Getting Started with Freelance Accounting Software:
A Step-by-Step Guide



As a freelancer in Switzerland, managing your finances is a crucial part of running your business. Keeping accurate records of your income and expenses not only helps you stay organized and make informed decisions but also ensures compliance with Swiss tax regulations.
While it's possible to track everything manually, using accounting software can save you time, reduce errors, and provide valuable insights into your financial health.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the process of getting started with freelance accounting software, from assessing your needs to optimizing your workflow.

Understanding Your Freelance Accounting Needs

Before diving into choosing an accounting software, it's essential to evaluate your specific needs as a freelancer. If you're just starting out and have a low volume of transactions, you might be able to get by with a simple spreadsheet or a basic invoicing tool. However, as your business grows and your financial situation becomes more complex, dedicated accounting software can be a game-changer.

Some key accounting tasks that freelancers typically need to handle include:

  • Invoicing: Creating and sending professional invoices to clients, tracking payments, and managing outstanding balances.
  • Expense tracking: Recording and categorizing business expenses, such as office supplies, travel costs, and software subscriptions.
  • Financial reporting: Generating reports, such as profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, to gain insights into your business's financial performance.

Additionally, Swiss freelancers need to consider compliance requirements, such as:

  • Maintaining proper bookkeeping records
  • Filing annual tax returns
  • Registering for VAT if your turnover exceeds CHF 100,000 per year

Using accounting software can help you stay on top of these tasks and obligations more efficiently. Some benefits include:

  • Automated record-keeping and financial reporting
  • Time savings from streamlined invoicing and expense tracking
  • Reduced errors and improved accuracy
  • Better visibility into your cash flow and profitability
  • Easier collaboration with an accountant or tax advisor

Choosing the Right Accounting Software

With numerous accounting software options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your freelance business. Here are some key factors to consider:

Types of Accounting Software

  • Cloud-based vs. desktop: Cloud-based software allows you to access your account from any device with an internet connection, while desktop software is installed locally on your computer. Cloud-based solutions are generally more flexible and offer automatic updates and backups.
  • Basic vs. advanced features: Some software offers basic functionality like invoicing and expense tracking, while others include more advanced features like inventory management, time tracking, and payroll. Consider your current and future needs when evaluating features.

Top Accounting Software Options for Swiss Freelancers

Here's an overview of some popular accounting software choices for freelancers in Switzerland:

Software Key Features Pricing Pros Cons
Bexio Invoicing, expense tracking, accounting, time tracking, project management From CHF 15/month User-friendly interface, good customer support, Swiss-specific features Limited customization options, higher priced than some alternatives
Banana Accounting Double-entry accounting, invoicing, financial reporting, VAT handling From CHF 69/year Affordable, Swiss-specific features, easy to use Fewer integrations compared to cloud-based options
Xero Invoicing, expense tracking, bank reconciliation, reporting, payroll From CHF 22/month Comprehensive features, strong integrations, user-friendly Steeper learning curve, limited phone support
QuickBooks Online Invoicing, expense tracking, accounting, reporting, payroll From CHF 8/month Extensive features, strong integrations, mobile app Some features not tailored to Swiss requirements

Factors to Consider

  • Pricing & affordability: Look for software that fits your budget, considering both monthly subscription costs and any additional fees for transactions or extra features.
  • Ease of use: Choose a solution with a user-friendly interface and intuitive navigation to minimize the learning curve.
  • Mobile access: If you work on the go, look for software with a mobile app or responsive design for easy access from your smartphone or tablet.
  • Integrations: Consider how well the software integrates with other tools you use, such as time tracking, payment processors, or tax preparation solutions.
  • Customer support: Evaluate the level of support offered, such as online resources, live chat, email, or phone assistance.
  • Security & data privacy: Ensure that the software provider prioritizes security measures like encryption, two-factor authentication, and regular backups to protect your financial data.

Many accounting software providers offer free trials or demos, allowing you to test the features and interface before committing to a paid subscription. Take advantage of these opportunities to find the best fit for your freelance business.

Setting Up Your Accounting Software Account

Once you've chosen your accounting software, the next step is to set up your account. Here's a general overview of the process:

  1. Sign up for a subscription: Provide your email address and create a secure password. Some software may require additional information, such as your business name and address.

  2. Fill out your business profile: Enter your company details, such as your business name, contact information, and logo. This information will appear on your invoices and other documents.

  3. Customize your account settings: Set up your preferences, such as your default invoice terms, payment methods, and tax settings. Most software allows you to create custom invoice and estimate templates to match your branding.

  4. Connect your business bank account: Integrate your bank account with the software to automatically import transactions and reconcile your records. This step may require you to enter your online banking credentials or provide read-only access to your account.

  5. Invite team members or an accountant: If you work with other people or have an external accountant, you can invite them to collaborate on your account. Set appropriate access permissions based on their roles and responsibilities.

