Review #2: B2Bee

B2Bee is a simple bookkeeping solution aimed at helping professionals with a low transaction volume prepare invoices and track their income and expenses. Both income and expenses can be tracked by client and by project, enabling you to quickly create a nicely detailed invoice for your clients.

Goal: Invoicing, income, and expense tracking for professionals with low transaction volume.

Pros:

  • Clean, intuitive interface
  • US market focus – the developers are creating this tool with the professional filing a Schedule C in mind
  • Competitive pricing – free forever if you only track 3 clients, $14/month for the full version
  • Support for a good cause (saving honey bees – sweet deal!)
  • Invoices can be emailed – your client will receive a link to view the invoice securely on the B2Bee website
  • Project tracking for invoice detail
  • Team management options for projects
  • Simple, but preferable report options with a profit and loss schedule as well as an export of transaction detail for the accountant

Cons:

  • No transaction importing – each must be entered manually (thus the focus on low transaction volume)
  • No predefined categories (accounts) in the drop down for expenses
  • No integrated time tracking
  • Currently no integrations with other applications
  • No provision for payment with the invoice (such as a PayPal, PayNow button)
  • No place to record capital expenditures, transfers, capital contributions/draws, etc., as to not effect the profit and loss statement
  • No bank reconciliation integrated in the system

B2Bee is another application that is definitely a step up from Excel spreadsheets and green ledgers, but lacks much in the way of advanced features. Sticking to my model of keeping your bookkeeping as simple as possible, B2Bee may very well provide sufficient information for your management needs and your accountant’s reporting needs without a lot of complex clutter to make messing up your books easier.

I would really like to see the expense category list populated with the basic Schedule C expenses as B2Bee’s focus is on the Schedule C filer and this would help transition the books to the Schedule C at the end of the year without as much rearranging.

The nice thing here for a business with low transaction volume is that you get two major functions under one roof: invoicing and accounting. Especially if you bill your projects at a fixed rate and don’t need to track your time, B2Bee may have all the functionality you need without a lot of winding paths to lead you astray.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the review, Shane! We are definitely planning on adding Schedule C expense categories. Lots more cool stuff as well!

    Scott Miller
    Founder/CEO
    B2Bee

  2. Always informative Shane. You are saving a lot of people a lot of time. Thanks! :)

  3. I also wanted to add, that the Bee has a simple way of doing Time Tracking. By creating a “draft” invoice for a client, the user can continue to add time entries as line items. The draft invoice waits patiently until the user is ready to bill the time. Then the user simply converts the draft to an unpaid invoice by emailing or printing. Wala!

  4. That’s a good way to do it if you’ll never be asked to produce a time sheet that shows what you did in a given day.

  5. Completely agree, Shane. For right now, we’re targeting the solopreneur who is only accountable to herself!

  6. I know what you mean, but there are some contracts where even a solopreneur may end up having to provide an accounting of their time to a contractor (especially if they have government contracts where it’s not about value provided but justifying your cost).

  7. Yep. Great example! We have a customer doing something very similar to what you describe. They use a separate line on the invoice for each project or distinct task and the associated hours.

  8. Michelle Edwards says:

    Another great review! Thank you for this wonderful information!!!

  9. Great review, Shane. Giving this info to your clients is invaluable.

    We send sole proprietors to http://www.outright.com, because

    1. It is free,
    2. They can invite us in to review their account, and
    3. It actually prints the Schedule C for you

    Didn’t know about B2Bee – I’ll check it out. Thanks again.

  10. I think we should start to revisit our notion of how we categorize these systems. My claim, is that we have outgrown the distinction of “bookkeeping” systems. Maybe this is still a good starting point, but it seems like the systems should be separated into (3) subcategories:

    1. Transactional
    2. Aggregators
    3. Invoicing

    Transactional systems give the user the ability to generate invoices, process payments against AR, record some expenses, and do some degree of bookkeeping / reporting (cash and/or accrual basis). I would include @B2Bee at the most simple end of this spectrum, with Freshbooks in the middle, and Quickbooks being the most complex.

