Monthly Archives: April 2017

Choosing Some Of The Right Small Business Accounting Software

Accounting software makes it easier for you to track your business’s financial health and monitor the money moving in and out of your accounts. It can create invoices, track expenses and generate a variety of reports that help you analyze your business’s performance from various angles. Many can also help you track your bills and manage your inventory or projects.

Choosing accounting software can be challenging. Each program includes a different set of features, and most offer multiple pricing plans to choose from, which also vary by feature, number of users or another factor. Here are three items to keep in mind when selecting accounting software for your business:

  1. Costs. Would you prefer inexpensive, basic accounting software or an application that costs more but includes extra features?
  2. Usability. How many users need to access the software? Do you prefer a cloud-based system you can access anywhere or desktop software? Do you need it to have a mobile app?
  3. Features. What do you need the accounting software program to do? Do you need both accounts receivable and accounts payable tools? Which reports do you need it to generate? Do you need it to track inventory? Do you need it to include ancillary services, like time tracking, project management and payroll?

If you already know what you need and only want to see our recommendations for the best accounting software, visit our best picks page.

Accounting software varies in cost, depending on the number of features included, the number of users supported and other such factors. Most accounting software companies offer cloud-based software as a service rather than software licenses, and charge a monthly subscription fee. You can usually choose from multiple plans, with paid packages typically ranging between $10 and $40 per month, though high-end programs cost much more. If you’re willing to pay for the software annually rather than monthly, discounted rates are often available.

More expensive plans often include advanced features such as expense tracking, sales tracking, recurring invoices, automatic past-due billing, team functionalities, payroll services, advanced reporting capabilities, inventory tracking and purchase ordering. Many accounting software companies offer integrations to augment the software’s capabilities or to connect it to another business program, though often at an additional cost.

Several companies offer a free version of their accounting software, though these usually have either basic features or limit the number of users, clients or transactions. Some free accounting software providers make their money from advertisements placed within the software or from the paid add-on services they offer. These programs are useful if your business is very small or if you want to take the software for a longer test run than the trial period allows.  

To find the best accounting software for your business, you need to carefully consider how and where you want to use it and if anyone else will be using the system. Here are some factors to consider:

Multiuser access. Most accounting software products allow you to invite other users to the system and control the data they can see and the tasks they can access. For instance, you may wish to give your business partner and accountant full access, while only allowing your employees to use the system to track their time and invoice customers. Some systems allow you to invite multiple users at no additional cost; others provide accountant access but require you to subscribe to a higher pricing plan or pay extra if you want to add additional users to the system.

Multiple-business support. If you own more than one business, you may want accounting software that supports multiple small businesses under one account at no additional cost. Otherwise, you’ll pay extra to set up separate accounts for each entity.

Cloud-based software and mobile access. Most accounting software is cloud-based, so you can access your account anytime, anywhere from any computer with internet access, helping you run your business remotely, whether you’re home or on vacation.

Many also offer mobile apps to help you monitor key information and accomplish core tasks while you’re on the go. Some offer separate apps for employees and have limited features such as time tracking and submitting expense receipts.

Mobile app capabilities vary from program to program, so if this is an important feature for you, you’ll want to ensure it has the functionality you need. You’ll also want to ensure it works on your preferred platform, as some are compatible only with iOS and others can be used with smartwatches (in addition to phones and tablets).

Accounting software offers many features and tools that can help you manage your finances. It should cater to your business’s needs, making it easy to accomplish routine accounting tasks. It should also help you see the big picture of how your business is performing. Michelle Devereux, owner of Back Office Support Services (BOSS), an ERP company that helps businesses manage their finances, notes that tailoring accounting solutions to a client’s unique needs helps the client better understand its business and plan for the future.

Many business owners we spoke with said that ease of use and timesaving features are the top two things they look for in a program. Here are some of the features accounting software should offer to help you save time and better manage your finances:

Basic accounting features. Most small businesses can make do with accounting software that offers basic functions like invoicing (both by email and snail mail), income and expense tracking, financial report generation, and customer management. However, if your business sells more than just a few products, you also want software that tracks your inventory, manages vendors and assists you with purchase ordering. Or, if your business provides services, you want a program that makes it easy to track time and invoice billable hours.

