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7 Awesome Accounting Apps for Small Business

AppsEvery year, The Sleeter Group – a firm that helps business owners and accountants work together – conducts a competition to identify the best tech and software solutions for small business accounting and finance. Some are add-ons to QuickBooks, while others are stand-alone products that can make your life easier, and help improve profits.

In order to qualify for what Sleeter calls its “Awesome Add-On” awards, the product or service must come from a solid company with a reputation for outstanding customer support. The product must also show superior design, implementation and features, integrate effectively with QuickBooks and other software solutions, and conform to good accounting principles.

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These six recent winners are worth considering for a small business:

1. Bill.com Receivables:  This service, which is an upgrade ($5/month) to a Bill.com Payable account, is great for any business that sends invoices to customers and wants to offer the option to pay electronically, online. According to Sleeter, it’s “a perfect example of how the web is revolutionizing small business.”

By allowing businesses to manage the entire accounts receivable process in the cloud, Bill.com has taken a big leap forward. In addition to sending electronic invoices and reminders, you can receive payments online and by credit card, and customers can access their own portal (for free) to see their invoicing and payment history.

2. Bill & Pay, from Skyhill Software, is great for small businesses that want to streamline their receivables process online. Bill & Pay automatically uploads invoices from QuickBooks, Peachtree, Great Plains and other accounting software into a web portal where they can be tracked and managed. There’s also an “Easy Invoice” feature that lets you create your own invoices without using any accounting software.

Bill & Pay integrates with several merchant accounts (including Intuit Merchant Solutions) so it doesn’t require extra steps for batching deposits into your bank account. Cost is $16.95 per month, plus 55 cents per payment transaction.

3. QQube, from Clearify, is for business owners who want more powerful or complex reports and dashboards than QuickBooks can create by itself. This can be especially helpful in developing data analytics. Says Sleeter, “Although there’s a learning curve, once you get the hang of it you’ll be amazed at how much you can do with this tool. This is a game changer.” Cost is $425 for the single user version.

4. If your business ships 20 or more packages daily via UPS or FedEx, ShipGear provides a simple way to manage those packages, update QuickBooks invoices to include freight charges and eliminate double data entry in the two systems. As each package ships, ShipGear generates a personalized email notification to the customer. Cost is $225 for QuickBooks Pro version, from V-Technologies. Also integrates with Peachtree and others.

5.  ViewMyPaycheck, from Intuit, lets QuickBooks payroll users upload paycheck information to the cloud where employees can securely access pay stubs, vacation/sick time balances and W-2 forms. Employees can view, print or download copies of their payroll information anytime, from anywhere. This is free for QuickBooks Payroll subscribers at all levels, including Basic.

6.  ExpenseWatch.com is a web-based time and expense reporting tool that helps you streamline the process of time tracking, expense reporting, as well as purchasing and invoicing.  ExpenseWatch includes modules for expense reports, purchasing and AP invoice management that you can subscribe to individually, or as a fully integrated expense control suite. Costs ranged between $16 and $35 per month, per user.

7.  AvaTax Certs, from Avalara, is a life-saver for businesses with customers who are sales tax exempt. This typically includes industries such as manufacturing, tech, education, wholesalers and some types of retail. AvaTax Certs limits your audit exposure on non-taxed transactions by helping you manage customer exemption certificates end-to-end. The online wizard automates paperless certificate collection and ensures you only collect valid certificates. Starts at $375, plus $249/year.

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10 Reasons to Consider Google Apps for Business

If you run a business and still think of Google only for search and AdWords, you may be missing something that could help your business work smarter and cheaper. The search giant is really a softy when it comes to small business, and has been working to woo biz owners and startups into its Google Apps for Business bundle.

It’s a bundle bursting with productivity tools small businesses need, starting at, well, free. And these aren’t stripped down versions, either. With little fanfare Google Apps for Business has already signed up some 5 million firms – most of them small.

