How She Invests: An Interview with Rebecca Tracey

| Business, Interviews, Small Business

With all of the options online for training programs and tools, it can be difficult to discern which are best for your business. That’s why I created the How She Invests in Her Business series. My hope is that the insights you read from these smart & savvy women help you decide how to make smarter financial decisions so you can stay in business for a looooong time.

Today’s Interview: Rebecca Tracey

This interview is with Rebecca Tracey, head/only honcho of The Uncaged Life, where she works with coaches, healers, and consultants from all over the world who want to have the freedom of working from anywhere by running their own online business. She helps people get clear on their brand message, create packages that sell, and learn what it actually takes to get and keep clients online. She started her business while living in a van, loves rock climbing and riding her bike around Toronto, and rappelling off cliffs with her dog, Rhubarb, on her back.

Like the other ladies who I’ve interviewed for this series, she’s a practical, no-nonsense business owner that you DEFINITELY want to have in your corner. Over to Rebecca!

HOW YOU INVEST

How She Invests: An Interview with Rebecca Tracey

What investment has made the most impact on your business? What was the impact it made?

Investing in proper website design made a HUGE difference when I was new to my business. Once I got clear on what I was doing, who my clients were, and what I was selling, I paid a designer to help me amp up my site.

I FINALLY felt excited to tell people about it and it gave me the confidence to actually feel like I was a real legit business.

What’s one investment you’re thinking of making right now?

Someone to run ads specifically for my next launch. And I just hired out a whole new website and brand design – eep!

Before you decide to invest in something for your business, what do you do?

I often just go with my gut – I tend not to shop around. When I have someone in mind, I have my mind made up. I only invest in specific things when I need to, but it seems there is always something on the go that needs money, lol.

I’m not someone who signs up for courses and then doesn’t do them. I tend to just go right to the source and hire people one on one to make sure I get the help I need.

What has been your experience with hiring your first team member / contractor?How She Invests: An Interview with Rebecca Tracey

I actually hired my first contractor before I had a business – a copywriter! I would NOT recommend this.

You definitely need to be clear on what you do, who you serve, and what you sell before you have someone write your copy. I ended up changing most of the copy within the first 3 months.

But I forked over $1000 and hired someone right off the bat. In retrospect, not the best investment, BUT I don’t regret it because it helped me get started and lit a fire under my ass – now I needed a website to actually put that copy on!

What position, if any, are you planning on hiring next? (CPA, bookkeeper, graphic designer, etc.) Why?

I don’t have any hires on the horizon! I work with a business manager and a VA right now, and then I hire out for specific stuff I need along the way. My new web designer is hard at work, so we’ll finish that project before diving into anything else!

WHY PEOPLE INVEST IN YOU

Who do you think your program “Uncage Your Business” is a good investment for? Why?

How She Invests: An Interview with Rebecca TraceyUYB is amazing for new coaches, wellness providers, and consultants who are struggling to make their businesses work because they can barely articulate what their business IS. They have a lot of passion and ideas but sometimes, to their own detriment, get scattered and overwhelmed with trying to put it all together.

We work on getting super clear on:

  • your core business message
  • who you work with
  • market research into what they want and need
  • putting together service packages just for them
  • learning how to talk about what you do in a way that gets YES’s (and learning to drop industry jargon and fluffy language that can create a disconnect between you and your clients)

This stuff is SO important, and a lot of online business courses and training skips this step and teaches you how to market your business, but the reason so many people get stuck is because they don’t have their foundations yet. It’s hard to market when you can barely even explain what, exactly, you do.

I help with that.

How do you use what you teach in your own business / life?

I come back to my own teaching allll the time in my business! Anytime I create something new or want to go in a different direction or make a new course, I go back to my foundations – my message, my niche, what those people need, and how they are talking about it. That way I can effectively create and market something that will sell.

HOW YOU INVEST IN OTHERS

How do you give back to your in-person community?

I don’t do a lot in-person (that requires pants – ew!), but I do spend a lot of time in my free Facebook community (hop in here) answering questions, doing free trainings, and just generally trying to connect with other amazing business owners and share some of what I have learned along the way.

In what other ways would you like to give back?How She Invests: An interview with Rebecca Tracey

I’d like to be a part of helping kids learn more about entrepreneurship and uncaged living. I think our values and ideals start when we’re young and what we’re exposed to.

If kids learn more about all the endless options that are out there for them from an early age, then anything will seem possible. I think we’ll end up with a lot more happy people in the world who are doing work that matters and living lives that they give a shit about.

You used to offer many different digital products around creating packages and what to do when you start a business. Why did you decide to retire those courses?

It just got too messy and confusing… And the honest truth about online courses is that they don’t often make a lot of money. People think “Oh, passive income,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

It ends up being a business model question – do I want to spend a lot of hours and $$$ trying to get huge traffic to my site so that my $35 online courses make me some decent coin — or would I rather spend that time getting higher paying clients into my group program and doing deeper work with them?

For me, the latter is where my heart is at.

BE VIRTUAL FRIENDS WITH REBECCA

Rebecca runs a free online community of over 6000 solopreneurs in her Facebook group. You can also find her hanging out on her website and on Instagram below where you’ll see loads of cute pictures of her pup. If you join her email list, she’ll give you freebies like Your First Retreat Checklist or the first chapter of Hey, Nice Package!. Go say hi to her!


