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HoneyBook vs Bonsai: How to Choose the Right Platform

HoneyBook vs Bonsai: How to Choose the Right Platform

Discover how HoneyBook and Bonsai, two powerful project management and client management platforms, can optimize your business operations and boost productivity.


We’ve all heard the phrase before: “Time is money.” For small business owners and freelancers, this is especially true when it comes to running your business. As an entrepreneur, the responsibility of project management and client management falls on your shoulders. So how do you optimize your business operations in a way that allows you to streamline day-to-day tasks? 

With the help of a robust business management platform, of course. We’re talking automated task management, invoicing, scheduling, contract templates, and even a bit of branding. Think of these platforms as the ultimate productivity tool for your business. If you’ve been in business for a while you’ve probably heard of HoneyBook and Bonsai, two of the most comprehensive project management software. They’re also client relationship management (CRM) software so you can keep track of all your clients in one place. And if you’re not familiar with either, keep reading to learn more about these project management tools, their features, and which one may be right for you and your business. 

What is HoneyBook?

HoneyBook is a leading project management tool that also assists with client management, providing the total package for freelancers and small business owners. With a whopping 95% of HoneyBook users who feel more organized by using this platform, it’s no wonder many freelancers and entrepreneurs choose HoneyBook. You can track client leads and project tasks, utilize customizable proposals and contracts, send invoices, and receive payments through credit card processing and bank transfers. 

In many ways, HoneyBook has solved the problem business owners have of efficiently managing their businesses. With app integration, automation, and a user-friendly interface, users can streamline their workflow to optimize their time and effort. 

What is Bonsai?

Hello Bonsai, or Bonsai, is a trusted business management software targeted toward small business owners and freelancers. In a nutshell, it provides you with all the necessary tools and features needed to smoothly run your business—invoicing, payment processor options, appointment scheduling, and automation. You can even track time spent on projects and tasks and itemize them when you create invoices for clients. 

With the ability to onboard unlimited clients and projects, users are able to continue to grow and expand their businesses and meet their goals. Bonsai’s platform is best for solopreneurs or businesses with small teams, although you’ll have the capability to include a set number of additional collaborators, depending on the plan you select.  

HoneyBook vs Bonsai Features Comparison

Freelancing involves a lot of administrative work that requires your time and energy. To get the most out of your time, you want to find a CRM that supports your workflow and helps you grow. Project management software comes in all shapes and sizes, so if you’re looking for specific features, it’s essential to check out each platform before making a decision. Let’s take a closer look at the main features of HoneyBook and Bonsai. 

Project Management

Both HoneyBook and Bonsai were built to organize and track projects and tasks. One of the main components of any CRM or project management software is automation. Having the ability to automate tasks, reminders, use contract and proposal templates, and send emails can be a huge game-changer. HoneyBook and Bonsai allow you to set up these automated functions once and reuse them over and over again. You can also integrate other apps (such as Zoom, Google Calendar, and QuickBooks) to further streamline your work so you can run your business right from your HoneyBook dashboard. 

Time tracking is often an important part of project management for freelancers. With HoneyBook, you can time track two ways. If you’re using your desktop you’ll need to manually add and record your time, whereas on their mobile app, you’re only able to use the built-in stopwatch feature to log your time. Bonsai, on the other hand, allows you to use its built-in time tracker on both desktop and mobile devices. You can also manually enter tracked time, along with the specific project, rates, and additional notes. 

Client Management

When it comes to running a client-focused business it’s important to have the necessary tools to stay up to date with all your clients and their individual projects. As part of their software, HoneyBook and Bonsai have incorporated client management tools into their platforms. Both systems have created their own hub for client profiles to track your clients and their progress. Create new leads, share files and documents, and send invoices and request payment all from your dashboard. 

Clients can also take advantage of HoneyBook and Bonsai by accessing their personal client portals. Here they’ll be able to view documents, communicate directly with you via email or text, and see how their projects are progressing. Both platforms give users the chance to customize their portals with branding elements to enhance the customer experience. 

Invoicing and Payments

As part of the automation functionality of CRM software, HoneyBook and Bonsai users can send invoices to clients automatically. This ensures invoices are always sent on time without the risk of forgetting to manually send them. And for those long-term retainer clients, utilize the recurring payments feature on both platforms and never miss a future payment. 