The exact setup process may vary depending on the software you choose, but most providers offer step-by-step guidance and support to help you get started.

Getting Familiar with the Interface & Features

After setting up your account, take some time to explore the software's interface and familiarize yourself with its key features. Most accounting software has a main dashboard that provides an overview of your financial situation, such as your current income, expenses, and outstanding invoices.

Navigate through the different sections of the software, which typically include:

  • Invoicing: Create, send, and manage invoices. Most software allows you to customize invoice templates, set up recurring invoices, and track payment status.
  • Expenses: Record and categorize your business expenses. Many solutions offer features like receipt scanning and automatic categorization based on rules you define.
  • Accounting/Bookkeeping: Access your chart of accounts, general ledger, and bank reconciliation tools. Some software may also provide features for handling VAT and generating financial reports.
  • Reporting: Generate various reports, such as profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, to gain insights into your business's financial health.
  • Payroll: If the software includes payroll functionality, you can manage employee salaries, taxes, and benefits (if applicable to your freelance business).

To get started with basic tasks, refer to the software's help center or user guides for step-by-step instructions. Most accounting software providers offer extensive documentation and video tutorials to help you learn the ropes.

Here are some basic how-tos for common tasks:

  • Creating and sending invoices:

    1. Click on the "Invoices" or "Sales" section.
    2. Select "Create new invoice" or similar.
    3. Choose a client from your list or add a new one.
    4. Enter the invoice details, such as the items or services, quantities, and prices.
    5. Apply any discounts or taxes as needed.
    6. Set the due date and payment terms.
    7. Click "Send" or "Email" to deliver the invoice to your client.
  • Recording expenses:

    1. Navigate to the "Expenses" section.
    2. Click "Add new expense" or similar.
    3. Enter the date, vendor, and amount of the expense.
    4. Select the appropriate category (e.g., office supplies, travel, or advertising).
    5. Attach a digital copy of the receipt if available.
    6. Save the expense.
  • Reconciling transactions:

    1. Access the "Banking" or "Reconciliation" section.
    2. Review the list of imported transactions from your connected bank account.
    3. Match each transaction to the corresponding invoice or expense in your accounting software.
    4. Categorize any uncategorized transactions.
    5. Resolve any discrepancies between your records and the bank statement.
    6. Mark the transactions as reconciled once complete.
  • Generating reports:

    1. Go to the "Reports" section.
    2. Select the type of report you want to generate (e.g., profit and loss, balance sheet, or aged receivables).
    3. Choose the date range for the report.
    4. Apply any filters or customizations as needed.
    5. Click "Generate" or "Run report" to view the results.
    6. Export or print the report if desired.

As you become more comfortable with the software, explore additional features and settings to tailor it to your specific needs.

Optimizing Your Accounting Workflow

Once you've mastered the basics of your accounting software, look for ways to optimize your workflow and save time on routine tasks. Here are some tips and best practices:

Streamlining Invoicing

  • Save client information: Enter your clients' details, such as their name, address, and payment terms, into the software's contact database. This way, you can quickly select them when creating new invoices without having to input their information each time.
  • Set up recurring invoices: If you have clients on retainer or provide ongoing services, set up recurring invoices to automatically generate and send bills at regular intervals (e.g., weekly or monthly).
  • Enable online payments: Integrate a payment processor with your accounting software to allow clients to pay their invoices online via credit card or bank transfer. This can speed up payment collection and reduce manual data entry.

Automating Expense Management

  • Leverage receipt scanning: Many accounting software solutions offer receipt scanning functionality, either through a mobile app or by forwarding email receipts. This allows you to quickly capture expense details without manual data entry.
  • Set up expense categories: Define custom expense categories based on your business needs, such as "Office Supplies" or "Travel." This makes it easier to categorize transactions and generate accurate reports.
  • Create rules for recurring expenses: If you have regular expenses, such as monthly software subscriptions, create rules to automatically categorize and record these transactions when they appear in your bank feed.

Integrating with Other Tools

  • Time tracking software: If you bill clients based on hourly rates, integrate your accounting software with a time tracking tool like Toggl or Harvest. This allows you to easily convert tracked time into invoices and ensures accurate billing.
  • Payment processors: Connect your accounting software with payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, or TransferWise to automatically record payments and update invoice statuses.
  • Tax preparation solutions: Some accounting software integrates with tax preparation tools, enabling you to easily export your financial data and prepare your tax returns.

Staying on Top of Bookkeeping

  • Schedule regular reconciliation: Set aside time each week or month to reconcile your transactions and ensure your records match your bank statements. This helps catch any errors or discrepancies early on.
  • Review cash flow reports: Regularly generate and review cash flow reports to monitor your business's financial health and anticipate any potential shortfalls or surpluses.
  • Monitor aging invoices: Keep an eye on outstanding invoices and follow up with clients who are past due. Many accounting software solutions offer aging reports and automatic payment reminders to help with collections.

