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The 5 Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners #business #loans

#small business advice

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Mashable

The 5 Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners

When you’re starting a business, there’s no shortage of people eager to hand out advice. It seems that everyone, even someone you’ve just met, has an opinion on how you should be developing your product, running your marketing, handling your finances and much more.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve met some very smart people and have had great mentors over the years. Their contributions have been invaluable to my success. Yet after launching two companies over two decades, I’ve come across some terrible advice.

Below are the top five bits of advice that I could have done without.

1. “Hire people you know.”

I’ve had countless people tell me that it’s always better to assemble a team of “known quantities” — friends, colleagues or former employees whom you know and trust. But I’ve discovered that for me, the best hiring decisions are based on the specific positions I need to fill at that moment in time. In other words, I need to focus on the specific expertise and skill sets the company needs, rather than trying to piece together how Jill, Sally and Joe will fit into the new business.

In addition, if things aren’t working out between an employee and your company, you need to part ways (and usually, the sooner the better). You may be more reluctant to let friends go, even if you know they aren’t good fits.

2. “There’s no room for you in the market.”

When my husband and I launched a legal document filing company the second time around, the field was quite crowded, with several big names and established players. Many people told us to find a new space because there simply wasn’t room for us to compete.

However, the key to business success doesn’t always hinge on finding a completely empty field; rather, it’s how you define your company and its place in the market. Starbucks wasn’t the first company to sell coffee, but they did revolutionize the coffee shop by selling an experience along with a caffeine fix. Still, numerous boutique coffee shops are able to open and thrive today, even though there’s a Starbucks around the corner.

Rather than struggling to come up with a brand new idea, take a look at your target industry and see where there’s a void to be filled. Figure out the best possible way to fill that need and run with it. You don’t always have to blaze a new trail, but you need to know who you are.

3. “You have to be cheaper than the other guys.”

I admit that my husband and I fell into this pricing trap with our company. We felt that the only way we could compete with the “big guys” was to undercut them on price. So, we dropped our prices. Our business grew, customers were happy, more customers came in, yet we were nearly losing money with every new order.

Many young companies feel the pressure to discount their prices heavily in order to win business. While customer acquisition is important, attracting customers at unsustainable price levels will just result in a race to the bottom. I’ve learned that you’re better off in the long run to focus on how to bring more value to customers, rather than simply slashing your prices. After all, someone will always be able (or willing) to absorb a lower cost than you. You’ll need to find a new way to stand out, and then work as hard as you can to be exceptional in those differentiating areas.

4. “Social media is free.”

Over the past several years, I’ve had people tell me that starting a small business today is much easier than a decade ago, because of all the free marketing on Facebook. Twitter and Yelp. Sure, you don’t have to spend a dime to join Facebook, create a Twitter account or start a blog. But, I think a more apt comparison is that social media is free like a puppy. It may not cost much to bring a shelter puppy home, but from day one, it’s an endless whirlwind of training, toys and treats.

Likewise, social media is far from free once you factor in the blood, sweat and tears it demands. From developing fresh content to keeping up conversations, social media requires nonstop commitment once you start. Unless you consider your time (or the time of your employees) worthless, then there’s a significant cost involved with social media.

5. “You have to spend money to make money.”

This cliché never applied to our business, particularly at the beginning. We set up shop in our apartment and did everything we could to keep expenses down. Sometimes we thought things would be better if we just had the money for X, Y or Z. But it’s risky to think that throwing money at a problem is your silver bullet. Sometimes, creative thinking and strategy work far better than a checkbook.

We had to learn the difference between spending money and investing in the business. Certainly, money can scale a business faster, but only when you spend money on those things that will produce more money in return.

Final Thoughts

People will always give you advice — some good, some bad. The key is to never forget that you are running the show. Other people’s opinions should always be viewed through the context of your own experiences, convictions and value system.

Final decisions are always up to you, so there’s no blaming someone else for bad advice.

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6 Smart Budgeting Tips for Small Business Owners #ideas #for #new #business


#small business tips

#

6 Smart Budgeting Tips for Small Business Owners

If you run a small business, it s likely that you re operating on a relatively limited budget. Whether you bootstrapped your business or are trying to pay back loans you took out to cover your startup costs, it s in your best interest to conserve money wherever you can.

Without a thorough budget plan, however, it can be difficult to track and manage your finances. This is especially true for any unexpected business expenses that may come up, as they often do. A 2015 survey by small business credit provider Headway Capital found that although 57 percent of small business owners anticipated growth this year, nearly 19 percent were concerned about how unexpected expenses would impact their business.

