Top 5 iPad Finance Apps for Business

The past two years have been a whirlwind in mobile computing and people are embracing these new devices, like the iPad, at breakneck speeds. Apple’s Fourth Quarter revenues jumped 21 percent from a year ago, including the sale of over 11 million iPads. It’s clear that the huge advances in mobile devices are not only changing how we live our personal lives but also how we do business. For business, especially small business, some of the biggest advantages are coming from the app world. If you want to make your business finances a breeze, check out these apps:

1. Square: Credit card transactions have never been easier. The developers of this free app will send you an actual credit card reader that plugs into your iPad. It’s secure, easy, mobile, and even has built in analytics to track sales, collect tips and tax, and send electronic receipts via email or text. There is no need to delay the payment process anymore. Oh, and they only charge a 2.75% transaction fee: no contracts, fees, or merchant accounts necessary.

2. Expensify has the traveling business world in an uproar. The features of this app are impressive at the least: sync banking information to track purchases in real time, digitize receipts to reduce the chance of losing them (just snap a picture and the app will discern and note the necessary info), customize and email reports for approval, and be reimbursed to your checking account. You’ll be your accountant’s best friend with the organization and ease provided by this app.

3. Time Master + Billing: With a 4 star rating in the app store, this app sets the bar for time and expense tracking. The overall best feature is flexibility to be customized to fit how you work – rounding minutes, multiple running timers, billing rates, expenses, client project/tasks, and so many more options. There are even additional modules available to include invoicing, QuickBooks export, and wireless sync between mobile devices.

4. Intuit GoPayment Credit Card Terminal: Similar to Square but a little bit more involved. It’s also a free app, but you have to jump through a few more hoops (AKA a 15 minute application process) to be approved to use this service. However, if you’re looking for a proven brand name, this may be for you.

5. QuickBooks Connect: This is a great supplement to your QuickBooks Online subscription (QuickBooks 2011 users you’ll have to get a paid subscription to use this app past 30 days). Manage customer information and balances; create invoices and sales receipts; convert estimates to invoices; email estimates, invoices, and sales receipts and more with this handy app.

Mobile computing can make all the difference in the efficiency of your business. Look for the bottlenecks in your financial administration and ask yourself, is there an app for that?

Kristi Daeda is an online marketing strategist that works with companies nationwide to define and execute powerful online marketing strategies. Read more about her thoughts on online marketing at her website [http://www.powerhousestrategy.com] or as featured on Mobile Apps Designers.

Small Business Financing Options – Despite the Credit Crunch

There’s no question that the financial crisis and ensuing credit crunch have made it more difficult than ever to secure small business financing and raise capital. This is especially true for fast-growth companies, which tend to consume more resources in order to feed their growth. If they aren’t careful, they can literally grow themselves right out of business.

Amidst all the gloom and doom, however, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: There are still options available for small business financing. It’s simply a matter of knowing where to look and how to prepare.

Where to Look

There are three main sources you can turn to for small business financing:

Commercial Banks – These are the first source most owners think of when they think about small business financing. Banks loan money that must be repaid with interest and usually secured by collateral pledged by the business in case it can’t repay the loan.

On the positive side, debt is relatively inexpensive, especially in today’s low-interest-rate environment. Community banks are often a good place to start your search for small business financing today, since they are generally in better financial condition than big banks. If you do visit a big bank, be sure to talk to someone in the area of the bank that focuses on small business financing and lending.

Keep in mind that it takes more diligence and transparency on the part of small businesses in order to maintain a lending relationship in today’s credit environment. Most banks have expanded their reporting and recordkeeping requirements considerably and are looking more closely at collateral to make sure businesses are capable of repaying the amount of money requested.

Venture Capital Companies – Unlike banks, which loan money and are paid interest, venture capital companies are investors who receive shares of ownership in the companies they invest in. This type of small business financing is known as equity financing. Private equity firms and angel investors are specialized types of venture capital companies.

