Zoho Books VS QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books VS QuickBooks Online

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Mobile Apps

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Customer Service & Support

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We all love a good underdog story. But when underdog Zoho Books takes on one of the biggest names in accounting, QuickBooks Online, can this lesser-known software give QBO a run for its money? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.

Redesigned and relaunched in 2014, Zoho Books continues to only get better. The software offers ample features, the most beautiful invoicing out there (including the ability to send invoices in multiple languages), excellent customer service, and strong mobile apps.

QuickBooks Online has been around since 2004. With advanced accounting, an impressive feature set, almost 280 integrations, and a brand new lending feature, it’s easy to see why QuickBooks Online is so popular.

But which accounting software is better, Zoho Books or QuickBooks?

At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to find the best software for your small business needs. To make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll compare Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online (QBO) based on features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to.

Don’t have time to read the whole post? Or looking for a different accounting option? Check out our top-rated accounting solutions to see our favorite recommendations.

Accounting

Winner: Tie

Both Zoho Books and QuickBooks offer strong accounting. Each uses double-entry accounting and supports both accrual and cash-basis accounting. In terms of accounting features, both offer a customizable chart of accounts, ample reports, journal entries, and bank reconciliation.

Features

Winner: QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books VS QuickBooks Online

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Expense Tracking

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Bank Reconciliation

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Chart Of Accounts

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Fixed Asset Management

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Depreciation

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Contact Management

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Accounts Payable

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Time Tracking

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Project Management

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Inventory

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Reports

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Tracking Categories

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Budgeting

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Print Checks

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Multi-Currency Support

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Sales Tax

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Tax Support

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Importing & Exporting

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Lending

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Note: Feature availability varies by pricing plan.

Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online are mostly on par in terms of features. Each offers beautiful invoicing templates and invoicing automation, as well as inventory, contact management, expense tracking, accounts payable, and project management. While Zoho Books puts up a great effort, QuickBooks Online edges out the competition — but just barely.

QuickBooks Online offers several features that Zoho doesn’t, including budgeting and small business lending. In addition, QuickBooks Online has a much more developed time tracking feature and more tax support. QuickBooks Online gives users the option to add payroll to their software (for an extra cost), whereas Zoho Books has no payroll support.

One place where Zoho Books actually trumps QuickBooks is international invoicing. QuickBooks doesn’t allow you to send invoices in multiple languages whereas Zoho Books does. However, this unique touch isn’t enough to make up for the lack of budgeting and limited time tracking.

Pricing

Winner: Zoho Books

QuickBooks Online offers three pricing plans ranging from $15 – $50/month, with payroll support costing an extra $39 – $99/month (plus $2/month per employee). Zoho Books offers three pricing plans as well ranging from $9 – $29/month.

Zoho Books takes the cake as far a pricing goes, especially considering that you get nearly all of the same features as QuickBooks Online for almost half the cost.

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Zoho Books

As cloud-based software, QuickBooks Online works with nearly any device so long as you have an internet connection and are using one of the following browsers:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Internet Explorer 10+
  • Safari 6.1+

Similarly, Zoho Books is also cloud-based and compatible with nearly any device and works with these browsers:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Safari
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera

Both also offer mobile apps available for Apple products and Androids, although Zoho takes it up a level by offering mobile apps for Microsoft phones and Kindles as well. This, along with supporting Opera, is why Zoho Books wins in terms of hardware and software requirements.

Users & Permissions

Winner: QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books’ largest plan offers 9 users plus one accountant; QuickBooks Online’s largest plan offers 5 users plus two accountants. Additional users can be added to each plan.

Zoho Books offers very limited users permissions, making QuickBooks Online the clear winner here. With QuickBooks Online you can set multiple user roles and control each user’s access to certain features. Because of this important distinction, QBO wins this category despite offering few users.

Ease Of Use

Winner: Zoho Books

Both Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online are relatively easy to use. Both have modern UIs that are well-organized and easy to learn. However, each software suffers from the occasional navigational difficulty. That being said, Zoho Books has far better customer support and fewer bugs and glitches making it easier to learn and navigate.

Mobile Apps

Winner: Zoho Books

Both Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online offer strong mobile apps. Zoho Books receives 4.8/5 stars on iTunes and 4.5/5 stars on the Google Play Store. QuickBooks Online receives 4.7/5 stars on iTunes and 4.3/5 stars on the Google Play Store.

While both company’s apps are fairly close in ratings, Zoho Books’ mobile apps are full-featured and compatible with Microsoft phones and Kindles in addition to iPhone and Androids, making it the winner here.

Customer Service & Support

Winner: Zoho Books

Zoho Books has the better customer support by far. In my experience, representatives respond quickly to emails and I have hardly ever been put on hold when calling their support team. Representatives are generally kind and informative. Additionally, Zoho Books has a well-developed knowledge base with tons of articles, videos, guides, and more — and it all can be accessed directly from within the software to boot.

In the past, QuickBooks Online had notoriously poor customer support and extremely long phone wait times. While the company has been remedying this over the last year or so, QBO still has a ways to go if they want to top Zoho Books in the customer service arena.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: QuickBooks Online

This is one category QuickBooks Online should not want to win. QuickBooks Online has received many complaints. Most complaints revolve around poor customer service experiences, bugs, limited apps, and even a few unauthorized charges.

Zoho Books, on the other hand, has received far fewer customer complaints (granted Zoho Books has far fewer customer reviews in general, but the ratio of negative to positive reviews is smaller). The complaints that do exist revolve around the lack of payroll and limited integrations.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Zoho Books

While QuickBooks Online has a higher number of positive reviews overall, Zoho Books has a higher percentage of positive reviews, which is why it wins this category. Zoho Books receives 4.5/5 stars on Capterra and 4.6/5 stars on G2Crowd. Users love that the software is easy to use, affordable, and updated frequently. They also like the mobile apps.

Integrations

Winner: QuickBooks Online

There’s no question here. QuickBooks Online offers around 280 integrations as opposed to Zoho Books’ 33.

Security

Winner: Tie

Both Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online implement strong security measures. Each uses data encryption, redundancy, routing testing, and physical security measures to protect their data centers.

To learn more about cloud security read our posts Is My Accounting Safe In The Cloud? and What Is SSL? A First Look At Online Security.

And The Winner Is…

Zoho Books VS QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books definitely gives QBO a run for its money. However, there a few areas where QuickBooks Online beats out its opponent. QuickBooks Online offers more integrations, more advanced features, better tax support, and payroll. The lack of payroll, or any payroll integrations, seriously rules Zoho Books as an option for many businesses, solidifying QuickBooks Online’s place as the winner.

QuickBooks Online is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses in need of strong accounting, so much so that we’ve named it the Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses. The software offers strong accounting, decent mobile apps, ample integrations, and beautiful invoicing. QuickBooks Online also has a unique new lending feature, QuickBooks Capital, so you can potentially have your small business accounting and financing all in one place.

However, just because we named QuickBooks Online the winner, doesn’t mean that Zoho Books isn’t the better choice for your business. Zoho Books is ideal for small businesses looking for an easy-to-use accounting software with strong mobile apps and plenty of features. It’s also a great choice if you need international invoicing. If you don’t require payroll or budgeting, you could save a chunk of change by going with Zoho Books instead of QuickBooks — plus, you’ll get much better customer support.

Or, maybe after reading this post, neither option seems right for you. Don’t worry! Our comprehensive accounting software reviews can help you find the perfect bookkeeping solution for your business. If you need extra help deciding, read our Complete Guide To Choose Online Accounting Software.

Check out our full Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online reviews for more information. Be sure to take advantage of the free trials each software provides and feel free to reach out with any questions you might have.

The post Zoho Books VS QuickBooks Online appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Mint VS Quicken

Managing personal finances can be hard, and choosing the right personal accounting tool can seem even harder. That’s why we’re here to compare two of the most popular personal finance management tools out there: Mint and Quicken.

Mint is a cloud-based, easy to use finance tool that’s been around since 2007. The software was acquired by Intuit in 2009 and today it features expense tracking, investment tracking, budgeting, planning, and more. Mint also offers well-developed mobile apps, so you can easily check your spending on the go. The icing on the cake? Mint is completely free.

Quicken has been the big name in personal accounting from the beginning. Created in 1988, this software was also run by Intuit until 2016 when it was acquired by H.I.G. Capital. Quicken offers an incredible number of features and amazing customer support. Although Quicken is a locally-installed software, there are still mobile apps available.

But which software is better? And more importantly, which is right for you? That’s what we’re here to find out.

At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to find the best software for your small business needs. To make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll put Mint and Quicken head to head by comparing features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to.

Mint VS Quicken
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And The Overall Winner Is… ?

Features

Winner: Quicken

Mint Quicken

Expenses Tracking

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Income Tracking

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Online Bill Pay

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Budgeting

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Savings Goals

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Property Management

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Investment Tracking

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Reports

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Credit Score

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Debt Reduction Planner

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Print Checks

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In many ways, the programs are similar. Each offers income and expense tracking, bill management,  budgeting, credit score checks, and investment tracking. However, while Mint offers a ton of great features, Quicken’s features are far more developed.

For example, Mint only allows you to create one budget and it has to be for the current month, while Quicken allows you to create multiple budgets for the current month, next month, quarter, or year. Quicken also offers additional features like bank reconciliation, reports, a debt reduction planner, and online bill pay.

Pricing

Winner: Mint

Mint is completely free to use. There are no monthly payments or hidden fees. The software makes money by advertising credit cards, Turbo Tax, and investment accounts to users.

While you can’t beat free, Quicken is still an affordable option. Quicken offers three pricing plans that range from $34.99 – $74.99/year. The company also often sells the software at a discount. Still, Mint is the cheapest way to manage your personal finances.

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Mint

As cloud-based software, Mint is compatible with nearly any computer, so long as you have an internet connection.

Quicken has more specific software requirements as the program is locally-installed onto a single computer. Quicken is compatible with:

  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Macs with El Capitan 10.11+

Mint wins this category since its requirements are less strict, making it accessible for nearly any user.

Ease Of Use

Winner: Mint

Mint is the clear winner here. Mint has a beautiful, modern UI that is easy to navigate. The features are intuitive and well-organized, and the software offers time-saving automations as well. Quicken is also well-organized, but the UI is a bit more dated and some features are unitive and difficult to figure out.

Mobile Apps

Winner: Mint

Both Mint and Quicken have mobile apps for Apple and Android products. However, Mint’s mobile apps receive much more positive attention from customers, and Quicken’s apps receive low ratings on both iTunes and Google Play. If mobility is one of the key factors in your personal accounting software decision, then Mint is the clear winner.

Customer Service & Support

Winner: Quicken

Quicken not only has better support but also has far more support options. Quicken offers phone support, in-software help, tons of guides, a help center, a community forum, and live chat. In my experience, phone wait times were short and most representatives were knowledgeable and helpful.

Mint, on the other hand, offers very few customer support options. And if you need to talk to an actual person, you’re out of luck. You’ll have to make do with live chat and FAQs. It’s easy to see who the winner is here.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Quicken

This is one category Quicken should not want to win. Quicken has far more customer complaints. Most complaints are from long-time users who don’t like Quicken’s new subscription pricing structure. Though there are complaints about glitches, issues loading transactions, and limited mobile apps as well.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Mint

While both programs have many satisfied users, Mint has more positive reviews and a higher percentage of positive to negative reviews. Mint users love the software’s usability, price, feature set, and mobility.

Integrations

Winner: Quicken

Both Mint and Quicken connect with thousands of banks and online lenders so that you can track your spending and upcoming bills. However, in terms of additional add-ons, Quicken offers seven, while Mint only offers two.

Security

Winner: Mint

This category is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. With a locally-installed software like Quicken, you are responsible for keeping your data secure. Quicken does use data encryption for the data involved in its online features, and the software offers password protection for your Quicken files, but other than that, you’re on your own.

As a cloud-based software, Mint has security built-in from the beginning. We figure that for most people, the convenience of having security taken care of for you outweighs all of the extra efforts of securing your locally-installed software.

And The Overall Winner Is…

Winner: Quicken

Quicken Review

With advanced features, good customer support, and affordable pricing, Quicken is ultimately the better software. However, I still have a hard time naming this tried-and-true program the absolute winner. Unlike most software comparisons we do, in this case, it’s not about which software is better. It’s about what type of person you are.

For people looking for a detailed way to actively manage every aspect of their finances, Quicken is a great choice. It is ideal for users who are used to QuickBooks or who enjoy the complexity of locally-installed software.  If you want to create multiple budgets, track savings goals, and run reports, Quicken has far more to offer than Mint.

For people who want a simpler way to keep their spending in check and manage the basics of their finances, Mint is the winner. It is ideal for users who like cloud-based software and strong mobile apps that can keep up with a mobile lifestyle.

In the end, it all comes down to the level of detail you want and what type of software you’re more comfortable with.

More Accounting Options:

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The post Mint VS Quicken appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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20 Tips To Improve Your Business Loan Application

Improve Business Loan Application

The loan application process can seem overwhelming at times. But keep in mind that all lenders want to know is that you can pay back the loan. Your application is the perfect place to prove that you can and will repay your loans successfully. Filling out a loan application is about being prepared and putting your best foot forward. It’s important to “sell” lenders by convincing them that your business is reliable, profitable, and going places. According to Entrepreneur, potential borrowers should:

Think of your loan application as a sales tool, just like your brochures or ads. When you put together the right combination of facts and figure, your application will sell your lender on the short- and long-term profit potential of lending money to your business.

Easier said than done, right?

We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best tips, tricks, and practices for improving your business loan application. By knowing how to optimize your loan application, you can improve your chances of getting the loan you want. Here are 20 practical tips for nailing the loan application process and increasing your chances of securing a small business loan.

1. Have A Plan

Lenders want you to demonstrate that you have a clear purpose and an actionable plan for your business loan. If you simply say you need $50,000 without giving a reason, most lenders will shoot you down right then and there. Instead, be as specific as possible about your plans for the loan. Explain that you need $50,000 to purchase a new piece of equipment that will double your production efficiency, for example.

Here are some common reasons that small businesses give when they apply for additional funding:

  • Business expansion
  • Purchasing inventory
  • Updating equipment
  • Hiring or training new employees
  • Increasing cash flow

In short, when filling out your loan application, be sure to give a reason why you need the loan and discuss how the loan will benefit your business in detail.

2. Choose A Realistic Borrowing Amount

For your application to be successful, it’s vital to be realistic about how much cash your business needs. Don’t ask for too much, and don’t underestimate expenses or costs and ask for too little.

Don’t guess, in other words. Sit down and crunch the numbers. If you need a loan to purchase new equipment for your business, research exactly how much that equipment costs, including tax, shipping and handling, implementation, and/or any training required to use it.

