January 25th, 2010 by Ben Hwang
In spite of people like us, whom look to provide a web based accounting product easier to use and simplifying many processes, at the end of the day the responsibility of the bookkeeping for your small business still relies on YOU.
That’s right. It’s amazing that in this business, we find that there are some businesses out there that still manage to go all year without entering a single entry until the end of the fiscal year where then there’s a mad scramble to fill in whatever entries there were for the entire year. Call us crazy, but that’s just nuts.
So with the New Year, perhaps one of your new resolutions for this fiscal year is to:
- Schedule out a set time slot every month to manage your books.
- Hold that schedule unless there isn’t any accounting to be done.
It sounds strange, but no matter how boring it sounds, or how difficult it may be to put in a few hours in the middle or at the end of the month, you’ll thank us later. Because nothing drives a person mad than trying to figure out whether or not the receipt from last January was part of a project expense or just a petty cash purchase.
December 18th, 2009 by Ben Hwang
In an effort to create more transparent support, and to just make it easier to answer questions about Merchant’s Mirror, we’ve decided to use Get Satisfaction as our support area. Get Satisfaction puts all of your support needs in an area where the power of the community weighs in. And since there are things coming down the pipeline that have to deal with community… (we won’t get into it here today although we can already here the half-hearted and playful boos), we decided that this was a good shift for us.
When you get right down to it, all small business is people powered, community driven, and the web 2.0 era has re-proven that fact. This allows both the corporate side to show that they’re listening, and not have to be repetitive with question answering which helps users find what they need, (maybe throw in some praise), and move on. The worst that can happen is when we hear about how some business shelled out hundreds if not thousands of dollars on accounting software to find that the company behind it never replies to emails or phone calls.
So if you have questions, comments, or whatever, just head over there and find out what you want to know. If you want to keep it private? There’s a place for that too.
August 24th, 2009 by Ben Hwang
If you’re an Internet based business such as our web based accounting, then you might already be leveraging your social media networks.
There are plenty out there from Twitter to Facebook, and all of them have different types of scenarios that you should be paying attention to since the audiences are actually somewhat different. For example, if you are leveraging Facebook, there’s a good chance that you’re trying to sell a product or service to friends and acquaintances that you’ve met along the ways. However, microblogging sites such as Twitter provide a different type of scenario where the audience is not only the people that are looking to follow you, but also the real-time stream of information going across like a river. If it passes at just the right time, when someone is looking, you’ll have gained more eyes on your marketing.
Now, there’s multiple reasons to do social media networks, and it truly depends on whether or not your segmented market audience happens to use these services. For us, many of our clients happen to be freelancers of all types and are very in-tune with social networks in general which makes it a great area to not only market to those individuals, but communicate and provide customer relations through those channels. I do not believe that all small businesses should use this as a shotgun blast type marketing since it’s way too broad and is very much dependent to whom you are catering. But if you do provide products and services to an Internet market? Leverage your social networks like there’s no tomorrow.
August 18th, 2009 by Ben Hwang
One of the ways to alleviate costs in a small business is to leverage open source software. Everyone does to a degree, and some do it better than others. For example, our online accounting business uses open source within the application itself as well as mail servers and operating systems. There are plenty of instances that the open source software results in better features than the paid software applications.
There usually is a caveat though with open source. While they are community driven and supported, you have to be able to man the help station yourself and be proactive in finding the solutions to your particular issues. It also could be that your issue is explained in a very technical fashion and you have to be able to at least learn enough to disseminate that information. This makes certain choices more viable than others depending on the small business owner’s comfort level with technical documentation or sometimes lack thereof.
If you feel comfortable in the technical realm to use certain open source tools, there are many to choose from if you only take a few minutes with your favorite browser and look for the subject + open source. It has definitely helped keep our costs lower which is one of the reasons we can pass along the savings to our clientele.
August 10th, 2009 by Ben Hwang
Whether you’re searching for web based accounting or just name searches on things such as Merchant’s Mirror, there is always a need for small businesses to do a patent or trademark search.
Mainly, it’s to make sure that you’re not infringing on someone else’s work and to do your due diligence if you’re seeking to apply at the US Patent and Trademark Office. While filing through a patent attorney is probably not a bad idea, you can do all of the work yourself. Last I saw, I believe a trademark ran about two to three hundred dollars. Patents were a bit different depending on what stage you were in and what you were patenting.
Either way, you still need to make sure that you’re doing the right research. There are several searches online that you can use, and some are better than others, but I would definitely recommend from a preliminary standpoint to first check Google Patents. This is the quick and well-known text search method similar to their usual search engine. Pretty remarkable look. From there, I would go to the USPTO and be definite that you’re not missing anything. While Google makes the effort with updating their databases, there’s nothing that screams finality than going directly to the source.
There are other methods of searching, some are a lot cleaner that allow complex regular expression, but overall, I would recommend at the very least doing the two above. That way, you’re at least covering yourself and making sure that your business won’t be forced to change its name in the future because someone forgot to do the legwork.