Business development · 20 June 2019

5 helpful financial tools for freelancers & small businesses on a budget

A guide to hiring freelancers

Running your own business can be tough, and expensive. With the juggling needed to make your business a success, it’s easy to put financial management on the back burner. However, having well organised finances doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming, or boring. Fortunately, there’re plenty of free (or fairly cheap) tools to help you. If you’re new to it all, or you want to refresh your tool kit, these apps require little effort from you, and they won’t break the bank.

1. Expensify

Expense management Anyone working for themselves knows this scenario: you promise you’ll keep your receipts organised.

However, a coffee here, a train ticket there, and soon you’ve got six months’ worth of expenses to sort through. Keeping a safe record and sparing yourself the pain of sorting can easily be managed with the right app.

Expensify 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 credit or debit cards so you have everything under one account.

It consolidates all your expenses making them much easier to manage. It even comes with a virtual assistant: Concierge. How much does it cost? Individual plans are £3.99 a month and group plans start from £4 per user/month.

2. Monese: Personal and business banking

‘Next-gen’ banks using smartphone technology have massively improve our banking experience. 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 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. You can also manage your account in 10 different languages.

How much does it cost?

If you’re a freelancer, Monese’s free account will give you access to all the features, but you’ll be charged for cash machine withdrawals and payments abroad. You’ll have to pay a fiver to get your card delivered. The two paid accounts cost £4.95 and £14.95.

You’ll get a free card and can access some or all the features for free. There’s also a business account (£9.95 a month) where you get 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!

3. Emma: Budgeting and savings

Emma is a handy tool that lets you effortlessly manage your cash flow and gives you control over your finances.

Emma’s main goal is to improve the financial situation of its users. It works by aggregating your bank accounts and credit cards, giving you a full picture of your finances.

Emma acts as your personal finance adviser, keeping track of all your spending, subscriptions, and alerting you on any overdrafts.

Emma can help you keep track of debt repayments and even prompts you to save money by suggesting what you can afford to save at the end of each month.

It’ll spot if you’ve been buying too many Lattes! How much does it cost? Emma is free to use but users have the option to upgrade to Emma Pro for premium features including custom categories, unlimited budgeting, and data exports

4. Solna: Invoicing

If getting paid means you’re sending email attachments, mailing pieces of paper, sending chaser emails etc. it can often end up being a massive admin job without the right help.

To get paid on time, smart invoicing is the way to go — Solna is packed with smart features to protect freelancers and small businesses 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.

How much does it 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.

5. Stripe: Payments

As a freelancer or small business, maintaining your cash flow is crucial, so it’s in your interest to avoid long delays between the time of sale 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. This means you need to be able to accept an array of payments: online, mobile or contactless.

Used by millions of businesses, Stripe is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to get paid. 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.

How much does it 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 is no setup, monthly or hidden fees and you only pay for what you use. By making the most of the technology available to you free or at very low cost, you can keep track of your finances and manage your money smarter, faster and more cost-effectively.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Inna Kaushan is the 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.

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