 

 

 

 

 

 

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How She Invests: An Interview with Halley Gray

| Interviews, Small Business

With all of the options online for training programs and tools, it can be difficult to discern which are best for your business. That’s why I created the How She Invests in Her Business series. My hope is that the insights you read from these smart & savvy women help you decide how to make smarter financial decisions so you can stay in business for a looooong time.

Today’s Interview: Halley Gray

This interview is with Halley Gray, CEO of Evolve and Succeed, and she wants you to know 3 things:

  • That she can teach you to have months of clients booked in advance.
  • That you should drink gin when reading this freebie about the first 6 steps on getting booked out.
  • That she’s a leading digital marketing expert (and that bragging is not her strong suit).

I would call her one smart business cookie with a big personality and a lot of practical, strategic advice to give. Over to Halley 🙂

HOW YOU INVEST

What investment has made the most impact on your business? What was the impact it made?

Investing in getting a project manager who was the right fit personality, brains, and work style was the best investment I’ve ever made. I should have done that first (over hiring a VA).

She’s excited about the different projects, wrangles them into order, and forces me to prioritize. Her ability to manage the team allows us to accomplish more and makes everyone’s lives easier.

What’s one investment you’re thinking of making right now?

Investing in a FB ads manager and more into FB ads.

Before you decide to invest in something for your business, what do you do?

Research. I ask for whatever data I can get and then plug that into my financial statement – balance sheet, cash flow forecast, P and L (profit and loss) – to see how it’ll affect my business. I also take a few days to sit on it since I typically act very quickly.

What has been your experience with hiring your first team member / contractor?

Not great. I hired so many VAs (and wasted so much money on them) when what I really needed was a PM (project manager).

My first virtual assistant I hired was more of an ego boost than a business boost. I didn’t think about what I really needed help with and how it would create more money for my business.

What position, if any, are you planning on hiring next? (CPA, bookkeeper, graphic designer, etc.) Why?

FB ads manager. Because we need to pump up our traffic, and organic traffic is like a wild unicorn – elusive at best.

WHY PEOPLE INVEST IN YOU

Who do you think your program “Be Booked Out” is a good investment for? Why?

Coaches, virtual assistants, project managers, and designers who got sold making 6 figures in their first year but now after three years are barely making 50k.

They want a method that allows them to control their business, income, and client work, which is all marketing.

How do you use what you teach in your own business / life?

All the time. I used to be booked out for years and the same method allows me to evolve my business every year and to double (sometimes triple) the business’ yearly revenue.

HOW YOU INVEST IN OTHERS

How do you give back to your in-person community?

By providing advice, donating one to one to service providers who need help to start up, and donating to local charities.

In what other ways would you like to give back?

Providing entrepreneurial advice to teenagers.

There’s A LOT of advice online on how to start and run a business. What advice do you have to help entrepreneurs sift through what’s real and what’s fake?

Always qualify the advice people give you and make sure they have gotten other people results (not just themselves).

It’s easy to say you have a million dollar business but to do that for others? Much tougher.

BE VIRTUAL FRIENDS WITH HALLEY

Halley hangs out on her website, hosting her show Braless on Couch, and on the social channels below. If you join her email list, she’ll give you a freebie with the first 6 steps to being booked out. Go say hi to her!


 

 

 

 

 

 

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How She Invests: An Interview with Adrienne Dorison

| Finances, Interviews, Small Business

How She Invests: An Interview with Adrienne Dorison

With all of the options online these days for training programs and tools, it can be difficult to discern which is best for your business. That’s why I created the How She Invests in Her Business series. My hope is that the insights you read from these smart & savvy women help you decide how to make smarter financial decisions so you can stay in business for a looooong time.

Today’s Interview: Adrienne Dorison

This interview is with Adrienne Dorisona business consultant and change agent who has worked with small and large companies worldwide to help them sharpen and improve their business performance.  When I first learned about Adrienne, it was from hearing about her Good Businesses Do Good™ movement where she encourages and equips entrepreneurs to earn more, so that they can then give more back to the world.

As you’ll see in the photos and read in her answers, she’s a passionate dog-mom, student-loan debt eradicator and financial freedom advocate who also enjoys CrossFit, rolling around on her yoga mat with her Bernese Mountain Dog, and cookies.

HOW YOU INVEST

What investment has made the most impact on your business? What was the impact it made?

Investments in myself. I don’t believe I would be where I am today without investing in my own growth and development through mentors that believed in me and supported me along the way. The best investments I’ve made were:

1. A mastermind led by a mentor to have the guidance and support from someone who was more advanced in a specific area of business than me and the group of entrepreneurs who not only ‘got it’ but created a healthy competitive spirit for me to believe in myself and what was possible.

2. Live events, because there is nothing more powerful than connecting with people, live and in-person. This will fast track relationships with people that you may not have the opportunity to deeply connect with online. All of my best mentors, friends, and clients have come from live and in-person events. 

What’s one investment you’re thinking of making right now?

We’ve just made an investment with a lawyer because we’re working on some licensing of IP that needs expert eyes!

Before you decide to invest in something for your business, what do you do?

