If you are a freelancer or a small business owner, chances are you're both sending and receiving invoices regularly. After a point, tracking whether you've been paid and whether you owe vendors money becomes too much of a headache to keep in a spreadsheet. Enter invoicing software.
We're going to discuss our top 7 picks for invoicing software and the features to look for when comparing invoicing software options.
Top 7 Invoicing Software For Small Businesses
Here is our shortlist of our top seven invoicing software for independent contractors and small businesses.
Across the board, Freshbooks consistently ranks the highest in terms of value for the price, for small business owners wanting an all-in-one bookkeeping and invoice management solution. Freshbooks offers multiple plans to fit your budget and feature needs. The lowest cost plan offers bare-bones invoice tracking with unlimited invoices. In contrast, higher-level plans provide helpful features like double-entry accounting, time management, bank reconciliation, reports, and expense management. Users also express great satisfaction with customer service and support for fourteen languages.
For all these reasons, Freshbooks is widely used and loved by small businesses. Larger businesses that need more sophisticated account features will not find a happy match in Freshbooks. Another caveat to Freshbooks is that each plan only allows one singular user. Freshbooks does support multiple third-party integrations, but it has only two payment gateways.
Square is ubiquitous when it comes to payment processing services. Anyone who has a Square account has access to Square Invoices, so it's one of the most familiar software. Square's most significant selling point is that it doesn't charge a fee for sending invoices.
Square also has features that help you offer estimates and track inventory. It allows custom branding, but you are limited to a single invoice template. Specifically for invoicing, you can use both the standard Square point of sale app or the Square Invoices app. This flexibility makes Square Invoices one of the most convenient options for on-the-go merchants like farmers who want to send invoices and receipts while out and about.
Square Invoice's feature set is best suited for small to medium-sized businesses that sell products (as opposed to services). It's not a good fit for users looking for software for a project or service-based business.
If you prefer conducting your business entirely through mobile apps instead of on desktop or laptop computers, Invoice2Go could be a good option for you. Invoice2Go foregoes more sophisticated accounting and bookkeeping features for pure online invoicing. Although its features are limited, Invoice2Go manages invoicing well and has the best experience from all other Android apps and iPhone iOS apps.
Invoice Ninja is extremely popular because it is one of the best free invoicing software. Yes, you read that right; it's entirely free — forever (for up to 100 clients). It offers typical features like invoicing, estimates, time and expense tracking, and primary contact and project management features. For users who don't need frills and are budget conscious, Invoice Ninja should work great.
If it appeals to you, Invoice Ninja also works with voice commands, offers over forty payment gateways, and supports thirty languages.
Bill.com is known for its flexibility, which makes it easier to wrangle your accounts receivable and payable. You can review and approve bills and invoices from any device. Bill.com also makes it easy to send international payments to vendors and suppliers. Bill.com also excels in automation, making it easy to set up auto-billing and payment reminders. Bill.com offers a variety of payment options like ACH bank transfers, credit card payments, debit cards, and even PayPal.
Because of its rich feature set and corresponding higher pricing, Bill.com is better suited for businesses on the cusp of becoming medium-sized.
Harvest is an option for users who need essential invoicing management and more sophisticated time-tracking, which is where Harvest especially excels. Beyond invoice management, Harvest offers project management workflow tools for service-based or project-based businesses. For this reason, it's a popular choice for small agencies or service providers.
Portal is a client management application that goes beyond just simple invoice messaging. It combines billing, client intake, eSignature collection, knowledge base creation, and contact management.
In terms of invoicing, Portal allows you to set up one-time and recurring invoices and grants credit card and ACH payment options. It offers customization to create branded professional invoices with your logo and custom colors.
Additionally, because Portal delivers client management features, your clients can view invoice history and update payment methods by themselves.
The pay-as-you-go monthly fee offers maximum flexibility, making Portal an excellent choice for businesses looking for basic invoicing functionality as part of a more comprehensive all-in-one commerce solution.
These two options didn't quite make the cut, but they are still good options, especially for budget-conscious users. They're worth checking out for those A+ students who want to compare features for extra credit.
