Unless you run a small- to medium-sized accounting firm, the motivation for starting your own business probably had little to do with wanting to use your skills as a bookkeeper. You wanted to use your talents as a graphic designer, or a craft beer brewer or a vintage shop owner.
So it’s only fair that you might have been spending your time on logos, microbrews or scouring flea markets rather than becoming an expert in the potentially complex world of digitally managing your business’s finances. But lurking beneath the perilously cluttered face of the app world are tools that could be useful to you, and a modest investment of time up front could save you a headache down the road.
Here are five tools to check out:
Unless you enjoy transcribing illegible tips scrawled on crumpled up receipts into an Excel spreadsheet, expense reports are no fun. Luckily, Expensify makes that mind-numbing procedure a thing of the past. Once you install the app on your phone, you simply take a photo of the receipt, and Expensify converts it into a neatly formatted report.
“I don’t hate doing expense reports anymore thanks to Expensify,” says Kenny Herman, VP of business development for SinglePlatform, noting that he saves about an hour a week by using the app.
Expensify is free to use for individuals, and businesses pay $5 per person submitting expenses each month after two free initial accounts. Added bonus: The $5 fee is only incurred if the user submits a report, meaning dormant accounts don’t cost you.
If your product has any kind of online subscription component—even if the product itself is not digital—Chargify (not to be confused with Spotify or Expensify) might be the right for you. The dashboard is designed to allow you to manage coupons and special offers, as well as varying expiration dates and renewal deadlines all in one place. The tiered price points jump up fairly quickly once you pass 500 customers, but one could argue that thousands of paying customers is a good problem to have.
On a given morning, an ice cream truck owner will likely know off the top of her head how many cones, cups and shakes she sold the day before. But what about how much money she’s spent on gas, windshield wiper fluid or the stray parking ticket that month? Not to mention the ads she put in the local paper, the annual insurance payment and the permits for the street fair coming up in two months. In the aggregate, even small shops have a lot of moving parts, and it can be difficult to get an accurate snapshot of the financial health of the business in one place. That’s where inDinero comes in. By pulling in information from a small business owner’s various bank and credit card accounts, the online platform provides not only current financial information but also forecasts for the future and suggests budgets.
Invoices are a task almost as fun as expense reports. Whether you create them, receive them or both, it can be a headache to keep everything in a unified, easy-to-monitor format.
FreshBooks streamlines this task for small business owners and consultants in part by automating various steps throughout the process. And for the steps they don’t handle themselves, they have partnered with a host of other app providers—including Expensify and inDinero—to make your life as easy as possible.
According to CMO Stuart MacDonald, many of FreshBooks’ users are freelancers and contractors, although it’s commonplace for businesses with up to 50 employees to use the tools. “We think of ourselves as the infrastructure that lets them easily get on with what they want to do,” MacDonald says.
Doing your taxes is one of those things that’s all too easy to put off thinking about until it’s probably too late—perhaps even more so than expense reporting and invoicing. Teaspiller is designed to save the day when you realize that the undesirable task simply can’t be put off any longer. Teaspiller's tools connect small business owners with tax professionals who are selected based on their particular business’s needs and specializations. You can request a quote in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises. We won’t go so far as to say Teaspiller makes doing your business’ taxes fun, but at least you have access to experts who can help make the process less painful.