Know our goals, our gaps and work the numbers. We, as a team, get really clear on what our goals are for the next 3-12 months, identify any gaps that we have in getting there, and run the numbers to see if making this investment is necessary and will be ROI generating. 

What has been your experience with hiring your first team member / contractor?

Hiring my first team member {who is still with me over 2 years later} was critical for me to take some of the things off my plate that was keeping my growth stagnant. I was spending too much time trying to do everything in the business, which wasn’t allowing me to do the work that brought the money in.

What position, if any, are you planning on hiring next? (CPA, bookkeeper, graphic designer, etc.) Why?

We have no plans to hire anyone in the near future! We’re making sure we’re maximizing everyone’s roles with who we’ve got. We filled some gaps last year on the team and don’t have any big ones right now. 

WHY PEOPLE INVEST IN YOU

Who do you think your mastermind program “Connected” is a good investment for? Why?

Connected Mastermind is for entrepreneurs who want to better utilize relationships to grow their business — that also includes the relationship with ourselves {the most important one as we grow} to make sure our strategies are aligned with our desires.

I believe we’re all 1 degree of separation from the person we need to know…whether that’s a potential new client, a media connection, a book editor, a collaborative partner, etc. and Connected Mastermind is about bridging those connections intentionally throughout our year together. We also bring everyone together 2X a year live and in-person because relationships move at the speed of light when we’re truly together. It’s for anyone who wants to create massive growth, with huge support. Building a business can be a lonely place, but it doesn’t have to be. 

How do you use what you teach in your own business / life?

Connection has been the lifeblood of my own business and fast growth, and I’ve been really intentional with relationship building since day one. I think that’s why I’ve grown really quickly, and relatively easily. I want to really KNOW people, and serve them, not just treat clients, colleagues, and opportunities as transactional. I’ve invested a lot of time, money, and energy into people and that’s what I believe has created both deep internal and external business success for me. 

HOW YOU INVEST IN OTHERS

How do you give back to your in-person community?

A business that is intentionally serving other meaningful causes with their time, money, or expertise. 

In what other ways would you like to give back?

At first, I was allowing my clients to choose where they each wanted their 10% to go {10% of their investment in me went to a charitable cause of their choice}. But, once I saw that many of my clients didn’t really know how to decipher between a well-intentioned organization and an organization that was making a REAL impact on the world, I felt it was important for me to research, connect with non-profit founders, and support only those that were doing work in the world that was not just great on the front-end, but also made long-term, measurable impact on the intended causes.

I have chosen causes that I feel personally aligned with {entrepreneurship, animals — I have a wildlife conservation background 😉 and domestic abuse} and organizations that I’ve vetted to make sure we’re creating real change together. 

BE VIRTUAL FRIENDS WITH ADRIENNE

Adrienne hangs out on her website, her podcast The School of Self-Mastery, and on the social channels below. If you join her email list, she’ll give you the 9 sales emails she’s used to generate $773,555 in 2 years. Go say hi to her!


 

 

 

 

 

 

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How She Invests: An Interview with Lisa Savage

| Business Basics, Interviews, Small Business

With all of the options online these days for training programs and tools, it can be difficult to discern which is best for your business. That’s why I created the How She Invests in Her Business series. My hope is that the insights you read from these smart & savvy women help you decide how to make smarter financial decisions so you can stay in business for a looooong time. To kick it off, I thought it would be fun to start with myself. In the following interviews, you’ll hear opinions from other entrepreneurs like Becca Tracey, Halley Gray, and Adrienne Dorison. Happy reading!

HOW YOU INVEST

What investment has made the most impact on your business? What was the impact it made?

I took a bookkeeping business course because I knew the skill of bookkeeping really well but didn’t know how to run a bookkeeping business. The course helped me create and place healthy boundaries between me and my clients. It also helped me become organized with scheduling client work.

What’s one investment you’re thinking of making right now?

I want to take a course in payroll because it’s the last course to receive a designation from the Knowledge Bureau in Alberta. This is the place where bookkeepers can go and learn new skills.  

Before you decide to invest in something for your business, what do you do?

With the example above, I’ve been waiting a long time. But typically, I consider three things: my cash flow, my expenses, and future income. I’m a saver. I save my money, and now that I think about it, I’ve saved enough to go take that course.

What has been your experience with hiring your first team member / contractor?

When I hired my first contractor, I knew there were other people who could do my marketing better than I could. However, to be honest, I didn’t do what I tell other entrepreneurs to do. I went over my budget because I really wanted to have someone who knew what they were doing.

Actually, I ended up working harder to cover that extra expense, but it ended up working out in the end.

What position, if any, are you planning on hiring next? (CPA, bookkeeper, graphic designer, etc.) Why?

If I were to hire someone next, it would be a “partner relationship,” like another bookkeeper or an accountant. That way, I could handle more clients and offer a more streamlined service.

WHY PEOPLE INVEST IN YOU

Who do you think your monthly bookkeeping service is a good investment for? Why?

It’s good for the entrepreneur who doesn’t want to manage their books but wants to know the important details of what’s happening financially in their business. Typically, they’re within their first year and have just passed the 30k minimum. That’s where I come in. I help them get organized and take tasks like entering data off of their plates. The only thing I want them to be concerned about is how much money they’re making.