If you want to keep your business operating in the black, you ll need to account for both fixed and unplanned costs, and then create and stick to a solid budget. Experts offered their advice for small business owners looking to keep their finances in order. [4 Tips for Reducing Startup Costs]

Define and understand your risks

Every business venture has a certain degree of risk involved, and all of those risks have the potential for a financial impact on your company. Paul Cho, managing director of Headway Capital, said that small business owners need to consider their long- and short-term risks to accurately plan for their financial future.

How will changes in minimum wage or health care requirements impact your workforce? Cho said. Do you operate in a geography at high risk of a natural disaster? Do you rely heavily on seasonal workers? Understanding the potential risks facing you on a short- and long-term basis is important for all small businesses. Once you ve mapped out the threats to productivity, a clearer picture can be built around emergency planning, insurance needs, etc.

Overestimate your expenses

If your business operates on a project-to-project basis, you know that every client is different and no two projects will turn out exactly the same. This means that often, you can t predict when something is going to go over budget.

Every project seems to have a one-time cost that was never anticipated, said James Ontra, CEO of presentation management company Shufflrr. It usually is that one unique extra item [that is] necessary to the job, but [was] not anticipated when bidding the job.

For this reason, Ontra advised budgeting slightly above your anticipated line-item costs, no matter what, so that if you do go over, you won t be fully unprepared.

I go by the cost-moon-stars theory, he said. If you think it will cost the moon, expect to pay the stars.

Pay attention to your sales cycle

Many businesses go through busy and slow periods over the course of the year. If your company has an off-season , you ll need to account for your expenses during that time. Cho also suggested using your slower periods to think of ways to plan ahead for your next sales boom.

There is much to be learned from your sales cycles, he said. Use your downtime to ramp up your marketing efforts while preventing profit generation from screeching to a halt. In order to keep your company thriving and the revenue coming in, you will have to identify how to market to your customers in new and creative ways.

Plan for large purchases carefully and early

Some large business expenses occur when you least expect them a piece of equipment breaks and needs to be replaced or your delivery van needs a costly repair, for instance. However, planned expenses like store renovations or a new software system should be carefully timed and budgeted to avoid a huge financial burden on your business.

Substantial business changes need to be timed carefully, balancing the risk with the reward and done with a full understanding of the financial landscape you re operating within, Cho told Business News Daily. An up-to-date budget and data-driven financial projections are important components that help guide when to make large investments in your business.

Remember that time is money, too

One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is forgetting to incorporate their time into a budget plan. Ontra reminded business owners that time is money, especially when working with people who are paid for their time.

Timing underestimation directly increases costs, Ontra said. For us, the biggest underestimation is allotting time for client feedback. It is a Herculean effort sometimes to meet a deadline with lots of people focused on a single task. Then, the client needs to give feedback for us to proceed. If the client is distracted with other issues, feedback planned for a three-day turnaround, can become a week or longer. Not only do you start to lose time to the delivery schedule, your team also loses momentum as their collective thought shifts focus to another project.

Ontra recommended treating your time like your money, and set external deadlines later than when you think the project will actually be done.

If you believe the project will finish on Friday, promise delivery on Monday, he said. So, if you finish on Friday, deliver the work early and become a star. If for some reason time runs over, deliver on Monday and you are still a success.

Constantly revisit your budget

Your budget will never be static or consistent it will change and evolve along with your business, and you ll need to keep adjusting it based on your growth and profit patterns. Cho suggested revising your monthly and annual budgets regularly to get a clearer, updated picture of your business finances.

Regularly revisiting your budget will help you better control financial decisions because you will know exactly what you can afford to spend versus how much you are projecting to make, Cho said. Take into account market trends from the previous year to help you determine what this year may look like. Once you have a clear understanding of your business s budgetary needs, you can accurately forecast what can be set aside for an emergency fund or unexpected costs.

Nicole Fallon Taylor

Nicole received her Bachelor s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email. or follow her on Twitter .

You May Also like

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  • Organization is Key to Managing Business Finances

  • Don t Burn Through Your IT Budget: 5 Ways to Save Money



  • 6 Smart Budgeting Tips for Small Business Owners #small #business #loans


    #small business tips

    #

    6 Smart Budgeting Tips for Small Business Owners

    If you run a small business, it s likely that you re operating on a relatively limited budget. Whether you bootstrapped your business or are trying to pay back loans you took out to cover your startup costs, it s in your best interest to conserve money wherever you can.