HoneyBook allows clients to pay with major debit or credit cards plus ACH bank transfers. Bonsai also accepts credit or debit card payments and bank transfers. In addition, clients can pay through third-party apps like PayPal and Stripe, and send out late-fee reminders as well. Keep in mind that most CRM companies charge processing fees for specific transactions, and it’s no different with HoneyBook and Bonsai. 

  • HoneyBook card payments: 2.9% + $0.25
  • HoneyBook ACH payments: 1.5%
  • Bonsai card payments: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Bonsai American Express payments: 3.5% + $0.30
  • Bonsai ACH payments: 1% ($1 minimum)

Proposals and Contracts

No matter what kind of business you run, or how many clients you work with, you want to provide peace of mind for yourself, your team, and your clients.  Proposals and contracts lay out exactly what is expected of you and your client. And in case any legal action is required, you’ll have the proper documentation needed. 

HoneyBook has created an all-in-one proposal that includes a contract, invoice, and payment feature to send to clients. The goal is to efficiently turn leads into clients without the hassle of back-and-forth communication or documents. With this system, business owners can quickly convert clients, receive payment faster, and begin work on a much shorter timeline. Users can incorporate pre-loaded proposal templates for invoicing and contracts that come with HoneyBook. 

Bonsai takes a different approach, separating proposals and contracts into two documents. If you freelance and want a more traditional method, you can create proposals that detail your partnership with your client, project scope, and project quote. Add service packages, require a deposit, then follow up with a contract that is legally vetted by professionals. Bonsai offers a whole library of templates for your proposal and contract, with the ability to customize them to your liking. 

Ease of Use

Part of what makes a business management tool successful is its user-friendly interface. You can’t use the platform if it’s hard to navigate, right? Thankfully, both HoneyBook and Bonsai have created their software with simple but effective designs. With a 4.8-star rating on Capterra, users appreciate how intuitive HoneyBook is and its design makes it easy to use the platform. Similarly, Bonsai users give the software an overall 4.7-star rating and enjoy how straightforward the platform is, noting its clean and minimalistic design. 

You can also download both the HoneyBook and Bonsai mobile apps to access them anywhere. Bonsai goes a little further with its additional Chrome extension—this allows you to add a Bonsai time tracker to your browser without the need of opening Bonsai. 

Customer Support

HoneyBook and Bonsai have dedicated customer support teams available to assist with product questions and problems via email or chat. Unfortunately, neither platform offers a live phone line, so if you want to speak with a team member you’re out of luck. You can, however, participate in in-depth training through live webinars on HoneyBook. You can also request to work with the HoneyBook support team as part of their one-time complimentary account setup to help you kickstart your HoneyBook experience. 

These platforms have also curated digital Help Centers, each filled with articles and tutorials to assist with troubleshooting and questions. Both Help Centers are broken down into categories such as invoicing, integrations, and getting started guides. 

HoneyBook Pricing

With HoneyBook, users have the option to pay for their subscription on a monthly basis or annually. With every subscription, you can onboard an unlimited number of clients, take advantage of templates, proposals and contracts, plus create client portals. Higher-tiered plans will, of course, come with more advanced features, like QuickBooks integration, profit and loss reports, and the ability to add additional team members. Try HoneyBook with a 7-day free trial before deciding which plan best suits you and your business needs. Here’s a breakdown of each monthly plan’s pricing for your subscription: 

  • Starter Plan: $19 per month
  • Essentials Plan: $39 per month
  • Premium Plan: $79 per month

Bonsai Pricing

Similarly, Hello Bonsai offers a tiered pricing plan with more advanced features depending on which plan you choose. All users will have access to unlimited clients and projects, scheduling capabilities, plus time tracking and expense tracking. You’ll also be able to add up to 5 project collaborators, which may benefit small businesses with more than one team member. Interested users can try Bonsai with a 7-day free trial. What’s interesting to note is that Bonsai offers a free 2-month trial period if you select the option to pay for your subscription annually. Take a look at the pricing information for both monthly and annual plans:

  • Starter Plan: $24 per month (monthly) or $17 per month (annually) 
  • Professional Plan: $39 per month (monthly) or $32 per month (annually)
  • Business Plan: $79 per month (monthly) or $52 per month (annually)

HoneyBook and Bonsai Alternatives

It’s safe to say that HoneyBook and Bonsai check many boxes for anyone working in freelance or running their own small business. Both platforms are fully equipped with project and client management app functionality and are reasonably priced for the features they offer. But are there other options out there? Here is a short list of CRM software similar to HoneyBook and Bonsai. 