Lenders want to work with realistic, responsible borrowers who know, to the cent, how much money they need to achieve their goals and grow their business.

3. Calculate Your Monthly Payments

A lender’s biggest question is always “can you pay back the loan?” If you can’t satisfactorily prove that you can repay the loan, you’re out of luck.

Lenders evaluate whether you can afford monthly loan repayments by using the debt service coverage ratio and the debt-to-income ratio. Both ratios are used to determine how risky your business is and if you can afford to pay back the loan or not.

  • Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR): Measures the relationship between your business’s income and debt. Since the DSCR measures how much excess cash your business has after meeting its financial obligations, the higher your DSCR, the better. A DSCR of 1.25 or higher indicates that you have enough cash flow to run your business, while still having money left over to take on new debt.
  • Debt-To-Income Ratio (DTI): Measures the relationship between your personal income and debt as the business owner. Since the DTI indicates how much of your income is designated to debt, the lower the DTI, the better. A DTI ratio of 36% or lower is ideal as it shows that you can afford to comfortably take on loan repayments.

Note: Most lenders rely predominantly on the debt service coverage ratio to judge small business loan eligibility. However, sole proprietors and freelancers are not separate legal entities, so lenders will use your DTI to determine your creditworthiness.

These ratios provide a good indication that you can (or can’t) take on more debt. Before turning in your loan application, calculate your own DSCR and DTI scores. Making sure your DSCR and DTI ratios are ideal will increase your chances of impressing a lender. You can also use these ratios to find out exactly how much you can afford to repay each month, which can help you be realistic about your borrowing amount.

Read our posts Debt Service Coverage Ratio: How To Calculate And Improve Your Business’s DSCR and Debt-To-Income Ratio: How To Calculate And Lower Your DTI to learn more.

4. Find The Right Type Of Loan

All loans are not created equal. To improve your chances of securing a loan, make sure you’re applying for the right kind of funding for your business.

Here are the most common types of business loans:

  • Installment Loan: An installment loan, or term loan, is issued in one lump sum and paid back in regular intervals or installments, plus interest.
  • Short-Term Loan: A short-term loan is issued in a lump sum and paid back in regular intervals over a short period of time. Instead of earning interest, short-term loans have a fixed fee that is added to the repayment amount.
  • Line of Credit: With a line of credit, a lender grants you a certain amount of money that you can draw from as needed.
  • Merchant Cash Advance: While not technically a loan, a merchant cash advance is a type of financing in which businesses sell their future receivables for immediate cash.
  • Invoice Factoring: While not technically a loan, invoice financing is the practice of selling unpaid invoices at a discount in return for immediate cash.

Carefully choose which small business lending method is right for you. Don’t waste your time filling out applications for loans that aren’t suited for your business. Improve your chances of getting approved by applying for the right type of loan.

To learn more about the pros and cons of each loan and to decide which is right for you, download our free Beginner’s Guide To Small Business Loans.

5. Find The Right Lender

Finding the right lender can make or break your chances of being approved for a business loan. Each lender offers different types of loans and has different borrower requirements. Some only lend to established businesses, while others lend to startups. Some only work with businesses that have good credit, while others care more about your annual income. You get the picture.

Carefully researching each lender and their requirements can help you know if you qualify for a loan before putting in all the effort of completing an application.

If you aren’t sure which lender is right for you, check out our small business loan comparison chart or read through our selection of small business loan reviews.

6. Understand The Loan Process

Lenders want to work with responsible, experienced borrowers. Increase their trust in you by having a good understanding of how loans work. Not only does this show that you know what you’re doing, it makes the application process go more smoothly. According to Forbes:

The more educated you are about small business lending options and procedures, the more likely you will be successful in obtaining a loan.

If you’re asking a lender what an interest rate is or to explain the difference between a term loan and a line of credit, it’s time to go back to the basics. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our Beginner’s Guide To Small Business Loans.

7. Have A Strong Business Credit Score

Another key to a strong loan application is having a healthy credit score. Lenders use credit scores to determine that your business is trustworthy and able to pay its loans on time. Having strong credit will not only increase your chances of being approved for a loan, it can also qualify you for better loans with more favorable terms and rates.

Read our Ultimate Guide To Improving Your Business Credit Score to make your credit score — and loan application — even stronger.

8. Don’t Forget Your Personal Credit Score

Lenders don’t just look at your business credit score; they also look at your personal credit score when applying for a loan. Lenders want to establish your character as a borrower to see if you are trustworthy and pay your debts on time. This is especially true if you are required to sign a personal guarantee.

Improve your loan application by having great business and personal credit scores. Improving your personal credit may take some time, but will be more than worth it when applying for a loan. Read our post 5 Ways To Improve Your Personal Credit Score to master your credit score and wow potential lenders.

9. Know What’s On Your Credit Report

When applying for a loan, be sure to know your credit report forward and backward. Lenders will look at your credit report to evaluate your credit history before approving you for a loan. If you know there’s negative activity on your report, explain it to your lender in your application. This may not always make up for the poor credit report, but it might make lenders understand your situation better.

10. Pay Off Existing Debt First

We know you’re probably foaming at the bit to get business funding, but paying off existing debt before applying for a loan could be the key to securing a loan in some situations.

If you already have substantial debt, a lender is far less likely to approve your loan application for fear that you won’t be able to keep up with the repayments. Not only will paying off existing debt show lenders that you mean business and have a good credit history, it will also increase your debt service coverage ratio and lower your debt-in-income ratio, leaving you with more cash to use on a new loan.

11. Increase Your DSCR

Paying off your existing debt isn’t the only way to increase your debt service coverage ratio. If you want to increase your DSCR and show lenders that you have plenty of cash to afford a loan, here are some additional tips:

  • Increase your net operating income
  • Decrease your net operating expenses
  • Decrease your borrowing amount

Finding ways to cut back on operating expenses and increase your sales income will boost your DSCR. In some cases, your DSCR may not need a boost. If your operating income and expenses are already optimized, or if you don’t have time to implement changes before applying for a loan, consider decreasing your desired borrowing amount. Maybe you can’t afford payments on the $100,000 loan you need to replace the entire company’s computer systems, but you can afford payments on a $50,000 loan to replace the equipment for your executives and sales team. Lenders will only approve loan applications for loans when they know that you can afford the payments.

12. Offer Up Collateral

Many lenders have specific collateral requirements. If you don’t have the assets to meet those requirements, you’re much less likely to have your loan application approved. Be sure to carefully research your lender’s borrower requirements to see exactly what collateral they require. Some may require specific assets, while others may simply require a blanket lien or personal guarantee. Be sure that your business can meet these requirements and feels comfortable in doing so.

Once you’ve decided on what collateral your business can offer up, prepare a document outlining each asset offered. Include this in your business loan application to show lenders that you take your business seriously and have something to lose if you default on the loan. Lenders aren’t evil monsters, lying in wait for you to default so they can steal your assets — they just need an assurance that they won’t lose all of their money if you can’t repay your loan. The hope is that you will be more likely to pay your loan back with your collateral at stake.

To learn more about collateral, check out these resources:

  • Secured Vs. Unsecured Business Loans
  • Should I Sign A Personal Guarantee?
  • What Is A UCC Blanket Lien?

13. Prepare The Proper Documents

To complete your loan application, lenders require certain documents to verify your business’s financial history and validity. The documents required vary by lender, but here’s an idea of types of things they might ask for:

  • Cash flow statements
  • Bank statements
  • Income sheet
  • Profit & loss report
  • Statement of owner’s equity
  • Tax returns
  • Collateral documentation
  • Business licenses and registrations
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Commercial licenses
  • Franchise agreements
  • Business history and business owners’ history
  • Owners’ resumes or background

Your lender may not require all of these, but having the above documents prepared before applying for your loan can help the application process proceed more quickly. Gathering these documents ahead of time can also help you have a better understanding of your business’s financial state — always good information to have before seeking business funding!

14. Create A Cash Flow Projection

Lenders don’t just analyze your business’s financial past; they also want to see that you have a promising future. One of the best ways to promote faith in your business’s future is to add a cash flow projection to your loan application.

A cash flow projection, or cash flow forecast, is an estimation of your business’s future operating income and expenses. The best way to create a cash flow projection is to realistically predict your future expenses and sales. Use your past cash flow statements as a jumping-off point so you aren’t just winging it.

To learn more about how creating a cash flow projection can benefit your business, read our article How To Calculate And Analyze Business Cash Flow.

15. Use Accounting Software

Before applying for a loan, you need to have a solid understanding of your business’s financial state and a firm grasp on managing cash flow. One of the best ways to achieve this is by using accounting software. Accounting software will track your income and expenses so you can know exactly how much you’re spending and how much is left to use on a loan.

In addition, accounting software can help you run the reports required by lenders, such as the income statement, profit and loss, and cash flow statements. If you need help finding the perfect accounting software for your business, check out our comprehensive accounting software reviews and compare our top favorite accounting software programs.

16. Create A Business Plan

While not always required by lenders, a business plan can earn you a gold star and shows a lender that you are organized, prepared, and responsible. A strong business plan also allows you to further demonstrate why you need a business loan and exactly how it will benefit your business.

Additionally, a business plan lets you present realistic repayment plans, which assures lenders that you have thought of a strategy for repaying your loan. Many business loan specialists recommend making a repayment plan as well as multiple backup plans, just in case.

17. Be Professional

This should go without saying, but here’s a friendly PSA: Being professional in all of your communications with a potential lender is incredibly important. Whether you’re interacting in person, over the phone, online, or through your loan application itself, be sure to put your best foot forward. This is the difference between being a C student and an A student, which in the business world equates to getting a loan or not getting a loan.

As we mentioned earlier, lenders care about character. Show a potential lender that you are professional, kind, and put together. Always spellcheck your work and ensure that every section of your application is filled out properly. Have all of the required documents ready for when your lender needs them.

And, don’t forget that honesty is one of the most important aspects of a strong character. It’s easy to fib to try and make your business’s situation sound better, but this will only hurt you in the end. Lenders aren’t stupid. They can tell if you’re lying and can easily see when the financial statements don’t add up. Don’t ruin your chance of getting approved for a loan. Instead, be honest and trust that your character and business expertise are enough.

18. Wait Until The Market Is Good

This may seem backward, but don’t wait until you are in dire need of money to try to get a line of credit. Apply for a line of credit when the economy is booming and your business is successful. This way, when you do need to draw on a line of credit, you’ll already have the funds available.

You are much more likely to be approved for a loan if your business is healthy and has excess cash flow — and you’re more likely to get favorable rates and better terms to boot.

19. Don’t Ignore Social Media

For many lenders, it isn’t all about the money. They also want to know that you and your business have a good reputation. For this reason, many lenders review your business’s social media platforms and sites like Yelp before approving your loan. If they like what they see — good customer service, positive reviews, an effort to respond to and correct poor reviews — they can trust that your business has good character. If they see any red flags, they may decline your application altogether.

Treat others like you want to be treated using your social media, and lenders may be that much more likely to “treat you” to a business loan.

20. Seek Extra Help

What Information to Bring Accountant for Small Business Taxes

If you are still worried about your loan application or want a second opinion, you can always seek professional assistance. Organizations like SBDC and SCORE are designed specifically to offer small business advice; your local chapter may be able to assist you in bettering your loan application. You can also have an accountant view your loan application and financial documents. They can help make sure everything is in order and raise any potential red flags that lenders would be concerned about.

Note: Some lenders actually require you to have your loan application reviewed or audited by an accountant. Make sure you know your lender’s policy before submitting your loan application.

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered twenty practical steps you can take to improve your business’s loan application. Now, when you finally send in your application, you can rely on more than crossing your fingers. Don’t guess or trust to luck. By optimizing your loan application and knowing exactly what lenders are looking for, you significantly increase your chances of getting approved.

If you are still looking for the right lender, check out our top-rated lenders. Best of luck!

The post 20 Tips To Improve Your Business Loan Application appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The 8 Best Places To Order Business Checks Online

Best Place To Buy Business Checks

When running a business, every penny counts. One of the best ways to keep your expenses in check is to reconsider where you’re ordering your checks from.

Those of you who are still ordering your business checks directly from your bank may be seriously overpaying. If you want to order business checks cheap, there are tons of reputable, online check ordering services that allow you to get more bang from your buck and refill your check supply without ever leaving the office.

But with so many online check suppliers, how do you know which is best? And more importantly, how do you know which you can trust with your sensitive bank information?

Well, that’s what we’re here to tell you. We’ve spent hours researching and comparing the most popular check suppliers to bring you the best of the best. We chose the top eight places to order business checks based on affordability, reliability, customizability, compatibility, and security. Compare each supplier below and read on for more specific about each company’s offerings.

1. CostcoBest Place To Buy Business Checks

You may love Costco for its bulk groceries and $1.50 hot dogs, but did you know that Costco can also be a great choice for business checks? Of all the check suppliers on this list, none can even come close to Costco’s cheap bulk check pricing. Costco’s computer checks are compatible with 35 different accounting and payroll software solutions and come with basic check customizations. The only problem is that you have to be a Costco member to take advantage of these great deals.

Products Offered

  • Standard business checks
  • Payroll checks
  • Computer checks
  • High-security checks
  • Invoice checks
  • Proprietor checks
  • Personal checks

Costco also offers business check accessories such as address labels, tax forms, ink stamps, envelopes, and more.

Pricing

Costco has compelling bulk pricing for Costco members, and Gold Star Executive or Business Executive Members can receive an even bigger discount on their purchases. Prices vary based on quantity and whether you choose single or duplicate checks. Here is a basic overview of Costco’s checks pricing for regular Costco members:

  • Standard Business Checks: Start at $26.38 for 600 checks.
  • Payroll Checks: Start at $29.38 for 600 checks.
  • High-Security Checks: Start at $80.54 for 600 checks.

For computer checks, price varies based on your accounting or payroll software, but to give you a general idea, Costco’s QuickBooks Multi-Purpose Checks start at $45.55 for 500.

There is an extra fee for adding a custom logo to your checks as well as a standard shipping and handling charge.

Security

Costco is not particularly communicative about their check’s security measures. However, their high-security checks have several counterfeit safeguards such as a foil hologram bar and heat reactive ink. You can contact Costco by phone or email to learn more.

Takeaway

By far, Costco gives business owners the most bang for their buck where checks are concerned. If your business uses a large number of checks, Costco is a cost-effective option.

2. Checks SuperstoreBest Place To Buy Business Checks

Checks Superstore offers one of the biggest selections of business checks available. Top that with strong security features and tons of check customizations options and it’s easy to see why this online check supplier is one of the top picks for small businesses.

Products Offered

  • Standard business checks
  • Payroll/voucher checks
  • Computer checks
  • High-security checks
  • Desk checks
  • Wallet checks
  • Personal checks

Checks Superstore also offers business check accessories such as envelopes, checkbook covers, binders, custom ink stamps, and more.