Timesaving automations. Some accounting software can be set up to automatically send recurring invoices and past-due notifications, saving you time with your invoicing and accounts receivable tasks. Others can save you time reconciling your accounts by suggesting transaction matches. If your business provides customers with quotes or estimates, look for a program that converts these documents to invoices in just a few clicks. Or, if you carry inventory, look for a system that reorders products by automatically creating purchase orders when items drop below a set threshold.

Tax preparation. Make your life (and your accountant’s life) easier with accounting software that helps you with your taxes with features like automatic tax calculations, multiple tax rates and tax reporting. You should also be able to easily email all necessary data and files to your accountant or give them access to relevant data within the system.

Add-on services. Accounting software add-ons, such as payment processing and payroll services, make it easy to accept invoice payments online and pay employees. Although these services usually cost extra, they’re convenient to use, and the costs may be comparable to what you’d pay elsewhere.

Third-party integrations. Accounting software can make it easier to run your business by integrating with the programs and services you already use, automatically sharing data between systems in real time. Popular integrations include POS systems, payment processing, advanced inventory management, ecommerce, ERP, CRM, email marketing and Google apps.

Choosing the right accounting software makes it easier to run your business. Here’s what some business owners we spoke with said they love most about their accounting software:

  • It’s an all-in-one solution. Peter Geisheker, CEO of The Geisheker Group Marketing Firm, said his favorite thing about his accounting software is that it’s an all-in-one solution that provides everything his small business needs: affordability, ease of use, credit card processing and more. It also lets his accountant monitor transactions.
  • It’s easy to use. Ryan Irelan, founder of elearning company Mijingo, said that managing a business’s finances is difficult enough as it is, so it’s important to have an accounting software that alleviates that stress instead of adding to it.
  • It notifies me when invoices are viewed. In addition to tracking expenses, Darren Davis, CEO of LinkCaffeine.com, found that the ability to track when a client has viewed email invoices takes the mystery out of whether the invoice has reached the customer. This is particularly useful when a bill is past due, he said.
  • It’s accountant-friendly. Ian Lamont, founder of i30 Media Corp., chose his accounting software because it’s the one most accountants use and recommend, thus making finance management easier for everyone.
  • It’s a do-it-yourself solution. Ian Aronovich, president and co-founder of GovernmentAuctions.org, said his accounting software performs a range of tasks, including tracking expenses, automating invoicing and billing, organizing tax and banking information, and providing payroll services. As a result, he doesn’t need to hire a full-time bookkeeper to manage the company’s finances and pay his employees.
  • It has at-a-glance dashboards. Carrie Enders, vice president of front office at RE Suspensions, said she loves her accounting software’s dashboard, which provides a snapshot of how the business is doing and lets her add customized modules to fit the business’s needs.
  • It shows me real-time data. Accounting software that updates data in real time eliminates the need to manually input financial information. Nicole Wolfgram, founder of Les Matin, loves the reconciliation feature on her accounting software that keeps her up to date on the company’s finances.

When you’ve narrowed your choices to your top two or three options, sign up for the free trials so you can see for yourself whether the accounting software has the features you need, is easy to use and saves you time. Call the software companies to get a feel for their customer service so you can feel confident that you’ll receive the support you need should you experience an issue with the program.

Here’s a list of questions you can ask when you call to help you select the right accounting software for your business:

  • Is your software a good fit for my industry?
  • Do you offer customized solutions to fit my business’s needs?
  • How many employees and clients can your software accommodate?
  • How can your software help me comply with GAAP, tax laws and financial regulations?
  • How is my data backed up? Can access be restored immediately during an outage?
  • What security measures do you have in place to keep both my business’s and my customers’ data secure?
  • What is the total cost? Are there any setup or cloud storage fees?
  • What types of tech support and customer service do you provide? (For instance, does the provider offer your preferred form of contact, such as phone or live chat?)

Here’s a List of 5 Best Applications for Your Next Work Interview Assistant

A job interview is serious business. Even if you have heaps of experience, and your résumé has been polished until it shines, a rocky interview can dash your chances of landing your dream job. There’s no good way to anticipate what questions you’ll be asked, or whether or not you’ll hit it off with the interviewer. But there are tools that can help you prepare – and lower the chance that you’ll put your foot in your mouth. Put these seven smartphone apps to good use and they could help you ace your next job interview.

