Freelancers and Finances: How to Manage Accounting in a Mobile Workplace
Making a living as a freelancer requires passion, dedication, hard work and a leap of faith. Too often, the everyday nuances of running a business, such as bookkeeping, can discourage entrepreneurs. I am here to share how I overcame some of those struggles by switching to an automated accounting software solution. I can now enjoy the phenomenal rewards of being my own boss without many of the stresses related to running a business.
Many entrepreneurs launch their own businesses to transform their passions into products and services for the public to consume and enjoy. Building my own business as a freelance location sound mixer has afforded me a plethora of opportunities and scheduling flexibility, and with FreshBooks, I’m not wasting precious time on invoicing clients, tracking expenses and managing paperwork. Part of the reason that I decided to pursue a career as a freelancer in the first place was to have more flexibility with my time to follow my interests and personal goals. With FreshBooks, I am able to do just that.
Since becoming a freelance sound mixer, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects ranging from television commercials to feature films. I have also been fortunate enough to work on some very fun documentaries that bring with them plenty of traveling. This past year I spent time on the road filming for NatGeo's popular documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously, working closely with on-camera talent including Arnold Schwarzenegger, America Ferrera and Bradley Whitford. Additionally, I’ve mixed sound on location for commercials for brands ranging from Pepsi to Chevy to Dove, allowing me the opportunity to meet and work with musical artists such as Alicia Keys and Dionne Warwick, actors and actresses such as Uma Thurman and basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. While it is thrilling to have a growing list of clients and credits that have been accompanied by some amazing opportunities, it has also forced me to revisit how I was managing my finances.
Managing Finances Manually
Four years ago, I took the plunge and started my own company. During the first couple of years, most of my accounting was based on guesswork, as I used Google Drive to create invoices and track expenses. This process was far more complicated than I had anticipated, and not intuitive in the least.
While Google Drive digitized my records, it was basically a step up from a scratch pad and a shoebox full of receipts. This system proved to be extremely tedious and inefficient. I would sift through countless documents and folders in order to locate important business material. It ended up creating more work for me and I had less time to spend on day-to-day operations as my business began to grow.
In the first year, I had less than 10 clients to manage, which made my manual process tedious, but still workable. As my business and client list grew, however, it became increasingly laborious when it came to managing my accounting. In my field of work, I work with a long list of production companies on a variety of projects, so for each new job there would be a new client and a new folder to keep track of. The entire process was labor intensive, time consuming and not nearly as organized as I would have liked. It was time to make a financial investment for the sake of my business and sanity.
Investing in My Financial Future
A colleague recommended that I try FreshBooks. I was amazed at how its cloud-based accounting software simplified the invoicing process. The time I spent on repetitive accounting tasks diminished immediately, freeing up my schedule to focus on activities that helped my business grow. Instead of spending time billing for previous jobs, I could turn my attention to networking and finding new clients. FreshBooks also made it easier than I could have imagined to generate forecasting reports so I could better plan my schedule and roadmap my goals.
Every small business owner has different needs, and I am no exception. Working on location for a television show or commercial means I need to be able to access my accounting records on-the-go. Sometimes I find myself without a computer when an e-mail comes in regarding an invoice or expense reimbursement that needs to be investigated. Having FreshBooks with me wherever my office happens to be on a particular day makes it easy to bring my books with me wherever I go. With FreshBooks’ custom features, I am empowered to get my financial work completed quickly and efficiently:
- Mobile app: Over the past year, I have traveled for work to a number of places including Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., the Florida Everglades, Indiana and Detroit. The FreshBooks mobile app makes it easy to stay on top of my accounting responsibilities while traveling. Tracking my expenses and the health of my business while on the road has never been easier.
- Reporting: From monthly projections to tax season preparation, the reporting functionality in FreshBooks makes all of these tasks manageable and frees up my time to enjoy a true freelancer’s lifestyle instead of drowning in accounting responsibilities.
- Invoicing: From generating bids and invoices to updating them in moments, FreshBooks’ invoicing functionality has been a game changer for me. With just a few clicks, I can create custom invoices for individual clients, see which clients have paid and who I still need to invoice. Being able complete these tasks in one simple platform, on a variety of devices, is amazing.
At first, I was hesitant to transition from Google Drive to FreshBooks. I thought the process would be arduous and I would lose precious data during the transition. Surprisingly, FreshBooks and their customer support team made the move hassle-free. Now that I am set up with FreshBooks, I can plan my schedule more efficiently, I no longer waste time on repetitive, time consuming tasks, and I can finally plan exciting new adventures in my free time.
To other entrepreneurs and freelance professionals out there using manual accounting methods, I recommend switching to a smart, simple, and automated accounting system. Not only will you have more time to expand your business, your accountant will sing your praises come tax season. You’ll also be able to invoice clients with ease and learn from FreshBook’s financial reporting how to improve your company and forecast for the future. You will finally be able to reduce the stress associated with bookkeeping by having all of your accounting resources available at your fingertips. Working with a trusted financial software puts me at ease and allows me to kick back and focus on the work that I love and, more importantly, to enjoy life as a freelancer.