Small business invoicing software is designed to facilitate the creation and delivery of billing documents to customers. These invoices can include line items such as expenses, billable time, and goods and services provided to the client.
To maintain proper cashflow, you’ll need to ensure your small business is being paid promptly, and that you can easily collect on funds. In today’s economy, the most cost effective way to collect money owed by your customers and clients is through a small business invoicing software.
Many small business financial tools may include an invoicing module, but is an integrated approach right for you? Or would you prefer to continue using the accounting software you’re comfortable with while finding a dedicated invoicing application?
A dedicated invoicing software can help automate your invoicing and billing process while continuing to use the accounting package for balancing transactions and creating reports.
Here are our favorite picks for invoicing options for small businesses and freelancers in 2021.
Not a small business? Check out our best billing and invoicing software guide for additional options.
Zoho Invoice is the true definition of a small business invoicing software–simple layout, just enough features, and most importantly, easy to use! The solution doesn’t try to be a complete accounting software or anything you don’t want it to be. It’s straightforward to create a simple invoice. It also provides ways for you to customize your invoice templates, automate recurring tasks and reminders, and collaborate with clients in real-time to negotiate better terms and conditions.
Why we like it: If desired, Zoho Invoice integrates with Paypal and Stripe for payment processing. It can also work alongside any other Zoho app, such as Zoho CRM or Zoho Projects. This can come in handy when you are growing as a business and want a more efficient way of recording client communications and handling project management.
Best of all, Zoho Invoice is completely free to use when you are first starting out. You won’t be charged for the program if you invoice less than 5 customers a month, making it a completely risk-free software for freelancers. Pricing is further dependent on the number of customers being invoiced and the amount of users required.
Invoice Ninja is a forever free invoicing software that provides unlimited invoices and quotes for small businesses with up to 50 clients. This includes professional invoice templates, branded invoices with your company logo, payment acceptance, recurring billing, and the ability to track billable time and associate it towards particular projects.
Why we like it: The dashboard of Invoice Ninja is very clean–showing you total revenue and expenses at a glance, recent activity, upcoming and/or past-due invoices, and pending quotes. Invoice Ninja also has a straight forward method of previewing your invoice designs. It comes with some prepackaged looks, such as Clean, Bold, Modern, or Business, and allows you to adjust font styles, sizes, and colors.
This solution is the best free invoicing solution not only due to the vast number of included features, but also for it’s scalability to grow with your business. If you fall in love with the software but find that you need to have more than 50 clients, the Ninja Pro Plan is easy to upgrade to and starts at only $10/month–making the paid version one of the most affordable small business invoicing options on the market. The free 14-day trial lets you see if the small price to pay is worth the added functionality, and you can easily downgrade back to the free version whenever needed.
Wave is a forever-free accounting solution that offers accounting, invoicing, payments, payroll, and receipts. Wave is very transparent into their pricing structure. The accounting, invoicing, and receipt scanning is 100% free. Collecting payments via credit card or bank transfers, or running payroll for your employees, does come at a price, however.
Why we like it: Wave is not only one of the most popular free accounting solutions, it can also be thought of as one of the most popular accounting solutions period. Because of this, it’s a great choice for freelancers and start-ups who are strapped for cash.
From an invoicing standpoint, you can easily create estimates and later convert them into an invoice to be sent to a customer or client. These invoices can include the business address and contact details, title, summary, and company logo. You can create your own invoice numbers, PO numbers, and select a desired payment date. Recurring invoices can be established as well.
If you sign up for credit card processing, you can send an invoice that will contain a “Pay With Your Credit Card” link–helping to speed up the time it takes for your business to get paid. Wave will deposit the money in you bank account within 2 business days. While this is a paid feature in Wave (that starts at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction), it is a feature that you’ll be hard-pressed to find cheaper elsewhere–making Wave a great option for invoicing, accounting, and more.
BQE Core brands itself as an all-in-one accounting and invoicing software–but that only tells half the story. The solution also includes powerful project management tools–making it a popular choice for professional service firms. The fully integrated solution can provide everything the modern firm needs–from time and expense tracking, project management, scheduling, and robust billing.
Why we like it: Given the large number of capabilities BQE Core can offer, it’s a great choice for mid-sized to larger businesses. The entire suite of BQE products streamlines the entire process of time tracking, billing time, and managing projects and the financials that go into them. With over 400,000 users worldwide, BQE Core has plenty of positive reviews from architects, engineers, accountants, attorneys, and more.
BQE Core can handle all types of billing arrangements, which includes 20 standard invoice templates and custom invoice templates. This includes invoices for hourly, fixed fee, unit cost, and percent-based contract types. You can also track expenses and include them on any client invoices.
