Small Business Accounting Software – How to Buy

Small business accounting software / Small business bookkeeping software — How to buy.There are lot of small business accounting / bookkeeping softwares out there. If you are a small business owner looking for a good software, you are bound to get overwhelmed by the endless list pretty quickly. Which one to buy? What features do they come with? Should I get all the features or just the ones I need? The questions go on and on without answer. If this is what is happening to you, don’t despair. There is hope. Read on. By the time you are done reading this short post you will be armed with all the knowledge you need to make an informed buying decision. First some questions about you.
How big is your business?
Small business as defined by Small Business Administration is any business that is privately owned and employs less than 100 employees. Good enough. If we analyze this definition a bit closely we will quickly see that 100 employees is a big number. Assuming that you are paying $3000/month to each employee you are paying out $300,000/month as salary. If you own a business this big chances are you will not be looking for an accounting / bookkeeping software via internet. Sales agents from software companies will be waiting at your door to sell their software to you. Going by the fact that you are searching for a small business software on the internet you probably own a much smaller business. How much smaller? I think you own a business that has less than 5 employees. Most probably even less. Just one employee. Yourself.

What are you selling?
Are you selling a material product? or just services? Do you make the product or just buy it pre-made? Do you have a real store or you are selling via your web site? How do you find your customers?

How much is your data volume?
If you have a thriving business then you will have good data volume. How much it it? How many orders per month? How many new customers per month? How do store the data? How much data? What is expected growth rate of the data

Do you have a web site?
Nearly all businesses, big or small have web sites these days. Do you have one? If not your should get one. Would you like your software to integrate seamlessly with your web site? Would you like to be able to access your small business accounting / bookkeeping software via the internet?

¬†Your choice of small business accounting / bookkeeping software will depend upon the answers to above questions. Assuming that you have one person company you want something that is easy to use, some that can be accessed remotely form anywhere and it can grow with your company. Right? … Right!OK, one more thing that we did not discuss. Underlying technology. Even though it may not be visible, it is very important to know what kind of technology your small business software is using. After all it is the bed rock on which the software is built. Things may get a little complicated here but I will try to make them as simple as I can.Every small business accounting / bookkeeping software essentially does one thing. It store data. Data is information about your business. Customer names, addresses, products, orders, invoices … all are examples of data. So for a small business software to work efficiently it should be able to store data efficiently. Not only that, it should also be able to modify and retrieve data efficiently when you need it. After all what is the use of a black box software that cannot provide you the data when you need it. You still with me? Good.There are two ways to store data.
Flat file
Relational

Flat file method uses flat text files, much like notepad files, to store data. It is old and archaic.The reason: it cannot hold any relationships among data entities. e.g. you want to store customers name and their invoices. You know that one customer can have many invoices. So to store customers and their invoices you will have to repeat customer name each time you store an invoice. Just like below.customer1 — invoice1customer1 — invoice2Problem with this approach is that you have to repeat the customer name every time you want to store an invoice. This is not efficient.Relational method uses relationships to store data. It is more efficient. Look at the same example that uses relational method. It uses customer name only once.customer1– invoice1– invoice2Elegant isn’t it? You bet. It is much cleaner, more efficient and easier to read. If you are still with me we are almost done. The whole point of the above song and dance was to show you that relational storage method is superior to flat file storage method. It should be an important factor to consider when you buy your small business computer software. Now, there are five major small business accounting / bookkeeping software.Quickbooks from Intuit , Simply Accounting, Peachtree (again from Intuit), Sage and Microsoft Small Business Accounting Software. Agreed?Now the bombshell. None of these small business software use relational storage method! Can you imagine? Wait there is more. All these are propriety software written by the big companies who use large scale ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software that runs on unix (not windows or mac) and uses relational database (relational storage method) to run their own businesses. Did you get what I just said. Let me rephrase. All these so called best small business software companies DO NOT USE THEIR OWN SOFTWARE. They use relational storage software, but they sell you non relational storage software in the name of small business software. The reason? Relation storage method is very expensive. Well not any more!