Pricing

Checks Superstore offers a wide array of checks with affordable pricing. Prices vary based on quantity and whether you choose single or duplicate checks. Checks Superstore often runs promotions, so be sure to take advantage of any deals when ordering. Here is a basic overview of Checks Superstore’s prices:

  • Standard Business Checks: Start at $28.99 for 252 checks.
  • Payroll Checks: Start at $26.99 for 252 checks.
  • Computer Checks: Start at $36.99 for 250 checks.
  • High-Security Checks: Start at $72.99 for 252 checks.

There are extra charges for customizing your check’s font, signature line message, and logo. A standard shipping and handling charge also applies.

Security

With up to 27 security features, Checks Superstore has some of the strongest security measures available. Some of these features include holographic foil, fluorescent fibers, watermarks, and heat sensitive ink. You can contact Checks Superstore via phone, email, live chat, contact form, fax, or read their FAQs to learn more.

Takeaway

With affordable prices, strong security, and great customization options, Checks Superstore covers all of the basics and then some. The company’s wide selection of checks and impressive customer support make it a compelling option. The only potential drawback is that Checks Superstore’s computer checks are only compatible with three software programs: QuickBooks, Quicken, and Microsoft Money.

3. Check AdvantageBest Place To Buy Business Checks

Check Advantage is an affordable online check supplier. This company offers one of the best deals on computer checks and has good customization options. With decent security options and customer support resources, it could definitely be to your, er, advantage to order business checks online from Check Advantage.

Products Offered

  • Standard business checks
  • Payroll/voucher checks
  • Computer checks
  • Desk checks
  • Personal checks

Check Advantage also offers business check accessories such as checkbook covers, check registers, envelopes, labels, binders, and more.

Pricing

Check Advantage is one of our picks for “best business check supplier” because their checks are so affordable. Check Advantage also offers business check kits that can save you a bit of money when ordering multiple types of checks and check accessories. Prices vary based on quantity and whether you choose single or duplicate checks. Here’s a basic breakdown of Check Advantage’s pricing:

  • Standard Business Checks: Start at $33.65 for 300 checks.
  • Payroll Checks: Start at $33.65 for 300 checks.
  • Laser Checks: Start at $19.45 for 100 checks.

There is an extra fee for adding a custom font or logo and standard shipping and handling rates apply. You can also purchase EZShield Plus for additional check security.

Security

Each Check Advantage checks come with six built-in security features including microprinting, invisible fluorescent fibers, a heat sensitive icon, and more. While Check Advantage does not offer high-security checks, you can purchase EZShield Plus protection for added check security. Check Advantage also partners with McAfee and VeriSign for their security measures. You can contact Check Advantage by phone, email, live chat, contact form, or fax to learn more.

Takeaway

For small businesses in need of computer checks, you’ll be hardpressed to find a better deal than Check Advantage. Check Advantage’s computer checks are compatible with five different software programs, but the company also promises to “match any laser format free of charge.” While other online suppliers take the cake for high-security checks, small businesses requiring computer checks need to look no further.

4. QuickBooksBest Place To Buy Business Checks

You may know Intuit QuickBooks for its accounting software, but did you know that you can purchase business checks and accessories from Intuit as well? While QuickBooks checks are a bit more expensive than those of other online check sellers, Intuit boasts the most security features. You don’t have to be a QuickBooks Online or Pro user to purchase checks from Intuit, but QuickBooks users can rest assured knowing these checks are specifically designed with QuickBooks software in mind.

Products Offered

  • Standard business checks
  • Voucher checks
  • Computer checks
  • High-security checks
  • Wallet checks
  • Office and away checks
  • Personal checks

Intuit also offers business checks accessories and office supplies such as deposit slips, tax forms, envelopes, labels, ink stamps, high-security pens, and more.

Pricing

While Intuit checks are on the spendier spectrum of business checks, the company often runs promotions. Prices vary by quantity, security level, and whether you choose single, duplicate, or triplicate checks. Here’s a basic overview of QuickBooks business checks’ prices:

  • Standard Business Checks: Start at $58.99 for 300 checks.
  • Voucher Checks: Start at $36.99 for 50 checks.
  • Computer Checks: Start at $102.99 for 250 checks.
  • High-Security Checks: Start at $61.99 for 50 checks.

Intuit charges a fairly hefty extra fee for adding a logo and a standard shipping and handling fee.

Security

Intuit offers three different security levels: Basic, Secure Plus, and Secure Premier. The highest level offers 29 built-in security features including watermarks, heat sensitive icons, a security hologram, and an exclusive security coating that protects against tampering, counterfeiting, and photocopying. You can contact Intuit’s check support via phone, live chat, email, or read the support FAQs to learn more.

Takeaway

While not the most affordable option on this list, Intuit QuickBooks offers the best check security features. For QuickBooks users seeking peace of mind or who don’t print many checks, Intuit could be a good option for ordering business checks and supplies.

Order Checks, Tax Forms & Other Supplies From QuickBooks

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Purchase QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2018 

5. Carousel ChecksBest Place To Buy Business Checks

While ordering checks may not be as fun as riding a carousel, Carousel Checks does their best to make the experience easy and enjoyable. With great check customizations, affordable prices, and the highest number of compatible software programs, Carousel Checks is definitely worth looking into.

Products Offered

  • Standard business checks
  • Payroll checks
  • Computer checks
  • High-security checks
  • Desk checks
  • Wallet checks
  • Invoice checks
  • Personal checks

Carousel Checks also offers business checks accessories such as checkbook covers, check registers, address labels, envelopes, ink stamps, and even calendars.

Pricing

Carousel Checks are affordable to begin with, but the more checks you purchase, the more you save. Prices vary based on quantity and whether you choose single or duplicate checks. Here is a basic overview of Carousel Checks’ pricing:

  • Standard Business Checks: Start at $31.99 for 300 checks.
  • Payroll Checks: $31.99 for 300 checks.
  • Computer Checks: Start at $19.99 for 50 checks.
  • High-Security Checks: Start at $27.99 for 50 checks.

You can add customizations such as check styles and logos for no extra charge. However, standard shipping and handling fees apply and security features cost extra.

Security

With Carousel Checks, you can purchase EZShield security for an additional cost. Contact Carousel Checks by phone, contact form, or fax to learn more.

Takeaway

Besides competitive pricing, one of the biggest perks of carousel checks is the number of compatible software programs. With over 70 compatible software programs, Carousel Checks is a great option for nearly any small business looking for computer checks. Security does cost extra, but this service still may be worth it for some small businesses.

6. Checks In The MailBest Place To Buy Business Checks

Checks In The Mail is an online check supplier that sets itself apart by offering over 200 check styles. In terms of check customizations, no other supplier on this list even comes close. Add strong security features and custom check formatting to the mix and it’s easy to see why Checks In The Mail is a contender for your small business check needs.

Products Offered

  • Standard business checks
  • Payroll/voucher checks
  • Computer checks
  • High-security checks
  • Desk checks
  • Wallet checks
  • Office and away checks
  • Personal checks

Checks In The Mail also offers tax forms, deposit slips, ink stamps, envelopes, binders, and other business check accessories.

Pricing

Checks In The Mail’s prices are a bit steep next to their competitors, but the company does offer check value kits and occasional promotion codes that can help save you some money. Prices vary based on quantity and whether you choose single or duplicate checks. Here’s an idea of what to expect from Checks In The Mail’s pricing:

  • Standard Business Checks: Start at $53.99 for 252 checks.
  • Payroll Checks: Start at $39.99 for 252 checks.
  • Computer Checks: Start at $49.99 for 250 checks.
  • High-Security Checks: Start at $53.99 for 252 checks.

Standard shipping and handling rates apply. You can also opt to add Fraud Armor protection to your checks for an extra $0.04 per check.

Security

Checks In The Mail offers 15 built-in security features including invisible fluorescent fibers, microprinting, a foil hologram, chemical reactive paper, a patented security weave, and more. You can also add Fraud Armor to your checks for an added layer of protection. Contact Checks In The Mail by email, phone, or fax for more information.

Takeaway

Checks In The Mail is ideal for small businesses looking for a high degree of customizability and strong security when they order checks online. The company only supports three compatible software programs for their computer checks, but Checks In The Mail will create a custom check format for you if you use a different software. While the prices are a little steeper than the other suppliers on this list, small businesses looking for strong customizations may find the price more than worth it.

7. Checks UnlimitedBest Place To Buy Business Checks

Checks Unlimited is your average, run of the mill online check supplier that makes its mark in the industry by offering a 100% satisfaction guarantee. It is ostensibly part of the America Mail Order Check Association (AMOCA), which “guarantee that the checks they manufacture meet or exceed the standards set by the Amercian National Standards Institute Committee,” according to Checks Unlimited. Information about the AMOCA online is scarce at best, so take that with a grain of salt.

The company offers average prices, decent customizations, and computer checks compatible with 10 different software programs.

Products Offered

  • Standard business checks
  • Payroll/voucher checks
  • Computer checks
  • High-security checks
  • Desk checks
  • Personal checks

Checks Unlimited also offers address labels, envelopes, ink stamps, check registers, and other business check accessories.

Pricing

Checks Unlimited falls in the mid-range of online check supplier pricing. The company does offer discounts for ordering checks in bulk. Prices vary based on quantity and whether you choose single or duplicate checks. Here is a basic breakdown of Checks Unlimited’s prices:

  • Standard Business Checks: Start at $43.12 for 300 checks.
  • Payroll Checks: Start at $43.12 for 300 checks.

For computer checks, prices vary depending on your accounting or payroll software, but to give you a general idea, Checks Unlimited’s QuickBooks Voucher Checks start at $83.80 for 500 checks.

Checks Unlimited offers free shipping, although you can pay a shipping and handling fee to expedite the process.

Security

Checks Unlimited does not offer high-security checks. Each of their checks comes with only four built-in security features, although you can add EZShield Pro security for an additional cost.

Takeaway

Reliability is the name of the game when it comes to Checks Unlimited. The thing that sets this supplier apart is that it’s the only program on this list that comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Checks Unlimited may be perfect for small businesses that don’t mind paying a little extra for quality, reliable service.

8. StaplesBest Place To Buy Business Checks

Living up to its slogan, Staples’ online business check ordering service will have you saying “that was easy” in no time. Although their checks are on the spendier end of the spectrum, Staples offers great customizations as well as a “design your own check” option. Their computer checks are compatible with over 45 different software programs.

Products Offered

  • Standard business checks
  • Payroll/voucher checks
  • Computer checks
  • High-security checks
  • Desk checks
  • Office and away checks
  • Personal checks

Staples also offers a huge array of business and office supplies as well as business check accessories.

Pricing

Staples business checks are a bit spendy compared to some other the competitors on this list. However, Staples rewards members may qualify for free shipping which can help offset the cost. Prices vary based on quantity and whether you choose single or duplicate checks. Here’s an idea of what you can expect to pay with Staple’s business checks:

  • Standard Business Checks: Start at $53.99 for 250 checks.
  • Payroll Checks: Start at $53.99 for 250 checks.
  • Computer Checks: Start at $54.99 for 150 checks.
  • High-Security Checks: Start at $68.99 for 150 checks.

You can add a custom logo or check color for an additional cost.

Security

All checks come with six built-in security features including chemically sensitive paper, microprinting, invisible fluorescent fibers, and more. High-security checks add additional security features. Contact Staples via phone, live chat, support, form, or read their FAQs for more information.

Takeaway

While Staples may be one of the more expensive check options on this list, there is a comfort and reliability in ordering checks from a well-known, reliable company. Staples checks are ideal for small business owners who may be wary of other online suppliers or want the option to create their own custom checks.

Which Online Business Check Supplier Is Right For Me?

With eight great options to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose the best place to order business checks. Carefully consider which features and qualities are most important to you about a check company, whether that be price, security, customizations, customer support, reliability, etc. Knowing your priorities can help illuminate which business check company is best for you.

To help choose the perfect check supplier, ask yourself these five questions before you order business checks online:

  1. What’s my budget?
  2. What type of business checks do I need?
  3. Does the check supplier work with my accounting or payroll software?
  4. How important are check customization options? Security?
  5. How many checks will I realistically use?

Asking these questions can not only help narrow down your choices but also ensure you get the perfect checks for your business needs. Before ordering business checks, look to see if the company is running any promotions or offering any discounts for ordering checks in bulk.

While we heavily researched each of these eight check companies to bring you secure, reliable online check ordering options, be sure to do your own research and carefully compare all of your options before committing to any online purchases. This way, you can be sure you are getting the best deal and the most bang for your buck.

The post The 8 Best Places To Order Business Checks Online appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Cash Flow Loans For Small Businesses 2018

Best Cash Flow Loans For Small Businesses

You can’t run your business with an empty wallet. In life, money isn’t everything, but in business, cold hard cash is what makes the world go round. It’s what lets you continue your sales operations, pay your employees on time, manage your operating expenses, and turn a profit.

But what do you do when cash is running low or not coming in as quickly as you like? One option is to take out a business cash flow loan.

Not sure which type of cash flow loan is right for you, or where to find the best cash flow loan lender? We’ve got you covered. The article discusses the top seven cash flow loans for small businesses.

Let’s start by taking a look at this quick comparison chart of cash flow lenders.

StreetShares OnDeck LoanBuilder
Products Offered • Term loans
• Lines of credit
• Contract financing
• Term loans
• Lines of credit
• Short-term loans
Best For Small- to medium-sized businesses looking for a working capital loan or line of credit. Small- to medium-sized business looking for fast funding. Small businesses looking for a short-term loan with weekly repayments.
Required Time in Business 12 months 12 months 9 months
Required Revenue $25,000 /year $100,000 /year $42,000 /year
Required Credit Score 620 500 550
Read Review Read Review Read Review
Visit Site  Visit Site  Visit Site
Fundation BlueVine Fundbox
fora financial logo
Products Offered • Term loans
• Lines of credit/td>
• Lines of credit
• Invoice factoring
• Lines of credit
• Invoice financing
Best For Established businesses looking with good credit looking for installment loans or lines of credit. Small businesses looking for a line of credit or invoice factoring for consistent cash flow. Small businesses looking for a line of credit or invoice factoring for consistent cash flow.
Required Time in Business 12 months 6 months N/A
Required Revenue $100,000 /year $120,000 /year N/A
Required Credit Score 600 600 N/A
Read Review Read Review Read Review
Visit Site  Visit Site  Visit Site

There are more details about each lender below. Read on to learn which cash flow solution is right for you.

Best Types of Loans For Cash Flow

There are several types of loans that can be great options for increasing cash flow:

  • Installment loans
  • Short-term loans
  • Lines of credit
  • Invoicing financing

We’ll go over each type of loan so you can know exactly what to expect and choose which type fits your business’s needs best.

