Pages



How to start photography business from home?

If you are like most people who are drawn to this hub by the title, you are starting a photography business because you already love taking photographs. Chances are that you have spent countless hours photographing people, places and things for the sheer enjoyment of it. You might have even photographed a wedding or two.

The next natural, logical step must be to take the plunge and market yourself as a "real" photographer; magnetic sticker on the car and everything.

And you are right! Unless you are wrong. What do I mean? Read on.

A quick reality check...

Photography is fun. I will say that without pause. If you have ever felt the thrill of taking a digital or film-loaded device and bringing a visual idea or to life, you know that there are few feelings like that in the world. But when you offer photography as a professional service, the dynamic changes, it can be a very challenging job, in every meaning of the word..

Is it rewarding? Yes.

Is it difficult? Very.

The obvious question: Are you good?

There is a marked difference between "pretty pictures" and "professional photography." By calling yourself a professional, you officially leave the zone where colorful snapshots of flowers, sunsets, kisses and kids are sufficient for your portfolio. You're not looking for compliments any more, you're looking for money. This is especially true if you are seeking to be a successful wedding photographer with a good chance of magazine exposure.

You have to be objective about your work. An entire web site is devoted to mercilessly roasting photographers who failed to be objective about their portfolio and created vast online galleries of "fauxtography."

You do not want to be in this category.

If you want to make photography your sole source of income, you will not succeed unless you consciously work to make your photographs stand out from the crowd. As I wrote in another hub, you have have to offer something that no one else can give. Your portfolio, be it a physical book or an album on your iPad, is the heart and soul of your business. It is your product. Anyone with the gift of gab can sell themselves to a client, but you can't win on personality alone, you have to back your words up with a stellar product.

Obviously, the first step to success is simply being good at what you do. An expensive camera does not a good photographer make. If you assume that you are as good as you need to be and consistently ignore criticism with the lofty assumption that your critics "just don't get it," that will be your downfall.

However, from this point on, I'm going to proceed in this article with the impression that you are good at what you do. So, enough of the amateur hour, let's talk branding.

Treat your work as your brand.

The ideal situation would be to have the look and feel of your photography to be as identifiable as your favorite snack. Very few photographers reach that level of recognition, (Trey Ratcliff and Chase Jarvis being two very notable and current exceptions), but that is the goal you want to have in the back of your mind.

You need your work to stand out. For that reason, you must focus intently on what gets the most positive response from clients, and develop that part of your body of work. Just for argument's sake, you may hate the job of taking family portraits (even if you love kids and families), but if the family portraits you have taken in the past are the portfolio shots that are getting you the referral work you have now, consider focusing on them and making them objects d'art.

Another huge part of branding is to have a good business name, website and business card that integrates with your portfolio in both tone and design.

If you choose to name your business instead of working under your own name, think long and hard about what that name is going to be. Don't take the easy way out and say "Photos by [Name]" or a cheesy name like "Dazzling Images."

On a personal note, I will always recommend that you work under your own name, because I trust people who are unafraid to publicly claim their work instead of taking shelter behind a catch slogan.

Build your website and make it pretty. Buy a good domain name. Learn SEO marketing, register for Google Analytics so you can track user response, and integrate your site with a Facebook page. If you can't design a web site, find a good designer to do it for you. Paying for good work is the same courtesy that you want people to extend to you, and it is an investment in your business.

The same thing goes for your business card. Don't settle for VistaPrint's famous free card offer, pay for good paper and design something original to give a strong first impression. Tie the design of the card in with the design of your website.

What all of this does is create an identity for you as a photographer. Some of my local friends who have done this extremely well include the always awesome David and Jessica Marshall of David and Jess Wedding Photography and my old boss (and all-around fun guy) Jeremy Cook of Cook Images.

Just what is a "licensed photographer?"

A common question I get asked is whether or not a photographer needs to get a license first. I usually reply "a license for what?" A driver's license? Might come in handy. A license to kill? Not necessary on most jobs. A license to thrill? Baby, I got that in spades...

Oh wait, did you mean a "photography license?" If so, the answer is a flat no.

Some photographers will pad their reputation by calling themselves "licensed," grouping the term in with their oh-so-many years of experience and town faire accolades. That is a certain kind of bull that is utilized by the insecure.

