The whole point of technology is to make life better, and when it comes to your business, a good tech product should relieve the pain of onerous tasks and free you up to actually run your business. That's not exactly a newsflash, but then again, not every tech tool delivers on that promise.
Mike Stokes is a small-business owner and the CEO of Nett 30, a Web-based invoicing service designed to simplify and automate the invoice process. Stokes also owns a software business called Click to Convert, and it was the invoicing frustration he experienced running that company that led him and his small team of developers to create Nett 30.
"Like a lot of other small business owners, I managed invoices with Excel spreadsheets. With all the time pressures I faced, invoices always seemed to get pushed back, and we'd bill clients late," said Stokes. "It was hard to track whether they had paid, if we double billed, and of course, we'd have to follow up to get payment."
Stokes found that while the Internet let his company stay nimble and small, the number of administrative chores kept piling up. And because they hated doing those types of tasks, they began to slide. "It's a matter of the number of hours in a day, and things that had laws attached to them, those would get done on time that's human nature," he said. "We just thought there had to be a better way."
For Stokes, that better way turned into yet another business. Nett 30 is a service designed to let you "create, send and manage your invoices online in minutes." It's available as a free account, and you can upgrade to several levels of paid account if and when you need them. The service lets you:
- Send invoices to anyone with an e-mail address
- Select from multiple different currencies
- Copy existing invoices
- Add regularly billed invoice items
- Customize the e-mails sent to your clients
- Provide clients a link so they can access their invoices online
- Send invoices as PDF files
A dashboard lets you check invoice status and see if theyre sent, pending or overdue. Stokes said the services lets you manage thousands of clients, copy, delete and archive invoices, send automatic payment reminders and provide clients with detailed account summaries.
Clients can make payments any number of ways: online, credit cards, bank transfers, cash or check. "You can even send an invoice with an embedded PayPal link if you like," said Stokes. "It's a complete, full-cycle system that sends invoices, follows up and notifies you when payment's received."
Stokes noted that Nett 30 does not integrate with your bank accounts, but the company is currently at work on adding that feature.
The basic Free-forever account lets one staff person send unlimited invoices to up to five clients. The Standard account, which costs $13 per month, lets one staff member send unlimited invoices to up to 25 clients. It also lets you send invoices as PDF files.
The Nett 30 Business account costs $25 per month and lets three staffers send unlimited invoices, with the PDF file option, to up to 100 clients. And finally, the Business Pro account lets five employees send unlimited invoices to up to 500 clients for $39 per month.
The goal, said Stokes is to offer companies with less than 20 employees a product that's useful, reasonably priced and a good value. He added that many of his customers find that because they're pushed for manpower, their time is being stolen by tasks they shouldn't be doing.
"In these hard economic times you need to focus on your core businesses. Use technology to do that," said Stokes. "You'll sleep better, and it'll let you focus on managing and growing your business. Then you'll be in a better position when things improve."
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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