The Dos And Don’ts Of Business Credit Cards

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Business credit cards offer one of the most convenient ways for your company to borrow money for goods and services without having to have your purchases scrutinized by a lending institution. Best of all, the revolving credit offered by your card means that as long as you pay off your card on a regular basis, you will always have access to a certain amount of money.

But like all forms of debt, business credit cards have downsides and come with fine print that can leave an unprepared business spending far more money than they should. Below, we’ll explore some of the do’s and don’ts of business credit cards.

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DO

Be Aware Of Terms & Fees

Credit cards come with a lot of fine print detailing everything from introductory APRs to how your reward points are calculated. The more transparent carriers will take pains to make you aware of the important details, but beware of asterisks lurking near numbers. Business credit cards don’t have as many protections as personal credit cards, so you’ll want to know if (and when) your carrier can raise your interest rates.

Choose The Type Of Rewards That Best Suit Your Business

Perks are a big part of what distinguishes one business card from another. With some rare exceptions, perks fall into one of three categories:

  • Money Back: For every x amount of money you spend on your credit card, you’ll get a percentage of the expenditures back as cash. Depending on the carrier, this money may be returned as a check, a bank deposit, a gift card, or credit to your account.
  • Rewards: This is a catch-all for a number of different reward schemes, where you’re credited x number of points for each dollar you’ve spent. These rewards can be redeemed for goods and services from selected vendors.
  • Mileage: If you do a lot of long-distance traveling, some business credit cards use frequent flyer miles as rewards. As with the other types of rewards, you’ll earn x number of miles for each dollar you spent.

Be Aware Of Reward Tiers

As important as selecting the right reward type for your business is understanding how to maximize your rewards. Rewards are usually broken up into two or three tiers (although some don’t have tiers). In most cases, the tiers correspond to the multiplier applied to each dollar you spend. You may, for example, earn 3 points per dollar you spend at restaurants, 2 points per dollar you spend at gas stations, and 1 point for each dollar you spend on other purchases.

Ideally, you’ll want to use your card for purchases that earn you the most reward points.

Calculate The Earning Potential Of Your Card

An easy way to figure out which card is best for you is to break down your monthly credit spending into categories like travel, telecommunications, and office equipment. You can then choose a card that will give you the biggest return on your expenses.

Create A Credit Card Policy If Your Employees Will Be Using It

Since business credit cards are for business expenses, the owner isn’t necessarily the only person who will be using it. You’ll want your employees to be aware of how and when to use the card, and how to maximize its value.

DON’T

Pay Too Much In Annual Fees

One of the easiest business credit card fees to avoid is the annual fee. Unlike most personal credit cards, business credit cards frequently require a yearly fee to keep active. These fees usually range from ten to a few hundred dollars. Many cards will waive the first year’s fees, so make sure you know what you’ll be paying over the long term.

Leave Balances On Your Card Longer Than You Have To

You can file this under general credit card advice, but it’s worth remembering: the longer the cost of an item remains on your credit card, the more that item effectively costs. Why would you pay a higher price than you have to? And best of all, you’re still earning rewards!

Use Your Card Recklessly Just To Earn Rewards

As nice as the rewards are, they can be a trap if you adopt the wrong mindset. Running up unmanageable balances in the hopes of maximizing your rewards points will leave you with a net loss.

Use Your Business Card For Personal Expenses

You won’t get in trouble for it, but it’s a best practice to avoid mixing personal and business expenses. At best, it’ll complicate your bookkeeping. If you’re running a small sole proprietorship with minimal expenses, you may want to just use your personal credit card.

Ignore Prerequisites For Sign-Up Bonuses

Many business credit cards offer sign-up bonuses. In most cases, you’ll need to spend a minimal amount of money before those sign-up bonuses kick in. Factor them into your calculations.

Final Thoughts

A business credit card can be a powerful tool for your business. For a side-by-side comparison of popular cards, check out our 2018 business credit card feature.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

“”

10 Weebly Alternatives

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weebly alternatives

I like Weebly (see our review).

There, I said it.

Weebly isn’t the most exciting or buzz-worthy website builder around, and it is generally not the choice of web designers who design high-end websites for their clientele. However, Weebly occupies a special place — in my heart, at least — for its supreme familiarity and ease-of-use. There isn’t a service out there that makes the website building process easier. Throw in the 300+ feature add-ons available through the Weebly App Center and you’ve got yourself quite a handsome little package.

However, there are plenty of reasons you might want to go with a different website builder. Maybe Weebly’s just too basic for you. Maybe its templates just don’t do it for you. Regardless of the reason, there are plenty of alternatives to Weebly out there just begging for your attention and money. Let’s explore 10 of them!

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wix pricing

Wix (see our review) is undeniably the colossus of the website builder industry. A publicly-traded company with 110 million users in 190 countries, Wix is one of the few website builders with the resources to be able to advertise on the radio, on the sides of buses, and at the Super Bowl.

Like Weebly, Wix offers a limited free plan — one that, of course, requires users to use Wix advertising and a Wix-branded URL — while paid plans run from $5 to $25 per month.

wix

Wix’s website editor is more advanced than that of Weebly, allowing for greater precision in designing your pages. However, if you want an editor that guides you along and holds your hand the way Weebly’s does, just use Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) — Wix will take your content and color/font choices and create a website for you, which you can then edit using a simplified Weebly-like editor. Essentially, Wix is two website builders in one.

Wix’s App Market is an expansive repository of in-house and third-party add-ons that rivals that of Weebly, and its eCommerce system — more advanced than Wix’s — doesn’t take a platform transaction fee from your sales.

There’s a reason why Wix is the world’s most popular website builder, and it’s not just marketing!

squarespace

Squarespace (see our review) is the fancypants of the website builder industry, technically-speaking. Their templates are widely regarded as being the class of the field. It can’t compete with Wix or Weebly in terms of sheer number of users, but that’s due to the fact that Squarespace has no free plan (though you can try it for free for 14 days). Squarespace’s subscription plans are a bit more expensive than those of most of the competition, with plans ranging from $12 to $40/month.

photography websites

Squarespace’s emphasis on style means that people might assume your DIY site is the work of a professional web designer. And with Squarespace’s excellent eCommerce and blogging capabilities, you get a lot for your money. You’ll have to spring for one of the two pricier plans if you want eCommerce without a 3% Squarespace transaction fee, though.

duda

I enjoy Duda (see our review), and not just because Duda’s creators named their company after The Dude from The Big Lebowski (true story).

Duda’s free subscription plan includes a 10-item online store, and I’m always partial to website builders that offer some degree of eCommerce for free. Their two paid plans go for $14.25 and $22.50 per month, respectively.

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Duda’s photography templates are particularly appealing and make Duda a great choice if you’re looking to set up a photography portfolio or blog. But what really sets Duda apart is their use of what they call “personalization rules.” These rules allow you to create elements which appear only when certain conditions are met. You could create a message that displays only to repeat visitors to your site. You could set up a contact page that displays different contact info depending on the time of day — a “click-to-call” button could appear during business hours while a contact form displays during non-business hours. It’s a versatile and innovative feature — one that makes Duda worth looking into for any small business.

