to a paid customer soon. Enough said!