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Home » FreeAgent – why is it so popular with small business owners?

FreeAgent – why is it so popular with small business owners?

The advent of the internet has changed pretty much every industry, and accountancy is no different. This modern paradigm is something that’s given rise to a myriad of new online platforms that make it easy for business owners and sole traders to keep a firm grip on their finances, their invoicing and their tax affairs.

One such platform – FreeAgent – is an award-winning accountancy software provider with a great industry reputation. It’s a service that’s also loved by its customers, as can be seen by its 4.7 Trustpilot rating. So, what is it that led to the company supporting more than 150,000 UK businesses with its services? Come with us as we seek to find out.

We’ve used FreeAgent for our own accounts at Bytestart for over 12 years now (it launched in 2007) – so we thought we’d describe it’s key features, and explain whey it’s the accounting software of choice for so many small businesses.

There are several popular alternatives to FreeAgent, of course. We’ve mentioned them too – at the end of the article.

FreeAgent – key features

Before we look at the benefits that FreeAgent users get, it’s worth spending a little time looking at the key features it provides. Ideal for freelancers and small businesses, FreeAgent is a MTD-compliant, robust online accounting platform that offers a suite of tools that can be used to take care of a range of financial management tasks, such as:

  • A range of payment integrations (e.g. PayPal, Zapier & Stripe)
  • Integration with your business bank accounts (automated bank feeds)
  • Compiling of profit & loss statements
  • Tracking & management of expenses
  • Customisable sales tax rate options
  • Creation of balance sheets
  • Easy multi-client invoicing
  • Timesheet reporting
  • Sales tax reports
  • Tax timelines
  • Setting up a payroll
  • Submitting Self Assessment returns directly with HMRC
  • Submitting Corporation Tax returns directly with HMRC

As well as generating invoices, it can also send and track their status, along with monitoring your expenses. A great feature that busy professionals love about the software is that a photo of the receipt is all that’s needed to log an expense – meaning it’s really convenient and no paperwork gets lost!

This is just one of many tasks that can be completed via their mobile phone app that’s free to download and use from either Google Play Store (for Android) or the Apple Store (for iOS). The app offers an intuitive centralised dashboard from which you can control your business financial affairs with ease.

Which user benefits make FreeAgent so popular?

First and foremost, FreeAgent is as popular as it is due to the range of useful benefits it offers, helping to simplify what are quite complicated financial tasks. That said, there are some specific features that we can point to that make life easier for small business owners and sole-traders. Let’s dig in and see what they are.

Benefit #1 – It’s easy to use

Something that strikes you within just a few minutes of using FreeAgent is how easy it is to use – even for complete newcomers. The platform is intuitive, with most things being found within just a click or two. Graphs, charts, invoices and more can be viewed and managed through its centralised dashboard whether at home or on the move.

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We’ve used it for many years at Bytestart; and the software is constantly improving – with new features and upgrades every few months. The support feature is good too – the online chat facility can resolve questions you may have very quickly during working hours. Out of hours, the support team will typically reply to your question the next working day via email.

Benefit #2 – Everything small businesses (and their accountants) need

FreeAgent’s software was designed specifically with small business owners in mind – particulary those with up to 10 employees.

So, whether you’re a sole trader or limited company owner you can find features that allow to keep your tax and cash flow affairs in order without having to leave the platform.

For accountants too, this type of online software has transformed the accounting world. It has never been easier to communicate with clients and be able to identify issues quickly.

Benefit #3 – Simple repeat invoicing

An essential element of the equation for most business is invoicing, and it’s not unheard of for regular billing to get forgotten when you’re busy trying to run your company. However, FreeAgent has your back with a range of invoice management features that ensure you get paid on time, and they can easily be customised to include your logo and company branding.

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You can see in realtime which invoices have been paid, and which others are outstanding. It’s simple to arrange ‘reminders’ or to create ‘thank you’ messages for your clients.

Benefit #4 – Payment integrations

One of the golden rules of encouraging clients to pay ontime is to give them as many options as possible to make payments easily.

FreeAgent makes it easy for customers to pay you with a range of useful payment gateway integrations. Whether talking about PayPal, Stripe or GoCardless, customers can pay you directly via the software.

You can integrate most business bank accounts with FreeAgent, so your transactions and latest balance are synchronised with your accounts. Every now and then, to maintain security, you’ll need to re-confirm your bank feed credentials. But this only takes a minute or so.

Benefit #5 – It makes tax return time less stressful

Many business owners tell us that self-assessment time can be pretty stressful as you attempt to gather all of the required information together. However, with FreeAgent logging all transactions throughout the year, it’s then able to populate elements of your tax return for you, as well as working out your income tax and National Insurance liabilities.

You can even submit your tax return directly via the platform.

Lots of other good accounting software providers

There are several other market-leading accounting software providers out there, including Freshbooks, Sage, and Xero.

The pricing for all of these products varies according to the package you choose, and sometimes your business structure (sole trader or limited company).

If you’re setting up a new business and hiring an accountant, check what type of software they support.

You will often receive access to FreeAgent, Xero, and other software as part of your monthly or annual fee. Otherwise, your accountant may be able to provide you with discounted access.

As a Bytestart reader, you can get 55% off your first 6 months’ subscription, and 10% off FreeAgent for life when you sign up. Simply click here to find out more!