Installment Loans

Installment loans, also called term loans, are loans in which the borrower receives a lump sum of money that is paid back in regular installments. Interest is charged throughout the duration of the loan. Many times, you can save money by paying the loan back early (so long as your lender doesn’t charge a pre-payment penalty).

Installment loans are paid back in regular installments, usually on a monthly basis. Each payment goes to paying a portion of the principal (the borrowing amount) and the interest (a fee based on a percentage of your remaining principal). Most installments loans have term lengths between 1 and 25 years.

Installment loans can be used for multiple business needs, including short-term cash flow and long-term business growth plans. Common uses for installment loans include:

  • Working capital (or everyday expenses)
  • Inventory purchasing
  • Equipment
  • Business expansion
  • Business acquisition
  • Debt refinancing

Because of the longer term lengths, installment loans are considered higher risk than other types of loans, and young and unstable businesses might have trouble qualifying. These loans are best for established businesses that want a longer period of time to repay their debt.

Short-Term Loans

A short-term loan is a lump sum of money granted to a borrower and paid back in frequent, regular installments over a short period of time. Unlike an installment loan, a short-term loan does not have an interest rate; instead, this type of loan has a factor rate — a multiplier used to calculate a fixed fee that is added to your loan. The fixed fee is only calculated once and is repaid in along with the principal.

Short-term loans are paid back in regular fixed installments on a weekly, or even daily basis. For this reason, short-term loans are ideal for businesses with enough cash flow to afford these payments. Most short-term loans have term lengths between 3 and 18 months (with some up 24 or 36 months).

Short-term loans can be valuable for multiple types of business needs. Common uses for short-term loans include:

  • Working capital
  • Inventory purchasing
  • Equipment purchasing
  • Business expansion
  • Hiring or training new employees

Short-term loans are considered low risk and are generally known for low borrower requirements, fast funding, and no specific collateral. This type of loan can be ideal for businesses in need of extra cash who have the existing cash flow to make frequent repayments.

Lines of Credit

Unlike short-term loans and installment loans, lines of credit aren’t lump-sums of money handed to you all at once by a lender. Instead, when you are approved for a line of credit, a lender gives you access to a credit line with a certain amount of money that you can draw from at any time. 

Any draws made on a line of credit are paid in regular installments. Most lines of credit are revolving — as soon as you pay off the amount you used, it’ll be added back into the total available on your credit line. This means you can keep using the same funds again and again without reapplying for a loan.

Lines of credit are great for short-term, everyday business need, making them a great cash flow solution. Lines of credit also are a great cash cushion for unexpected expenses and emergencies. Common uses of a line of credit include:

  • Working capital
  • Payroll
  • Overhead costs
  • Seasonal expenses
  • Inventory purchasing
  • Unexpected expenses

Lines of credit are fairly easy to qualify for because they are offered by such a wide variety of lenders. They are ideal for nearly any type of business in need of a cash flow solution or looking for peace of mind regarding unexpected expenses. The only downside is that if you use up all of your credit line at once, you may not have access to the cash you need until you pay some of it back.

Invoice Factoring

Invoice factoring is a cash flow solution in which you sell your unpaid invoices to an invoice factor in exchange for immediate cash. The tradeoff is that the invoice factor keeps a portion of the cash from the invoice on reserve until your customer pays. Once paid, the factor will grant you the rest of the reserve, minus a small fee.

Contract lengths, and the invoices eligible for factoring, vary by lender.

Invoice factoring allows businesses to receive cash faster than they normally would. The money received from invoice factors can be used to meet various business needs:

  • Working capital
  • Payroll
  • Inventory purchasing

Invoice factoring is a great solution for businesses that suffer from slow paying customers and are in need of immediate cash. You do lose a small portion of your invoice sale to the factor’s fees, but this can be more than worth the cost for many businesses that rely heavily on invoices.

The Best Cash Flow Loan Lenders

StreetShares

Best For…

Small- to medium-sized businesses looking for a working capital loan or line of credit.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans (or term loans)
  • Lines of credit
  • Contract financing

Founded in 2013, StreetShares is a peer-to-peer (P2P) lender created by veterans for veterans, although now any eligible merchant can access funding. This lender offers installment loans, lines of credit, and contract financing (similar to invoice factoring). StreetShares boasts no prepayment penalties, an easy application process, and excellent customer service.

Borrower requirements:
• Must be in business at least 12 months with a revenue of $25,000 per year (sometimes StreetShares will make exceptions for high-earning businesses at least 6 months old).
• Must have a personal credit score of 620 or above.
Visit the StreetShares website
Read our StreetShares review

Here are the rates for StreetShares installment loans and lines of credit:

Borrowing amount: Up to $100K
Term length: 3 – 36 months
Interest rate: About 6% – 14%
Closing fee: 3.95% or 4.95% (installment loans)
1.5% draw fee (lines of credit)
APR range: 7% –  39.99%

These are the rates and fees for StreetShares’ contract financing:

Credit facility size: Max $500K per invoice
Advance rate: Up to 90%
Discount rate: Varies
Max overdue account: 180 days
Additional fees: None
Contract length: N/A
Monthly minimums/maximums: None
Factor all invoices: No
Recourse or non-recourse: Non-recourse
Notification or non-notification: Notification

How To Apply For A StreetShares Loan

To apply for funding from StreetShares, you’ll need to fill out an initial questionnaire. If approved, you’ll be asked to provide additional information, and then StreetShares will come back with an offer (or offers). The whole process takes between two and seven days on average.

Takeaway

StretShares offers competitive installment loans, lines of credit, and contract financing to eligible small and medium businesses. If you have fair credit and a need for additional cash flow, StreetShares is a great business financing option.

OnDeck

Best For…

Small- to medium-sized business looking for fast funding.

Products Offered

  • Short-term loans
  • Lines of credit

One of the first online lenders, OnDeck offers fast approval for lines of credit and short-term business loans. Although OnDeck’s fees can get a little pricey, the service is a convenient and quick way for businesses to access cash. Eligible OnDeck applicants usually receive funding 24 to 48 hours after their initial application.

Borrower requirements:
• Must be in business at least 12 months with a revenue of $100,000 per year.
• Must have a personal credit score of 500 or above.
• Must not be in one of OnDeck’s restricted industries.
Visit the OnDeck website
Read our OnDeck review

Here’s what to expect from an OnDeck short-term loan:

Borrowing amount: $5K – $500K
Term length: 3 – 36 months
Fixed fee: x1.003 – x1.04 per month
Origination fee: 0% – 4%
APR: Approx. 7% – 98%
Collateral: UCC-1 blanket lien, personal guarantee

And here’s what to expect from an OnDeck line of credit:

Borrowing amount: $15K – $100K
Draw term length: 6 months
Draw fee: None
Maintenance fee: $20/month
APR range: 13.99% – 39.9%
Collateral: Personal guarantee

How To Apply For An OnDeck Loan

To apply for OnDeck financing, fill out an application online and OnDeck will let you know if you’re approved (usually in less than 24 hours). You may then need to provide additional documentation before receiving your funding. Typically, the loan can be approved and funded within one to two days.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for quick cash to cover working capital expenses or expand your business, OnDeck could be a great option. While the fees may get a bit spendy, the convenient, quick approval and low borrower requirements are more than worth it for some small business owners.

LoanBuilder

Best For…

Small businesses looking for a short-term loan with weekly repayments.

Products Offered

  • Short-term loans

Acquired by PayPal in 2017, LoanBuilder is a lending service offering short-term business loans to both PayPal users and non-PayPal users alike. LoanBuilder offers low borrower requirements and fairly reasonable rate and fees.

Borrowing amount: $5K – $500K
Term length: 13 – 52 weeks
Flat fee: 2.9% – 18.72%
Origination fee:  N/A
Effective APR: Learn more
Collateral: UCC-1 blanket lien

How To Apply For A LoanBuilder Loan

LoanBuilder allows potential borrowers to investigate their potential loan before applying. You simply enter some basic contact information and use their tool to check your eligibility, and then you can finish your application online.

Takeaway

With low borrower requirements and competitive rates, LoanBuilder can be a great option for small businesses looking for a short-term loan. Unlike some short-term loans, LoanBuilder offers weekly repayments instead of daily repayments which may make this loan more manageable.

Fundation

Best For…

Established businesses looking with good credit looking for installment loans or lines of credit.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans
  • Lines of credit

Founded in 2011, Fundation is an online lender that offers competitive installment loans and lines of credit without the long, complicated process of applying for a bank loan. Fundation also offers strong customer support and has very few negative complaints.

fundation logo
Borrower requirements:
• Must be in business at least 12 months and make at least $100,000 annually.
• Must have a personal credit score of 600 or above.
• Must have at least three full-time employees (yourself included).
Visit the Fundation website
Read our Fundation review

These are the terms and fees for Fundation’s installment loans:

Borrowing amount: $20K – $500K
Term length: 1 – 4 years
Origination fee: Up to 5%
APR: 7.99% – 29.99%
Collateral:  Personal guarantee, UCC-1 blanket lien

Here’s what to expect from Fundation’s lines of credit:

Borrowing amount: $20K – $100K
Term length: 18 months
Additional fees: $500 closing fee
2% draw fee
APR: 7.99% – 29.99%
Collateral:  Personal guarantee, UCC-1 blanket lien

How To Apply For A Fundation Loan

The Fundation application process includes filling out an online application, documenting your business’s ID and finances, and speaking with a representative directly to see if you’re a good fit for a Fundation loan. After speaking to a rep, your application will go through to underwriting and you may hear back in as early as 24 hours.

Takeaway

Fundation is a great option for established businesses looking for rates and fees as competitive as bank loans, without the long, complicated application process. Because of the more stringent borrower requirements, Fundation is not ideal for startups; but, if you do qualify, this financing option is well worth looking into.

BlueVine

Best For…

Small businesses looking for a line of credit or invoice factoring for consistent cash flow.

Products Offered

  • Lines of credit
  • Invoice factoring

Founded in 2013 on the idea that small business financing should be easy, BlueVine offers lines of credit and invoice factoring for small businesses. The company is known for revolutionizing the invoice factoring world and helping business owners get quick cash for unpaid invoices. With relaxed borrower requirements, BlueVine may be ideal for young businesses.

bluevine logo
Invoice factoring borrower requirements:
• Must be in business at least 3 months with a revenue of $100,000 per year.
• Must have a personal credit score of 530 or above.
• Business must be B2B and invoice customers.
Line of credit borrower requirements:
• Must be in business at least 6 months with a revenue of $120,000 per year.
• Must have a personal credit score of 600 or above.
• Lines of credit are not available in all states. See full review for details.
Visit the BlueVine website
Read our BlueVine review

Here are the rates for BlueVine’s lines of credit:

Credit facility size: $6K – $5M
Term length: 6 or 12 months
Interest rate: 0.3% – 1.5% per week
Draw fee: 1.6% – 2.5% per draw
APR: 15% – 78%
Personal guarantee: Yes

Here are the rates for BlueVine’s invoice factoring:

Credit facility size: $20K – $5M
Advance rate: 85% – 95%
Discount rate: 0.3% – 1% per week
Max overdue account: 13 weeks (91 days)
Additional fees: $15 wire transfer fee (no charge for ACH transfers)
Contract length: N/A
Monthly minimums: No
Factor all invoices: No
Recourse or non-recourse: Recourse
Notification or non-notification: Both (see below)

How To Apply For A BlueVine Loan

To apply for BlueVine funding, you’ll need to answer a few basic questions about yourself and your business. You’ll then speak with a representative who will ask several additional questions. Typically, you’ll hear back in about 24 hours.

Takeaway

With relaxed borrower requirements and an easy application process, BlueVine can be a great choice for small businesses looking to increase their cash flow with invoice factoring or a line of credit. Be sure to check that BlueVine lines of credit are supported in your specific state before applying.

Fundbox

Best For…

Microbusinesses looking for invoice financing or a line of credit to increase cash flow.

Products Offered

  • Lines of credit
  • Invoice financing

Similar to BlueVine, Fundbox is an invoice financing solution created to help small businesses have more consistent cash flow. Since its inception in 2013, Fundbox now offers lines of credit as well. Fundbox offers relaxed borrower qualifications, making it ideal for less established businesses, and there are no additional fees.

Borrower requirements:
• No revenue or time in business requirements, but must use compatible accounting or invoicing software for at least 3 months, or a compatible business bank account for at least 6 months.
• No specific credit score requirements.
Visit the Fundbox website
Read our Fundbox review

Here are the rates for Fundbox’s invoicing financing (called Fundbox Credit):

Credit facility size: Up to $100K
Advance rate: 100%
Advance fee: 0.4% – 0.7% per week
Term length: 12 or 24 weeks
Additional fees: None
Contract length: N/A
Monthly minimums: No
Factor all invoices: No
Recourse or non-recourse: Recourse
Notification or non-notification: Non-notification

Here are the rates for Fundbox’s lines of credit (called Direct Draw):

Borrowing Amount: $1K – $100K
Term Length: 12 weeks
Borrowing Fee: 0.5% – 0.7% per week
Draw Fee: None
Effective APR: 12% – 54%

How To Apply For A Fundbox Loan

Fundbox’s application is a bit unique. To apply, you simply create an account and hook it up to your existing accounting software or bank account. Fundbox then uses the information to determine whether you qualify for a loan. This process is extremely quick and most applicants will receive a funding decision in minutes.

Takeaway

Fundbox can be a great financing solution for small businesses in need of low borrower qualifications and quick cash. Fundbox’s borrowing amounts may be too small and the rates too steep for larger businesses, but for less established businesses that don’t qualify elsewhere, Fundbox can be a cash flow solution.

Which Cash Flow Loan Is Right For My Business?

With seven great options, it can be hard to know which is right for your business. When choosing a cash flow loan, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the purpose of the loan?
  • Which type of loan is best for my business needs?
  • What’s my credit score and monthly/yearly revenue?
  • How much do I need to borrow? (And especially, how much can I afford to borrow?)
  • How quickly do I need the funding?

All of these factors will play a role in deciding which lender you should go after. If you need additional help or want to see even more financing options, check out our comprehensive small business loan reviews.

The post Best Cash Flow Loans For Small Businesses 2018 appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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10 Strategies To Improve Cash Flow

10 Strategies To Increase Cash Flow

If you’re reading this blog, then you already know how important cash flow is. Cash flow is the mainstay of your business. Positive cash flow means you can successfully run and grow your business, and negative cash flow — well, that’s bad news.

But what do you do when you have negative cash flow? How do you increase your positive cash flow and get your business where it needs to be?

Cash flow is affected not just by bringing in more cash inflows, but also by limiting your cash outflows. This means you have to manage your expenses just as much as your sales. Read on for ten practical tips to help you improve your cash flow and get your business on the right track.