From the Russian & Ukranian makers of the old-school code-based website builder uCoz, uKit (see our review) is a website builder that really punches above its weight in terms of quality vs. the amount of attention it gets.

ukit

Sadly, uKit doesn’t offer a free plan. Their four subscription plans start at $4/month and go to $12/month.

uKit’s editor is fantastic, combining depth with supreme ease-of-use. You can build your website piece-by-piece, or you can stack and re-arrange preformatted content blocks. Their template selection is both vast (over 250 at last count) and high-quality. Their blogging tool is top-notch, and they are fully integrated with Ecwid’s online store. All in all, uKit might be the most underrated website builder out there.

Webflow (see our review) is a unique website builder. While Weebly and Wix focus on making website building as accessible as possible, Webflow is a precision web design tool geared towards professional web designers who build websites for their clients. The platform certainly isn’t restricted to web designers, though — just don’t expect a simplified experience!

Remarkably for such a sophisticated site builder, Webflow has a free subscription plan. Their paid plans are categorized into “hosting” plans and “designer” plans, with “team” plans available for teams of designers working on projects together.webflowWebflow’s blogging system is backed by the full weight of a CMS, thus making Webflow a possible alternative to WordPress for bloggers. The one major feature Webflow lacks is built-in eCommerce.

strikinglyThere has recently been a spate of new website builders dedicated to creating single-page websites designed for easy scrolling on mobile devices, and Strikingly (see our review) is probably the best of the bunch. Forbes even put out an article that described the company’s creation.

strikingly

Strikingly offers a free plan that includes eCommerce, though you’re limited to selling one solitary item. Their two paid plans go for $8 and $16 per month respectively.

As I said, Strikingly’s specialty is single-page websites. Businesses whose customers find them largely through mobile devices may find this kind of website appealing — people surfing the web via smartphones often just scroll through a business’s homepage without clicking on any other pages. And with blogging, eCommerce (with a Pro subscription), and a third-party app store, and you’ve got an impressive package for the right kind of business.

pixpa

Pixpa (see our review) is a stylish, attractive website builder with a singular focus: the creation of photography portfolio websites.

Unfortunately, Pixpa has no free plan. Their four free plans run from $5 to $20/month.

What’s cool about Pixpa is that not only are their photo galleries an ideal way to showcase your work, but you’re also given the tools to monetize your images.photography websites

Pixpa’s integration with Fotomoto (an eCommerce service through which you can sell your images as prints or downloads) means that you can take those pictures that are just sitting there uselessly on your SIM card and turn them into cash.

I approve.

zoho sites

Zoho Sites (see our review) has some unique advantages as a website builder. It isn’t the most visually spectacular builder and the templates aren’t the freshest, but since the Zoho Corporation (sounds like a villainous outfit from a comic book) puts out a wide array of highly-rated SaaS business packages, you get a lot of top-notch features lacking in much of the competition.

Zoho Sites has a free plan, but it lacks many of the features that make Zoho Sites the cool product it is. Their three paid plans cost $5, $10 and $15 per month.

The main thing Zoho Sites brings to the table is integration with their advanced business services. Their form builder is so formidable that it could easily stand alone as a piece of software. It’s the most advanced form builder in a website builder I’ve come across.

zohosites

One feature that businesses that handle large amounts of data will benefit from is Dynamic Content. With this feature, you can link to a Zoho Creator database where you can edit your content, which then automatically updates to your Zoho website (along with any other Zoho SaaS product you have linked).

There aren’t many website builders that cater to data-heavy businesses, so Zoho Sites has this niche nearly all to themselves.

jimdo

Jimdo (see our review) was once considered one of the top website builders out there, and while they may have lost a step, they still boast a formidable user base of 15 million. Let’s explore further.

You can use Jimdo for free and get the basic features, but if you want more — like the eCommerce — you’ll have to spring for one of the two paid plans ($7.50 and $20/month).

ecommerce

Jimdo doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, but everything they do, they do well. With solid blogging, eCommerce, and a nifty mobile editor (more website builders need to allow for editing from a mobile device — it’s 2018, folks!), Jimdo is a good, steady choice for individuals and small business owners.

xprs

From the makers of IM Creator, XPRS (see our review) is a nifty mobile-responsive website builder that gets less attention than it should.

XPRS has three subscription plans: a free plan, a Premium plan ($7.95/month), and a plan that allows you, for $350 a year, to white-label the website builder. That means that a web designer can build sites for their clients and then let their clients edit their sites on their own using XPRS.

XPRS’s templates lend themselves very well to mobile devices, though they look slightly underwhelming on a desktop. The editor itself is incredibly easy to use. Every bit as easy as Weebly, in fact. Blocks of content are referred to as stripes. Adding, mixing, and rearranging your stripes couldn’t be more intuitive.

xprs

XPRS’s blogging system is rather lacking, but their eCommerce system — an integration with Shoprocket — is top notch, though the fees are a bit much. All in all, XPRS is a solid website builder that, judging by user feedback on Trustpilot, is well-received by users.

Final Thoughts

If Weebly has treated you well over the years but you find yourself looking for alternatives, there’s a world of website builder options out there for you, of which these 10 are but a few. The right choice for you, of course, depends on the nature of your business or pursuit.

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from San Diego. A native Californian who enjoys the beach, Jason nonetheless prefers to do his surfing on the World Wide Web, the raddest wave of them all. Jason can’t eat raisins.

Jason Vissers

“”

What Is A Secured Business Credit Card?

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Conventional wisdom dictates that you’ll have a difficult time accessing credit — including business credit cards — after declaring a bankruptcy (or if your credit score is terrible). But as true as that can be, it doesn’t take into account the credit cards of last resort: secured business credit cards.

Below, we’ll take a look at what secured business credit cards are, where you can find them, and what they offer.

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How Is A Credit Card “Secured?”

The justification for secured credit cards is simple, actually. These cards address a very specific conundrum: banks can’t afford to extend risky borrowers a line of credit, but businesses often can’t rebuild their credit scores unless they have access to a line of credit.

How do you get around this Catch-22? The answer is counterintuitive.

To obtain a secured credit card, you must first give the bank a sum of money that becomes your credit line. If you make a deposit of $300, the bank will extend you a credit line of $300. That deposit secures your credit card. In some cases, the issuer won’t even check your credit (or if they do, it’s only to confirm your identity).

Simple, right? But wait …

Why Wouldn’t I Just Spend The Cash Directly?

That’s the question, isn’t it? On the surface, giving a bank money to lend back to you at interest seems like a pretty bad idea. In fact, it sounds like a completely insane idea.

Luckily, it isn’t quite as bad as it sounds. If you’re able to keep up with your payments, that deposit is eventually returned to you. In some cases, you may be automatically upgraded to an unsecured card when your credit improves (but not always, so keep an eye on your credit rating).

Even before that happens, there are a few perks that can come with secured credit cards. In some cases, the creditor may extend you a credit line equal to your deposit, plus a percentage of your deposit. So you might deposit $300 and have a credit limit of $330.

And again, the only legitimate reason to ever use a secured card is to rebuild your credit.

