FreshBooks Adds Journal Entries

Thursday, while most of us were freaking out about Valentine's Day...FreshBooks was releasing a handy new feature.

With tax time fast approaching, one of the big problems business owners face is getting their data sent to their accountants. If your accountant isn't up to date with cloud-based services like FreshBooks...it's even more difficult.

Time was, you'd just burn a copy of your QuickBooks file or a few Excel spreadsheets onto a CD, or copy them to a flash drive and drop it off at their office. Or, if you are particularly blessed, you would print out hundreds of pages that make up the General Ledger.

If you were using FreshBooks in previous years, it wasn't always clear how to give the accountant all the data they needed. As a bookkeeper, I could usually generate a few key reports that would give me the info I needed. As a business owner who signed up for FreshBooks because of its simplicity, the process wasn't always clear.

This year FreshBooks has added a feature that allows you to quick create and send journal entries to your accountant. The good news is...it's simple to use and you don't need to know what journal entries are before you send them.

If you log into FreshBooks, and click on Reports...you'll see a new link.

FreshBooks Journal Entries - 1

Click on the link and you're given a pop-up dialogue. There are two key bits of info here. By default, it selects the previous calendar year as the dates for your journal entries. You can select the default or choose your own date range.

Below the Next button is a very important checkbox that says "My accountant doesn't use QuickBooks - I need a .CSV file". By default FreshBooks will create a QuickBooks-friendly file that your accountant can use to import your data directly into QuickBooks. If they aren't using QuickBooks, or if you want a little more control over the data, make sure to check this box. This will instead give you a .CSV (comma-separated values) file. Your accountant will usually open this up in Excel in order to pull out the information they need.

Click Next and you're brought to a simple email screen. Fill out your accountant's information, edit the message if you'd like, and press Send. It's seriously that simple. In about 2 minutes you've sent your accountant all the information you've collected in FreshBooks throughout the year, and in a format they can work with.

Once you've hit send you'll get this final message.

That's it.

When I tried it out with my own data, I got an email immediately. It contained a .zip file with the .csv inside. I opened it up, and guess what? All my data from 2013 in a math-nerd's favourite format...a spreadsheet!

If you're a business owner running FreshBooks, ask your bookkeeper/accountant if they'd like these journal entries mailed to them this year. And, if you're a bookkeeper, make sure to let your FreshBooks-using clients know that this feature is now available.

Check out the post on the Freshbooks blog for more details.

New: Journal Entries for QuickBooks Desktop and CSV

Bookkeeping - Made in Canada

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It's funny how the mind works. Driving around each day, I couldn't tell you how many red Honda Civics passed me. But if I were to buy a red Honda Civic tomorrow, suddenly I'd be seeing them at every intersection.

No, I'm not about to talk about cars, or give a Radiolab-style analysis on why the mind notices these things. I say this because I am noticing a lot more Canadian tech companies lately. More specifically, Canadian-based bookkeeping companies.

There are times when a desktop accounting application is the best choice. In those circumstances, QuickBooks has been my brand of choice ever since they discontinued MYOB in Canada.

When QB isn't required, or when a client is using something online as their front-end invoicing app, I've been working with 3 main ones.

  1. Freshbooks
  2. Wave Accounting
  3. Xero

2 of these 3 have something in common. Yes, you guessed it, Canadian companies. To make things even more interesting, I recently started testing out another app.

Kashoo is another online bookkeeping service. I'm just starting to learn more about it. I think it's going to be another favourite. Guess what? Canadian too.

I have no idea what makes Canada a hotbed of accounting innovation. Whatever the reason, it sure makes me proud to be a bookkeeper here.

I realize that I've done a few posts on Freshbooks in the past. I think it's about time I wrote about some of the other options too. Maybe even a side by side comparison. The nice thing is, each company is going to have different wants and needs when it comes to their bookkeeping system. Each option I listed above is well suited to a specific type of entrepreneur.