  • Dubsado: For freelancers and small business owners alike, Dubsado is an all-in-one CRM platform with a variety of features needed to operate your business. Send invoices, schedule appointments, and share documents through client portals. Payment processing is also convenient with multiple payment options, like Square, Stripe, and PayPal. Automatic payment reminders are sent out to clients, so you don’t have to worry about chasing down payments. 
  • 17hats: 17hats offers affordable pricing plans, making it an enticing option for entrepreneurs and small business owners who need comprehensive CRM software. Starting as low as $15 per month, users can take advantage of contracts, questionnaires, online scheduling, invoicing, and payment processing. Upgrade your plan whenever you want if you’re looking for a bit more customization and access to more tools, like advanced workflow and bookkeeping functionality.
  • Plutio: If you’re a visual organizer, Plutio’s Kanban-style board organization might be just for you. Manage projects and tasks easily with Plutio’s user-friendly interface design with all your tools easily accessible right from your dashboard. Share files, create contracts, and include custom branding for a personalized user and client experience. As a bonus, Plutio supports more than 25 languages and converts currency, time, and date formatting to enhance the experience even more. 
  • Kosmo: Kosmo is a relatively new client relationship management platform that focuses on streamlining workflows to allow you more time to build relationships. With a straightforward design, keep track of projects and clients easily from your dashboard. Kosmo is one of only a handful of CRM platforms that offer a free plan. With this free plan, you can onboard 2 clients, accept online payments, and send 1 invoice per month. Kosmo’s Level Up Plan begins at an affordable $9 per month with many advanced features, such as unlimited clients and invoices, plus custom contracts and time tracking. 
  • Freshbooks: Although Freshbooks isn’t a designated CRM platform, this accounting software still comes equipped with project management tools that can assist you in running your business. Create projects (set up with hourly rates or flat project rates), time track your work, send invoices, accept payments, and create expense reports all from your dashboard. Its tiered pricing plan allows you to add more clients the higher the plan, starting with up to 5 clients for $17 per month. 

What is Practice?

Practice is a CRM software created for freelancers, coaches, and consultants to manage their clients and projects. Our team at Practice has developed an all-in-one platform that helps entrepreneurs save time on daily tasks so they can focus on growing their businesses and engaging with clients. With unlimited clients, unlimited storage space, and automation, our platform can offer you the support you need to meet your business goals. 

Benefits of Choosing Practice

We may be biased, but we think Practice is a great CRM option for small business owners. Aside from our must-have management tools—invoicing and billing, proposals, and appointment scheduling—we think we offer users an experience that’s special to Practice. 

  • Client Portals: We’ve created a truly unique private client portal experience that focuses on client communication. Many entrepreneurs spend most of their time messaging, emailing, or calling clients. We’ve removed the need for third-party apps so you can communicate with clients directly through your portal. Send messages, share documents and files, and send voice memos right from your dashboard. 
  • User Interface: Many Practice users rave about our easy-to-use interface design. We’ve made navigation simple and to the point, meaning all the necessary tools and features are easily accessible right there from your dashboard. We know that a CRM platform is only effective when users can get the most out of their experience. So we’ve taken user feedback into consideration and are constantly creating the best design to help you in ways that best serve you and your business. 
  • Customer Support: We understand that switching CRM software (or trying one for the first time) can be intimidating and confusing. That’s why we offer one-on-one onboarding with new users who can meet with a team member to get set up for success. You’ll have a chance to walk through the platform, ask questions, and take a look at real examples to see how Practice can benefit your business. We also have a Help Center full of articles and tutorials in case you need help troubleshooting issues or problems on your own. 

Which CRM Should You Choose?

HoneyBook and Bonsai are two comprehensive platforms that offer business owners and freelancers valuable tools to streamline their workflow. Deciding which CRM software to use with your business depends on your goals, business needs, and budget. HoneyBook may be a better fit for businesses that need a more all-around solution to task management, while Bonsai’s plans may appeal to a wider range of budgets with more options to customize. 

Of course, we couldn’t forget about our own CRM we’ve created here at Practice. For those coaches and freelancers who run client-focused businesses, we’re positive you’ll appreciate our unique approach to client portals and communication. Interested in Practice? Try our platform with a 7-day free trial to see how Practice can help support your business. 

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