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Sponsor interview: Andy Irvine, FreeAgent

Can you tell us a little about FreeAgent and your role there?

FreeAgent helps freelancers and small business owners get control over their finances. In my role as UX designer, I help the FreeAgent team understand our customers so that we can create a product that helps us provide the most awesome service possible.

 

What different things does FreeAgent offer?

An easy way to explain what FreeAgent does is to think about a normal workday if you’re a freelancer. In the morning you might have a few pieces of work that you need to quote for - instead of hunting around on your hard drive for the right template, in FreeAgent you can fill in an estimate template and email a PDF directly to the potential client. Then you may decide to get some work done for another client - you can start a timer in FreeAgent to track your time, or just fill in a timesheet later. After lunch you may decide to tackle some invoicing. I know this is a task that freelancers often put off because getting all the details right is really time-consuming, but in FreeAgent you can just open a template, click to import all the unpaid timesheet entries for a client, then just check it over and send it. You can also add online payment options so your client can pay you directly through GoCardless or PayPal. Before you finish off for the day you might want to check how your business is doing. If you’re using a spreadsheet that might mean a half hour of keying in transactions, but FreeAgent connects to your online bank account so you can just match up the bank transactions that have automatically imported that day. Then you can take a look at your dashboard to see how your cash flow is doing and what your tax forecast looks like. If you’re feeling really productive, you can go ahead and sort your tax return before January - FreeAgent automatically fills in as much of the forms as it can, so you just type in the rest and click to submit it directly to HMRC.

 

How important is it to keep on top of finances as a small business/ freelancer?

Finances are a pain, we get that. But it’s so easy to let that admin stuff pile up and then just spiral out of control when you’re trying to wear so many different hats as a self-employed person. I’ve met freelancers who can’t even talk about the finance part of their business because it’s so stressful, they’d rather just try to forget that it exists. We reckon that the best way to make finance less stressful is to help people manage it a bit at a time, and automate as much as we can. It’s a lot easier to check a few bank transactions on your phone and let FreeAgent automatically update your accounts than sit in front of a spreadsheet every few months trying to do it yourself.

 

What is the biggest perk of signing up to FreeAgent?

Our award-winning support is a huge perk of FreeAgent. Not only do you have super-helpful software that makes it easier to get on with your work, but if you get stuck or have questions you can pick up the phone to one of our really smart, really helpful Support Accountants. Customers have sent our Support Accountants flowers as a thank you for their help. That’s how awesome they are.

 

Why is it important to support the Creative Edinburgh Awards and the city’s creative network?

Edinburgh is full of such amazing creative talent - the Creative Edinburgh Awards this year did a great job of showcasing that. I was blown away by the talent on display that night, from the projection-mapped ceiling, to the nominees, to the actual awards themselves. We think it’s pretty damn important to support that at FreeAgent - we’re really proud to be a part of this community.

 

If FreeAgent could be nominated for any award, real or imaginary, what would it be and why?

I think we’d be in with a shot for the “best stress relief product for small businesses” award - especially at tax time!

 

You can find out more about FreeAgent here, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook