Written by: Beth Kotz
Running a small business is no easy feat, and new responsibilities are always edging their way onto the already-full plates of aspiring entrepreneurs. In the area of finance, however, there is a myriad of tech solutions offering new windows of opportunity. As a business owner, it’s a good idea to immerse yourself in learning about the ways that technology can help you better manage your income, expenditures and overall bottom line. Read on for a brief run-down of the latest tools that can help raise your SMB’s visibility, impact, and IQ.
You probably have a change jar that you redeem for bills when it gets full, and the Acorns app extends this simple principle to the digital age. After you link it to your credit cards, the app will round up any purchase you make to the nearest dollar and invest the difference in a diversified portfolio. It selects the specific ETFs it buys for you according to the answers you give to questions about your individual financial situation and goals. It costs $1 per month to use Acorns, and it’s available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Wealthsimple is one of the most popular “robo-advisors” on the market, and it has apps for both Android and iOS devices. It uses modern portfolio theory to allocate your assets to ETFs in such as way as to minimize risk while still generating enviable rates of growth. Those with a broad interest in the welfare of the world may be interested in Weatlthsimple‘s socially responsible portfolio of companies that act in a morally conscientious way. Fees are 0.5% of your account value annually, but if you have a balance below $5,000, then the service is free.
You’re probably concerned with making the world a better place, and Bstow allows you to do your part without undue hassle or inconvenience. Much as Acorns does, it works with your credit cards and bank balances to round your transactions up to the nearest whole number value. With the fractions of a dollar thus allocated, it supports various charitable causes. There are 1.5 million eleemosynary organizations listed, and you can choose whichever one you want to donate to. Bstow does deduct a small fee from every donation, though.
The Amazon Alexa personal digital assistant has quickly risen to become the most popular such software among the public at large. Packaged within the Amazon Echo hardware unit, it allows users to interact with it merely by talking aloud. Because it features robust support for third-party applications, any number of enterprises have added onto its functionality by developing new “Skills” for Alexa. An example is Capital One, which allows customers to make balance inquiries and pay their bills by telling Alexa what to do. Deploying Alexa to work for you can augment your own efficiency and productivity. Depending on the resources you have available and the nature of your work, you may even be able to incorporate Alexa within your operations to extend the benefits of voice recognition to your own clients.
You can use your Android machine, iPhone, iPad or really any device with a web browser to access Good Budget. It uses the old envelope system of budging without actually requiring physical envelopes. After you establish commonsense categories of spending and a budget for each category, you’ll be able to enter your transactions as you make them. Your virtual envelopes will appear green or red depending on whether you still have money remaining or you’ve exceeded your limit. The free plan should suffice for most users of Good Budget, but there’s also a $5 per month option that unlocks extra features, like unlimited envelopes.
Cloud computing is all the rage in tech circles these days, and you can take advantage of it with the Xero online accounting suite. You’ll be able to input your transactions, view your tax liability, track expenses and more while enjoying the mobile accessibility and data backup possibilities inherent in the cloud paradigm. Unlock additional capabilities by employing some of the more than 500 business apps that Xero works with. There’s a free, 30-day trial available, but after that, you’ll have to choose one of three pricing plans depending on your specific needs. The Starter level costs $6.30 per month for your first six months and $9 per month thereafter. The Standard package is $21 a month for the first half year and $30 for each subsequent month. The top-of-the-line Premium 10 level of service will set you back $49 monthly for your first six months and then will charge you $70 per month.
Money makes the world go ‘round, and if you can master your business finances you’re one step closer to achieving that elusive goal of success. Today there are plenty of “smart” tools you can enlist to take the tedium out of balancing a budget and monitoring your accounts. By using the financial technology at your disposal to lighten your load, you’ll be able to dedicate your time to more valuable pursuits – like strategizing your next great business move.
Author Bio: Beth Kotz is a freelance finance and tech writer with a strong interest in the Internet of Things and its potential for change. A graduate of DePaul University, she is currently based out of Chicago, Ill.