This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
Welcome to the Fit Small Business free FreshBooks tutorials. Whether you’re new to FreshBooks or could benefit from a more in-depth understanding of the software, we have provided five tutorials that will help you. Each FreshBooks tutorial includes an in-depth lesson, complete with text and images as well as a comprehensive video demonstration.
You’ll find that these tutorials are much more useful if you have a copy of FreshBooks open in front of you so that you can follow along with your own data. If you haven’t already subscribed to FreshBooks, you’re eligible for a free 30-day trial subscription or 60% off for six months.
We have the following tutorials:
Tutorial 1: How To Set Up Your Company in FreshBooks
In this tutorial, we’re going to cover how to set up your company in FreshBooks. While it may not be the most powerful accounting software, FreshBooks aims for simplicity. You’ll find that’s reflected in its ease of use, especially when setting up a new company account.
Do you want to learn more about other options? Read our picks for the best small business accounting software.
The first step in this tutorial is to adjust your company settings in FreshBooks. From your dashboard, click on the cogwheel in the upper left-hand corner, and then click on Settings.
You’ll see four tabs across the top: My Account, My Company, Logo & Theme, and Email Notifications.
The My Account tab is very basic. It’s where you’ll enter your first and last name, email address, and password. You can also click on the link to change your password here if you want.
You have the option to view inspirational quotes when you first open FreshBooks. It defaults to the quotes automatically, but you can change it to None to remove the quotes if you prefer.
The My Company tab is where you’ll enter the name and address of your company, your base currency, your fiscal year end, date format, and your business and mobile phone numbers. If you have a standard hourly rate that you want to apply across all your employees as they charge work in the system, you can put the standard rate there too.
You can use the Logo & Theme settings to start designing your invoices. Use this tab to upload a logo, select the invoice font, and a theme color. These changes will be applied to all newly created templates. We’ll go into further detail in our next tutorial about applying individual customizations to templates.
With Email Notifications, decide which items you would like FreshBooks to send you an email notification for. These notifications apply to invoices, payments, projects, estimates, and proposals. Some of these notifications include when an online payment is received or a recurring invoice is sent.
With FreshBooks, you pay by the user, and each additional user that you invite is $10 per month. The exception is Accountant users, which are free. There are several benefits to having an Accountant user, which we’ll describe in more detail below.
To invite team members to FreshBooks from the dashboard, click on the Invite drop-down menu in the top right corner. You’ll then be able to view the different types of users that you can invite. Select the user type that you want to invite.
A. Admin: Full access to your FreshBooks account, including clients, invoices, and reports
B. Manager: Full access to your FreshBooks account, but can’t view financial reports, expenses, or the dashboard
C. Employee: Able to track time and expenses for assigned projects, but can only view their own information
D. Contractor: Able to track time and expenses for assigned projects, and can send you invoices
E. Accountant: Able to access reports, categorize expenses, and create journal entries, but can’t manage clients, track time, view projects, or send invoices or estimates
If you click on the See Permissions link at the bottom of the Invite drop-down menu, you’ll be able to explore the permissions for each team member role in more detail.
It’s highly likely that you’ll want to set up an Accountant user to be able to access some of the features that other user types can’t, such as managing the chart of accounts. We’ll discuss this more in Step 3. You can invite yourself as the accountant user but be sure to use a different email address for the invitation.
For example, if you select Admin, you’ll then be prompted to enter the team member’s name and email address. The below window will then pop up, which allows you to customize the invitation subject and message. Once you send the invitation and the team member accepts it, they’ll be able to access your FreshBooks account with the permissions that you have established.
To view your Chart of Accounts, click on Accounting in the left menu bar, and then click on Chart of Accounts.
What is unique about FreshBooks is that you can’t adjust your chart of accounts as a typical user, even as the owner of the account. You need an Accountant user if you want to be able to make any modifications to your accounts. Fortunately, the chart of accounts that FreshBooks provides is very good and most small businesses won’t need to modify it.
Within FreshBooks, expenses are treated a little differently than other accounts—they’re called “categories.” As you record expenses, you can create new expense categories. This is the one exception to adjusting your chart of accounts as a regular user. But all of your other accounts—assets, liabilities, equity, and revenue accounts—can’t be modified as a regular user, only in the Accountant role.
Connecting your bank account to FreshBooks is very important because it’s how you’ll record most of your expenses.
To connect your bank account, go to the cogwheel in the upper left corner of the dashboard, and then click on Bank Connections.
In the image below, you’ll see that there is already a U.S. Bank account connected. To add an additional account, such as Bank of America, click on the appropriate bank or credit card name. If you don’t see your bank or credit card listed, click on the “Find your bank” link.
Before initiating the setup, you need to make sure that you have internet access to the account and can log in from its website. To do this, you’ll need your user ID and password. Those credentials are what you’ll use to connect the account to FreshBooks.
You’ll only need to enter the information once. Once it connects, your account’s transactions will flow over to FreshBooks and you’ll be able to categorize the expenses. We’ll discuss this more in our Expenses tutorial.
Prior QuickBooks users can import their companies by exporting those QuickBooks clients to a comma-separated values (CSV) file. An alternative is to input your clients manually, but when you’re setting your company up, it’s much easier to import all of them at once. If you had a prior accounting software or even a spreadsheet with a list of your client names, you can import that into FreshBooks.
In QuickBooks, you export a list of your clients by going to the Reports tab and locating the Customer Contact report. Generate the report and export it to Excel. Once you open it in Excel, remove any rows leading up to the data, and then save it as a CSV file. CSV files are the only files that can be imported to FreshBooks.
Once you have a CSV file of all of your customers, you can import them into FreshBooks by navigating to More Actions in the upper right corner of the page. Click on Import Clients, which will take you to the screen below. Click the green Choose File button and select the file that you want to import.
Before importing, FreshBooks is going to ask you to map the columns in the spreadsheet to the FreshBooks fields. To begin mapping, click the first drop-down menu next to First Name, and select the column name in your file that matches this field. Continue mapping each field—Last Name, Company, Email Address, and Phone Number. If your spreadsheet doesn’t already have this information separated out this way, then you’ll need to go in and do a little manipulation of your CSV file to ensure that you have all of the appropriate fields available.
If you have a small number of clients, you can enter them manually. From the Clients page, click on the green New Client button in the upper right corner. You can then enter the client’s contact info on the next screen, as well as adjust their settings. These settings include currency and language options and whether you want to send reminders at customizable intervals, charge late fees, and attach invoices.
The last step in this tutorial is to import vendors. The process of importing vendors is very similar to that of importing customers, as discussed in the prior step. You can access your vendors by clicking on Expenses in the left menu bar and then click on Vendors. From the Vendor page, click on More Actions in the upper right corner, and then Import Vendors.
Like your customers, you’re going to need to set this up in a CSV file. If you’re migrating from another accounting program, you’ll need to figure out how to export the vendors to a CSV file. It should have all of the same columns as FreshBooks fields, and all of the descriptions of each of those columns should be in the very first line of the spreadsheet. Once you have done that, click the green Choose File button, and then select the vendor list that you want to import.
Then, map the columns in the spreadsheet to the fields in FreshBooks just like in step 5. Note that you can leave any fields blank that you don’t intend to use in FreshBooks. Once all of the fields are mapped, click on Import Vendors. You’ll see them listed in the Vendor Center.
You have now set up your company in FreshBooks. Be sure to check out our other four free FreshBooks tutorials. Our next tutorial is “How to Manage Customers and Send Invoices.” That tutorial will cover how to adjust settings for your customers and preferences for sending invoices.