On the flip side, like any other professional service, you do need a business license.

A business license is necessary because you will be accepting money for your services. You will also be building a brand, and most likely selling work online. If this work yields sufficient income, the exact amount of which varies from state to state, you need to have the source of your income on file for tax purposes.


Sole Proprietorship or LLC?

This is common question for any entrepreneur about to launch a small business. What is the difference, and how does it affect you? The actual explanation in photography terms is actually pretty simple, and you can judge for yourself which one would suit your business best.

As a sole proprietor, there is very little delineation between personal assets and those of the business. You provide a service, people pay you for it and the money is deposited in your bank account. If you hire an assistant for one or two jobs and not as a regular employee, you can pay them and mark it off as a business expense. The downside of this very easy and personal system is that since the business is small (you and your equipment), all liability rests on you if something goes wrong on a job.

Example: You have photographed a wedding, and something happened to cause your equipment to malfunction erase all of your memory cards. The job was a total loss, and you realize that the circumstances that caused the malfunction were not covered in your contract. When the bride takes you to court for damages, and wins, everything you own will be fair game for renumeration. Whether it is marked as a business or personal account, a sole proprietorship means that you, the individual, are totally liable.

In contrast, a limited liability corporation (LLC) means that there is a sharp divide between business and personal property. If there was ever an issue in which you were culpable, your personal assets would be protected.

There are some exceptions in which you (or a corporation partner) would be held personally liable in the event that you were actively responsible for a major snafu, but the function of an LLC is to keep your assets separate from business assets, for everyone's protection.

You can file as an LLC simply as a pass-through to have the LLC protection and function as a sole proprietor, or you can file an LLC so as to make your business an actual corporation with multiple partners.

A sole proprietorship is fast and cheap; you can get a business license for it at your local tax collector's office for a small annual fee. An LLC takes more paperwork to file and is more expensive, but might be worth it if you have a long term plan to enlarge your business and include partners in the business. That is where it becomes your call.

For more information on sole proprietorships and LLCs, LegalZoom has a very informative education center.

Networking, it never ends!

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Google+, Tumblr, email, newsletters.

Those are just a few of the many, many options available to the modern photographer in their business networking. It almost takes more time to share your work than to actually create it these days.

For active, one-on-one client communication, email needs to be your top priority. That's where first contact is usually made. You must be prompt in your replies, and stay in touch with clients after the job is complete. The personal touch will be appreciated, and when when your clients need more work in the future, you will want to be the name they see in their inbox.

Facebook is very important for fast networking and marketing. If you have a thousand likes on your page, and you regularly post a special offer or photo post in the morning or mid-day, you will receive much more of a response than if you update it "just now and again" with an inspirational quote or old photo. Timing is important. You want to post when people are checking their social outlets and have the energy to respond positively, such as mornings and lunch breaks.

A blog is important too, but only effective if you update it regularly, make it easily accessible from your main site, and have the updates sent automatically to the rest of your social networks. WordPress is probably the best blog to have right now, and its templates are very easy to upgrade and make into your main website, if you so choose.

These are the best options for revenue. Google+ is coming into its own, but unless you already have a substantial following, you aren't going to see the same returns there as you would in more familiar environs like Facebook. Same thing with Twitter. Don't just think about the possibility of "hits" (unless you are running AdSense or something similar to earn revenue) think about which ones are going to get you the most possible returns.


Competition (there's a lot of it!)

If none of this has scared you off, and if the idea of filing the paperwork and making the commitments has actually gotten you excited, awesome!

Now, just bear in mind that enthusiasm does not dismiss what has been discussed in the above paragraphs. The same accessibility to gear and software that allowed you to become a photographer can and will give the same opportunity to many others. Tthere are is an amazing number of people who confuse accessibility with talent.

Most of these people are easy to dismiss from a critical point of view, but not everyone knows photography like you and I, and the idea of saving a thousand dollars is often enough for a bride to simply call her "friend with a camera" instead of hiring a true professional.

You might have been that "friend" at one point, but you are now taking steps to go the extra mile and make yourself a legitimate player in your city's photography scene. That sets you apart, and you should feel proud.

