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Online Invoicing & Time Tracking Tools for Small Businesses

Apr 29, 2011

I own a small, but profitable, engineering company.  I make far more money doing engineering than doing books, and have a bookkeeper that takes care of my taxes.  I need a simple application that will help me track my time and do my invoicing.  Do you have any ideas?  Eric R. - Casper

There are a number of online tools available that track time and do invoicing, and many are free, if your business has a very low volume of clients.  FreshBooks is an interesting option that does time tracking and invoicing.  The service is free for up to three clients.  They charge $19.95/month for up to 25 clients.


You can use FreshBooks to track your time and expenses, generate invoices in any currency, send invoices either via e-mail or snail mail, track online collections, and automatically send late payment reminders to your clients.  You even can set-up recurring bills to automatically charge a client’s credit card on a regular basis.  Clients can pay online through a number of different payment gateways and view their own accounts. 


You can email invoices directly from the system or, for clients that prefer a physical invoice, print them and send via snail mail.  For an extra fee, FreshBooks will take care of the mailing chores for you, sending invoices directly to your clients in a window envelope, complete with a return envelope and return voucher.  If you have a client set-up with a recurring charge and are having FreshBooks mail your invoices, the entire process will happen automatically.  You just deposit the checks. 


This application is great for companies who bill time and use subcontractors.  You can set-up a project to include different tasks and different team members to be billed out at different rates.  You can even add outside contractors/subcontractors who can record their time on your project remotely from a smart phone.  You can track your time remotely too.  The system will also create cost estimates that can later be converted into invoices.  FreshBooks can also generate a number of bookkeeping reports.  Of course, for these reports to be accurate, you will have to enter your general business expenses into the system, in addition to project expenses. 


FreshBooks allows your micro business to look like a mega-business to your clients.  You upload your logo, pick your color, and the result is a very professional looking invoice.  FreshBooks has been highly rated by PC Magazine and others, because the program has so many features and connects to so many other applications, including Salesforce, Basecamp, Outright, Typepad, Constant Contact, and Peachtree.  The program will import client data from any source that can export in CSV format.   


FreshBooks is not a full-blown accounting program, such as QuickBooks or Peachtree.  Personally, I would not want to be without the checkwriting and posting abilities of that software.  Also, a one-time purchase of an accounting program is probably less expensive in the long run than paying a monthly fee.  But, if simplicity and convenience are your most important parameters, and the only accounting functions you require are invoicing and time tracking, this application fits the bill.  If you don’t need the time tracking component, other programs such as Zoho, Citrus, and Invoices Made Easy are less expensive.   Each of  these products offers a free tour and trial, so experiment to see what application will best meet your needs.  To find additional online business applications, check-out the directory on The Small Business Web,

Category: Web/Tech

Cindy Unger

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Posted by lipika on is one of the best tool.. Simple to use with a good interface.It provides many features : Manage expenses, manage leads , accounting , PDF's files , Payment reminders and so on...
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