Must Have Tools for Small Businesses

In the business world, only the strong survive and if you’re a small business owner you may find it tougher than ever to make your business stand out amongst the rest.

Of course, all businesses have to begin somewhere, but one thing we can all agree on is the fact that starting a new business is tough.

Starting a new business is tough, there’s no escaping that, but if you know what you’re doing and have access to the right tools and software, everything will run a heck of a lot smoother.

To help ensure you get your business off on the right foot, here’s a look at some of the most vital must have tools for small businesses.

SlickPie

Accounting software for small businesses is vital, yet finding a reliable piece can be troublesome. For small businesses with slightly more basic accounting needs, SlickPie Free Accounting Software is perfect.

It has many accounting tools one would need, all condensed into simple to use program.  With SlickPie, users have a variety of different features that will aid them in in the process as well as save a great deal of time.

There is also a bonus feature that is exclusive to SlickPie, MagicBot, in which a business owner can save hours of work by taking a simple photo that the program will decipher and digitalize itself.

Google Analytics

Up first we have perhaps the most important tool of all; Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a user-friendly statistics tool for businesses that helps break down the online side of things in regards to your business.

With Google Analytics, users can view percentage differences in traffic drivers, they can see which parts of the world their site has been viewed, they can view key numbers, and so much more, all broken down clearly in a series of graphs and charts so you can get a general overview of your website as a whole.

For example, you can see how many hits your site has received on a specific day, plus you can see where they came from. If you want a general overview of your website, Google Analytics is perfect for you.

Dropbox

For small business owners, DropBox is essential, especially if you are trying to juggle multiple things at once. With DropBox, users can link up virtually between any and all devices connected to the internet, making it perfect for small business owners that are constantly on the go.

Based in the cloud, DropBox allows users to save documents, images, video clips, and more, all onto their specially designed DropBox account, on whichever device they like.

What’s more, not only can they save their things from wherever they like, they can also access them from wherever they want. Also, it is possible to share files and documents with other users, in a matter of seconds.

You can easily organize your documents and folders, making your life that little bit easier and saving you a great deal of time in the process.

Skype

Skype is one of the most popular tools ever created for businesses both large and small, and it continues to improve with each passing year. Skype is perfect because it has literally changed the way we communicate with one another, especially via long distances.

Skype is essentially a video-chatting piece of software that can also be used simply as a phone service if users would prefer. With Skype, users merely call other users on their Skype accounts, and can then chat away for as long as they would like.

Skype allows you to communicate with people anywhere in the world, all the while eliminating extraordinarily high phone charges commonly associated with overseas calls.

However, is not just for chatting, it also allows you to share documents and files even while you’re in the middle of a call. Skype is a very welcome business tool for all businesses, and if you are not yet utilizing it, you are missing out big.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a platform that has revolutionized the way small businesses source talent for their companies. LinkedIn provides business owners with access to a wide range of networks which will allow them to scout for talent, post job vacancies, seek out services/recommendations, and much more besides.

The great thing about LinkedIn is the fact that not only can users access their own specific networks, but they can also access the networks of any existing contacts they may have as well.

This opens up a whole world of possibilities in terms of sourcing talent and posting job advertisements. If you wish to focus on manpower and employee efficiency, LinkedIn is ideal.

 

WordPress

As a business owner, no matter what size your business may be, there is a very strong chance that you will have seriously considered blogging to help expand your reach and grow your list of prospective customers. WordPress is arguably the most popular hosting platform in the entire world.

There is a free version, and there is also hosted WordPress, so consider which one is best for your needs and goals.

If for example, you plan on really boosting your SEO and using blogging as a means of marketing and advertising your website, the hosted WordPress version may be worth purchasing.

If however, you simply plan on putting up the odd blog post here and there to give your followers something to read now and then, the free WordPress variant may be more to your liking.

There are millions of templates to choose from, plus you can personalize plug-ins and add-ons until you find one that best suits your own specific site layout and requirement.

Put very simply, if you plan on hosting a blog of any sort, WordPress is a must-have.

Now put these tips into practice and get paid faster today with SlickPie!

 

Image: GraphicStock

 

The Benefits of Automation in Accounting

As a business owner/freelancer, it doesn’t matter how busy you are or how large or small your business is, if there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s the fact that your accounts and books must be in order at all times.

The last thing you want to do is fall foul to the taxman, but what can you do to help ensure things run without a hitch?

Well, if you manually do your accounts yourself, there’s a good chance that you will struggle, or at the very least, that you will waste a lot of time carrying out tasks that an accountant would have been able to do in seconds.

We have actually been using computers for accounting purposes for over three decades now, and when you consider the fact that accounting software is now more advanced than ever before, it’s easy to understand why that is.

Accounting is all about collecting data and carrying out various processes and procedures in order to ensure that your books and finances are balanced and up-to-date. This is where automation comes into the picture.

Thanks to automation via accounting software, keeping your finances and books in order is now easier than ever. Below we’ll take a look at a few key benefits associated with automation in accounting.

Reduced risk of error

Remember, as great as you or your employees may be, when it comes to dealing with your accounts, there will always be a risk of human error.

All it takes is one missed figure, or one incorrect formula and your entire finances for that day, week, month, or even year, could potentially be ruined, which may result in a fine.