Many others will never come this far, and you have to be ready for the consequences. Like dozens of photographic Ralph Naders, "friends with cameras" will siphon away work that might otherwise have gone to you. Don't let it make you embittered, it's not worth the time to be angry at them.

The saddest part of that is actually that it makes relationships between "real" photographers a bit testy sometimes, because good work is getting harder to get. It can be a tooth and claw battle to get clients in this economy. Just remember that the better your work is, the more respect you will have. Never be complacent in your work, always be trying to make your portfolio better.

Criticism

Photography as an art has a few basic rules that dictate what is commonly thought of as good and bad work. But like all the arts, judgment of photography is subjective. What you like, what your clients like, and what other photographers will positively critique are rarely going to play well together. But you don't want to let that fact intimidate you or dissuade you from trying new things with your work. Take criticism from people you respect and use it to make your work better. It doesn't make it any less yours, it simply gives you another perspective.

Give yourself permission to think outside the box and be experimental. Just remember to refine new techniques or Photoshop actions on your personal work before springing it on clients, because that mother of five who really liked the black and whites on your site might not appreciate a sudden barrage of selenium-toned images in her proof gallery.

Just be creative. You have to be.

A final word.

I hope that this article was helpful. It was gathered from first-hand experience from my own misadventures as a starting photographer, a job which I am trying to take full time myself this year.

I've seen the strain this kind of work can put on individuals and relationships, but if you have your priorities straight, aren't afraid of the commitment and can be a self starter, there is no reason that you can't be successful as a photographer. To quote an old but favorite phrase:

Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life.




Read more

How to have a successful drop shipping business?

Intro to Dropshipping

What this page is all about

The prospect of starting a dropshipping business is an option for the "work from home" crowd. It seems simple enough, but there are pros and cons to running a dropship business versus using affiliate marketing or other means of selling or referring products online.

This page was devised to let you understand the entire process from someone who has actually been involved in it (that's me). I hope this helps clear most of your questions, concerns or fears about dropshipping and wholesale!

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the practice of "suggesting" goods or services. You start by joining an affiliate program, which provides you with special product links -- called "affiliate links" -- that contain your account ID within them. The two most popular affiliate marketing programs in the world are Amazon and eBay. There are affiliate marketers out there who are making a living just by creating web traffic that migrates people over to these sites, making commissions on whatever gets sold (this is easier said than done, and it requires a master level understanding of search engine optimization, web design and copywriting).

How it works: an internet user clicks on an affiliate link of a website, they are taken off of that affiliate site and on to the actual supplier (i.e., Amazon.com or eBay.com) itself. The page they are taken to will drop a 'cookie' file on their system. That cookie tracks their purchases, and gives you the proper commission for each item sold for a given date range.

Different affiliate programs have different cookie expiration rates. For instance, Amazon's cookies last 24 hours, so, you'll make a commission for anything a user purchases over the next 24 hours as long as your cookie is on their system. On eBay, cookies last 7 days, so, you'd earn a commission on anything they purchase over the course of a full week. If a user has your cookie on their system (say, an Amazon link), and they click the link of another Amazon affiliate site, your cookie gets overwritten and the other affiliate will get the commission.

Commissions are usually a percentage of a seller's fee on an auction site, or a set percentage of a sale on an item. You never have to see or store products in affiliate marketing. You also have no need to contact the affiliate program supplier.

Since 2012, search engines like Google have been greatly discriminating against affiliate marketing websites. Many feel as though the mere presence of these links on your site is enough to put an "X" on your site, making it incredibly hard to survive in search engine results. This has lead to many affiliate marketers migrating to dropshipping & wholesale, which have a greater chance of ranking in search engine results.

What Is Wholesale?

This method involves joining a bulk wholesale program so that you can purchase products in "lots" (i.e., lots of 25, 50, 100, etc.) at wholesale prices from a distributor. You then receive shipments of these lots and store them at your home. You then re-sell these products at markup, then package and ship the items yourself as they're individually sold.

