You can’t have a great garden without pruning shears, rakes, trellises, and fertilizer.
You can’t have a productive art studio without paint, canvas, and easels.
And you can’t have a thriving business without the tools to support it.
As a company grows, its financial needs become more complicated. Luckily, the technology that exists today allows business owners to streamline their data and create order from what is sometimes chaos.
I call these support tools a financial “tech stack”, and I’m going to share some of my recommendations with you in this post.
Your tech stack might be different than mine based on the specifics of your business, but generally all businesses need tools and systems for:
- Tracking time
- Managing receipts
- Document storage
- Password management
Based on my experience, here are some options you might find beneficial for your business.
I use QuickBooks with all my clients, and I strongly recommend the online version rather than the desktop version. That’s because QuickBooks Online offers me the ability to easily see real-time information and have clarity into the client’s books.
QuickBooks has been in business a very long time, and they have a history of constant innovations to improve performance and customer experience. They have some of the best add-ins and apps to make the tool more dynamic and helpful as well.
The downside to QuickBooks is their regular price increases; however, they do add value each time they change their pricing. Because most of my clients have revenue in the $300K to $3MM range, the value of QuickBooks easily outweighs the investment. If you are trying to manage costs carefully, and your business isn’t complex, see this post.
Gusto is my favorite payroll provider – hands down! I was drawn to Gusto because of the raving reviews I heard about their customer service.
I stay with them because of that service, and also because it’s a great payroll product.
Gusto has an intuitive interface, so it’s simple to set up and use. There are useful upgrades such as “payroll on autopilot”. It actually can offer HR and employment document management as well, which many of my clients have found helpful.
Take a peek at this demo video, so you can see Gusto in action.
And if you’re interested in trying Gusto, I hope you’ll use my affiliate link to try it yourself: https://claracfo.com/gusto.
Most of my time-tracking experience has been with QuickBooks. Given that many people use QuickBooks to bill their clients and pay employees, using QuickBooks for time-tracking can make sense. It’s one of the more basic time-tracking options on the market.
I have read glowing reviews about a product called T-Sheets (now called QuickBooks Time), which is created by Intuit (the same people who developed QuickBooks). Because T-sheets does integrate with QuickBooks and Gusto, this could be a great solution. Toggl is also a new time-tracking software that I am starting to dabble with. They have a free tool, and you can track by project and client. It is a quick and easy way to get started tracking your time.
If you have experience with a time-tracking program you like, please let me know. I would love suggestions and feedback!
Managing receipts | Document storage
Whenever possible, I vote for electronic filing of key documents. It’s too easy to drown in piles of physical paper (and really easy to lose or “misplace” critical documents).
My solution? Hubdoc!
Hubdoc is an online document storage tool. Simply visit your “hub” to file, review, tag, and sort your documents and receipts. While there are other software solutions available, I’m a big fan of Hubdoc because you can:
- Email documents or forward emails. Hubdoc stores both the attachment and the email itself. This is great for those situations where you receive a receipt via email. Simply press “forward” and type in your private Hubdoc email … and you’re done (great for traveling employees)!
- Pull statements into your hub from online accounts for things like bank statements, utility bills, shipping statements, and more.
- Easily search! Hubdoc is smart enough to “read” images of receipts or pdfs, allowing you to easily find that elusive document using Hubdoc’s search function.
Fellow CPA friends of mine also love the tool Receiptbank, which performs many of the same functions as Hubdoc. If you are in the market for a new tool right now, I’d recommend trying them both to see which you prefer.
Virtually anything of value online is password protected. And that means you need a lot of passwords (and a lot of password security)!
LastPass is my #1 choice for everything password-related. LastPass allows me to track logins and client information, share passwords securely while “hiding” a password from other users, and create extremely secure passwords (no more easy-to-guess passwords!). What a lifesaver!
You might be expecting me to mention some obscure software for financial analyses.
Surprise! My favorite tool for analysis, outside of the financial reporting that can be provided from QuickBooks, is Excel! (I especially love downloading Excel reports from QuickBooks)
I prefer Excel over Google Sheets, probably because I’ve used it for so long. It’s like an old pair of slippers – it fits perfectly, and I’m comfortable with it.
I use Excel for all types of analysis (planning, forecasting, calculating) … and for general nerding-out on numbers.
The tools I’ve recommended above are ones that have worked well for me, and for my clients. Of course, not every tool is perfect for every client.
To find the tool that’s perfect for you, check out my suggestions, and then do your research based on the unique needs of your business. And if you come across a solution you think I should know about, please share!
Want to talk with an expert about your financial tech stack?
Every business has unique activities that may require more tool over another. If optimize your time, book a strategy session with us, and we can come up with the ideal financial tech stack for you.
Disclaimer: This blog and the linked videos are intended for educational purposes and should not be taken as legal or tax advice. You should consult with your financial professionals about your unique financial situation before acting on anything discussed in these videos. Clara CFO Group, LLC is providing educational content to help small business owners become more aware of certain issues and topics, but we cannot give blanket advice to a broad audience.