Online invoicing for small business has changed the face of financial reporting for growing companies and even self-employed professionals. The best billing software for small business is designed to be light-touch, automating much of the invoicing and accounts payable processes so that small businesses can focus more of their time on doing what they do best – running their business and pleasing their customers.
What is Small Business Invoicing Software?
If you are unsure what online invoicing for small business is and the benefits of even entry-level software, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to read that there are solutions out there that can handle all of the primary bookkeeping and accounting tasks. Manual data entry onto paper or rudimentary spreadsheets is a thing of the past with a small business invoice app.
The benefits of a billing software are two-pronged for small firms. First and foremost, it saves time spent on routine tasks that can be put to good use innovating your goods or services. Secondly, it’s a professional way of ensuring your business accounts are accurate and up to date for tax reporting purposes.
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Common features of Small Business Invoicing Software
There are a growing number of platforms out there, so it can be hard to ascertain the best invoice software for small business owners. Ultimately the best invoice system for small business includes the following six features that can take your invoicing and bookkeeping to the next level:
- Invoice creation
Create and customize invoice templates, incorporating your company’s own branding to get the right message across to your clients.
- Invoice sending
Distribute invoices to your customers at the touch of a button, with no need for “snail mail”. You can also automate the sending of invoices to repeat clients.
Generate financial reports on your sales, expenses and profit and loss at the touch of a button, helping you to make informed strategic decisions for your business.
- Online payments
Improve the cash flow of your business by choosing a small business billing app that enables your customers to pay your invoice directly without having to leave the software.
- Time tracking
If you are a self-employed professional or small business that relies on time-based invoicing for client projects, choose online invoicing that offers inbuilt time-tracking functionality to assign hours to specific projects.
The best invoice software for small business also offers an API that enables in-house developers to tailor your billing solution to your unique day-to-day reporting needs.
What kind of client are you?
Solutions to online invoicing for small businesses come in a number of guises. There are developers who have created tailored billing software for small business catering for the many different ways that small businesses like to work:
Small businesses that invoice based on projects
If you are a project-based small firm that relies on monitoring the time it takes to complete tasks to bill customers on an hourly rate, there are invoicing software solutions that can help you track time and generate invoices at the touch of a button.
Buyers looking for a complete software package
Some small businesses want to do away entirely with old-school paper-based and basic spreadsheet accounting. The best invoice system for small business today is typically an online accounting package that spans everything from expenses and invoice management through to payments, financial report generation and tax reporting.
Industry-specific, with unique buyers
In addition, some small firms may require billing software that’s industry-specific and caters to their needs in a way that all-in-one packages simply do not. The beauty is that the best invoice software for small business is out there for your company, regardless of what type of work you do.
Benefits of Small Business Invoicing Software
Most small and midsize businesses (SMBs) like yours would agree that the best invoice software for small business should make life easy when it comes to invoicing. It can not only be used to maintain precise, accurate financial accounts, it can also help your brand improve its integrity and trust among customers, with safe and secure payment options for clients.
Ideal for small businesses with lots of regular, repeat clients, the best invoice software for small business features automated and recurring invoicing. This allows you to set the frequency (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) and the software will distribute the same repeat invoice to your regular customers, saving you considerable time throughout your working week.
Improved professional reputation
The best invoice software for small business can have a transformational impact on your brand reputation too. First and foremost, you can design slick, on-brand invoice templates that are a true reflection of your business. Secondly, most small business invoice app providers will allow your customers to pay quickly and securely within the software, protecting their funds and improving your cash flow simultaneously.
Given the various different types of small business invoice apps available, you’ll need to decide which type of software your business would benefit from most. For instance, you might require a platform that synchronizes data and enables mobile access to invoices, wherever you are in the world. Alternatively, you might prefer single-license software that’s hosted directly on your local server.
Here are four differentiators of the best invoice software for small business:
- System integration
Do you have existing accounting software that you’d like to integrate with a billing solution? Some providers permit integration to all-in-one platforms like Xero and QuickBooks.
- Mobile support
Do you dream of having a small business accounting system that’s synchronized and accessible 24/7 on mobile devices? It’s all possible, even with some of the free invoicing software for small business users.
- Cloud-based deployment
Would you prefer to have your books accessible online via any secure device? Instead of an accounting package that’s installed locally on your company’s server, choose a small business billing app that is exclusively hosted in the cloud.
- Free or paid software
For one-man-bands and start-ups, free billing software for small business owners might be a cost-effective starting point. However, growing, ambitious small businesses might wish to invest in a more powerful platform with greater reporting functionality.
4 types of free invoicing software for small business
If you believe that free billing software is the way to go for your small business, we’ve taken the liberty of reviewing four of the leading free providers of online invoicing solutions. Each platform allows you to dip your toe into the water of digital invoices before committing to monthly subscriptions and long-term contracts:
Invoice Ninja has positioned itself as the leading free open-source invoicing software for small business. Managed by a community of developers, Invoice Ninja makes it easy to create and process invoices and payments, as well as tracking time spent on important projects. It is a self-hosted solution, requiring PHP 7 and MySQL to be housed on your business’ very own server. A vibrant support forum makes it easy to get help with the software when you need it.
Zoho is a cloud-based online suite of office services that has recently branched out into small business accounting. Zoho Invoice is aimed at the freelancer and small business start-up community, helping to simplify business invoicing and more, so that you can focus on generating more business. Zoho Invoice is free for one user account, providing you have no more than five clients to bill.
More than 300,000 freelancers, contractors and small business start-ups rely on And.co to send proposals and invoices to get paid on time. It has been revered throughout the tech scene, with positive reviews from well-established sites such as TechCrunch and Entrepreneur.com. The free And.co package allows one active client, as well as the ability to connect up to two business bank accounts for seamless client payments.
Invoice Generator is entrusted by millions of self-employed professionals worldwide to create professional-looking invoices within any web browser. The program offers a host of attractive invoice templates that can be customized to your brand requirements, with no sign-up required. Once your invoice is ready to send to your client, you can set it so that your customer can pay the bill directly online, or download it as a PDF for their own company records.
Small business app
Some of the leading small business accounting solutions also offer a dedicated small business invoice app to download onto Android and iOS devices. This is particularly handy when you’re drafting and approving invoices on the move. QuickBooks and FreshBooks both offer a small business billing app as part of their paid services, while the Zoho Invoice app is free for businesses with fewer than five customers.