Does A Secured Card Function Like Other Business Credit Cards?

Yes. In most cases, secured business cards will offer familiar perks and bonuses. You should be able to find cards that offer cash back or reward points.

And once you set it up, you can use it just like a normal business credit card.

What’s The Difference Between A Good Secured Credit Card And A Bad One?

Short answer: fees and interest rates.

The less scrupulous secured credit cards providers know that you probably have poor credit and will try to take advantage of your lack of options.

If possible, you want to select a card that has a low annual fee or no fee at all. These fees are common even with unsecured business credit cards, but they can end up being quite high. Be especially wary of annual fees over $40.

While APRs on secured cards are often higher, there are secured credit cards with rates in the single digits. On the high end, however, are APRs over 30 percent. You’ll want to stay away from those. If you don’t plan on carrying a balance, this isn’t as big a deal, but you should still avoid high rates if you can. Emergencies happen, after all.

Are Secured Cards My Only Option If I Have Bad Credit?

Not necessarily. A lot of banks will offer high-interest unsecured credit cards with very low credit lines to businesses and individuals with poor credit. Depending on the APRs and credit limits, they may or may not offer you a better deal than you’d get with an unsecured card.

Final Thoughts

Traditional lending and credit may still be hard to come by, but for almost any type of credit you can think of, there’s an alternative available for high-risk borrowers. If you do your due diligence, you can use secured credit cards to your advantage. But once your credit is rebuilt, you’ll want to ditch them for an unsecured card.

Not sure where to start with business credit cards? Check out our some of our favorites.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

“”

13 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Business

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Why Small Businesses Need New Year's Resolutions

The beginning of a new year is a good time to think about what has passed and what is to come, but this time shouldn’t be limited to personal reflection alone.

As a small business owner, give yourself an opportunity to reflect on your business and its finances. What worked last year? What didn’t work and why? Where do you want to be a year, two years, five years from now? What will it take to get there?

Once you’ve spent some time reflecting, start creating new goals to strive for. There’s no better time to reevaluate your business strategy or implement new financial processes than at the start of the new year. Build on what you learned in 2017 and make 2018 even better by creating financial and business resolutions.

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Business Resolutions To Consider

Here are some possible financial resolution ideas to help get you thinking about how to make this year a success for your business…

Create A Budget & Stick To It

This could be the year to create, implement, and stick to a reasonable budget. Most accounting software programs make it easy to create yearly budgets, and some even allow you to use last year’s data as inspiration.

Increase Sales

Who doesn’t want to increase sales? Begin by considering practical ways to make this happen, like creating specific motivations for your sales staff or expanding your clientele. Use your existing accounting software to drill into your sales records and analyze the trends in your business. What sells well? What type of customers buy your products? Leverage this data to make informed decisions going forward.

Go On An Expense Diet

It might be time to cut back on the expenses. Use your existing accounting software and purchases records to pinpoint unnecessary spending. Find ways to automate processes so you can save time on projects and avoid paying excess wages. When it comes to the overall profitability of your business, this is one diet that isn’t so hard to stick with.

Reinvest Money In Your Business

Did your business make a decent profit in 2017? This year, make it a point to reinvest in your company. Increase your company’s assets, or buy those new computers everyone has been needing to boost productivity. Incentivize your employees to stay by providing more benefits or increasing wages. The more you invest, the more return you’ll see.

Try A New Marketing Strategy

Marketing is always changing and adapting. The New Year is a great time to evaluate your current marketing strategy to see what’s paid off and what hasn’t. Continue practicing the strategies that work, dump the ones that don’t, and don’t be afraid to experiment with some new strategies during 2018.

Pay All Bills On Time

A New Year’s Resolution doesn’t have to be grand and impressive. Your resolution could be as simple as paying your bills on time. If you struggled to get all of your bills paid on time in 2017, make it a priority to stay on top of that this year. Use your accounting software to set reminders and automate your billing if needed.

Stay On Top Of Invoicing

It’s easy to get backed up on invoicing. But when invoices are your company’s bread and butter, it’s important to follow through. Fortunately, almost all accounting software allows you to set up invoicing automations and automatic late-payment reminders. QuickBooks Online even has an invoice scheduling feature when you can schedule invoices to be sent at a later date.

Keep Better Tax Records

If tax time is looming large for you right now, a good New Year’s Resolution would be to keep better tax records for next year. Use your accounting software to keep financial records and check out what tax support your accounting software offers.

Switch Accounting Software

There’s no better time to switch accounting software than at the beginning of a New Year. If your software isn’t cutting it, maybe this year should be about finding a program that actually works for your business. Check out our accounting software comparison chart and read our comprehensive accounting software reviews to see which software is right for you. If you need extra help, read our Complete Guide to Choosing Online Accounting Software.

Update Existing Accounting Software

Even if you don’t want to switch to a new accounting software program, it might be time for an upgrade. This could definitely be the case if you use an old locally-installed program. Read 5 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Accounting Software and start your new year right with the best-performing accounting software.

Add A New Software Integration

Integrations are a great way of adding extra features to your accounting software. Integrations can cover everything from project management to time tracking, email marketing, analytics, scheduling, and much more.

Reconcile Your Bank Accounts Every Month

Were you overwhelmed last year when closing your books? Make things easier on yourself by striving to reconcile your bank accounts each month. Not only will this help you to be less stressed, it will help you to be more proactive with your business’s finances.

Automate Your Business Processes

Perhaps, when looking back on last year, you realized how many day-to-day business processes could be streamlined. This year, choose to automate your business as much as you can. Use your accounting software to automate invoicing and billing. Or take advantage of software integrations like MailChimp to automate your email marketing.

Make Resolutions A Reality

We all know how resolutions go. You are oh-so committed at the beginning of the year, but come March, the diets have been forsaken, the gym memberships are wasted, and nothing is accomplished like you thought it would be. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are several tricks you can employ to make your financial resolutions last.

First of all, break the resolution up into smaller, manageable tasks. Resolutions often involve worthy but intangible ideas. Take ‘increasing sales,’ for example. This is a great idea, but how do you achieve it? Break it into achievable components. You could start by running a sales rep competition for the most sales, breaking out a new social media marketing strategy, or implementing a loyalty program to encourage buyers to come back.

Second of all, don’t go at it alone. Bring your whole team in on your business resolutions. Let them know what your goals are for the year so you can all work together to achieve them — and hold each other accountable. Your team may even have a few ideas of their own.

Now that you have a few potential financial resolutions for your business, run with them or come up with new ideas all your own. Whatever you do, don’t let this precious time of reflection and new beginnings go to waste. Seize the opportunity to regroup and create new business goals for yourself and your team. 2018 is yours for the taking!

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she’s not working or daydreaming about her newest story, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

“”

SBA Loans Explained: Everything You Need To Know

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The Small Business Administration (SBA) is an excellent resource if you need a business loan. Loans offered in partnership with the SBA tend to have better rates and fees than other types of loans, typically boasting longer term lengths and lower interest rates. And, because the SBA guarantees a portion of these loans, they are often easier to obtain than bank loans.

Does the SBA offer the type of loan you’re looking for? Read on to find out!