Your earnings are the difference between the wholesale price and the mark-up price that you set per item. Wholesale always has the absolute best profit margin -- but it comes at a toll: you are responsible for order fulfillment (packaging and shipping the items from your home or office), and for regularly re-stocking the items you are selling, so that your customers aren't being subject to backorders. It is a 24/7/365 business that can never take a break -- and you'll have to have a backup plan in case you ever get sick or go on vacation. Additionally, you are responsible for having a contact phone number, ticket system and/or email address and it is your responsibility to handle customer complains and customer service.

Another bonus for going the wholesale route is that you'll be able to have complete customization over your packaging. You can use fancy, branded boxes and materials to ship your products in. You can include a custom packaging slip, drop in a custom a sticker with your brand's logo, or include a postcard with a coupon. Packaging means a lot for branding your business, and wholesale is the only route that will give you control over how it turns out.

Wholesalers, unlike affiliate marketers, are considered a true storefront or eCommerce business. They receive favoritism in search engines, as well. Wholesale offers the shortest supply chain, from purchase to shipping.

What Is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping requires you to apply to a dropshipping program being managed by a supplier/warehouser. This supplier usually does little to no marketing or sales themselves, but relies on people like you who opt in to their dropshipping program. When you sell something, they receive a daily list of sales you've made. They'll pull these products off the shelf, package them, and ship them to the customer.

It requires a relationship to exist between you and your supplier, as you'll both benefit from sales: you earn money from sales, and they reduce inventory and also earn from dropshipping fees that you'll pay them per product sold. In a dropshipping program, you never see or store the products you're selling, and you also don't ship them or have to deal with any shipping costs. You will, however, be responsible for customer service when a customer has a question about a product or a shipping date.

Your earnings with dropshipping are similar to that of bulk wholesale: the difference between the supplier's price and the mark-up price that you set per item. Since you'll have to pay your supplier a percentage of a dropshipper's fee, the profit margin is lesser than that of wholesale, but still far greater than affiliate marketing.


Dropshipping vs. Affiliate Marketing

The Pros & Cons of Dropshipping vs. Affiliate Marketing

Pros:

With dropshipping, you're making more of a profit than you would be with affiliate marketing. Your online storefront has more credibility, as you will no longer be sending purchasers off of your website and on to a third-party site. Instead, you'll be using a shopping cart system. On that same note, your customers will have to jump through less hoops to buy a product than they would have through an affiliate sale.

Cons:

Dropshipping does involve some manual processes. You will receive payment verifications, then log in to your distributor's site and "order" the product for your customer, paying the dropshipper and submitting the shipping address for each item that was sold, each day. With affiliate marketing, you have no involvement whatsoever in regard to packaging, shipping or customer service. However, with dropshipping, you will have to provide customer service if your supplier is not sending items out in a timely fashion, or if the customer did not receive their product...or received it damaged.

Some Rough Math:

For example's sake, let's assume we're selling a $200 lamp. This is what you'd earn by selling that lamp through the top two affiliate programs (eBay & Amazon), versus selling that same lamp through dropshipping:

As An eBay Affiliate A $200 lamp sold through eBay's affiliate program earns you 55% of the seller's fee to eBay, which would be 8.75% of the first $25 (or $2.19) plus 3.5% of the remainder, or $6.19 + $2.19 = $8.38 earned.

As An Amazon Affiliate A $200 lamp sold through Amazon's affiliate program earns you 4% of the item's price, which would be 4% of $200 = $8.00 earned.

As A Dropshipper A $200 lamp sold through dropshipping [let's say the wholesale price of that lamp is $170, and you successfully sell it for $200] earns you $200 - $170 = $30.00 earned.
A small dropshipping fee will be deducted and paid to the supplier. If you sold the lamp wholesale, you keep it all.

Dropshipping vs. Wholesale

The Pros & Cons of Dropshipping vs. Wholesale

Pros:

With dropshipping, your supplier packages and ships products to your customers. This is opposed to the wholesale method, where you have to purchase products with your own money, store and keep an inventory of them at home, and package/ship the products as they are sold. In turn, you also have to make sure that your inventory is sufficient and in synch with your website at all times, so that you don't sell 3+ items when only 2 are left in inventory.

In wholesale, you have to buy and maintain your own inventory of mailing materials: cardboard boxes, labels, postage, tape, styrofoam chips, etc. This is not the case for dropshipping, since you're not doing the mailing.