    Without a thorough budget plan, however, it can be difficult to track and manage your finances. This is especially true for any unexpected business expenses that may come up, as they often do. A 2015 survey by small business credit provider Headway Capital found that although 57 percent of small business owners anticipated growth this year, nearly 19 percent were concerned about how unexpected expenses would impact their business.

    If you want to keep your business operating in the black, you ll need to account for both fixed and unplanned costs, and then create and stick to a solid budget. Experts offered their advice for small business owners looking to keep their finances in order. [4 Tips for Reducing Startup Costs]

    Define and understand your risks

    Every business venture has a certain degree of risk involved, and all of those risks have the potential for a financial impact on your company. Paul Cho, managing director of Headway Capital, said that small business owners need to consider their long- and short-term risks to accurately plan for their financial future.

    How will changes in minimum wage or health care requirements impact your workforce? Cho said. Do you operate in a geography at high risk of a natural disaster? Do you rely heavily on seasonal workers? Understanding the potential risks facing you on a short- and long-term basis is important for all small businesses. Once you ve mapped out the threats to productivity, a clearer picture can be built around emergency planning, insurance needs, etc.

    Overestimate your expenses

    If your business operates on a project-to-project basis, you know that every client is different and no two projects will turn out exactly the same. This means that often, you can t predict when something is going to go over budget.

    Every project seems to have a one-time cost that was never anticipated, said James Ontra, CEO of presentation management company Shufflrr. It usually is that one unique extra item [that is] necessary to the job, but [was] not anticipated when bidding the job.

    For this reason, Ontra advised budgeting slightly above your anticipated line-item costs, no matter what, so that if you do go over, you won t be fully unprepared.

    I go by the cost-moon-stars theory, he said. If you think it will cost the moon, expect to pay the stars.

    Pay attention to your sales cycle

    Many businesses go through busy and slow periods over the course of the year. If your company has an off-season , you ll need to account for your expenses during that time. Cho also suggested using your slower periods to think of ways to plan ahead for your next sales boom.

    There is much to be learned from your sales cycles, he said. Use your downtime to ramp up your marketing efforts while preventing profit generation from screeching to a halt. In order to keep your company thriving and the revenue coming in, you will have to identify how to market to your customers in new and creative ways.

    Plan for large purchases carefully and early

    Some large business expenses occur when you least expect them a piece of equipment breaks and needs to be replaced or your delivery van needs a costly repair, for instance. However, planned expenses like store renovations or a new software system should be carefully timed and budgeted to avoid a huge financial burden on your business.

    Substantial business changes need to be timed carefully, balancing the risk with the reward and done with a full understanding of the financial landscape you re operating within, Cho told Business News Daily. An up-to-date budget and data-driven financial projections are important components that help guide when to make large investments in your business.

    Remember that time is money, too

    One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is forgetting to incorporate their time into a budget plan. Ontra reminded business owners that time is money, especially when working with people who are paid for their time.

    Timing underestimation directly increases costs, Ontra said. For us, the biggest underestimation is allotting time for client feedback. It is a Herculean effort sometimes to meet a deadline with lots of people focused on a single task. Then, the client needs to give feedback for us to proceed. If the client is distracted with other issues, feedback planned for a three-day turnaround, can become a week or longer. Not only do you start to lose time to the delivery schedule, your team also loses momentum as their collective thought shifts focus to another project.

    Ontra recommended treating your time like your money, and set external deadlines later than when you think the project will actually be done.

    If you believe the project will finish on Friday, promise delivery on Monday, he said. So, if you finish on Friday, deliver the work early and become a star. If for some reason time runs over, deliver on Monday and you are still a success.

    Constantly revisit your budget

    Your budget will never be static or consistent it will change and evolve along with your business, and you ll need to keep adjusting it based on your growth and profit patterns. Cho suggested revising your monthly and annual budgets regularly to get a clearer, updated picture of your business finances.

    Regularly revisiting your budget will help you better control financial decisions because you will know exactly what you can afford to spend versus how much you are projecting to make, Cho said. Take into account market trends from the previous year to help you determine what this year may look like. Once you have a clear understanding of your business s budgetary needs, you can accurately forecast what can be set aside for an emergency fund or unexpected costs.

    Nicole Fallon Taylor

    Nicole received her Bachelor s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email. or follow her on Twitter .

    You May Also like

    What is Zero-based Budgeting?

  • Organization is Key to Managing Business Finances

  • Don t Burn Through Your IT Budget: 5 Ways to Save Money



  • Women Business Owners – Women Small Business Loan – Wells Fargo Small

    #women business loans

    #

    Women Business Owners

    Commitment
    Wells Fargo celebrates the strength, vision and innovation of women business owners. Through our financial solutions, outreach efforts and educational resources, we help sustain the success of women-owned businesses; and we are honored to support their role in shaping the future of small business.

