Okay, so you own a successful drone business. But, how do you scale your small business to the next level? To realize one’s growth ambitions, it is essential for a drone pilot to maintain a firm FOCUS on business functions which result in the greatest value add - namely flying, marketing and education.
Having a streamlined and efficient accounting process will certainly help you retain this undivided attention. In this blog post, I discuss some popular accounting software which will help you develop a firm grasp over the finances of your drone business – with the greatest possible ease.
QuickBooks is, by far the most popular alternative for small business owners. They offer 5 different plans –
If you are new to the drone business, you are probably functioning as a sole proprietorship or a single member LLC. If you wish to learn how you can limit your personal liability by housing your drone business in a LLC, check out this podcast. So, in this scenario which QuickBooks plan is the right for you? Let’s talk about QuickBooks Self Employed – the basic level plan.
As a single member LLC with no employees, you can still go for this basic plan which will cost you just $5 per month. Apart from basic features like tracking income and expenses, generating invoices and accepting payments, you can also accurately track your business miles. This feature can be particularly useful for drone pilots who accept out of town jobs. However, you cannot generate a P&L statement and balance sheet using this basic plan. If you wish to generate reports in QuickBooks, you will have to opt for the Simple Plan which costs $10 per month.
However, we strongly recommend you opt for the QuickBooks Essentials or the QuickBooks Plus Plan.
As you scale up your drone business, you might be hiring a VO, a video editor or maybe a web designer so that you can concentrate on your flying. A failure to accurately track these expenses - project wise might lead to underbidding. Or, maybe prioritizing less lucrative work.
If you opt for QuickBooks Essential, you can accesses their cloud based time tracking tool, Tsheets which can help you accurately track your overheads. Having a real time tracking tool that is integral to QuickBooks can help you seamlessly track hours and cost. You can even send out notifications to all your contractors/vendors/employees from this cloud based tool. QuickBooks Essentials also allows access to multiple users. So you can provide access to your CPA and restricted access to your employees.
If you are working on multiple different jobs and wish to determine exactly which job is making you how much, you will have to opt for QuickBooks Plus. This plan allows you to easily track project wise revenues and expenses, and will end up costing you $30/mo.
The Advanced plan is for 10+ users and is a bit of an overkill as far as the average drone business is concerned.
For a complete list of QuickBooks Apps, please click HERE.
Lot of small businesses – particularly service based ones are choosing to go for FreshBooks over QuickBooks. So, should you use FreshBooks for your drone business? Let us go over the advantages first.
The basic plan in FreshBooks comes with time-tracking capabilities which allows you to log and track time by project. Moreover you can also generate invoices from these logged hours, if required. If you have a long term drone project with recurring monthly payments, you can easily send out recurring invoices via FreshBooks.
I found a lot of users complaining about poor bank feed management/expense tracking capabilities. When you download your bank transactions to FreshBooks, a large chunk of transactions are slotted as “Uncategorized” and are automatically assigned as “Expenses”. However, in QuickBooks, once you download the bank data, you will have to match these transactions to existing ones before the entries are assigned as “Income” or “Expenses”
Pro Tip – If you are need a software for payment and invoicing, you can consider opting for FreshBooks. However, if you need to track your expenses, you are better off using QuickBooks.
The main advantage of using ZohoBooks is easy integration with different Zoho tools. So, you can map costs from Zoho Projects to Zoho Books and then manage your clients in Zoho CRM. Whereas, if you are using a standalone accounting software, you might have to integrate with third party tools using Zapier. This might lead to greater complexity which will eat up more of your time. And similar to other professions, time is money in the drone business.
Another advantage of using ZohoBooks over QuickBooks is the presence of a client portal. In the client portal, you can segment all your communication client-wise. You can also generate invoices and get paid through this portal (you need to integrate a third party payment processor like Paypal or Stripe for this).
The option to create automated workflows will also help you work more efficiently. Automated workflows are nothing but the option to trigger actions based on the certain criteria that you feed in. So, for instance, you can generate a notification to be sent out to your CPA when revenues cross X dollars. Or, maybe if unpaid dues cross X days, you can have an automated reminder sent to a client.
At $9/month, you get will get access to two accounts. For $19/month, you can buy the “Standard” plan which allows access to three accounts.
The absence of payroll processing is a downer, however. You will have to use a third party app for this. Also, because QuickBooks is far more popular, you will easily get professional help for QB instead of ZohoBooks.
Okay. So, Tave is certainly not a heavy duty accounting tool like QuickBooks, FreshBooks or Zoho. But, it is tailored for photographers. Tave is a great way of keeping track of your leads and workflow. You can also easily draw up contracts, and the client portal is great for viewing all your communication, invoices and quotes in one spot. Check it out. However, if you decide to go for Tave, we strongly recommend clubbing Tave with QuickBooks – and relying on the later for your accounting needs.
If you need more in-depth info, you might want to check out our comprehensive course, “How to Launch and Grow a Drone Business”.
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