Cons:

Dropshipping has a lower profit margin than wholesale, because the cost per item is higher on a dropshipping list than on a wholesale list. Also, dropshipping requires a dropshipping fee that is charged to you by the supplier. In wholesale, there are no fees. You're also able to offer free shipping as an incentive with wholesale, whereas this feature is only available via dropshipping if your supplier provides it.

In dropshipping, the lifeblood of your business is the reliability of your supplier. If they're horrible, your business will suffer as your customers will not receive items on time, or will be purchasing products that are no longer being stocked. The negligence of your supplier can not only hurt your own business, but create a customer service nightmare that you'll have to tend to yourself. That's why you'll have to choose a very reliable dropshipper with a great reputation -- finding one the hard way is difficult.

Case Study: Dropshipping, From Day One

How A Typical Dropshipper's 'First Run' Goes

Here's a fabricated scenario I've written up to help you understand the day in a life of an individual who runs a dropshipping eCommerce store, selling a fictional "Product X":

Find A Supplier
I find a legitimate dropshipping program through a verification service like Worldwide Brands. I find a dropshipping supplier that sells Product X on there, and I apply to them. My application is accepted. They ask for information including but not limited to my full name, address, phone number, email, Tax ID#, and the bank routing number for my small business bank account. They need this because they take the wholesale cost of the items I sell directly from my account, and I keep the rest.

Subscribe to A Payment Gateway
I register for a service like Authorize.net or Paypal, which allows me to accept credit card payments online (Most people go with Paypal, because the fees are much less than using Authorize.net, which has a monthly fee + a per-transaction fee).

Get An Online Storefront
I build a website using an eCommerce content management system, like Wordpress, Magento or OScommerce. My dropshipping company gave me a database of their products, and I upload it into the CMS, populating the site with their products. I spend time visiting every individual page, making sure everything looks and sounds right, and I re-write some of the copy so that it looks more unique. I install a shopping cart plugin. I finish building the site, and launch it to the public.

Get Your First Sale
Someone buys something on my site. They buy Product X, using a Visa card. An automatic email is sent to me, notifying me of the transaction. Another email comes in, telling me the details of the person who purchased it: their name, address and the final price of the transaction.

Place The Order
I visit the dropshipping supplier's site and go to the "shipping" section. I "buy" the product that was just sold at wholesale price, but I enter the purchaser's name and address for shipping. The dropshipping supplier automatically deducts the wholesale price of that item from my bank account. The rest of the customer's payment (the difference between the wholesale and markup price) is mine to keep.

Order Fulfillment
The supplier ships the item to the customer. The supplier sends me an email notifying me about this, and attaches the tracking information. I forward this message to the customer* so that they can keep it for their records. (* this varies from program to program: some suppliers auto-generate the tracking information and send it directly to the customer)

Quality Control
Unless the product is on backorder or is lost in transit, the transaction is complete. Otherwise, it is up to me to do "quality control" to explain what has happened to the customer, and it is also up to me to do whatever it takes to get the product to the customer as fast as possible.

Getting Started

What Must I Have to Start Dropshipping?

Requirements You'll Need to Take Care of, First...

Since we're technically talking about starting a "real" business and not simply referring people somewhere else with tagged links, a little more is involved in taking things to the next level as a dropshipping retailer.

A Business Bank Account (also called a "merchant account")
Ask a rep at your favorite bank to set you up with a business bank account, it's a must-have if you're planning to dropship. Without it, you will not be able to accept payments online via credit card. An alternative is to accept payments only via PayPal. A business bank account is an entirely separate thing from a regular checking or savings account.

A Payment Gateway Account
As mentioned before, services like Authorize.net & PayPal will enable you to accept credit card payments online. Most gateways (except PayPal) will require you to already have a business bank account before accepting you.

A Means Of Being Seen Online
You technically do not need your own website to be in dropshipping. Many dropshippers simply do all of their business on sites like eBay and Amazon. Note that the competition of being on these sites are extraordinarily high, and they also take a large cut of the profits.


What *Should* I Have to Start Dropshipping?

The "Nice to Have" Options that Aren't Technically Required

You do not need the measures listed below. However, if you want to be seen as a fully functional business, it would be foolish not to acquire any of them!

