system will literally tell me when it's time to call," says McElligott, whose automated billing process alerts him after each late notice has been e-mailed to a customer, and itautomatically suspends the client's hosting services as of the third notice. Likewise, your accounting software (and your bank) can handle electronic transfers so you never have toworry about a late electric bill.
4. Hit the web.
Your website is a potential client's main access point to your business.Don't worry as much about fancy graphics as making sure visitors can get the informationthey need. An online FAQ list can cut down on the time clients spend calling with basicquestions and prevent a frustrated client from going elsewhere. You don't have to be atechno-whiz to set up a good website. Many web hosting companies can provide reliablewebsites for relatively little money, and many provide tools to help even technophobesset up online purchasing and billing.
Money might not be the root of all evil, but it is the cause of many headaches for businessowners. Here are five tips for managing your money better:
5. Bank on it.
"One of the assets business owners have is their cash," says MannyCalzon, vice president and finance manager for the central district of Merrill LynchinTampa, Florida. But many entrepreneurs don't understand how much they're paying inservice charges to their banks every month. Request a bank analysis statement that breaksdown the generic service charges found in your monthly statement. "You can make aneducated decision as to whether you need [all the services you're] beingcharged for,"Calzon says, "and if not, [ask the banker to] streamline and reduce costs associated withthis account." You can then reinvest the savings in ways that take the business to the nextlevel.
6. File taxes electronically.
Companies with $10 million or more in total assets that file250 or more returns a year are now required to file their 2006 taxes electronically. "Small businesses are going to be scrambling," says Bradford Hall, managing director of Hall & Company CPAsin Irvine, California. "They're going to [need] an automated payrollservice that files electronically for them." So get a head start now to make life easier later on.
7. Pay now, not later.
Can you pay smaller bills in advance? If you have a monthly billfor $15 but opt to pay $90 for six months of service, you'll save $1.95 in stamps and youwon't incur late fees. Best of all, you're not wasting time paying bills.
8. Upgrade your accounting systems.
"A business that's projecting $10 million-plus [insales] should be on a sophisticated system," Hall says. Software packages such asBusinessWorks, Enterprise, Great Plains (which was recently acquired by Microsoft) andMAS 90 offer increased sophistication for a growing company and will make life mucheasier come tax time or, heaven forbid, an audit.
9. Make your (bench) mark.
It's common for growing companies to do business withoutunderstanding how they stack up against similar companies in their industry. Most likely,your accountant has industry profit and overhead statistics at the ready--data you can