Managing the financial end of your business is a critical task that needs to be done with accuracy and efficiency if you want to taste success. If you are having a tough time managing your accounting, invoicing and financial tracking tasks, it is time for you to take the help of technology in this area.
There are quite a few tech tools that are designed exclusively to handle the accounting end of your business and each one comes with its own set of advantages and great features. The problem arises when you have two great tools and you don’t know which one will fit in with your business needs best. Here we deal with the Quickbooks vs. FreshBooks question, helping you understand the features and functionalities of both these popular tools (Read our recent article comparing many accounting software options for a more comprehensive list). Let’s start with a quick overview of both.
Intuit’s QuickBooks can safely be described as a pioneer in the accounting software arena. With over 1.3 million users and counting, it is easy to see why QuickBooks still leads this niche in the U.S. despite stiff competition from newer tools.
The original product from Intuit was a desktop version of the accounting software that needed to be installed on the system. However, Intuit has adapted to the times and brought in a range of tools that are more aligned to the modern day customer who prefers not to download any software onto their systems and who does not want to be tied to a specific system to use any business tool.
For example, the web based QuickBooks Online tool is Intuit’s answer to the many cloud based tools that now permeate the accounting software marketplace. But, that’s not all the brand offers. Today, you will find a whole host of tools under the QuickBooks brand umbrella that let businesses like yours handle their finances, their billing/ invoicing, receipts and collections with ease. The best thing about QuickBooks is that they have built on the brand’s reliable, comprehensive systems that have been tried and proven from the days of the desktop- only version.
They have country specific versions of QuickBooks (for example in Canada and UK) that incorporate the tax rules of the specific region into the version, making it easy for customers there to start using this tool instantly. In the U.S. alone it is estimated that QuickBooks has the lion’s share of the small business marketplace.
From its beginnings in 2003, FreshBooks has come a long way indeed to gain a five million strong customer base today. The FreshBooks idea was born out of the search for a better, easier way to get business billing done. However, it is a real understatement to describe this software as merely a billing tool, given the way it now caters to so many other aspects of the accounting, financial tracking needs of the business. A leader in the cloud based accounting tools for business, FreshBooks has made a formidable name for itself over its eight year long journey.
Today, FreshBooks is used in over 120 countries and in the U.S. this is the tool that stands next to QuickBooks in terms of number of paying customers. Among the cloud based accounting solutions, FreshBooks takes the top position in the U.S.
With both these software tools garnering immense favor from the small business sector, it is s difficult decision to choose one in the Quickbooks vs. FreshBooks equation. However, the two are not exactly alike and this is what you need to focus on when you are trying to pick one for your small business.
One notable point about FreshBooks is that special care has been taken by the makers to design several features that are perfect for home based businesses and freelancers. Perhaps this is the brand’s way of setting itself apart from the long standing QuickBooks and making its own foothold in the crowded accounting software niche. Take a look at some of these features in FreshBooks:
Estimates: If you take up freelance projects you may need to send your potential clients estimates for the work before you start. This feature lets you do this with ease.
Time tracker: Another feature that seems to be aimed at freelancers, the time tracker lets you keep track of the hours spent on an assignment. Most freelancers bill per hour and this feature make it easy for you do so.
Team time sheets: Perfect for collaborating on projects if you are a team of freelancers sharing an assignment, team time sheets let each of you update the status of the task assigned to them, the time taken for their part and so on. You can organize the sheets by the task done or the freelancer doing the task, making it easy to track who did what and who did how many hours of work on the project, once it is completed.
What’s your objective?
One of the first things to ask yourself before buying either tool is this: ‘What is your purpose in buying it?’. Although both QuickBooks and FreshBooks are described as accounting tools, their main focus is on two slightly different areas of accounting and this could make a major difference, depending on what you want your tool to be able to do.
As you already saw, FreshBooks has many features that make it perfect for freelancers so if this is the kind of business you are into, you might want to give this tool a better score. QuickBooks has a solid accounting foundation and it is a great help during tax time or with tracking payments and receipts and much more of the core accounting functions. If your small business needs a comprehensive accounting too, this may be the better option for you.
You can look at QuickBooks as an accounting specific software while FreshBooks has more of a slant towards invoicing and everything that this involves. Remember that both are advertised as accounting software tools so this might be somewhat confusing for you.