While equity financing does not have to be repaid like a bank loan, it can end up costing much more in the long run. Why? Because each share of ownership you give to a venture capital company in exchange for small business financing is an ownership share with an unknown future value that’s no longer yours. Also, venture capital companies sometimes place restrictive terms and conditions on financing, and they expect a very high rate of return on their investments.

Commercial Finance Companies – These non-traditional money lenders provide a specialized type of small business financing known as asset-based lending (or ABL). There are two primary types of ABL: factoring and accounts receivable (A/R) financing.

With factoring, companies sell their outstanding receivables to the finance company at a discount of usually between 2-5%. So if you sold a $10,000 receivable to a factor, for example, you might receive between $9,500-$9,800. The benefit is that you would receive this cash right away, instead of waiting 30, 60 or 90 days (or longer). Factoring companies also perform credit checks on customers and analyze credit reports to uncover bad risks and set appropriate credit limits.

With A/R financing, you would borrow money from the finance company and use your accounts receivable as collateral. Companies that want to borrow in this way should be able to demonstrate strong financial reporting capabilities and a diverse customer base without a high concentration of sales to any one customer.

How to Prepare

Regardless of which type of small business financing you decide to pursue, your preparation before you approach a potential lender or investor will be critical to your success. Banks, in particular, are taking a much more critical look at small business loan applications than many did in the past. They are requesting more background from potential borrowers in the way of tax returns (both business and personal), financial statements and business plans.

Lenders are focusing on what are sometimes referred to as the five Cs of credit:

o Character: Does the company have a strong reputation in its community and industry?

o Capital: Lenders usually like to see that owners have invested some of their personal money in the business, or that they have some of their own “skin in the game.”

o Capacity: Financial ratios help lenders determine how much debt a company should be able to take on without stressing the finances.

o Collateral: This is a secondary source of repayment in case a borrower defaults on the loan. Most lenders prefer collateral that is relatively easy to convert to cash, especially equipment and real estate.

o Conditions: Conditions in the borrower’s industry and the overall economy in general will play a big factor in a lender’s decisions.

Before you meet with any type of lender or investor, be prepared to explain to them specifically why you believe you need financing or capital, as well as how much capital you need and when and how you will pay it back (if a loan) or what kind of return on investment a venture capital company can expect. Also be prepared to discuss specifically what the money will be used for and what kind of collateral you are prepared to pledge to support the loan, as well as your sources of repayment and what measures you will take to ensure repayment if your finances get tight.

You should also ensure that your financial statements and records are current and that your internal control systems are adequate for handling the level of accounting and bookkeeping lenders and investors expect.

The Best Finance App

The best finance app, in my opinion, is Mint.com’s mobile app. Here is a list of its features and finance app alternatives if you prefer to use an app other than Mint.com.

Mint.com (Free)

I have been using mint for a long time now and believe it is the best finance app. Intuit bought this web site a while back so it is very secure, using bank level encryption.

Mint gives you a quick overview of your finances, which you can put on one of your main screens in the form of a widget. The widget will show your current cash amount and your credit debt. It will also show you the last time your information was updated, so you can be sure that you are looking at the most recent information.

Once you set up a monthly budget, you can access it with the app to make sure you are staying on track for the month. Mint is very good at knowing how to categorize your transactions for budgeting purposes and it will let you know if it does not know how to categorize a transaction.

The app automatically gives you alerts for various things, which include the availability of large deposits, what bills will are due in the next few days, etc.

You can get a very general picture of you investments with this app. By that, I mean if you simply want to know the balance of you accounts, you will be happy with this app. If you want to get more information about the performance of specific investments, you will need to go to the website.

To set up this app, I would suggest you log on to the main website to input all of you account information and set your budget. Once that is completed, you simply download the app, log in, and all your accounts are ready to go.

Adaptu Wallet (Currently Free)

Adaptu Wallet has many unique features like tracking loyal programs and creating spending forecasts. The app also allows you to store photos of insurance and business cards, which will decrease the clutter inside your wallet. The app is currently free, but the word on the street is they will start charging for usage sometime in 2012.