Although with accounting software and thanks to automation, the software has been specially designed to automatically and systematically scan for any mathematical mistakes.

With manual accounting, no matter how careful you are, mistakes can, and often will, happen, and this could literally cost you money further down the road. With automation in the form of accounting software, nonetheless, the risk of human error is hugely reduced.

Save time

Another key benefit associated with automation in accounting is the fact that it has been specifically designed to help you save a great deal of time.

Whether you were to do your finances or hire a pro, you would still need to sit down and go through them in person if you or they planned on doing them manually.

With automation, however, the software itself will take care of all calculations for you, so mundane time-consuming tasks will no longer need to be carried out by you, as the computer will take care of everything.In particular, many freelancers have praised automation in regards to the billing and invoicing process.

If you were working with the same client on a regular basis, providing the same services for the same prices on the same date each week, manually you would have to create a new invoice every single time you wanted paying.

With one client this is perhaps not too bad, but if you’re working with multiple clients, the last thing you want to be doing is wasting time drawing up manual invoices each week.

With automation, the accounting software can be programmed to automatically send out invoices to your clients, on dates of your choosing, without you having to lift a finger. You can simply program the software to send an invoice to your chosen client for X amount of money, whenever you’d like.

Very customizable

When talking about the benefits of automation in accounting software, we cannot overlook the fact that it is very customizable.

Computer-based accounting software can be customized in a whole variety of different ways, so users can scan the data and view it in formats and layouts of their choosing.

Remember, we all have different preferences, so if you are viewing spreadsheets, tables, and charts, in a format you can’t seem to get your head around, more often than not, the accounting software can actually be altered so you can view it in a format that you do like the look of.

Whether you’re creating custom invoice templates, or financial reports and spreadsheets, you can format all of the above, and much more besides, into the layout that appeals to you the most.

Make and save more money

When it comes to automation in accounting, a lot of people often overlook the fact that automation can, and probably will, help save you a great deal of money. You may be wondering how that is, but don’t worry, all will soon become clear.

You see, if you were to invoice clients manually, there is always the risk that the invoice would fail to be sent, or that you simply invoiced for less than you were owed.

With automation, however, the software takes care of the invoice for you, so you needn’t worry about undercharging for your services, or of simply forgetting to send an invoice to a client because you were so busy.

Automated accounting software will alert you if payments have not been made as well as it will alert you about any incorrect payments, plus it will let you know of any potential duplicates of invoices.

Easy to use

One reason why a lot of business owners and freelancers are so hesitant to utilize automated accounting software is the fact that they think it will be very difficult and complicated to use.

In reality, however, the software has been designed with user-friendliness in mind.

This means that often you don’t need to perform regular software installations and updates that you don’t need an IT specialist to come take care of things when an update is needed. Often it will automatically update itself so you really needn’t worry about a thing.

Often it will automatically update itself so you really don’t have to worry about a thing.

Now put these tips into practice and get paid faster today with SlickPie!

 

 

Image: GraphicStock

Accounting Tips for Start-Ups

As a start-up, you will be looking to give your new business venture the greatest chances possible of succeeding, and why wouldn’t you? Getting ahead in the business world is now tougher than ever so you will need all of the help you can get to ensure your start-up goes on to become a raging success.

Statistics show that as many as 80% of new business ventures fail within the first year. On the flip side, however, if you’re doing things right and can keep going for two years, statistically, you are far more likely to succeed.

When you start a new small business, it can be very easy to find yourself overwhelmed as there are so many aspects to consider. Not only do you have to figure out a business plan, provide products/services etc, but you also need to be good with numbers.

In business, the financial side of things are incredibly important, so if figures aren’t your strong point, you may wish to go ahead and invest in some good quality accounting software.

Whilst we’re on the subject of accounting software and accounting in general, here are some effective accounting tips for start-ups, so take a look below and see what you think.

Begin with the basics

As a start-up, you are, as the name implies, starting from the basics, so now is not the time to get lavish with the credit card and business loans. To help keep your finances and your accounts in check, start lean and build your way up.

Only you will know which equipment and office space your business needs, but just make sure that you cover all of the basics, without going over the top. You ideally want to consider each purchase you make as an investment, rather than a purchase, and in order to see a return on your investment, your expenses want to be fairly low.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should cut corners and go with, say, pre-owned computers that out-date ancient dinosaurs that once roamed the earth, but it also doesn’t mean you should buy the most expensive computers on the market either. Find out what you need, and look for devices that meet your specified criteria, without any fancy bells and whistles to bump up the price tag.

Hire an accountant

When a lot of small businesses are just starting out, they are wary of spending too much money because they aren’t making money as they are not yet trading. However sometimes in business, as the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money.

When it comes to making an important purchase, hiring an accountant is one of the best business decisions you will ever make. Remember, keeping your books in order is going to be a time consuming, stressful, highly frustrating experience for you; plus there is no guarantee that you will be doing things right.

However, f you hand things over to a professional, they will be able to take care of things for you. A pro accountant will make use of accounting software, they will know how to balance your books, they will ensure you file your taxes correctly, and they will be able to offer helpful advice in the process.

Although by hiring an accountant you are having to pay them for their services, you are also getting a great deal of stress lifted from your shoulders.

