My Own Small BusinessThousands of people would describe those four words as their impossible dream. Often their impossible dream was the standard small business startup in town, in the local business park, or even in their spare bedroom as a home-based business.Today that has all changed. Today the cheapest, fastest and in many ways easiest way to start your own business is to start your business online. Many people use the internet for ordinary purposes – to find information, to buy small items, to join clubs. But often they have absolutely no idea how to go about starting their own business online. If you are one of those people who thinks their dream is impossible because they are too poor in some way – carry on reading, because you are going to get a fantastic, exciting surprise below.The Internet – Business Angel or Devil?It is true that in order to start an internet business, or put an existing business online, you have to get to grips with quite a lot of new technology and a fantastic new vocabulary. It is true that you absolutely have to have a computer and access to a broadband connection to the internet. But if you are going to be in business, you must have that type of equipment anyway.The benefits to working online can be astonishing. Below are seven excuses people often make as to why they have not yet started their online business. Alongside we have provided at least seven powerful solutions that can be found on the internet which will solve their problems instantly:1. Idea Poor? If you are not sure what your business should be, the internet can be used to help you choose an area that really excites you, and that will be as profitable as possible. Come up with 3 basic ideas that really interest you. At this stage, don’t worry about markets, profitability etc. Use programmes such as Google, Wordtracker Free, and the free version of Web CEO to search for the terms. In this way, you can find out not only how many people are searching in the same area as you (potential market) but also get lists of other terms these people search on (other potential businesses). You can then use the same programmes to get a feel of how much competition you would have. In this way you can build up a basic model for your business.2. Market Poor? You might think that your only interest is something no one else has ever heard of. Please be aware that that is no one else you have ever met. Because I doubt you are really that different to the rest of the human race. Out there on the internet I know there will be hundreds of people a day looking for information on that subject… and there is your opportunity.3. Resource Poor? Don’t worry; there is a vast array of free stuff on the internet to help you get going. What if I told you that you could get a free website and free hosting? Yup, that is absolutely FREE. Google the phrase Microsoft free website and you will be taken right to the correct place where you can start your very own online business for nothing. Bit superior to paying rent on some grubby little shop off the high street isn’t it? Another benefit is what is happening to the costs involved in online businesses. In the last 10 years the cost of the equipment (computers etc) have dropped massively and the cost of services (ISP etc) have dropped dramatically. Terrestrial businesses, on the other hand have seen huge increases in rent,rates, utilities, raw materials etc.4. Time Poor? If you are not sure that you want to go full time in your business yet, you don’t need to. As long as you are totally efficient in what you do, you can keep it as small as you like. A couple of hours in the evenings and at weekends can be enough to run a small business that you love, and that will make you a profit.5. Support Poor? There is a mass of free resources out there (and I won’t even mention my own website and blog). To keep the confusion down to a minimum, take a look at the Business Link site from the UK, or Small Business Association in the US. Both are fantastic resources for new businesses.6. Determination Poor? Hmm, that can be quite difficult, because determination is really the key factor that underlies business success on the internet (or anywhere for that matter). But don’t despair. Again there are many free resources available online (try Googling ‘procrastination’), but there are also lots of books you can use. The right attitude can always be developed if you know how.7. Organisation Poor? A lot of people claim to be too shambolic or disorganised to start their own small business. But the beauty of business is that it is all about processes and systems. These are the things that make the difference between poor, just OK and great businesses wherever you find them. And again, this is a skill you can learn and perfect. Try reading the book E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. It is nothing to do with the Internet, but everything in it can and should be applied to running any business, large, small, online or offline.Come and see us if you are interested in more information (especially the free stuff of course) at our website or blog, details below.
It is a common misconception that all accounting software aimed at small business is the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are different products in the market to meet different business needs that all come at varying prices all with their own pros and cons. It is the purpose if this article to explain the different types of accounting software and to allow you to make an informed decision about what type of accounting software best suits your business.We will start by focussing on the term SME as we believe this best explains the three types of small business that exist – small, medium and enterprise. Whilst it is right to bracket all of these types of business together they all have very different characteristics and needs. As a result depending on which one of these brackets your business sits in will have different repercussions on your requirements from your accounting software.1) Small Business – are characterised as an SME business that has just starting out, freelancers or companies that have relatively small revenue lines into the business. Owners of these businesses are very focused on all capital expenditure and ensure that all spends are tangibly linked to driving growth within the business. Objectives at this stage are to achieve sustainable income lines into the business in order to stimulate growth within the business.2) Medium business – Slightly larger SME business that now have sustainable revenues and have achieved solid growth. It is likely that medium businesses have recruited some employees to facilitate the new level of work that has to be completed. Medium businesses are looking for increased structure from their financial management as well as a way of monitoring costs and expenses as employees in the business grow.3) Enterprise Business – This is the largest type of SME business. Businesses of this scale have tended to grow in size, stature and operational complexity. Department structures will have now taken place, business administration increased with human resource management becoming more prominent in the business. By having additional scale and complexity in the business there are increased requirements for support with driving process efficiency in both financial and operational management. The larger more complex accounting products cater for these demands at an additional premium.It is clear when looking at the above 3 types of business how it would be virtually impossible for a software company to make a generic small business accounting software system to cater for all budgets and needs. A small business would require a significantly less complex product than an enterprise small business. This may appear quite an obvious statement to make; however, there are many SME owners that still believe that if they purchase a generic product specialising in small business they will have a great product designed for their business. For this reason I wanted to be clear toward the two main types of accounting software that exists.1) Bookkeeping Software – Bookkeeping software packages perfect for a business that simply wants to manage their incomings and outgoings in an effective compliant manner. They enable an owner to input key information sources such as sales income, purchase expenses, cash and bank transactions. The accounting software takes these pieces of information and automates the double entry bookkeeping principles by producing simple accounts payable, accounts receivable and general ledger accounts. These basic accounting software features are more than enough for an SME owner to understand their financial position and complete end year reports.2) Sophisticated accounting software solutions – The enterprise small businesses are likely to want their accounting software to do more than simply work out their balance sheets. Because of the additional business complexity accounting software features such as fixed assets registers, inventory/stock control, job costing and payroll become appealing. All of these features allow an enterprise small business to manage their business more effectively by managing their assets, providing support on how to manage stock control and managing human resources effectively. These additional features enable an enterprise business to not only to manage their financial accounts but also to drive efficiency within the business.The medium small business sits in between these two types of accounting software. Choosing the right accounting software for a medium business completely depends on the businesses particular requirements of the business at the time of purchase. There are many accounting software products in the market that are aimed at the medium business market and all have pros and cons in terms of features. Some have a greater emphasis on HR related features some have greater financial forecasting and modeling capabilities. The only way to ensure that the right product is purchased is to go through a thorough exercise of mapping products to business requirements.Whatever the size of your business it is critical that you base any decision to buy accounting software on the particular requirements of your business. Don’t be swayed by brand or recommendations do a thorough requirements tracking exercise and use these requirements to guide whatever you decide to buy.