    As America’s #1 small business lender 1. Wells Fargo is dedicated to helping you succeed financially — in business and personally. We stand ready to help you grow your business, achieve your vision and safeguard your financial success.

    Financial Solutions

    With expert guidance from our local bankers who will get to know your goals and needs, Wells Fargo will help your business grow and prosper.

    Wells Fargo Works for Small Business

    Discover our comprehensive resource library, offering guidance and information and information to help you start, run and grow your business at wellsfargoworks.com .

    Diversity at Wells Fargo is a business imperative. Aligning with our customer base, engaging our communities, and attracting and retaining talented individuals are critical to our success. To integrate supplier diversity into all aspects of our business we focus on three areas: education and awareness, partnership development and measurement and accountability.

    1 Based on 2010 Community Reinvestment Act government data.

    Contact Us



    Overview: Small Business Owners & the SBIC Program #sell #your #business


    #small business investment

    #

    Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) are privately managed for profit investment funds that use privately raised capital and guaranteed SBA loans to provide long-term loans and equity investments to qualifying small businesses. Because SBICs seek attractive net returns for their private investors, SBICs use their own investment criteria and processes to make investment decisions. SBA has no influence over SBIC investment decisions.

    SBIC financing may not be appropriate for all types of businesses and financing needs. Please visit Is SBIC Financing Right for your Business. If you decide to seek SBIC Financing, How Should You Seek Financing from an SBIC? provides some tips for approaching SBICs in the SBIC Directory.

    If you decide that SBIC financing is not appropriate for your business, the SBA offers a wide variety of financial assistance programs designed to suit the varied needs of America’s small businesses. To learn more about other financing options available through SBA, refer to the Loans and Grants section or call 1-800-UASK-SBA (1-800-827-5722). SBA’sIntroduction to Venture Capital Other Financial Assistance is another great resource to help you identify capital sources.

    Note: The above information is intended primarily for small business owners seeking financing for their business. For current SBICs, applicants, limited partners, and others interested in the SBIC program, please refer to theSBIC Program Home Page.



    The Top 10 Grants Available to Black, Minority Business Owners #business #consultant


    #minority business grants

    #

    Free Money? The Top 10 Grants Available to Black, Minority Business Owners

    Every year billions of dollars are awarded in the form of free money and other types of funding. Most people know this money exists, but just don t know where to apply, how much they qualify for, or even where to get an application.

    Contrary to popular belief, free money is available to entrepreneurs. Real business grants do exist. In fact, hundreds of black and minority-owned businesses each year receive such grant funding from various government agencies and nonprofit organizations, reports BlackNews.com. Such funds do not have to be repaid, but must be used to either start a new business or enhance an existing one. Others can be used for innovation research.

    Here are the top 10 small and minority business grant programs available:

    1. The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is a nationwide competition that will award $50,000 in total to six deserving U.S-based entrepreneurs and business owners. Go to www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/fedex_small_business_grant_contest.html

    2. The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) Growth Grants Program allows business owners to apply for financing a particular small business need. Past recipients used funds to purchase computers, hire part-time help, and create marketing materials. Visit www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/national_association_self_employed_nase_business_grants.html

    3. The Dare to Dream Grant Program encourages students to move through the business creation process by offering business development seminars and up to $10,000 in funding. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/dare_to_dream_grant_program.html

    4. The Miller Lite Tap the Future Business Plan Competition (formerly known as the MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneur Series) is an annual competition for minority business owners sponsored by Miller Lite. Designed to economically empower minority businesses, the program continues to invest in entrepreneurial dreams to empower urban communities. Learn more at MLTaptheFuture.com

    5. The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several competitive business grant programs, ensuring that the nation s small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government s research and development efforts. Check out www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/sbir_small_business_research_innovation_grants.html

    6. The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) organizes various angel investors with the primary objective of supporting minority businesses with mezzanine and second round financing. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/minority_business_development_agency_mbda_business_grants.html

    7. The Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG) Program provides grants to finance the development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. The funds can be used for land acquisition, construction, renovation, technical assistance, project planning, and more. Visit www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/rural_business_enterprise_grants_rbeg_program.html

    8. The Huggies MomInspired Grant Program awards grants and business resources to moms to further the development of original product ideas and startup businesses. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/huggies_mom_inspired_grant_program.html

    9. The DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program is intended to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts in the Department s highway, transit, airport, and highway safety financial assistance programs. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/dot_disadvantaged_business_enterprise_program.html

    10. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program provides grant funding to small businesses to engage in biomedical or behavioral research/development that leads to a potential for commercialization. Go to www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/sbir_small_business_research_innovation_grants.html

    To learn about more 2014 business grant programs, visit www.BusinessGrants.org .