An Established Business Entity
Most eCommerce business owners will formally establish themselves as a business, such as an LLC or an S-Corp. There are pros and cons to each. However, doing so will prevent anyone from suing you and taking your personal assets. Only your company's assets (whatever's in your business bank account, business-owned equipment and real estate) would be at risk, rather than your house, car and personal savings account. Learn more about starting an LLC.

A Trademark
Serious business owners should trademark their company name and logo. It prevents anyone else from using either in commerce, even if their usage is "confusingly similar" to your trademark. It helps greatly to have this government-recognized layer of protection for your intellectual property!

A Website
If you want to be taken seriously as a real brand and a reputable company, you should manage a website for your eCommerce business. Websites also open the door to more sales due to the greater level of search engine visibility they get, over simply using sites like Amazon. Alternatives include participating in trade shows or starting your own catalog/mail ordering service. They're really affordable too, and that includes affordable options like using Wordpress themes to build a site, and making your site go live with VPS hosting.

Dropshipping From Multiple Sources Gets Painful

The dangers of diversification

Most who pursue dropshipping tend to choose as few suppliers as possible. The more suppliers you go with, the "messier" it will get. For instance, if your site sells products from multiple suppliers, that means your customer will be purchasing products from one of several different suppliers who may charge different shipping rates.

Also, it becomes difficult to manage transactions that come from more than one supplier -- you'll have to maintain good relationships with all of them, and "babysit" each one on a regular basis to ensure they're keeping everything in stock and shipping items on time. The more services you use, the more of a hassle it becomes to manage your business. Therefore, it would be best to use one supplier, if they can provide everything you need.

The Dangers of Dropshipping: Common Scams

If you're just starting out in dropshipping, the biggest suffrage you'll endure is finding a supplier who isn't a off-shore scammer, let alone one that will frustrate you with a language barrier or an attitude problem. Remember: when you deal with suppliers in foreign places, they're not bound to the trade laws of your home country.

Be Careful With Un-Qualified Dropshippers

There's a staggering number of dropshipping programs that prey on the "get rich quick" crowd -- people who are typically very new and under-educated in the business -- by offering wholesale prices that are suspiciously low. Two infamous sources that have many 'shady' dropshippers are Doba and Alibaba, neither of which pre-qualify their members.

Unqualified programs will provide a "hit or miss" experience. It's hard enough to put your trust into a domestic supplier and hope they're continually doing the right thing, but far more difficult in doing so with an international one. Dropshippers from other countries may fall back on their promises, or potentially steal and replicate your good ideas. This is why it is *so* important to choose a reputable source.

Common Scams

The most common scam in the dropshipping business is the insertion of a "middleman" between the retailer (you) and the dropshipper, who takes a portion of earnings as their own commission. The presence of a middleman is entirely unnecessary in a dropshipping scenario, but is a common scam with off-shore programs. Many times, it is extremely difficult to detect the presence of one, even when reading the fine print of your contract.

A second major concern are dropshippers who simply don't do their part. They might list products as "in stock" when they are not, and simply never re-stock the product. It also consists of suppliers who fail to fulfill (ship) products to customers, or do so in such a late time frame that the credibility of your company is killed.

Get a clearer picture of the dropshipping industry

These three free dropshipping eBooks are a good primer, giving you industry-level examples of what to realistically expect if you're serious about becoming a dropshipper:

Starting Your Internet Business Right: Dropshipping expert Chris Malta describes typical pitfalls, traps and scams involved in choosing dropship suppliers. Finding Real Products to Sell Online: This free e-book touches on the process involved in identifying and researching a niche to pursue as an eCommerce venture.
Understanding the Internet for Home Business: Beginners only: a back-to-basics guide about the technical terms, buzzwords and processes of ecommerce and starting a storefront website.


Read more

Accounting software for small business

Starting a new business requires a lot of time and energy. After deciding on what you are going to sell or what kind of service you are going to offer, you will need to come up with a business plan in order to see if your idea will work. Once you determine that your idea will work, and then you will have to jump through all of the governmental red tape, secure financing, and determine where your business will be located. Another decision that you will have to make is to determine how you are going to keep your books.

