Monthly Archives: July 2015

Don’t Delay Your EMV Credit Card Compliance

The United States is the world leader in credit card fraud. EMV or Europay, Mastercard, and Visa is the new credit card standard going into effect October 2015. The new credit cards will have an embedded microchip that will make payments more secure than the traditional magnetic stripe. You’ve probably already received your replacement card from your credit card company.

ChipCard_Blog-newI’ve written a prior blog post about this and hopefully your merchant service company has been in touch with you about the changes you need to make. In spite of all the attention, I see many small businesses still using the old card readers.

Using the new cards means inserting the credit card into a new type of card reader instead of swiping the magnetic stripe. That means if you accept credit card payments in person, you need a new card reader by October 2015. What happens if you don’t get a new card reader by then? If you continue swiping cards via the magnetic stripe or do not purchase a new card reader, you could be liable for fraudulent charges on any cards compromised after being swiped on your machine. Considering the United States lost over $5 billion to credit card fraud in 2013, spending up to a few hundred dollars on a new credit card machine is a small investment.

Oddly enough, PayPal has yet to announce the availability of an EMV compliant card reader. Square has had a new mobile reader available for months, but their register hardware hasn’t been updated. You can learn more here as well as purchase your new reader.

If you use a traditional merchant service company such as Authorize.net or Paymentech contact them to learn about your options to upgrade your equipment. Another option you may want to consider is Apple Pay and other contactless payment systems. Either way, please don’t delay. Waiting until the last minute to upgrade your equipment could mean the readers go on back order due to the last minute demand, not having as many equipment choices, and paying more for a new card reader.

Square has a website dedicated to the new EMV standard. Learn more here.
Authorize.net has an EMV FAQ here.

The option you choose depends on how you accept payments from customers and how your customers prefer to pay you. If you need some help navigating this process, please get in touch.

Get Out and Expand Your Mind

About a month ago I attended the Xerocon conference in Denver, Colorado. It’s the annual conference for Xero, beautiful accounting software. And I am so glad I invested in me and my business to attend this conference. It’s easy to get lost in the day to day rush of running our businesses. However, it’s important that we never stop learning because investing in our continuing education as a business owner will help us to be better business owners and provide more value to our clients. At Xerocon, I spent three days with other accounting professionals, attending presentations, meeting add-on partners to Xero, and, of course, networking. A month later, I’m still trying to digest and apply all of the information and following up with people I met. One of the biggest benefits of traveling to attend a conference is sharing and learning from others in your industry. None of us is an island, but running a business can feel isolating at times. One of the things I learned at the conference is how others found solutions to challenges I also face.

Never Stop LearningThe biggest takeaway was spending three days with other modern accountants and seeing how the accounting profession is evolving. The accounting profession has changed over the last five years, and I’ve been embracing that change since starting my business in 2010. How has the accounting profession changed? Accounting is no longer just about data entry, managing piles of paper and crunching numbers. With automated bank feeds, invoicing and bill pay, paper handling can be virtually eliminated from the daily operation of many businesses.

Accounting is no longer about retroactively reporting the financial results of a business. You can know right now which quotes for services have not been accepted. Are your expenses are under control? What are your best selling (and most profitable) products and services? And most importantly, are you making a profit? Business decisions happen faster, possibly saving your business from a financial loss.

In the past, customized business software was cost prohibitive to many small businesses. Those days are gone. There are numerous cost-effective add-ons to accounting software that allow you to streamline and simplify the day-to-day operation of your business. Collaborating with clients, employees, and independent contractors is a breeze. You really can grow your business from anywhere. And that’s what I want to help my clients accomplish. If you want to grow your business from anywhere, please get in touch.

The Hidden Cost of Free

As business owners, we try to control costs as much as possible. As an accountant, I’m all for controlling costs. However, there is a fine line between running your business lean versus cheap. In the long run, cheap can cost you more. This is true when selecting software tools to support back office operations. I see many businesses fall into the trap of limiting themselves to only using free software to run their business. Don’t get me wrong. Free software can be a great place to start and solve an immediate problem. However, when your business starts to grow that free software usually can’t grow with you. And when that happens, daily operations can be impacted in sudden and painful ways.

When it comes to accounting software, there are a couple products out there I don’t recommend. And it’s not because they are free, and I want you to spend a lot of money on software I like. It’s because I believe they are inferior products and, in the long run, will cause more problems than they solve as has been my experience with Wave Accounting. When the software first came out, I joined their accountant network. And then I started seeing problems with the software that had a negative impact on the accuracy of the numbers. When Wave chose not to correct the issues, I requested to be removed from their accountant network. At best, Wave does only the most basic of bookkeeping akin to keeping a spreadsheet; at worst, the accruacy of your financial information is in question. And forget about exporting any data from Wave. It’s difficult at best which means changing to another accounting software is time consuming and expensive. GoDaddy Accounting (formerly Outright) is another software I don’t recommend.

So what accounting software do I recommend? My first choice is Xero. It is fully functional accounting software with several subscription levels to grow your business. The clean interface makes navigation and understanding your numbers much easier. Also, the dozens of add-ons allow you to customize the software to streamline and automate the back office operation of your business. Your valuable time should be spent on your clients and growing your business, not on the back office operations.

My second choice of accounting software is Quickbooks Online. While Intuit has been dumping significant money into developing the online software, it can be buggy. The interface is very cluttered causing frustration for business owners who just want to create an invoice or write a check. Quickbooks Online is also known to go down at inconvenient times. Xero has a much better record for uptime. The subscription levels are different from Xero. Quickbooks Online subscriptions are priced based on functionality. That means the basic subscription does not allow you to customize reports, create 1099s, or even create a budget among other things. In a nutshell, the Quickbooks Online subscription model is all about the upsell. Personally, I find that annoying. The Xero subscription model relates to transaction volume and grows with your business accordingly.

Notice that Quickbooks for Windows does not rank among my top accounting software choices. Gaining access to the company file makes it difficult to collaborate with clients. There are cloud hosting options, but they are not cost effective. The risk of data loss with the Quickbooks desktop editions is high. Few businesses have reliable data backup and recovery plans in place. If your file should become corrupt (and it eventually will in my experience), data loss could severely impact your business.

Are you using the right accounting software for your business? Is it time to make a change? Please get in touch.