Freelancing can be great…set your own scheduled (generally), run errands in the middle of the day, choose the clients you work with, send invoices and track your financials. Ok, maybe that last one isn’t such a perk, but it’s something that’s about to get a lot easier thanks to a new app developed right here in Columbus.
Designed by freelancers for freelancers, Harpoon helps the independent workforce set, track and achieve financial goals.
A designer by trade, Co-Founder Andy Johnson took the leap from corporate to freelance around 2008, heading to former coworking space The Sandbox.
“Business was great, lots of great clients, the money was coming in, but one common thing always seemed to come up among my peers and that was managing money,” Johnson says.
How does a freelancer manage their finances like a real business? How do they go about forecasting or managing revenue or setting financial goals (as Johnson says all the scary stuff your employer used to do for you)?
“After a few years of freelancing and trying to dozens of tools that were out there, I just really couldn’t find anything that was helping me accomplish that in an easy way,” Johnson says. After much discussion with fellow coworking freelancer Ryan Battles, “The two of us decided it was a problem we were going to tackle ourselves.”
They cherry picked their favorite parts and features of other apps to build Harpoon.
“The main focus is helping the freelancer set a realistic yearly revenue goal for their business,” Johnson says. Ask a freelancer how much they want to make and the typical reply is as much as possible, but without specific, realistic goals it’s hard to track and to plan.
If a freelancer has a goal, great, if not, the app can help with that, too. A built-in tool helps an individual develop salary goals based on factors like personal and business budgets.
“Once they set that goal, Harpoon works backwards from there,” Johnson says. Harpoon breaks the big goal into bite-sized quarterly and monthly goals that can help a freelancer more easily schedule projects based on those goals.
“Harpoon then gives you all the tools to go after the goal,” Johnson says. Those tools include features like invoicing, project scheduling and time-tracking capabilities.
Harpoon’s tiered fee schedule is based on the number of clients a freelancer wants to manage with the app. For $19/month, users can manage 15 clients with unlimited projects and invoices, $29/month bumps up to 25 clients. An unlimited number of clients will cost a freelancer $49/month.
“Anybody who invoices clients is probably a great candidate to use Harpoon,” Johnson says. “If you’re going to be a freelancer and you’re going to make that jump and take that risk of starting your own business, it’s really worth taking the time to do it right.”
The app spent about a year in beta testing, giving Harpoon ample time to work out the kinks, allowing it to amass over 500 users since its July launch. Reception has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I think the fact that we took quite awhile as a private beta to get things right really helped a lot,” Johnson says.
Co-Founders Johnson and Battles and Partner Tom Jaeger’s backgrounds have also been instrumental in the process. They have helped a lot of other startups with design, development and marketing and have a good sense for what works and what doesn’t.
For more information, visit harpoonapp.com.