    

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    10 Online Invoicing Services for Small-Business Owners #business #financing


    #business invoices

    #

    10 Online Invoicing Services for Small-Business Owners

    As a freelancer or small business owner, you re well aware of the importance of invoicing: If you don t invoice clients, then how are you going to get paid? Thankfully, plenty of invoicing options available today allow you to easily send out these all-important communications. But, with so many services available, which one should you choose? Here are recommendations for 10 invoicing services perfect for freelancers and small business owners alike.

    1. Due

    Due is is one of the best options. One of its advantages is speed; it quickly generates professional invoices. What s about this service is that it comes with a billing timer and the ability to export your invoices or estimates as an XML or CSV file. The clean interface also allows you to see which invoices have been sent or paid, and which ones are due. You can further create options for taxes, discounts and language.

    If you only send out three invoices per month, Due is free. Its top plan, which I use, is $49 a year.

    2. Freshbooks

    There are several reasons why over five million people trust FreshBooks for their invoicing needs. For starters, the platform is incredibly user friendly and easy to use. But, if you do have a problem, FreshBooks has an award-winning support team ready to assist you 24/7. If that weren t enough, FreshBooks allows you to add your logo to your invoice, initiate repeat billing, calculate taxes, send paper copies and get paid in any currency. You can even see if a client has viewed or paid your invoice in real time. In a nutshell, FreshBooks offers everything you need.

    After a 30-day free trial, plans start at $19.95 per month.

    3. Zoho

    While Zoho Invoice has many features outside of invoicing, such as sales and marketing tools, this simple invoicing software is perfect if you want to create invoices quickly. Besides the well-designed invoices, Zoho also allows you to create automated payment reminders; collaborate with team members, like accountants; and track the time it takes to complete a project. Zoho also integrates with popular payment gateways, such as PayPal, Stripe and Authorize.net, so that you can get paid quickly online.

    Zoho is free to use if you have under five customers; paid plans start at $15 per month.

    4. Invoicera

    What makes Invoicera stand out are the variety of features provided for different-sized businesses, whether they be freelance, small-to-medium-size businesses or enterprise-size busineses. Irregardless of business size, Invoicera offers free invoicing templates that can be converted into PDF files or a different language/currency for global clients.

    Another unique Invoicera feature is its availability of detailed invoicing reports. These can be used to forecast revenues in the future, which are handy for creating a budget.

    A free plan is available for subscribers with fewer than three clients; pricing starts at $19.95/month.

    5. Harvest

    Like other invoicing services, Harvest allows you to quickly create personalized invoices in multiple currencies. Harvest also claims that its service will get you paid twice as fast. Some of its more unique features include the ability to create retainers and to feature the amount due on both the top and bottom of the invoice. There s also a search feature, similar to PayPal s, so you can easily locate previous invoices.

    Harvest also has a number of add-ons, such as Trello, PayPal, Stripe, Zendeskand Salesforce, so you can give your account a little extra boost.

    After a 30-day free trial, pricing starts at $12 per month.

    6. Simplybill

    As its name implies, Simplybill allows you to create invoices with ease. In fact, the company boasts that it has been designed to be the easiest online invoicing solution out there. Besides its simplicity for creating and sending out invoices, Simplybill has around 40 template designs and the option to include tax rates. It also has a great dashboard which allows you to view which payments are overdue, and to see a snapshot of your invoicing history.

    You can try Simplybill for 14 days, and plans begin at $5 per month.

    7. Hiveage

    Hiveage (formerly known as CurdBee) is used by over 45,000 small business in 140 countries. Why? Because not only is the service easy to use but it s packed with a wide range of features. On top of the customized invoices, you can send clients reminders and convert estimates into invoices. Hiveage also sends you detailed reports and enables you to track your time and expenses and the power to manage multiple users and businesses.

    You can use Hiveage for free, but if you require something more robust, plans start at $6.95/month.

    8. Wave

    Wave provides accounting software for small businesses, which includes invoicing. Like other invoicing software, Wave allows you to produce customized, professional invoices in a snap. Other features include recurring payments, and the ability to see when invoices are viewed, to add messages, to create estimates and to invoice for multiple businesses.

    While Wave is loaded with more than enough invoicing features for your business, the fact that s free is its most appealing feature.