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What Is The SBA?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government institution that was founded in 1953. Its mission is to “aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.”

The SBA assists small businesses in a number of ways, but arguably, its most important contribution to the American business landscape is its loans program.

There are a number of SBA loan programs; these vary according to business need. The most popular are the 7(a) Loans, but the SBA also offers a Microloan program, CDC/504 Loans, and Disaster Loans. These programs are typically offered in partnership with banks, credit unions, nonprofits, and other organizations.

SBA Loan Programs At A Glance

Below is a short summary of each loan. In the following sections, we’ll go over individual loans in more detail.

7(a) Loans General-use small business loans for many business purposes.
Microloans Small (max $50,000) loans for working capital, equipment, inventory, or other business projects.
504 Loans Large loans used to acquire fixed assets such as real estate and equipment.
Disaster Loans Loans used to rebuild and maintain businesses following a disaster.

7(a) Small Business Loans

The 7(a) Loan Program is the SBA’s primary program, and it’s by far the most popular. Many loans fall under the umbrella of the 7(a) program. These include:

  • Standard 7(a) Loans
  • 7(a) Small Loans
  • SBA Express Loans
  • Export Express Loans
  • Export Working Capital Loans
  • Veteran’s Advantage
  • CAPLines

Loan Uses

This is the SBA’s most popular loan program, in part because it’s so versatile and widely applicable to most business needs, though some loans are for specific businesses or specific uses. Of particular note is the SBA Express program. While SBA loans can still have time-consuming applications, the SBA Express program is designed to make the process a little faster.

7(a) loans can be used for many business purposes:

  • Working capital
  • Expansion or renovation
  • Construction
  • Land and real estate purchasing
  • Equipment purchasing
  • Inventory purchasing
  • Starting a business
  • Debt refinancing
  • And other reasons

Eligibility

Eligibility is dependent on the SBA’s standards as well as the standards of the partner lender.

The SBA’s standards are fairly straightforward:

  • Your business must be for-profit
  • You must do business in the United States or its territories
  • You must have reasonable owner equity
  • You must have used personal savings and other alternative financial assets before seeking an SBA loan

If you meet those requirements, you have a good chance of qualifying for an SBA loan, at least in the eyes of the SBA (partner lenders have more standards). That said, the SBA will not fund certain industries, including gambling businesses, pyramid sales plans, and lenders. Other business types, such as farms, recreational facilities, and fishing vessels, might have to meet certain requirements or submit extra documentation to be approved.

Partner lenders might also have additional requirements. Most will require you to have been in business a certain amount of time, have a certain credit score, and maintain a debt-to-income ratio that will support repayments. Specifics regarding these standards will vary according to partner.

Rates & Fees

The maximum amount you can borrow via most 7(a) programs is $5 million. Some programs, such as the SBA Express and 7(a) Small Loan programs, will allow a maximum of $350,000.

Term lengths vary according to why you are borrowing. For most loan purposes, including working capital and equipment, the maximum term length is 10 years. If you are using the loan to purchase real estate, the term length can go up to 25 years.

Interest rates vary depending on the financial institution you’re working with. That said, the SBA has set maximums regarding how much the lending institution can charge.

Currently, these are the maximums:

Loan Amount Less Than Seven Years More Than Seven Years
Up To $25,000 Base rate + 4.25% Base rate + 4.75%
$25,000 – $50,000 Base rate + 3.25% Base rate + 3.75%
$50,000 Or More Base rate + 2.2% Base rate + 2.75%

The base rate can be determined by one of three sources: the prime rate (such as the one published by the WSJ), the LIBOR, or the SBA Peg Rate. Rates can be fixed ( the rate stays the same over the life of the loan) or variable (the interest rate will change if the base rate changes).

For example, if you are borrowing $100,000 and your term length is 10 years, your maximum interest rate might be 7% (the current WSJ prime rate plus 2.75%). As you can see, SBA loans tend to have more reasonable interest rates than many other business lenders, whose rates generally range from about 5% – 30%, or even higher.

The interest rate isn’t your only fee, though. In addition to the interest, SBA 7(a) loans come with a guarantee fee, which varies based on the size and length of the loan. This fee is initially paid by the partner lender, but they can pass the cost on to you. Partner lenders can also charge other fees in addition to the guarantee fee.

Microloans

Microloans are small loans that are typically granted to businesses in need of an infusion of cash to start or continue business growth. The SBA doesn’t originate microloans itself—it loans money to intermediaries, which are then responsible for passing the money to small businesses.

SBA microloans can be a good resource for startups or small businesses that need a small amount of money. Microloans do not exceed $50,000 and have short term lengths, which make them less risky (and easier to qualify for) than larger-sized business loans.

Loan Uses

Microloans are not as all-encompassing as 7(a) loans. Still, these loans can be used for many business purposes, including “working capital and acquisition of materials, supplies, furniture, fixtures, and equipment.” You can’t use these loans to purchase real estate.

Eligibility

In the eyes of the SBA, any business eligible for a 7(a) business loan is also eligible for a microloan. Non-profit childcare centers are also eligible for this type of loan.

That said, the SBA does not actually have a hand in evaluating loan applicants or distributing loans. The intermediaries responsible for distributing the loans have separate application processes and their own qualification requirements. It’s important to note that the intermediaries you’re eligible to borrow from will depend on where your business is located.

Rates & Fees

Microloans max out at $50,000. According to the SBA, the average microloan size is $13,000.

The interest rates are set by the intermediary, but the SBA will not allow them to go over a certain amount. Generally, you can expect interest rates between 7% and 10%. Intermediaries are allowed to set term lengths as well, but these cannot go over six years.

CDC/504 Loans

The 504 Loan Program is designed to promote small business growth and job creation by financing the acquisition of fixed assets such as land, real estate, or machinery.

The SBA works with Community Development Companies (CDCs) and partner lenders to offer 504 loans. CDCs are not-for-profit organizations certified by the SBA that are dedicated to, as you might guess, developing communities. Partner lenders are typically banks and other financial institutions.

Loan Uses

504 loans can be used to fund fixed assets, such as land, real estate, long-term equipment, and construction. Loans can also be used to refinance debt, but only if the debt is “in connection with an expansion of the business through new or renovated facilities or equipment.”

SBA 504 loans cannot be used to fund short-term needs or current assets, such as working capital or inventory. They also cannot be used to refinance most debt (unless the debt meets the above standards).

Eligibility

These are the requirements you must meet in order for the SBA to approve a 504 loan:

  • Your business must be for-profit
  • You must have used other resources before seeking a 504 loan
  • Your business must have a tangible net worth below $15 million
  • Your business must have an average net income of $5 million or less after federal taxes for the last two years
  • You must not be engaged in non-profit, passive, or speculative activities

You must also meet other standards set by the SBA, the CDC, and/or the partner lender. For example, the project has to meet certain community development goals by creating or retaining jobs, improving the local economy, increasing competitiveness, etc. Naturally, you must also be able to prove that your business is creditworthy and that you can repay the loan.