Try to build up your cash

This is,  of course, easier said than done; if you do have any spare cash left over, experts recommend saving at least 3 months’ worth of operating expenses to help keep you going through the next few months, as the business will most likely be slow to pick up in the early stages.

It is also important to have proper mediums of payment. Remember, statistically, the first twelve months are crucial and if you can make it to two years, you are far more likely to succeed.

Make use of accounting software

Accounting software is incredibly beneficial in terms of keeping your business finances and accounts in order. To manage your books, it’s no good logging into your mobile banking app on your phone each night and scrolling through a list of incomings and outgoings.

If you want to get a handle on your accounts and finances, accounting software is ideal. As mentioned, a professional accountant will almost certainly utilize accounting software, but for times when they aren’t on hand, this software will make life incredibly easier for you.

You can utilize it to track your incomings and outgoings, you can set up and manage your invoices, you can send over payment reminders, plus you can easily manage your client lists.

Yes, modern technology is a wondrous thing in the business world, and with accounting software, this is a prime example of why that is.

Create a budget and stick with it

If you wish to stand any chance of succeeding when it comes to managing your accounts and finances, you must ensure you create a budget and that you actually adhere to it whenever possible. No matter how tempting it is, do not even consider spending a single penny unless it is planned for and can be accounted for.

You need to ensure that you know where you intend for your money to go in advance, so basically this means that you should never make any spur of the moment decisions based on spending which you have failed to plan for. Of course, there will be times when you have to spend money which you didn’t budget for, that is the nature of the beast.

This is where it pays to have saved and built up your cash for the proverbial rainy day. By creating and sticking to a budget, you can keep your accounts and finances in order far easier, because you know where your money is going.

This is where it pays to have saved and built up your cash for the proverbial rainy day. By creating and sticking to a budget, you can keep your accounts and finances in order far easier because you know where your money is going.

Now put these tips into practice and get paid faster today with SlickPie!

 

 

Image: GraphicStock

How to Create an Invoice as a Freelancer

As a freelancer, it doesn’t matter which services and/or products you are offering, if you fail to invoice correctly, you run the risk of not getting paid, and that is obviously a huge disaster. As a freelancer, you are of course working for yourself, so you essentially, are your own brand.

This means that first impressions matter, and in the business world, perception is a reality. This basically means that, no matter how great your services and/or products are if you come across as amateurish to your clients and prospective clients, this is how they will perceive you.

On the flipside, if you come across as professional, that is exactly how they will view you, which will increase your chances of being hired. You may not realize it, but creating an invoice can make a real difference. Here’s a look at how to create an invoice as a freelancer.

Include a professional-looking header

When you do decide to create an invoice for the first time, this will be both an exciting, yet daunting time. The very first thing you need to include a professional-looking header.

This should include your business name, or your full name is that is how you are trading, in a font that is easy to read, large, and professional. Many freelancers actually decide to bold the font so that is certainly worth considering.

Once you have this included you should then include your email, a contact number, a website address, and perhaps even a mailing address as well. Many freelancers will write this info out similarly to how they would address a letter to be posted. If you have your own logo or your own brand colors, you may even wish to include these in the header.

Make sure you include invoice details

On your invoice, you should also be sure to include the invoice details. This is because it will make it much easier for you, and your client, to keep track of important info about the invoice.

For example, you will need to include the date the invoice was created, the invoice number, the payment due date, and of course, the amount owed. Try to keep things simple for future reference. How you date the invoice is down to you, though most companies will give 30 days for payment to be made.

If however, you wish to receive payment sooner, you can include a ‘due upon receipt’ section, which basically means that the invoice must be paid as soon as the recipient receives it.

Include payment preferences

When creating an invoice, you also need to make sure you include your payment preferences clearly, so your client knows how they should pay you. For example, if you wish to be paid via PayPal, or Stripe, you should include Payment preference: PayPal, etc.

If you prefer a direct bank wire transfer, your banking details should be included on your invoice, as the client will obviously need these in order to transfer you your payment.

Include your contact details 

This is often overlooked when freelancers create an invoice, yet it is very important and can make life a great deal easier for you later down the line. Here you need to be clear with who the invoice is being paid to, you need to include their contact info, the name of the recipient, and any other info which may be deemed as helpful.

Include a breakdown of the services you provided

Many pieces of accounting software actually simplify this process by allowing you to manually enter the services and/or products you offered, and to then store this info for future reference.

If you create invoices manually, however, you will need to include this info yourself, or perhaps create a template. If you always provide the same services, this is fairly easy because the services will always be the same. If you provide different services, however, I.E copywriting, editing, blog writing, etc, you will need to ensure that you are clear with what you are providing.

Include a column for the description of the services/work you provided, the date, the quantity, the price per item, total price, hours worked, and so on. You should make things as clear to understand as possible, as this will help you tally up total hours/total earnings, without getting confused or mixed up.

Let your client know in advance when you intend to invoice

As a freelancer, it is obviously in your interest to get your work done to a high standard as soon as possible, as that way you can get your invoice sent right over.

Though technically you can invoice whenever you like, there is no guarantee that a client will pay you upon receipt, so it is best to be clear in advance. Before you begin work for a client, agree, in writing, on payment/invoicing preferences.