    Aggregators are systems such as @outright and @indinero, which aggregate data from many different sources to paint a picture of financial condition. These solutions do not (at present) offer an invoicing to AR to cash process.

    Invoicing systems are simply that. Systems that generate invoices, show open AR, and allow for payments to be applied to unpaid invoices.

    Thoughts?

  11. @Scott – I also believe there is a distinction between systems, but my distinction is clearly different than yours and has more to do with the functional level of accounting and other services housed in the system. Here’s the spectrum I see:

    1. Cash basis profit/loss only (like Quicken, Outright, inDinero)

    2. Invoicing + profit/loss reporting (B2Bee, Freshbooks)

    3. Balance Sheet + Invoicing + profit/loss reporting (Quickbooks, Peachtree, Working Point, Kashoo, IAC EZ, MerchantsMirror)

    4. Enterprise solutions – (Intaact, MAS 90)

    Other functionality may be integrated in these systems, such as time tracking in Freshbooks and the ability to aggregate information from a whole team of solopreneurs. But this is the basic framework that I see. To me, transactional and aggregators are one in the same, only differing by the method of entry (manual or import).

    Systems that only do invoicing with no profit/loss reporting (invoice bubble?) are merely a billing tool and do not really constitute a bookkeeping system until they have been integrated with another solution like Outright. I like solutions that handle as much of the functionality as needed under one roof, such as the invoicing and profit/loss combination, so that multiple systems and subscriptions aren’t really necessary.

  12. I love these reviews!

    QuickBooks online is overkill for many small businesses but you end up upgrading to the most expensive price point (free > basic > premium) relatively quickly. At $30+ a month, owning the desktop version of QuickBooks makes more sense for most small businesses than using the cloud if they really need all QuickBooks offers.

    What I like better about Outright than B2Bee is that Outright has automatic import of credit cards and bank accounts. That’s a must for some of my clients.

    On the other hand, I like that B2Bee does invoicing (but Outright users can add Freshbooks if that’s needed). I’d like to see B2Bee add importing of electronic transactions.

    What I’d like to see in both Outright and B2Bee is at least a cash account that can be reconciled to the bank. If businesses write paper checks, they can’t just look at their online banking site to see what their cash balance is. They need to adjust that balance for their outstanding paper checks. Not everyone has that problem but surely a lot still do! I’m experimenting with just keeping a list of outstanding paper checks and crossing them off as they clear the bank so that when I go to online banking I can quickly know how much to subtract from the online balance.

    Both Outright and B2Bee make accounting simple, mobile, and accessible for small businesses, providing useful tools for entrepreneurs and accountants at a reasonable price or free. As a CPA, I want to understand what options are available to my clients and meet their needs. I don’t want to end up with treating everything as a nail just because all I have is a hammer!

  13. “As a CPA, I want to understand what options are available to my clients and meet their needs. I don’t want to end up with treating everything as a nail just because all I have is a hammer!”

    Amen Bill! This is the essence of why I am undertaking this project. I’m really encouraged to see the amount of feedback, discussion, and overall participation that is occurring.

    I want to be able to help my clients make the best decision for them and educate myself well enough to support them in that decision. At the end of the day I think we will both be happier!

  14. Shane…

    Awesome job on these reviews. I am all about a bank rec but as these products continue to upgrade and we don’t even have to install the upgrade because they are saas maybe our enhancements will be implamented. What software companies must get is as cpas we have the power to make or break product based on referrals. So what’s cool about outright, b2b and freshbooks is they seem to listen and care. Keep these reviews comming!

  15. Here’s an important update about B2Bee! Based upon your recommendation, we have added auto-setup of IRS Schedule C expense categories. With a click of the mouse, clients can automatically populate their expense categories. This feature continues our commitment to supporting the US market of freelancers, solopreneurs and other small service firms. Please read more about this feature at http://blog.getthebee.com/2010/08/the-bee-adds-schedule-c-expense-categories/

  16. Thanks for the update, Scott! It’s fun to work with accessible software developers that can integrate good suggestions quickly.