Rates & Fees

504 loans do not have a maximum borrowing amount, but the maximum the SBA will contribute in most cases is $5 million. The amount contributed to fund projects is divvied up between three parties: the SBA, a partner lender, and your business. Typically, the SBA puts up 40%, the partner lender puts up 50%, and you contribute 10%. In some cases, you will have to contribute as much as 20%.

Term lengths vary depending on the use of the proceeds. The term length is 10 years for equipment and machinery and 20 years for land and buildings. Interest rates are based on 5- and 10-year US Treasury rates.

Disaster Loans

If your business has incurred physical or economic damage due to a disaster, you may be eligible for a disaster loan from the SBA.

Disaster loans are designed to help small businesses that have been affected by disasters such as floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes. Small businesses in a declared disaster area can apply for a long-term, low-interest loans to rebuild or weather the aftermath of the disaster.

Loan Uses

Disaster loans can be used to cover physical damage and economic injury losses. Physical damage losses include, as you would expect, damage to real estate, equipment, or inventory. Economic injury is a little more complicated — this term applies to businesses that cannot resume normal operations because of the disaster. A portion of the loan can also be used to make improvements that will minimize or prevent damage in the future.

Eligibility

Private property owners are eligible for disaster loan assistance. This includes small for-profit businesses, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters.

To qualify for a disaster loan, you must be in a declared disaster area. You can check whether your area qualifies via the SBA’s Disaster Loan Assistance website.

Rates & Fees

For small businesses, the maximum borrowing amount for a physical damage or economic injury disaster loan is $2 million. Naturally, the maximum amount you can borrow is based on your need and ability to repay the loan, among other factors. According to the SBA, “The amount SBA will lend depends on the cost of repairing or replacing your business and business contents…minus any insurance settlements or grants.”

Your maximum interest rate and term length will depend on whether or not you have credit available elsewhere. If you do, the maximum rate is 8% and the maximum term length is seven years; if you don’t, the maximum rate is 4% and the term length is 30 years. Disaster loan interest rates are fixed, which means your rate will not change over the life of the loan.

How To Find SBA Loans

The easiest place to start your search for an SBA loan is via the organization’s Lender Match service. After answering a few questions about yourself, your business, and the financing you’re looking for, the SBA promises to match you up with eligible partners within two business days.

If you think you might be eligible for a disaster loan, you might want to take a look at the SBA’s Disaster Loan website. And if you’re looking for a microloan, the SBA has a list of lenders available on their list of intermediaries page.

Bianca Crouse

Bianca is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. As a product of the digital age, she likes absorbing large amounts of information and figures she might as well pass it on. When not staring at a screen, she is probably foraging for food outside, playing board games, or harassing somebody with theories about that movie she just watched.

Bianca Crouse
Bianca Crouse
Bianca Crouse

“”

Prepare Your Books For 2018 With Accounting Software

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How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018

Watch the ball drop in New York City on New Year’s Eve, but don’t drop the ball with your small business in the new year! After holiday celebrations wind down and before tax season begins, take the time to reflect on your last year of business and make vital preparations for the year ahead. Learn how to make the most out of your accounting software by using it as a tool to plan for 2018.

Table of Contents

Reflect On Last Year

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018

Before you can move on to planning a successful 2018, it’s important to reflect on what happened with your business in 2017. Luckily, your accounting software makes this easier than you think. Now’s the time to grab a journal, a cup of coffee, and a few key accounting reports.

The following common accounting software reports can provide great insight into your business:

  • Profit & Loss (or Income Statement): The Profit and Loss report (or Income Statement) shows your total net profit (or loss) for the year. Use this report to see how your company performed overall.
  • Balance Sheet: The Balance Sheet shows your company’s assets, liabilities, and equity. It’s good to know these totals in general, but you can use this report to apply for funding as well.
  • General Ledger: The General Ledger report shows all transactions from all accounts during the year. This report is helpful for a more detailed analysis.
  • Statement Of Cashflows: The Statement Of Cashflows report shows all transactions affecting cash accounts. Use this to learn how much cash your company has gained.
  • Statement Of Owner’s Equity: The Statement Of Owner’s equity shows owner’s equity at the end of the year
  • Budget Overview: The Budget Overview report compares your yearly budget with the actual money you spent. Use this both to see how you performed and to plan your 2018 budget.
  • Sales By Customer: The Sales By Customer report is self-explanatory and can be helpful for gauging your biggest clientele.
  • Sales By Item: The Sales By Item report is helpful for learning which items did well and which didn’t sell as successfully.
  • Sales By Employee: The Sales by Employee (or Sales Rep) report shows which employees have been most successful so you can use their methods to create a successful sales strategy.

In analyzing these reports, ask yourself:

  • What worked this year and what didn’t?
  • Where did my business succeed?
  • Where could it still improve?
  • Did we meet our goals? Why or why not?

I recommend filling a journal with notes. Not only will you be able to see your successes and the areas that need improvement clearly on paper, you can also refer back to these notes in the future to follow your business’s journey through the years.

Consider encouraging your managers and employees to do the same — or even make a day of it in the office!

Create New Goals For 2018

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018Now that you’ve taken some time to consider what happened in 2017, start creating goals for 2018. Start with the big picture. Ask yourself:

  • Where do I see my business by the end of next year?
  • Do I want to increase sales? By how much?
  • Do I want to increase employee focus? In what ways?
  • Do I want to expand my business? If so, how?

Think of general goals for the business as a whole and personal goals for yourself as a business owner. Ask your managers or employees to weigh in on their goals and ideas for the company as well.

Now that you have a few big goals jotted down, start thinking of smaller, practical steps that can lead you toward those bigger dreams. Big projects — like improving sales — can be daunting (which I’m sure I don’t have to remind you). But when you break a goal into many smaller, achievable checkpoints, the big projects can be completed with relative ease.

Take the time to parcel your goals for 2018 into manageable, practical baby steps, and you’ll stand an excellent chance of having a banner year. You can record these in your business journal to look back on later, or you can create tasks for these goals in several accounting programs.

If you need some extra inspiration, create a 2018 goals list on your office bulletin board, or keep a copy on your desk to stay motivated. Send a company goal list to each of your employees so that the whole business is on the same page, working toward the same goals.

Make A Budget For The Year

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018While budgeting can be incredibly daunting, accounting software makes the process easy. Most accounting software programs even have a built-in budgeting feature.

For example, with QuickBooks or Xero, you can create yearly budgets from scratch or generate them automatically based on last year’s data. If you created a 2017 budget using your accounting software, make sure to also take advantage of that software’s budgeting reports, which can help you analyze last year’s income and expenses and better plan for 2018.

Brainstorm A New Sales Strategy

Now is the time to update or create a brand new sales strategy for the next 12 months. Consider what’s working about your current sales plan and what could stand improvement. Which processes and marketing strategies were successful last year? Are there any sales tactics or marketing strategies that you haven’t tried yet?

I recommend taking a look at the sales reports your accounting software provides. Reports like Sales by Item and Sales by Customer can help you see what products are successful and give you a better idea of how to reach your target audience. It can also be very useful to look at Sales by Sales Rep reports with your sales team and have each member share which sales methods have been successful for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for input. Your employees may have terrific new ideas to implement or ways to improve current processes.