    If you re on the go a lot, then you might want to look into Make Some Time. It allows you to easily and quickly create professional invoices from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. On top of the customizable invoices, you can also create estimates and view reports that illustrate how your business is performing.

    For under 3 invoices the service is free, if you send out more plans start at $49 per year.

    Xero is a top-notch accounting server that includes a powerful invoicing. Some of the features are expected – customizable invoices and seeing when a client has opened the invoice – but there are also some interesting features that make Xero stand out from the pack. For example, you can add inventory to an invoice, apply credit notes and get paid quickly through a payment link.

    Because you can also use Xero to do all of your online accounting, it may worth using its invoicing feature so that everything is under one dashboard.

    Starter plans begin at $9/month.

    Do you have a favorite invoicing platform? Share what you like best in the comments below!



    Best Accounting Software for Small Business 2017: QuickBooks vs Xero vs Wave,

    #

    Freshbooks - cloud accounting for small business owners

    Freshbooks - cloud accounting for small business owners

    Best Accounting Software for Small Business 2017: QuickBooks vs Xero vs Wave

    In this guide, we compare the top providers of small business accounting software: QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Wave. QuickBooks and Xero were selected because they both offer features that go beyond the basics, such as inventory management and budgeting. Wave stood out because it is a free option packed with great features. Read on for a detailed comparison.

    Best Accounting Software for Small Business Owners: QuickBooks Online

    We recommend QuickBooks Online because of the number of features that you get for the price, how easy it is to use, and the availability of free live support via phone or chat so that you can get help when you need it. It’s also the system that we use and love at Fit Small Business. Click here to receive up to 50% off Quickbooks Online.

    Best Small Business Bookkeeping Software Summary Table

    QuickBooks Online: Best Accounting Software for Small Business Owners

    Freshbooks - cloud accounting for small business owners

    There are four primary reasons why we chose QuickBooks Online as the best small business accounting software:

    1. QuickBooks ecosystem

    Accounting software is different from other types of software because you’ll be giving other users, such as your accountant or bookkeeper, access to your information. It’s important for these people to be familiar with the system you’re using, and that’s almost guaranteed with QuickBooks. It’s the most commonly used accounting system with over 1 million customers and is regarded as the ‘go to’ accounting software. This is the primary reason we recommend QuickBooks, despite the potentially higher price tag.

    There are over 20,000 accountants and bookkeepers who are certified in QuickBooks and a large network of ProAdvisors (myself included) all across the country. Be sure to check out how to find a QuickBooks Proadvisor for tips on how to locate and hire a QuickBooks Pro.

    2. It’s easy to use

    While all 3 systems are easy to use, QuickBooks is especially ideal for business owners who don’t have an accounting background. The QuickBooks user interface consists of completing forms to bill your customers and to pay bills or write checks. Once you understand how to complete the forms, QuickBooks does the accounting behind the scenes for you. To expand your bookkeeping knowledge, check out our Small Business Bookkeeping Accounting Guide.

    3. QuickBooks will grow and expand with your business

    It has advanced features like inventory tracking and the ability to create budgets. In addition, you can easily add on payroll once you hire your first employee, and sign up for an Intuit Merchant Services account when you are ready to accept credit card payments from your customers. These services come with an additional cost, but the good news is that you can add them with just a click of a button and there is no need to upgrade to a new version.

    4. Create financial statements in minutes

    QuickBooks comes with 40 + reports that you can run in minutes. This includes a Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheet Report and Statement of Cash Flows, which provide you with a complete picture of how well your business is doing. Xero offers similar reporting capabilities. While you can run a Profit and Loss Statement and a Balance Sheet Report in Wave, you cannot prepare a Statement of Cash Flows.

    If there is a downside to QuickBooks, it’s that the quality of the support can be inconsistent. As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, I have had a lot of experience with calling or using chat support while at a client’s office. My experience using the chat support channel has been much more successful than when I call the support line.

    Xero: Best Accounting Software for Free Payroll Processing

    Freshbooks - cloud accounting for small business owners

    Xero is not as well known as QuickBooks and is sort of the “new kid on the block,” but it is quickly making a name for itself with over 1 million small business subscribers. Xero has over 16,000 certified advisors (myself included) who can help you get up and running. You can find a Xero certified advisor by entering your city, state and zip on the website.

    In my opinion, the look and feel of the Xero interface is very similar to QuickBooks Online, so it is perfect for existing QuickBooks users that are thinking about making a change. Similar to QuickBooks, we have created a free Xero Course with video tutorials that show you how to set up your business.