If you intend on invoicing for payment upon receipt, make sure you let the client know this in advance, and make sure they are okay with this. If they aren’t, ask them what they would prefer. Whether you prefer weekly, monthly, bi-weekly, or anything else, it’s important you let the client know in advance, as this way you will avoid any discrepancies or nasty surprises.

If you utilize accounting software, again, let them know that they will automatically be invoiced on a certain date, and if said date is no good to them, figure out one that will be.

Now start invoicing for free and get paid faster!

 

 

Image: GraphicStock

5 Best Ways to Get Paid Online

The Internet is truly a wondrous invention. If three decades ago, you’d told people you could earn money virtually, via a computer, they would have looked at you as if you’d lost your mind. Yet here we are, with more and more of us now receiving online payments than ever before.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a freelancer or a business owner, there’s a good chance that you receive payment, at least in part, online. But exactly what are the best ways to get paid online? Well, in truth, there is no right or wrong way, as different people prefer different methods.

For example, nowadays, some people earn their money and are paid in digital currency, such as in BitCoin form. Others, however, prefer a good old fashioned, tried and tested bank transfer. Some of you out there reading this, may not actually care how you are paid, providing you receive your money, but you should.

Here’s a look at several of the most popular and most efficient ways to get paid online, so take a look and see what you think.

Credit cards and debit cards – First and foremost, we’ll begin by looking at credit and debit card payments. If you’re a larger business, as well as making use of the various forms of accounting software currently available, you may also wish to enable your clients to pay you via credit card or debit card.

Now, if you do decide that this feature is for your business, you will need to decide whether you wish to use an intermediary holding account, or your very own dedicated merchant account. Whichever one you choose, will be based on a variety of different things, so do your research.

Ideally, you want one which will accept all major credit cards, including Visa, American Express, and MasterCard. If you go with credit and debit card payments, there is the bonus of the fact that payments can often be made right away, plus, as virtually every single person you deal with will own one card or the other, there will be no excuses for not receiving a payment.

Click-to-pay email invoice – Accounting software is now becoming more advanced than ever, and when it comes to invoicing your clients, you will instantly understand why that is. Nowadays we have what is known as click-to-pay email invoicing, which is where your client will be sent and invoice, and will then be able to pay you with a few simple clicks.

This is ideal for you and them because they can pay in seconds, you can receive payment in seconds, and they can instantly receive a receipt in the process. This payment method helps streamline your entire operation, plus it helps with security, it saves time, and it is better for the environment as it is paperless.

PayPal – You’ve heard of PayPal, right? Of course you have, everybody in the world pretty much knows about PayPal, and of course, PayPal is certainly a very viable method for receiving payment. With PayPal, funds can be taken from your account to make payment.

This could be a PayPal account, or the account itself can be linked to your bank account so it will automatically remove the funds for you. You then send the money to the recipient of your choice, often via their email address, and they then simply accept the payment and hold it in their account.

PayPal is simple, it is quick, and it is dominant, as pretty much everybody in the business world will own a PayPal account. PayPal is simple but there are processing fees as PayPal obviously have to take their cut, so you do not receive the total amount you have invoiced for, as you obviously have to pay your PayPal fees. With that being said, their charges are very reasonable, and using it does make life that little bit easier.

Stripe – When it comes down to the battle of the online payment gateway giants, it is often Stripe VS PayPal that people tend to focus on. Just as we have Apple VS Samsung we also have Stripe VS PayPal.

The thing that tends to make stripe more appealing than PayPal for some people, is the fact that Stripe charge 2.9% + 30cents for every successful charge. This is the same rate as PayPal, except for the fact that PayPal sometimes decides to throw in additional fees.

For example, with PayPal, if you charge cards from your website, you pay $30 per month, whereas with Stripe it is free. For recurring billing, with Stripe it is free, whereas with PayPal you pay another $10 per month. There are also many other small charges with PayPal, which, although small, do quickly build up. For these reasons, if you are a fairly small business, Stripe could be the better option for you.

Bank wire transfer – You can talk about advanced accounting software all you like, but sometimes, a simple bank wire transfer is all that is needed. With this, you simply provide your clients with your account sort code and bank account code, and they then simply send money from their account, over to yours.

Whilst this is considered very simple and straightforward, the biggest concern with this is the fact that people are in possession of your account number and sort code. Whilst this alone is nowhere near enough to be deemed dangerous in terms of being hacked etc, if they were also able to gain access to your bank card or pin for whatever reasons, they would theoretically have access to your entire account. As you’re probably aware, however, the chances of this ever happening to you are incredible, incredibly slim so truthfully, there is very little to worry about at all.

Now put these tips into practice and get paid faster with SlickPie!

 

 

Image: GraphicStock

Why Automated Receipt Data Entry Works

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a new small business owner, the owner of a huge corporation, or a freelancer looking to expand your reach and grow your client list, if there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s the fact that you simply must ensure you have your finances in order.

All businesses, no matter how big or small, will have numerous aspects of their finances to consider, and when it comes to your finances, you simply cannot afford to cut corners or take any risks. Pretty much every business out there will be familiar with accounts payable and why it’s such a pain in the backside getting your receipts and finances in order.

