Saving Time and Money With Clear Books Online Accounting
by Jo Shaer, on July 19, 2012
For the first year that I ran my new business, I ran my invoicing from my computer using Word.
As a newbie, it seemed like a good idea at the time but meant that I ran into a lot of problems when I came to do my accounts at the end of the year. Especially as I am from a generation which did not learn Word or spreadsheets at school and have had to try to play catch up on what, for most of you, will seem like simple tasks. However, this education had to take place at the same time as running my business.
I made the mistake of putting the name of the client first rather than the number, so when I saved each invoice, it went into alphabetical order rather than being listed by the numbers in which they were issued.
For a start it was hard to keep track of what number I was on and, as a result, I ended up with two invoice number 25s and completed missed number 38 which required explanation to my accountant.
Then there was keeping track of which ones had been paid.
At around the same time, I realised that I needed some kind of CRM - customer relationship management system - to store all the customer's details online rather than keeping it all in my head.
I started looking at accounts management systems and had almost made my mind up to go with one well-known brand when I was chatting with a friend who designs mainframes for a living and asked who he used.
'Oh, I use Clear Books,' he said. 'They're very good but, best of all, for small businesses, they offer a package that is only £6 per month so long as you stay below 80 transactions and are not VAT registered.'
Since this was about half what the others were charging for services which far exceeded anything that I could ever envisage using, I went to check them out and took advantage of the free month's trial.
After a couple of weeks, I realised that this was the way forward for me.
My own branded invoices that numbered themselves and kept in the right order.
Being able to separate off paid and unpaid.
The ability to set up recurring invoices that presented themselves on the right day each month ready to email to the client.
I have been using Clear Books for about 9 months now and one of the best things about them is the customer service. Lizzie and co are quick to respond and very helpful.
Things that could be improved? Sometimes the explanatory videos and notes have been written by people who are so familiar with the system and with using software generally that they make assumptions and don't include information which they think is obvious. This is a criticism which I have levelled at many software manuals so should not be taken as being exclusive to Clear Books.
Remember: Assume makes an Ass out of U and Me. Don't ever miss off an instruction because you think it goes without saying. For many users, it will be crucial to the successful resolution of their problem.
It would also be more user friendly for small businesses without dedicated accounts departments if they could transfer unused transactions into the next month rather than lose them completely. Great for those months where you've not had time to keep the all your incoming and outgoing payments up to date and have to do two in one go.
Coming up to the end of my second year, I am still just about within my 80 transactions per month but Clear Books offers me the opportunity to move up to the next level when I am ready so it's not something that is worrying me. It's nice to be able to recommend a business that helps to make life easier for UK small businesses who are trying to grow.
They are keeping up with the time too with a mobile app and also new software products to cover CRM, payroll and task management
If you would like to find out more about Clear Books and try out their free trial, click here. If you sign up through this link, as I understand it, you will get two months free trial - not the 30 days advertised. And I get a free month too.
Mutual back scratching all round!