Software for managing single-person business?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Mal, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. Mal macrumors 603

    Mal

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Location:
    Orlando
    #1
    I have just recently started a new business as a Mac Consultant, and I'm looking for a simple bit of software for managing my database of customers, both for contact purposes and for accounting purposes (keeping track of how much I've been paid for services, etc). I currently have a Bento database, and while I'm on Bento 3 and there is a new version, I really don't want to do the upgrade because frankly, Bento sucks. It's a pain to enter the information, and once it's in there, it doesn't do me much good. I'd love something that would just integrate with Google Apps, and I have both an iPod touch and an Android phone that I'd like to be able to access this from as well (either is fine, although the phone would be the priority).

    Free is best, but if I have to pay, I'd rather it be a one-time thing. I saw recommendations for Daylite, but it seems rather expensive to me. Perhaps I need to try it and see if it's worth the money. I also don't know if there's any way to integrate that information with my Android phone.

    I don't know if I need a CRM-type package, or if a simpler solution is available, either. Simpler is better for me, and a single point of data entry, preferably able to just be pulled straight from email.

    jW
     
  2. HarryPot macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    #2
    How about Excel?

    For small businesses, I really doubt there is anything better than Excel.

    It's simple and you can create very sophisticated sheets with little knowledge needed. The best being you can tailor the results to your liking, wether by using other programs you are stuck to the way the program was designed.

    And I agree, Bento sucks.:)
     
  3. Mal thread starter macrumors 603

    Mal

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Location:
    Orlando
    #3
    Excel? Can't really quite see it, do you have a link to any sample workbooks that would demonstrate what you mean? I also don't know that there'd be any way of having schedule information on Google Calendar or contact information sync, which makes it just another extra point of entry for every bit of information. I've really never used Excel for anything of significance, though, so maybe there's something I'm not aware of.

    jW
     
  4. bmcgonag macrumors 65816

    bmcgonag

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Location:
    Texas
    #4
    Simple Invoices and MAMP will get you going well. It has built in reports, let's you email your customers an invoice if needed, has PayPal integration, can export to PDF, Excel, Word.

    I have used it for a couple of years, and they are constantly improving and expanding it.

    Last I tried the demo was set to spanish, but I'm happy to help if you are interested in it.

    Setup of MAMP (the free version) is easy, and just copying the Simple Invoices folder into the htdocs folder in MAMP get's it running with the littlest bit of configuration (which I am also happy to help you with).

    So, for free, it's really a great option.
     
  5. HarryPot macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    #5
    I missed the part about Google Calendar.

    Not sure if this is possible. A quick search in Google showed some people doing it. But it might get quite impractical.

    But Excel is very good at keeping accounts. I use it daily in my construction business. With it I can see how I'm doing with what I have bought and what I prognosticated I would buy.

    I can easily see how much I've bought of any kind of product, how much I've bought from the different providers I have. Wether I owe something (credit line). I can see all my expenses (and hide or show categories I want). You can also keep a general balance of your business very easily.


    This also applies to keeping up with what you have been paid. You can create a list with all your customers, assign them an ID, and easily see how much money each customer has paid you. The magic is that you can make as much as you want. You can create groups of people depending on their location, amount of money they owe you, etc.

    Basically, Excel lets you make a program tailored for your needs.

    I've found zero programs which could easily help me. Most of them have a very specific way of working. And I eventually get frustrated of not being able to configure the program the way I want it to be. And the more advanced business administration programs are very expensive and complicated.
     
  6. Windowsrefugee macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2011
    Location:
    Microsoft Land
    #6
    If you have an iPad, take a look at Time Master (http://www.on-core.com/timemaster/ ) I am a consultant and it is the best software I have found for tracking my time and almost automagically preparing and sending my invoices directly from the app. It has a database to keep all of the contact and billing information for each client. It has a modest one time cost (plus the invoicing and synch modules) but no recurring costs. There is a free app for backing up your data to your computer. The only downside for me is not being able to enter anything on my computer, but it is really easy on the iPad. It works on iPhone, too, which is great for entering time on the go.
     
  7. Papanate macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #7

    Jumsoft's Relationship^2
    might work for you.
    I haven't used it, but others I know who are sole proprietorship
    business's have and they are fine with it.
     
  8. Nostromo macrumors 65816

    Nostromo

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Deep Space
    #8
    This sounds interesting.