How do you use what you teach in your own business / life?

When I first started my bookkeeping business, I learned a lot. I went through a lot of experiences where I had to invest in myself because I made mistakes with clients or hiring.

That’s why I want to help other entrepreneurs be smarter with their money and spend wisely.  

I teach my clients how to be organized with their bookkeeping, and that comes from being really organized myself. Finally, I teach my kids to save their money first, and they’ve learned to pay for things they really want on their own.

HOW YOU INVEST IN OTHERS

How do you give back to your in-person community?

I volunteer at my children’s school for events. And I play the flute at school with the kids, too.

Now that school has ended, I volunteered to join an adult band of amateur musicians that plays at various community events.

In what other ways would you like to give back?

There was a time where I was a volunteer tax preparer for the Centre de Benevoles of Cowansville. That’s one activity I would want to do again. However, I’m a part of the knitting group there, and I’m making shawls for one of the retirement homes in town.  

BE VIRTUAL FRIENDS WITH ME

I hang out on the social channels below. If you join my email list, you’ll get access to my free library of bookkeeping resources for the small business owner. Come say hi 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Freshbooks Right for Your Business?

| Bookkeeping, Small Business

Is Freshbooks Right for Your Business?

“Client billing first and accounting second.”

That line from the website should give you a good idea of what the Freshbooks software is about.

Beyond being incredibly clear about what they’re best at, they also have a fantastic marketing team, so I’ll bet you heard about them from one of their many sponsors, like Being Boss, or from your favorite life coach.

Personally, I heard about it when I was looking for a recurring billing feature for my clients.

If you’re in the market for software, consider Freshbooks and then check out Xero, WaveApps, Kashoo, and Zoho Books, too.

Overview of Freshbooks

The first thing I want you to know about Freshbooks is that it’s not for everyone, and it’s not trying to be for everyone, which is its strength. Think of it as an add-on to a more powerful accounting and bookkeeping system.

In other words, it fills in the gaps that the big, robust tools don’t address, like automatic recurring billing.

And it’s a product made for service-based businesses, like coaches, copywriters, or designers, that, in the words of Freshbooks, “focuses on slaying the billing beast.”

Like all of the other tools I’ve reviewed, it’s cloud-based, which means that it’s online and all of your information is kept on the Internet as opposed to your computer. Expect to pay a monthly subscription between $15 and $50.

Is it easy to learn?

Since it’s made for people who are service-based (and many who consider themselves solopreneurs), the navigation is intuitive with many people saying that they created their first invoice as soon as they signed up.

Freshbooks is a growing company as well, so expect updates, which always means new features to learn and an updated interface to navigate.

What are the downsides?

There are a few downsides to using Freshbooks as a small business owner, and I’m going to break them down into two categories: light accounting and easy to forget to stop recurring billing,

1) Not standalone accounting software – Since the accounting features are so light with Freshbooks, it can’t be considered a standalone accounting software. That means you’ll have to pair it with something more robust like Wave (free), Xero (paid), Kashoo (paid), or Zoho Books (paid).

2) Easy to forget to stop recurring billing – While it’s very easy to delete a previous client’s profile to take them off auto-billing, it’s even easier to forget to do it if you’re not organized.

Why should I use it?

1) Automatic recurring billing – If you have clients you bill the same amount on a recurring basis, this feature will streamline payment. At whatever interval you choose, your client will be billed for the amount you both agreed on.

2) Can get by on your own without a professional – Since the software is so intuitive and made for service-providers, it’s easy enough to learn and get by on your own without an accountant or bookkeeper guiding the way.

3) Easily accessible library of information – If you’re confused, you have plenty of options for getting an answer with Freshbooks’

4) Contractor collaboration – There is also a light project management system you can use within Freshbooks for communicating with your contractors and tracking the time you spend on client projects. This helps you keep everything organized and ensures that your invoices are accurate.

Quick rundown of Freshbooks

  • Started doing business in: 2003
  • Based in: Toronto
  • Cost: Paid monthly subscription ($15 – $50)
  • Free trial: 30 days
    Credit card processing fees (via Stripe): For VISA/ MC: 2.9% of the transaction total + $0.30. For AMEX: 3.5% of the transaction total + $0.30
  • Automatic billing: Yes
  • Payroll available: No
  • Multicurrency: Yes
  • PayPal payment option: Yes
  • Etsy connection: Yes
  • Shoeboxed connection: No
  • Customized invoices: Yes
  • Mobile app: Yes
  • Option to collaborate with team members: Yes
  • Customer service: Email, chat, and phone

Still have questions about whether or not Freshbooks is right for you? Leave a comment below or send me a message.

 

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Is Kashoo Right for Your Business?

| Bookkeeping, Small Business

Is Kashoo Right for Your Business?

“Easy accounting software without the frustration.”

Kashoo knows that its biggest competitor is Quickbooks, which is why they mention it right on the homepage. You can do all of these things that you need… without using a complicated software like Quickbooks.

Now personally, I don’t use Quickbooks with my clients. I’m not saying that I’m against using the software. It’s just not my favorite.

So what makes Kashoo different, and are they telling the truth? Is it really easier to use?

Overview of Kashoo

Is Kashoo Right for Your Business?