1. Send Invoices Right Away

Sales and invoices are the lifeblood of a small business. You can’t get paid if you don’t send invoices. Simple as that.

Make sure you stay on top of invoicing your customers. The quicker you send invoices out, the faster the cash comes in. If your current invoicing process is tedious, consider switching to a cloud-based accounting software with attractive, easy to create invoices. Software like QuickBooks Online and Zoho Books both offer great invoicing capabilities which can help you speed up your invoicing process and increase your cash flow.

Our comprehensive accounting software reviews cover QuickBooks products, Xero, Freshbooks, Sage, and more of the top cloud-based and locally-installed accounting solutions on the market today. If you want a quick peek at the top contenders, check out our accounting software comparison chart.

Using an old version of QuickBooks Pro? Save $100 when you upgrade to QuickBooks Desktop 2018.

Purchase QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2018 Now

2. Get Customers To Pay Invoices On Time

Another key to increasing your cash flow is getting your customer to pay their invoices on time. We know this is easier said than done, but there are plenty of practical strategies to increase the likelihood of getting paid faster. Here are some of our top invoicing tips:

Follow Up With Invoice Reminders

Make sure you remind your customers when their invoices are due. Send email reminders a few days before the invoice is due, the day the invoice is due, and a few days after. If they still haven’t paid, give them a call and continue sending reminders. Many accounting programs have built-in invoice reminders that you can automatically send to late paying customers.

Give Your Customers Incentives

Consider offering a discount to customers who pay their invoices before a certain time. If your invoice terms are Net 30 (due 30 days after the invoice is sent), but you really want your customers to pay their invoices in the first week they receive the invoice, offer a small discount. Customers looking for a deal will be more likely to pay their invoices faster, which means you get cash faster.

Charge A Late Payment Penalty

Another key to successful invoicing is having a strong invoicing policy. Choose a consistent time when invoices are due (ex. due upon receipt, Net-15, Net-30, etc) and stick to it. Have a late payment penalty in place for customers who exceed the due date. Not only will this help increase your chances of getting your money, it will also set you apart as a professional.

When it comes to late payment penalties, be upfront about the penalty, when it will be charged, and how much will be charged. You can often include this in your terms and conditions section on your invoice. Do some research on what a normal late penalty policy looks like for your industry before implementing.

Consider Invoice Factoring

If the above strategies don’t work or you need cash right away, another option is invoice factoring. Invoicing factoring is the process of selling your unpaid invoices to a company in exchange for immediate cash. The factoring company takes a small cut of the money you earn, but the payoff is that you aren’t stuck waiting on customers.

Invoice factoring can be a great cash flow solution, as can invoice financing. Check out one of our favorite invoice factors, BlueVine, to learn more. Or take a look at Fundbox, an invoice financer, for an alternative solution.

3. Increase Prices

If you are hurting for cash flow, it may be time to consider increasing the prices for your products or services. Ask yourself:

  • What are my competitors charging?
  • Have the prices for equipment or inventory increased?
  • How much manpower does my inventory assembly or services require?
  • Do my prices outweigh the time put into my creating my products?
  • Are my prices too low? Do my products come off as cheap or valuable?

You want to strike a balance between keeping your prices competitive and fairly compensating the hard work you and your employees do. At the end of the day, you want to make sales, but you also want to make a profit. If your prices are too low, you may be selling yourself short. In some cases, lower prices can also make your company seem less qualified.

4. Expand Sales Market

Another solution to increasing positive cash flow is to brainstorm new sources of income. Get the dream team together, sit down with some coffee, and consider new ways to expand your sales market. Here are a few new sales possibilities to get the ideas rolling.

Add New Services Or Products

Think about the current items or services you offer and consider if there are other items or services you think would be a good addition to your business. Think outside of the box and consider alternate ways to earn income as well.

Maybe your coffee shop starts offering homemade lemonade for the summer; maybe your event planning service adds a cleaning service to maximize on business; maybe your office rents out its large outdoor space for parties and events on the weekends when it’s not in use. Whatever it is, get creative about new ways your business can generate income, which will in turn and increase cash flow.

Create A New Marketing Strategy

Maybe the products you offer are spot on, but your marketing could be expanded. Think of new ways to get the word out about your business. Consider if there are any other groups of people that could benefit from what your business offers. Bringing in more customers is a great way to bring in more cash flow.

Encourage Customers To Buy More

Another great way of improving cash flow is getting your existing customers to spend more. There are two great ways to do this:

  • Bundle Items: Sell similar items together to encourage increased spending.
  • Advertise Related Products: If you use an eCommerce platform, advertise additional products that the buyer “may be interested in” or that “others also purchased.”

Both of these can be great ways to expand your existing sales (rather than having to expand a whole sales market). If you want to start advertising related products or selling your products online, check out our top eCommerce recommendations.

Don’t Forget Your Loyal Customers

Another great way to expand your market is by letting happy customers do it for you. Encourage loyal customers by offering discounts to loyal customers or implementing rewards programs, like stamp cards, for multiple purchases. Also, consider implementing a referral program. This way you can encourage your loyal customers to grow your business for you through word of mouth.

5. Reevaluate Operating Expenses

Managing cash flow isn’t just about getting more cash to come into your business. It’s also important to reduce the cash going out of your business as much as possible. Here are five tips for reducing your business’s operating expenses, so you have more cash to spare.

Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses

Take a careful look at your cash flow statement and analyze your company’s business expenses. Ask yourself these two questions:

  • Are these expenses necessary?
  • If they are necessary, is there a cheaper alternative?

Carefully consider your current expenses. Cut out any that are unnecessary and try to minimize the necessary expenses as much as you can. It may seem difficult to do, but you (and your wallet) will feel much better knowing that you’re managing your cash flow and expenses effectively.

Streamline Your Business Processes

Another important aspect of managing your cash flow is making sure your business is running as efficiently as possible. Focus on cutting time, not just costs. Analyze all of your current business processes and judge how efficient the current process is, and if there’s any way to speed up that process.

Maybe that means implementing accounting software to send invoices faster or rethinking your employees’ inventory assembly process. By using time efficiently, you can get more done, spend less on wages, and avoid excessive overtime pay (which can put a huge dent in your business’s cash)

Purchase More Efficient Equipment

One way to increase your company’s speed and efficiency is to purchase better, updated technology and equipment. While it may cost a bit to purchase the equipment initially, you will save time which cuts back on wage expenses. This may also lead to increased production or the ability to take on extra projects, which leads to more incoming cash.

Looking for equipment financing? Check out our comparison of the top equipment financers for small business.

Ask Suppliers For Bulk Inventory Rates

Some vendors, especially those with whom you have a good relationship, may offer discounts for buying inventory in bulk. These can definitely be worth taking advantage of, so don’t be afraid to ask your suppliers if they have any deals.

Consider Leasing Equipment

If you don’t have the cash to flat out buy equipment or you don’t qualify for a working capital loan, it might be worth considering leasing equipment. You lose the advantage of having the equipment as a fixed asset for your business, but you gain lower monthly payments, which may be what you need to keep your cash flow in check.

6. Liquidate Old Inventory

Inventory is one of the largest business expenses you might encounter. You need inventory to make a profit, but you want to make sure the inventory you’re buying is actually selling. Carefully consider which products sell well and which you have a hard time turning over. Take a look at your sales patterns to see when your busy and non-busy sales times are and order inventory accordingly.

If you have any old inventory that you’re having a hard time getting rid of, consider liquidating the items. Any money coming in is better than no money.

7. Pay Vendors At The Right Time

Be strategic about when you pay your vendors. If your vendor offers a discount for paying early, be sure to pay in the time required time to save some money. If the vendor doesn’t offer a discount, pay when is most favorable for your business.

Say your bill is due on the June 1st. Your cash flow statement records show that May is a slow month for your business, but June has a history of higher sales. Pay your bill the last day it’s due so that you can report a positive cash flow for May.

If you need even more time to pay off bills, you can also consider paying with a business credit card. This way you can pay off the expenses over a period of time rather than all at once. Take a look at our business credit card reviews to find the right card for you.

8. Open A Business Savings Account

If you don’t have one already, open a business savings account where you can earn money on interest. This is a simple way to generate a bit of extra cash and it’s a smart way to ensure you always have a cash flow cushion for your business.

9. Consider A Cash-Back Business Credit Card

Using a cash back business credit card can be a strategic way to earn cash on your expenses. As long as you use the card wisely and can afford to make regular (if not full) payments each month, a cash back credit card is easy money. There are several great cash back rewards cards out there. Here are some of the best cash back business cards for small businesses.

10. Take Out A Small Business Loan

Another option to increase cash flow is to take out a short-term loan or line of credit. With a short-term loan, a lender gives you a lump sum of money that is paid back in regular installments over a short period of time. With a line of credit, a lender grants you a max borrowing amount that you draw from any time you need cash; payments are made only on the money used.

While the prospect of owing money may make you squeamish, there are several great reasons to take out a cash flow loan:

  • To expand your business
  • Purchase inventory
  • Take on a new, profitable project
  • Purchase new equipment
  • Unexpected expenses
  • To cover off-season slumps

If a loan sounds like a good cash flow solution for your business, check out our top small business lenders to find the right loan for you.

All of these tips can help you manage and increase your cash flow. Whether you decide to focus on increasing your sales, decreasing your expenses, gaining capital — or a mix of them all — you’re well on your way to increasing your cash flow and running a more successful business.

The post 10 Strategies To Improve Cash Flow appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How To Calculate And Analyze Business Cash Flow

How To Calculate And Analyze Business Cash Flow

Cash flow is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. But how do you calculate cash flow? And once your cash flow is calculated, what does that tell you about your business?

We’re glad you asked!

Cash flow is the money that comes in and out of your business, so it would be easy to assume that you simply subtract the cash outflows from the cash inflows when calculating cash flow.

While this is the process, in theory, the application is much more complicated. There are several different ways of calculating cash flow, and it can be hard to know which way is best. In this post, we’ll teach you the most common way to calculate cash flow: running a cash flow statement.

We’ll also teach you what a healthy cash flow statement should look like and how to analyze your cash flow using the free cash flow ratio and a cash flow forecast. With these three cash flow calculations in tow, you’ll understand your business’s cash flow in no time.

Let’s get started.

What Is A Cash Flow Statement?

A cash flow statement, or statement of cash flows, is a report that measures the cash coming in and out of your business during a specific period of time. Along with the income statement and balance sheet, the statement of cash flows is one of the most important financial statements in accounting. The cash flow statement shows four different cash flow figures:

  • Operating cash flow
  • Cash flow of investment activities
  • Cash flow of financial activities
  • Net cash flow

You can create a cash flow statement by using Excel or Google Docs, but the easiest way to generate a statement of cash flows is by using accounting software. Most accounting software will do all of the hard work for you. Simply make sure your income and expenses are up-to-date, tell the software to run a cash flow statement, and voila! You have yourself a cash flow statement.

How To Calculate And Analyze Business Cash Flow

You’ll see that the cash flow statement is divided into three sections: cash flow of operation activities, cash flow of investment activities, and cash flow of financial activities. We’ll walk you through each section so you can understand exactly how the cash flow statement works and what it’s telling you about your business.

Still using Excel to run your accounting processes? It may be time to upgrade. Our comprehensive accounting software reviews cover QuickBooks products, Xero, Freshbooks, Sage, and more of the top cloud-based and locally-installed accounting solutions on the market today. If you want a quick peek at the top contenders, check out our accounting software comparison chart.

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Purchase QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2018 Now

Cash Flow Of Operation Activities

Cash flow of operations, or operating cash flow, shows the total cash gained or spent on business operations during a given period. Operating cash flow is used as a key indicator of how efficient and healthy your business is. It is one of the most common (and important) cash flow calculations.

Here are some examples of the operating cash inflows and outflows you can expect to see in the cash flow of operating activities on your statement of cash flows:

  • Inventory purchases
  • Wages
  • Cash received from sales or services
  • Interest earned
  • Rent payments
  • Other operating expenses

Your total operating cash flow is calculated by subtracting the cash outflows directly related to your business operations from the cash inflows directly gained from your business operations.

When you run a statement of cash flows, you’ll see your total operating cash flow expressed under “net cash flow for operating activities.” This amount shows what you made (or lost) on basic business operations. You can use the cash flow of operating activities to:

  • See how much cash you’ve gained from your business operations in a given period
  • Understand which business expenses you’re spending cash on
  • Analyze where to cut back on operating business expenses

Cash Flow of Investment Activities

The cash flow of investment activities shows how much cash you spent on long-term investments and made on long-term investments.

For most businesses, this section of the cash flow statement shows cash spent on purchasing new fixed assets and cash gained from selling fixed assets. (Fixed assets are valuable items owned by your business that have a long-term use.)

Examples of investments that you may see on the cash flow of investment activities section of the cash flow statement include:

  • Purchasing or selling property
  • Purchasing or selling buildings
  • Purchasing or selling equipment
  • Purchasing or selling company vehicles
  • Capital expenditures (CapEx)

Basically, cash flow of investment is affected by any change to your long-term assets — or property, plant, or equipment (PPE) — and any expenses paid to manage current assets (which is referred to as capital expenditures). You total cash flow of investment activities is calculated by subtracting your investment cash outflows from your investment cash inflows.

You can use the cash flow of investment activities to analyze the state of your company’s fixed assets. Lenders and potential investors also use this cash flow ratio to see if your company is growing and investing in your business’s future.

Cash Flow Of Financial Activities

The cash flow of financial activities shows the cash spent and received from financing — or raising capital. Cash flow of financial activities is used to see how much cash you’ve received from loans or investors and how much cash you’ve spent on paying back debts and shareholders.

Here are some examples of the financing cash inflows and outflows you can expect to see in the cash flow of financing activities on your statement of cash flows:

  • Cash received from loans
  • Loan payments
  • Cash received from investors
  • Dividends paid to shareholders
  • Purchasing company stock

Your total cash flow of financing activities is calculated by subtracting the financing cash outflows directly related to financing (like paying past debt and shareholders) from the cash inflows raised from financing (like new loans and cash from investors).

The cash flow of financial activities is important for analyzing whether your business has the cash to pay off its debt or to take on new debt. This is a key cash flow formula for potential lenders and investors as well. Lenders want to see that your business has the means to make payments on your a new loan, and potential investors want to see that your company has the cash to pay back shareholders.

What Does A Good Cash Flow Statement Look Like?

So now that you know what a cash flow statement is and how to run one, how do you know what your cash flow statement means? What does your cash flow statement say about your business’s financial health? What is a good cash flow and when should you be worried about your cash flow?

Don’t worry, your cash flow statement has answers to all of these questions. We already briefly mentioned how each type of cash flow can be used to analyze the health of your business. In this section, we’ll recap each section of the cash flow statement and give you a clearer idea of what a successful business’s cash flow looks like.

