There was never a better time than now to start a business, as technology has made kicking off an entrepreneurial career easier than ever. However, there are still some important bases to cover when getting started, such as managing your finances.
The good news: being financially responsible is one of those things that doesn’t have to be as complicated as it once was. There are many affordable apps available that can help with all things related to your small business finances, from getting started to rewarding your loyal customers.
While raising money the traditional way, by applying for loans, finding investors or asking family and friends, is still a popular way to get your business funded, there are now other routes you can go when looking to be financed. Crowdfunding platforms, such as Funding Community and LendSquare, are dedicated to getting your business off the ground. Another platform, Clovest, helps businesses fund projects locally, being able to expand with buy-in and help from the community.
Getting paid (or, the important stuff).
It’s important to research various ecommerce platforms and point-of-sale systems to determine which one best suits your business’ needs, but know that there are plenty of ways to accept payments today without investing in expensive, antiquated hardware.
Change is a cash register app that requires only an iPad. The app lets you easily place customer orders and make payments, but also keeps track of sales reporting and taxes. They also support a pretty slick Dwolla integration, which is a payment network you can support at your physical retail location or online. The Dwolla payment network allows you to receive any transaction over $10 for only 25 cents, while all transactions $10 and under are free. Need to accept credit cards? Check out services like Square that offer easy ways to accept credit card payments while on the go – all you need is an iPad or an iPhone and their dongle.
Is your business online? Building out a way to accept payments and collect information about your customers through your website can be expensive and time-consuming. Use services like Formstack for an affordable way to build out your storefront, publish forms and surveys, accept online payments, and create emails without any technical help at all.
Keeping track of your business finances is obviously important throughout the life of your company, but it no longer has to be such a headache. In the age of data and technology, there is no shortage of affordable and intuitive online accounting and time tracking services. Harvest allows you to easily track time, projects and keep you on budget. FreeAgent helps not only with invoicing and expense reporting, but they also make it easy to keep on top of accounting and taxes.
Speaking of taxes, there are now platforms dedicated to helping your small business file taxes. Stop wasting time pouring over numbers, reading instructions and performing tricky calculations, simply sign up for a service like Autotax. These guys navigate the rules and regulations put forward by the IRS so that you can focus more of your time and effort on your business.
A great way to reward your customers and promote loyal clientele is giving back to those that value your business. Check out up-and-coming platforms like GiftRocker and Belly to easily institute a gift card or loyalty rewards program.
If you’d like to take a more philanthropic route, there are apps like Boosterville that make it easy for your small business to get involved in community fundraising. Sign on for a program, such as supporting the high school band, and customers that come in and pay via the Boosterville mobile app will have a portion of their payment automatically taken out and sent to the program.
All of these services are innovative, affordable, and are easier to institute into your business model than the old, clunky hardware and complicated integrations associated with building out your small business even just a few years ago. Take advantage of the great technology at your fingertips, and use it to grow your business wisely!
Caitlin Jones works in marketing and communications at Dwolla. She is a technology and mobile payments junky who enjoys working with small businesses to help promote and share their unique stories. You can find her on Twitter at @CaityLJones.