Bookkeeping. I hate it. The less time I have to spend with a pile of receipts in one hand and a stack of bank statements in the other, the happier I am.
So when my partner and I started our limited company, I knew we needed a simple yet flexible accounting system to manage our incomings and outgoings. Something that wasn’t going to take me a lifetime to learn nor masses of time to maintain.
Fortunately my lucky cyber-search angel introduced me to Wave.
Wave is gloriously fully-featured accounting software aimed at small businesses.
Not only is it FREE - apart from the inevitable credit card transaction fees, and payroll (available in some US states) - but it’s browser-based, so equally good for both Mac and PC.
Make art not calculations
I’m not one to get excited by the sight of a spreadsheet, but I’ve quickly grown to love Wave because it saves me precious time which, let’s face it, I’d rather spend making art or coaching.
For me, the biggest time-saver, without doubt, is that it imports all our bank transactions as they happen.
Once we plugged in our bank account details (including our multifarious Paypal accounts) Wave started doing the donkey work.
All I need to do is periodically verify the transactions are correct (by ticking a box) and amend or assign categories if Wave didn’t guess them right.
It’s also easy to input expenses we incur outside our bank accounts - so I can keep track of those splurges in the art supply store and claim them back against tax when that time of year comes around.
Wave lets you create a regular suppliers list so you can quickly select names from a drop-down when you input your receipts.
Invoices and Estimates
My other absolute favourite feature is being able to create customised invoices right from within the app. Just upload your logo, enter whatever addresses, company numbers or other details you want to appear on your invoices, and you’re good to go. It’s easy to edit the templates if the need arises.
I have my invoices linked directly to a credit card payment facility so that my clients can pay online. But, if, a client prefers to pay by bank transfer, it’s easy to reconcile this kind of invoice payment within Wave.
Wave will keep an eye on invoice due dates and automatically send out a gentle reminder if the payment is late. Likewise, it sends my personalised “thank you” email when I get paid.
On my dashboard, I can also see at a glance any invoices that are outstanding.
Wave even has my back when it comes to regular clients. It keeps a record of everyone I’ve invoiced so I can easily bill the same person again. I can also create recurring invoices and choose from a list of previous services or items I’ve billed for.
I rarely do any kind of commissioned work these days, but should the need arise, I could create an estimate right from within Wave.
Selling art and coaching services internationally
I don’t know about you, but more and more of our transactions these days are global. This means juggling prices in different currencies.
Happily, Wave takes the headache out of this by importing transactions in multiple currencies. When I want to see what the transaction is worth in my own currency, I just click on the additional information for the transaction and it’s right there.
What about sending accounts to my accountant?
Wave lets me add my accountant as a collaborator on our Wave account. So, when I get my financial underwear in a twist - which definitely happens quite regularly - he can directly access our account.
I just love it when he says “I went in to Wave and fixed it for you.”
You can add as many collaborators as you wish (e.g. accountant, bookkeeper, PA) and these collaborators can either view or edit your accounts, according to what permissions you give them.
You can even hire an accountant via the app! That’s how we found our current accountant in fact. Not only are his charges economical but he’s also really helpful. And of course, he knows exactly where to find everything in Wave ;)
Understand Your Income Streams
Because my partner and I trade under the same company, it’s sometimes hard to see who’s earning what from where, and what is and isn’t working well.
But since discovering how simple it is to generate reports in Wave, it’s much easier for me to keep a weather eye on our income streams and analyse their effectiveness over time.
(An upcoming version of the software will also include month-by-month Income Statements and Balance Sheets.)
More AI and a better mobile app needed!
While, there really aren’t any major features that I have missed since using Wave, it would save me a lot of time if the software would 'learn' which guessed expense categories I have to correct frequently, so that eventually it would classify these habitual transactions correctly. (Like Google's Inbox 'always do this?' function.)
I would also like to see a really useful mobile app. The mobile invoice app is great if you need to create or consult invoices on the fly but I generally don't need to do that with such urgency that it can't wait until I get back to my laptop. There's also another app for scanning receipts but I didn’t find it worked particularly well, so I ditched it.
Fortunately, in the next wave (!) of features the company promises to explore ways “to make Wave increasingly useful and accessible when you're away from your desk.” so I think we’ll be seeing a new mobile app soon.
Is my data safe?
Wave uses 256-bit SSL encryption which is virtually impossible to be hacked by even the fastest computers. And since we do all our banking transactions online anyway, it doesn’t seem worth worrying about this possibility. If it happens, it happens. This is the world we live in.
Why would I choose Wave and not another accounting app?
No other free app offers so much functionality with such a pleasant interface. Wave’s nearest competition is probably Freshbooks which charges $25 per month for similar functionality. I really can’t see a reason to pay when Wave is offering so much for free.
So if you’re looking for a free and straightforward way to manage the financial aspect of your art business, that will actually make things easier rather than harder, Wave is your friend.
Like any accounts package, there’s a learning curve to working with it. But the great thing about Wave is that you can start using it at a really basic level and then get deeper into its features as you feel more confident or have the need. There’s even a free PDF guide to using the app.
Want to give Wave a go? You can sign up here. No credit card required :)
Please note: This is not an affiliate link and I am not connected with Wave in any way.
All screenshots © Wave Financial Inc except blog header graphic - see CC license in footer.
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