Pageonce (Free or $4.99 for Gold version)

Pageonce arguably has the best interface of all the finance apps. Your key account balances are placed in thumbnails that appear on the home screen. Contrary to popular belief, this app does provide PayPal support even though many claim it doesn’t. Balance updates are not as fast as Mint.com or Adaptu, some transactions take days to update. The Gold version has the useful ability to pay bills directly from the app, and this is the only finance app that can do this. The gold version also removes all the ads from your app.

What Stands Behind Capital One Credit Cards and Savings Products?

In the times since the global financial crisis, it has increasingly become a concern as to what the backing of the financial institution that issues your credit card or holds your saving account is. There are a number of laws which regulate the financial system and try to ensure that customers can rely on banks to honour their obligations which can be a particular concern in relation to savings products. Title 12 of the United States Code in part 325 specifies a number of ‘capital adequacy requirements’ in relation to all banks. The aim of these requirements is to force banks to adequately provision of a crisis and ensure that they will remain solvent even if there is a large crisis. Banks must report periodically on their arrangements to show regulators that they are meeting the capital adequacy requirements.

Capital One at the moment is, when measured by asset pool, the 8th largest bank in the United States with balance sheet assets of approximately USD$286bn in 2012. Amongst other distinctions, the company is also one of the largest customers of the United States postal service. Its head office is in Fairfax County Virginia and the current chairman, CEO and President of the company is Richard Fairbank. It is one of the fastest growing banks in American history having been founded in 1988 by the current CEO. Like many banks in the American financial system, Capital One was the recipient of a bail out during the sub prime mortgage crisis of 2007 when it received $3.56bn from the United States Government in exchange for 3,555,199 shares in the company. By the end of 2009, the company had managed to buy the government out of the business.

As well as being involved in credit cards, Capital One has an Auto Finance Division which is a substantial part of the company. An entity known as Capital One 360 is also now in existence having formerly been known as ING Direct on the idea that a bank could perform retail services entirely on the basis of an online model. This division of the company has no branches and only maintains a physical presence in the form of call centres and online processing maintenance facilities. The online bank model seems to achieved some success given that the lower overheads from rent and staff result in lower costs to consumers and therefore a better outcome.

One of the notable characteristic of Capital One is that it appears to have retained an ability to ride out the periodic financial storms which emerge in the world of consumer credit. It has grown consistently throughout good and bad times in consumer finance and continues to grow based on the analysis of its most recent financial data. This history of growth and the ability to ride out financial storms appears to bode well for the credit and savings products of Capital One.

Understanding Small Business Finance

If you are an entrepreneur, then you know that there is always a need for small business finance to keep things going. Being able to get the money that is needed for your business means that you need to make several financial and non-financial considerations.

Firstly, before you search for funding for your business, it is important to know what type of financing required. Would the business need debt financing (a loan for running your business) or equity financing (money that is taken from savings or investors)?

Small business finance through debt financing means taking loans from credit unions, banks and other traditional financial institutions. Among the loans that are available are short-term loans which must be repaid, with interest, within a specific period of time. Such loans may be termed as demand loans as the lender can call in the loan for repayment any time. Small business finance longer debt loans are normally used for financing assets like renovations or investments in equipment.

There are many businesses that make use of lines of credit as a source of small business finance. They make arrangements with lending institutions for a set amount of available credit that they can draw upon when need arises. Lines of credit allows businesses to use the cash when they need it and they only need to pay back the amount that has been used and interest is paid on the outstanding balance of the line of credit. Numerous lending institutions offer credit cards as a means of small business financing. These cards are used by establishments to finance their operating expenses. But, credit cards can be expensive because of the interest rates. The cards are ideal for use if the balance is paid in full monthly.

Small business finance through equity is normally used in a limited manner. Informal source of equity funding includes friends and family; while the formal sources include venture capitalists. Venture capitalists generally have a considerable pool of resources that allow them to finance ventures and participate in some of the more crucial decisions in the business. However, these capitalists conduct studies before making the decision to provide funding.

There is also some equity small business finance that are received from people who are called as “angel investors”. These are normally people who have deep pockets and are willing to provide funding.