Invoicing can seem like a chore, but it should be the most exciting part of your business; after all, it’s what helps you get paid, right? Are you manually sending invoices typed up in Word, or using the built-in invoicing feature of an accounting suite or payment processor? With a dedicated invoicing solution, you could save considerable time and reduce your outstanding accounts receivable.
Here are some of the features you should consider when comparing an invoicing tool. Should you go with a subscription service, or self-host an open source app such as Invoice Ninja? Not only can Invoice Ninja save you hundreds of dollars a year, your most confidential business data will stay private where it belongs — on your own server.
Look and Feel of the Invoices
So you’re giving a prospective client a quote, or billing for a job well done. You want your invoices to look professional and distinctive. With Freshbooks, Harvest or Wave, you have one to three templates to choose from, and customization is usually limited to the logo, colors and text. On the other hand, with Invoice Ninja, you have 10 fully customizable templates to choose from out-of-the-box and the ability to upload your own. There’s even a live PDF preview that will show you how your invoice will turn out as you create it in the dashboard. For your own protection what was agreed upon, you can include an attachment, such as a signed contract or statement of work to each invoice.
The Customer View
Are you tired of wasting time resending past invoices to your clients, or chasing them for payment? Maybe your clients are not that tech-savvy, and they’re always asking you for help to create a login for the customer area on Freshbooks or Zoho. When you create a new Client in Invoice Ninja and send them their first invoice, a unique link will be automatically generated for them to view their current and past invoices. If you prefer, you can also generate a random password for each client for an additional layer of security.
Automation and Recurring Billing
If you don’t have a dedicated bookkeeper, you will love these Invoice Ninja features. You can set up customized, auto payment reminder emails at the intervals of your choice. Got many clients who are on the same billing plan? Use the bulk email invoicing feature to send them a bill in one fell swoop. And never forget to send a monthly invoice again. You can use recurring billing to set a start (and end date, if applicable) to generate an invoice for an ongoing client on a certain day of the month. If you use Stripe, the amount can even be deducted from your client’s payment method automatically.
Ah, time sheets. Love them or hate them – if you have a time-based project, your invoicing app needs to let you log time against a specific client. With Invoice Ninja you don’t need a separate app to track your time. Simply browse to the Tasks tab, create a new task and start/stop the timer. Once you’re finished, it’s only one click to pre-fill an invoice, enter your agreed hourly rate and send it off to the client. If you prefer to consolidate a few tasks into a single, itemized invoice, simply save it for later, then you can select multiple tasks when you are ready to bill the client.
Time tracking can be down to the minute for contracts that require it. If you prefer a desktop app like Toggl, you can also manually enter the time spent on each task into Invoice Ninja. Even if you run a tight ship at your agency or consultancy, chances are you have “tracked but uninvoiced” time accumulating which you could turn into cash – and Invoice Ninja can help.
Payment Gateways Supported
Right out of the gate, you should know that Invoice Ninja supports over 45 payment gateways – designed with a truly global audience in mind. Whether you take credit cards, bank transfers, cryptocurrencies or cash, there’s sure to be a payment gateway you can use.
Internet businesses outside North America, particularly the US and Canada, often face many restrictions using the most popular payment gateways, especially PayPal (or PayPal owned gateways, such as Braintree). The SaaS based invoicing tools can integrate with the following payment services, but many of the options are only available to businesses in US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
- FreshBooks – WePay, PayPal, Braintree by Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net
- Zoho – Authorize.net, Stripe, Forte, Worldpay, 2CheckOut, WePay, RazorPay, PayPal
- Harvest – PayPal and Stripe
- Wave – Payments by Wave (powered by Stripe)
- QuickBooks Online – QuickBooks Payments
With Invoice Ninja, you’re never locked into the invoicing service’s own gateway, which could be disastrous if they decide to significantly raise rates or stop working with your business. If you don’t like the terms of your payment processor, simply add a new gateway in Invoice Ninja and carry on with minimal disruption to your customers.
Vendor and Expense Management
Invoice Ninja is not a one-trick pony; it also has vendor and expense management features to keep track of what you spend, which can sometimes be as important as what you make! For a small business, the vendor and expense management feature could replace a full-featured accounting suite that’s time-consuming to learn. Much like how you create a Client, you can add the details of all your Vendors and track expenses against them. When it’s tax time, you can neatly export this information as a CSV and email it to your bookkeeper or accountant, instead of an unorganized shoebox of receipts.
Integration with Accounting or Bookkeeping Tools
For more complex businesses that need to use QuickBooks Online, Wave Accounting or Xero to keep track of their finances, you can use Invoice Ninja’s integrations through Zapier and Integromat to sync data, such as client lists, invoices and payments to these applications. This way you can upgrade your invoicing solution without affecting what you already use Quickbooks for, payroll for example, if you have employees.
Privacy & Security
When configured correctly, self-hosted Invoice Ninja has privacy and security benefits that no SaaS based competitor can match. Especially if your business is of a sensitive nature, where your clients could be jeopardized if their dealings with you were revealed, you may want to avoid handing your client’s contact information and invoice details over to a third party provider. There are many startups with small business accounting apps emerging, but are you sure you can really trust them with your data for the years to come? With Invoice Ninja, you can export your data at any time and save a backup to an offline device.
We all like to save money, and self-hosting your invoicing solution can help you do that over the long term. Many freemium apps, like Wave or Zoho Invoice have limits how many users, clients and invoices you can have in their system before you need to upgrade. After the first 5 clients, Zoho Invoice requires you to upgrade to a paid plan. Other alternatives, such as Freshbooks have only a 30 day free trial, after which you need to pay – even if you are not sending any invoices.
SaaS apps can change their pricing at any time, and reentering all your client data into a new system is error-prone and tedious. When you hire a consultant to set up Invoice Ninja, you’re making an investment that will scale as you add clients, employees and grow your revenue. You own your self-hosted instance, so you can send unlimited invoices, create unlimited clients and users every month.
What are you waiting for?
Does your current invoicing solution do all of this? If not, we would be pleased to give you a walkthrough of Invoice Ninja.