26 July 2021
While you begin to ramp up your business and get more clients, it's easy for all of the work that goes into a business to add up. And when it comes to making sure you're keeping the lights on and managing finances, unless you have an accountant, bookkeeper, or someone in a designated financial role, that work is likely up to, well, just you.
But let's face it — you didn't start your own business only to be held up keeping track of invoices, expenses, and your overall budget. You want to be doing what you do best and not being stuck in the financial weeds.
Fortunately, technology is changing the lives of business owners for the better. Instead of being stuck with stacks of files and a calculator for hours on end, there is invoicing software for small businesses that can help you stay organized.
We'll review 7 of the best invoicing platforms for your small business, which may be best for you, and what else you can be doing to protect your business financially.
If the name QuickBooks rings a bell, it's for good reason. This platform is popular for business owners for all the flexibility and organization it offers them. QuickBooks is a platform that helps you keep your books balanced. Part of that balance is making sure that you get paid on time, so invoicing is a big part of the software.
While there is a variety of features that make QuickBooks attractive to small business owners, here are the ones that really stand out:
Each client has a preference on how they want to pay you, and QuickBooks doesn't let that preference get in the way of doing business. The software is flexible in how it accepts online payments, so your clients can pay you using ACH bank transfers and credit or debit card payments.
Whichever way they choose, QuickBooks keeps the process seamless.
It may not seem like it if you're just starting out, but once you begin to grow your business, having several invoices to keep track of can become overwhelming. If you're not organized and clients notice, it can reflect badly on you as a business owner, but also slow down the progress you're making on your work.
QuickBooks makes keeping track of invoices and cash flow easy. Each time a client pays you, it records transactions and keeps documents organized. If for some reason you need to find something, it's likely that you won't have an issue tracking down what you need.
Speaking of keeping track of things, it's helpful to know when money for a job will hit your company's bank account. QuickBooks can help you track that! Its feature for tracking payments can help you better manage your business's cash flow.
For some business owners with repeat clients, it makes sense to schedule invoices. But doing this yourself can take a lot of time. You have to set a reminder for yourself to create the invoice, send it, then track it, and record the payment.
With QuickBooks, you can schedule your invoices to send them when you want and as frequently as you want. This will free up time and likely some brainspace, too, so you can focus on other parts of your business.
We all know that branding can help set our business apart from competition. After all, that's why we work to pick just the right business name. When it comes to opportunities to use your business's brand, invoices are no exception.
With QuickBooks, you can personalize invoices with design touches that help make it obvious to your clients where the invoice is from. Whether it's using a custom logo or choosing a layout that reflects your working style, QuickBooks gives you the ability to make your business's invoices unique.
When it comes to QuickBooks' payment plans, you have a range of options, with four different plans ranging from $12.50/month to $90/month. Here are the 4 available plans:
Each plan's pricing differs because with each level comes access to different features that could benefit your business. But don't start weighing all of the options just yet
The great thing about QuickBooks is that you have 30 days to try any plan before you commit to buying the software. And if you want to start with the Essentials plan and upgrade to the Plus plan, the software makes the transition easy.
If for any reason you decide that this invoicing software for small business isn't for you, you can cancel at any time, as you're not bound by a contract.
Similar to QuickBooks, FreshBooks has a reputation of serving business owners of any company size. For small business owners, it comes with great features that make the invoicing process simple and more rewarding.
You can make your business's invoices in-line with your brand and style. While these kinds of touches may seem minor, they can play a big part in helping your business look professional, which can add to customer trust.
Not only can you customize your invoices by design, but you also can track time you've spent on a project and expenses. That way, you'll have a view into how business changes with specific clients over time.
Easy payment options
Your clients can easily pay you for the work you did, either by credit card or ACH bank transfer. Getting paid fast is important to small business owners who want to keep their cash flow — well, flowing.
According to FreshBooks, this feature helps you get paid up to 11 days faster.
