Welcome to FreeAgent! This article is a quick guide to help you get started with your FreeAgent account, from entering your initial settings to linking your bank account and creating your first invoice.
The Getting Started page on the FreeAgent website contains some handy videos on setting up your account, along with a recorded webinar that offers a guided tour of the software. You’ll find a whole host of more detailed information on how to get started with FreeAgent here in the Knowledge Base. You can also select the blue ‘Help’ button in the bottom-right corner of the screen if you need assistance.
If your business is already trading and you've been recording your accounts in another software package, find out about switching to FreeAgent.
To get up and running quickly with FreeAgent and familiarise yourself with its main features, we recommend you work through the following steps:
1. Set up your account
If you haven’t already done so, sign up for FreeAgent and set up your account. If you’re setting up a FreeAgent account for a charity, find out how to choose the appropriate account type.
When you sign up for a FreeAgent account, you’ll receive an email asking you to verify your email address. It’s important that you follow the instructions in the email to confirm your account and prevent temporary limitations being placed on your account.
When setting up your FreeAgent account, you’ll need to enter your business’s accounting dates. For more information on these dates and where to view or edit them in FreeAgent, please see this article. If your business is registered for VAT, you’ll also need to enter the business’s initial VAT settings in FreeAgent.
If you need to give your accountant access to your account, or include employees on your payroll, you’ll need to add them as users.
If your business has been trading for a while and you’re moving to FreeAgent from another software package, the next step will be entering your opening balances. If your business is new, you can move on to importing your data.
If you're unable to log in to your FreeAgent account, please see our troubleshooting steps for login problems.
2. Enter opening balances
If you’ve been trading for a while, and particularly if the business is a limited company, you’ll need to enter brought-forward opening balances from your previous accounting software into FreeAgent.
These are your figures as they stood as at your FreeAgent start date, and you can obtain these from a trial balance from your previous software package. Your opening balances include any money owed to the business from customers and money owed from the business to suppliers.
Find out more about how to enter your opening balances.
3. Import your data
If relevant to your business, you can import accounting data into FreeAgent, such as bank transactions, contacts, projects and historical income and expenses. You can find more details on each of these below.
Please note that you should only import bank transactions, invoices, bills and out-of-pocket expenses that are dated on or after your FreeAgent start date.
You can import your bank transactions into FreeAgent automatically by connecting your bank account and enabling a bank feed.
If the bank feed is connected via Open Banking, then you can import transactions dating back two years. If your bank account is with a challenger bank such as Monzo, Starling Bank, Revolut or Capital on Tap, then you can set up an integration, which will function in a similar way to a bank feed.
If a bank feed isn't available for your bank, or you need to import historical transactions that are outside the scope of your bank feed, you will need to either upload bank statements or enter transactions manually.
After your bank transactions have been imported or uploaded, you will be able to view them in the ‘Banking’ area of FreeAgent, where you can explain them to tell FreeAgent what each transaction relates to.
Once you’ve started explaining transactions, FreeAgent’s Guess feature will attempt to explain your transactions automatically. Guess is enabled by default for Open Banking bank feeds, but you will need to enable it manually for challenger bank feed integrations.
Contacts in FreeAgent are your individual customers and suppliers. You will need to set up the relevant contacts in order to create invoices or enter bills.
You can add contacts manually or import them into FreeAgent from email software, Basecamp or a CSV format file.
The Projects feature in FreeAgent can be used if you undertake large pieces of work for a customer. It allows you to see everything relating to a particular project - including invoices, estimates, expenses, tasks and tracked time - in the same place. If you’ve been using Basecamp to manage your projects, you can import your Basecamp project data into FreeAgent.
Historical income and expenses
Before importing historical income or expenses, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the difference between an expense, a bill and a bank payment in FreeAgent. Then follow the steps below if you need to import them.
If you have historical sales invoices to import into FreeAgent, you can use a third-party integration such as AutoEntry or Fabio to import the data. Alternatively, you can import the relevant bank transactions and explain them as ‘Sales’.
You can import historical expenses and mileage in bulk.
If you have historical bills to import into FreeAgent, you can use a third-party integration such as AutoEntry or Fabio to import the data. Alternatively, you can import the relevant bank transactions and explain them to the relevant cost categories.
4. Start creating invoices, bills and expenses
Once all your historical data has been imported into your FreeAgent account, you’re ready to start creating new invoices, bills and expenses.
After importing or manually adding your contacts, you can create and send sales invoices to your customers using FreeAgent.
To do this, first enter your company details and add a company logo if you wish. You can add a business email address to send your invoices from. There is also the option to set up templates to automatically email your invoices, email payment reminders and email a thank you note once the invoice has been marked as paid.
When you’re ready, you can create an invoice or set up a recurring invoice profile if you’re going to invoice a customer for the same amount on a regular basis.
After importing or manually adding your contacts, you can create bills to record any invoices that you’ve received from your suppliers.
You can set up custom cost categories if you need to and create a bill. Once you’ve paid the supplier, you can mark the bill as paid.
If you spend money on your business using personal funds, you would enter these costs as out-of-pocket expenses. You can record your out-of-pocket expenses on the go using the FreeAgent mobile app. If the business then reimburses you for costs that you paid for personally, find out how to explain an expense repayment.
If the cost was paid for using business funds, you would explain the bank transaction in the ‘Banking’ area instead. Find out more about how to categorise a business cost.
5. Learn about projects
You can use the Projects feature in FreeAgent if you carry out a large piece of work for a customer or want to track your time or income and expenses for a piece of work.
After creating the project, you can create an invoice from the project to record your income against it. Alternatively, you can create the project from an estimate after you’ve sent it to your customer.
You can then add costs, tasks and notes to the project and view how profitable it is.
6. Keep on top of your admin
FreeAgent has various features, such as Radar, the Tax Timeline and the FreeAgent mobile app, which can help you stay on top of your business admin.
Radar is a FreeAgent feature that contains an ‘Admin To-Do List’ and provides a feed containing tailored Insights into your business’s performance and information on any new features or product updates.
The FreeAgent Tax Timeline displays a live projection of how much money you owe to HMRC for PAYE, Income Tax, VAT and Corporation Tax - and when it’s due to be paid - so you’ll know how much to set aside for tax bills. It also reminds you of the filing deadlines, which you can synchronise with your Google, Outlook or iCal calendar so that you never miss a deadline.
FreeAgent mobile app
You can download the FreeAgent mobile app and perform a range of tasks on the go. For information on the mobile app’s functionality, please see this article. Please note that you won't be able to use the FreeAgent mobile app if you have an unincorporated landlord account.
If you need to use some of FreeAgent’s more advanced features, you might find the following articles useful: