Archive for December, 2011

Accounting Solutions in the Cloud

Written by Michael Tauscher on . Posted in Accounting, Blog, Productivity, Thumbs up, Workflow

A quick Quora search for ‘accounting solution’ or ‘accounting tools’ will turn up a bevy of queries and responses all seeking to answer the same enigmatic question: What is the SaaS accounting solution for a small business?

The answer, as becomes quickly apparent while sorting through the most upvoted responses, is not unanimous. Quite often the best way to approach a potential change to a new software is to ask yourself whether this new solution will be more effective and efficient than your current solution — not whether this new software will singlehandedly perform all accounting functions effortlessly. Here then is a list of the best programs in the market right now, software that will provide a solid backbone for your accounting processes until the next great thing comes along or you outgrow your current services.


Free; Plans start at $19.95/mo

Essentially InDinero is a financial advisor and visualizer. It downloads your bank records and organizes them in a number of ways to help better understand your company's finances.


$25/user/mo base; Additional cost per application used

Intacct offers a cloud financial management and accounting system with a pay-as-you-go model for additional accounting tools



Double entry accounting that supports multiple currencies and integrates easily with FreshBooks.



LessAccounting is lauded for its intuitive, easy-to-use UI good for small businesses.



Free; Plans start at $9.95/mo

From Quora, "[Outright is] great for sole proprietors/freelance workers who want to spend minimal time on bookkeeping."

QuickBooks Online

Plans start at $12.95/mo

QuickBooks is good for companies with a dedicated accountant familiar with the full capability of the application however because of the secondary market of supporting software it can easily be used for small business accounting.


Plans start at $25/mo

Saasu has a ton of features, so many that one person on Quora called it, "quite hard to use," which means you should expect a learning curve.




A full-featured application including double entry accounting and a price so cheap it's free for life.



Plans start at $19/mo

Xero requires a little technical knowledge like Quickbooks, but also integrates well with other web apps like Shoeboxed



Free; Plans start at $9/mo

Yendo was recommended for a brand new business as its services are free for one user and upgradable as your business grows.

What To Know Before Investing In App Development

Written by Michael Tauscher on . Posted in Blog, Sales & Marketing

1. If this is your first app, it may be wise to set a budget first and ask developers what they can do within that budget rather than presenting them with a concept and getting a quote

Read the responses to a Quora question asking how much development of an iPhone app costs here

2. What parts of the iPhone will the app utilize? Will the app be static, rely on external information from the internet, utilize the internal gyrosope or 3D physics engine, or use the iPhone’s camera?

Odds are, the more of the phone’s capability you’re using the more it’s going to cost to develop

See a breakdown of app types and functions here

3. It’s probably going to take longer than projected to complete, especially if your developers are not in-house (working for the same company as you)

Read one of the developers of Twitterific talking about the time investment and cost of labor here

4. It’s probably going to cost at least $3000

See this summary of articles and reports that places the cost of the average app at $6453 (for a “small app”)

5. Calculate a realistic cost/ROI. See Aaron Maxwell’s breakdown for Mashable Business here

According to Maxwell, you can reach nearly five times as many people per dollar invested with a mobile website rather than an app.

6. To get an idea of what the market looks like, check out Distimo’s publications on the current state of things

7. What’s the most you could make?

According to an interpretation of Distimo data on Quora, about 80% of PAID applications have been downloaded less than 100 times

Next, see this article that finds iOS apps average about $600 in revenue

Finally, according to another Quora post, the top iPhone apps of all time have made over $10M with a number of others making over $1M

8. For more info on iPhone apps, check out

Update: TechCrunch & TIME have just posted reviews of the top iOS apps of 2011 

Free Education For Real: General and Computer Science Open Courses and Videos

Written by Natasha Goncharova on . Posted in Blog, Resources and Links

The demand for programmers is growing. More and more companies/industries are turning into software-based businesses yet formal education is ever more expensive. Open source courses are becoming increasingly available and are allowing to learn programming without paying thousands of dollars while studying at your own pace. We have put together a list of courses available for FREE. Let us know in the comments if you have found others that were helpful to you.

All Subjects
Khan Academy – a free library of over 2,700 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 253 practice exercises

Computer Science Courses
The /r/programming FAQ is a great place to start with FAQ for programming; has links to many resources for beginners.

Higher Computing for Everyone – Free Online Classes by Carl Herold

Taken from a comment by robot_zombie in the learnprogramming subreddit
Interactive Tutorials

Interactive Database Tutorials
Interactive Editor Tutorial
Online Editors — good place to try simple html, css, javascript
Programming Practice

Tech Community and Resources in Western Massachusetts, USA

Written by Natasha Goncharova on . Posted in Blog, Resources and Links

Finance Alpha works from Western Mass and serves companies in New England. We have a great tech community in Western Mass and have decided to share with our hidden treasure with you. Here is the Link to the Google Doc listing Links to the Tech Communities and Resources in Western Mass (about 2 hours from Boston).  If you have additions or changes, please let us know at

The same Doc is also embedded below, but opening it from the link above will give you a better view. Enjoy!

Can You Make Money On The Internet? Slicing The Internet Money Pie Part 2

Written by Natasha Goncharova on . Posted in Blog, Sales & Marketing

Earlier we discussed the eCommerce, Advertising, and SaaS industries and the potential for small businesses to generate revenue therein. Now we will turn to the other side of selling on the internet which is to say that there are a number a niche markets in which large companies don’t compete. Using examples of successful online entrepreneurs, we will outline both how they established themselves among the multitude of online resources and what they do to “snowball” their popularity once they have gained a foothold in their industries.

Some of the most successful online industries on a smaller scale are:

  • Professional/Career Coaching,
  • Online Certification Programs, and
  • Video Courses (the material taught has to add to the viewers’ earning potential)

However, the road to success in these industries is not as easy as simply writing a book or producing a series of video lectures and making them available for purchase.  Mostly, this is due to the fact that there is  A LOT OF free content out there.  Writing a book by itself, these days, isn’t going to garner much attention.  Making it in these industries requires building a large audience of followers (often referred to as “building a large email list”) with a (statistically proven) hope that 1-5% of your followers will pay for a product (a book or a video) of yours.   Repeat sales in this case are much more probable than the first sale.

What is important is providing something unique beyond the information itself.  In the world of freely available information, for viewers to pay for digital material, it has to come with the promise of adding to the viewers’ earning power or career growth.  What this means to the online entrepreneur is that there must be a certain qualities of the material published or services offered that are unavailable anywhere else.

This may be humor as in Roger CPA Review (which saw its sales jump from $4.5 million in 2008 to $6 million in 2010), free book chapters and a promise of access to other “free” digital resources in Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid series, longevity and super confidence of Problogger, or by presenting your learning course as a smart and affordable alternative to traditional methods as in Mat Hulquist’s Quickbooks University.

Furthermore, a well established consistent reputation in these industries only leads to more business and thus the self-perpetuating cycle begins. This works because web-based content generated by professionals acts as tangible evidence of their expertise resulting in increased consulting business which in turn can increase the popularity and value of the content itself. Thus as an online entrepreneur, your goal may have be not to generate revenue from books, lectures, and other published materials but rather to establish yourself as an expert in your field and generate revenue by providing consulting services.

N.B.: Chris Guillebeau from The Art of Non-Conformity wrote a great piece about the fundamentals of selling online and how to focus on the right things.


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