An oft repeated factoid is the old saw, “30 percent of small businesses don’t make it past the first two years.” While the percentage and time duration seem to vary somewhat depending on who you ask, the kernel of conceptual wisdom contained in those words remains more or less the same. The lesson? Starting a small business is hard. Think twice before you decide to do it, and then think twice more.
Why do businesses fail? There are a lot of potential stumbling blocks for a small business to run up against, but it always comes down to one thing: money. When small businesses run out of money, they fail. And for 30% of them, this takes about two years. But lately, this might be changing. The advancement of computers and the advent of smart phones in general has put powerful computing right in our pockets and on our desks. We’ve assembled four of the best finance tools for small business owners. Read on!
1. Compare Bank Rates with Bankrate
Obviously, the choice of bank is very important for a small business owner. Choosing a bad bank can mean poor service, bad interest rates, and racking up lots of nickle and dime charges that really add up over time. On the other hand, a good bank can give you credit at good rates, offer great incentives like Airline miles, even cash bonuses! It can really make a difference, especially for a small business just starting out where every little bit helps.
Bankrate is a database of thousands of banks and other financial institutions, There you can browse and simply compare different offerings from competing banks, allowing you to easily and quickly see which one is offering the best deal for your needs.
2. Different Payment Technologies
Sure, even the simplest, most outdated corner shop has a card reader these days. But did you know that card readers are not the be all, end all of electronic payment forms? There are plenty of new and interesting technologies aimed at helping people spend their money, and they’re not just for huge chains, either.
Square is a tiny credit card reader that plugs into your phone, allowing you to make sales to clients on the go, wherever you are. Apple Pay is a new technology from Apple Computers that allows people to use their phones to pay, and can be integrated into existing cash register systems fairly easily. Both of these should help you get the sale when the opportunity presents itself: never miss a sale again!
3. Simplify your finances
It’s easy to lose track of your bank accounts when you’re spending a lot of money. Who can keep all those numbers straight with automatic deductions, monthly costs, and the other myriad aspects of running a small business?
Enter Mint. Mint is a great tool that integrates with your online banking and automatically sorts and classifies your expenses based on where the money was spent. Swipe your card at a grocery store? That expense is added to your food costs for the month. Rent payment? Mortgage? Sorted into housing. This allows you to get itemized cost breakdowns of your monthly expenses to easily see where you can trim the fat, as it were.
4. Tax Wizards
Ohhh, taxes. Always the friendliest time of year. Luckily, computers have simplified this aspect of our lives too! TurboTax is your one click shop for tax prep. The streamlined wizard takes your financial information and organizes it easily, allowing small business owners to file taxes without the expensive assistance of a tax expert. And you can’t really put a price on independence, can you?
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at [email protected]