Cut Your Accounts-Receivable Costs With a Free Online Invoicing Service

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Accounts payable and receivable are critical facets of any small business. Sometimes the smallest businesses focus on their product and shirk these tasks--I know I have. But a simple online invoicing system can save hassle and time.

FastDue could be a good option because of its simplicity, features, and online approach. Supported by ads, it's even free to use, although the company eventually plans some sort of premium, paid features. Small businesses with only a few employees will probably get the most out of the site, and I noticed a few growing pains in its young state. But built-in contract templates and the always-available online approach could help businesses of a dozen or more.

The online, software-as-a-service approach is my favorite FastDue feature. I can access its invoicing and other features from any computer through a Web browser, or even on a smartphone.

FastDue mostly sticks with its payment-based approach, including giving your clients optional PayPal details in your invoices. But several editable contract templates could also come in handy for the smallest businesses. These agreements mostly relate to these payment topics, including basic work-for-hire and sale-of-goods contracts.

The service touts encryption and a secure connection. But again, watch for that distinction between pages loaded with "https" and "http;" I often stumbled into areas that weren't encrypted. The company told me that it's still adding that security site-wide.

The free price is alluring, and FastDue looks promising. Medium-sized businesses will likely be turned off by its limited features, including tying all of this data to one user login. (What if you have a couple people who need access but don't want to share the ID?) But small businesses should find its features worth trying as-is.

Zack Stern is a freelance writer, editor, and entrepreneur based in San Francisco.

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