Like the others, Kashoo is an online cloud-based accounting software, which means that it’s online and all of your information is kept on the Internet as opposed to your computer.

It’s one of those companies that make sure they infuse personality into their brand. This alone sets them apart from the competition.

Beyond that, they differ from tools like Xero, Freshbooks, WaveApps, and Zoho Books because their dashboard does not show the most recent financial information. Instead, when you login, you’ll be able to immediately input expenses / income not recorded from your connected bank accounts.

Expect to pay one monthly fee of $19.95, or you can pay annually for a discount.

Is it easy to learn?

Kashoo prides itself on being easy to setup and to learn.

They claim to have removed all accounting jargon, and they focus on the basics, like inputting expenses and income, sending invoices, and keeping track of project costs.

The reports feature is also very light, which may be a relief to some entrepreneurs but a burden to their accountants and bookkeepers. And something technical, but still important, to note. Kashoo only offers accrual accounting and not cash-based. What that means is that if you don’t know how your books are currently organized, ask an accountant to be sure.

Reports included are:

  • Income Statement
  • Unpaid Invoices
  • Unpaid Bills
  • Trial Balance
  • Balance Sheet
  • General Ledger
  • All Transactions
  • History

What are the downsides?

There are a few downsides to using Kashoo as a small business owner, and I’m going to break them down into three categories: no inventory and purchase ordering, inability to make estimates, and limited use of mobile app with multicurrency.

1) No inventory / purchase ordering – Unlike Zoho Books or Xero, you can’t keep track of how much of each item you have or request to purchase an item when its stock is low.

2) Can’t make estimates – Some agencies and freelancers need estimates to complete proposals. If that’s a big part of your business model, I would stay away from Kashoo and consider Zoho Books instead.

3) Can’t use iOs apps with multicurrency enabled – While Kashoo offers multicurrency, you can’t use your iPhone / iPad app when it’s enabled. Who knows why? It’s probably a glitch that will be fixed in the future.

Why should I use it?

1) Easy setup – You’ll be able to navigate the dashboard to set up your account and start sending invoices with Kashoo’s guided tutorial service.

2) Can get by on your own without a professional – Since the software is so intuitive and made for service-providers, it’s easy enough to learn and get by on your own without an accountant or bookkeeper guiding the way.

3) Track project costs and keeps records of clients / suppliers – If you’re a freelancer who needs to track your time along with project costs, this software could be great for keeping you organized. Plus, you can keep record of any clients or suppliers that you have.

4) Great customer service – Support is “forever-free,” and you can get a hold of the team by email, social media, chat, or phone. They also have fantastic resources for learning how to use Kashoo, like Kashoo U and these guides for how to get started.

Quick rundown of Kashoo

Started doing business in: 2008

Based in: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Cost: Paid monthly subscription ($19.95)

Free trial: 14 days
Credit card processing fees (via Stripe, BluePay, and Square): 2.9% + 30 cents

Automatic billing: No

Payroll available: No (but integrates with SurePayroll)

Multicurrency: Yes (but can’t use iOs apps)

PayPal payment option: No

Etsy connection: No

Shoeboxed connection: No

Customized invoices: Yes (but limited fonts and colors)

Mobile app: Yes

Option to collaborate with team members: Yes

Customer service: Email, chat, and phone

Still have questions about whether or not Kashoo is right for you? Leave a comment below or send me a message.

 

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Is Zoho Books Right for Your Business?

| Bookkeeping, Small Business

 Is Zoho Books Right for Your Business?

Have you heard of Zoho? If you have, it’s most likely that you’ve heard of it for it’s customer relationship management software. But what you might not know is that the company has also created a suite of other products that revolve around finance.

Thanks to a client, Zoho Books came onto my radar. Seeing as I always like to learn new tools and experiment, I gave it a try. And while it’s still fairly new to me, I’m liking what I see (from a bookkeeper’s perspective obviously).

However, I thought that it could be beneficial to help you choose between the variety of softwares out there on the market, so I’ve put together this quick review on my experience with Zoho Books.

If you’re in the market for software, consider Zoho Books and then check out Xero, WaveApps, Kashoo, and Freshbooks, too.

Overview of Zoho Books  

 Is Zoho Books Right for Your Business?Zoho Books is a flexible accounting software that, in my opinion, is best suited for agencies or business owners who have complex client projects, like a web designer. It’s different than other software because it has a higher focus on the client with features like a client portal and automation rules.

It’s cloud-based, which means that it’s online and all of your information is kept on the Internet as opposed to your computer. And you’ll pay a monthly subscription between $9 and $29.

Is it easy to learn?

It depends. If you’re coming from a purely paper-based accounting system, it’s going to take some time to get everything into the software. That being said, Zoho offers a comprehensive tutorial to get you started that’s available to you as soon as you sign up. Plus, their customer service is available 24/7 via email, chat, and phone if you run into any problems.

But, what’s interesting about this software is that it goes beyond simple bookkeeping and accounting with offering basic inventory, project management, workflow automation, and client portal options. While those extra options give you more possibilities as a business owner, it can also be overwhelming.

My suggestion if you decide to move forward with Zoho is to start with what you came for — bookkeeping and accounting — and eventually move into the other features.

