Invoicing for contractors: 3 essential tools and features

Last updated on 
July 27, 2020

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While invoicing seems pretty straightforward, it’s something many contractors take a while to master. When you’re always dealing with multiple projects that have different payment terms and timelines, it’s easy for things to slip through the net. It’s also scarily easily to forget to send invoices or submit them in time to meet established client payroll processes, meaning your cash flow can be held up for a whole month.

But this is basic stuff: it’s pointless to do the work if you don’t actually get paid accurately and on time for it. Thankfully, there’s a ton of tech out there to shore up your business and simplify the whole process. We’ve wittled that down to the following three essential tools, which are especically designed to make contractor invoicing a breeze.

Timely – for automatically tracking billable hours

Invoicing means very little if the time you’re charging for aren’t actually accurate. For those looking for a robust, purpose-built billable hours tracker, look no further than Timely. It automatically captures all your work activity for you without you lifting a finger, producing a flawless digital record of all your hours. It then uses AI to draft accurate time sheets for you, which you just need to approve when you’re ready to bill for your work. Automation ensures commonly overlooked billable hours make it to your invoice, and outsources a huge chunk of essential business admin. Producing accurate time sheets with minimal effort, Timely gives you something you can’t put a price on: peace of mind.

Features:

  • Automatic time tracking and AI timesheet creation: You’ll get a complete record of all business time, spend less time on admin and invoice for all your rightful billable hours.
  • Real-time project dashboards: This is essential for staying on top of multiple clients, tracking how much progress you’ve made, and keeping on track of budget spend.
  • Simple reporting: It’s easy to analyze things like time distribution across tasks, projects and clients, as well as export itemized time reports as XLS, CSV or PDF files.
  • Intuitive calendar interface: Timely makes it easy to plan work ahead to forecast revenue for each week or month, as well as time box your week and create a schedule.
  • Weekly capacity: This protects you from regularly over working and overpromising when taking on new work, and helps you maintain a healthy work/life balance.

It’s important to be aware that while some invoicing tools offer built-in time tracking, this almost always amounts to basic manual timers which introduce huge errors into time reporting. Even when performed daily, manual time tracking is only ever 67% accurate, so it’s worth finding a sophisticated automatic time tracking tool to ensure you actually bill for all your hours.

Rydoo – for keeping tabs on your expenses  

No matter which field you work in, keeping on track of expenses is essential. There are plenty of free tools around, but not everyone is an Excel whizz, and sometimes you need something more consultancy-level. Travel, meetings, email and events are often part and parcel of the contractor working experience, but when your job is to provide a specialized service, you don’t want to waste time filling out fiddly expense reports or fussing about processing receipts. With Rydoo, expense tracking doesn't have to be a pain; it’s the choice tool of companies like PwC and Deloitte, and could help make your expenses managmenet a breeze too.

Features:

  • Expense in real time: Rydoo has no accounting and controlling peaks, offers more flexibility for financial controllers, and you only pay per active user (not per report).
  • Control your spending: Because Rydoo works with real-time data you can get actionable insights and make better decisions – meaning you’re more in control of your spending.
  • 100% paperless and best-in-class OCR tech: Going totally digital means you never have to worry about losing receipts again, and being 100% mobile means you can expense anywhere.
  • Save time: By effortlessly integrating with your ERP and boosting your expense policy compliance, Rydoo helps to free you up for more meaningful work.

Akaunting – for effortless invoicing

Even if you’ve got your billable hours and expensing flows down, you can still be held up by the final invoicing step. Drawing up invoices, sending them and following up on unpaid bills can be frustrating and time-consuming, but smart new apps make it easy to keep your finances simple and transparent. A quick look reveals there are dozens of high-level invoicing tools, but one of the best for consultants, Akaunting, is free. And by free, we mean free – no setup fees, no hidden charges, no limited trials.

Features:

  • Easy customer management: Setting up clients and sending invoices is beautifully simple. You can also invite clients to a password-protected client portal, allowing you to share transactions and invoices, and accept bulk payments.
  • Powerful and insightful reporting: Get detailed financial reports to help you better visualize all the data and knowledge you need to boost your business.
  • Vendor management: Quickly create vendors so you can assign bills and payments to them in seconds. Later, you can filter through their transactions easily too.
  • Tax rates: Keep on top of varying tax rates by setting up different names for specific taxes, and link each tax to its relevant product or transaction to save you time.

💰 When to use fixed and hourly rates

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