This, however, is why accounting software and automated receipt data entry tools are so popular. Sending out invoices, chasing up discrepancies and missed payments, and general inefficiencies regarding your billing processes can make life much, much tougher than it needs to be.

This is where it pays to automate your accounts payable processes. In the world that is becoming increasingly reliant on modern technology, it pays to stay with the times rather than being stuck in the past. With that said, if you haven’t yet embraced automated receipt data entry, here are a few benefits associated with automated payable processes.

Paperless – If you have not yet gone paperless, you will only be able to fight natural progression for so long, before you eventually forced to do so in one way or another. Switching to paperless, however, is not a challenge, it is actually a reward as there are numerous benefits to enjoy.

Not only are you helping the environment, but you are also helping your business in general. You see, by getting rid of paper, you make info available right away. Take receipts for example, with paper receipts, if your clients require one from you, you will have to send them out, which takes time, effort, and money.

With automated receipt data entry, however, the receipt is digital, so it can be sent to them virtually and can be viewed instantly. This will cut back on manual labor, you will save money in the form of less paper being used, fewer postage costs, less electricity being used on printing, and less printer ink constantly being used. Ultimately, you get all of the rewards, with none of the drawbacks.

Keep your finances in order – Another very useful benefit associated with automated receipt data entry is the fact that it will allow you to keep your finances in order. Whether you make use of accounting software yourself, or if you pay an expert to handle your books for you, with everything being automated and digital, keeping things more efficient and better organized is easier than ever before.

Everything will be available to you with just a few clicks of a mouse so you will save time, and you can keep everything neat and tidy. If for example, you are being audited, rather than having to dig through mountains upon mountains of receipts for the tax man, you can simply hop onto your computer or smart device, and find whatever it is you need to find, all in a matter of seconds.

Less room for error – Let’s face it, we’re all human and we all make mistakes, that is what sets us apart from machines. However, in business, human error can cost money, and can potentially be catastrophic.

When it comes to your invoices for example, if you’re going with a paper-invoicing approach, these invoices must be filed by hand and entered into various types of the accounting system. If for example, this piece of paper was lost or even stolen, it will take time, money, and effort to put things right. In business, time is money, so it pays to have everything as streamlined and as efficient as possible.

With accounting software, automated accounts payable processes run smoother than ever, as it cuts back on the risks associated with human error. By going with an automated process, often you can set up the system so that, each month, without fail, it will automatically send an invoice to a client for you, for a pre-determined amount of money.

Basically, the software takes care of all of the hard work for you, so you don’t have to. This cuts down the risk of a lost invoice, duplicate invoices, incorrect invoices, or anything else associated with paper-based systems.

Improved staff efficiency – In most businesses, you will find that a lot of the time, staff members have to spend a significantly long amount of time answering telephone calls, emails, and queries in general, regarding misplaced invoices, duplicate invoices, or incorrect invoices. With automated accounting software, however, as there is a much, much smaller risk of a discrepancy, this frees up your staff members and allows them more time to focus on other aspects of your business which were perhaps deemed to be more important.

Speed things up – As mentioned, in business, time is money, so every second count. You need to receive payment for jobs well done, and if you don’t, your business may suffer. You have bills to pay like everybody else, and if your clients pay you late, or fail to pay you the correct amount, because a paper-based invoice was lost in the post, or was unreadable for whatever reasons, you then have the foot the bill some other way.

Put simply, you need paying on time to ensure you pay your bills on time, which is why automated accounting software is so useful. You see, rather than having to print out the invoices, seal them in an envelope, and take them down to be posted, you can simply set them up in advance to be sent out whenever you like.

If you invoice the same company, on the same date, for the same amount, you actually won’t need to lift a finger once you’ve set the software up to do just that. The quicker your invoices and receipts are sent out and received, obviously the better this becomes for your company.

Put these tips into practice and improve your business today!

 

 

Image: GraphicStock

How to Improve Your Business Finances

When you’re in charge of running your own business, it doesn’t matter how big or small you consider the business to be, you and you solely will be responsible for every single aspect of running the business in question.

This ranges from everything from making sure you have enough paper in the office, to balancing your books and submitting your tax return each financial year. When it comes to running a business, more commonly than not, the thing that most freelancers and business owners seem to struggle with the most, is the accounting and the financial side of things, and you can see why.

You are a business owner, and you specialize in whatever it is that your business model is based around. You are not, however, an accountant or professional bookkeeper, yet in the eyes of the taxman, that is irrelevant.

Failing to have your business finances in order can make life much harder than it needs to be, plus it could cost you and your business money in the process. To help you get a handle on things, here’s a look at a few simple and effective ways of improving your business finances.

Draw up a budget – When it comes to managing the finances of your business, one of the most important things you need to know, is exactly how much you have going out each month, and what you have coming in.

Now, for freelancers, this can be tricky because like all self-employed entrepreneurs, no two financial months will be exactly the same. Some months you will make a lot, and some will be slightly quieter than others. It’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately, so obviously you won’t know exactly how much you have coming in.

When you obtain regular clients, however, and when you’ve been trading for a long time, you will, of course, get a pretty accurate idea of how much you have coming in each month. This is where it pays to draw up a budget because you can then plan accordingly for incomings and outgoings.