FreshBooks has a billing and invoicing tool that helps your small business create professional invoices in seconds. Customers have a number of ways to pay, such as ACH transactions, credit card, or Apple Pay.
Why we like it: Automated reminders and saved payment information are just a few of the ways the invoicing capability helps save you and the customer time. Flexible invoicing terms will also let your small business request deposits on invoices to help cover any expenses necessary to complete the job.
The biggest benefit of FreshBooks is what you get included for the price. Starting at only $7.50/month, their “Lite” package is a full suite of unlimited invoices, expense entries, estimating, and time tracking.
Hiveage was designed exclusively for freelancers and small businesses–meaning it is simple to use and doesn’t have a lot of cumbersome features you need to sift through in order to get to your desired functions. While some may see this as a downside (in the sense that it isn’t as scalable as other options), others will enjoy the streamlined invoicing it provides and the subsequent ease of use for billing clients and tracking current and future revenue.
Why we like it: A strongsuit of Hiveage is the number of payment gateways it can integrate with for accepting online payments. This includes:
Multiple gateways can be chosen, which gives your customers a number of options to choose from when paying an invoice you’ve sent them. These payment options are added straight into your invoices.
To further assist your customers in paying you as much as they can and as quickly as they can, Hiveage payment processing allows for partial payments and offline payments, allowing customers to create payment terms that work for them, or even allowing them to pay cash or check if needed.
Small business invoicing software is designed to facilitate the creation and delivery of billing documents to customers. Invoicing solutions for small businesses provide automation features that help auto-complete data fields and calculate line items. Some solutions will also automatically generate and apply sales tax. These automation features will reduce the time it takes to run your invoicing process, which reduces labor costs, helps prevent under-billing, and increase customer satisfaction.
Small business invoicing software is usually a more simplistic, easier to use, and inexpensive version of a more robust billing and invoicing software. These solutions are targeted towards freelancers or small businesses with a smaller number of clients who may not need all the bells and whistles they find with other solutions. These options can also be small business accounting software that has an invoicing module, or be a stand-alone invoicing tool that integrates in with their existing accounting system (such as QuickBooks Online or Xero).
Some of the top benefits of invoicing software for your small business include:
To automate your invoicing process, you’ll want to find a solution that meshes well with other applications. For example, an invoicing tool that also offers (or integrates with) time tracking and project management will allow you to flow through your work day at a quicker pace.
While these features may commonly be included in small business invoicing systems, they may also be marketed as project time tracking software, or simply time and billing software. Time and billing software is used for real-time and after-the-fact employee time tracking in order to facilitate client billing.
Time and billing may be best suited for businesses that rely heavily on capturing billable hours. Internally, tracking billable hours vs non-billable hours can give an oversight as to how profitable your labor resources are, or perhaps better improve your workforce planning.
A real world example of small businesses finding success with integrated invoicing and time tracking is within the professional services. If you are a law firm, you likely bill clients at an hourly rate for services provided. Before beginning client work, you’ll want to “clock in” to their project, and “clock out” when you’re done. Once your work has been completed, your time can be calculated against your hourly rate, which creates a dollar figure on your invoice.
In today’s age, all types of software can be accessed via the cloud. Small business invoicing software that runs online provides a cost-effective, scalable, and flexible way of handling any billing needs.
One of the most popular reasons people are moving to online small business invoicing software is for the accessibility it offers. Online programs are accessible just by logging in via a web-browser. As such, they do not require any sort of native application to work. This means you can use the software while at home, at a coffee shop, or wherever you have access to the internet.
This level of accessibility means your invoices are stored in the cloud. Employees can upload and approve invoices even if they are traveling. Invoices are also never lost, as cloud-storage offered by your software provider means they control any and all data storage and backups.
Other benefits of cloud small business invoicing software include subscription-based pricing, online payment processing, and reducing paperwork within your business.
The cost of small business invoicing software is dependent on the number of users, the number of invoices being created each month, any additional functionalities needed beyond invoicing, and any integrations required with other systems.
Most options targeted towards small businesses will have a starting price of $9-$25/month. This is typically a base-rate for a limited amount of users. Payment processing–either via credit card or ACH–will add to your overall monthly costs.
While becoming more rare, some software companies do sell locally installed versions of their solutions. This means you’ll pay a bulk cost upfront to buy the software outright. This is great for a company that does not want to worry about monthly payments. Small business options will start anywhere between $500 to $1,000 for licensing.
If your business prefers to go the locally installed route, you’ll want to be prepared for added fees. This includes implementation and training costs, which can potentially double the initial investment.
You also will need to consider the need for ongoing support and annual updates. These are usually optional to purchase, but without them, you’ll be left high and dry without a working solution if something goes wrong. Many businesses choose a subscription-based pricing model for the peace of mind that they can always get reliable support and updates to their software when needed.