If you’re working with a professional accountant or bookkeeper, they’ll also be able to access the software and help you set it up, so that will take some of the work off your plate.

 Is Zoho Books Right for Your Business?

What are the downsides?

There are a few downsides to using Zoho Books as a small business owner, and I’m going to break them down into four categories: very few advisors, no recurring billing, no balance sheet or income statement reports, limited third-party connections.

1) Very few advisors – While Zoho Books is competing with other software, like Xero and Wave, with its features, it’s limited by the number of advisors it has. That means if you decide to use it, your choices of hiring someone who knows how to expertly navigate and make the most of it are limited.

2) No recurring billing – If you’re invoicing many different clients the same amount each month, you don’t have the option to charge their cards automatically. While Zoho Books will duplicate the previous month’s invoice and send it, the client will still have to enter their credit card information to pay it.

3) No balance sheet or income statement reports – While they offer many reports (listed below), balance sheet and income statement reports aren’t offered. This might make your accountant or bookkeeper sad.

Included reports:

  • Estimates
  • Invoices
  • recurring invoices
  • Bills
  • credit notes
  • retainer invoices
  • Purchase orders (not included on the Standard subscription)
  • Sales orders (not included on the Standard subscription)

4) Limited third-party connections – If you’re a maker and you sell on a platform like Etsy, this software is not the one for you. Because Zoho has many other in-house integrations — CRM, Expense, Reports, Inventory, etc. — it hasn’t linked up with third-party connections like Etsy or Freshbooks, which makes it difficult if your business already uses those.

Why should I use it?

1) Focus on the client – Like I mentioned earlier, Zoho includes unique features that directly benefit your client. Beyond recognizing them with a quick “thank you” courtesy of your workflow automation rules, each client can login to their own “portal” where they can do things like manage invoices and view transactions. You would also be able to schedule reports to send to them or your team members on a recurring basis, which could be great for keeping track of project progress.

2) Basic inventory and project management – If you’re scaling your business and managing many projects and team members, Zoho has a basic project management feature that allows you to manually log time on projects and use a widget timer while you’re working. Plus, if you’re a business that manages inventory, Zoho will help you keep track of quantities and alert you when you need to make repurchase orders.

3) Workflow automation rules – One of the neatest things about Zoho Books is that you can set up “rules” to automate your workflow. For example, let’s say that your client pays an invoice. As soon as the invoice is paid, you can have a “thank you” email sent to your client. Internally, this works out for you, too. You can set up “bank rules,” so that each time a specific transaction is synced, it will be automatically sorted into the correct category. If you like Xero but also like this feature, you’re in luck. Xero offers it, too. 🙂

4) Easily accessible library of information – If you have a question about how to use the software, you have plenty of places to turn. Beyond 24/7 email, chat, and phone customer service, there is also a community forum, a lengthy documentation section, and video tutorials.

 Is Zoho Books Right for Your Business?

Quick rundown of Zoho Books

  • Started doing business in: 2011
  • Cost: Paid monthly subscription ($9 – $29)
  • Free trial: 14 days
    Credit card processing fees: Charged the processing fee of whichever payment provider you use – Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree, 2 Checkout, Square, and ACH Payments
  • Automatic billing: No
  • Payroll available: No
  • Multicurrency: Yes
  • PayPal payment option: Yes
  • Etsy connection: No
  • Shoeboxed connection: No
  • Customized invoices: Yes
  • Mobile app: Yes
  • Option to collaborate with team members: Yes
  • Customer service: Email, chat, and phone

Still have questions about whether or not Zoho Books is right for you? Leave a comment below or send me a message.

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Is Xero Right for Your Business?

| Bookkeeping, Small Business

Is Xero Right for Your Business?

Xero believes in giving you — the small business owner — the power to plan ahead with your finances.

And truth to be told, I’m completely biased. (I liked the software so much I became a Xero-certified bookkeeper!)

If you’re in the market for software, consider Xero and then check out WaveApps, Zoho, Kashoo, and Freshbooks, too.

Overview of Xero

Xero is a robust accounting software that entrepreneurs can use by paying a monthly subscription between $9 and $70. It’s cloud-based, which means that it’s online and all of your information is kept on the Internet as opposed to your computer.

Is it easy to learn?

Since Xero is so robust, it’s not the easiest of software to get up and running. In fact, I recommend that you use it with a professional accountant or bookkeeper. If you’re looking for accounting software that’s free and easier to learn, check out WaveApps.

That being said, it can be easily navigated once your accountant or bookkeeper is keeping everything organized. You’ll be able to see your cashflow in real time, which allows you to make smart financial decisions, check reports to see if you’re on track with your revenue goals and send beautiful quotes to potential clients.

What are the downsides?

There are a few downsides to using Xero as a small business owner, and I’m going to break them down into three categories: limited multicurrency options, no recurring billing, and accounting jargon.

1) Limited multicurrency option – Unless you choose the most expensive subscription ($70/month), you won’t be able to receive or invoice using foreign currency, which makes doing business with people outside of your country really difficult. So if you’re a solopreneur who needs under 5 invoices but needs multicurrency, you still have to choose the most expensive option.