Every single incoming and outgoing should be accounted for, no matter how insignificant you may think it to be. This is important because seeing exactly where your money is going will give you a clearer idea of what you could potentially do to cut back on your expenses.

Fast-track the invoicing process – For businesses of any size, it’s important that you have a handle on your invoicing process because it is this process which basically ensures you get paid by your clients.

If you’re constantly having to create custom invoices, and make changes and alterations here, there, and everywhere, obviously this will slow down the invoicing process and make it tougher for you to get paid. For this reason, accounting software could prove very useful.

These forms of software are designed to help improve all aspects of your business accounts, including the invoicing process. For example, if you have regular clients whom you have to invoice at a certain date each month, the accounting software in question can be programmed to automatically send out invoices to the clients in question, whenever you like.

Basically, you program it in advance to invoice for you, so you don’t need to worry when the time does come to invoice, as it will already have been sent out for you.

Ensure clients pay on time – As a freelancer/business owner, it is down to you to chase up payment. Some clients out there will be sporadic with payment and may simply pay as and when they decide to check their emails and notice that they’ve received an invoice from you.

This, however, is far from ideal for you because not knowing when you are going to get paid will make it much harder to budget and plan your incomings and outgoings. So then, it is down to you to set your terms and ensure clients pay you on time.

Before agreeing to take on any work for the client in question, make sure they are serious about paying you on time at a predetermined date, providing you have completed the work of course. You could impose penalty charges for late payments, which obviously will be an incentive for the client to pay on time.

If they don’t, your job is to chase up the payment and find out what is happening. Now, you needn’t send the boys around with baseball bats, nor should you lose your temper or get confrontational, but as it is your money you are owed, it is down to you to ensure clients pay in full, on time.

If you do a good job and show that you are willing to accommodate them wherever possible, they will be more than happy to pay you on time anyways, because it will be in their interests to keep you happy, as they will be impressed with the work/products you have provided.

Speak to an expert – If numbers are not your strong point, don’t try cutting corners in order to save yourself the odd bit of loose change here and there. Instead, speak to a professional accountant/bookkeeper and consider hiring them to keep your finances in order instead.

These experts work will make use of the latest accounting software, they will have years of experience, and they will be highly skilled with what they do. Obviously you have to pay them in exchange for their services, and their knowledge and advice, but in the long run, doing so will save you a great deal of time, effort, and money, plus it will provide a great deal of peace of mind as you won’t need to worry about getting your taxes in on time, or submitting the wrong ones.

Only borrow what you need – Finally, the last thing you need to remember is to only borrow what you need. A lot of freelancers and small businesses will be tempted to borrow more money than what they need, though, in reality, this is not beneficial in the slightest. All money you borrow will have to be paid back eventually, and the more you borrow, the longer it will take to pay off your debts, plus the more interest you will pay.

 

 

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Useful Tips for Invoicing Your Clients

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a freelancer, a small business owner, or a large business owner, one thing we can all agree on is the fact that one of the most rewarding aspects of starting your own business, is receiving payment.

When you work for somebody else, you don’t really need to worry about getting paid, unless they happen to mess your wages up of course. More often than not, however, you either sign in and out and get paid for the hours you have worked, or you’re on salary and you will receive the same amount each month.

As a freelancer/business owner, however, your payments will be a great deal more sporadic. Rather than getting paid on, say, the last Friday of the month, each month, you get paid basically whenever your clients pay you.

Most customers are perfectly reliable and will pay you when requested, with no trouble whatsoever. Others, however, can be a little more unreliable and frustrating, which is where it pays to know how to invoice a client. If invoicing is not your strong suite, worry not, because below we’ll be outlining a few tips on how freelancers can invoice their clients efficiently and professionally.

Set up your own terms and policies – As a freelancer, the good thing is that you are your own boss, so you call the shots. You get to decide how much to charge your clients, you select the currency and payment method, and much more besides.

When invoicing, it is important to make these terms and policies clear to your clients. For example, if you are worried about clients withholding payment (more on that shortly) you could perhaps invoice half the payment up front, and the other half upon completion of the job you have been hired to do.

You could impose penalties for late or incorrect payments, and you can request payment within 7 days of completion of the task at hand. It is, however, very important that you make sure the client is made aware of these terms, and that they agree to them before you go any further. Sending late payment reminders is also one of the best ways to increase payment rate.

Stand your ground – Remember, as a freelancer, you are your own boss, so it is down to you to ensure you get paid, the full amount, on time. Some freelance clients try to dictate the market and will try to bully you into lowering your prices or threatening not to pay you whatsoever.

In these instances, it pays to stand your ground and to stand firm. Obviously, you should never become confrontational, but you must let them know that you call the shots. They need your services, which is why they have contacted you in the first place, and if they try bullying tactics, make sure you let them know that you will seek legal advice if they persist in withholding payment after you’ve completed the work. Make sure you hold onto as much documentation as you can, including email exchanges, just in case you do need to seek legal advice.

Invest in accounting software – If you have yet to invest in professional accounting software, make this your next business purchase. No, really, we mean it. Online billing and accounting software is designed to help you create professional invoices which look the part, and are also very easy to understand and monitor.

