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Small business

Small biz tip: How to charge by the hour on your website

Time is money, and during the COVID-19 crisis, every minute counts. Business is slowing down for many, which is why it’s important to get as much value out of each hour as possible.

But if you’re running things on your own, detailed time tracking and bookkeeping can seem like a hassle. If your business is manned by a skeleton crew or you’re managing everything on your own, that means relying on the right tech to get the job done. Tap or click here to see what you need to work from home.

Last week on Kim’s show, Maynard from Owls Head, Maine called in for advice on the best timekeeping software. The options he found on his own came with huge set-up fees or seemed suspect. Keep reading for Kim’s answer.

Finding the right software

Maynard is a wild animal specialist who has spent 40 years trapping and relocating wild animals. He called Kim looking for a pay-per-minute option for his website — so he can get paid for the time he’s working.

“I have found sites that handle time and billing. One wants a $500 set-up fee plus a monthly charge and percentage for each sale. The other I found was free. I set it up on my phone but it didn’t seem safe. Do you have any ideas?”

If you too want to log the hours you spend with clients accurately, you’ll need top-notch timekeeping software.

These handy applications will not only track the minutes and hours you’re on the job, but they can also help you figure out estimated tax payments and put together invoices. Here are Kim’s picks.

Freshbooks automates accounting

Freshbooks automates the accounting process and integrates time tracking as a major feature. To start a timesheet, all you need to do is open the in-app timer and start it. The app will count down the minutes and hours as you work, leaving an accurate log that automatically calculates your rate and time together.

With this feature, you won’t just know how long you spent on a project, you’ll know how much you earned at the end of your session. The service even works with teams of multiple users, so everyone can keep track of the time they spend at your business.

The price of Freshbooks depends on the number of clients you work with. If you have five or less, the program can cost as little as $6 per month. For 500 billable clients or less, it’s $20.00 per month.

Custom plans are available for bigger companies, so make sure to contact Freshbooks to find out your options.

Zoho Invoice for time tracking and project management

Zoho Invoice is a solid choice for independent contractors, with an emphasis on — you guessed it — invoices.

When you create an invoice, you’re usually telling a client about services rendered in addition to their final bill. When it comes to hourly rates, however, you usually need to state the exact amount of time you spend on a given project alongside your rate.

Zoho Invoice lets you track time while you’re working, even while you’re using other parts of the software.

You can also send retainer invoices for advance payments, so you can collect upfront and have that portion taken out of your final invoices automatically.

Zoho Invoice is free to use for business with five clients or less. Rates go up to $30 per month for unlimited invoicing. Premium plans grant additional access to up to 10 users.

Xero provides more than just business accounting

Like Zoho, Xero puts an emphasis on invoicing when it comes to time tracking. The software’s strength lies in its ability to automatically convert a timesheet into an invoice for customers and your records.

You can track your time via Xero’s mobile app, too. It will then connect your data to your desktop client, which means you’re never without your timer no matter where your job takes you.

And when the time comes for record-keeping, you can automatically generate reports based on your timesheets without having to re-type all the data in again. Who needs a bookkeeper, anyway?

Xero offers a free trial if you have five clients or less, with prices up to $60 per month for unlimited invoicing.

You won’t get access to time tracking in the free version, so you’ll have to upgrade if you want to take advantage of these features.

QuickBooks Self-Employed makes time tracking (and taxes) a breeze

Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks, is famous for its accounting software. QuickBooks Self-Employed has long been trusted by independent contractors, and the program integrates with Intuit’s other software like Quickbooks proper and TurboTax.

Like Xero, QuickBooks will generate accurate timestamps and invoices based on how you use your timer. These automated documents can speed up your processing time.

Quickbook also analyzes your tax liability and alerts you to what deductions your business will qualify for once April rolls around next year.

Here’s a nice bonus: Intuit offers dedicated email or phone support.

Quickbook Self-Employed software starts at $21 per month if you want time tracking. (The cheaper editions don’t let you track products and projects.) If you need more logins, business insights or support, you’ll pay more.

Regardless of which platform you choose, the key to success is spending your time wisely — and marking it down, of course. And with automation, you don’t have to waste it on bookkeeping and finances.

How will you make every minute count?

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