As your resource for working capital financing, Summit Financial Resources can’t emphasize enough the importance of putting the right accounting software in place. These programs can minimize the amount of time spent on administrative functions so you can focus on other aspects of your business. We’ve also seen how these systems can help speed up your cash flow, reduce costs, improve efficiency, and ultimately help your business grow.

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In response to questions about which options are user-friendly for small businesses, we have been posting overviews of some of the most popular programs. Wave the third in our series; you can also check out previous posts on Xero and Freshbooks.

A Super-Simple Software Solution

Wave entered the accounting software industry in 2010 with a free, easy-to-use online application designed specifically for small business owners and freelancers. Based in Toronto, Wave has since grown to a full suite of award-winning software and services made to help small businesses manage the money side of their businesses: invoicing, accounting, credit card processing, payroll, receipt scanning, lending, and more.

This double-entry cloud-based accounting service has earned numerous industry accolades, including placing ninth on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 List and being named “Best Free Accounting Software for Businesses” by Business News Daily and Merchant Maverick’s Best Free Accounting Software.

As Web-based software, Wave is available on any computer with no downloads or installation required. Up-to-date versions of browsers are recommended, but not required.

According to PC Magazine, Wave lacks many of the features offered by competitors like Xero Standard, Freshbooks, and Quickbooks Online, including purchase orders and inventory tracking. But what it does offer is an exceptionally appealing user interface and combination of features that is ideal for sole proprietors, freelancers, contractors, and small businesses.

Smart Selection of Features and Services

Merchant Maverick describes Wave as, “designed with the small business owner in mind. Not the small business owner with an MBA; not the trained CPA; but the everyday freelancer, independent contractor, or micro-business entrepreneur.” Wave targets businesses with nine employees or fewer, and has tailored its feature set for that demographic. Larger businesses can use Wave, but the software might not have the robust feature set and accounting reports necessary to provide adequate support.

Unlike FreshBooks, which does not offer full-blown double-entry accounting, Wave adheres to double-entry accounting standards. The application’s user interface and navigational system are simple and easy to understand, and overall organization is intuitive. The set up is similar to those of its competitors: the left vertical pane displays a series of tabs representing the application’s sections including Dashboard, Transactions, Invoices, Payments, Bills, Accounting, Reports, and Payroll. As you click on each, the corresponding screen appears with its own set of buttons, drop-down menus, and tables.

The average user is not likely to need much set-up instruction or guidance. However, help is available via a getting started guide on the website in the Wave University training section, as well as a video demonstration. There is also a Help Center for specific questions or issues.

Free Means Free

Wave “has always been and always will be free.” There are additional costs for payroll and premium support, but there is no fee for the standard features in Wave and there are no artificial limits.

Wave offers a feature set that rivals some paid accounting software programs. It includes:

  • Unlimited invoicing
  • Unlimited estimates
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Personal accounting
  • Supports multiple businesses
  • Nine users, plus one accountant

Wave does not limit you to a certain number of invoices, customers, or transactions, making it one of the better free options on the market. The company has added integration with Zapier, which connects Wave users with nearly 500 third-party add-ons. The integration list for Wave also includes Paypal and Etsy.

It should be noted that Wave is able to offer its software at no cost because it runs in-software ads. If you need additional support or functionality, there are a few extra services you can purchase.

Extra Services, Priced Right

Wave’s add-on services are priced right for small businesses and entrepreneurs. You simply use what you need and pay as you go.

  • Wave Payroll begins at a base fee of $15 per month (each employee costs an additional $4 per month). Discounts apply above 10 employees.
  • Wave Payments enables online credit card payments of invoices. Wave charges 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

Slow Servers and Few Reports

Like most software solutions, Wave has a few issues that are frequently cited by users. Top among them are:

  • Slow Servers and Downtime – One of the biggest user complaints is how slow the application can be. It takes longer to open a new screen than it does on most competitors’ sites, which can be cumbersome the more time you spend in the app. Users also cite the amount of downtime the servers experience.
  • Reduced Number of Reports – Wave has reduced the number of reports it offers from 11 to three in an effort to ensure that users have only the features they need. Some users consider this too limiting.
  • Poor Bank Reconciliation – Categorizing transactions can be slow going. If you are manually importing bank statements, you also have to manually and individually categorize each transaction. This is not an issue for those who connect their business bank accounts to Wave.

Ample Service and Support

Wave offers customer service support from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, and it has a surprising number of free options. These include email support, a comprehensive Help Center, and dozens of YouTube videos and demonstrations. According to the website, fee-based premium customer support plans featuring chat and phone support are available in the U.S. and Canada.

While software updates are needed to address drawbacks like slow servers and a lack of accounting reports, Wave more than compensates for its shortcomings with its simplified user interface and smart choice of quality features that often exceed that of paid software. This makes it a viable option for budget-conscious sole proprietors, freelancers, and small business owners intent on running their businesses better.

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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.