What’s more, many of these pieces of software can be setup so that they invoice automatically. This means that, if you have a client whom you invoice on the 1st of the month, every month, you can set up the software to automatically invoice them for you, on that particular day. This accounting software is also very useful because it will allow you to monitor which clients have paid, who hasn’t, and how much you received.

Organize, organize, organize – It doesn’t matter how busy you are, when it comes to invoicing, you simply must ensure that you are as well organized as you can possibly be. You must make a list of all clients you are working with, make note of whether they are regular clients or not, provide a brief job description, and of course, make note of how much they owe you.

With PayPal for example, when you create an invoice for the same client, it will automatically designate a number for that invoice, which will increase each time, starting of course, with 1. You simply cannot afford to leave anything to chance when invoicing a client as you need to know how much you are receiving, plus you will need your records when the time comes to do your taxes, or perhaps, for when you are audited.

Be polite in the event of late payments – Sometimes, no matter how great your clients may be in terms of paying on time, there will almost certainly be times where payments are received late. Now, when you’re snowed under with work, with bills to pay, and late payments to chase up, of course, you will get annoyed.

There will be a big part of you that wants to pick up the phone, or jump on your email, and give them a piece of your mind for wasting your time. However, in business, it never pays to lose your composure, so try to remain calm.

Though you may be tempted to lay into them via email, instead, send them a polite reminder that payment is late, and could they pay as soon as possible? By doing this you are letting them know that you aren’t happy, without upsetting them and potentially ruining an otherwise stellar business relationship.

Never undercharge or overcharge – Virtually all businesses are extremely competitive these days, so of course you should make your prices competitive, but you should never undercharge. Look at your competitors, look at the quality of your services/products etc, and make sure you charge accordingly.Before you get carried away, you also need to be aware that overcharging is the easiest way of losing a client you could ever wish for, so price fairly, not greedily.

Start invoicing today and get paid faster with SlickPie!

 

 

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Accounting 101 for Freelancers

Making the decision to go freelance will be one of the most empowering and exciting decisions of your entire life, but it is not without its obstacles. When you make the decision to go freelance, that’s it, it is just you, by your lonesome.

This means that you are essentially your very own business owner, so you have to ensure you have the skills, knowledge, and dedication required to run and manage your business.If you aren’t working, you aren’t earning, and there is no sick pay, no holiday pay, and no days in lieu for public holidays.

You set the hours you work, you take on the jobs you want to take on, and it is down to you to ensure you do the best job possible and that you meet your targets and objectives. One aspect of freelancing that is not all that appealing to many people is the accounting side of things.

You have to manage your ingoings and outgoings, you have to keep track on what you’ve learned and what you’ve spent, you have to chase up invoices, you have to balance your books, and you have to do your accounts every financial year.

Whilst testing, especially as you begin to expand and take on much more work, there are things you can do to help keep your books in order. Here are a few handy tips for freelancers looking to manage their accounts.

Keep track of all of your expenses as you go

You would think that this would be the most obvious tip of all, but you would be amazed by just how many freelancers fail to keep on top of their expenses. In order to make it much easier to submit your books at the end of the financial year, make sure you keep track of all of your expenses as you go.

This basically means that you can keep your personal spending separate from your business spending, so you know exactly how much is being put into your business. A lot of freelancers fail to do this and simply try to estimate roughly what their expenses for that fiscal year were.

The easiest way to keep tabs on things is to open up a checking account which is separate from your other accounts, which you then utilize for every business transaction that you make. In terms of keeping things simple to understand, this is an incredibly effective strategy.

Always document your receipts

How many times have you gone to the store for small, yet essential items for your business, only to throw the receipt in the trash afterward because the amount you spend was so small? All of your receipts which are being spent on your business should be kept in a tidy and organized manner, at all times!

Keeping receipts will not only help you to offset your taxes against your expenses, but they also come in very handy if you happen to be audited. They are also useful if you simply can’t remember how much you spent on something. Whilst it is best to keep physical evidence, I.E paper receipts, there are now also mobile apps which you can use, but we’ll cover those in more detail shortly.

Never fall behind

When you do your books, no matter how busy you are, or how in control you may think you are, you should never, ever fall behind. Your books should be updated on a weekly basis, though some freelancers actually update them several times per week.

Exactly how you keep tabs on your accounts is up to you, but just make sure you get into a routine where your books are being updated at least once per week. It may seem like unnecessary work at first, but once you get the hang of things, it will come as second nature to you, and it will save you a great deal of time and money in the long run.

Make use of accounting software

The business world is changing and evolving at a very rapid rate, and modern technology is at the forefront of many of these changes and advancements. As a freelancer, you shouldn’t fear technology, but rather, you should embrace it instead.

For example, there are numerous forms of accounting software out there for you to take advantage of, with each one being designed to serve a very real purpose. As mentioned previously, there are apps out there for tracking receipts where users simply take a photo of their receipt and then log the image securely, so that the paper can then be recycled.

There is accounting software that includes databases, software that includes spreadsheets, software for managing clients and invoices, and much more besides. If you wish to manage your accounts and keep your books in order, make sure you make use of tried and tested accounting software.

Ensure your clients pay you on time

Another tricky aspect associated with freelancing is the fact that it is down to you to chase up payment from your clients. Most clients will pay you on time, every time, without any issues at all. Occasionally, however, you get the odd one or two troublesome clients who simply cannot seem to pay you on time.

