American Express Open Challenge For Small Businesses

Daily Candy has teamed up American Express Open for a contest to help local small business owners in New York City.
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Need some help with your clientele? You’re in luck. DailyCandy is partnering with American Express OPEN to offer the American Express OPEN Challenge, with a chance to win a DailyCandy New York Dedicated E-mail about your small business.

All you have to do is submit a short description of you, your business, and why you think it deserves top prize. Two winners will be chosen to receive a Dedicated E-mail (a sponsored DailyCandy article all about your biz) written by DailyCandy editors and sent out to hundreds of thousands of savvy customers.

Of course, rules and restrictions apply, so head over to the American Express OPEN Challenge submission page and start your company on the road to riches.

Big opportunity? Check.

To enter, go to


Back-To-Office Shopping

While you are getting the kids ready for school, you might as well replenish your own office with cool office supplies and business books. These items are great! BTW, a great way to save money is to enroll in Barnes and Noble Members Program, where you can get discounts on almost everything in the store.


Keeping Nickels

See more of my Keeping Nickels list at ThisNext.

Interview with’s Founder, Aaron Patzer

I first heard about Mint, an online personal finance application, nearly a year ago when it was named “Best Presenting Company” at TechCrunch 40. This fall, Mint will be celebrating their one year anniversary, coming out of beta and rolling out a more robust investment management section on the site.

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Aaron Patzer, the founder and CEO of Mint. He told me how he got started with Mint and he also presented the features of the site. Aaron Patzer’s background is more techie than financial. He started in web development while still a teenager and graduate from Duke University with a degree in engineering. Always concerned with both his business and personal finances, he had used Quicken and Microsoft Money to manage his account, but he grew frustrated with how much time he had to spend weekly updating his accounts. Aaron decided to develop a efficient solution for managing your money by creating Mint.

Mint is a quick and easy way to have all of your accounts (bank, credit cards, student loans, 401Ks, and investments) in one place so you can see what is going on with your money. In the “Trends” section of Mint, there are pie charts and graphs that actually give you visual to see if you are saving more than you are spending, and where your money is being spent. The dashboard gives you an overview of all your accounts that you have added to your Mint, so the more information you give, the more it can help you manage your finances.

The “Ways To Save” section of Mint advises you on how to save money. It is kinda like a “Consumer Reports 2.0” since it gives personalized comparisons based on your spending habits.

Aaron demonstrated the new features of the investment section (rolling out this fall) which can show how your investments (401(K), mutual funds, etrade, etc.) are doing. It can so highlight the “hidden maintenance fees” and compare funds so that you can make an informed decision on whether to change the mix of your investment accounts.

I asked about reporting features, and Aaron showed me that transactions can be exported into a .csv file which can uploaded into Excel. Many of the 400,000 users of Mint use it mainly for personal finances. However, some professionals use Mint to track reimbursable expenses for their expense reports, and some entrepreneurs use Mint to track business expenses.

Mint is free, so what is their revenue model? Instead of the usual online ad revenue, Mint has developed affiliations with several financial service companies and Mint’s revenue will be from lead generation from recommended financial services’ product offerings.

Financial Comfort with Jean Chatzky

Last night I went to the O at Home event at the Hearst Tower. Sponsored by Wachovia, the theme was “comfort”. Jean Chatzky spoke to the audience about financial comfort. She has a great book, Make Money Not Excuses, and she talked about how to stop using excuses and deal with your personal finances. As an entrepreneur, you need to look at both business and personal finances to succeed in your goals.

She outlined four simple steps to be richer.

  1. Make a decent living.
  2. Spend less than what you make.
  3. Invest. Have your money work for you.
  4. Protect yourself from the unexpected. Sock away money for emergencies.

As soon I heard her four steps, I remember that it echoed what Aaron Patzer showed me on the blog on Wednesday. I love how Jean said to the audience of about 200 well-dressed people, “You are far from rich”. I have long thought that Americans believe that they are “pre-rich”, so they spend capriciously and rack up credit card debt because one day they will the jackpot and somehow money will be rolling in.

Jean advises that everyone use online banking and not just for the obvious reasons (quick, easy, green) but also because it may protect you from identity theft. She said that a study was done that said that people who do online banking look at their money 4 times more often than people who don’t. If you review your accounts regularly, you can spot suspicious activity quickly.

Another thing is to invest. She recommends getting a life cycle mutual fund where you can set a target retirement date. This is cool because your retirement fund is goal-directed so it begins with the end in mind.

The one takeaway from Jean Chatzky that I got is this: “money confidence breeds more money”.

Web 2 Point Dough: Wired, Fired, Less Energy Expired

Wired Magazine has a contest for small businesses. Application is simple but the deadline is August 30. Hurry!

Author/Blogger/Adult Film Director Audacia Ray closed all her accounts at Citibank after they refused to set up a business account for her business asserting that they have a policy against depositors operating an adult industry business. This may not escalate to Jeff Jarvis’ “Dell Hell”, but it is interesting that a bank would refuse to take money especially in this economy.  [blog URL is NSFW, but content on the blog post is.]

There’s a good article in the Wall Street Journal Small Business section that has tips on how your business can consume less energy which will reduce your overhead expenses and be green.

Back To School For Entrepreneurs

Consider taking a course this fall to help you in your business.
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An entrepreneur mystified by accounting or putting a marketing plan together can get help.

Colleges and universities offer a variety of courses aimed at small business owners, and many cost little or nothing. Some courses are on campus, while others are online.

Other learning opportunities can be found at chambers of commerce and trade associations that offer classes, and on Web sites aimed at small business owners.

Small Business Development Centers often operate out of colleges and universities and offer advice, training and assistance, including courses on some of the essentials of running a business as well as courses on using business accounting software. Locations can be found at the Small Business Administration Web site:

College classes aimed at entrepreneurs and small-business owners are available at many schools, either through continuing education or extension programs or allowing nondegree students to take regular classes.

25 Online Tools for Business and Personal Finances

Wow! This list of personal finance budgeting and business accounting sites compiled by Mashable is great! I have only heard about five or six of these websites already, and I know that MoneyStrands is coming. (It is private beta now). Click through to check out the list.

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There are a growing number of online services dedicated to helping users manage their finances. There are many benefits to using these accounting applications, they can simplify the process as well as help you find ways to save money. Here are 25+ tools for accounting and budgeting both personal and business finances.Here you’ll find resources for keeping track of business expenses, finding out if you’re being charged hidden fees, invoicing roommates, and more.