Basically, Apps for Business is a cluster of cloud-based tools you access via web-connected computer or mobile device. They include documents, presentations, spreadsheets, online storage and sharing, calendars, email and more. The free version for individuals and teams of up to 10 includes the basics, while the paid “business-ready” version offers more (including 24/7 customer support) for $50 per year, per user. Get full details at www.Google.com/apps.

Here are 10 reasons to consider Google Apps for your business:

1. Custom Gmail for Business: A business class version of Gmail lets you create a custom email address using your own business domain name and have email you can access anywhere, anytime on any device you choose.

2. Storage galore: With the paid Gmail version, you get an astounding 25 GB of storage capacity for each inbox. That’s essentially a bottomless email inbox, so you’ll never have to delete emails. Even the free version has 10 GB.

3. Super search: Gmail’s search feature lets you find anything in your email, while labels and filters help keep your email organized. What’s more, text, voice and video chat features let you see who’s online and connect instantly. You can even see your contacts’ profile photos, recent updates and shared documents next to each email.

4. Google Calendar is a great tool for organizing your day, week or month. You can get reminders on your phone or in your inbox. Attach files or docs to your event so you have the right materials when your meeting starts.

5. Keep everyone together: Use calendar sharing to find time with others in your business, and let the smart scheduling feature suggest meeting times that work for everyone.

6. Schedule Clients Too: You can even create a calendar and embed it on your website or set up appointment slots so customers can choose the best time for them. Calendar lets you automatically send invitations and track RSVPs via email.

7. Core Needs are Covered: Google Docs (like Word), Spreadsheets (like Excel) and Slides (like PowerPoint) give you all the power you need to create documents with images, tables, drawings, links and more. Keep and share lists, track projects, analyze data and track results. Sheets includes tools such as advanced formulas, embedded charts, filters and pivot tables.  Slides lets you create presentations with embedded videos, animations and fancy transitions.

8. Easy to Import and Convert: With Google Docs, it’s easy to import your existing work and convert it from most common text, spreadsheet and presentation formats so you can edit and share. Optical character recognition (OCR) even lets you import editable text from PDFs and images.

9. Access Your Files From Anywhere: Google Drive – included in the Google Apps bundle – lets you access your files from anywhere. With Google Drive on your PC, Mac or mobile device (as well as your browser), you’ll have a single place for the latest versions of your files, accessible anytime, anywhere. You can upload and store any type of file you choose. Share files or entire folders with individuals, your team, as well as customers or partners. In the Docs, Sheets and Slides editors, multiple people can work on the same file at the same time.

10. Shared Online Workspaces:  Google Sites is the app that helps you build a project website without writing a single line of code. It’s like writing a simple document. Or choose from hundreds of prebuilt templates. Use your team site to organize everything from calendars to documents to presentations, to videos. Google-powered search makes it simple to find what you’re looking for later. Share your site with co-workers or customers with a single click.

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A Virtual Phone System App that will Blow You Away

Say what you will about AT&T, but its new “Office@Hand” virtual phone system application for small biz, introduced Feb. 1, is going to blow away a lot of business owners.  It’s a service that finally recognizes what biz owners already know – that small companies use phones today is radically different ways, with a complex mix of mobile and land line, voicemail,  fax, text, toll-free, automated messages/greetings, forwarding, email and more.

Office@Hand is a complete phone system for up to 100 users that you can buy, setup and activate instantly – no hardware or tech skills needed.  It’s a high-powered PBX system based entirely in “the cloud” (meaning you access it online) that works with your existing mobile and land lines and takes seconds to add, delete or change employee or department extensions, modify the auto-receptionist company greetings, change call routing and answering rules or update business hours.  The Office@Hand application (app) is a free download from the Apple App Store or AT&T AppCenter, and service is $14 to $16 per month, depending on number of users.

Office@Hand lets you perform minor phone system miracles and do things you never thought possible from a system you can run from your smart phone, such as transferring live calls between mobile and land lines, voicemail and fax forwarding via email, and advanced call routing rules and logs.

Check out this short Office@Hand video for an overview of how it works.

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