1. A Good Net Cash Flow

Your net cash flow appears at the bottom of your statement of cash flows and is a total of your cash flow of operating activities, your cash flow of investment activities, and your cash flow of financial activities. This total will either appear as a net increase in cash flow or a net decrease in cash flow. Ideally, you want a net increase in cash flow, which shows that your company brought in more money than it spent.

While you want a positive cash flow, you may not want your cash flow to be too positive. Seem counterintuitive? Here’s why.

If you have an incredibly high cash flow, that is extra money that you can be (and should be) investing back into your business. It’s important to strike the balance of maintaining a positive cash flow and using that positive cash flow to ensure that your business grows and makes even more money in the future.

2. A Good Operating Cash Flow

Your operating cash flow shows how much money your company is making or losing on everyday business operations. Business operations are the bread and butter of your business, so it makes sense that you want your operating cash flow to be a high, positive number. You always want to see this number increasing over time.

If your operations appear as a net loss instead of a net increase, you may want to reevaluate your business practices. Increase prices, don’t reorder unpopular inventory, streamline processes to save time and money on payroll, incentivize customers to pay their invoices in a timely manner — do whatever it takes to spend less and bring in more so that your business can flourish.

That being said, it’s important to not only know what your operating cash flow is but to analyze why your operating cash flow is negative or positive. There may be some months that you have a negative operating cash flow, and that may not be a bad thing.

Let’s say you’re a seasonal business and you spend a large sum on purchasing inventory to prepare for the holiday season. Because of this, your September cash flow statement shows a net loss on operating cash flow. However, during October, November, and December, you bring in tons of cash selling the inventory you purchased. You wouldn’t have been able to make strong sales or have such a positive cash flow during the holidays without that extra inventory.

In this case, one month of negative cash flow led to three months of incredibly positive cash flow, which was more than worth it. You only have to start worrying if your operating cash flow is negative again and again.

3. A Good Cash Flow Of Investing Activities

Your cash flow of investing activities shows how much money you’ve spent on purchasing and maintain fixed assets and made on selling assets.

Typically, most growing business will have a net loss on cash flow of investing activities. While that may sound ominous, it really means that you are actively investing in new fixed assets to expand your business and replacing old equipment to help your business run more efficiently. This is a good thing.

4. A Good Cash Flow Of Financing Activities

Your cash flow of financing activities shows the cash used to pay off your business’s existing debts and any new financing or loans received.

Generally, you want to see a negative net cash flow from financing activities. This means that you are paying off existing debt and paying dividends to shareholders.

That being said, it is okay to have a net gain in cash flow of financing activities at times. A positive net cash flow of financial activities means your business has gained cash from investors or secured a new business loan. While some business owners may assume that debt is always a bad thing, there are several good reasons for applying for a business loan:

  • To purchase new equipment that will benefit your business
  • To expand your business
  • Purchasing inventory
  • Hiring and training employees

If you can afford to take on a loan, the extra funds may be just what your business needs to succeed. Use the cash flow of financing activities to analyze your business’s financial state and determine what is healthiest for your future.

How To Use The Free Cash Flow Ratio

The free cash flow ratio is one of the most important ratios a business owner should know. While the cash flow statement shows your overall net cash flow, the free cash flow ratio shows the amount of cash that is actually available for your business to use. This ratio is incredibly important for analyzing your business’s financial health.

Free cash flow shows you the amount of the cash left over after paying for your business’s operating expenses (the expenses required to run your business) and capital expenditures (the expenses spent on purchasing and maintaining your fixed assets). You can calculate your free cash flow by using this formula:

Free Cash Flow = Operating Cash Flow – Capital Expenditures

Simply take the net operating cash flow from your cash flow statement and subtract the total capital expenditures for your business.

By using this formula, you can see exactly how much free cash flow your company has to work with. Free cash flow is particularly important when considering taking on a new working capital loan to expand your business. Knowing exactly how much money you have in free cash, on average, can help you determine the loan payments you can afford.

How To Create A Cash Flow Forecast

Another important step in analyzing your business’s cash flow — and, in turn, your business’s health — is to create a cash flow forecast.

A cash flow forecast, also known as a cash flow projection, is an estimation of your future cash inflows and cash outflows over a specific period of time (usually a year). This estimation should be based on past cash flow data or educated guesses on the cash sales and expenses you expect to face in the upcoming year. This helps your cash flow projection to be as accurate as possible.

While cash flow forecasts are beneficial for any business wanting to get a handle on their finances, they are particularly helpful for seasonal businesses. A cash flow forecast can help you pinpoint the months during which cash will be tight and the months during which cash will be plentiful. This way, you can plan to save enough cash to cover expenses during the slow months.

In this way, a cash flow forecast gives you valuable business insight. Additionally, comparing your cash flow projection with your cash flow actuals at the end of the year is an important business practice for seeing if you met your business goals, where your company is excelling, and where it could still improve.

Many accounting software programs have a cash flow forecast report built-in. However, if your accounting software doesn’t have a cash flow projection, you can create one manually by estimating your:

  • Cash sales for each month
  • Expenses for each month
  • Fixed asset investments
  • Debt payments
  • Additional capital

Be as realistic as you can and include any sales or expenses that directly affect your business’s cash. If you don’t want to calculate this all by hand, there are several free cash flow forecast templates available online as well.

What Now?

Cash flow is one of the most important aspects of business. Without a strong, positive cash flow, you won’t be able to stay in business long.

Now that you know how to run a cash flow statement, use the free cash flow ratio, and create a cash flow statement, you can confidently understand your company’s cash flow. You can use all three tools to analyze your business’s cash flow. These tools will let you determine where your business is excelling and where it could be improved, help you figure out if you can afford a loan, and prepare for the lean cash flow months.

After analyzing your business’s finances, you may determine that you need a working capital loan or a line of credit to help you maintain positive cash flow. Read through our detailed small business loan reviews or view our business loan comparison chart to find a lender that works for you. If your business depends on invoices, invoice financing might be more your speed. With invoice financing, it’s possible to get cash for your invoices right away. Learn more about invoice financing in our Merchant’s Guide To Invoice Financing guide and/or check out two of our favorites: BlueVine and Fundbox.

For more information on accounting concepts and strategies, our accounting and bookkeeping blog is a good place to start. We cover everything from double-entry accounting to small business taxes. We also guide you through how to choose small business accounting software. What’s more, our comprehensive accounting software reviews cover QuickBooks products, Xero, Freshbooks, Sage, and more of the top cloud-based and locally-installed accounting solutions on the market today. For a bird’s eye view of the top contenders, check out our accounting software comparison chart.

The post How To Calculate And Analyze Business Cash Flow appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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What Is Cash Flow?

Have you ever sat by the ocean and watched the tide ebb and flow for hours? If so, you probably know a lot about water flow. As a business owner, though, you should be more focused on cash flow. What is cash flow? We’re glad you asked!

Aptly named, cash flow is the money that flows in and out of your business. Cash flow is the sustainer of life for your business. Without positive cash flow, your business is in serious trouble.

In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about what cash flow is and how it works, the difference between positive and negative cash flow, and how cash flow affects your business.

Cash Flow Definition

Cash flow is the money that comes into and goes out of your business. It is also one of the key indicators of how financially healthy your business is. You may hear people use the terms cash inflow and cash outflow. That may sound complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple:

  • Cash Inflow: Cash that comes into your business (ex. sales, interest earned, etc.).
  • Cash Outflow: Cash that leaves your business (ex. employee paychecks, inventory purchases, etc.).

Cash Flow VS Profit

It’s incredibly important to know the difference between cash flow and profit. A business making a large profit can still go bankrupt if it doesn’t have a strong cash flow. Here’s why.

In accrual accounting, income is recorded when products or services are agreed upon, not when they are paid for. Say you send an invoice of $200 to a customer. Your income account will go up by $200, yes. But your cash accounts don’t go up just because your income or profit accounts have. You still have to wait for your customer to pay their invoice, which sometimes can take months. (Invoices that are not yet received are called “accounts receivable.”)

So if you really want to know how much money your business has on hand, you have to look at your cash flow, not your profit.

Positive VS Negative Cash Flow

Businesses can either have a positive or negative cash flow.

  • Positive Cash Flow: When your business earns more than it spends during a certain period.
  • Negative Cash Flow: When your business spends more than it earns during a certain period.

A positive cash flow indicates that your business is healthy and you have enough cash to pay your employees, cover your business operating expenses, and maybe even expand your business. A negative cash flow indicates that you may have trouble paying for your business expenses and turning a profit.

Generally, positive cash flow is best. However, shy away from automatically assuming that a positive cash flow is good and a negative cash flow is bad. It’s important to know why your cash flow is positive or negative.

In the same way that profit doesn’t always equal cash flow, a positive cash flow doesn’t always imply profit.

For example, say you run a craft store that earns half its income selling supplies and the other half teaching sewing classes. If interest in sewing dies down, you may decide to focus on retail and liquidate (or sell) all of the sewing machines you bought. When you sell your machines, you will see a positive cash flow, but you won’t be earning the other half of your income anymore.

This is just one example of why it’s important to analyze your cash flow so you can truly understand the financial state of your business.

What Is Operating Cash Flow?

Cash flow can be calculated in several different ways. Each way gives you a different insight into your business’s cash flow. One of the most common cash flow calculations you’ll see is operating cash flow.

On the cash flow statement (a report of your business’s cash flow status), there are three different sections:

  • Cash flow of operating activities
  • Cash flow of investment activities
  • Cash flow of financial activities

Cash flow of operating activities and operating cash flow are one and the same. Operating cash flow shows you how much cash you’ve made from your business operations. It’s calculated by subtracting business expenses like payroll and inventory from income generated through sales that have been paid in cash.

What Is Net Cash Flow?

Net cash flow, or total cash flow, is the difference between a business’s cash inflows and cash outflows. Net cash flow is calculated on the cash flow statement by adding the cash flow of operating activities, investment activities, and financial activities together.

What Is Free Cash Flow?

Free cash flow refers to the cash that is actually available to use. Free cash flow shows all of the cash left over after paying for a business’s capital expenditures (capital expenditures are the expenses spent on purchasing or maintaining a company’s assets like buildings or equipment).

When you hear people (especially lenders) talk about free cash flow, you may hear the terms unlevered free cash flow and levered free cash flow.

  • Unlevered Free Cash Flow: Unlevered free cash flow is the free cash flow available before a company pays its debts, interest, and other financial obligations.
  • Levered Free Cash Flow: Levered free cash flow is the free cash flow available after a company pays its debts, interest, and other financial obligations.

Direct VS Indirect Method Cash Flow

There are two different ways of calculating cash flow and presenting the cash flow statement.

Remember how earlier we said that the cash flow statement is divided into three sections: cash flow of operation activities, cash flow of investment activities, and cash flow of financial activities?

The difference between the indirect and direct method is how the operating cash flow appears on the cash flow statement.

  • Direct Method: The direct cash flow method breaks down specific cash inflows and outflows and shows you the cash receipts from customers, cash paid to vendors and suppliers, cash collected from customers, interest earnings, dividends received, paid income tax, and paid interest. Adding these totals together is how the operating cash flow is calculated.
  • Indirect Method: Instead of tracking each type of business operation cash flow, the indirect cash flow method is calculated by taking the net income from a company’s income statement and adjusting the earnings before interest tax (EBIT). It sounds confusing until you remember the difference between cash flow and profit. The net income shows your overall profit — we need to adjust it to show cash flow by subtracting accounts receivable (or invoices that haven’t been paid yet).

While the direct method of calculating cash flow is more detailed, the indirect method is far easier to calculate and more widely used by businesses. The good news? If you’re using accounting software, it does all of the behind the scenes work for you. You’ll just see the total operating cash flow on your cash flow statement.

Don’t have good accounting software yet? Our comprehensive accounting software reviews cover QuickBooks products, Xero, Freshbooks, Sage, and more of the top cloud-based and locally-installed accounting solutions on the market today. If you want a quick peek at the top contenders, check out our accounting software comparison chart.

Using an old version of QuickBooks Pro? Save $100 when you upgrade to QuickBooks Desktop 2018.

Purchase QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2018 Now

Why Cash Flow Is Important

As we mentioned earlier, cash flow is the sustainer of business. Positive cash flow allows you to:

  • Pay your employees
  • Pay rent
  • Purchase inventory
  • Purchase new equipment
  • Grow your business

Essentially, positive cash flow means you can run your business successfully. If you lack cash flow, you will have a hard time operating your business and paying your business expenses on time.

If you consistently have a negative cash flow, you may even be forced to declare bankruptcy. According to the SBA (Small Business Administration), lack of positive cash flow is one of the biggest reasons that businesses fail.

Additionally, both potential lenders and investors take your business’s cash flow into consideration.

Before approving you for a loan, lenders want to see that you have a consistent positive cash flow and that you have the money to make regular payments on a loan.

Potential investors also want to see positive cash flow, which indicates that your company is financially stable and that they are likely to receive shareholder payments if they support your company.

Final Thoughts

You may have come into this article assuming that focusing on profit is the best thing you can do for your business. In the end, however, it all comes down to cash flow.

Without an understanding of cash flow, you won’t be able to run a business successfully. Nor will you be able to apply for funding from potential lenders to grow your business in the future. Pay attention to the cash flow reports in your accounting software, and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining positive cash flow and increasing overall profitability.

After analyzing your business’s finances, you may determine that you need a working capital loan or a line of credit to help you maintain positive cash flow. Read through our detailed small business loan reviews or view our business loan comparison chart to find a lender that works for you. If your business depends on invoices, invoice factoring might be more your speed. With invoice factoring, it’s possible to get cash for your invoices right away. Learn more in the Basic Introduction to Invoice Factoring and/or check out two of our favorite invoice factors: BlueVine and Fundbox.

For more information on accounting concepts and strategies, our accounting and bookkeeping blog is a good place to start. We cover everything from double-entry accounting to small business taxes. We also guide you through how to choose small business accounting software. What’s more, our comprehensive accounting software reviews cover QuickBooks products, Xero, Freshbooks, Sage, and more of the top cloud-based and locally-installed accounting solutions on the market today. For a bird’s eye view of the top contenders, check out our accounting software comparison chart.

The post What Is Cash Flow? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How To Order QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

Most people know that QuickBooks offers accounting software, but did you know that the company also sells checks, tax forms, stamps, and even pens?

Believe it or not, QuickBooks can be your one-stop shop for business checks and office supplies. And best of all, you can print the checks directly from your QuickBooks software. Keep reading to learn more about how to order checks from QuickBooks, how to buy tax forms from QuickBooks, and what other office supplies QuickBooks offers.

