As I write this, the holiday season is in full swing. Anyone with a product or service to sell is marketing like crazy. Just take a look at your postal mailbox and your email for proof. It takes extra effort just to sort through all that for what you need. Along with the day-to-day activity of running your business there are the year-end things to think about; estimated tax payments, retirement account contributions, health insurance, getting your books up to date, etc. Add to that holiday preparations; travel, decorating, shopping, baking, etc. Overwhelmed? The more overwhelmed we are, the less productive we are because we lose focus. The less productive we are, the more stressed we become.
Software subscriptions out of control?
Tame them with these simple steps
Online software subscriptions are all the rage. They’re pretty much how I run my business, and there are some great tools out there. But the phrase “buyer beware” applies as much here as it does elsewhere, and I have to say I’ve learned some hard lessons over the years. Here are a few things I do to save money and make sure I’m in control of my subscriptions, not the other way around.
Set calendar reminders
We all get busy, and whether you have just one subscription or several that automatically renew, it can be hard to keep track of renewal dates. Creating calendar reminders that alert you a few days ahead of a renewal date gives you a chance to review the subscription before your credit card is charged to see if you need to:
Cancel because you no longer use it. Sometimes subscription use falls by the wayside, so periodic review is always a good idea. Only a few companies offer a partial refund when you cancel a subscription in the middle of a billing cycle, and there’s nothing worse than paying for something you don’t use or need.
Review your subscription level. If you still need the software but aren’t using all the bells and whistles, you can often downgrade to a less expensive option.
Beware the annual subscription
Many software companies offer discounts when you pay for a year in advance, even throwing in a couple of months for free. Don’t be in a hurry to do this. Many companies are reluctant to issue mid-year refunds, so if you have to cancel mid-year, you can lose a lot of money. And sometimes, you have no choice but to cancel. Companies can make changes to their software during the course of a subscription, and what began as a useful tool for your business can suddenly become a handicap. This happened to me with my project management software recently, and I was forced to stop what I was doing midstream and find different software because it had such a negative impact on my productivity.
Watch the webinar
Before subscribing to online software services, take the time to sign up for a free trial and the free introductory webinars. Webinars are usually 30-60 minutes long and go a long way toward helping you decide if a product is right for you. In addition, if you decide to subscribe, you’ll already be a step ahead of the game since you’ll already know how to put the software to work for you.
Time taken to research and review your software subscription plans is time wisely spent. Just like the old saying goes, “Short-term pain, long-term gain.”
Tame your software subscriptions with these simple steps.
The main point Simon made was that people don’t buy what your business does; they buy why you do it. That got me to thinking about why I do what I do.
I accidentally started my business in early 2010 after losing my full time job two weeks before Christmas. As that was in the midst of the recession and I live in a small town, there were no jobs to apply for. So I started responding to ads on Craig’s List posted by small businesses needing occasional help with their bookkeeping. I also stumbled on an opportunity to serve as a mentor at Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) that brought in clients as well. Work also came along in the way of part-time jobs, mostly temporary. Somehow I made ends meet. And suddenly I had a business. I made mistakes along the way of course, and learned many things along the way. Continuing education is something I engage in every week in the form of podcasts, webinars, and lots of reading. My business slowly evolved from just wanting to earn a living to looking for the best ways to serve my clients.
My goal is to take the confusion and frustration out of small business accounting by providing training and ongoing accounting services. Small business accounting isn’t just about QuickBooks any more. Cloud based software offers many tools for running a business. I believe in choosing just the right tools, balancing necessity and cost, to streamline all of the administrative tasks (including accounting) of a business.
As I continue on the journey of being a business owner it is my hope that I find more and better ways to serve the small business community.
Why do YOU do it?