Freelancers, solo-preneurs and entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs – they all have one thing in common, and that is accounting. When you work in a traditional environment or offer your services on a local scale, accounting isn’t an issue. You can simply hire an accountant or an accounting company that solves everything. But what happens when you work remotely, on an international scale? Well, things change. Accounting changes. Not mastering it can severely affect your business, your sales and your clients.
Accounting Tools: Limitations and Issues to Be Addressed
Among common issues for freelancers and online entrepreneurs, is that of a limited functionality in the case of most accounting tools. Especially when it comes to Paypal integration, and to be noted, Paypal is one of the world’s most used online payment system, with “more than 160 million active accounts on a global scale”, according to MarketWatch.com. With the recent growth of stock market value of Paypal stocks, we are also looking at a growth in active accounts, and more likely, active business accounts.
On another note, stats estimates show that 1 in 2 people will work remotely, either as freelancers or agencies, according to the Global Online Employment report done by freelancing pioneer Elance last year (source here).
Another limitation is the number of projects you can run per account, and the invoicing system. Most accounting tools offer just standard basic options, where you can keep track of payments, but the invoicing is done separately. And the number of projects (clients) you can track is also limited independent of the membership or plan type. It’s not just a timely expense, but we’re also looking at a slow inefficient billing system, which later on can alter the Sales process.
Another issue is the branding. Some accounting solutions are so basic, they don’t offer white label options or logo options. For your clients, it might seem misleading or even unprofessional to see that your company logo or personal brand logo doesn’t fit the logo on the invoice. Uploading or adding it manually again costs time and slows down the billing process. This might not affect you when you have just a handful of clients, but what happens when your sales explode and you need to manually add your business logo on 100 different invoices?
A simple calculation of 5 minutes spent on average with manual logo addition to an invoice reveals that for 100 clients, you spend 5 x 100 = 500 minutes. This means 8 hrs 33 minutes. More than 1 working day of one of your employees. Should you pay your employee with, let’s say $ 25/hr on average, it’s more than $ 212 USD wasted. For every 100 clients.
SSL encryption is another big limitation with online accounting tools. As we all know, security is a big issue and data leaks are happening everywhere. Least you want is to have your billing details exposed to attacks or publicly leaked. An SSL certificate can at least offer protection, if not a guarantee for safety of data and transaction history. The thing is, freelancers love their privacy – that’s no news, and once they receive a form of protection, especially related to finances, they will jump in to take it.
An example is how by providing a payment protection in the early days, Elance.com became the most loved freelancing platform, used by both freelancers and small companies looking to expand their client list. The thing that differentiated them from other platforms was the escrow payment guarantee and protection systems, both for hourly and fixed price.
Later on, other platforms adapted the strategy, but in its days, Elance was the first one to offer both forms of protection. oDesk used to offer hourly payment guarantee, while VWorker offered a fixed price protection.
Last, but not least, the winning spot in terms of accounting tool limitations goes to… UX and UI. Really, some tools just need to become more user-friendly, even if accounting isn’t made to be user friendly in the first place. User experience and user interface are important factors in the popularity of a tool and not even QuickBooks managed to convince us freelancers.
Due.com: A New Accounting Solution
Among the first things that Due.com stands out for is related to design and user experience. The Dashboard is organized in such a way that everything feels organized and has its own designated tab. It’s highly important for accounting reports to have a logic, and you can definitely get that. All important elements have color-tracking icons which makes it easier to map your own work progress. The design is intuitive so the user knows where everything is, from settings to project reports, invoices and client work.
Simple time tracking allows the user to save time and not get frustrated with 3rd party apps to log in hours per each project. Every project, client and task can have its own dedicated number of hours. The timer also comes with a widget, if you prefer taking a look at your “digital watch” to measure your productivity. Also noted, there is a bunch of cool invoice templates white labeled, which allows you to add your own logo.
Due.com also acts as a business and management tool. The dashboard will show the latest info about current clients, ongoing tasks, overdue ones, total tax to be invoiced and so on. The reporting is easily accessible from the dashboard. Users can export reports with tasks, project overview and even print timestamps with the breakdown of time spent per client.
Everything comes with a calendar summary that automatically generates tasks and invoices that are overdue. And every performance is graphed, with the possibility of having trends indicated from your outbound invoices, task and projects. Ideal for management and improvement of work flow and financial circuit. A mobile app will soon be available.
Due.com presents itself as an accounting solution for small and medium enterprises, combining design with functionality. Both a business tool and a management tool, it can generate reports and graphs that are crucial in identifying KPIs in the business eco-system. Reports can be printed, exported and customized for every client and project.
Might just be the next best thing, accounting wise for all type of costs, not just financial!