Late payment reminders
Being paid late can have a big impact on a small business. With FreshBooks, you can schedule payment reminders so that your clients know you're still expecting an invoice payment. With late payment reminders, you can spend your time hunting down money on other work.
Create professional reports
For clients you build an ongoing relationship with, it may be helpful to create reports where you can see financial progress. With FreshBooks, you can create reports that provide an overview of all the work you've done over a period of time.
Reports like these can be especially useful if you're considering changing your pricing or services.
FreshBooks' pricing ranges from $6/month to $20/month. Here are the three main pricing tiers:
Each plan has optional add-on features that you can pay extra for, without graduating to the next tier. There are trials available, and if for some reason you find you need more features than the Premium plan provides, you can work with FreshBooks to create a custom plan for your business.
Think that the software may have a learning curve? No sweat! FreshBooks offers great webinars for business owners looking to learn how to get the best out of the platform.
If you're looking for invoicing software for small businesses with a lot of personality, then Billdu may be right for you. Billdu, with its quirky woodchuck mascot, helps invoicing seem almost effortless. Here are some features that make it a great experience:
Estimates can be invoices
If you're a small business owner, you know that it isn't alway easy to give a client a project estimate. But once you get the hang of how much time certain projects will take to complete, it gets easier.
With Billdu, you're able to send a project estimate. If the estimate makes sense to the client and they agree, you can easily turn that estimate into an invoice. The platform can help to take the friction out of that step by saving you time.
While many invoicing software for small business makes it easy for clients to pay with a credit or debit card, Billdu offers a special feature. Using their software, your clients can pay you using a PayPal account.
Because many clients likely have a bank account or card tied to a PayPal account, this can simplify the payment process for everyone.
Open and read notifications
We're small business owners, not necessarily hunters. But sometimes when chasing down a client for an invoice payment, it can feel that way!
Billdu has a fantastic feature that not all invoicing platforms have: the ability to see when your invoicing message was opened and read. Billdu goes the extra mile by showing you which clients actually received and read your invoice notification.
By offering a feature like this, Billdu puts you in the driver's seat by giving you the power to see that a client has read your notice.
Sure, there are platforms that offer late payment reminders, which can be very helpful. But allowing you to see that an invoice message has been seen before the client can make a payment, is likely to prompt them to pay faster and not fall behind.
Pricing for Billdu ranges from $0 to $16.99/month. Below are the pricing tiers:
Billdu offers small business owners a free trial for 30 days — and you don't need a credit card on file to get started. The platform trial comes with all the bells and whistles, so you'll be able to try out all the features on the Premium plan. That way you can see which invoicing features matter most to you and choose the plan that suits you best.
Wave is a platform with invoicing software that's very popular with small business owners, and not just because it's free (we'll get into that in a bit). There are several features of Wave that make it a go-to for small businesses managing their money.
Organized customer info
When you draft up an invoice for a client, their business information gets saved to Wave's platform. Later, you can look at all of your clients in an overview that allows you to see each client’s main contact information, whether or not they have a card saved to pay for recurring projects, and if they have an overdue balance.
Customization and templates offered
Customizing an invoice with your brand's logo and designs can be a way to set yourself apart from other businesses your client may work with. But what if you're going through the process of a rebrand or aren't sure on the style you want to settle on? Wave provides a variety of invoice templates to choose from.
Professional payment receipts
As a small business owner who uses Wave myself, I’ll tell you why I love this feature:
Sure, sending payment receipts to my client helps give my business a sense of professionalism and closes the loop on a project. But what I love about Wave is that you're also able to send a copy of your invoice and receipt to you.
Wave gives you access to past payments in its platform, which aren't hard to access, but as many small business owners know, having a paper trail and all transactions documented can come in handy in case of technical issues or discrepancies. This also can help speed up communications.
For example, if a client emails me asking about a specific invoice, I don't need to log back into Wave to look up the details. Instead, I can search for the invoice copy that Wave sent directly to my email, which saves valuable time.
For small businesses that are growing, Wave's reporting feature is a great tool to look deeper into just how well things are going. With reports, you can see your business's cash flow, profit-and-loss statements, information from work with vendors, and more.
