25 SepFinovate Fall’s Best In Show

Finovate Fall has come and gone.  It seems that big data, personal financial management and security are three trends for the companies that presented this week. Below are the best of show winners.

AnchorIDLogo_FF2014

AnchorID for its new way to log into websites and apps. One universal username logs you in with unique security.

blooomLogo_FF2014


blooom for its simple tool built to fix the millions of mis-invested 401(k) allocations for individual clients.

CrowdFlowerLogo_FF2014

CrowdFlower for its leading data enrichment platform to help data scientists, analysts, and engineers collect, clean, and label data to make it useful.

LOYAL3Logo


Loyal3 for its use of social technologies to democratize the markets, making investing in IPOs and stocks easy and affordable for everyone.

MoneyDesktopLogo

MXlogo

MX/MoneyDesktop for its WideNet Technology to help FIs expand their market reach, and its Helios cross-platform digital banking app.

NICESystemsLogo

NICE Systems for its real-time authentication that strengthens and streamlines the authentication process in real-time, while customers converse with an agent.

ToopherLogo_FF2014


Toopher for its multi-factor authentication platform that uses the location awareness of your smartphone to automate authentication for logins and critical actions.

23 SepFinovate: Blooom, Gremln and eMoneyAdvisor

Three companies of note that have presented at Finovate today.

Blooom: Blooom is 401K  manager that is not set it and forget it.

Gremln: A social media management tool presenting at Finovate is unusual but Gremln differentiates itself by offering secure social media management. Can GremIn accurately calculate the ROI of social media?

eMoneyAdvisor: This is a B-to-B  play platform for money advisor professionals.

23 SepFinovate Fall Is Today

Finovate Fall is today and tomorrow in New York.

Some of the companies presenting include the following:
iQuantifi
Digital Mailer’s My Virtual Strong Box
MX formerly known as Money Desktop

From the presentations so far, it looks like fintech have not ceded all of personal finance management space totally to Intuit’s Mint.com.

26 AugXero Announces Partner Marketplace

I first wrote about Xero back in 2007 before it was available here in the United States.
As part of its mission to broaden its US footprint, small business cloud accounting software provider Xero on Tuesday announced the launch of a new partner marketplace.

From ZDNet

Showcasing more than 350 partner integrations, the marketplace is designed as a central location where customers can find, compare and choose from a bevy of SMB tools and software that integrate with Xero’s cloud accounting software platform.

Business tools that integrate with Xero range from Square and ZenPayroll, to Constant Contact and Google Docs. It’s these partner integrations that Xero is betting on to set itself apart from fellow accounting software provider — and leading US competitor — Intuit and QuickBooks Online.

I have a feeling that this add-0n marketplace is the best way that Xero can really compete with Quickbooks.

08 AugCRM Tools For Small Businesses And Tech Start-ups

Garden 2014

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers or clients. Salesforce is great for CRM, but can be too much for small business, tech start-ups or solo entrepreneurs. A couple of the folks at New Work City suggested some CRM tools that inexpensive, simple and easy to use. All of these are cloud-based so you can access from anywhere.

Streak is free. It integrates with Gmail.https://www.streak.com/

37Signals’ Highrise. One of my former clients used this and it is good: https://highrisehq.com/

Batchbook is for small business CRM, and it integrates with MailChimp. http://batchbook.com/

Insightly is getting a lot of attention lately. There’s a free version to get you started. http://www.insightly.com

01 AugBusiness Tip: Let Referrals Work For You

Serenity #sailout

Tech start-up founders have been honing their origin stories for years as if they were sprung out of a Marvel comic book. However, the rest of us entrepreneurs and small business owners have yet to craft a fantastic fable of success.

The question that is asked most often by budding entrepreneurs is how to get new business. The short answer is, “Everyday I’m Hustlin”.

I have been self-employed for nearly nine years and I can attribute a lot of my success to referrals. Some business owners have erroneously taken the catchphrase from the movie ‘Field of Dreams ‘”Build it, and they will come” to heart. Even if it may have worked twenty years ago, it doesn’t work today. You can’t just build a website or hang out a shingle and expect the masses to come. You have to hustle.

It is better to prepare and pre-game instead. As Keith Ferrazzi said in his book, Never Eat Alone, “Build it before you need it.” What you are building is your and your connections. I have spent a lot of time meeting people and making connections. Some people may call it networking, but networking can seem forced or sterile. Just yesterday, a former client asked for referral for a bookkeeper. I then asked a CPA I know and connected the two people. Today, another client that I interned for then later worked for referred me to one of her friends for work.