2) No recurring billing – If you’re invoicing many different clients the same amount each month, you don’t have the option to charge their cards automatically. While Xero will duplicate the previous month’s invoice and send it, the client will still have to enter their credit card information to pay it.

3) Accountant jargon – This software, like many of the others on the market, is made with accountants and bookkeepers in mind. That means that a lot of the feature I love about it (old-school style, journal-based bookkeeping) are things that won’t matter much to you. It also means that you’ll have a more difficult time navigating the software and being able to make the most of its features. It’s best used with a professional.

Why should I use it?

1) Better than a spreadsheet – While Xero isn’t perfect, it’s also a major step up from spreadsheet-style bookkeeping. That means tax time will be easier to manage because everything has already been captured and recorded.

2) Easily accessible and useful reports – The reports are one of my favorite features of Xero.

3) Constant updates and great customer service – Xero knows the value of listening to its customers. As a result, they’re always rolling out new features, fixing technical bugs, and generally making the software more beautiful and easier to use. Plus, if you do encounter problems, the customer service is fast and at your disposal 24/7 for free. They’ll get back to you almost immediately and explain how to solve whatever problem you’re facing with patience.

4) Openly available information – While this software is made for accountants and bookkeepers, Xero still offers a lot of information for the DIY entrepreneur. You can find tutorials in dedicated training, articles, videos, and their handy-dandy accounting glossary.

5) Able to track inventory – This is a built-in feature that’s great for business owners who sell physical products, like t-shirts.

Quick rundown of Xero

  • Started doing business in: 2006
  • Based in: New Zealand
  • Cost: Paid monthly subscription ($9 – $70)
  • Free trial: 30 days
    Credit card processing fees (via Stripe): %2.9 + 30 cents
  • Automatic billing: No
  • Payroll available: Yes (includes features like built-in timesheets, employee leave, and reimbursement of expenses)
  • Multicurrency: Yes
  • PayPal payment option: Yes
  • Etsy connection: No (only through 3rd party applications)
  • Shoeboxed connection: Yes
  • Freshbooks connection: No
  • Customized invoices: Yes
  • Mobile app: Yes (There are separate apps for Invoices / Receipts / Payroll)
  • Option to collaborate with team members: Yes

Still have questions about whether or not Xero is right for you? Leave a comment below or send me a message.

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Is WaveApps Right for Your Business?

| Bookkeeping, Finances, Small Business

Is WaveApps Right for Your Business?

So you’ve heard of WaveApps, the accounting software, and now you’re wondering what all of the fuss is about. Is it really comparable to other software like Xero, Freshbooks, or Zoho?

And, as a small business owner, how is it going to make your life easier, if at all?

Before I tell you about WaveApps, I want to remind you that no software is perfect and that many of the suggestions I give are going to be made for accountants and bookkeepers. So they take time to learn.

What’s most important is that you choose one that fits for the size of your business and the type of work you do.

Also, any cloud-based software you choose is going to be a step up from the standard spreadsheet-style bookkeeping.

Overview of WaveApps

WaveApps is free accounting software. It’s cloud-based, which means that it’s online and all of your information is kept on the Internet as opposed to your computer.

It’s free (no, really) and was made primarily for small business owners, consultants, and freelancers. While that price tag can be very kind to your bank account, it also means that you give up features that other software, like Xero or Freshbooks, provide. You’ll see these in the section below about the downsides.

Is it easy to learn?

Yep, Wave is one of the easiest cloud-based software to learn. When you sign up for an account, you’ll be prompted to connect your bank accounts (including PayPal) and credit cards. It works even if you have international bank connections or use a foreign currency.

After connecting your accounts, you’ll be able to track your income and expenses, send invoices, and read reports to see a bigger picture of your money.

You can access reports for:

  • Financial – Balance Sheet and Income Statement
  • Taxes – Sales Tax and Payroll Wage (paid feature) and Tax Report
  • Customer – Income by Customer and Aged Receivables (how much money is coming in and how long you’ve been waiting for it)
  • Vendors – Expense by Vendor and Aged Payables (which expenses you haven’t paid yet and how long overdue they are)
  • Other – General Ledger (similar to a general overview all of your accounts), Account Transactions, Trial Balance (can see all account balances), Gain / Loss on Foreign Currency Exchange

You can customize all of the reports by date.

What are the downsides?

There are a few downsides to using WaveApps as a small business owner, and I’m going to break them down into three categories: accountant jargon, technical bugs, and Etsy sales.

1) Accountant jargon – To be fair, Wave does a great job of always trying to make things easier for small business owners who aren’t accountants. That being said, there is still a lot of jargon that an entrepreneur would have to learn to be able to make the most of the software. What’s more, if you’re not familiar with how your books should be kept, you often won’t know if there’s a bug or if something isn’t being properly recorded. Mishaps like that could lead to you paying more than you owe in taxes or making decisions based on false information.

2) Technical Bugs – Since it’s a free software, identifying and fixing technical bugs takes a bit longer (2+ days). What do I mean by technical bugs? One I encounter regularly goes like this. Let’s say your balance sheet says there is $100 in your bank account. But when you go to the Transactions screen, you have $90. You then go check the balance of your account, and it’s also $90. That means that somewhere in all your transactions, there’s a mystery $10 difference. In other words, you have a “ghost transaction” that you now have to sift through and find. Even as a trained bookkeeper, transactions like these can take me 1-2 hours to find. Not the best way to spend your Wednesday, right?  