    I am already running MAMP for a test blog, so this would be easy.

    Question: what does web based mean in this content. Does it mean my customer and potential client database is stored on the web?


    This looks like a good alternative to Bento.
     
  9. Mal thread starter macrumors 603

    Mal

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Location:
    Orlando
    #9
    No iPad right now, and I'm not sure I'd want to use it only on my touch. Maybe someday soon I'll get an iPad and be able to use that.

    Thanks, I'll grab the trial. Much more reasonable cost than most of the alternatives.

    I actually have a web server that I was able to install this on to try it out. Feels a bit too limited, but I'm going to keep playing with it and see how I feel about it. Definitely has some potential.

    jW
     
  10. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #10
    Take a look at Zoho or one of the other CRMs that integrate with Google Apps.
     
  11. bmcgonag macrumors 65816

    bmcgonag

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Location:
    Texas
    #11
    I mean that it runs as a web application written with php. It is really a great application. If you run it on your own MAMP server, you can get a dyndns address and access it via the web that way, or setup a VPN and access it that way as well. You just need to make sure your MAMP server is running.

    It takes a little configuration, and a couple of changes in MAMPs php.ini file will get teh PDF Export, adn e-Mail the invoice function working well.
     
  12. rosemary1 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    #12
    Not completely sure if you're looking for something that does more than invoicing, but I use Billings. You can input customer information manually, or import it from your Address Book. You can buy it in the app store, but if you go to the website you can get a 21-day free trial. It's $40, but after going through the 21-day trial I was happy enough with it to go ahead and buy it.
     
  13. Nostromo macrumors 65816

    Nostromo

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Deep Space
    #13
    Can you also print out your addresses onto mailing labels?

    How does Bento and Billings compare in your experience?
     
  14. rosemary1 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    #14
    I haven't had reason to print labels, but I just checked and you can print single labels, sheets of labels, or directly onto envelopes.

    Oh, and I haven't ever used Bento, so I can't give any sort of comparison of the two.
     
  15. Nostromo macrumors 65816

    Nostromo

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Deep Space
    #15
    That's good to know. Label printing is important for me for mailings.

    I have tried Bento, but I found its design not enough focused on tasks. The lists are not very readable.

    I'll definitely take a look into "Billings", even though my primary use is as a database for potential customers. As a photographer, you have to regularly send out postcards with your work, and to handle all those addresses a software needs to give you the chance to easily group on overview potential clients.
     
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #16
    If you are starting a new business, and if you see this as an important tool, then you can't be afraid to spend some bucks on getting a good tool. I won't recommend an application because my needs are different than your needs, but you can't be afraid to spend some money here.

    I use AccountEdge to do my bookkeeping. Probably overkill for you... but my point is... it's an expensive application. I cringe when I have to update it (every few years) and pay for the upgrade. It tracks time, it creates invoices, it tracks AR and AP, it tracks expenses, I can set up price lists with it, it creates sales tax forms, it creates all the reports you can think of. For my needs it's a one-stop application. Because I find it easy to use, and because it makes my year-end tax accounting so easy, I believe it's money well spent. I can spend my time doing photography, and not bookkeeping.

    You need to find the tool that makes your life easy, and that then allows you to pursue your business. It probably won't be "free", but the 1st time it allows you work on a contract, rather than managing your clients, it will have paid for itself.

    PS While AccountEdge is probably not your solution, it does have a "lite" version, I believe, that might work for you.
     
  17. Mal thread starter macrumors 603

    Mal

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Location:
    Orlando
    #17
    Yeah, I don't mind spending some money on it if I'm sure it'll do what I need, but I don't want a subscription service. I use MYOB at work, and know how to use it, so it would be easy for me to manage. I'll have to look into the lite version, didn't know about that.

    jW
     
  18. ArchiMark macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #18
    +1 for AccountEdge....

    Don't have my own business anymore, but when I did, I used AccountEdge and found it worked well and was worth the cost...

    Agree with poster above, that program cost should not be the limiting factor in choosing programs, especially for your own business. I found that having the best software tools that made me more productive (ie, get more billable work done in a day...) more than paid for themselves. Also, being able to get good financial reports of my business when I needed, was very valuable.

    In addition, if you don't have one, get a good accountant. Also, can help you be more productive and a resource for info over time. I had my accountant review my AccountEdge setup and he made some very good suggestions for tweaking it to be even better.

    Good luck....
     

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