Are you struggling to figure out which small business timekeeping app you should use? I get it. There’s a billion out there (that might be a slight exaggeration) and no one has time to test all of them. Since I started working from home I’ve used several, some because companies made me and some because I chose them myself. There’s a few things to consider when making your choice. This isn’t a “best” list, exactly, because you can find those anywhere and I hate being redundant. I would suggest reading this first, answering the questions I ask, and then going to a best small business timekeeping app list and seeing which one matches up with you choices. It’ll save you some time deciding if you already know what you need. Without further ado, here we go.
Choosing a Small Business Timekeeping App
1. Do you need the app on your computer, phone, or both?
This is probably the most important question when you’re choosing your small business timekeeping app. I used to have one that was solely on my phone, and that could be a real problem. My son likes to steal my phone to watch cartoons and I need to use those times that he’s staring a screen to work. Don’t judge me, people. I work from home with two kids, and sometimes it’s a fight for my very survival. Screen time helps. Anyway, you can see why I had to change. I’d be even more irritated if I only had my app on my computer, as I often work off my phone on the go. If you don’t already know your work style and where you’ll need your app, skip to the next question.
2. How much money do you want to spend?
There are plenty of free phone-only apps out there, so if you want to spend nothing, I suggest you get one of those. My timekeeper (ATracker) has a free version, but I needed a few more categories to fit all my clients, so I upgraded it for $6 a year ago and that’s all I spent. Most of the really good timekeepers (think Toggl or Hours) have free versions or monthly payment plans. I’m not interested in a month plan, so I’ve just avoided getting any of those major ones for fear I’ll wind up loving it and want to upgrade.
3. How many categories will I need?
When I was using my old small business time keeping app (I don’t even remember what it was called), I was good to go for about six months before I started needing more categories. I used to be able to split things up just by client, but then I needed to start breaking down tasks per client, and that adds up. I still only use 10 categories, but even that number requires a little bit more than what the free apps will offer. If you think you’ll never need to differentiate, I’d rethink that. Clients like it when you can prove your work to them. But, for the record, when I switched over no one knew or cared, so if you choose incorrectly at first it likely won’t be a big deal. If you don’t want categories at all and just a simple time recorder, you might just want a google extension for your browser.
4. Besides reports, do I need all the bells and whistles?
I certainly do not. I am anti-bells and whistles. True story, my CPA client, makes me use Toggl as well as the timekeeping app I already use. Do I make the switch for my own clients? No. Because Toggl has way too much going on for simple ole’ me. You can read about its features here. I literally only want to see how much time I’ve used per day and per month so I can bill people. That’s it. I don’t want it integrated with anything, I don’t want teams, I don’t want insights, color coding, anything else you can think of, I don’t want it. But you might be different. In fact, if your small business includes other employees, I’m almost sure you want something different. I don’t think you’ll know what you actually need until you get started, but you’ll have an idea. Simply striking out either basic timekeeping apps or fancy ones will be half the trouble.
Okay, friends, that’s a start on your small business timekeeping app. Now here’s a best of list for 2018 (I didn’t write it, but it looks good). Then, if you’re not sure what to do next as you strike out on your own, check out this list of other apps you need. Good luck running your business!