By Inna Kaushan, Solna
Keeping on top of all your finance admin whether it’s claiming all your expenses through to managing cashflow can be hard for business owners. Luckily there are now many low-cost or even free tools that you can use. These can both automate tasks and give you essential information at your fingertips.
Here is information about some apps that you should find easy to use and which will provide useful benefit for your business.
As small business or as a freelancer, maintaining your cash flow is vital. You need to avoid long delays between invoicing and getting paid. Offering your customers multiple payment options is one way to avoid this — the more payment options you offer, the fewer excuses your clients have to delay payment.
Whether you sell a product or a service, have an online business and/or work as a freelancer you need to be able to accept a range of payments: online, mobile or contactless.
Stripe is the one-stop-shop you need. Used by millions of businesses, Stripe is secure and easy for your customers to use and allows you to accept online and in-person payments from anyone in any country.
The cost? Stripe charges a standard 1.4% transaction charge plus a 20p per transaction fee for European cards and 2.9% plus a 20p fee for non-European cards. There are no setup, monthly or hidden fees and you only have to pay for what you use.
Expensify: Expense management
Anyone working for themselves knows how easily receipts can build up: you promise yourself you’ll keep your receipts organised, but there are a million and one other things you’d rather be dealing with. A coffee here and a train ticket there, and soon enough you’ve got six months worth expenses to sort out.
This disorganised approach will make tracking billable expenses such an effort you might find yourself not bothering or maybe letting a few costs slip through the net. Keeping a safe record and sparing yourself the pain of sorting through months of receipts can easily be managed with the right app.
Expensify is great for people who just keep adding to their pile of receipts. It offers receipt scanning, next-day reimbursement, GPS mileage tracking, and tax tracking. You can allocate costs to specific jobs, set up unlimited categories, and import your credit or debit cards so that everything sits nicely under one account. It consolidates all your expenses and makes them much easier to manage.
It even comes with a virtual assistant just for you: Concierge. Driven by AI, Concierge reminds you to submit receipts, review reports, and automates things for you.
The cost? Individual plans are £3.99 a month and group plans start from just £4 per user/month.
Emma: Budgeting and savings
What if you never went over your budget again? With many of us having multiple accounts, contracts, and several credit cards, the challenges that come with managing our money and having everything under control just keep growing.
If you want to be good with your money, Emma is a handy little tool that lets you effortlessly manage your cash flow and gives you the control you need over your finances. Thought to be the UK’s answer to Mint, Emma’s main goal is to improve the financial situation of its users. It works by aggregating your bank accounts and credit cards to give you a full picture of your finances.
Emma acts as your personal finance adviser by keeping track of all your spending, subscriptions, and even alerting you on any overdrafts. Emma can also help you keep track of debt repayments and it even prompts you to save money by suggesting what you can afford to save at the end of each month. Yes, it’ll spot if you’ve been buying too many flat whites!
The cost? Emma is free to use but users also have the option to upgrade to Emma Pro for premium features including custom categories, unlimited budgeting, and data exports
For some freelancers and small businesses, getting paid means sending email attachments, mailing pieces of paper, sending chaser emails etc. While it might sound simple, it can often all end up being a massive admin job without the right help.
If you want to get paid on time, smart invoicing is the way to go — Solna is packed with smart features to protect freelancers and small businesses whether they’re new to the game or not, and makes invoicing quick and easy.
With Solna, users can create, customise and send invoices in seconds. It also sends automatic payment reminders to those annoying late payers and lets you track every invoice until it’s in your account. Invoices also come with read receipts, so no more chasing random accounting people either, and it’ll help you get paid faster.
You can also get a better view of who you’re doing business with and make the best decisions when setting payment terms using Solna’s credit check facility. It’s an invoicing tool with brains.
The cost? You can sign up to Solna’s free version that provides access to invoice templates and customers’ credit scores for a limited number of customers. The paid packages give you invoice tracking, recurring invoices, advanced reporting in addition to more customers and templates.
Monese: Personal and business banking
Business banking has changed A LOT. ‘Next-gen’ banks using smartphone technology have apps which allow you to manage everything remotely, online, and in the cloud.
Monese provides freelancers and small businesses with a UK-based bank account that can be set up within hours. It is completely mobile, so you can manage all your banking needs using the smart mobile app that has been especially designed to provide flexibility and easy transfers.
If you pay for your Monese account, you can use your card anywhere in the world with no fees — yes, zero roaming charges! You can also manage your account in 10 different languages.
The cost? For freelancers a Monese’s free account that will give you access to all the features, though you’ll be charged for cash machine withdrawals and payments abroad. You’ll even have to pay £5 to get your card delivered. The two paid accounts cost £4.95 and £14.95. Here you’ll get a free card and will be able to access some or all of those features for free. There’s a business account (£9.95 a month) which provides a two-in-one Monese Business and Monese Plus personal account. You’ll be able to separate your business and personal spend with free dedicated debit cards and manage both seamlessly from one place!
We suggest that take advantage of the technology that is now available for business owners and freelancers. It will help you reduce your stress, provide valuable financial information and make it easier to run your business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Inna Kaushan is co-founder of Solna, a smart invoicing platform powered by credit score data. Solna speeds up the invoicing and payment process for freelancers and small businesses. Through leveraged credit data that is overlaid on the platform’s invoicing and reporting functionality, users get a clear picture of their customer’s financial health and their overall exposure to risk. The system’s automated credit control functionality automatically chases overdue invoices – freeing up time and ensuring faster payment.