By implementing these optimizations and best practices, you can streamline your accounting processes, save time, and gain better control over your freelance finances.

Getting Help & Troubleshooting

Even with a user-friendly accounting software, you may encounter questions or issues along the way. Here are some resources and tips for getting help and troubleshooting common problems:

Utilizing the Software's Help Center

Most accounting software providers offer extensive online help centers with articles, tutorials, and FAQs covering a wide range of topics. Before reaching out to customer support, search the help center for guidance on your specific question or issue. Many providers also offer community forums where users can ask questions and share advice.

Contacting Customer Support

If you can't find the answer in the help center, don't hesitate to contact the software's customer support team. Look for options like live chat, email, or phone support, depending on your preference and the urgency of your issue. Have your account details and any relevant screenshots or error messages ready to help the support team assist you more effectively.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Here are some common issues you may encounter and potential solutions:

  • Sync errors with bank accounts:

    • Double-check that you've entered your bank credentials correctly.
    • Ensure that your bank supports the integration and that you've granted the necessary permissions.
    • If the issue persists, contact customer support for assistance.
  • Incorrect invoice totals:

    • Review the individual line items and quantities to ensure accuracy.
    • Check that you've applied the correct tax rates and discounts.
    • Verify that any custom formulas or scripts are functioning as intended.
  • Duplicate transactions:

    • If you notice duplicate entries in your records, first determine the source (e.g., manual entry, bank import, or integration with another tool).
    • Delete or void the duplicate transaction, ensuring that it doesn't affect your account balances.
    • Review your import settings and reconciliation process to prevent future duplicates.

Additional Training & Resources

In addition to the software's built-in help resources, consider exploring external training and educational materials to deepen your understanding of accounting principles and best practices. Some options include:

  • Online courses and webinars on platforms like Udemy or Coursera
  • Books and e-books on small business accounting and bookkeeping
  • Professional organizations like the Swiss Federation of Accountants and Tax Experts (EXPERTsuisse)
  • Local workshops or seminars offered by business associations or chambers of commerce

By continually expanding your knowledge and staying up-to-date with industry developments, you'll be better equipped to manage your freelance finances effectively.

Next Steps

As you become more comfortable with your accounting software and establish a routine, consider these next steps to maintain and improve your financial management:

Establishing Good Accounting Habits

  • Set aside dedicated bookkeeping time: Block out regular time in your schedule to review your transactions, reconcile your accounts, and address any outstanding issues. Consistency is key to staying on top of your finances.
  • Keep business and personal expenses separate: Maintain a clear separation between your business and personal finances to simplify your bookkeeping and tax preparation. Use a dedicated business bank account and credit card for all business-related transactions.
  • Digitize and back up your records: Scan and store digital copies of receipts, invoices, and other important documents in a secure cloud storage solution. This not only saves space but also ensures that you have a backup in case of loss or damage.

Reviewing Finances Regularly

  • Monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs): Identify the financial metrics that matter most to your freelance business, such as revenue, profit margin, and cash flow. Regularly review these KPIs to track your progress and make informed decisions.
  • Compare actual results to your budget: If you've created a budget for your freelance business, compare your actual income and expenses to your projections. This helps you identify areas where you may need to adjust your spending or revenue targets.
  • Seek advice from a professional: Consider working with a bookkeeper or accountant to review your financial statements and provide guidance on optimizing your tax strategy and business performance.

Staying Informed about Software Updates & Features

  • Read the software's release notes: Keep an eye out for updates and new features released by your accounting software provider. These often include performance improvements, bug fixes, and additional functionality that can benefit your workflow.
  • Attend webinars or training sessions: Many software providers offer free webinars or training sessions to help users stay up-to-date with the latest features and best practices. Take advantage of these opportunities to enhance your skills and knowledge.
  • Provide feedback and suggestions: If you encounter issues or have ideas for improving the software, share your feedback with the provider. Many companies value user input and incorporate it into future development plans.

Scaling Usage as Your Freelance Business Grows

As your freelance business grows and evolves, your accounting needs may change. Regularly assess whether your current software plan and features still meet your requirements. Consider upgrading to a higher-tier plan or exploring additional integrations to accommodate your growing business.


Implementing accounting software is a crucial step in managing your freelance finances effectively. By following this step-by-step guide, you'll be well-equipped to choose the right software, set up your account, and streamline your accounting processes.

Remember, the key benefits of using accounting software include:

  • Time savings through automation and streamlined workflows
  • Improved accuracy and reduced errors in financial records
  • Better visibility into your business's financial health and performance
  • Easier collaboration with clients, team members, and financial professionals
  • Increased compliance with tax regulations and reporting requirements

While it may require an initial time investment to learn and set up your accounting software, the long-term benefits far outweigh the effort. By establishing good accounting habits and regularly reviewing your finances, you'll gain valuable insights into your freelance business's performance and be better positioned for growth and success.

So, whether you're a seasoned freelancer or just starting out, take the first step towards better financial management by exploring!