One of the largest barriers facing small business and freelancers is keeping track of invoicing, receipts, payroll and general accounting. This can be a problem because of the expense of the software and/or accounting firm. If you’re just getting started, you won’t want to invest in an expensive (and often outdated-looking) accounting suite, and Excel for data and Word for invoices will only go so far.
Now, along comes a service called Wave Apps — well, really it is just called Wave, but it is a collection of apps. The five services are designed to make life easier for the small business owner or freelancer.
What is Included?
Wave consists of five applications — invoicing, accounting, payroll, personnel, and receipts — that should cover pretty much all of the accounting needs of most users. Plus it all works online, with no software to download and clog up your computer.
Pricing is (mostly) free, but if you wish to use the service for payroll, then it will run you $5 per employee per month. The other apps will not impact your wallet.
Obviously you need to sign up for an account in which to save the information you will be adding. The usual email address and password are required. You can then enter a company name, type of business, organization type and currency. Once these are out of the way, you will whisked away to a dashboard screen.
Now that you are signed up, you will receive a welcome email with some instructions and a link to connect your bank account, as well. This is not required, but if you decide to do so, then the option is available anytime, not just at sign up. Let’s take a look through the app and see what it’ll offer your business.
The dashboard will be your first stop and the means of your activity within Wave. Thankfully, it is not overly complicated or cluttered looking. In fact, it is simple to navigate!
Across the top, customers will find options for Savings, Support and Account. There is also an option to switch between accounts, so that a customer can handle different businesses. The main window pane shows recent activity and also a financial snapshot, making it extremely easy to get quick information about where things stand with your finances.
As the name implies, this screen allows the customer to keep track of basic financial information, such as income and expenses. It is broken down much like an online bank, with categories including date, description, amount, category and account. You have options for how many items to display on a page and also the ability to jump to whatever page you wish.
This is where customers will bill those places they have done work for, as well as accept invoices from other companies and track all of this information.
You can click the “Accept Credit Cards” button to view options for adding a “Pay Now” button to your invoice, accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express and handle various accounting needs. You can also track dates, amounts, invoice numbers, status and more.
The Bills page functions in much the same way as Invoices does, with all of the same options, as well, including filtering, views and other information.
Here is where things get interesting again. Receipts will allow you to get rid of the paper, and store this information right within Wave itself. You will need an Android or iPhone, but that encompasses a good portion of the population!
What receipts does is allow the customer to use the camera on their smartphone as a scanner, and enter in the receipts for business expenses and more.
This is the nerve center of the operation. From here you can view all information, including assets, liabilities, expenses and more. You can also export data via Excel, CSV or PDF formats. You will also be able get an easy overview of account balances in countless different categories, such as accounts receivable, sales, various expenses and many more. Finally, you can view, add and edit transactions.
From this screen you will be able to pull up a number of different ways of looking at your data in new and unique ways. You’ll be able to see a balance sheet, check your account transactions and general ledger, see your income by customer or expense by vendor, and more. You’ll even have options for gain/loss on foreign currencies, and ways to see your aged receivables and payables. It digs deeper with its reports than most similar web services.
The Final Score
Each of the pages has its own settings, allowing for some customization. It varies a bit for every one, but these are mostly simple things. Complexity is kept to a minimum throughout the service.
If you are a business of one, then this service is free — only Payroll is a paid option. That makes this a no-brainer for any small business, struggling to find accounting at a reasonable price.
The service integrates with Google Apps and information on how that works can be found here. You will also need to place a certain amount of trust in this company. After all you are feeding it all of your financial information and also linking it to your bank account. Security seems to pretty robust, based on my research. On the whole I found the entire service to extremely easy to set up and use and will continue to use it. That is perhaps the best recommendation of all.