Fattmerchant is a cloud-based application that works for businesses from small to large across various industries from ecommerce to healthcare. Aside from typical invoicing features, Fattmerchant lets users set tipping options and offers personalized receipts and invoices customized with a logo.
For reporting, Fattmerchant offers detailed batch reports from their data analysis platform. It's available on a monthly subscription basis.
Tipalti is also a cloud-based application that is mainly for automating accounts payable. It offers invoice automation, payment remittance, regulatory compliance management, tax calculations, supplier management, reporting, and payment reconciliation.
Users say the web portal is easy to navigate, and they enjoy the compliance management support that automatically checks payment information.
Tipalti integrates with leading ERP and performance management systems such NetSuite, Oracle, and CAKE.
Notables That Didn't Make The Cut
Looking for familiar faces like Quickbooks Online, Wave, or Xero? While businesses of every size widely use these applications, we don't recommend them because they are full-fledged, sophisticated accounting software.
Although they will undoubtedly be able to handle your needs in terms of capability, for most small business owners, these heavy hitters are overkill. They are unnecessarily expensive for a small business' (and especially independent contractor's) needs.
Invoice Simple is another well-known choice, and we don't recommend it for the opposite reason — it's too basic. For most business owners, the lack of customization won't cut it.
Tips For Choosing The Right Invoicing Software
Even though we've done the legwork for you, it's still a good idea to research on your own. Here are some tips on approaching the research process when comparing invoicing software so that you can make an intelligent purchase.
Decide your budget
The first step you need to go through is deciding your budget. Although some software vendors will likely negotiate pricing with you, you still need to go in with a ballpark figure. That way, you can quickly eliminate the software that is clearly out of your price range.
Understand your needs
Next, you must understand the features that are non-negotiable must-haves and which ones are just nice-to-haves. If you have extensive accounting or bookkeeping experience, you may already have real-world knowledge of what's most important.
If not, take stock of your business' entire accounting process. Imagine which tasks are the most repetitive that could benefit from time-saving automation. Also, talk to friends and colleagues who might have more experience.
Know industry-specific requirements
Depending on your industry, you may need industry-specific features. You can use these specific features to narrow down your search more efficiently.
Compare package features
The easiest way to compare features when shopping around is to create a spreadsheet with all of your must-have and nice-to-have features. It's not fun, but unfortunately, it's the best way to stay organized and make sure you're keeping everything straight.
Check integration compatibility
Your business may have essential third-party integrations that are necessary. If you're not willing to build custom integrations, you will need to make sure the software you choose already has developed the integrations you need.
Don't forget to ask colleagues their favorite software to use. Even if they are not willing to discuss the nitty-gritty of features with you, most people want to help and will at least let you know off-the-cuff what they are using and what they like and dislike about it.
Ask the right questions
Don't forget that sales associates are there to help you through the process, as they're incentivized to do so. To make your time with them valuable to you as well, prepare your questions beforehand. Also, give them the list of your feature needs. It's much faster to have a human validate capabilities than if you troll the website by yourself.
Helpful Features To Look For
If you have no idea how to begin evaluating invoicing software, here are the most helpful features we think you absolutely need.
Time-tracking allows you to assign rates based on the project, employee type, or billing cycle. You can track your billable time and export your timesheets to excel (usually) to create client invoices.
Invoice customization is core functionality that most applications will have. What you want to look for when comparing software which customization options are available. Not every software allows invoice customization with branding, payment terms and conditions, and client information.
For sending invoices, the ability to send both one-time and recurring invoices is critical. It's also nice when there read notifications are available, so you can confirm the recipient has seen and opened your invoice.
Helpful online payment features include the ability to send payment reminders and to add a late fee to overdue invoices. Having several options for payment is also very useful.
Reporting is another handy feature. Depending on your needs, you will want to generate financial statements and reports on expenses, profit/loss, payments collection, and accounts aging.
Do Your Homework
It's not fun, but doing your due diligence when choosing an invoicing software will pay off in the end. By thoroughly researching your options and implementing good invoicing management software, you will keep better track of your cash flow, never miss an invoice deadline, and put in place the organization your business needs to stay healthy and scale.