Order Checks, Tax Forms & Other Supplies From QuickBooks

Products Offered

QuickBooks offers a wide array of business supplies. You can purchase the following product online using the Intuit marketplace:

  • Checks
  • Tax forms
  • Envelopes
  • Deposit slips
  • Self-inking stamps
  • Point of sale supplies
  • Laser & inkjet labels
  • Check binders
  • Printable business forms
  • Security pens

We’ll cover the specific products and their prices in each of the following sections.

Checks

QuickBooks offers five different types of checks:

  • Voucher checks
  • Standard business checks
  • Wallet checks
  • Office and away checks
  • Personal checks

You can customize QuickBooks checks by adding your business name and phone number. Choose between three and five different colors, depending on the check type. Add an additional line for extra business information and up to two signature lines to meet your business’s needs.

You can order all checks from the Intuit Market. Once the checks are sent to you, you can print them directly from compatible QuickBooks programs. Here’s a breakdown of each type of check and how much they cost.

Voucher Checks

Getting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

A voucher check is a standard-sized check accompanied by two pay stubs, making it ideal for payroll and accounts payable. Intuit offers three types of vouchers checks that vary by level of security. Each check is compatible with laser and inkjet printers and all supported versions of QuickBooks.

  • Basic Voucher Checks: Start at $36.99 for 50 checks.
  • Secure Plus Voucher Checks: Start at $66.99 for 50 checks. Adds security features like ink tampering prevention.
  • Secure Premier Voucher Checks: Start at $72.99 for 50 checks. Adds hologram for max security.

Visit the Intuit marketplace to purchase voucher checks for QuickBooks.

Standard Business Checks

Getting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

Intuit’s standard business checks are your typical, everyday business checks. Intuit offers types of standard checks that vary by level of security. Each is compatible with laser and inkjet printers and all supported versions of QuickBooks. However, standard business checks are not compatible with Intuit Online Payroll (see voucher checks instead). Intuit also offers manual standard checks that you can fill out by hand.

  • Basic Standard Business Checks: Start at $102.99 for 250 checks.
  • Secure Plus Standard Business Checks: Start at $56.99 for 50 checks. Adds security features like ink tampering prevention.
  • Secure Premier Standard Business Checks: Start at $61.99 for 50 checks. Adds hologram for max security.
  • Manual Business Checks: Start at $58.99 for 300 checks. Detachable standard checks come with check stubs to record additional information.

Visit the Intuit marketplace to find the best deals on business checks.

Wallet ChecksGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

With these checks, it’s all in the name. Intuit’s wallet checks fit perfectly in a wallet and come with a check stub to record additional information. There are two types of wallet checks that vary by level of security. Each is compatible with QuickBooks Desktop or Quicken 2006 +. Wallet checks are not compatible with QuickBooks Online.

  • Basic Wallet Checks: Start at $87.99 for 250 checks.
  • Secure Plus Wallet Checks: Start at $43.99 for 50 checks. Adds security features like ink tampering prevention.

Visit the Intuit Marketplace to purchase QuickBooks wallet checks.

Office & Away ChecksGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

Intuit’s Office & Away checks are a hybrid between standard checks and manual checks. You can either print checks directly from QuickBooks when you’re in the office or handwrite checks when you’re out of the office. Office & Away checks are compatible with laser and inkjet printers and QuickBooks Desktop; they are not compatible with QuickBooks Online or Intuit Payroll (see voucher checks for payroll).

  • Office & Away Checks: Start at $90.99 for 250 checks.

Visit the Intuit Marketplace to purchase Office & Away checks for your business.

Personal ChecksGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

In addition to business checks, Intuit offers personal checks as well. There is only one type of personal check — the Secure Plus Personal Check — which comes with built-in security features like chemically reactive paper to prevent check alterations. QuickBooks personal checks are not compatible with software like QuickBooks or Quicken and are not compatible with printers.

  • Secure Plus Personal Checks: Starts at $39.99 for one box, which contains 120 duplicate checks.

Visit the Intuit Marketplace to find the best deal on personal checks.

Tax Forms

You can purchase four different types of tax forms directly from Intuit:

  • W-2s
  • W-3s
  • 1096s
  • 1099-MISCs

One of the biggest perks of using QuickBooks software is the tax support available with both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online.  QuickBooks Desktop allows you to prepare and print w-2s, W-3s, 1099-MISCs, and 1096s, and with the QuickBooks Online Plus plan you can prepare and print 1099-MISCs and W-2s directly from the software.

Most users will need to purchase these forms from Intuit in order to print and file their taxes, although certain QuickBooks payroll plans include these forms with the cost of the monthly payroll subscription (read our QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Pricing And Features post to see if your tax forms are included or not). Here are the current tax form offerings (note: prices may vary depending on the tax year).

W-2sGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

A W-2 form is an IRS tax form that indicates an employee’s wages and withheld taxes for the tax year. Employers are required to fill out a W-2 form for every individual employee they have (or had) during the tax year. Intuit offers two different W-2 kits to help employer’s successfully complete their W-2s. The price for each option depends on the number of forms needed.

  • Pre-Printed W-2 Kit: Starts at $57.99 and includes four free W-3s and custom W-2 envelopes. Compatible with laser or inkjet printers and QuickBooks Desktop users with Basic or Enhanced Payroll. Not compatible with QuickBooks for Mac, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Full Service, or QuickBooks Online Payroll.
  • Laser W-2 Blank Perforated Paper & Envelope Kit: Starts at $23.99 and includes blank, perforated W-2 paper and custom W-2 envelopes. Compatible with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Payroll, QuickBooks Online Payroll Full Service, and supported version of QuickBooks Desktop.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to easily order W-2 tax forms for your business.

W-3sGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

A W-3 form is an IRS tax form that indicates the total wages and taxes withheld for all employees of a company during the tax year. If you purchase the Pre-Printed W-2 Kit, then you will already receive four free W-3 forms; otherwise, you can purchase them directly from Intuit.

  • W-3 Forms: Start at $17.99 for 10 preprinted W-3 forms. Not compatible with QuickBooks for Mac or QuickBooks Online.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order W-3 tax forms.

1099-MISCsGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

A 1099-MISC form is an IRS form that reports wages paid to an individual who is not an employee at your company, such as an independent contractor.  As the employer, you’ll need to file a 1099-MISC for any contractors you’ve paid more than $600 during the tax year. You can purchase these forms directly from Intuit and prepare and print them directly from QuickBooks. Prices vary by state and depending on the number of forms you need.

  • 1099 Kit: Ranges from $58.99 – $83.99 for 10 pre-printed 1099-MISC forms and includes four free 1096 forms and custom 1099 envelopes (price varies by state). Compatible with QuickBooks Online, and supported version of QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Mac.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order 1099 tax forms.

1096sGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

A 1096 form is an IRS form that records all of the wages paid to all independent contractors and self-employed individuals a company hired during the tax year. If you purchase the 1099 Kit, then you will already receive four free 1096 forms; otherwise, you can purchase them directly from Intuit.

  • 1096 Forms: Start at $17.99 for 10 1096 forms. Compatible with QuickBooks Online Plus, QuickBooks Mac 2013 or later, and QuickBooks Desktop 2013 or later.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order 1096 tax forms.

Envelopes

You can purchase envelopes for your checks, tax forms, and more directly from Intuit. While you could buy envelopes from anywhere, Intuit envelopes are specifically designed to fit your Intuit checks and tax forms, which adds an added layer of security to important mail. Here are the various business envelopes offered and how much they cost.

Standard & Voucher Check EnvelopesGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

According to QuickBooks:

Standard-sized business envelopes don’t fit standard sized checks. Envelopes can be too large, potentially allowing sliding inside the envelope that can compromise security or partially obstruct information.

This is why Intuit sells envelopes that are created to fit their standard and voucher checks perfectly. There are two types of standard/voucher envelopes that vary by level of convenience.

  • Standard/Voucher & Payroll Check Envelopes: Start at $68.99 for 250 envelopes. Includes double address windows.
  • Self-Seal Voucher Check Envelopes: Start at $30.99 for 50 envelopes. Fits both standard and voucher checks. Includes self-adhesive flaps and double address windows. Compatible with most postage machines.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order standard check and voucher check envelopes.

Wallet Check EnvelopesGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

Wallet check envelopes are designed specifically to fit Intuit’s wallet checks. There are two types of wallet checks that vary by size.

  • Wallet Check Envelopes: Start at $49.99 for 250 envelopes. Includes double address windows. Specifically designed to fit wallet checks.
  • Wallet Plus Check Envelopes: Start at $54.99 for 250 envelopes. This standard sized envelope includes a pocket designed specifically for wallet checks, so you can send both wallet checks and additional documents simultaneously.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order wallet check envelopes.

Form EnvelopesGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

In addition to purchasing envelopes that fit Intuit’s checks, you can also purchase envelopes that perfect fit your Intuit tax forms, including W-2s, W-3s, 1096s, and 1099-MISCs. These envelopes are designed to align perfectly with the Intuit tax forms to ensure that your confidential tax information stays secure. There are three different type of form envelopes available. Each is compatible with Intuit’s pre-printed tax forms or any other forms printed on standard printer paper.

  • Forms Envelopes: Start at $68.99 for 250 envelopes. Includes double address windows.
  • Single Window Form Envelopes: Start at $73.99 for 250 envelopes. Includes a single address window. You can order them to be pre-printed with your company address. Adding a company logo or custom ink color costs extra.
  • Self-Seal Form Envelopes: Start at $75.99 for 250 envelopes. Includes self-adhesive flaps and double address windows. Compatible with most postage machines.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order from envelopes for your small business.

Business Reply EnvelopesGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

You can purchase a custom, pre-printed return envelope from Intuit. Adding a return envelope to your invoices can help your company appear more professional and make it easier for your customers to send you their invoice payments (and anything you can do to increase the chances of your invoices getting paid is worth it). Intuit’s business reply envelopes also work with their Remittance Statements (which we’ll cover later). Here’s how much they cost.

  • Business Reply Envelopes: Start at $54.99 for 250 envelopes. You can order them to be pre-printed with your company address.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to start sending business reply envelopes with your invoices.

Large Mailing EnvelopesGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

Additionally, you can purchase large mailing envelopes for large stacks of paper or for forms and documents that you do not wish to bend. These envelopes come in white or golden brown (think classic manila envelope).

  • Large Mailing Envelopes: Start at $90.99 for 100 envelopes. You can order them to be pre-printed with your company address. Adding a company logo or custom ink color costs extra.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order large mailing envelopes.

Deposit SlipsGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

Deposit slips are used by some businesses to track the funds deposited into a specific bank account. Deposit slips can be helpful when verifying your accounting records with your monthly bank statement. If your business is in the habit of using deposit slips (or if you’d like to start), you can purchase them directly from Intuit. Intuit offers two different types of deposit slips as well as a deposit slip bag. Here’s how much each item costs.

  • Printable Deposit Slips: Start at $68.99 for 250 deposit slips with up to 18 entries per slip. Prepare and print directly from QuickBooks. Compatible with QuickBooks Mac 2007 or higher and supported versions of QuickBooks Desktop.
  • Booked Manual Deposit Slips: Start at $43.99 for 200 deposit slips with up to 18 entries per slip. For manual entry. Available in 2- or 3-copy carbonless options. Can order your business name and account number to be pre-printed on the slips.
  • Bank Deposit Bag: Starts at $12.99 for 25 deposit bags. Disposable and recyclable bag with removable numbered receipts and built-in security features.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order deposit slips for your business.

Stamps

Whether it’s addressing envelopes, marking invoices as past due, or indicating which documents need filing, Intuit offers 14 self-inking maps to make your business processes run smoother. These affordable business stamps are easy to use and can save your company valuable time. In addition to the stamps, Intuit also offers ink-pad refills for whenever you might need them.

Self-Inking Business Stamps

As we mentioned above, Intuit offers 14 stamps ranging from $13.99 to $35.99 each. Here are all of the business stamps available.

  • Endorsement Stamp: Costs $35.99 and is ideal for quickly getting checks ready to deposit.
  • Return Address Stamp: Costs $35.99 and comes with up to five lines of text.
  • Return Address Stamp With Monogram: Costs $35.99 and Getting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Suppliescomes with up to five lines of text and a monogram letter.
  • Fax Header Cover Stamp: Costs $35.99 and is ideal for quickly creating a fax header to record fax information.
  • Getting Started With QuickBooks Checks And SuppliesSecurity Stamp: Costs $21.99 and is created to “obscure sensitive information on checks, forms, legal documents, packages, and mail.”
  • Copy Stamp: Red ink stamp that says “copy” and costs $13.99.
  • Past Due Stamp: Red ink stamp that says “past due” and costs $13.99. Ideal for invoices.
  • Draft Stamp: Red ink stamp that says “draft” and costs $13.99.Getting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies
  • File Stamp: Red ink stamp that says “file” and costs $13.99.
  • Void Stamp: Blue ink stamp that says “void” and costs $13.99. Ideal for voided checks.
  • Paid Stamp: Red ink stamp that says “paid” and costs $13.99. Ideal for invoices.
  • Confidential Stamp: Red ink stamp that says “confidential” and costs $13.99.Getting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies
  • Faxed Stamp: Red ink stamp that says “faxed” and costs $13.99.
  • Urgent Stamp: Red ink stamp that says “urgent” and costs $13.99.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order business stamps.

Point Of Sale Supplies

If you use QuickBooks Point of Sale (see our review) there are several items you can purchase to manage your business and sales. Intuit offers everything from pricing labels to receipt tape to jewelry tags and more. See what point of sale supplies Intuit has to offer and how much they cost below.

Pricing Labels

Getting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

If you need a quick and efficient way your items, you can print pricing labels directly from QuickBooks POS using a compatible printer. These labels are adhesive for easy tagging and come in two separate sizes.

  • Price Label 1.2″ x 0.85″: Costs $79.99 for one case of pricing labels, which comes with 12 rolls per case and 15,000 labels per roll. Compatible with the QuickBooks POS Tag Printer. Ideal for smaller items.
  • Price Label 2.25″ x 1.25″: Costs $79.99 for one case of pricing labels, which comes with 12 rolls and 1,135 labels per roll. Compatible with the QuickBooks POS Tag Printer. Ideal for larger items.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order QuickBooks pricing labels.

Receipt Paper

Getting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

You can also purchase receipt paper directly from Intuit. QuickBooks receipt paper is compatible with QuickBooks POS printer, the Star TSP143, and the Star TSP613.

  • Point Of Sale Paper Rolls: Costs $29.99 for 10 rolls. Each roll is 220 feet long.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace for a great deal on receipt paper.

Pricing TagsGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

In addition to pricing labels, Intuit also sells pricing tags for unique items like jewelry.

