How Online Apps Can Take the Stress out of Invoicing

Online invoicing applications offer many features that make accounts receivable quick and hassle-free. Today’s invoicing tools are sophisticated, offering both transactional capability and intelligence, with dashboards and analytical tools that let you see where your money is coming from and where it’s going.

There are hundreds of products on the market, many targeted to the needs and budgets of small businesses and some specifically designed for certain industries or niche businesses. Most providers offer mobile device apps to complement their web-based products.

Many vendors offer free or very low-cost solutions to lure you into buying a subscription or introduce you to other products. When choosing an app, consider its capabilities, ease of use, ability to interface with other programs you use, training and support, along with cost. Following are a few of the top online invoicing apps:

Freshbooks: This is easy to use and integrates with other accounting and project management systems such as QuickBooks and Basecamp. In addition to standard features, it offers time-tracking and some other bells and whistles.

Invoices Made Easy: This is designed for small service trades, such as tax consultants, plumbers and landscapers. Standard features include an EasyMail service that sends invoices out by snail mail.

PaySimple: This targets merchants and focuses on recurring online payments, both invoices and payments, using creditcard payments, e-checks, and online payment forms.

Simply Invoices: This is just what it says: simple.

Tips to Reduce Your Business Property Taxes

Every year, businesses receive property tax notices that are ignored at great cost. Tax is assessed on real estate and any property used for business purposes, including equipment. Despite time constraints, you can take simple steps to reduce your property tax assessment.

Obtain information about the market value of your property by checking on any recent sales. Contact equipment dealers to inquire about resale values for used equipment. Ask your banker about prices paid by anyone who has financed the purchase of similar equipment. Use the Internet to find listed prices for your assets. Maintain contact with a commercial real estate broker. This person can provide you with reasonable valuation per square foot for a building you own.

Compare your tax assessments with others. Check with your neighbors about their real estate assessed values. Talk with competitors about whether their equipment assessments approximate yours with some variation for age and condition. Contact your industry trade association about current used equipment prices. You may want to start a local association among similar businesses. All the members could benefit by maintaining reasonable property tax assessments.

You can file a property tax appeal. Sometimes this only requires a call to your local tax office or using a reply form that comes with your assessment notice. A successful appeal that reduces business property taxes requires collecting details about replacement costs and income produced by the assets. There are services that conduct appeals or appraise business assets for a fee. Sometimes they’re worth considering.

Tips for Trimming Your Business Expenses

National statistics may indicate that we’re in an economic recovery, but that’s no reason to get complacent about business costs. There’s still plenty of uncertainty regarding sustainable consumer spending strength.

The customers you have today are an opportunity to set aside profit for potential slowdowns in the future. This requires a focus on spending. By reducing costs, you keep more of your revenue as profit.

Looking at the Big Picture

Keeping a sharp eye on business expenses isn’t just an emergency measure, it should be your natural process.

Start by examining your largest categories of expenditure. These items are likely employee costs and rent. Next, determine the impact of immediately cutting these expenses. For example, if you have one less employee, consider how remaining staff will handle extra duties. Maybe a simple realignment of job responsibilities permits a staff reduction.

Eliminating employees is the right path if you failed to control past expansion of staff. Most of the ways you cut business costs are not as dramatic. Instead, there are tangential expenses related to staff functions.

Adjusting Your Processes

According to some sources, the average office employee uses 12,000 sheets of paper annually. All those printouts of email and attachments add up. You can reduce this cost by having employees operate a little differently and giving them some tools.

Store reports electronically. If personnel need instant access to reports while on the go, consider a cloud computing service. Invest in software for every computer that permits employees to print documents in an electronic format for immediate storage and future retrieval.

You can also reduce costs for mailing paper. Bulk rates are available for large mailings. That can lead to considerable savings for newsletters or a sales letter. Use email whenever possible, and be sure to ask customers for email addresses.

Reaching out to both new and repeat customers probably requires only a postcard instead of a letter. The cards are a lot cheaper. In addition, use online banking services to avoid mailing payments.

Going a Little Deeper

Employee benefits are another cost concern. Shop around every year for different health insurance coverage. You might lower the cost by increasing deductibles and giving employees another benefit with health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). HRAs permit employees to receive reimbursement for their out-of-pocket medical expenses up to a specified annual limit.

Don’t forget about other types of insurance. Online quote requests instantly provide multiple options for business insurance coverage and price.

Or use an independent agent to conduct the search for an optimal policy.
Consider negotiating frequently with your mobile and Internet service providers for better rates and packages. Get bids from competitors.

If your business requires recurring travel, investigate the cost of videoconferencing to satisfy matters that demand face time.