Need to invoice but hate accounting? Freshbooks

Like Mint.com but wish it could also do your books? Wave

Anyway, I know I've been really slow on putting up posts this year, but I'll try to get to those soon. Stay tuned for sure. In the meantime, I've been getting a lot of great people sending me guest posts. I hope you have enjoyed them so far. You're always welcome to contact me if you have an opinion on the content I'm publishing, or if you have a post idea of your own.

M.Y.O.B.

the cobbler's children have no shoes

This old saying warns of a cobbler, who is so busy with his customer's shoes, that he doesn't bother to have proper shoes for his own family. Does this saying ring true...have you forgotten to manage your own business?

If you're a mechanic with an unreliable car, a roofer with buckets catching rain in your kitchen, or a bookkeeper whose own paperwork is stacked to the ceiling, this may be a very accurate way of describing your business. And, it's a habit that you need to break. 

This doesn't just apply to your craft. It's just as bad if the cobbler's taxes are late, or if the mechanic's voicemail message still says Merry Christmas. Taking care of your business is just as important as taking care of a customer. 

This can be a very hard habit to break, and I'm constantly guilty of putting my business on the back burner. The problem is, you don't pay nearly as well as your clients do. Let's say you have two stacks of paper in front of you. When you finish one stack, you know you can send out an invoice for $1,000. When you finish the other stack, you'll be caught up on your own paperwork, but no richer. 

Easy decision, right?

If you know you'll get to your own paperwork tomorrow, then yes, take care of your customer (and your bank account) first. But what if this is the 10th time you've made that "easy" decision this month? Or, what if it's April, and that 2nd stack is your taxes? Before you know it, the problems and stress you've created by putting off your own work make it difficult to continue doing the client work. 

This shows up in 2 types of ways; direct and indirect. 

Direct

This is more obvious. Each time your work truck breaks down, you can't get to your customers. If you forgot to pay your phone bill, your customers can't call you. 

Indirect

This is more subtle. Think of your mental state if you knew the last 2 examples might happen today. Let's say the engine light came on last night, or you got a final notice from the phone company. If you can't fix the problems today, how much of your attention are your clients going to get? What about your health. How many times can you stay up late worrying about your overdue taxes before it starts taking a toll on your body. 

The Customer's Perspective

Setting aside your own stress, let's look at this from the customer's point of view. First impressions (as unfair as this is sometimes) are very important. You could be the best lawyer in town, but if a client comes into your office and yesterday's takeout is spilling onto your important papers, they will leave before you've proven your value to them.

This is no different online. If your website has a technocolour guestbook and every other page features an animated GIF of a construction worker who's "almost done building this page", people won't reach out to you.  

Solutions?

I know as well as anyone that there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done, especially if you're doing this solo. It's all about moderation. My biggest advice would be to set aside some time this weekend to figure out a system. Don't do any work until you've done this first step. Figure out how much time you can devote to managing your business. Then, find the most simple and efficient systems that will allow you to keep things organized in the time you've got. 

Maybe this means you block out one day to write 4 blog posts, and then schedule them to show up at the same time each week.

Or maybe you switch to a simpler bookkeeping app. Freshbooks can automate a lot of your invoicing, including recurring invoices, and late payment reminders. Wave Accounting can pull data from your business bank account, so you just need to go in once a month to make sure everything is in the right category. 

If you still find you're falling behind, then you need to make one of two choices. You need to either scale back the amount of client work you do, or find someone to help you manage your business. Outsource your web design, your bookkeeping (shameless plug), or your marketing to a professional.

It probably won't cost as much as you think, and the stress relief will be incredible. 

Tax Thursdays @ Freshbooks

I just wanted to let you all know that a post I wrote for Freshbooks just went live today. It's part of their Tax Thursdays! series, and deals with how to get your taxes done...even if you've left it until the last minute. If you fall into this category, you may find some helpful tips.

Freshbooks Tax Thursdays - Get Ready for the Home Stretch