This can be bad news for people trying to manage their accounts because it can make managing and tracking your earnings each week/month, tougher than it needs to be. However, when trying to get your accounts in order, you need to be firm when it comes to your clients and late payments.

How you ensure your clients pay you on time is up to you, though obviously, you must always be respectful and professional, no matter how frustrated you may be. Once you are receiving regular payments when you are supposed to be receiving them, keeping your projected earnings, your income, and your general cash flow in order, will be easier than ever.

Now that you know these precious tips you can start improving your finances today!

 

 

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Top 5 Accounting Tips for Small Businesses

Running your own business is no small feat, even if you class yourself as a relatively small start-up. Running a business takes time, it takes effort, it costs money, and it takes a whole heap of commitment in the process.

No matter which services and/or products you provide, you will always have competition in some form or another, which is why you simply cannot afford to cut corners, no matter what. Take bookkeeping and accounting for example.

A lot of small businesses tend to overlook the importance of keeping their financial affairs in order, and consequently, they end up paying the price further down the line. The good news is that thanks to accounting software, as well as accounting experts, a solution for your accounting woes is never far away.

If you thought that accounting was simply a matter of keeping invoices, receipts, and proof of earnings, in an old drawer or filing cabinet, you are very sadly mistaken. To help you get a handle on your accounts we’ve compiled this list looking at 5 of the top accounting tips for small businesses, ranging from everything from accounting software, to simply opting to go paperless. So take a look at the following, and see what you can do to help keep your accounts in order.

Separate your finances – In the small business world, one of the most common mistakes that professional accountants come across on a regular basis, is when business owners fail to keep their personal and professional finances separate.

These business owners basically use the same bank account for personal use, and business use, and needless to say, things quickly get very confusing. When you use just the one account, this makes it so, so much harder to separate business expenses from personal expenses. Potentially this means that you could miss out on claiming back expenses which were tax deductible.

Not only that, but when you take money from the same account as your business, you are basically taking money from your business, and who knows when you might need it again? To make life easier, make sure you have at least two bank accounts – one for personal use, and one for your business.

Switch to paperless – By going paperless, not only are you helping the environment, you are also helping your business, and subsequently, yourself in the process. You see, many small businesses often print out receipts and invoices, and mail them to clients, which is not cheap.

Not only are you paying for paper, stamps, printer ink, and postage, you are also wasting time in the process. When you embrace modern technology by going paperless, you will quickly find that it is not scary, and in actual fact, it is much easier for you and your company as a whole.

And not just that but by keeping records online, you can easily refer back to a certain date and time if you are unsure about something. Keeping records on paper is risky because paper gets lost easier, plus it could end up in the trash by accident. With online bookkeeping, however, this isn’t a concern, providing, of course, you perform regular backups.

Embrace modern technology – Expanding on what we’ve just spoken about in regards to modern technology, if you embrace it, rather than fear it, your business as a whole will benefit hugely. You see, by using technology, such as accounting software, you have specialist software which is designed primarily to help businesses keep their books and accounts in order.

Then of course, there is cloud technology which ensures that you can backup your data, keeps it safe, and access it from virtually anywhere, on any device. You can also actually save money on backups and servers, which is certainly not something to be sniffed at.

By using accounting software, and modern technology in general, keeping your accounts and finances in order is easier than ever, plus it helps reduce the risks of human error, whilst simultaneously saving time.

Whilst there are many different forms of accounting software to choose from, you will find that generally, most of them will allow you to automate any recurring transactions and payments, whilst importing invoices and bank statements.

Take the time to find a good accountant – Another very, very common mistake that small business owners make on regular basis, is trying to handle the accounts themselves. They worry that bringing in an accountant may wreck their systems, or make life harder than it needs to be, when in reality if you choose the right accountant, the exact opposite will be true.

Professional accounting companies and bookkeepers work with small businesses like yours for a living, and many of them know exactly what they are doing. Whilst these accounting services don’t come for free, they are certainly well worth investing in, and as the saying goes ‘you have to spend money to make money’.

When searching for an accountant, take the time to read reviews, look at their experience, and follow your own gut feelings and instincts. Some business accounting companies will indeed be better than others, so try to find the best one that you can, and don’t be afraid to speak to multiple companies before you begin narrowing down your search.

Don’t overcomplicate things – One reason why accounting software in small businesses is so popular is that it helps simplify business accounts. The simpler things are the more efficient the business becomes, and the more time you will save.

When keeping records of your books and your accounts, don’t try to get too technical, otherwise, you run the risk of overcomplicating things. Whether you use spreadsheets, databases, or anything else, make sure things are simple, concise, and easy to understand.

For example, you may wish to have column or book dedicated solely to your earnings, another one for your expenses, another one for debts, and so on. Everything should be clear, simple, and straight-to-the-point.

By doing this, you know exactly what you’re making, exactly what you’re spending, how much you need, what’s coming in, what’s going out, and more. Nothing will be left to chance, and if done correctly, there shouldn’t be any uncertainty in regards to your business accounts and finances.

Whenever in doubt, just stick to these tips and you’ll be good to go in no time!

 

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