Accounting for Small Business

When it comes to maintaining your company’s books you have three options: hire a CPA firm to do it, purchase bookkeeping software, or use a spreadsheet program such as Excel. The first option can be very expensive depending on how much time the CPA spends working on your financial results. The second option can range anywhere from inexpensive to hundreds of thousands of dollars. I would warn against using a spreadsheet program to keep track of your books unless you are an accountant and very good at using spreadsheets. For our small business, my wife and I decided to go with option two, purchasing software to keep track of our books because it is much simpler and it reduces the chance of making needless mistakes.

Purchasing Accounting Software

There are many different small business solutions to choose from to handle your bookkeeping. It is easy to fall in love with solutions that have all of the bells and whistles, but for most of them you are paying for functionality that you will never use. I recommend purchasing Peachtree to use as your accounting software. My wife and I use it for our small business and I use it professionally at the manufacturing company that I work for.

About Peachtree Accounting Software

Peachtree accounting software was created by Sage Software. Sage has been around for over 30 years and is one of the top accounting software providers in the world. They are geared specifically at small businesses. Peachtree comes in five different versions: Pro, Complete, Premium, Quantum, and Accountant. Peachtree Pro is the base version that has basic functionality and is the cheapest. I use Peachtree Complete for our small business and it has more than enough functionality. Peachtree Premium adds additional functionality with advanced budgeting functionality and a few other tools. Peachtree Quantum is what we use at the manufacturing company to take care of our corporate books. We used to do it for one of our side businesses before it went out of business. Quantum adds more functionality geared more towards accountants and larger businesses. The Accountant version is more for CPAs. For most small businesses, you can easily get by with Pro, Complete, or Premium.

Benefits of Using Peachtree

Peachtree is a great basic accounting software that offers several benefits. Let us explore each one and take a closer look.


Easy to Setup

One of the great advantages of using Peachtree is that you can be up and running in under a half hour. You do not have to know much or anything about accounting to set it up. Follow the onscreen guide and it will take you step-by-step through the setup process that includes setting up all of the company information, customers, vendors, inventory or service items, employees, chart of general ledger accounts, and security. For the general ledger accounts, Peachtree offers you the ability to choose from preloaded accounts or you can setup your own. My advice is to only setup your own if you have a decent understanding of accounting.

Functionality

Peachtree is a fully functional accounting system. It allows you to issue invoices to your customers, receive payments, enter payables to your vendors, print checks, pay your employees, track expenses, enter journal entries, and much more. It is packed with all kinds of different preloaded reports. Peachtree also will perform an internal accounting review that will identify common transaction mistakes.

Easy to Use

Another great benefit of using Peachtree is that you do not need an accounting degree to use it. For most of the functions, it is as simple as finding the button on the screen and clicking on it, which will bring up the appropriate window where you can enter all of the information that you need to. If you are computer literate, you will be able to comfortably move around in a very short period of time. They also offer help on their website. One of the great and scary things of Peachtree is that depending on your security clearance, you can change anything that you want, which is great if you need to change something. However, if you change something in a prior period, it will change your financial results in that period. I have used several different accounting systems in my career; none have been easier to learn than Peachtree.

Cost Effective

Another advantage of using Peachtree is that it is a cost effective solution. Depending on the version that you purchase according to their website, you can expect to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, which is very reasonable for the amount of functionality and reliability that you are getting. My advice is to check your local office supply chain store ads around the beginning of the year and you can get a much better deal on Peachtree. The first version that I purchased for our small business, I was able to get for free with a mail in rebate through Staples. The funny thing is that it was not the least functional version either. Another piece of advice is to not purchase supplies such as checks through Peachtree, instead purchase them from your local office supply store.

Reporting Capabilities

Peachtree comes loaded with a large amount of reports that are all customizable in some way. They all can either be printed to PDF or dropped directly into Microsoft Excel. Almost all of the reports on the screen have drill down capability that you give you more information on what makes up the number that you are looking at.

Peachtree is a great system for people who are starting small businesses because it is easy to use, affordable, and has all of the functionality that you will need. The only drawback is that Sage only supports their versions for a few years before retiring them. You can either purchase new software when that time is up or you can keep using your current version.

Read more