It’s nice to create a formal, written sales plan that you can then distribute to your sales team and refer back to this time next year.

Consider Integrations

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018Integrations may be the answer to achieving your 2018 business goals. Integrations are software add-ons that connect directly with your accounting software to bring you more features. Integrations vary, and may involve anything from CRM to email marketing to scheduling to project management to time tracking to analytics and more.

When should you use an integration?

  • If you need features that your accounting software doesn’t have.
  • If you spend too much time on tasks and need to automate processes.
  • If you want to offer more payment gateways for customers to pay you faster.

Go back to your list of 2018 goals and your analysis of 2017. Consider whether an integration could be the answer to fixing an area that needs improvement or achieving a brand new goal.

Update Contact Information

If you read our Small Business: How To Close Your Books At The End Of The Year post, then you’ve already updated your employees’ information. Now is a great time to take a break and make sure the rest of your contact information is accurate. Ensure that the contact information for your customers and vendors is completely up-to-date. Mark customers or vendors as inactive if needed, to clean up your software.

This is a great time to check up on customers as well. Send consistent customers a thank you card or reach out to old customers to see if they are interested in your products or services once more. Not only will you feel better having everything organized, you could potentially start the year off with some new sales and happy customers.

Get Organized

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018The start of a new year is a great time to get organized.

We’re talking about more than cleaning your desk, folks. Evaluate your current filing system to see how efficient and up-to-date it is. Maybe create a better way to store online accounting records and reports. Upload your receipts directly to your accounting software to store them in the cloud and save some paper. Whatever this looks like for your company, you won’t regret starting the year off with a clean, organized slate.

Give Your Invoices A Face-lift

If you want your company to get off to a fresh start this year, consider updating your invoice template. It seems like a small thing, but having an appealing, modern invoice is a huge plus for businesses. Say goodbye to boring black and white, Times New Roman templates or Excel monstrosities, and ring in the new year with a new look. Don’t be afraid to use color, be bold, and show off your company logo. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Invoice templates are more than a means of getting paid — they’re a reflection of your company’s professionalism and brand. Start off 2018 with a template that you’re excited about.

Final Thoughts

Taking a little time to reflect on 2017 and plan for 2018 can make all the difference if you want to run a successful business this year. We hope that these suggestions inspire you to think deeply about your business’s goals and act practically to achieve them.

From our company to yours, we wish you a very happy New Year!

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she’s not working or daydreaming about her newest story, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

“”

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

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How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

QuickBooks Pro offers over 200 reports; don’t let these potential business insights go to waste. You can create valuable reports following these 12 simple steps:

Table of Contents

Run A Report

To begin, go to Reports>Report Center or access the Report Center under “My Shortcuts” on the left-hand side of your QuickBooks Pro account.

Step 1: Choose Report

The hardest part of this whole process will probably be deciding which of the 200 reports to run. QuickBooks tries to help you by keeping things organized.

Across the top of the screen, you’ll see tabs for Standard Reports, Memorized Reports, Favorites, Recent, and Contributed. Until you customize your Reports Center with Memorized and Favorite reports, you’ll go to Standard Reports.

Standard Reports are divided into these report categories:

  • Company & financial
  • Customer & receivables
  • Sales
  • Jobs, time & mileage
  • Vendors & payables
  • Purchases
  • Inventory
  • Employee’s & payroll
  • Banking
  • Accountant & taxes
  • Budgets
  • Lists

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Click on the appropriate category, then select the report you wish to run. If you need help understanding a report, click the magnifying glass icon for more information. For our sample company, we’re going to create a Profit & Loss Standard Report.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Step 2: Select Date Range

Select the date range you want the report data to be from. You can enter the dates manually underneath the report you selected, or you can choose a default date type, including:

  • Today
  • This week
  • This week-to-date
  • This month
  • This-month-to-date
  • This fiscal quarter
  • This fiscal quarter-to-date
  • This fiscal year
  • This fiscal year-to-last month
  • This fiscal year-to-date
  • Yesterday
  • Last week
  • Last week-to-date
  • Last month
  • Last month-to-date
  • Last fiscal quarter
  • Last fiscal quarter-to-date
  • Last fiscal year
  • Last fiscal year-to-date
  • Next week
  • Next 4 weeks
  • Next month
  • Next quarter
  • Next fiscal quarter
  • Next fiscal year
  • Custom

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Step 3: Run Report

You’ll see the four icons pictured below.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

The green arrow runs the report; the magnifying glass shows you more information about the report; the heart ‘favorites’ this report for you; the blue question mark is for help. When you’re ready to run the report, click the green arrow.

Step 4: Choose Report Basis

Choose either accrual or cash-basis accounting for your report.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Step 5: Adjust Filters

Click “Show filters.” Then delete filters if needed. You can create additional filters during step 9.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Step 6: Verify Date Range

If you already selected a date, you can move on to step 7. If not, select a date type as well as a start and end date.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Step 7: Select Included Columns

Choose which columns to include in your report (column selections may vary by report). You can choose:

  • Total only
  • Day
  • Week
  • Two week
  • Four week
  • Half month
  • Month
  • Quarter
  • Year
  • Customer:Job
  • Vendor
  • Employee
  • Payroll Item Detail
  • Payee
  • Rep Class
  • Item Type
  • Item Detail
  • Shipping Method
  • Terms
  • Payment Method
  • Sales Tax Code

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Step 8: Select Sorting Default

If desired, you change the sorting default.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Step 9: Customize Report (Optional)

You can customize your reports. While customizations may vary by report, you will often be able to change the data shown and edit the filters, headers, footers, and overall appearance of your report. Click the blue “OK” button when you’ve finished your alterations.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

QuickBooks Pro gives you the option to comment on your report. Click the “Comment on Report” button in the top left-hand corner, then click the small chat bubble next to the lines you wish to comment on.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Type your comment in the box and click “Save” when done.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Step 11: Share Report Template (Optional)

You can choose to share your customized report with the QuickBooks community if desired by clicking the “Share Template” button on the top of the screen. Your template will be shared with other QuickBooks users who can then use your customized template for their own businesses (none of your report data will be shared, only the template format).

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Step 12: Take Action

Finally, choose whether to print, email, or export your report.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Print Report

Click the “Print” button and choose whether to print the report or save the report as a .pdf.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Adjust your print settings and then click the blue “Print” button when ready.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Email Report

To email your report, click the “E-mail” button and choose whether to email the report as an Excel file or as a .pdf.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

You’ll receive a message warning you that email is not secure and could be dangerous if sending sensitive information. If this is okay with you, click the blue “OK” button.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Next, enter the appropriate email recipient address and edit the body of the email message. Click the blue “Send” button when ready.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Export Report to Excel

To export your report, click the “Excel” button. Then choose whether you are creating a new Excel worksheet or updating an existing worksheet.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Tell the software what to do with the report. You can choose between:

  • Create new worksheet
  • Update existing worksheet
  • Replace existing worksheet
  • Create a comma separated values (.csv) file)

Certain selection may require additional information. Once everything looks right, click the blue “Export” button and save the file accordingly.

How To Run Reports In QuickBooks Pro

Repeat this process anytime you’d like to create a report.