Even if you intend to arrive at your interview location early, construction and traffic delays can leave you running late. To avoid a commuting catastrophe, use Google Maps (iOS, Android) to guide you to your destination, even if you already know how to get there. The app offers more than turn-by-turn directions; it also shows local traffic conditions in real time. A route that’s backed up with traffic will be displayed in red, while a clear route will be yellow or green. If you hit a traffic jam, you can discover the quickest alternate routes with just a few taps. Once you’re on the way, toggle on voice-guided navigation so you can keep your eyes on the road and get to your destination safely. If you rely on public transportation to get where you’re going, Google Maps can give you step-by-step directions for that too. You can even order an Uber, Gett or Lyft from within the app, or you can get an update on the parking situation in each area.

They say to dress for the job you want, but that’s a tall order if you’re clueless about clothing. A sharp outfit can make an impression during a job interview, but if fashion isn’t your forte, an app like Trunk Club (iOS, Android) can turn your wardrobe around. The app can connect you to a personal stylist, who will ask you about yourself and your style goals. Your stylist will load up a real trunk with clothing and ship it to your house for free so you can try it all on. You keep – and pay for – only what you want. It offers free shipping in both directions. But the beauty of the service is how it helps you select professional clothing you may not have picked for yourself.

What would you say is your biggest weakness? With this smartphone app, it doesn’t have to be answering job interview questions. Job Interview Question-Answer (iOS, Android) can coach you toward better answers to common interview questions, such as “Why do you want to join this company?” and “Tell me about a time when you failed.” To use the app, select a question category, then pick the question you want to practice. Next, watch a short 1-2 minute video that explains what kind of answer most employers are looking for. Then you can record your best answer for each question and save the audio, so you can re-listen and practice all the way until the day of your interview.

There are few things more stressful than a job interview. But with regular practice, you can overcome your anxiety. Headspace (iOS, Android) can help. If you’re a newbie, you can spend just 10 minutes a day practicing guided meditation. You might find the benefits of meditation extend to more areas than just job interviews; think better sleep, more comfortable first dates, less road rage, increased focus and more. To expand the app’s abilities to more advanced meditation, you’ll want to sign up for a monthly or annual subscription.

Can’t remember the last time you wore a necktie? Tying a tie isn’t hard, but it can be tricky if you don’t do it often – so don’t wait until the day of the big interview to teach yourself. The How to Tie a Tie app (available on iOS andAndroid) can help you practice by walking you through the process of tying a variety of knots. First, select what kind of knot you want to tie from a list of more than 20 common knots. Then give the app a bit of information about yourself, such as your height, weight and body shape. Finally, simply flip through the animated step-by-step directions that will show you how to tie your tie. You can even flip back to the previous step any time you need a refresher.

Here are 3 Ways to Prevent Perfection Paralysis in Your Company

Do your employees feel paralyzed by the desire to be perfect? Because of your company’s culture and processes, they feel they must never make a mistake, know how to do everything right away, and outperform their colleagues. Sound familiar?

It shouldn’t be that way.

“In an era where organizations place such high value on disruption, perfection is not the end goal, and actually, it can’t be the end goal,” said Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense, a business analytics software company. “Business success today is focused on agility and innovation.”

While it’s good to aim high, if workers hold themselves to impossible expectations, they’ll always fall short. Their confidence will waver until they feel helpless in their own careers. As a leader, you should focus on making your employees feel supported and encouraged. Here’s how to prevent perfection paralysis in your workplace.

Every part of a company is important, and without communication and teamwork, your business is unlikely to succeed. But while mediums like email and texting are convenient for quick chats, they shouldn’t be the primary form of communication in your company.

“Individuals today shouldn’t be afraid to meet with their managers face-to-face or, at minimum, on the phone, to talk through ideas and make decisions in real time,” said Orad.

In person, you can avoid tone-related miscommunications, and employees will feel your support as more than just words written on the train or typed hastily before a meeting. In your face-to-face interactions, you should assure your employees that mistakes are not only expected but encouraged.

The fear of failure can be detrimental to performance and hold employees back from reaching their full potential. As a leader, you should take risks yourself to show that it’s all right to fail, so long as you’re trying.

“In today’s fast-paced business landscape, there is no time to wait for everything to align and create a ‘sure thing’ – this doesn’t exist,” said Orad. “If employees – or leaders, for that matter – fear failure, it can poison innovation and disruption in the firm.”

