Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Free Agent Central - Business Accounting

Business Accounting for Humans

Since starting in Business for myself, I have battled with keeping an top of the bookkeeping and Accounts. Invoices and receipts everywhere, on my desk, filed away, in emails etc. Keeping up-to-date proved more difficult as time went by and as the volume of transactions increased.

Being a big fan of hosted online services, I began my search for an easier way to keep on top of my Business' Accounts.

In my search I discovered many providers of Online Accountancy services and trialled 4 or 5 for a few weeks each. Without exception, what I found was that rather than easing my pain, they were adding to it, due to confusing menus, unintuitive layouts and an attempt to offer far more than I actually required. In addition to this, many of the services were catering for a US market and seemed as though they were struggling to convert the package to a UK Vat friendly system.
FreeAgent Small Business Online Accounting
Click here for a Free 30 Day Trial

As I began to think that more traditional methods would have to do, I discovered a company called Free Agent Central.

Free Agent are a UK based company, not only that but a Scottish company from Edinburgh. Their systems have been built from the ground up with a UK Business Market in mind and are immediately compatible with UK Tax nuances and can also interact with HMRC online services from within their platform.

It is difficult to know where to start with Free Agent Accountancy services as they offer so much. From my point of view their are a handful of key features which I find of most benefit.

Payroll/NIC/PAYE - All of these services allow me to stay on top of wages. List individual members of staff, calculate National Insurance Contributions and PAYE and once done print out a wage slip for each member of staff with minimal input from myself.

Project Invoicing - I am now able to manage all invoices relating to a specific project from a single place so at all times I can see the progress of a particular job. Invoices are created from within the system, can be set up as recurring and automatically send to a client. Email reminders inform of overdue payment and even set up automated emails chasing late payers. In the background of course, Free Agents Systems are continually updating the Balance Sheet, calculating your VAT and Corporation Tax.

Bank Account Reconciliation - Management of Business Bank Accounts has become so much easier with Free Agent using the reconciliation feature. Compatible with most banks, I simply have to upload a Bank Statement and Free Agent marries each transaction with that on their systems, any discrepancies are highlighted for further investigation (usually human error on my part!).

FreeAgent Small Business Online Accounting
Click here for a Free 30 Day Trial
Summary Dashboard - From the main Dashboard, Free Agent allows me to see what is important to me at a glance. The Dashboard is fully customisable so can be set up in a way that suits any business. List important dates, Payroll, VAT Returns etc., a summary of outstanding bills and invoices, bank account balances, Profit & Loss and Balance Sheets.

Due to so much of the system being automated, other than making my life easier and less stressful, the time that I have saved using Free Agents system has allowed me to focus on my own business rather than the books.

I would thoroughly recommend, at the very least, having a free trial of this product and I would be very surprised if you, like me, don't continue to use the system.

Oh, and did I mention that my Accountant loves it.

Click on one of the links to give Free Agent a try.