• Invoicing/Billing from the iPhone - FreshBooks and MiniBooks

    I love FreshBooks. I really do. Mostly because... I hate invoicing. I really do. I have QuickBooks. I have Word. And I have Googled "word invoice template" more times than I care to ever have done such a thing. It's just... every time I send a client an invoice (I do consulting and web design as a sort of hobby/job), I don't like it. QuickBooks is clunky, Word is bloated, and nothing really worked well for me as an invoicing system.

    Enter FreshBooks. I've been using FreshBooks a while now (over a year), and... its beautiful. It makes sense, its easy, and its online. Set up your clients, and when you want to invoice someone... just press New Invoice. And all the billing features are solid. You can email invoices directly to client, or snail mail (which FreshBooks will then handle). Clients can send checks back, or you have an option to allow them to pay you directly from the invoice using PayPal. The service is completely free (except for stamp fees) for up to 3 clients, then they charge $14/month for up to 25 clients, and $27/mo for up to 100.

    So you can imagine I was excited when they released an iPhone app last year. Except... it kinda sucked. I mean, it kinda connected and showed some stuff... but it didn't feel nice like the interface on their site. I tried it a few days and deleted it, and forgot about it - back to the web for me. Which is where MiniBooks comes in. I sat down with Mitch Solway of Freshbooks recently at a FreshBooks event here in Tampa (full disclosure - he paid for my Kung Pao Chicken, which came with a fortune cookie that confirmed "disbelief destroys the magic") and asked him what was up with that, and he let me know about MiniBooks, which I've been trying out since then.

    MiniBooks is everything a FreshBooks app (and billing and invoicing, accordingly) should be. Its easy to view your clients, the design is great, and everything works the way you'd think it would. The lite version is free (up to 3 clients, all features enabled), and the full version is $9.99 - and well worth it. The full version merely allows you to manage more than 3 clients.

    If you bill by the hour, the app also does well on the timer front, even giving you an option when you stop the timer to submit the time directly to an invoice and save or send/edit. It's brilliantly effective - my buddy uses it for his landscaping business, and when he gets out to folks' houses and finishes his work, he emails them an invoice directly from his iPhone now, on the spot.

    If you aren't stuck working for The Man these days, and handle your own invoicing/billing - do yourself a favor and check out FreshBooks, then install MiniBooks on your iPhone.
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