As the year comes to an end, it’s the perfect time to take stock of how your business is performing and try to identify the areas that need improvement. Whether you and your business openly embrace technology, you have been putting off making some necessary upgrades, or you tend to be a bit technophobic, there is a variety of really simple tools out there that can dramatically improve the way you manage your small business. And, the best part is that almost all of these apps are either free or low cost.
Mobile Point of Sale Apps
With Flint Mobile all you need is a smart phone in order to accept credit card payments. No separate card reader is needed. Instead, small businesses take credit card payments by scanning in the customer’s card number. What’s more, Flint Mobile can also send invoices for online bill payment, handle cash and checks and manage customized coupons, and that’s just the beginning of the feature list. The Flint Mobile app is free to download. The current transaction fees are 1.95 percent for debit card payments and 2.95 percent for credit cards. There are currently no fees for managing cash, checks, invoices or coupons.
One of the first serious mobile payments options for independent small businesses, Square is still a good option to check out- especially if your business only occasionally needs mobile payment processing. With Square, there are no monthly fees, no contracts and no merchant accounts, but you will be charged a 2.75 transaction fee for every swipe, online sale, or paid Square invoice. If you key in the number, then the fee jumps to 3.5% + 15 cents. Square links directly with your bank account and accepts payments from all major credit card companies.
If you are a QuickBooks user, then you may want to consider Intuit’s QuickBooks Payments App. At $19.95 a month, the app will automatically sync with your accounting software, making your accounting and invoicing a breeze. The card reader needed for swiping credit cards is free, and transaction fees are competitive, at 1.75 percent of total sales. Intuit also offers a pay-as-you-go option for merchants that’s similar to Square’s pricing plan. The swipe rate for the plan, which has no monthly fee, is 2.40 percent per transaction.
Whether you’re a fan of Paypal or not, you’ve got to admit that the online payments and money transfers platform has got a virtual monopoly in Internet-based payments- especially among those living outside of the US. For that reason alone PayPal’s mobile payments offering, PayPal Here, is something to consider. In addition to accepting credit and debit card payments from customers, your customers can also make payments from their mobile PayPal accounts. The cost per transaction is 2.7 percent of the final sale, and there are no additional setup costs or monthly fees.
PayAnyware is a pretty straightforward solution with no monthly fees, setup costs or monthly minimum sales requirements. It works similar to Square, with a flat-rate pricing plan of 2.69 percent per swipe. The app and card reader are both free.
Cloud Based Accounting Apps
There are several proprietary offerings in the area of cloud based accounting that make the transaction recording and number crunching part of running a small business a breeze. Sage One is a good example, putting most of the accounting aspects of running a business on autopilot. The interface is also very simplistic and easy to follow.
Zoho Books offers an assortment of features to help business owners manage their finances in real-time. The basic feature list includes: invoice management and payment processing, expense tracking, and financial reporting. There are a bunch of powerful add-ons, too. One of the pluses of using Zoho Books is that it integrates seamlessly with Zoho’s other business apps.
If you are on a tight budget, then the free Nutcache is best the option for you hands down. It’s a robust feature-rich platform that has already a die hard following of users. Nutcache can support multiple languages, unlimited invoicing, time tracking, and payment processing functions.
FreeAgent is a cloud-based accounting application that is especially designed for freelancers who handle multiple clients and projects. It enables them to manage various aspects of their business including client data, project information, time and expenses. FreeAgent makes it easy to invoice customers, track expenses, and synchronize bank accounts- all from one simple interface.
Quickbooks is the oldest cloud-based accounting platform of the lot, and it’s with good reason. Backed by Intuit, notable for its revolutionary tax software, Quickbooks is the most robust option out there. Aside from sales management, expense tracking, and applying sales tax, Quickbooks allows you to track payments through multiple pathways including: automated online banking, creating estimates, and invoice management. Plus, Quickbooks works across multiple platforms and mobile devices.
Did I leave any apps out? Had any experience using the platforms mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below.