Most importantly, Wave helps you easily calculate taxes on your invoices, which you can review at a higher level when tax season comes around.
There's no monthly pricing plan with Wave. In fact, it's free to use. The only time you make a payment is when a client pays you. Then Wave gets a small percentage fee of the transaction.
My small business ebbs and flows, and I do have repeat clients, but I don't always have ongoing work month-by-month. This feature works in my favor because during the months I'm not invoicing clients, I don't have to pay for a monthly subscription.
Especially for small businesses that are just starting out or are operating on a part-time basis, Wave could be a good invoicing platform to use until you're sure you can justify the monthly subscription cost.
This invoicing software for small businesses has more features than we can list, so we'll narrow it down. With Invoice Ninja's invoicing platform, you'll get:
Various payment options
When invoicing your clients, they'll have the option of paying by credit card, ACH banking, or PayPal. While some invoicing platforms only give clients one or two of these options, Invoice Ninja opens up options for all three.
Another great thing about payment options with Invoice Ninja is that clients can choose to pay a deposit or different parts of the invoice at different times. For example, you can charge a client for half of an invoice amount up front and the second half after the project is finished.
Quotes to invoices
Estimating project costs is something that business owners usually do on a regular basis. I speak for myself when I say there are few things more annoying than having to search through email discussions to find the quote I estimated before creating an invoice.
Invoice Ninja makes this experience very simple. You can create a quote within the app, and if your client agrees to the suggested pricing, you can turn it into an invoice. That's a very cool feature!
Uses voice commands
This is a feature that really sets Invoice Ninja apart from its competitors. The software supports small business owners who prefer to use voice commands to navigate the app rather than clicking through the platform.
For those of us who prefer voice commands for comfort, medical reasons, or otherwise, this can be a game changer.
These plans are fairly affordable for all of the features they offer! The pricing plans are tiered below:
The Enterprise Plan allows paying annually instead of monthly, which can save your business two months’ worth of payments.
Users of Harvest may like its time-tracking capabilities, but they likely can benefit big time from its invoicing software for small business too. The platform has features for invoicing that tie well to its time-tracking tools — all for a bargain price.
Harvest allows you to gently remind your clients when an invoice is due, and also has another automatic message: thank-you notes.
Sure, we do work because it's our job and our clients pay us to do it, but remember that when it comes to building long-term relationships with clients, the seemingly small gesture of a "thank you" can go a long way with them.
Tracks invoice views
Once you invoice a client and they see it, Harvest will alert you. This knowledge can come in handy when you're keeping tabs on how long it takes a client to pay you for your work. It could help decrease the amount of time you spend chasing payments.
Crunching numbers can be useful, but it takes time. Harvest creates easy-to-read reports where you can track your cash flow and the company's success. Because many small business owners are impacted by seasonal changes, it can be helpful to notice trends during different times of the year.
Harvest’s software pricing may make you do a double take. The Free plan offers 1 seat and 2 projects at $0/month, and the Pro plan offers unlimited seats and projects for $12/month.
If you still aren't sure if you want to commit to the Pro plan, you can try Harvest free for 30 days, without even putting a credit card on file.
Honeybook is especially popular for creative small business owners. They have an active community where users can share in each other's successes and hear about similar challenges. Following are features that make Honeybook a great software to use for invoicing your clients:
Customizable templates & workflows
As a small business owner, your brand goes a long way, and your invoicing process should include it. With Honeybook, you can customize your templates to have the information you and your client need, as well as brand touches that set you apart.
You also can customize the workflow of your business's invoicing process so that you can design what emails and messages are delivered after you've sent the invoice. Since different clients may have different agreements regarding when to pay you after a project, this can be a helpful feature.
Proposals & contracts
Speaking of agreements, before you get started on a project, you can create proposals and contracts using Honeybook. If, for example, a client is past the deadline for paying you, you can point to the agreed-upon terms, as all of the important details can be found in one place.
