In your quest to turn your own great idea into reality here are some of the products and services that I've found helpful. Good luck!
Whether your idea is destined to become the next Apple or Google, or perhaps you envision something more modest like opening your own restaurant or even working part-time from your home, many of these products and services are likely to be of use to you.
As a reminder, nearly all of the links below are what's known as affilate links. That means I will earn a commission – at no additional cost or obligation to you – if you decide to purchase one of the products or services listed here.
I have first hand experience working with nearly all of these companies and I only recommend them because I think they are worth your consideration; not because of the small commision they might pay if you make a purchase. In those few cases where I don't have first hand experience, I included the link to give you an option or additional choice on a product and/or service I know is essential for some start-ups.
My final two thoughts here: 1) Above all, only buy those things you really need to help you turn your great ideas into reality. 2) It is important that you please let me know right away of any company or service that does not meet your expectations. I don't want to be affiliated with companies that don't treat my listeners well.
Basics: Accounting & Finance
In Episode 7 of the QI podcast I talked about the need to bring legitimacy to your startup. Creating and maintaining clean accounting records, also known as the "books" of the operation, is essential to being viewed as legitimate. In my experience, the Intuit brand of accounting software is hands-down your best answer for accounting software for the startup. I have used Intuit accounting products for nearly 15 years now and love them. My bookkeeper and my accountant know and like working with Intuit accounting software. What more could you ask for? Here’s all your options in Intuit accounting, tax, and payroll software —
QuickBooks Windows for Desktop: Save up to 20% + Free Shipping.
QuickBook Mac for Desktop: Save up to 20% + Free Shipping.
QuickBooks Online Version: The advantage to the online version is that you don't have to pay hundreds of dollars upfront for software. Personally, I prefer making that one-time payment for the desktop version but I know a lot of people like the online one instead so I've included it here as an option for you. I've only used the desktop version and continue to be very happy with it. With the online version your bookkeeper or anyone you choose can access and work with it remotely instead of needing to be at your physical location. You can choose the plan that's best for your business today. They will let you try it FREE for 30 days.
Quicken Personal Finance Software – It is ESSENTIAL you keep your personal accounting and record keeping separate from your business records. While I use QuickBooks for my businesses, Quicken is the software I use for my personal accounting, budgeting, tracking my investments, etc. I love it and have loved it for years! Save up to $10 on Quicken money management products + FREE SHIPPING!
TurboTax – Home & Business – When things were less complex for me and my business ventures than they are today, I used TurboTax with great success and at lower cost than hiring an accountant. I highly recommend it today. However, I also recommend you discuss your business accounting and tax preparation needs with your CPA. That way you can have greater confidence you won't inadvertently get yourself in trouble with Uncle Sugar (the tax man!).
* Note: There is one Intuit product I do NOT endorse at this time: Intuit GoPayment service which would allow you to accept credit cards. The reason is a technical one having to do with the fact the accompanying merchant agreement requires a personal guarantee from you. You can set up a credit card merchant account elsewhere without having to give a personal guarantee. My recommendation is that startups and entrepreneurs need to stay away from personal guarantees as much as you can – aren't you already risking enough?
Paychex is a service I've used to great satisfaction. With Paychex we were able to offer direct deposit, health benefits, a 401K plan, and even COBRA benefits for personnel no longer with our firm. But I'm not going to tell you Paychex is cheap; it's not. I'm going to tell you it's a great value for what you get, which for me at least, included freedom from having to worry about payroll-related matters so I could instead focus on my business.
Intuit Payroll Service: The last time I was in the market for payroll services I was not aware of Intuit's payroll service so I've not personally used them. Given my overall positive experiences with Intuit I''m happy to present them here as an alterative to Paychex's otherwise wonderful service. I would certainly consider giving Intuit's payroll service serious consideration for any new company I started today.
Computers and Servers
Dell Computers: My first computer purchased as a solopreneur over a decade ago was a Dell. I liked the fact it was a business-class machine that did not come pre-loaded with a bunch of that garbage "adware" that new machines purchased in consumer retail stores often come with – Ugh do I hate that! I then went on to continue buying Dell hardware for the years following. We ended up with a Dell server as well. My only complaint then – and now – is that once you are on Dell's snail mail list they send you stuff far more than I like. So while I think the marketing geniuses at Dell need to do better, I've been quite happy with their hardware and feel comfortable recommending the same for your great idea.
Software: Anti-Virus and Backup Solutions
AVG Technologies: At the recommendation of my tech experts, AVG is one of two anti-virus software services I subscribe to. Given the sophisticaton of the bad guys these days, sometimes one solution can be compromised – Believe me, I've had that happen! So I use two solutions to give me peace of mind.
Malwarebytes: Malwarebytes products have a proven record of protecting computers by completely removing all forms of malware, including trojans, spyware, adware and rootkits. I've been very happy with their offering. This is the second of my anti-virus solutions I subscribe to for reasons I just explained above. It's a level of redunancy I'm willing to pay for because of the peace of mind that comes with it.
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