What I Use to Run my Business

The challenge of working as a freelance designer is having to wear multiple hats. In addition to sweating out the details on the creative end, I also have to manage my business. That means creating estimates, writing proposals, submitting invoices, and managing operating expenses. In the past, I’ve cobbled together a system using MS Word and Excel. As my business has grown, I came to realize that a piece meal approach wasn’t enough.

So I started fresh.

Specifically Freshbooks.

I’ve been aware of Freshbooks for several years now, thanks to its sponsorship on podcasts I listen to (“Upgrade” and “Lore”, to plug a few).

I decided to make the leap because I have many more clients to juggle than I did before. More clients is always great, but the business side of things was draining me. More and more of my time was being spent on less enjoyable tasks like: Did the client pay? Did they see my invoice? Did I remember to note down that business lunch in my spreadsheet? as opposed to doing the fun stuff, which is the creative work.

I’ve been using Freshbooks since January 1st of this year. It’s everything I expected it to be (and more). With an intuitive interface that works across all devices (desktop, mobile, tablet), I was up and running within minutes. Freshbook’s built-in invoicing templates are clean and neat. When an invoice is sent to a client, I can see when it was viewed. Now I no longer have to guess whether the client received the invoice. For repeat clients, I can automate invoicing on a frequency of my choice. Freshbooks can send out reminders and even track payment, if you link it to your bank account. For a small fee, Freshbooks even lets you accept credit card payments.

Estimates and proposals can also be created within Freshbooks. I found this very easy to do. Once a proposal has been sent, Freshbooks will let you know when the client has viewed it.

Another area where Freshbook shines is in showing the big picture. My favorite feature is the Dashboard, where I can see outstanding client bills and track my business related expenses. Expenses can be categorized to see where most of your money is going. (Side note: For tracking expenses, my recommendation is to use one credit card specifically for the business.) Freshbooks lets you link your business credit card and bank account for real-time profit / loss tracking.

Freshbooks handles everything I need, whether it’s writing proposals and estimates, invoicing, or tracking payment and expenses. It can also compute things like sales tax and VAT, should you need those features. There is also a time-tracking feature that I haven’t used yet.

Freshbooks can be paid for on a monthly basis or on an annual basis. If you’re not sure whether it’s right for you, the company also lets new users try the service for free for 30 days. I saw the value in Freshbooks after using it for only one day. Depending on your needs, there are three different pricing tiers. For my business, I chose the $25/month tier. I was able to save some money by paying for the whole year upfront.

The best things about Freshbooks is that everything business related is all in one place. I can spend more time doing my creative work and less time on the business side. And that makes the service valuable to me. Give it a try and see if it’s right for you.


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  • Ben RosenthalReply
    January 27, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    What do you mean track payments when linked to a bank account. Do you mean expenses?

    • KrishnaReply
      January 27, 2018 at 9:21 pm

      I should have clarified. That should read as “client payments”.

      • Ben RosenthalReply
        January 28, 2018 at 2:39 am

        That’s what I thought you meant. How do you set that up? I haven’t discovered that feature.

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