Reassure your workers that innovation is worth the risk by swallowing your own fear and pushing boundaries. Managers should always reward risks and never punish failure, said Orad.

“Company leaders and managers need to practice what they preach, both in terms of ideating projects and campaigns, but also being advocates for employees who bring disruptive – and possibly risky – innovation to the table,” he added.

Your company’s culture should make your employees feel like they can speak up about their ideas, regardless of how timid they may be.

“Employees build self-confidence when they see their ideas become reality and receive acknowledgment for their work,” said Orad.

However, don’t just support ideas that are successful, said Orad – make sure you’re giving all valid ideas a chance, even if you’re not sure they will work.

“That acknowledgment seems obvious for managers when employees win the proverbial lottery with a big idea, but good managers also need to remember to do it when an employee comes up with an idea that’s creative, well-researched, elegant and, unfortunately, wrong,” he said.

Taking the time to show your appreciation for your workers’ brainstorming, researching and planning process will make them feel more comfortable and excited to share future proposals.

Small Business Snapshot of Les Lunes

Les Lunes creates ethically-made, stylish clothing for men and women from eco-friendly fabric sourced from bamboo. We’re also known for ethically manufacturing goods in Shanghai that we design in Paris, and educating the public on why shopping slow fashion is so important.

As a busy business woman jet-setting everywhere, I was frustrated with my fashion choices. Women’s business attire was either shapeless or constricting and uncomfortable. I wanted clothing that would work for me, not against me. I love the way French women always look so effortlessly elegant, and I wanted this look in fabric that felt like a caress. This was a void in women’s lives, and I decided to fill it. From the beginning, the concept proved to be very challenging, which made me even more determined to do it.

I lived in Shanghai for almost 20 years working in branding, sourcing and manufacturing, and know the local culture there very well. I wanted to connect the talented seamstresses I’d worked with in Shanghai to the vision I’d had for clothing – an incredibly soft fabric that was ecologically friendly.

I wound up finding a jersey rayon sourced from bamboo and fell in love with the feel against the skin. I was so excited to get busy creating a comfortable and versatile clothing line for women, so I flew to Paris to find a designer that would give Les Lunes the effortless elegance French women are known for. Many designers told me it couldn’t be done, that there was no way to make anything more than lounge wear out of jersey. And then I met Mélanie Viallon, who also saw this need in women’s lives, and was up to the challenge of creating it. We’re both very passionate about creating timeless pieces in an ethical and eco-friendly way, and it is a great joy to work together.

Because of my background in China, the Les Lunes team is passionate about dispelling the negative stigma surrounding “Made In China” that ultimately comes down to a lack of communication surrounding the reality of the history there. It’s easy to label something good or bad, rather than taking time to learn the whole story, and we’ve found America hasn’t learned the whole story.

China has an ancient culture of making excellent products and product innovation. The economic crisis of 1997 to 1998 blasted the door open for U.S. companies to produce cheaply in China, which is when producers were pressed to offer extreme low pricing and make products that had a short life expectancy. The savings had to come from somewhere, usually being lower grade materials and lowering operational costs, which led to poor treatment and compensation of employees, and lowering standards of facilities and safety.

At Les Lunes, we are very much a family, and all of our Shanghai team is local (no migrant workers). They’re paid almost triple the market rate, and are members of the Paris and San Francisco Les Lunes family.

This photo represents the soft and strong of every woman. We are sexy, smart, fierce, and innately protective of our future. Les Lunes is, too. We will forever be committed to blending our passions together – making beautiful, sophisticated clothing and sharing our story so the world can perhaps shop differently.

Our biggest challenge is getting people to try on the clothes. Once we have them in the fitting room, our capture rate is very high. People think the bamboo jersey is going to be too clingy and not flatter their figure because this has been their experience until Les Lunes. Watching their face light up when they walk out of the fitting room looking and feeling amazing is why we keep pushing to create styles for everyone. We want Les Lunes to be the favorite garment in everyone’s closet. The one you go to for that extra boost of confidence in your day.

I know many companies talk about customers first and excellent customer service, but this is the very foundation of our DNA. We are designing for our customers, we are listening to their needs, and every day we are learning how to do it better from the first draw of the pattern to the sales floor. We want to know their lives and give them comfort, support and something to smile about.