Josh Klein, who I met through friends many years ago wrote about this in his book, Reputation Economics. The Whuffie Factor also refers to this. Social capital is key. Building your online brand is key to getting referrals. However, the first thing is to start with face to face contact. Offline leads to online and then a connection is made. Sometimes the connection is not direct. It could be a degree away, but someone along the chain, there was a face to face meeting. There’s no “catfishing” when it comes to business referrals. I could never recommend someone if I have not met or interacted with them and can attest to their competency. My reputation is at stake with every referral. I would expect the same from people in my network. Authenticity is essential. Yielding a win-win-win is the preferred outcome with referring and connecting people. Both parties win, and you win because you earn reputation points. It’s not good karma; it’s good business.

29 JulKeep KeepingNickels.com Alive

Isn’t it ironic that my previous post prior to this one is about crowdfunding and now I am launching my first campaign to this site, Keeping Nickels, alive?  It’s funny but this is serious business. I have been writing about personal finance and small business accounting and fintech for many years. I have covered conferences such as Finovate and SXSW on this site. I interviewed tech start-up founders like Aaron Patzer and Jon Stein of Betterment.  I have reviewed invoicing and accounting software like Freshbooks and Mint.

I need your help.  To cover the cost of hosting, domain and upgrades to the site, I have created a GoFundMe project. All I need is $153. Thank you for reading Keeping Nickels.

Update: So far I have raised 85% of my crowdfunding goals

10 JulSalad Days: Crowdfunding Funds Is Taxable Income

Potato Salad
Have you heard about the potato salad guy? In my opinion, it is a stupid gimmick and I am surprised that Kickstarter approved Zack Danger Brown’s submission. I know people who have submitted more substantial projects and were turned down. Anyway, now the media is loving this story. Potato salad is the new cupcake according to the New Yorker. NOT!

Before, you create a crazy Kickstarter project that is not for a business, artistic or nonprofit endeavor, remember that the money you raise is treated as income and therefore subject to taxes. According to Tax Foundation:

In total, Brown’s federal, state, and local tax burden on his income of $65,912 is $21,167.49 for an effective tax rate of 32.11 percent, leaving him with take home pay of $44,744.51 less taxes and expenses.

The bottom line is that crowdfunding is effective is raising money. However as Biggie said, ‘Mo Money; Mo Problems”.

16 JunIntuit to Host First Ever Conference: QuickBooks Connect

Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU), announced plans to host its first-ever QuickBooks Connect conference, offering entrepreneurs, small business owners, accountants and developers a unique experience to come together, be inspired and get growing.

Scheduled for Oct. 21-23, in San Jose, Calif., QuickBooks Connect will unlock new opportunities for its attendees. The conference will draw a wide range of participants, from first-time entrepreneurs to established small businesses and accountants. It is also expected to attract software developers interested in learning more about using the power of Intuit QuickBooks data.

“We’ve been helping small businesses for more than 20 years and know how powerful our ecosystem can be when you connect all the pieces and players,” said Dan Wernikoff, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit’s Small Business Group. “QuickBooks Connect brings together these parts for the first time, giving attendees the chance to meet the people, see the cloud technology and get the advice they need to thrive.”

The main stage program will include Intuit president and CEO Brad Smith, Founder Scott Cook and entrepreneur and TV star Bill Rancic. Entrepreneurs changing the face of their industries including Debbie Sterling of GoldieBlox and Tristan Walker of Walker & Co. and Code2040, will also be featured. Additionally, the event will offer breakout tracks tailored for attendees’ specific interests, including:

Entrepreneurs looking to turn their idea into a reality will get the information and make connections they need on everything from perfecting a business pitch to securing funding.
Small businesses trying to take the next step toward growth and success will hear from expert speakers and attend hands-on workshops that will provide advice on topics ranging from hiring to marketing and financial fitness.
Accountants embracing the future of cloud accounting will learn about new product breakthroughs and get tips about taking financial management to the next level, earning continuing professional education credits along the way.
Developers wanting to solve important customer problems leveraging QuickBooks data will see how to build and support apps on the rapidly growing, global Intuit Partner Platform and drive customer usage.

Early Registration Discount
Attendees can begin registering today at www.QuickBooksConnect.com to take advantage of early bird pricing of $169. After July 31, the cost will be $199. The price covers the main conference pass, with some pre and post conference activities available at an additional cost. More details, including added speakers, specific track sessions and unique experiences will be announced soon.

About Intuit Inc.
Intuit Inc. creates business and financial management solutions that simplify the business of life for small businesses, consumers and accounting professionals.

Its flagship products and services include QuickBooks®, Quicken® and TurboTax®, which make it easier to manage small businesses and payroll processing, personal finance, and tax preparation and filing. Mint.com provides a fresh, easy and intelligent way for people to manage their money, while Demandforce® offers marketing and communication tools for small businesses. ProSeries® and Lacerte® are Intuit’s leading tax preparation offerings for professional accountants.

13 JunSmall Business Owners: Is this Summer Tax a Surprise? How to Handle It

This post is brought to you by GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping, the simplest way to manage your small business finances online. Sign up today for a less taxing tax time!

