17 thoughts on “Suggestions for software to run a small consulting shop?

  1. @John – Intervals definitely looks like an interesting product and it seems to approach things from the same kind of angle that I do in my business. However, not having an API in place so that offline applications, mobile applications and the like can access it is a deal-breaker for me I’m afraid. I will definitely keep an eye Intervals as I see in the forums that there is discussion on when/if to create an API for other applications to use.

    @Heather Thanks for the offer of assistance. I have trials set up with both IAC-EZ and Freshbooks at the moment and have them successfully connected. The one thing that is keeping me from making the decision that this is the solution for us is that IAC-EZ doesn’t track bank and credit card account registers. We’d still have to do something to reconcile statements.

  2. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for considering Clarity Accounting in your search for an online accounting and invoicing solution.

    Keep an eye on us in the future, we’re planning FreshBooks integration in the next month or two and we’ll also be having fully customizable PDF invoices using XHTML and CSS at some point after that. This should help fulfill your need for great invoicing + time tracking and great looking invoices.

    You can always submit and monitor feature requests using our UserVoice page at http://feedback.clarityaccounting.com

    Thanks again for giving us a try.

    Best of luck in your search!

    Dobes Vandermeer,
    Clarity Accounting Support

  3. Jorge

    Cashboard is what I have been using for the past few months and I really like it. You should check out their widgets. I know they have a widget for mac and windows, and iphone.

    I used to be a Freshbooks user but their customer service isn’t that good and they don’t have the features or interface Cashboard does. With Cashboard I customized my invoice to look like my brand which is great for a web developer.

    Plus, Cashboard is less than half the price! $6 for their lowest monthly account. I think I was paying $15 a month for Freshbooks!!! That savings adds up after awhile!

  4. Hey Dan (great name, btw!). I just wanted to toss our hat into the ring here. Re: time tracking – have a look at TSheets.com. Our time tracker is unique in a number of ways, least of which includes actual time stamps, thereby recording WHEN you worked and not just for how long you were working. Oh, and did I mention we’re seamlessly integrated with FreshBooks? ;)

  5. Dan,

    I have been using QBO for about 5 years now and have found that for running a business you almost have to have QB running in the background. Since it tracks ALL spending it is almost imperative to have…

    NOW that said I do a process of invoicing VIA freshbooks and then tracking via QB.

    Essentially I run my LLC on a cash basis so I invoice in Freshbooks which takes all the time out of doing it. Things are setup on a recurring basis and time is tracked inside of it and invoices automatically created on a timed interval.

    When I receive a check I then enter it into freshbooks as a payment and then enter it as a sales receipt inside of QB as if it was a cash sale. This allows me to get the number in but if I want to run hard reports on payments then I can just look in FreshBooks.

    So far this has helped with my webhosting business billing IMMENSELY! It is fully automated up until the time I get the money and FreshBooks even has a “Snail-Mail” option that allows you to send an invoice via snail-mail and they include an envelope and everything. Looks super professional.

  6. Hey Dan,

    Best of luck with your experiments. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions about FreshBooks or any of our integrations. I’m rayanne at freshbooks.com.

    Regarding Jorge’s comment about customer service: I’d love to hear his story and am sad that he had a bad experience : ( My first three months at FreshBooks were spent dedicated to customer support (answering calls, e-mails and forum questions), and this is a process everyone who works here goes through. Between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. every weekday, all calls go unanswered and e-mail and forum questions are responded two within two hours. We promise : )

    Cheers!

    Rayanne Langdon — Marketing Coordinator, FreshBooks.com

  7. @Dan Yeah the Intervals API is in development. Right now we are cranking away on the milestones launch. Once that is launched we’ll focus on the Intervals API.

  8. @Dan – I definitely understand the need for account registers and reconciliations. I am an accountant by trade, however, we are targeting the freelancer, super small business niche, where many times their accounts are convoluted with personal and business expenses and it becomes tedious for them to have to enter both, when they basically just want to keep track of their incoming and outgoing. There has been discussion about integrating registers at a later date – unfortunately, right now, we feel that would make us just like some of the other great accounting software in the industry and then would not solve the problem of making things simple and easy.

  9. @Heather I can certainly sympathize with keeping to a core set of features that meet the needs of the audience you’re targeting. I must confess that I haven’t done a lot of experimenting with IAC-EZ since I set the trial up. We might be a little different from some folks in that we are actually incorporated and have dedicated checking and credit card accounts for the business to keep everything separate from our personal accounts. For that reason, we make sure to categorize each transaction in all types of accounts so that we can easily deliver a report at the end of the year to the accountant that files our taxes. I’m just really concerned about any type of accounting package that doesn’t allow me to track what is in the accounts that our business uses. I will keep investigating though. Maybe it’s not as big a deal as I think it is. Admittedly, I come from using Quickbooks Online and Quickbooks for Mac for 3+ years so I may be a little short-sighted in what my options are.

  10. @Dano Thanks for the info. I did look at Tsheets some months ago because you guys integrate with ToodleDo which we also use. Price-wise, you’d be just a little higher per month than Freshbooks which I’m evaluating at the moment. I noticed that you have a Dashboard widget for the Mac, but didn’t see any mention of iPhone or other applications that would interface with the system. I love the fact that you guys interface with ToodleDo, but didn’t see any mention of interfaces with any of the online accounting systems becoming popular. If I could get one of the time tracking apps to interface both with an accounting package and ToodleDo, I’d pretty much be finished with my search. I suppose however, that you can’t always have everything. I will definitely take another look at Tsheets and see if there is anything that I missed or has changed since I looked last.

  11. @Dan – I too come from a QuickBooks background. Certified Advisor for 9 years and counting. That was one of the most difficult parts of building an application of this nature – one that had the necessities to fulfill accounting requirements, but that did not confuse the users. Most of my clients (As an accountant) don’t even know what a reconciliation is – much less how to do one. Hands down QuickBooks is one of the most robust accounting applications, but it is not quite user friendly for people with little accounting knowledge and may be a bit too robust for people who don’t like to spend time on their numbers. It would be great if QuickBooks integrated with 3rd party applications easily!

  12. Dan,

    I’ve been using QB for about 4 years, and have everything automated to a point that I have to spend very little time actually using it.

    It creates all of my web hosting invoices automatically on a recurring basis, and I just click a button to email them out as PDFs. For my customers who pay by CC, it automatically charges the card and matches the payment to their invoice on a recurring basis.

    It even connects to my bank account and matches/records deposits and payments with just a couple of clicks.

    Of course, since you’ve been using QB for some time you probably already know about these features. But, I probably spend less than an hour per week actually working in QB, and then it’s usually just for a one-off invoice.

  13. @Eric…yeah, we were using QB Online and then switched to being a Mac household where QBO didn’t work. Just this week we saw where QBO has released a beta version that is compatible with Safari so that may make a difference later down the road. Our business is based more on billable hours (which obviously change from invoice to invoice) and I have very few invoices that I can set up on a recurring basis. We’ve been really happy since switching to a Freshbooks/Clarity Accounting system because of the integration between the two and the fact that I can get to them no matter if I’m at home or on the road at a client’s site. My wife did a follow-up post a couple weeks ago describing the setup we’ve been using since Jan 1 this year.

  14. @Dan – glad to hear you got something that works for you. I didn’t realize how old this post was until after I replied. It was just at the top of cfbloggers when I opened it up, so I assumed it was recent. ;)

  15. @Eric…Sorry about that. I just this week got around to having Ray add me to CFBloggers.org and when I posted the first entry after he added me, the ping to his site caused it to grab several old posts. Cheers.

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