5 Strategies for Effective Brand Building

Planning to start a business? Wait! Are you ready for everything that it asks for? By everything, I literally mean “everything”, be it the money factor, a team of workers, business advertising, business branding, and what not.It’s not only about a business; you need to pre-plan things every time you plan to do something new. Now that it’s about your business, varied factors can influence it apart from the capital, space and a team of personnel. You need expertise in the field you are entering. If you have the same, of course, you won’t face any problem commencing the work, but you might not be able to manage all the things all the time either.Running a business is not child’s play. You will need to heed numerous aspects of your business and focusing on all of them all by yourself may/will mean losing your grasp on your business. I can bet you will never want to lose the charisma of your expertise while you want to remain in a particular domain.Why take a chance? Maintain a healthy balance among all the facets of your company while not letting your expertise lose its magnetism. You must be thinking “how will I manage to do it on my own”. Easy! Raise the business standards – both for your team and your own self.A trademark was all a business needed earlier to become recognizable. But, the same can now be a problem – a big one. It’s very much clear. Do you think about a company’s trademark anymore? I’m sure, not (neither do I). Then, what is that is working for the companies’ betterment and promotion, and making different enterprises renowned brands?Yeah! It’s the market presence. The more you make your company known to people around the world, the more likely it is to be a leading firm, enjoying a great market share.Well, today it is (literally) next to impossible to build a brand sans advertising it, publicizing it, and before the same, building an ethical business approach targeted at achieving complete customer satisfaction.If not with a trademark or logo, how to build the brand? This is certainly a good and rather, a big question that most businessmen are finding an answer to.Brand building is no more only about redesigning the logo of your company, but has come a long way from the same. First understand what your customer wants in terms of quality, value and experience, and then make all possible endeavors to reach out to him. You have every right to let him know that your business can fulfill all his requirements.Each brand, whether big or small, wants customer satisfaction on priority. Of course, if you make a sketch, you will not judge or rate it yourself. After a business is planned with its stratagem designed properly, its end products will only be judged by a customer, who may/may not turn into a paid client, eventually deciding on a brand’s reputation. Customers’ trust means customers’ loyalty, which gradually increases your business’s potential to take the limelight and outshine its rivals in the market.Let’s have a look at some strategies that will help you build your brand in an easy, effective and transparent manner. But, before that, let’s better understand the term branding.What is branding and how to make the first workable step?Branding, in simple words, is an advertisement or promotion of a company. Advertising campaigns and promotional events are vital to spread the word about a business, followed by event sponsorship, which improves the brand equity. Brand equity is a term coined for describing a brand’s value in the marketing industry.Products expire after a certain time period, but brands last longer. Branding is converting innovative ideas into a memorable experience. When branding is done for a business, credibility is gained by that business, which automatically drives more and more number of customers to it.Why not SEO only?What branding does is possible through SEO (Search Engine Optimization) too. But, branding is suggested alongside SEO, because only branding can help enhance a company’s online presence. One chance may be that you just want to bag a few dollars/pounds, and do not have any other aim to start a business. The other may be that you want to earn name and fame and earn your business good reputation in the “popularity game”. In the latter case, SEO alone cannot get you a huge traffic. However, the same might get you high ranking in the search results with a few workable keywords. Here comes the need for branding.Let’s switch to some major brand building strategies now.First of all, you need to spread awareness about your brand to ensure its success in the long run.1. Ensure everything from a Great Logo to Target Audience-When you plan to do branding to take your business to new heights, keep in mind a few things – where do you want your brand to reach, how people should view it and what its main focus is. Make the brand worth being lived by your customers and in order to do so, know your customers well.First of all, make a smart choice of colors for the logo and everything about your brand. Colors should be such that people do not find an excuse to forget it. Besides, the logo plays a vital role in helping any brand make a mark. Thus, hire an expert professional to get your company’s logo designed in a way to leave a lasting impression on your clients.And now when you have finalized a logo for the brand, let it be accompanied by a few words that people keep on reminiscing every now and then. Give it a tagline that defines your brand in pithy.2. Following Ethical Approach with Targeted Audience in Mind-Design an ethical approach to run the business operations. If you serve customers the way they want, they would later reflect on your brand for sure. Thus, decide how you want them to see you and how you will present your brand in an efficient manner in the public. Ethics should be your priority; do you keep it the same?Your team of professionals is who you can eventually owe part of your success to. Get your employees involved in most of the tasks, for they have their own different way of working as per their perception and outlook toward the business values and operations.While they do so, just instruct them on how to keep customers’ requirements in mind so as to meet them in a proficient and satisfactory manner. It is your targeted audience that will turn into paid clientele and therefore, you need to carefully judge who will be those people looking for your products the most.3. Creating and maintaining a Big Social Circle-Besides working for your customers, you must also work to reach out to them to know them better and maintain long-term relationships with them. Interacting with people will make you learn new things to do better for your business. Some customers will provide you testimonials to keep as a token of appreciation, which will do a lot in promoting your brand to new customers.This is an era of social media/networking. Be it an individual, an enterprise, or an NGO. Everyone would socialize to promote themselves, their products, their services, their work, or anything that could take them to a whole new level.When it comes to building relationships, number does not count. Reach out to as many people as possible, since each and every person will in some way or the other benefit you and your brand. While some will come up with a positive feedback that will act as a motivation for you to do better in future, some will turn to give negative comments, which will again encourage you to improve things and move on to turn these people into your brand’s admirers.It is not only enough to meet people, but remember their names and a few details. The more you show them their value to you, the more they will be returning to you. However, this still does not mean that you are allowed to use flattery.4. Paying Attention To The Visuals – A logo will be something that will reflect on your brand. Keep the same vibrant and engaging, or else, you have the choice of hiring a professional to do the same for you. Think of a big brand like Apple or Mercedes, the logo of the same will strike your mind in a fraction of seconds. These brands have not done anything exceptional, but just created an easy-to-remember, attractive logo and applied effective marketing strategies to promote their brand while ensuring superior quality. This is what you need to do with your brand.Remember to add your company’s logo to each of your products, whether it is a product’s body or its packaging. The message/tagline you have designed for your brand should also accompany the same.Get copyrights for the same, because this is what will make customers recognize your brand and make an impression.5. Organizing Promotional Campaigns or Events-Never forget to organize such campaigns or events, online or offline, which could help people or customers know you better. Among the online methods may come video sharing, or a link to a product launch. You can use YouTube to share a video that is informative and helpful for your customers. Also, you can use Facebook or Twitter to promote your brand in another beautiful and easy way of posting or tweeting anything new about your brand from time to time.You can also advertise your brand on different websites, which would initially require you to spend a few bucks or dollars. But, ultimately it would return you more money depending on the number of clicks and traffic to your website.The Way of Events-Choose this way to gather a huge crowd and promote a new product or service of your company. A corporate event is the most common promotional method used today that helps to a high extent in driving a huge traffic to you and winning their trust too. And if you have that trust of your customers with you, you are at no risk of dwindling or dying out in the long run.Stick to Your SayIf you have succeeded in becoming a renowned brand, or are making all possible efforts to be one, make it a point not to go off the track at any point of time under any circumstance. It is important to maintain the integrity and dignity in any business. You should do and deliver what you promise or commit to your esteemed customers. They are valuable to you since the very beginning of your business; they are your lead generators.

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