Payment is easy for your clients
Our relationships with clients are what gives our business a future. Hopefully when a new client comes around, you can keep them coming back. That's why making it easy for them to pay invoices is a helpful feature.
Not only does Honeybook accept all major bank transfer methods and credit cards, but the software also lets you arrange recurring payments for clients with ongoing projects.
Honeybook's pricing plans differ, depending on which features you need, as well as how many transactions you can expect. According to Honeybook, the Unlimited Monthly plan is the most popular with their users. But you have time to see for yourself which features come in handy; just trial the invoice software before buying.
Now that you know about 7 of the best invoicing software for small business, you're one step closer to setting up your business for success. Sure, you could do a lot of the processes manually, but you're only human. What if you make a mistake calculating your service charges or taxes?
With invoice software, you can usually avoid those mistakes since the platform is doing the calculations for you. And that's a great way to start protecting your business from potential risk.
But not all of our work can happen within the invoicing software for small businesses that we use, and since we and our clients are only human, there's a risk for accidents or mistakes.
Fortunately, another step you can take to protect your business is to consider buying business insurance.
There are two types of coverage that could help you protect your small business: general liability insurance and professional liability insurance. Below, we'll tell you more about what the coverage can do to protect you.
General liability insurance, also known as commercial liability insurance, typically protects against:
Say you're a plumber and you install a new toilet for a customer. They appear happy with your work, but the next day the toilet begins leaking through the floor below and into the living room. The living room furniture is damaged and your client sues you for the cost to repair or replace the damage.
Without general liability insurance to help cover the costs of the damages, you may have to pay the requested fees out-of-pocket.
While fees vary, the average cost of a property damage claim is $30,000. That's a lot of money to have set aside for emergencies, and if you don't have it, you could likely put your business in debt.
With a general liability policy, though, you could have coverage for the damages and legal fees, up to your policy's limit.
Knowing that you're protected if an event like the above happens can put you at ease so you can focus on your work.
Professional liability insurance is coverage that typically protects against:
Say you work as an accountant and when filing a client's tax returns, you recorded their income incorrectly. They're furious and hire a different accountant to correct the mistake. In the meantime, they're suing you for the cost to hire the new accountant.
Without a professional liability policy to help protect your business, you may have to pay for the new accountant's services out-of-pocket. And depending on how your business is doing at the time, it could come as a big hit to your bank account.
Having professional liability coverage can put you and your clients at ease; it typically covers the cost of the requested fees and legal fees, up to your policy's limit.
Beyond helping to protect your business's financial well-being, remember that especially if you use products (like invoicing software) and services, insurance coverage can help protect those investments too.
The cost of business insurance coverage differs, depending on a lot of factors, like your specific profession, your location, and how long you've been in business. The good news is that it's generally affordable, with Simply Business's general liability policies starting as low as $22.50/month *.
Just like invoice software can make the payment process of your business simpler, Simply Business's quote comparison tool can help save you time (and possibly money) by showing you different policies with varying coverage.
This way you can see what's out there and make the best decision for your business.
Ready to see your options? Click here to compare quotes for free. It takes less than 10 minutes!
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As small business owners, we put so much effort and time into starting our business, so it's only natural to do what we can to protect it.
Now you have 7 invoice platforms to explore and a business insurance quote tool to help you do just that. You can get a head start on your journey designing invoices for your business by using our free invoice templates, which you can download here.
For more information on how to set your business up for success by protecting it from risk, follow Simply U, our blog for business owners.
Need help creating invoices for your small business? Download our FREE invoice templates today!
* Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January-December 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
I’ve told stories since I learned to talk and written since I could hold a pen. As a small business owner myself - I'm a freelance writer and yoga teacher - I love contributing to the entrepreneurship community in different ways (including writing for Simply Business!). When I’m not drafting articles for SB, I can be found on my yoga mat, perusing an indie bookstore, and writing (with my cat nearby of course).
Allison writes on a number of topics such as small business leadership, business structures, and employee training.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
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*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.