Startups – A Few Helpful Hints
Business startups are a huge endeavor, but luckily, there is a wide range of tools and programs that can help you along the way. Whether you are starting an organic farm, a shoe store, a restaurant, a butchery company, a gift shop, or any other type of business, you may want to check out some of the following tools and resources. They can keep you get organized, automate processes, save you time and most importantly, help your business get off the ground.
- Expense Tracking Apps
As a business owner, you are allowed to write off all of your business expenses on your tax return, and that includes costs for startups. In many cases, you may start incurring start-up costs months before you collect any revenue. Fortunately, as long as the expenses occur in the same fiscal year as your first sale, you can write them off on your tax return.
To ensure that you optimize your tax return, you need to track expenses diligently. An expense tracking app is the perfect way to simplify this process. Apps such as Expensify and Shoeboxed allow you to save expenses by snapping a photo, emailing or uploading receipts. If you drive a lot, you may also want to check out apps such as Triplog that can track your expenses, as well as your mileage, using GPS.
- Time Tracking App
Time is money, and depending on the objectives for your startups, you may want to track your time as well. A time tracking app can help you assess how much time you spend on various projects so you can map out the potential return on your time. Additionally, you can use time tracking apps to track the time you devote to specific clients so you know how to bill them. The options range from simple timers that cost nothing to complex scheduling systems that integrate invoicing and expense tracking capabilities. You can access all of these options in exchange for a monthly subscription fee, which is often based on the number of users.
- Website Builder
For most businesses, a website is even more important than a brick-and-mortar location. With the right tools, you can create your own professional looking website. Tools such as SquareSpace give you everything you need to make a website, regardless of your level of experience. You can simply drag and drop elements where you want them, and add text and images as desired.
- Client Relationship Management Tools
As you start to get clients, you need a way to keep track of them. Client relationship management (CRM) software or programs are ideal for this task. If you want a simple system, you can use a spreadsheet with your client’s names, contact details and notes about your interactions. Alternatively, you may want to look into a dedicated CRM system. There are programs such as Base that provide you with tools to track leads as well as existing customers. With this app, in particular, you can call clients directly from the app. There are also CRM programs such as Batchbook that track the deals you are working on for each client. This app also sends you alerts so you don’t fall behind. Alternatively, you can get CRM systems that are embedded into your point of sale software.
- Budgeting Apps
Startups require a lot of expenses, and to ensure you don’t use up all your resources, you may want to use a budgeting program or app. These programs allow you to set overall budgets as well as budgets for specific projects. They can help you forecast cash flow and profits or losses. They can also create visual reports that allow you to assess how much capital you have devoted to various projects.
In addition to a budgeting app, you may want to have reserve funding on hand. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to always stay under budget, and a business line of credit can act as a safety net when you need it. Without this essential element in place, you may end up shutting your doors if an unforeseen expense pops up. Some programs to consider include Float, PlanGuru and Scoro.
- Accounting Software
So you can pull all your information together, you may want accounting software as well. There are a host of different options depending on the size and scope of your business. For example, if you want to track inventory, costs of goods sold, payroll and other finances, you may need a comprehensive solution such as QuickBooks Online. However, if you simply want to track revenue and expenses, you may be fine with a pared down program such as Less Accounting that just offers the basics.
- Financial Statement Templates
One drawback of many accounting programs is that they often don’t generate cash flow forecasts or predictions. After you have been in a business for a few years, these programs can generate forecasts based on previous sales and expenses, but they typically don’t have the tools to do that when you are just getting started.
That is unfortunate as many lenders want to see financial forecasts if you are applying for business loans. Luckily, there are a range of templates you can use to create these documents. In particular, SCORE, a nonprofit organization devoted to providing small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with information and mentorship, has a range of free templates on its site. You can download templates that help you generate profit-and-loss predictions, bank loan requests, opening day balance sheets, cash flow projections, and much more.