As a small business having started with one owner and quickly growing to several employees with a host of contractors it was imperative we find a way to keep our “nightmare” a.k.a. accounting in check. Check out this post for a quick and concise recap of one of our favorite accounting resources…

Wave, an accounting software that has been growing for several years, is a hidden gem for Small Business Owners and Startups. Like Quickbooks, Zoho, and Xero it is a fully featured accounting platform capable of managing expenses, paying employees, receiving payments from customers, and more – with one major exception:

It is 100% free. No trials, no “premium” plans, just a few paid add-ons as needed.

Whatttt?! Free?! Yep, 100%, except for payment processing and direct deposit though it is either competitive or more cost effective than the other leading solutions. Wave’s core platform of accounting software is offered to business owners at no cost likely in hopes they will utilize some of the more advanced features like payment processing, payroll, and the personalized accounting service.

Well…aside from being free…

Unlike a lot of other free software Wave has made substantial effort to accommodate requests from its user base and develop a platform that meets the millennial entrepreneur’s needs while not inhibiting older service based companies (plumbers, electricians, etc.).

In our opinion one of the best features of Wave is the ability to separate your personal and business finances while keeping track of both in the same platform. Their intuitive business and personal financial tools make it easy to snap expenses and transactions to either side regardless of account or payment method.

A few of the top features:

Recurring automated invoicing

We get this question a lot from fellow small business owners who are having trouble with “subscription” clients paying on time. Recurring invoices are a game changer if you offer any sort of retainer, subscription, or ongoing interval based services. Wave’s invoicing platform makes it easy to create recurring invoices which can be automatically sent, processed, and even email receipts directly to the client. It is almost like waking up the morning of a billing cycle and feeling like you’re back on W2.

Accounting “channels”

Neat fact – you’re not the only small business owner who has to occasionally use a personal credit card or accidentally buys dinner on the company card. Even neater fact – Wave is perfectly equipped to handle this with support for moving transactions between channels. Once a transaction is imported (or created manually) under a specific account you can easily select the option to move it between your accounting channels and classify to a category.

Credit Card/ACH payment options

Wave’s native support for all manner of plastic and paper make taking payments relatively easy. It is flexible enough to allow customers an opportunity to pay online, but not so robust you spend hours configuring your payment gateway. The Credit Card transaction fees are comparable to PayPal and Stripe both of which offer 2.9% off the top of each transaction. At the end of the year…we would rather spend time chasing new business than trying to lower our rates and filling out paperwork for a new gateway. The deposits for Credit Card and ACH run on a 2 and 10 day window, respectively, meaning if your customer pays with their card on Monday the funds are deposited first thing Wednesday.

On-site invoicing and credit card payment

A feature specifically tailored for on-site service based industries provides the full flexibility of the online invoicing platform in both iOS and Android app. While not necessarily as robust as a traditional Point of Sale it definitely does the job of creating an invoice, accepting a payment, and sending a receipt to the customer’s inbox. One of the only majorly lacking features of their invoicing app is the ability to swipe a credit card as opposed to manually keying. Realistically you could run almost 100% of your business from your phone through Wave’s app.

A few minor drawbacks…

Reporting tools available while limited will get the job done

This is 50/50 on the fence as to whether their limited reporting options are a drawback or a feature. Seems like a lot of SBOs get wrapped up in running down the rabbit hole of endless accounting reports, most of which provide little valuable insight in day to day operations or long term planning. It carries all of the major items – cash on hand, profit and loss, aging accounts, etc.

Does not integrate with many apps or service platforms

This is probably the most notable item on areas for Wave to improve – they seriously lack integrations with a lot of the tools startups use like WooCommerce, Shopify, WHMCS, etc. Instead it relies on manual breakdowns of transactions and expenses – so probably not the best solution if you’re running a $30,000 a month dropshipping business, that is unless you’re not using any software at all…don’t lie, a lot of you aren’t.

Wave is definitely our favorite accounting software

At the end of the day we 100% recommend Wave to other SBOs and growing startups looking to streamline their accounting without having to pay for an accountant/bookkeeper. The platform is easy to setup (less than 5 minutes to get rolling including payments) and easy to maintain. It packs great features especially if you’re a solopreneur or just starting to onboard a few employees. Have questions or want help getting started? Their support guides and team are also very helpful!

Check it out and let us know your feedback…if you’ve got a better solution we would love to hear that too. Don’t forget to subscribe to get updates on more resources, tips, and tricks!