    Xero includes payroll processing for up to 5 employees in their product offerings (up to 10 in premium edition). The benefit of course is that when your business grows to where you need to hire employees, there is no need to upgrade or any additional costs to pay. With QuickBooks, you need to pay an extra cost if you want payroll functionality.

    Unlike QuickBooks, Xero allows an unlimited number of users to access the program at no additional charge. This is great if you have several people like your tax professional, CPA, and employees that need access to your data. Similar to QuickBooks, you can set each person up with their own user id and password and give them access to just the areas of Xero that they need.

    The downside to Xero is their customer support. Free email support is included in all plans but if you would like to talk to someone, then you have to include a request for a telephone call in your email. The response time for emails is generally 3-4 hours.

    Lastly, although Xero is quickly catching up to QuickBooks, they still don’t have the same number of local experts/certified advisors. So if you’re thinking of choosing Xero, make sure your accountant or bookkeeper is onboard.

    Wave: Best Free Accounting Software

    Freshbooks - cloud accounting for small business owners

    Heard of Wave before? Neither had I before I started doing some research for this guide. With a price tag of FREE, I must say that I didn’t expect much. But, I was pleasantly surprised at the long list of features this accounting software has to offer for absolutely free. There are limitations on what you can do with Wave, but for a free online accounting software, the functionality is quite extensive.

    Wave was designed for contractors, freelancers, and businesses with 9 or fewer employees. They have over 2500 Pros who support small businesses that use Wave. This is significantly less than the 20,000 QuickBooks Pros and the 16,000 Xero Pros out there so it might be more challenging to find a local expert. However, the program is pretty easy to use and they have some great training resources that we will explore later on in this guide.

    Wave is able to handle the day to day business basics like invoicing customers, importing credit card and debit card transactions, and running financial statements like profit and loss and balance sheet reports. However, you cannot run a statement of cash flows in Wave. Also, it is limited when it comes to paying bills. You can enter your bills and manage their due dates in Wave, but you cannot actually write a check in Wave. Therefore, you will have to manually write checks to pay your bills and then go into Wave and manually mark your bills as paid. Since this process is manual, your accounts payable account will not be up-to-date until you have manually marked the bills as paid.

    There’s also another catch: you will see display ads on the right side of the screen. But to be honest, after working in the program for an hour, I forgot they were there.

    QuickBooks vs. Xero vs. Wave: In-Depth Review

    Pricing

    The three companies we compare in this guide range the gamut in terms of price. Wave is free, and Xero and QuickBooks are $30 and $50/month respectively. Here’s a summary of pricing and what you get with our recommended edition and the premium edition of each product.



    The Top 10 Grants Available to Black, Minority Business Owners #ideas #for

    #minority business grants

    #

    Free Money? The Top 10 Grants Available to Black, Minority Business Owners

    Every year billions of dollars are awarded in the form of free money and other types of funding. Most people know this money exists, but just don t know where to apply, how much they qualify for, or even where to get an application.

    Contrary to popular belief, free money is available to entrepreneurs. Real business grants do exist. In fact, hundreds of black and minority-owned businesses each year receive such grant funding from various government agencies and nonprofit organizations, reports BlackNews.com. Such funds do not have to be repaid, but must be used to either start a new business or enhance an existing one. Others can be used for innovation research.

    Here are the top 10 small and minority business grant programs available:

    1. The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is a nationwide competition that will award $50,000 in total to six deserving U.S-based entrepreneurs and business owners. Go to www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/fedex_small_business_grant_contest.html

    2. The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) Growth Grants Program allows business owners to apply for financing a particular small business need. Past recipients used funds to purchase computers, hire part-time help, and create marketing materials. Visit www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/national_association_self_employed_nase_business_grants.html

    3. The Dare to Dream Grant Program encourages students to move through the business creation process by offering business development seminars and up to $10,000 in funding. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/dare_to_dream_grant_program.html

    4. The Miller Lite Tap the Future Business Plan Competition (formerly known as the MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneur Series) is an annual competition for minority business owners sponsored by Miller Lite. Designed to economically empower minority businesses, the program continues to invest in entrepreneurial dreams to empower urban communities. Learn more at MLTaptheFuture.com

    5. The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several competitive business grant programs, ensuring that the nation s small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government s research and development efforts. Check out www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/sbir_small_business_research_innovation_grants.html

    6. The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) organizes various angel investors with the primary objective of supporting minority businesses with mezzanine and second round financing. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/minority_business_development_agency_mbda_business_grants.html

    7. The Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG) Program provides grants to finance the development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. The funds can be used for land acquisition, construction, renovation, technical assistance, project planning, and more. Visit www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/rural_business_enterprise_grants_rbeg_program.html

    8. The Huggies MomInspired Grant Program awards grants and business resources to moms to further the development of original product ideas and startup businesses. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/huggies_mom_inspired_grant_program.html

    9. The DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program is intended to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts in the Department s highway, transit, airport, and highway safety financial assistance programs. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/dot_disadvantaged_business_enterprise_program.html

    10. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program provides grant funding to small businesses to engage in biomedical or behavioral research/development that leads to a potential for commercialization. Go to www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/sbir_small_business_research_innovation_grants.html

    To learn about more 2014 business grant programs, visit www.BusinessGrants.org .