You’re rolling right along with your business when you realize that you haven’t paid quarterly estimated taxes in a long time. You know that if you don’t pay them you’ll likely get hit with a penalty or fine come April. However, you also figure it’s not the end of the world and you can afford it – after all, time is money, and QETs take a lot of time.

There are some good reasons you should pay attention to quarterly estimated taxes, though, and they’re not all because of the fines and penalties. Need a little refresher about these taxes and why they’re important? Read on.

Quick Refresh

Did you forget all about QETs? You’re not alone. Businesses everywhere let them slip now and again, some more than others. For future reference, here’s the upcoming schedule:

Q1 – April  15, 2014 (you should have already paid this one on income made from January 1 -March 31, 2014!)

Q2 – June 16, 2014 (pay on income made between April 1, 2014 and May 30, 2014; this due date falls on the 16th because the 15th is on a Sunday)

Q3 – September 15, 2014 (pay on income made between June 1 and August 31, 2014)

Q4 – January 15, 2015 (pay on income made between September 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014)

To get each payment, add up your estimated sales from this year and subtract your business expenses, figure out how much tax you will owe on that profit, and divide by four. This gives you an estimated payment to send in. Use the instructions on Form 1040-ES as your cheat sheet.

You’ll probably notice something strange: you’re being asked to estimate how much you will make and spend in your business this year. This is where the “estimated” part of quarterly estimated taxes comes into play. not every quarter is going to have the same amount of taxes. While your payments may never be 100% accurate, it should all even out when you do your federal taxes in April. You may owe a little more or even get a small bit back, but it should even out.

And even if your estimate is way off, consider the “Safe Harbor Rule.” As long as you pay as much into the system this year as you owed in income taxes last year, you won’t see fines and penalties. Though if this year turns out to be much more profitable than the last, you might find yourself owing a large remainder of your tax bill come April 15th. That’s why it really pays to pay attention to your estimate!

Why You Should Pay Attention

Thing these taxes are a waste of time? Here are a few reasons why you should reconsider.

Preparation – On a basic level, practice makes perfect when it comes to taxes. The more you do them, the better you get…and it’s not like they’ll ever go away. This will also help you with federal and state taxes, as you’ll be used to crunching numbers and sending in paperwork.

Organization – Always feel like you’re running trying to catch up with your business? It could be because you’re disorganized. Regularly doing your taxes every quarter forces you to get your finances in order and get on a regular schedule. This organization could then spread to the rest of your business and even personal life.

Penalties & Fees – Did you really enjoy wasting money? While the fees and penalties might not be exorbitant, they do add up. Plus they’re totally avoidable.

These are just a few reasons why you should pay attention to your quarterly estimated taxes. You can probably think of a few yourself. Put these babies to bed and you can get back to doing what you do best – running your business!

21 MayWhat to Look for in a Small Business Bank

This post is brought to you by GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping, the simplest way to manage your small business finances online. Sign up today for a less taxing tax time!

Looking to make the leap from mashing up your personal and business life to opening up your own business account? Your life is going to get that much easier now that you can run real reports and do your taxes in half the time.

But how do you choose a bank that meets your needs? Picking the wrong one could leave you in the same place as you were when you started out. Here are some tips to ensure an optimum business banking experience.

Fund Availability and Limits

When you get money from a customer or client you don’t want to wait all week for it to go through. Depending on the bank, though, this may be what lies in your future. Some take way longer than others, with some banks taking 3 or 4 days to make a deposit. Be sure to ask about this ahead of time.

Also, some banks will set limits on how you can move your own money around. For example, you may do a ton of business one month and discover you’ve overstepped your transaction limit. Often these limits come with free accounts, but not always. You don’t want to get a few months down the road and suddenly hit on this snag like this.

Staff Personality and Availability

As a small business owner, your needs and challenges are a little different than those of people who only bank for personal reasons. Some of these challenges are going to fit the very meaning of that word more than some. If the people you’re dealing with during your troubled times don’t understand or are outright rude, your life is going to be a nightmare.

 

It’s vital you have people in that bank who you can talk to. Also, make sure to check their availability. The bank itself may have great hours, but only one teller at the drive-thru window at all times. Check this out before you spend your valuable time waiting in line at the bank.

 

Fees

This may ultimately be what turns you off a bank or changes your mind on another one. Banks have so many fees and some of them are totally hidden until they pop up later. This is one area where you should talk to other business owners or just people around the community to see what their experience was.

A few fees to keep your eye on: ATM fees, transaction fees, low balance fees, and even bank teller visit fees. Some bank accounts even charge you unless you use 100% technology (website, smartphone, etc.) to interact with the bank. Good research is required to avoid these.

