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FreeAgent — Worth Every Penny

FreeAgent sign-up

FreeAgent is a money management tool for small businesses. It’s particularly geared towards service businesses — freelancers, contractors, and consultants — and it works (really well).

If you spend more than an hour per month on these aspects of your business:

— then you will certainly save money by adopting FreeAgent.

Half an hour of your billable time will pay for the dearest price plan. And you will become so organised, so quickly, that you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it (answer: painfully).

How It Works For Me

Every month I receive a bank statement in the post for my company’s bank account. I download an electronic version from my bank (5 minutes), upload it to FreeAgent (2 minutes), and explain any transactions whose nature FreeAgent can’t infer from previous statements (10 minutes).

In quarter of an hour I have an up to date, fully explained bank account history. I drop my accountant an email to let her know. She can log in at her convenience to check the, er, accounting things, and correct any mistakes. Note I don’t have to fill in a byzantine Excel spreadsheet. That’s such a blessing, I’ll say it again:

I don’t have to copy and paste my business’s transactions into my accountant’s spreadsheet.

She simply logs into my FreeAgent account and looks at the numbers I look at.

I then look at my company’s tax position to ensure I have set aside enough for The Man. FreeAgent calculates it on the fly so I know it includes the bank transactions I just uploaded.

Finally, I look at my expenses and reimburse myself for the outstanding total. This is trivial because FreeAgent has already deducted any previous reimbursements (it recognises them when I upload my statement) so all I need do is read the bottom line.

Before FreeAgent, calculating which expenses I had reimbursed and how much I was still owed was such a hassle that I often didn’t bother.

FreeAgent does much else besides but I won’t labour the point.

How Did I Get Started?

Once I had decided to try FreeAgent, I procrastinated for several months before diving in. I imagined it would take me several days to enter my two years' bank transactions, expenses, capital purchases, etc. In fact I nailed it in under four hours.

I hadn’t realised that FreeAgent learns as you go along. The more you use it, the better it gets at categorising transactions automatically and pre-populating various other fields. This saves a lot of time.

FreeAgent Makes My Life Better

FreeAgent saves me time. It takes me minutes to achieve what previously took hours and hours. I can now spend those hours either on billable work or going swimming.

FreeAgent saves me money. I no longer leave my expenses un-reimbursed because they’re too much trouble. My accountant charges me less because it takes her less time to analyse my accounts.

FreeAgent makes me look good. My financial information is always right up to date, accurate and smartly presented. It makes me look professional to my accountant. And since my accountant’s firm sometimes refers its clients to each other, I increase my chances of new business.

You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours

If you do sign up to a paying account via me, I get 10% off my monthly fee and you get 10% off your monthly fee. Nice.

FreeAgent has a free 30 day trial, and is constantly improving, so give it a whirl.

Disclosure: FreeAgent’s CTO is a friend of mine. However I believe in telling it like it is, especially to your friends, so if something’s bad they can fix it. Happily, in this case, it’s all good.

Andrew Stewart • 5 March 2008 • Business
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