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Get in control of freelance finances with GSheets

Published on Wednesday, 14th September 2016, contributed by FD Works

Get in control of your freelance finances – Google and Xero’s new GSheets template

By Jonathan Gaunt, MD at FD Works

If you’ve just set yourself up as a freelance creative, you’re about to start an amazing journey. You’ve got complete control over who you work with, what creative projects you work on and where your new business is heading.

But have you got control over your finances?

It’s fair to say that most creatives are not huge fans of ‘the numbers’, but if you don’t have a handle on your accounts then you’re not truly in control of your freelance future.

So, if you’re new to freelance, new to accounting and looking around for a cheap (preferably FREE!) way to manage your finances, what do you do?

We think the answer is to get yourself set up with Google’s new ‘Financial statement’ GSheets template, designed in partnership with the guys from Xero online accounting.

Why you need a grip on your finances

Being a freelance creative is an amazing way to put yourself in the driving seat of your career. You’re the CEO, creative director and design team, all rolled into one. But you’re also the finance director – and that means getting your head around accounting (don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you might think!)

To be a successful freelance creative you need four things:

  • A stable portfolio of clients who are clamouring to work with you.

  • A steady flow of invoice payments coming into your bank account.

  • Enough positive cash flow and end profit to pay yourself a decent living wage.

  • A way to keep tabs on your finances so you know if you’re being profitable.

If you’ve got all four of those key pillars in place, then you’re freelance business has a future. And you can get on with being creative, innovative and groundbreaking – without worrying if there’s money in the bank to pay the rent or mortgage.

The downsides of using Excel

So, how do you record your income and costs and keep in control of those finances?

The modus operandi for many freelancers has been the trusty Excel spreadsheet. Most of us have Microsoft Office lurking somewhere on our laptop, and the usual approach has been ‘chuck the numbers in a spreadsheet and let the accountant sort it out later…’.

But using an Excel spreadsheet has quite a few drawbacks:

  • You’ll usually start with a blank canvas, so you’ve got to spend time setting up a template that fits the financial shape of your freelance business.

  • If you’re not an accounts whizz, all those formulas and numbers can get confusing!

  • If you’re working from one Excel file on your hard drive, your lovely spreadsheet can easily get corrupted or lost if there’s a problem with the machine.

That Excel option’s not looking quite so good now, is it...

Ditch that Excel spreadsheet and go cloud

So, wouldn’t it be great if there was financial statements template for your spreadsheet, that has all the formatting and formulas pre-set for you – and had a built in profit and loss (P&L) report  and balance sheet to show you precisely what’s going on with your numbers?

That's exactly what you get with Google's new 'financial statements' template for their Google Sheets (GSheets) spreadsheet format (it’s basically Excel, but in the cloud). And because it’s been designed in partnership with Xero online accounting, it’s got all the accounting bells and whistles you need as a freelancer too.

Check out this video which explains how GSheets financial statements work https://youtu.be/pKMs2emIMIw

  • There’s no wasted time setting up your accounts and fiddling around with formulas. The template is pre-set and ready to roll.

  • Everything’s explained in the most simple terms – you just enter your transactions (whether it’s something you’ve bought, or something you’ve been paid) and the template does the rest.

  • Because GSheets are saved in the cloud, there’s no danger of you losing your accounts – and you’re always using the latest version of the application.

A solution that grows with your business

You’re freelancing at present – but if you ever decide to expand and start growing your business into something bigger, you’re already on the right path with this GSheet template.

The ‘Dashboard’ tab is a scaled down version of the dashboard you see in Xero’s main cloud accounting software. So when you’re ready to make the jump to a fully fledged online accounting system, you’ll already know all about coding your transactions, checking your P&L and making sure your cash-flow situation is looking healthy.

Talk to us about growing your creative business

Frankly, if you’re a freelancer and looking for the best, free way to manage your finances, using the GSheets financial statement template is an absolute no-brainer.

  • It costs you nothing (you just need a Google account to use it).

  • It gives you a cloud-based way to record and review your finances.

  • It introduces you to all the accounting basics and the joys of the Xero Dashboard.

If you’re looking to make the step from freelance creative to start-up creative agency, we’d love to hear from you. FD Works are your best friend in finance – and we specialise in working with creative businesses that have real ambition to expand and grow.

Come and talk to us about the best ways to make your creativity more profitable.

Drop us an email to info@fd-works.co.uk or give us a call on 01454 300 999.