High-Tech

Banks are getting more and more sophisticated. Remember the days you had to go into the bank and interact with real, live human beings? That is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Many banks now have the ability to add funds by smartphone simply by snapping a picture. Bank of American even has a Skype-like feature with a remote employee!

Is this stuff important to you? If so, make sure to ask what they offer. Look up online to see if there are any changes coming on the horizon.

What bank do you recommend for small business banking?

05 MayTake Five: News From The FinTech World

Spring roses

Xero is offering a scholarship to United States students who are majoring in accounting or finance a scholarship. Apply by August 30th.

Prosper, the online lending site, gets a $70M investment.

If some big banks won’t take deposits from people who work in porn, then will they put their money into bitcoin?

Atlanta-based tech start-up  Kabbage gets a boost with $50M in venture capital. Kabbage lends money to small businesses.

Square delays IPO; It is working on building its product and marketing to small businesses.

 

01 MayFinovate Best In Show

There were 68 demos from fintech companies over the last two days at Finovate Spring in San Jose. The Best In Show winners covered the areas of personal finance, credit card security, mobile wallet, and investing.

  • EyeVerify- Eyeprint Verification technology that enables mobile biometric authentication
  • Loop- Smart mobile wallet system accepted at virtually every retail POS terminal without making changes to the existing POS system.
  • Motif Investing-Advisor Platform that streamlines the way advisors build, monitor, and rebalance investment portfolios.
  • Ondot Systems- CardControl technology that allows users to remotely control their credit and debit cards via their smartphone.
  • PrivatBank-  contactless smartphone-enabled Android ATM technology.

01 MayHow Spring Cleaning Your Finances Can Improve Your Business

This post is brought to you by GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping, the simplest way to manage your small business finances online. Sign up today for a less taxing tax time!

Thinking of doing some spring cleaning for your business? While dusting the desks and replacing the furniture are great ideas, you should also consider spending some time spring cleaning the more conceptual parts of your business. One of the areas you should look at first is your finances.

While you may think business is going gangbusters, it’s tough to really have a good idea of your growth trajectory until you clean your finances up. Polishing off a few simple spring cleaning tasks can give you a much better idea of what your business looks like and also helps you prepare for the year ahead.

Here are some ideas to get you started on your own spring cleaning efforts.

What to Clean

It can be tough to pick a starting point to spring clean your finances considering there are so many different areas to choose from. However, one of the best places to start is to start moving your finances into the digital age.

For example, do you still have physical receipts, invoices and the like around? Do you still bill clients and customers through the mail and have them mail you a check? With so many online options it’s completely unnecessary to have this stuff lying around. Worse, it can totally clutter up your space.

Move as much of your business online as you can. For one, take all the paperwork you have now and convert it into digital files by either scanning them in or sending them a company like Shoeboxed to do it for you. Now you can store them in the cloud or on your computer, making them easily searchable (and not all over your office).

Next, sign up for an account at GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping. This allows you to handle your financials basically hands-free. Your account automatically updates when you get paid or when you shell out for business expenses.

This account also lets you gain access to in-depth reports that show you how your business is really doing. Read your P&L report, for example, on what your real bottom line is, or your Expenses report to figure out where you’re spending your money.

Other Points of Note

There are several other areas you can concentrate on that may need their own cobwebs dusted off. Were you a little shocked at how much you’re spending every month after you ran your Expenses report? Now’s the perfect time to do something about that.

Try looking at the report again and figuring out where you can cut out some money going out of your company. Do you really need that expensive unlimited data plan for your phone? When’s the last time you renegotiated your gas rate? If you’re not actively monitoring these things, they can add up, quickly.

Also, try to get ahead of the game as much as you can. Taxes are always a pain – unless you plan well in advance. You can use dates from the IRS itself to set up your own calendar so you never miss a sales tax, federal tax, quarterly estimated tax, or other tax payment again.

Schedule as much in advance that you can so you’re never surprised again. This also helps you run your business more smoothly since you won’t be blindsided by anything and can safely spend time growing your company.

Are you spring cleaning your small business? Where are you starting?

28 AprXapo: A Debit Card For Bitcoin?

From PSFK:

Despite its popularity, bitcoin still isn’t the preferred currency of most people since not a lot of places accept them.

Bitcoin storage and wallet service Xapo is hoping to make it easier for people to use bitcoin by launching a new debit card that they can use to spend bitcoin in any place that accepts Mastercard. The Xapo Debit Card works like a typical credit card and would make it easy for people to use bitcoin in real time and at any establishment or online store that uses credit or debit cards.

According to Xapo founder Wences Casares, they will be shipping the debit cards beginning in two months.

I have questions on how a Xapo debit card will work. Bitcoin is not a currency backed by the FDIC. How can Mastercard or Visa secure the credit card? How will chargebacks and credit card fraud work with a Bitcoin debit card?

  • imprimis