Manage Your Cash By Managing Your Customers

Here’s a  good article about taking steps to get customer payments.

I would also suggest the following:

Be proactive by clearly communicating standard payment terms (i.e. net 30, due upon receipt) with new customers/clients.

Bill regularly so that customers don’t get hit with a bill for two months of service which may upset their monthly budget.

Follow up on late payments promptly…time is money.  The longer you wait to attempt to  collect; the less likely you will collect.

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Quickbooks Simple Start is a Rip Off

For the most part, Quickbooks is an effective small business application. I have worked with Quickbooks Pro Desktop (Mac and PC) and the 2005, 2006, 2007 versions. I have used the Quickbooks online version which is like Skipper to Quickbooks’ Desktop Barbie. Quickbooks Simple Start version, which retails for $99.95 and it is absolutely useless. To take the doll analogy further, this version is like the “Midge” of the Quickbooks family of accounting software. I realized this recently when two of my clients erroneously bought the Simple Start version thinking it was easy and cheaper than Quickbooks Pro. However it did not provide the functionality they needed and it was a waste of time and money which is something an entrepreneur cannot afford.

Yes, it’s cheaper but it very little functionality. Also there is a FREE version of the Simple Start that is almost identical except that it has a limit on the number of vendors and contacts you can add. Look at the comparison. I am a little peeved that Quickbooks would put out a $100 version of a free service which adds very little except support and unlimited contacts. Anyway, if you are a business, don’t use Simple Start. It is useless.

I recommend getting the Quickbooks Pro which facilitates getting banking, credit card and Paypal data uploaded into Quickbooks. Math is not hard, but I also recommend getting someone who knows basic accounting to get you set-up so that you start off with your best feet or (on your tippy toes like Barbie) forward.

Less Accounting

There’s another new accounting Web 2.0 application on the block, Less Accounting. I got excited when I read what it is not–Quickbooks, but I just spent about 10 minutes with the beta version and sometimes less is just less.

I understand that the goal is to make accounting simpler, but I can’t really figure out the thing that I think is most important for any and all of the new apps, the ability to import your banking transactions. That is one reason why I like Wesabe. Quickbooks Desktop and the even the troublesome Quickbooks online facilitate that.

One thing I see is that Less Accounting breaks accounting down to the basics–money in and money out.

Plus, on their home page they say something that I tell all my clients, “Quit wasting your valuable time trying to be an accountant.” [That’s my job!]

Insure Your Business

Small business owners even if the business is home-based should consider getting insurance.

For professional services, there’s malpractice insurance.

For people working in your place of business, consider worker’s compensation insurance. [It is a requirement in many states.]

For overall coverage of your workspace and product, then get general liability insurance.

Keep in mind that you should comparison shop for the insurance but do not be misled to think that your home owner’s insurance will protect you. Besides, that is a personal expense and that would be commingling.

For further information, check out the Insurance Information Institute’s guide for small business insurance.

Accountant’s Hourly Rates Increasing

I found this article, and I see that my hourly rates are below market since the average rate is $48.  It’s a trade-off since I get access to very cool start-ups which helps me share information and leverage it across my many clients.  However, I am struggling with covering my own expenses.  Taking my own advice, I need to negotiate better rates for future clients.

Accountant’s Hourly Rates Increasing

I found this article, and I see that my hourly rates are below market since the average rate is $48.  It’s a trade-off since I get access to very cool start-ups which helps me share information and leverage it across my many clients.  However, I am struggling with covering my own expenses.  Taking my own advice, I need to negotiate better rates for future clients.