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Indie Tools: Wave Accounting

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Indie Tools is a series that dives into the apps and services I use to run my bootstrapped indie-development business. These work for me, but may not be right for you.

My first career was accounting and small-business consulting, which has been helpful in running my own business. I’m really comfortable with the idea of profit-and-loss reports, balance sheets, and cash flow, and so I haven’t had much of a need for accounting and bookkeeping services. That’s probably not true of everyone.

That said, it’s still something I need to keep on top of. The business is just barely breaking even, so knowing what’s coming in and what’s going out is really important.

When I first founded the business nine years ago, there wasn’t much to track beyond two or three expenses per year. It was easy enough to stay on top of things in an Excel spreadsheet and hand it over to an accountant at the end of the fiscal year.

As I tried more things with the business, the need for better tracking became clear. I signed up for QuickBooks Online, which was… well, it was accounting software. Now, accounting software does an important job, but people don’t get especially excited about it. QBO did the job, but it wasn’t anything I loved using.

I’ve been putting more time and effort into the business lately, with the goal of making my app business profitable this year. There’s no big secret to doing this: you just have to spend less than you earn. That’s pretty obvious.

What isn’t quite so obvious is that it’s not all that easy to bring in sales. That means you’ve got to keep your costs as low as possible, spending only on the stuff that adds value. For the CAD$20 per month, the value I was getting out of QuickBooks Online was to realize that it was my biggest monthly expense.

So, at the beginning of the year, I started looking for something less expensive, and was recommended Wave. The price? Free, at least for my use case. Wave makes money by handling things like payment processing and payroll services which, for Dropped Bits, wasn’t necessary. They were also recently(-ish) acquired by tax giant H&R Block, which I’m sure has added a nice safety cushion to their coffers.

And, hey, they’re Canadian. 🇨🇦

So I signed up, exported my data from QuickBooks Online, and imported it into Wave. I’ve been using Wave now since April, and I’ve gotten the hang of it by now, with customers and vendors pretty well set up. Bank and credit card transactions get imported automatically, and everything works pretty nicely.

A disclaimer, though: this is still accounting software. While it’s friendlier than many I’ve used, you’ll still want a passing understanding of double-entry accounting, or a bookkeeper that can help you if you’ve got a question. Wave does offer an “Advisors” service, but I haven’t looked into it.

A few thoughts on the overall experience so far:

They also offer a community forum and a “freelance hub”, which offers articles that help you with your freelancing business. I haven’t really spent much time exploring either, so I can’t speak to their value.

Anyways, I’m really liking Wave so far. If you’re looking for bookkeeping/accounting software, check it out.

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