  • Printable Hang Tags: Costs $104.97 per case of thermal printed hang tags, with 12 rolls per case and 967 labels per roll. Ideal for “purses, clothing, and other fabric items.” Compatible with supported versions of QuickBooks POS and QuickBooks POS Tag Printer.
  • Jewelry Tags With Flap: Costs $104.99 for four rolls of waterproof jewelry tags, with 2,490 labels per roll. Includes adhesive flaps that allow you to price items without getting sticky adhesive on them. Compatible with supported versions of QuickBooks POS and QuickBooks POS Tag Printer.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order pricing tags for your retail company.

Labels

You can also purchase printable labels directly from the Intuit MarketPlace. You can use these labels for a variety of purposes, whether it’s preprinting potential lead addresses for a new marketing campaign or printing file folder names to get your business organized. Here’s all that Intuit has to offer:

Printable Business LabelsGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

Intuit offers printable, adhesive labels in various sizes. Each set of labels starts at $40.99. These labels are compatible with laser and inkjet printers. You can design and print the labels straight from QuickBooks Desktop or by using Avery. Not compatible with QuickBooks Online.

  • 1″ x 4″ Labels: Cost $40.99 for 100 sheets with 20 labels per sheet. Compatible with laser and inkjet printers as well as Avery #5161 and #8161.
  • 1 1/3″ x 4″ Labels: Cost $40.99 for 100 sheets with 14 labels per sheet. Compatible with laser and inkjet printers as well as Avery #5162.
  • 2″ x 4″ Labels: Cost $40.99 for 100 sheets with 10 labels per sheet. Compatible with laser and inkjet printers as well as Avery #5163.
  • 3 1/3″ x 4″ Labels: Cost $40.99 for 100 sheets with 6 labels per sheet. Compatible with laser and inkjet printers as well as Avery #5164.
  • 1″ x 2 5/8″ Labels: Cost $40.99 for 100 sheets with 30 labels per sheet. Compatible with laser and inkjet printers as well as Avery #5160 and #8160.
  • 1/2″ x 1 3/4″ Labels: Cost $40.99 for 100 sheets with 80 labels per sheet. Compatible with laser and inkjet printers as well as Avery #5167.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order printable labels for all of your business needs.

Shipping Manager LabelsGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

QuickBooks also offers adhesive labels specifically designed for overnight, express, or ground shipping. These labels are compatible with laser and inkjet printers and integrate with both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Shipping Manager. Not compatible with QuickBooks Online.

  • QuickBooks Shipping Manager Labels: Cost $40.99 for 100 sheets, with two labels per sheet.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order shipping labels.

File Folder LabelsGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

In addition to the above labels, Intuit also offers labels that are specifically designed to fit your file cabinet folders to help you stay organized. These labels are compatible with laser and inkjet printers. You can design and print the labels straight from QuickBooks Desktop or by using Avery. Not compatible with QuickBooks Online.

  • 2/3″ x 3 7/16″ File Folder Labels: Cost $40.99 for 100 sheets, with 30 labels per sheet. Compatible with laser and inkjet printers as well as Avery #5366.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order file folder labels and start getting organized today.

Business Forms

While both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online offer an incredible number of reports, there are some important business forms that you may want to mail your customers. That’s why QuickBooks offers nine additional business forms. Check out all of the forms QuickBooks offers and how much they cost.

StatementsGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

QuickBooks statement forms allow you to keep your customers up to date on their financial obligations and history with your company. There are three business statement forms in total. You can print each directly from QuickBooks Desktop. Compatible with laser and inkjet printers.

  • Customer Billing Statements: Start at $64.99 for 250 statements. Ideal for updating customers on their account.
  • Remittance Statements: Start at $88.99 for 250 statements. Ideal for tracking accounts receivable.
  • Blank Remittance Statements: Start at $40.99 for 250 statements.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to check out a good deal on business forms.

InvoicesGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

For companies wishing to send invoices by mail in addition to or instead of sending invoices online, there’s the option to buy preprinted invoice templates directly from Intuit. There are three invoice styles that you can customize to fit your business’s needs. You can print the invoice’s details onto each invoice directly from QuickBooks Desktop. Compatible with laser and inkjet printers. Price varies depending on the number of invoices purchased and the number of sheets per invoice.

  • Product Invoices: Starts at $88.99 for 250 invoices. Available in single, duplicate, triplicate, or quadruplicate. Ideal for product-based businesses.
  • Service Invoices: Start at $88.99 for 250 invoices. Available in single, duplicate, or triplicate. Ideal for service-based businesses.
  • Professional Invoices: Start at $88.99 for 250 invoices. Available in single and triplicate.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order QuickBooks 1096 tax forms.

Multi-Purpose FormsGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

The multi-purpose form, as you may have guessed, has multiple potential uses. Intuit says that you can use these forms to:

Send estimates, credit memos, or purchase orders on professional-looking correspondence.

There are two multi-purpose forms available. Each can be printed directly from QuickBooks and are compatible with laser and inkjet printers.

  • Multi-Purpose Forms: Start at $88.99 for 250 forms. Available in single, duplicate, or triplicate.
  • All Purpose Form With Peel-Off Label: Start at $46.99 for 250 forms. Includes adhesive label so you can prepare reports and packing slips simultaneously.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order multi-purpose business forms now.

Form LeadersGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

The form leader helps you easily print “leftover” standard or wallet checks. You simply attach a remaining check to the form leader and print using compatible laser and inkjet printers. This saves you both time and money and ensures all leftover checks are used and printed properly.

  • Form Leaders: Costs $19.99 for 10 from leaders. Each form leader is good for up to 40 uses.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order a form leader for your standard or wallet-sized checks.

Other

Finally, Intuit also offers a few miscellaneous business items to help your office stay organized and run smoothly. Here are the final three products you can find within the Intuit MarketPlace.

BindersGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

Intuit offers two type of binders to help you keep your business checks organized. In addition to keeping your checks in order, these binders can also help you appear more professional and put together. Here’s how much they cost.

  • Office & Away Checkbook Binder: Costs $69.99 and is designed to hold up to 75 office and away checks. Includes “a handy check register, a business card pocket, a place to store important documents, and a convenient pen holder.”
  • 7-Ring Manual Check Binder: Costs $30.99 and is designed to hold manual business checks. Available in burgundy or black.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order a professional business binder.

PensGetting Started With QuickBooks Checks And Supplies

Intuit pens are specifically designed to ensure that your checks remain secure. They have unwashable ink and leave indent marks on paper to prevent check fraud.

  • QuickBooks Super Ink Security Pen: Costs $10.99 for five pens. Includes a comfortable textured grip and black ink.

Visit the Intuit MarketPlace to order a secure check pen.

Get Shopping

Now you officially know all of the business checks and office supplies available to you through the Intuit MarketPlace. The Intuit MarketPlace is a great way to find business checks, personal checks, tax forms, check envelopes, invoices, business labels, and more. You may even receive a discount for purchasing certain items like checks and envelopes together.

Once you place your order, Intuit says that most items will be shipped in 49 hours, though some custom items may take up to six days to ship.

You can always call Intuit Checks & Supplies support at (866) 570-3842 or start shopping now.

Shop For QuickBooks Checks & Supplies Now

Using an old version of QuickBooks Pro? Save $100 when you upgrade to QuickBooks Desktop 2018.

Purchase QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2018 

 

The post How To Order QuickBooks Checks And Supplies appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

QuickBooks offers incredibly in-depth payroll features. This ensures proper payroll procedures and IRS tax compliance, but it also makes for a long setup process. But don’t worry. We’ll walk you through how to set up your QuickBooks payroll in 20 simple steps.

How To Set Up Payroll

Before you begin setting up QuickBooks payroll, there are three things you must have:

  1. Enough Time
  2. The Proper Documents
  3. Your Payroll Service Key

First things first. Make sure you have adequate time to set up payroll properly. Here is a chart QuickBooks created to give you an estimate of how much time you need to set up your payroll:

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

You’ll also want to download QuickBooks’ Payroll Setup Checklist and gather the proper documentation. Tracking down all of the information and gathering the documents may take some time, but having everything you need in one spot saves you tons of time in the long run. (There is also a helpful Payroll Getting Started Guide if you want additional assistance.)

After you purchase QuickBooks Payroll, you should be given a payroll service key via email. If not, call QuickBooks to receive your service key so you can begin setting up QuickBooks Desktop Payroll.

Now, sit down with a good chunk of time, all of the documents you need, your service key, and a big cup of Joe. We’re ready to go!

Step 1: Enter You EIN

To begin, go make sure you’ve entered your EIN into QuickBooks. You most likely did this already when setting up your QuickBooks Desktop software, but just in case, go to Company>My Company and then click on the Customer Information tab to make sure your EIN is correctly entered into QuickBooks. Click “OK” when done.

(If you don’t have an EIN, you may want to consider getting a business EIN, but you can also enter an SSN if that’s how the IRS identifies your tax filings. If you aren’t sure which is better for your business, consult your accountant or a business advisor.)

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 2: Add Payroll Service Key

Verify that your QB license number and EIN are popping up correctly. Then click “Add” in the bottom left-hand corner.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 3: Enter Service Key

Remember that service key we mentioned earlier? Enter that number now and click “Next.” Call QuickBooks payroll support if you are unsure of your service key.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 4: Confirm Your Payroll Subscription

Next, you’ll need to confirm that you are adding a payroll subscription to your computer. QuickBooks will ask: “Do you want to add your subscription to this machine?” Answer “Yes” to continue.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 5: Download QuickBooks Payroll

On this page, select the “Open Payroll Setup – I want to start right away” option if you want to start setting up payroll after downloading the software. Click “Finish” to download QuickBooks Desktop Payroll.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 6: Install QuickBooks Payroll

You should see a box like the one below pop up. This means that payroll has been successfully added and is now being installed. Wait while QuickBooks finishes installing payroll. This process usually only takes a few minutes.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 7: Restart QuickBooks

Once QuickBooks Payroll has been installed on your computer, this warning box will pop up. Click “OK” and restart QuickBooks so that you can be sure that your software has been updated correctly.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 8: Select Payroll Setup Method

Once you’ve restarted QuickBooks, go to Employee>Payroll Setup to properly configure your payroll. First, you’ll be asked if your employees have previously received paychecks from your business. If the answer is no, you’ll also have to determine whether employees need to be paid today.

For our sample company, we clicked “No.” A section popped up on the left with all the payroll setup sections we need to complete. If you’re an existing business who clicked “Yes,” your “First Paychecks” section will be replaced with a “Year-to-Date Payroll” section where you can add past paychecks and previous business history by following the payroll setup wizard.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 9: Select Company Setup Method

QuickBooks will now ask you if you want to use the “Typical new employer setup” or “Customer setup” method. For the typical new setup, “QuickBooks automatically provides all the pay types and benefits commonly needed by new employers,” while the custom setup adds the ability to customize your benefits. QuickBooks advises:

Choose Custom setup if you need to set up sick time, vacation time, or insurance benefits.

We are going to choose the “Typical new employer setup” method, but you can choose “Custom setup” and follow the setup wizard, or you can go back and add custom benefits at a later time. Select your setup method, and click “Continue.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 10: Update Employee Information

If you haven’t added employees into QuickBooks, now is the time. Click “Add New…” in the bottom left-hand corner to get started.

If you have already added employees into QuickBooks, you’ll want to verify that all of their contact information and tax information is correct. On the screen below, you’ll see that QuickBooks puts a warning symbol next to employees with missing information and a red X next to employees that have an error in their information. To update or edit employee information, select the employee and click “Edit” at the bottom of the screen.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 11: Enter Employee’s Contact Information

Begin by entering their contact information, including their legal name, employee status, and address. Then click “Next.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 12: Enter Employee’s Hiring Information

Add your employee’s hiring information, including their employee type, SSN, hire date, release date (if applicable), birth date, and gender. Then click “Next.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 13: Enter Employee’s Wages

Enter information regarding your employee’s wages. Information will vary depending on whether your employee is salaried or paid hourly.

If you chose the “typical new user setup” process, QuickBooks will already have auto-populated wage types like “double-time,” “bonus,” and “commission.” Click on the items that apply to your employee and enter the wage amount. If you are using the “custom setup” option, here is where you can add benefits like “vacation” and “sick pay.” Click “Next” when everything looks correct.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 14: Sign Employee Up For Direct Deposit

If you want to pay your employee via direct deposit, you can set direct deposit up here or you can come back and do so at a later time. We’ll cover how to set up direct deposit in more detail later on in this post, so for now, we’re going to click “Next.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 15: Enter Employee Tax Information

Select the state in which your employee is subject to taxes. If you are unsure of the proper tax settings at any time, click the blue “Explain” hyperlink for more information. Also, answer whether or not your employee has lived or worked in another state while employed by you. Then click “Next.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 16: Enter Employee’s Federal Tax Information

Use your employee’s W-4 form to find and enter the following information: filing status, allowances, extra withholding, nonresident alien withholding, and HIRE Act Exemption. Also select whether or not your employee is subject to Medicare, social security, federal unemployment, and/or advance earned income credit.

Again, click the blue “Explain” hyperlink at any time for more information, or contact your tax advisor or a QuickBooks support representative for extra support. Click “Next” when done.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 17: Enter Employee’s State Tax Information

Next, enter similar information regarding your employee’s state tax information. If your employee is subject to any special local taxes (other than those listed above), you will be prompted to add additional information. Click “Next” when this page is completed.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

When you click next, you’ll be taken to a page where you can enter any additional state tax information. Click “Next” when ready. Then click “Finish.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 18: Review Employee List

Repeat steps 10-18 until all of your employees are successfully added into QuickBooks. Once you’re done, review your employee list and click “Continue.”

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 19: Create Paychecks

Next, you have two choices: “create paychecks and finish tax setup later” or “continue to tax setup.”

The tax setup process varies depending on your business’s tax obligations and pay schedule. You can print and follow step by step tax instructions to complete this section. Or, you can come back later and add in your tax information. For now, we are going to move on and create paychecks.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

Step 20: View Payroll Center

You have now officially set up payroll! (Mostly.) You may need to finish adding your tax information in the future, but for now, you can take pride knowing your payroll is up and running.

At this point, I highly recommend taking a look at the Payroll Center to see everything that QuickBooks Payroll is capable of.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

For example, in addition to letting you run payroll, QuickBooks also helps with payroll taxes. If you go to your Payroll Center and click on the “Pay Liabilities” and “File Forms” tabs, you can see all of the tax features QuickBooks helps with.

How To Set Up QuickBooks Payroll

As you can see in the pictures, the QuickBooks Payroll Liabilities center shows you how much you owe in payroll liabilities, how to manage liabilities, adjust liabilities, and make payments on payroll liabilities. The File Forms center shows you which forms to file and if they’re due quarterly or annually, how to order tax forms, e-file, and more.

If you have any questions about the payroll setup process or your payroll liabilities, contact QuickBooks payroll support or download the QuickBooks Payroll Getting Started Guide. If you have any other questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to address it.

How To Run Payroll

How To Write And Print Payroll Checks

How To Use Direct Deposit

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