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.

InDinero


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.

Intacct

$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

Kashoo

$9.95/mo

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

LessAccounting


$30/mo

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

Outright

 

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.

Saasu



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.

WaveAccounting

 

Free

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

Xero

 


Plans start at $19/mo

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

Yendo

 


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.

Integrate & Automate Social Sharing: WordPress to Twitter to Facebook

Written by Michael Tauscher on . Posted in Blog, Google, Productivity, Sales & Marketing, Thumbs up, WordPress, Workflow


This post will outline how to integrate your Twitter account to automatically update your business’ Facebook page and for WordPress users, how to integrate Twitter with your Dashboard to directly share your latest blog posts.

The first step is to create Twitter and Facebook accounts for your business. Business pages on Facebook are treated differenly from personal profiles so you’ll want to head over to facebook.com/pages to create yours. It’s advisable to sign up for both accounts with the same email address since they’ll be linked later on anyway.

Once you’ve got both accounts set up you’ll want to navigate to apps.facebook.com/twitter to allow your tweets to be shared as posts on your company’s wall. To accomplish this, hashtag #fb at the end of each tweet that you want to appear on the wall.

During the setup you should be led to your Twitter settings page (twitter.com/settings/profile) but in case you aren’t, you’ll want to scroll down to the Facebook settings and check the box that says ‘Allow Twitter to post to the wall of: my Facebook page: [Page Name]‘.

That takes care of sending your tweets to Facebook, but for WordPress users there’s a plugin that will allow you to tweet from within the dashboard, eliminating one more step and saving you a few clicks in the process.

Begin by downloading the Twitter Tools plugin and installing it. You’ll then have to register your site as an application on Twitter’s app registration page  which is as easy as copy-pasting a few serial keys. Once your WordPress and Twitter accounts are connected you’ll see that Twitter Tools offers a large number of configuation options under Settings in the Dashboard. I prefer the more ‘manual’ application of its functionality, however, so that’s what I’ll cover here.

Simply click ‘Tweet’ under Posts and you’ll be brought to a simple tweet platform within the dashboard. Here’s what I recommend from there:

1. Open your newly published article in a new tab and use the goo.gl URL shortener (or another if not using Chrome) to create a shortened version of your article’s URL.

2. Back on the tweet page, write the title of your article followed by the goo.gl URL and then the hashtag #fb (remember how we set up automatic integration earlier?)

Now you can easily share your posts via Twitter and Facebook without ever having to leave the WordPress backend UI. If you have a different setup that works for you let us know in the comments, convenience is king!

Wrangling Receipts – A Step To A Paperless Office

Written by Natasha Goncharova on . Posted in Accounting, Blog, Finance, Productivity, Thumbs up, Workflow

The question of how to file receipts at small businesses is a common one. In this case, small business owners and startup founders want to make sure there is an audit trail in case of an IRS audit. At Finance Alpha, we are big believers in paperless operations with access to paperless receipts being an integral part of a paperless office. These are our experiences with the services that provide receipt scanning and online receipt management.

1) Shoeboxed.com (http://shoeboxed.com/pricing)
   We give Shoeboxed preference over all other available services for their cost/benefit & value. We have been using Shoeboxed.com for over two years and have yet to be disappointed. We send them receipts of all shapes and forms, wrinkled and not, and somehow they are able to scan them all and make them available online.

For a $300 annual plan, we have no labor on our side other than to put all receipts in pre-paid envelopes. They prepay and track envelopes, and can mail back the physical receipts (for free) if the customer desires. Customers can also scan receipts with smart phones and email them to Shoeboxed on-the-go.

Their search can be improved, but it is not a deal breaker — you can always find the receipt you are searching for if it had been mailed to them and scanned.

It should be said that they do not scan anything but receipts and business cards. You have to use another service or a scanner at your home/office to scan other documents.

2) Expensify (http://expensify.com)
   Expensify goes hand in hand with shoeboxed. They are complementary services, not substitutes.

Expensify is more useful for expense report submissions / reimbursement record keeping, not for scanning all your receipts. Similarly to Shoeboxed, however, you can scan your receipts with the Expensify mobile app. Both Shoeboxed and Expensify are semi-integrated with Google apps (you can use one login to all of them) which allows you to have them available on your team members’ dashboards and saves time on receipts submission. Expensify has a beautiful, easy to use UI and it is simple to integrate this service within a small business or a startup.

3) Neat (http://store.neat.com)
   The Neat scanners look neat, but I have not been able to justify the price of these scanners (plus our labor to scan) when compared with the Shoeboxed.com pricing.

I once saw a Neat scanner being used at a doctor’s office to add a scanned copy of a patient’s card to the patient’s records so perhaps there is value in the Neat scanner if you perform such specific tasks regularly.

4) OfficeDrop (http://officedrop.com/pricing)
   OfficeDrop allows you to mail everything to them for processing. They are more expensive than Shoeboxed, and we have not used them as a result. (Note: Office Drop was formerly Pixily)

5) There are many apps that enable mobile phones to scan receipts. Here is an example: http://www.appbrain.com/search?q=receipts. If you are not using any of the options listed above, you will have to try different apps to see if any stick with your team to be diligent in scanning and e-mailing you all their receipts.

If all else fails, go with Shoeboxed.com! :)

Disclosure: I have no association with any of the services listed above other than that I use the first two on the list.

Google Apps: a Toolkit for Startups and Small Businesses

Written by Michael Tauscher on . Posted in Blog, Google, Productivity, Project Management, Thumbs up, Workflow

This is the first in a series of posts about Google Apps. We will be covering the most useful third party apps for operations management as well as cool ways to use Google Apps to facilitate collaboration and smooth operations flow. Stay tuned!

A recent post on Google’s Blog showed that 97% of Business Insider’s 20 Silicon Valley Startups to Watch from the last two years were running on Google Apps. As the post’s author Rich Rao notes, Silicon Valley isn’t the only place for tech startups but it does highlight the salient point: Google Apps allows you to “focus on your business, not on your IT.” Likewise Martin Melin found that after analyzing MX entries for 204 Y Combinator startups that 142 (almost 70%) are using Gmail and as he observes, “This does not consider the possibility of some startups using another MX that is forwarding into Google Apps, so the actual percentage could very well be higher than 70%.”

So why Google Apps? Beyond the fact that you can have fully integrated domain email for free up to ten people without the headache of managing your own email server and with Postini taking care of SPAM, the default features available in Google Apps have expanded since its inception. In addition to Gmail, Calendar, web based word processing, spreadsheets, and slide presentations, Google Documents now offers Drawing (a free-form image manipulation tool), Forms (a template builder for customer feedback), and sidebar comment trails in the event that want to leave a note outside of a document itself. The real value of these tools is not their functions, however, but the fact that they foster collaboration.

With your team:
Let’s say you’re working with your team on a new product or process. The ability to communicate and collaborate in real time using the Gmail chat function along with Drawing for visuals and a text document with a comment trail allows you to share ideas, visualize them, and solidify present and future goals all without time spent moving files back and forth. There is even a revision history function that will show you who has made changes, when, and allows you to restore any deleted items.

Gmail Chat

 

Google Drawing with Revision History

 

Google Document with Comments

With clients:
Similarly, if your clients are using Google Apps you can bring them in on the conversation rather than working to provide a model, getting their opinion, and going back to the drawing board. Not only will your client get the feeling of personal service, but will likely be able to provide a clear description of what they want in a shorter amount of time. Best of all, when the project is complete you can simply ‘un-share’ any documents your client may have had access to and privacy is restored.

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