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Small Business Software Recommendation

chrisjr

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Hi Gents,
Starting a small landscaping/brush management (brush cutting and clearing, wood chipping, mulching) business at my cottage (lake house as American's call it). Looking for some software to help me manage clients, schedules, and finances. Any recommendations? Couldn't find anything doing a google search. I am running a macbook pro and could easily use ical and excel but it would be nice to use something all in one place.
Cheers,
Chris
 

CunningSmeagol

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You need a spreadsheet application, and you need a calendar application. I don't see a way around excel + iCal.

iCal is good. I like it better than Outlook and Lotus Notes. Syncs nicely w/ iPhone.

Excel for Mac is a total ************* the last time I checked, and I'd throw away the MacBook and replace it w/ a PC for only this reason.


NM, you could just use Google dox/cal.
 

tj100

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It might be overkill, but I could see using a really simple Salesforce.com implementation to manage the whole thing (except for the accounting, for which Quickbooks is probably the only practical choice).
 

aravenel

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The classic accounting software is Quicken's QuickBooks.

For the rest of it, start small and cheap and do something in Google Docs. Salesforce.com is total overkill for CRM for a startup landscaping business.
 

tj100

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Originally Posted by aravenel
Salesforce.com is total overkill for CRM for a startup landscaping business.

Generally, I agree (as stated in my first post) - BUT it has some features (i.e. web integration) that could make life a lot easier. Is it necessary? No, it could well be overkill. On the other hand, it has some useful features and is infinitely scalable - which might come in handy when you have a big landscaping business.
 

ChicagoRon

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Originally Posted by cross22
Quickbooks for finances.
There are probably some other useful intuit apps as well.. they seem to be really good for the small business.
 

v0rtex

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Salesforce.com is ridiculously over-specced for what you need. Why not go one step further and set up a few servers, install SAP, and you could have it hooked up to some industrial automation system to run your woodchippers... giant waste of time and money at this point.

Using separate software programs is not necessarily a bad thing. You can use iCal/Google Calendar for scheduling and Excel to maintain a client list, and take advantage of decades of work and billions of dollars in research, or you can find some crappy "GardenBiz Manager Pro 2000" app that someone threw together in their garage and decided to sell.

I use Freshbooks to handle all my invoicing and expense management, even sends out invoices via regular mail for you. Technically minded clients can log in and manage their account, non-techs just mail the invoice back with a check and I mark it as paid. You can set up recurring billing for monthly service too (even automatic billing with a merchant account).

Google Calendar or iCal is good for simple scheduling.

With technology, keep everything as simple as possible until you need more. Scalability is a good problem to have, but one to solve when it happens, especially with a startup where you don't know what it is you're even selling yet (landscaping - but to businesses, homeowners, indoor, outdoor, etc?). Fail fast, fail often, make progress.
 

aravenel

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Originally Posted by v0rtex
With technology, keep everything as simple as possible until you need more. Scalability is a good problem to have, but one to solve when it happens, especially with a startup where you don't know what it is you're even selling yet (landscaping - but to businesses, homeowners, indoor, outdoor, etc?). Fail fast, fail often, make progress.

This. Your problem is not one that requires fancy technology. Starting up, you have a handful of customers, which can easily be managed with a spreadsheet. Any time and money you spend now tinkering with the software is time and money you aren't spending on building your business.
 

ChicagoRon

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Depends how small.. the reason Quickbooks is a good idea is because it will help with some compliance stuff.
 

aravenel

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Originally Posted by ChicagoRon
Depends how small.. the reason Quickbooks is a good idea is because it will help with some compliance stuff.

Fair point, QuickBooks maybe should be something to purchase very early for exactly that reason. For the rest of it though? Forget it. He's going into the landscaping business, that's not exactly something that requires a bunch of software to be successful. Stick with Google Apps.
 

ChicagoRon

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Originally Posted by aravenel
Fair point, QuickBooks maybe should be something to purchase very early for exactly that reason. For the rest of it though? Forget it. He's going into the landscaping business, that's not exactly something that requires a bunch of software to be successful. Stick with Google Apps.
Depending on Tech Savvy, MS Access can be a great choice for the rest of that stuff. And if you don't want to pay, open office. I'm not anti-cloud, but I would not want to run my business, no matter how small, on the free version of google docs.
 

aravenel

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Originally Posted by ChicagoRon
I'm not anti-cloud, but I would not want to run my business, no matter how small, on the free version of google docs.

Fair enough. Personally, I'd much rather use gdocs, and know quite a few who do use it to run their businesses.

I think we're both arguing the same point though--to not overthink this. His business software is not going to be the determinant of his success, so keep it simple until he has reason to upgrade.
 

joey23st

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Even though I'm new here, I figured I'd chime in. For macs, there's a whole slew of software for invoicing and client management. Honestly though, I'd have to agree with what some others said. Stay simple as long as you can. There's no need to go out and spend a bunch of money on some software whose features you won't use or need for a while. *edit* - I was just thinking about this, even though it's not really related to finance management. I might be a little biased, as a design student myself, but I don't know how to stress this enough to people. You business collateral needs to look good. It's usually the first impression people get of your company. I actually got a letter from a landscaper(ironically), a few days ago. It looked like he went to kinkos and got a ****** stamp of his name made, and decided it didn't matter if it was stamped on a little crooked.
 

kirbyf2

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Quickbooks is the best and easiest soultion for the finances and depending on how far you want to go. They even have credit card terminals that anyone can be approved for (albeit at high transaciton fees.).

Go to a book store and pick up Quickbooks for Dummies, it'd show you how simple it is.
 

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