For troubleshooting issues, check out the QuickBooks Community or call QuickBooks directly. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she’s not working or daydreaming about her newest story, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

“”

5 Patreon Alternatives

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patreon alternatives

For a wide array of podcasters, YouTubers, writers, journalists, artists, comedians, and other creatives, Patreon (see our review) has provided a convenient means of monetizing output that was previously unavailable. Patreon’s conception of crowdfunding, based as it is on ongoing donations from patrons in exchange for exclusive content, is well-suited to those who produce works that people enjoy but who previously had no means by which to get compensated for their toil.

However, if you’re on the lookout for an alternative to Patreon (as are many Patreon creators ever since Patreon introduced — and then rescinded — their unpopular new fee policy), there are several other good options. Let look at some of them!

Table of Contents

1. Kickstarter

I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you what Kickstarter is. You’re also likely aware of the fact that Kickstarter (see our review) crowdfunding campaigns do not operate on Patreon’s recurring subscription-like model. However, if you’re a creator whose focus is on putting out, say, a few major works per year — as opposed to a continuous stream of content — Kickstarter may work for you. You can always launch a new Kickstarter campaign after your old one runs its course.

Kickstarter vets crowdfunders fairly strenuously, so not everyone gets in. It’s a more exclusive platform than most of its rewards crowdfunding peers, which is a factor to consider if you’re a small-time creator. But with nearly $3.5 billion in dollars pledged to Kickstarter campaigns — and over 136K successfully-funded projects — Kickstarter’s track record is nothing to sneeze at.

One thing to keep in mind about Kickstarter campaigns is that the funding is all-or-nothing. If you don’t raise your goal amount within the time frame you specify (anywhere from 1 to 60 days), you get nothing — no soup for you. Launching a Kickstarter campaign requires a certain degree of confidence in your ultimate success.

As for fees, Kickstarter and Patreon don’t differ a great deal in this respect. Both Kickstarter and Patreon take a 5% cut of what you earn, with payment processing fees taking upwards of 3% of the rest.

2. Indiegogo

Indiegogo (see our review) is another alternative consider, and while it has a lot in common with Kickstarter, there are some key differences.

Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns are not continuous and have concrete start and end dates. Unlike Kickstarter, however, Indiegogo doesn’t pre-screen the campaigners who sign up to crowdfund, making it a less exclusive platform for creatives. Indiegogo also gives you the choice of whether you want your campaign to be all-or-nothing or keep-whatever-you-raise in its structure. With the latter, you won’t be left with nothing if your campaign fails to reach its funding goal.

The maximum campaign length with Indiegogo is 60 days. Indiegogo’s fee structure is nearly identical to that of Kickstarter and Patreon — 5% to the platform, ~3% to the payment processor.

Think of Indiegogo as a slightly more relaxed Kickstarter.

3. Donation Buttons

Here’s a crowdfunding solution that ensures you won’t have to pay a 5% platform fee to anybody: You can just directly solicit donations from those who enjoy your work. Payment providers like Stripe (see our review) and PayPal (see our review) have buttons you can place on your site for just this purpose.

These payment providers allow people to make recurring payments, so your fans can sign up to support you on a continuing basis (just as with Patreon). Of course, you won’t be getting any of the extra crowdfunding services you’d get with Patreon (reward distribution, patron management, analytics, etc.), so this funding solution will require more of your time and energy than Patreon. Then again, you’ll get more of every pledge made to you. If you have an existing fanbase motivated to pay up for your content and the ability to manage everything manually, this may be a crowdfunding route worth exploring.

Now, let’s take a look at a few crowdfunding sites that share Patreon’s subscription-based crowdfunding model.

4. Podia

Formerly called Coach, Podia isn’t one of the better-known crowdfunders out there — in fact, they’re new to the crowdfunding game, having just launched their new Patreon-like Membership service a few weeks ago (I’m writing this in December 2017). Prior to this, the site — then known as Coach — was simply a service with which people could sell online courses and digital downloads as standalone purchases.

Podia is keen to invite comparisons between themselves and Patreon — in fact, they’ve put up a page on their site devoted to showcasing themselves as a superior Patreon alternative. Their main selling point is this: Podia charges no fees on the donations your contributors make. Instead, you pay a flat monthly fee to use the service. You’ll have to pay $79 per month for the Membership package and $39/month if you just want to sell online courses/digital downloads and use Podia’s email marketing services. If you can draw a significant monthly income from selling access to your work, you’ll be paying less in fees with Podia than with Patreon. However, if you pull in just a few hundred bucks a month or less, Podia is clearly not a more cost-effective crowdfunding service than Patreon. It all depends on the level of support you get from your followers.

5. Memberful

Memberful is a decidedly different way to make money from your work. It’s not a crowdfunding platform, but rather a plugin you install on your website through which you sign people up for subscriptions to receive exclusive content. You can set up the application to accept subscriptions for different lengths of time (monthly, yearly etc.) and for different subscription plans that give access to varying levels of content.

If you sign up for Memberful’s Starter plan, you won’t pay any monthly fee, but Memberful will take a whopping 10% of what you earn — and that’s before you get to the payment processing fees. Memberful’s Pro and Enterprise plans cost $25 and $100 per month (respectively) while cutting the platform fee down to 2% and 1% (respectively). Both give access to features like coupon codes and newsletter integrations. Memberful isn’t a funding solution for everybody, but for the right sort of creator, it may be worth checking out.

Coming Soon: Drip

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kickstarter’s new Patreon-like subscription-based crowdfunding platform, Drip. Drip is still invitation-only at this point, so we’re still waiting for a proper release. However, given that it has the weight of Kickstarter behind it and is clearly Kickstarter’s response to Patreon’s popularity, I expect it to become Patreon’s main rival when it becomes open to everybody. Details are scarce at this point, but Drip promises to integrate with Kickstarter so the 13.7 million backers currently on Kickstarter can use their login details and payment info to start backing Drip projects without having to set up a new profile. They also promise that Drip campaigns will feature a “founding membership period” during which backers will be designated “founding members” and get special perks for jumping in early. It’s an intriguing way to get people motivated to support you during your campaign’s early days.

Few details are available, but when Drip is released to the general public, I’m going to try to be the first person to post a review of it. Stay tuned!

Final Thoughts

Monetizing your work online has long been a challenge. Thankfully, platforms like Patreon and its various alternatives have arisen to plug this market inefficiency and help creators make money from the very people who consume and enjoy their content. No single solution is right for everybody, so check out these platforms (heck, check out other ones too if you want!) to determine which funding model makes sense for your particular needs.

Now go forth, create, and get paid!

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from San Diego. A native Californian who enjoys the beach, Jason nonetheless prefers to do his surfing on the World Wide Web, the raddest wave of them all. Jason can’t eat raisins.

Jason Vissers

“”

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

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How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

There are a lot of great time tracking applications in the world, but one of the best things about QuickBooks Pro is that you can do all of your time tracking directly within the software. No more confusing Excel sheets, lost paystubs, or expensive third-party integrations!

We’ll teach you how to track time and create timesheets using your QuickBooks Pro software in a few easy-to-follow steps.

