You want to know how to ruin a creative person’s day?  Make them do accounting work.

I work with a good number of creative entrepreneurs, and while that statement isn’t a universal truth, it can be a constant struggle for small businesses of any stripe to keep their finances straight.

Hundreds of transactions to track, dozens of clients to serve, multiple accounts, and lots of other things to worry about can add up to headache for small businesses.  Add on top of that the complexity of many accounting solutions out there, and you’ve got a recipe for a financial disaster – tax troubles, cash flow confusion, and problems achieving profitability.

What do you do then?  In the past, you would go to the store and buy expensive accounting software.  The software was extremely powerful, but a little too complex for the average user.  So you get frustrated, and the headache continues.

There’s a different way to do it now.  I’m constantly on the search for the latest and greatest resources to help my coaching clients, and I think I’ve found one.  Earlier this year, I heard about Wave – an online accounting software specifically designed for small businesses.

Over the last few months, I’ve had a chance to learn about it, correspond with some of the team at Wave, and try it for myself.  I am thrilled about the great resource it can be for fledgling and established businesses alike.

wave - apps

Here’s five reasons I love it:

1) It’s free. – For real, y’all, who doesn’t love something free?  For businesses just starting out, controlling expenses while cash flow is tight is a top priority.  Wave offers full-featured accounting, invoicing, reporting, and receipt tracking all for free.  Similar to Mint.com, they are able to do this by offering small, unobtrusive ads on the right hand side.  All of the products and services advertised are appropriate for small businesses, so you might find something worthwhile from them.

Wave-Ads

They also offer some paid solutions (which I’ll cover in a moment), but I love that it’s essential accounting solution is free.

2) It’s designed with small business in mind. – In speaking with the staff at Wave, I’ve learned that their typical user is a micro-business with 1-9 employees, generally in some sort of service industry.  They have designed the interface to be very attractive, clear, and straightforward.  It is easy and simple in its default view, offering Recent Activity, Snapshot View, Payables and Receivables, and a list of connected cards and accounts, all in it’s initial “Dashboard” view when you log in.

Wave-DashboardDon’t let the simplicity fool you.  Under the hood it still has full double-entry accounting engine powering it, just like you’d find in other accounting softwares.  Clicking down into the “Accounting” and “Reports” tabs can get pretty complex rather quickly.  But that’s a great thing, because wave is also built for…

3) Easy Collaboration – Have a bookkeeper that you want to keep your books straight for you?  Click on the gear icon above your dashboard page, click “Guest Collaborator” and input their email address to invite them as a guest collaborator.  You can set the permissions and invite them to collaborate on your business, and they can start right away.

Want someone’s advice on your numbers but don’t want them changing anything?  Set their permissions to “view only.”  Whenever your CPA, bookkeeper, or coach needs to do work on your behalf, they just login and you both have access to the latest version of the books.

4) It grows with you. – You can use as much or as little of the Wave selection of apps as you want.  It can stay really simple and straightforward, but can grow in complexity as you need it to.  Furthermore, they offer two paid apps, Payroll and Payments, which you can use as you grow.  I found the Payroll pricing to be simple and reasonable at $5/month base fee plus $4 per employee per month.  A basic business with 3 employees costs you $17/month, which is as competitive as you’ll find anywhere.

With Payments, you can accept credit cards immediately.   Turn on payments, powered by the credit card processor Stripe, and start taking credit card payments immediately.  It took me literally one click to go from not accepting credit cards to seeing the screen below:

wave-payments

5) Excellent integration. – Wave integrates directly with Paypal, Etsy, Shoeboxed (receipt tracker service), and they’re adding more.  It can import information and statements directly from your bank account.  They have iOS apps for invoicing and receipt tracking.  You can export reports as Excel, CSV, or PDF documents.  Invoices can be send from Wave itself, or through Gmail, Outlook, or simply as a weblink.  Enough flexibility to meet your needs, but not so much that it becomes too complex.

wave-invoices wave-receipts

Overall, I’ve been really thrilled with everything I’ve seen from Wave.  I track my income and expenses there, and I’ve found the interface straightforward and user-friendly, but robust enough to do real accounting.

For you businesses starting out or looking for a system that you can really use for your accounting, give Wave a try! (It’s free, anyway, and you can be up and running in 5 minutes!)

Let me know in the comments if you sign up!