Small Business News Briefs

Monday Dec 15th 2003 by SmallBusinessComputing.com Staff
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ADP makes it easier for SMBs to share payroll data with accountants, vFinance and Office Depot create online funding depot, SBC Yahoo! DSL picks up a major endorsement, and analysts say SMBs will lead IT spending in 2004.

ADP Makes Sharing Easier
ADP Small Business Services recently introduced its ADP EasyPay Data Access Suite. The Web-based application enables ADP's small business payroll clients to safely share their payroll-related data with their accountants — regardless of the method of payroll input. This enhanced payroll offering is available to all small business owners that use ADP's EasyPay solution.

ADP's small business clients can use multiple input methods to report their payrolls, including phone, fax, PC or the Internet. As most clients currently phone in their payroll data, this enhanced ADP service saves small business owners and their accountants the hassle of re-keying payroll-related information into a separate spreadsheet. Additionally, on the same day ADP processes the payroll, users can access electronic versions of their payroll data records and up to 13 months of historical payroll reports.

ADP Small Business Services provides payroll and integrated business solutions for small businesses. Its offerings include payroll management, tax and compliance, human resource management, benefits administration, time and labor management and insurance services. Pricing for ADP's small business payroll service varies with the bundle of functions provided, number of employees, and frequency of payroll processing periods.

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Virtual Business Finance Depot
vFinance and Office Depot have formed a strategic relationship to enable small businesses to find financing through the nationwide retailer's Web site.

vFinance is a financial services firm that specializes in pairing up high-growth small companies with investors. The company's new business relationship with Office Depot is built around vFinance's computer prospecting technology, which can identify potential angel investors and venture capital firms through advanced data mining technologies. vFinance's online tools enable small businesses and entrepreneurs to review and purchase data and contact information on relevant investors that match their small businesses opportunity.

vFinance is a multi-channel financial services company that provides investment banking, trading and brokerage services to more than 10,000 corporate and private clients worldwide. The company has offices in New York, San Jose, Denver, Houston and 20 other cities nationwide.

"Our web-based capital-sourcing tools are the standard for entrepreneurs seeking capital," according to Leonard Sokolow, vFinance's chief executive officer. "Now, Office Depot's audience of entrepreneurs and small business owners will be able to search for and establish communication with potential investors who can help their companies grow."

Searching vFinance's database of angel investors and venture capital firms is free. The minimum charge for accessing funding information from vFinance is $10. If you find an investor that is of interest, there is a basic charge of $1 per record, $2 per industry, and another $1 per venture capital firm location.

For example, a search for $500,000 in funding for a computer service startup in Connecticut yielded four matches totaling more than $63 million in aggregate available funding. Purchasing this complete list would cost $16.

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SBC Yahoo! DSL Service Picks a Up Major Endorsement
SBC Communications recently announced that SBC Yahoo! DSL, the business edition, has become a recommended high-speed Internet service for Microsoft Business Solutions. Under the agreement with SBC, Microsoft Business Solutions is offering SBC Yahoo! DSL to independent retailers seeking to provide broadband services to small- and mid-sized businesses.

Initially, Microsoft will offer SBC Yahoo! DSL Business Edition as an add-on service to its Microsoft Business Solutions Retail Management System 1.2 — a complete store automation solution designed to assist single- and multi-store retailers in streamlining point of sale (POS), customer service and retail management.

Microsoft Business Solutions Retail Management System 1.2 provides independent proprietors with an easy-to-use electronic storefront automation system. As more and more small retailers transfer their operations to the Web, the networking capabilities of SBC Yahoo! DSL Business Edition in tandem with Microsoft's retail management system will make it easier and more cost efficient to integrate small businesses with supplier networks.

The relationship with Microsoft Business Solutions expands the ongoing strategy of SBC companies to deliver service packages designed with the flexibility to meet the specific telecommunications needs of smaller companies. The recent introduction of SBC Yahoo! DSL and Dial Business Edition includes key new features and enhancements built specifically to increase workplace productivity, offer improved safety and security features, enhance communication tools, and provide new levels of user personalization.

Now available for Microsoft's business solutions customers in the SBC's 13-state footprint, small businesses can take advantage of promotional pricing for SBC Yahoo! DSL, which starts as low as $26.95 a month for 12 months. Microsoft Retail Management System customers also will receive a free Office Gateway router — a $149 retail value. The introductory offer ends March 31 2004 — taxes, shipping and handling are extra.

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SMBs Lead IT Spending Recovery in 2004
Technology executives are becoming more confident of an upturn in their capital spending activities next year, according to results of an extensive survey completed by Gartner and SoundView Technology Group.

The survey, conducted in late October and including responses from more than 600 IT decision-makers, indicated that small- and medium-sized businesses will lead the IT spending recovery next year.

The survey results show that IT spending confidence has improved substantially from a year ago and even measurably since last spring. Arnie Berman, Technology Strategist for SoundView, said IT buyers indicate that their capital spending budgets will begin to grow again at a modest pace of 1.6 percent in 2004.

"This survey also highlights that the prior 'stall mode' has finally begun to give way to 'controlled spending'. Controlled spending and a strict focus on return on investment will remain the rule in 2004," Berman said. "For the largest companies, the budget outlook for 2004 appears to be flat to down."

Security, storage, wireless local-area networks, Linux and business intelligence software were ranked as the top priorities for IT spending in 2004. The survey also showed that IT spending priorities are returning to more traditional patterns.

Brian Smith, Vice President of Market Research and Analytics for Gartner, said the survey highlights the potential for some pleasant upside surprises as well.

"While corporate IT buyers are highly confident that their employers' business prospects are rebounding, they are less confident that this rebound will translate into improved IT spending," Smith said. "Historically, business confidence tends to lead IT spending confidence in an economic recovery."

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