I have now processed 3,000 invoices in my writing career. That's 8,000 articles in total over a period of 12 years. It's amazing I've actually kept track of them all.
In my early days, it was all thanks to Quickbooks Online. I imagined having a retirement banquet someday where I'd thank my editors, my readers, and Quickbooks. The program proved to be sturdy and reliable--it became my best business ally.
That is, until I ditched it sometime last decade. I can't tell you the exact date but after about 1,000 invoices, something went horribly wrong with my data.
I salvaged most of the invoices, but it was time to move on. I switched to Microsoft Small Business Accounting because they offered a free version. (The product is now defunct.) After many happy years processing invoices and running detailed profit and loss statements, something I did just for the entertainment value, I decided to make another switch.
This time, I wanted something, well, fresh. I picked Freshbooks.com. The app runs smoothly in Google Chrome, supports multiple currencies, can generate my detailed financial reports, and has a simple design scheme that makes invoicing less of a chore.
But recently Quickbooks caught my attention again.
Intuit did a complete overhaul of Quickbooks Online. It's absolutely brilliant. It's like Apple swooped in and solved all of the problems in Windows 8. I think even Inc. contributor and 37signals founder Jason Fried would be happy with this one from a design standpoint. The new app works in Chrome, runs on the iPhone, iPad, and Android tablets and phones for easy access, and is now incredibly intuitive. I decided to give it a whirl.
The main selling point here is that you can login quickly from any device, generate an invoice, run a quick customer report, and get back to work again.
I was a little confused initially, though. My theory is that most business owners go into an accounting program to make an invoice so the company can get paid. (Call me old-fashioned, but that seems important.) So I had to search for a moment to find the plus sign in the middle top of the screen and click Invoice. In Freshbooks, there's a more obvious Invoices tab and a big New button to create an invoice.
I also didn't find any easy way to import my existing accounting data. I know I can export a comma-delimited file and manually recreate my accounting data, but that's not exactly high on my priority list right now. Intuit claims the new Quickbooks Online is much more open and has the APIs to prove it. I'm not sure if Freshbooks will be compelled to make a Quickbooks Online exporter (right now, it appears to have one only for Quickbooks Pro 2004).
But I might just switch. Quickbooks Online Plus uses a trendy color scheme (mostly greys, blues, and greens, plus a few other eye-catching colors) that pop off the screen. On the left, there are tabs for customers, vendors, and employees. The idea is not to overwhelm you with incredibly detailed features but to make the accounting process easier. Still, you can run reports like an accounts payable aging summary, track sales tax usage, and even sync with third-party apps like Bill.com or a time-sheet tracker.