You spend a lot of time working your business – getting new clients, making product, marketing, advertising and selling – wouldn’t it be nice if someone or something could just make your life a little easier?!?
Here are 10 Companies that do just that – these companies can help you track your books, take customer payments, manage your expenses, use electronic signatures, send and receive faxes, send large files and our favorite company(!) that helps you promote your business online.
This list is by no means exhaustive – drop us a note in the Comments section below and tell us who else you’d nominate.
Keep & Track Your Books
1. Quickbooks is the King when it comes to bookkeeping software. You can use Quickbooks to invoice, receive online (and now credit card) payments, track vendor expenses and mange your company's overall financial health. I love the online version because it's synched up with my bank and credit card accounts so makes reconciling (or having my bookkeeper reconcile!) a breeze. Overdue invoices are flagged automatically which helps me make sure that I'm getting paid for the work we're doing! Quickbooks also has some great reporting features that allow you to at a glance see where your business is and how it's trending versus others in industry.
2. Freshbooks is a relative newbie to the scene. But I'm seeing it used more and more frequently because they have a system to capture time. So if you (or your employees) bill by the hour, this might be a great way to integrate those two 'tasks'.
Take Payments on the Go
Both Quickbooks and Freshbooks have an invoicing system that lets you take payments. For a while Freshbooks was the only one to offer credit card payments, but just yesterday, Quickbooks announced that they too can now accept credit cards. But that assumes that you’re actually creating and sending invoices. What if you want to sign someone up for your service on the stop, or let someone buy something from your tradeshow booth right now?! Nothing says instant gratification like these two
3. Square. Get paid anywhere, anytime is Square’s claim to fame. Their square (of course!) card reader easily plugs into your earphone jack on your iPhone or Android devices and turns any phone into a credit card terminal. Used and loved by everyone from local coffee shops to pediatricians making house calls, Square is one of those devices that has completely changed how small businesses operate. Charge is 2.75% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
4. PayPal Here. By inserting PayPal’s new triangle-shaped dongle (not my word!) into your iPhone, you can swipe a customer’s credit card. Or you can scan the credit card number by using your camera’s phone. There’s no charge for the actual app and card reader, but you will be charged 2.7% for card swipes and PayPal payments. Great for people who already use PayPal.
Manage your Expenses
When I worked for ‘the man’ I didn’t really worry about my expense reports, if I missed a receipt here or there, I kind of figured – eh it’s just a couple of dollars. BUT now that I’m working for myself and my expense reports are my own, it’s a completely different ballgame. Walking around with an envelope full of receipts is messy, they get lost and it’s just a pain to file and track. That’s why I love
5. Expensify. Expensify is a fantastic app that allows you to track your spending on the go – whether you need to track transportation costs and mileage, food, advertising expenses, their simple integration makes tracking expenses a snap. You can import expenses directly from your credit card or actually scan your receipts using your cell phone. Plus, they have some cool reporting software that allows you to track spending by person, by merchant or by category.
Create and Send Forms with Electronic Signatures
6. DocuSign. We are constantly being asked to sign things – payment notices, non-disclosure agreements, orders, etc... and the more hoops the company requires us to go through to sign (hello – print, sign, scan and fax back!?) the slower we are to do it. But DocuSign simplifies the process – you Send them your documents, you add the Signers who are then automatically notified that a document is pending signature, they Sign it and you Save it.
Unless you happen to frequent your local Kinkos or Staples a lot, faxing can be a real pain. Why some require that you print out a form, sign it and fax it is beyond me especially when you have sites like DocuSign mentioned above. But when you absolutely need to send and receive faxes, why buy a fax machine and set up a land-line with the phone company (if you don’t already have one) if you don't have to?
7. eFax allows you to send and receive faxes via email – you can even have your own fax number. Look at how legit you are now!
Transferring Large Files
8. DropBox. If you’re constantly sharing files with your co-workers (and aren’t using a collaborative project management system like Basecamp), consider using DropBox. DropBox is a free service (although I paid for an upgrade to a larger account) that lets you keep and share files easily. You download a little DropBox shortcut and load up any and all files you might have. DropBox automatically synchs to your computer providing an automatic upload of your latest saves so that you – or anyone that you give folder access to – can work off of the same proverbial page. I use DropBox as my back-up file server and as a way to share projects in progress with my designers, writers and clients.
9. YouSendIt. If you just need to simply email a large file, YouSendIt is a great way to do that. Simply create an account (another freebie!) and send away. Your files are sent as downloadable links that do expire so not a good place to ‘store’ files, but perfect for one-time use (www.yousendit.com)
Promote Your Business Online
10. Tin Shingle. Of course this list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include a big shout-out to Tin Shingle. When you’re looking to ‘go big’, you need to be able to expand your reach exponentially. You need to get your name, your product, your service in front of tens of thousands of potential customers.Tin Shingle helps you do just that.
With our easy ‘Post and Go’ dashboard, you can upload your businesses, products, services, events, sales, specials, etc… and our proprietary Personalized Social system goes to work Tweeting, Facebooking and Pinning what you post on our networks. Click on the Member Benefits page to learn more.
Didn't see your favorite company on the list? Tell us about it and what they do that makes your business life that much simpler.