Cash Register 2Go

I’m back on my 2Go Kick but this time it’s not jewelry or books or fashion. Today we’re talking about transfering money from one person (or business) to another. These days, sending and even collecting money for a good or service is tough.

wsipeEnter Amazon Local Register, a simplistic and easy way to turn your mobile device  (iOS, Galaxy) or tablet (iOS, Android, Kindle Fire) into a Cash Register 2 Go.If you sign up before October 31st you just need to pay $10 for the reader (plugs into the headphone jack of your device) and 1.75% per swipe. That’s it! No hidden costs or fees. There’s also a mobile app (iOS, Android) for tracking.

So what’s in it for Amazon?? While it is the array of accessories that can be purchased on Amazon’s website, the nominal fees it will make on exchanges is not the real draw; rather, “The key for Amazon… is that its brick-and-mortar payments ambitions extend far beyond its credit card readers. Amazon wants to intrigue brick-and-mortar customers with its low-priced card reader, and pull them into its entire ecosystem, in stores and also online.” (BusinessInsider). That Ecosystem includes the likes of Amazon Local (a service that helps businesses set up daily deals). Try it out!

Run Your Personal Finances Like a Business

An article from The College Investor, How To Run Your Personal Finances Like a Business, was referenced in one of the blogs I read daily. I absolutely LOVE the concept because one of the things I learned early while in the MBA program at Case Western Reserve University is that what you learn is not just for business; it can and SHOULD be applied to your personal life as well (Finance, Economics, Accounting, etc.). On a daily basis we do the same types of things corporations do: we find ways to earn income and analyze our expenses (operating costs). We also plan for “life events” like saving for a house or buying a car (long-term, strategic planning).

UnknownBusinesses have full-time people dedicated to analyzing their financial position. On a monthly/quarterly/yearly basis they generate financial documents, like income statements (explained below) and have formal review sessions to gain insight/understanding into how they performed against the plan and how it positions them for the future. How often do you review your financial position? Not just what you spend last week but also your 401K, insurance policies, stock growth, rate of return on your savings account? There is SO much to learn (which I also love) and I’m diving in head first with resources like Early Retirement Extreme and Smart Women Finish Rich.

3700bc66e0a8a53960de7873cb1c0937You MUST use Mint. It automates a lot of mundane tasks for you – the same types of tasks businesses pay software engineers to develop for them so they can focus on value-added tasks like analyzing trends, comparing year over year expenses/revenue, etc.  Mint calculates your monthly net income (income – expenses) automatically on a monthly basis. Access-anywhere (mobile, desktop) templates like Google Docs work well also. (I happen to use both, for different purposes).

The article details 5 steps to running your personal finances like a business:

  1. Create Income Streams

  2. Slash Your Operating Costs

  3. Pay Your Employees First (i.e. yourself)

  4. Insure Your Risks

  5. Make Your Money Grow

  6. Fine Tune Your Systems

  7. Think Long Term

If you come across unknown terms or phrases as you read through this material, you can use resources like Investopedia, iTunesU and even Google Search to gain a better understanding. Take it slow and don’t give up!

Happy Financial Planning!

Ask Bri: Starting a Business

Ask Bri via Facebook: Can you walk me through the steps of getting a business licensed. Thanks in advance! (Texas)

Thanks for your question! Surprisingly, the process is fairly easy, but you must educate yourself before you begin the process to be sure you understand the legal and tax implications. Let’s assume you already have an idea for your business: one that is specific in purpose and has a target audience.

First, give considerable thought to your business name and get feedbackBegin with the end in mind: people will need to locate your business on the web and let’s be honest, no one wants to type victoriashairandnailshoponline.com. Think about what your website name will be and use this tool to see if the domain/website name you desire is available; but, do NOT purchase it (more on this later). If you come up with a great idea but still need more time, you can reserve the name with your Secretary of State but it’ll cost you a little.

Next, put your tax dollars and mouse to work. You need to get facts from a trusted source. Someone you already pay to work on your behalf. That trusted source is the Small Business Administration (SBA). Their website is packed with information, resources, guides, templates and more. Watch the video to get an introduction to the SBA, then spend 30 minutes taking this online course: Young Entrepreneurs An Essential guide to Starting Your Own Business. Module 2 covers six basic steps you must take: 1) Have a plan 2) Get assistance 3) Find a mentor, 4) Decide on a business model/structure 5) Finance your business 6) Register your business. The SBA has local offices all across the country. You can even locate a course in your area to see what courses and resources they offer.

Be sure you understand the options for business types! The graphic below provides a high level overview but always use the IRS’s designations, found here, as the ultimate authority. The LLC is a common option because of the personal protections, so start there and use process of elimination for the others. Know that if you decide on a LLC you must have the those letters in your business name (i.e. Bri ALys, LLC).

When you are ready to file, it must be done with your Secretary of State. (Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio). Getting a business licensed is as simple as filling out a form and paying a fee. There are no other requirements and filing online is much quicker than snail mail. Fees vary by state but typically are only few hundred dollars or so. Once it is approved you’ll get a certificate in the mail and you’re ready to go!

Once you have your certificate in hand (and only then), establish an online presence. Few tips here:

  1. Create a single logo to use on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram to help get the word out about your product or service. Use Word, PowerPoint, or whatever tools are at your disposal and mock-up a design, something you like.

  2. There is no reason for you to create a website that you can’t manage and update yourself. You can create a FREE blog that looks just as good as any website and there are hundreds of design options, see TechCrunch. Bri Alys is also a BLOG! With most blogging platforms like WordPress, you can buy your own domain/website name, add email and pay a nominal fee to remove ads from your site. I like WordPress because they also have Mobile AppsTotal cost: <$100, a little time and creativity.

  3. Create your own hashtag (think #selfie) so that when you post or advertise on social media, your content is easily discoverable. We use #brialys. You can also use other common phrases that associate with the content of your post (i.e. #women #tech #business)

Keep your startup costs low and put in the work! Be mindful that 8 out of 10 small business fail. But that’s ok: learn from other’s mistakes ! Bri Alys is one of many ideas I’ve had over the years. And not to worry, whether your new business is made up of 1 or 100 employees, Congratulations! You’re now one of those small businesses politicians like to talk about helping (insert side eye).

Non-Traditional IT

Technology is all about changing the way people think and live. Over the years, companies like Apple and Google have found ways to get people excited about hardware and software they never knew they “needed”.  This is one view of IT; but, another one, often the focus of business, is using to enhance or lean the way people work or behave every day.

Even with all the publicity this week, some good, some not so good, Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) is a trailblazer in IT. While its primary product is coffee, Starbucks has found a way to use technology to meet its customers right where they are: on their mobile phones and on twitter. There are no new tools to buy or new processes to learn. The  company’s message? Not only is our brand cool and our coffee good, so is the user experience, thanks in part to IT!

Mobile Payments: Starbucks was one of the first companies to implement this feature. No more carrying around your rewards cards or your credit card. When you open the app, your card pops right up! You can add payment methods and even auto-reload your card when it drops below a certain balance. This app has really taken off: Starbucks recently reported that “more than 10% of its transactions in the U.S. are made with a phone.” (WSJ)

Twitter. The social media platform has 200 million+ users. Just in time for the biggest gift-giving season of the year, Starbucks  launched Tweet-a-Coffee. All you need is a twitter name linked to your Starbucks account and the Twitter handle (@bri_alys) of the person you want to send the gift to. Once you send the tweet (shown in the video below), the recipient will receive $5 to spend however they like at any Starbucks store. (Surely, the developers out there will love to ask for coffee instead of donations.)