    

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    The 5 Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners #sba #small

    #small business advice

    #

    Mashable

    The 5 Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners

    When you’re starting a business, there’s no shortage of people eager to hand out advice. It seems that everyone, even someone you’ve just met, has an opinion on how you should be developing your product, running your marketing, handling your finances and much more.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve met some very smart people and have had great mentors over the years. Their contributions have been invaluable to my success. Yet after launching two companies over two decades, I’ve come across some terrible advice.

    Below are the top five bits of advice that I could have done without.

    1. “Hire people you know.”

    I’ve had countless people tell me that it’s always better to assemble a team of “known quantities” — friends, colleagues or former employees whom you know and trust. But I’ve discovered that for me, the best hiring decisions are based on the specific positions I need to fill at that moment in time. In other words, I need to focus on the specific expertise and skill sets the company needs, rather than trying to piece together how Jill, Sally and Joe will fit into the new business.

    In addition, if things aren’t working out between an employee and your company, you need to part ways (and usually, the sooner the better). You may be more reluctant to let friends go, even if you know they aren’t good fits.

    2. “There’s no room for you in the market.”

    When my husband and I launched a legal document filing company the second time around, the field was quite crowded, with several big names and established players. Many people told us to find a new space because there simply wasn’t room for us to compete.

    However, the key to business success doesn’t always hinge on finding a completely empty field; rather, it’s how you define your company and its place in the market. Starbucks wasn’t the first company to sell coffee, but they did revolutionize the coffee shop by selling an experience along with a caffeine fix. Still, numerous boutique coffee shops are able to open and thrive today, even though there’s a Starbucks around the corner.

    Rather than struggling to come up with a brand new idea, take a look at your target industry and see where there’s a void to be filled. Figure out the best possible way to fill that need and run with it. You don’t always have to blaze a new trail, but you need to know who you are.

    3. “You have to be cheaper than the other guys.”

    I admit that my husband and I fell into this pricing trap with our company. We felt that the only way we could compete with the “big guys” was to undercut them on price. So, we dropped our prices. Our business grew, customers were happy, more customers came in, yet we were nearly losing money with every new order.

    Many young companies feel the pressure to discount their prices heavily in order to win business. While customer acquisition is important, attracting customers at unsustainable price levels will just result in a race to the bottom. I’ve learned that you’re better off in the long run to focus on how to bring more value to customers, rather than simply slashing your prices. After all, someone will always be able (or willing) to absorb a lower cost than you. You’ll need to find a new way to stand out, and then work as hard as you can to be exceptional in those differentiating areas.

    4. “Social media is free.”

    Over the past several years, I’ve had people tell me that starting a small business today is much easier than a decade ago, because of all the free marketing on Facebook. Twitter and Yelp. Sure, you don’t have to spend a dime to join Facebook, create a Twitter account or start a blog. But, I think a more apt comparison is that social media is free like a puppy. It may not cost much to bring a shelter puppy home, but from day one, it’s an endless whirlwind of training, toys and treats.

    Likewise, social media is far from free once you factor in the blood, sweat and tears it demands. From developing fresh content to keeping up conversations, social media requires nonstop commitment once you start. Unless you consider your time (or the time of your employees) worthless, then there’s a significant cost involved with social media.

    5. “You have to spend money to make money.”

    This cliché never applied to our business, particularly at the beginning. We set up shop in our apartment and did everything we could to keep expenses down. Sometimes we thought things would be better if we just had the money for X, Y or Z. But it’s risky to think that throwing money at a problem is your silver bullet. Sometimes, creative thinking and strategy work far better than a checkbook.

    We had to learn the difference between spending money and investing in the business. Certainly, money can scale a business faster, but only when you spend money on those things that will produce more money in return.

    Final Thoughts

    People will always give you advice — some good, some bad. The key is to never forget that you are running the show. Other people’s opinions should always be viewed through the context of your own experiences, convictions and value system.

    Final decisions are always up to you, so there’s no blaming someone else for bad advice.

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