Being an independent contractor can mean freedom and flexibility – but it also means becoming your own business manager. So in addition to providing your highly specialised skills to clients, you must also take responsibility for tracking hours, billing and collecting payment, itemising expenses and mileage – in short, all the things you don’t have to worry about when you’re in a permanent position.
The keyword here is organisation. Fortunately, there are a number of mobile apps and desktop solutions that can help contractors manage their day-to-day operations and stay organised.
Here are some free mobile apps worth investigating.
- Expensify – Expensify is a free and easy-to-use app that tracks your expenses in real time, syncs with credit card transactions, scans receipts, and exports everything to your accounting software. Available on iOS, Android & Windows.
- Joist – Joist provides contractors with a tool to build and send estimates, then invoice for the job and follow up on payments. Free; available for iPhone & Android.
- 4W Contractor – Track your jobs, customers and scheduling with 4W Contractor. Available for Android. App features are free, but there is a charge for the optional sync service.
Depending on the amount of paperwork you have to process and what your budget it, you may want to consider an integrated desktop service that performs multiple functions and syncs with a mobile app. These tend to be more expensive, but can offer you a seamless and fully integrated service.
- Toggl – Toggl is a time-tracking app that you can use for an unlimited number of projects. A free basic productivity tool is available, or you can upgrade to Pro or Business packages to access more advanced features. For iOS, Android and desktop.
- Harvest – Harvest offers time-tracking, reporting, online invoicing, estimates and expenses. It’s a desktop-based software app but works with iPhone and Android apps and accommodates third-party add-ons. The free service allows for 4 clients and 2 projects at a time, or upgrade to the Solo package, which will allow you to manage unlimited projects, clients and invoices.
Independent contractors: what apps work best for you? Are there any other productivity apps you’d recommend? And is it worth paying for a premium integrated software solution? Please share your insights with us.