Before you keep reading, make sure all of your employees, customers, and projects are properly added into QuickBooks. Take a look at these posts to learn how…

…or jump straight into time tracking with these step by step instructions.

Table of Contents

Enter Time

To enter time into QuickBooks Pro, begin by going to Customers>Enter Time>Time/Enter Single Activity.

Step 1: Choose Date

Choose the date for the hours you wish to track using the drop-down calendar.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 2: Select Employee

Select the proper employee for the hours worked.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

When you click on an employee, you’ll receive this popup message.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Click “Yes” if you want the hours you enter to automatically be added to your employee’s payroll timesheet.

Step 3: Select Customer Or Job

Use the drop-down menu to select the customer or job attached to these hours.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 4: Choose Service Item

Use the drop-down menu to select the service item performed for your customer or job during these hours. If you haven’t added any services yet, read our How To Add Items In QuickBooks Pro post where we cover how to add service items.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 5: Choose Payroll Item

Select a payroll item. If you haven’t created payroll items yet, refer to our How To Add An Employee In QuickBooks Pro post where we cover payroll items in detail.

The payroll selections available will depend on how your company is set up, but here are the payroll items we had to choose from as an example:

  • Contractor rate
  • Holiday overtime
  • Hourly overtime
  • Hourly rate
  • Starting hourly rate

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 6: Enter Time

To enter time, you can manually type in the amount of time worked, or you can use the built-in timer to track your hours while you’re working.

Step 7: Add Notes (Optional)

You and your employees can add optional notes about the hours worked.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 8: Mark As Billable

Mark whether the hours are billable or unbillable using the box in the top right-hand corner.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 9: Save Time Entry

To record your time, click “Save & Close.” Click “Save & New” if you’re planning on making another time entry.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Create A Timesheet

Step 1: Select Employee

Select the proper employee for the hours worked.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 2: Choose Work Week

Choose the proper work week dates using the calendar icon.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 3: Select Customer Or Job

Use the drop-down menu to select the customer or job attached to these hours. If multiple projects are being worked on in a single timesheet, use one line per each customer or project.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 4: Choose Service Item

Use the drop-down menu to select the service item performed for your customer or job during these hours. If you haven’t added any services yet, read our How To Add Items In QuickBooks Pro post where we cover how to add service items.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 5: Choose Payroll Item

Use the drop-down menu to select the service item performed for your customer or job during these hours. If you haven’t added any services yet, read our How To Add Items In QuickBooks Pro post where we cover how to add service items.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 6: Enter Daily Hours

Enter the hours worked each day of the week. (Use the format 0:00 for entering exact hours and minutes; use the format 0.00 if you want QuickBooks to automatically change a decimal into hours and minutes.)

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 7: Verify Total Hours

QuickBooks automatically totals the hours worked, but be sure to double check that the amount looks correct.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 8: Mark As Billable

Mark whether the hours are billable or unbillable using the box in the top right-hand corner.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

Step 9: Save Timesheet

To save your timesheet, click “Save & Close.” Click “Save & New” if you’re planning on adding another timesheet.

How To Track Time In QuickBooks Pro

You can now print timesheets or run multiple time-related reports like Time by Job Summary, Time by job Detail, or Time by Item.

If you have any troubleshooting issues, check out the QuickBooks Community or call QuickBooks directly. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she’s not working or daydreaming about her newest story, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

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What Is Affirm And What Does It Offer?

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We often talk about how tightening credit standards have changed the face of lending. What’s less discussed is the effect the Great Recession has had on consumers

American credit card debt, currently amounting to around $808 billion, is one of the easiest types of credit to overextend yourself on. Not coincidentally, many younger Americans are avoiding credit cards at a higher rate. Fewer than one-in-three Millenials claim to have a credit card, for example.

That’s where Affirm comes in. Companies like Affirm count on the fact that cardless consumers will still face situations where they need to buy something that they can’t afford.

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How Does Affirm Work?

Affirm offers point-of-sale (POS) financing. This isn’t a new form of lending, but rather a technology-assisted reinvention of an old lending model.

Here’s an example of how the process works:

You decide you can’t possibly live without the hottest new gaming console a moment longer, so you add it to your online shopping cart and proceed to checkout. Among your options to pay are the usual credit and debit cards, along with payment processors like PayPal. But this merchant also provides an option to use Affirm, which allows you to take out a short-term loan on the spot to finance the exact cost of your purchase. You’re given the choice of paying back the loan over the course of three, six, or 12 months. Affirm then shows you how much money you’ll be paying back, expressed as both an interest rate and a dollar amount. If you accept, your purchase is processed.

Congratulations, you’re the proud owner of a new game console…and a short-term loan!

Isn’t That Just How A Credit Card Works?

In a sense, sure. Revolving lines of credit and short-term loans have a lot in common. In both cases, you’re “taking out” an amount of money equal to the cost of your purchase, which you’ll be paying back (hopefully) within the next few months. Additionally, in both cases, creditors aren’t concerned with what you’re buying, just the amount you’re requesting/using.

But there are some important differences.

The big one is that Affirm evaluates each loan separately rather than as a line of credit. You won’t be cut off when you hit a specified credit limit, but your loan may be denied if you missed payments on other Affirm loans or if they believe you’ve overextended yourself. Additionally, Affirm may not always cover the entirety of your purchase; you may have to make a downpayment.

You can expect APRs between 10% – 30% with Affirm. The average credit card APR is around 15%, so you can easily end up paying more than you would with a credit card. Loans are capped at $10,000.

Why Would I Want To Use Affirm Instead Of A Credit Card?

The short answer is that it’s mostly a matter of your own spending psychology, but there are some specific reasons why you might choose a POS loan over a credit card purchase.

You Have Poor Credit

Credit card companies aren’t quite as conservative as they were during the financial crisis, but many shoppers may still find themselves unable to access credit. Or they may only qualify for a very low credit limit. POS lenders take credit into account (Affirm, for example, does a soft pull on your credit when you first signup), but don’t weight it as heavily.

You’ve Maxed Out Your Credit Cards

While you may want to reconsider taking on more debt, there’s nothing really stopping you from utilizing both credit cards and POS loans.

Special Offers

It’s not unusual for credit card companies to offer 0% APR introductory rates. PoS loans also come with 0% APR offers, but they’re a little different. Instead of being attached to new accounts, Affirm will sometimes offer 0% APRs at specific partner stores.

You Like The Way The Loans Are Structured

Credit cards offer enormous flexibility in how they’re repaid. Other than making the required minimum monthly payment, you can throw any amount of money you want at your balance every month. At the same time, it’s not necessarily clear how much you should be paying to make a good dent in your balance. A POS loan has a prescribed end and tells you the amount of money you need to pay each month in order to meet it.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of diversity in the types of financing being offered to individuals and businesses these days. POS loans fit into the broader alternative lending trends. That is to say, they’re fast, easy, and more expensive. Still, they do provide options for borrowers who have a hard time otherwise accessing credit, or who wish to avoid credit cards’ minimum payment trap.

Meanwhile, if you’re a business that prefers old-fashioned credit cards, why not take a look at our business credit card comparison chart?

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

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