3) Etsy Sales – If you sell on Etsy, you’re able to collect sales through Wave, which is great. However, since you’re also connected to PayPal, those sales will be recorded twice. That means your sales numbers will be misleading unless you go through and manually merge the two transactions. That’s also a time suck.

Why should I use it?

1) Better than a spreadsheet – While Wave isn’t perfect, it’s also a major step up from spreadsheet-style bookkeeping. That means tax time will be easier to manage because everything has already been captured and recorded.

2) Free and easy to set up – It’s free and setup is painless, which is great for any entrepreneur who is bootstrapping her business. That being said, it also allows room for growth by giving you the option to invite your accountant, bookkeeper, or team member into the software.

3) Responsive customer service – The customer service is really responsive and attentive. If you’re confused about why your numbers are wrong or how to get rid of duplicate transactions, you can open up a chat box from directly within the software and be connected to someone.

4) Easy to learn – Much of the software, like looking at transactions and invoicing, is going to feel intuitive if you’re tech savvy. If you encounter something tricky or want to learn how to use the software to its fullest potential, there is plenty of information available. You can start with a free series of articles called Wave University.

5) Multicurrency option – With most accounting software, multicurrency is either unavailable or an add-on for a higher-priced subscription. WIth Wave, though, you can invoice and receive funds in any currency, which makes it a lot easier to do business with clients abroad without worrying about the exchange rate.

6) Can save credit card information of clients – Clients can choose to save their credit card information so that each time you invoice them, all they have to do is click “Pay Invoice.”

Quick rundown of WaveApps

  • Started doing business in: 2010
  • Based in: Toronto, Canada
  • Cost: Free
  • Credit card processing fees: %2.9 + 30 cents (varies for non-Canadian / non-US countries)
  • Automatic billing: No
  • Payroll available: Yes ($15 + $4 per employee in the US)
  • Multicurrency: Yes
  • PayPal payment option: No
  • Etsy connection: Yes
  • Shoeboxed connection: Yes
  • Freshbooks connection: No
  • Customized invoices: Yes
  • Mobile app: Yes
  • Option to collaborate with team members: Yes

Still have questions about whether or not Wave is right for you? Leave a comment below or send me a message.

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Why Entrepreneurs Should Stop Using Spreadsheets for Bookkeeping

| Bookkeeping, Business Basics, Small Business

Why Entrepreneurs Should Stop Using Spreadsheets for Bookkeeping

If you’re still using a spreadsheet for your business’ bookkeeping, we need to have a heart to heart.

I’m guessing that if you’re still using them, it’s either because:

A) You don’t know other options.

B) You can’t choose between the other options.

But here’s the problem. When you use a spreadsheet, bookkeeping has a tendency to take over the important stuff that keeps your business running, like bringing in new sources of revenue or marketing.

Here’s what I believe: bookkeeping should NOT take over your business tasks.

I know this isn’t news to you. Your spreadsheet has been clunky, constantly out of date, and often difficult for you to understand.

And when you don’t understand what you’re seeing, making smart financial decisions becomes a whole lot more difficult and making realistic goals feels impossible.

So what should you do instead?

That’s why the next best move for your business is to choose and sign up for a cloud-based accounting software.

I know that sounds kind of intimidating. But really, depending on which one you choose, the transition can be smooth, and you’re going to LOVE all the time you save.

Let me make the difference between a spreadsheet and online accounting software clearer by talking about something we all love: food.

When you cut a carrot, you can use a knife and cut one slice at a time. It will take a bit of time (especially if you AREN’T Gordon Ramsey).

Or your other option is to invest in a food processor, which will cut your carrot into little pieces in seconds.

The food processor is like your accounting tools, it gets the job done faster and more efficiently. Plus, you were probably able to chop more carrots in the same amount of time.

Remember, no software is perfect

As a bookkeeper, I see accounting software in a different light, and I read a lot of comments that look something like this, “I hate XYZ software. It’s so confusing and so hard to use. I want to find a new one. Any suggestions?”

I want to make sure you know that no software is perfect and that many of the suggestions I give are going to be made for accountants and bookkeepers, so they take the time to learn. What’s most important is that you choose one that fits the size of your business and the type of work you do.

Also, any cloud-based software you choose is going to be a step up from the standard spreadsheet-style bookkeeping.

I know that making the decision to move from spreadsheet to online can feel like a lot of work, so I’m going to go over my favorite accounting tools that help me and my clients with bookkeeping tasks.

These are:

  • Xero
  • Zoho Books
  • WaveApps
  • Freshbooks
  • Kashoo

These tools will help you streamline your business when it comes to sending invoices, accepting payments, tracking income and expenses, and managing your cashflow among so many other benefits.

We’ll talk about who each software is most suited for, the cost, benefits, and disadvantages.

Each requires a different process for making the move from a spreadsheet (or paper and pen) to online bookkeeping, and I love them because they all have a fantastic library of resources and responsive customer service. So, no matter which you choose, they’ll take care of you. 🙂

If you have questions you definitely want me to address or a specific software that you’ve been thinking about, leave me a comment below so I can make sure to cover it.

 

 

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