Accounting software does have an invoicing feature but the focus on this aspect may be limited. If your invoicing is the area where you are having trouble, then opting for a tool like FreshBooks may be the better choice for you. Before you make a decision about Quickbooks vs. FreshBooks, learn more about the features and functionalities of both right here.
Quickbooks vs. FreshBooks
When it comes to the main accounting functions, QuickBooks scores better. Its double entry accounting system is perfect for maintaining your books just the way your financial consultant likes them. An added advantage is that he might be using QuickBooks too, in which case all you have to do is send him your data and it gets integrated into his system perfectly. Apart from this QuickBooks has some nifty features to offer for those who need help managing their accounting transactions. Take a look at a few:
- Keep track of credit extended to you, that is, payments that you need to make and also receivables, that is, credit you have extended to your customers.
- Reconcile your bank statements easily and categorize your expense heads quickly and simply in line with your customizations.
- Keep track of overall profit and loss for assignments/ projects.
- Track inventory.
- Create complete balance sheets for your business.
User interface, design
When it comes to the design aspect, FreshBooks may be the better one with the more aesthetic, clutter free design. Remember that this tool is a cloud based tool that is expressly designed for people to use on the move so compatibility with mobile devices is a given. In addition, the brand has taken care that the design is easy to use on small screen handheld devices. With QuickBooks, even the Online version is an extension of the original desktop version and the design may not be exactly suitable for small screens.
User access, authorizations
In this aspect, QuickBooks is perhaps the better option because it lets you customize which staff you want to give access to and to what degree. This lets you give your sales staff the authority to enter, modify and delete data while your accounting staff only get readability. It is easier to maintain the authenticity of data when you can control the kind of access that your employees have. With FreshBooks the choice of determining who gets to do what with the data is not available so either a staff member has complete access and control over data or they have no access to it at all.
Both tools come with single user and multi user options so you can have your entire accounting staff accessing the data or you can keep sole control of it to yourself. That’s entirely up to you. Of course, price differentials do arise depending on whether you want a single user or multi user option but this is true for both tools.
Both QuickBooks and FreshBooks let you choose a package that meets your needs and they have differential pricing for various packages. However, the QuickBooks pricing policy seems to make more sense because they offer a bundle of all the basic accounting features for a more reasonable price than FreshBooks.
The latter does have a basic package which they call the ‘Sprout’ package but this is severely restricted in terms of the number of clients you can manage. In fact, the low end plans from FreshBooks seem to be priced higher than those from QuickBooks. The highest end plan from both is priced quite similarly.
Interface and ease of use
In this aspect, FreshBooks does score higher because of its simplistic and intuitive user interface. A new comer can start using this tool like a pro and get things done from Day 1. Those who have never used any kind of accounting software before can also start wielding FreshBooks with ease right from the word ‘Go’.
With QuickBooks trying to build upon its original version, the design does seem to be slightly lacking in the user friendliness department, if you are new to accounting software. That said, it is definitely not necessary for you to have a tech savvy staff member handling this because it is easy to grasp if you use it a couple of times.
One of the main concerns for business owners is whether or not their software has great customer support, meaning ‘will I get help whenever I need it?’ and FreshBooks answers this question with a resounding ‘yes’. In fact, look at the reviews for this tool and the exemplary customer service is a major point in most of them. They have phone and email support and the staff talking to you when you call for help are friendly, knowledgeable people which means you can get your problem solved quickly and easily. Their weekly webinars area good way to familiarize yourself with all the bells and whistles they offer.
QuickBook has a fairly sound customer support system now after the brand realized that it was weak in this area and this was costing it its customers. However, it is still now where as responsive as FreshBooks.
The QuickBooks support staff are helpful and friendly enough but the brand does not have email support or a very comprehensive FAQ section that users can simply look through to resolve their issues on their own. Earlier, negative customers reviews about the skill levels of customer support staff used be quite frequent but QuickBooks has revamped its support now and these reviews have dwindled of late.
In effect, when you are looking at the Quickbooks vs. FreshBooks question, the very first and most important thing to consider is what you want the most help with. If it is a full accounting package that you need, QuickBooks may be a better option. If you need help with billing and invoicing, FreshBooks should be your pick.
The kind of business you run is another critical aspect you should factor in because FreshBooks has all that you need for a freelance business while QuickBooks is more aligned towards small to mid- size businesses.
For additional accounting software comparisons, check out article on best Quickbooks alternatives at FitSmallBusiness.