ABC Solutions

Cool Tech Tools: Easy Ways to Create Video Graphics

Video creation has gotten so easy that just about anyone can do it. You no longer need professionals. You don’t even need video editing software with the long learning curve and high price tag. All you need is an app and your imagination.

There are many reasons to create a video:

  • Web pages that include video rank higher than those that don’t have video.
  • People love to watch video; it’s more interesting than text.
  • Video is often the best way to educate people.
  • Your message comes more alive when you use more senses: sight and sound

The first step is to figure out what you want to say.  Here are a number of video topic ideas for your business:

  • A customer service tip
  • Your company mission, vision, and values
  • Your company’s origin story
  • Why you’re in business
  • A product, event, or service promotion
  • A sale
  • An employee spotlight
  • A customer spotlight
  • A how-to
  • A deadline reminder
  • A new product or service announcement

The next thing you need is a rough script of what you want the video to say, as well as graphics you can use to illustrate your points.

The final thing you need is a video creation app. Animoto is a great example of an easy-to-use video creation app.  Just open your browser and go to https://animoto.com/.  There are free and paid plans to choose from.

With most video creation apps, you have hundreds of templates that can get your started fast.  Choose the template that is closest to the type of message you want to start with.  You can easily replace your text, graphics, and sound with your own items, or ones that the software provides.

Options besides Animoto include Adobe Spark, Magisto, and several others.

Don’t be afraid to try your hand at video creation.  It’s an easy way to impress your customers.

Cool Tech Tools: Apps that Get You Places

If you’re unlucky enough to have a car without GPS navigation maps, the next best thing to use is your smartphone. This article will take a look at apps that help to get you from point A to point B.

Google Maps

Google Maps is the all-around favorite, whether you own an iPhone or an Android.  The default navigation system on the iPhone is Apple Maps, so you will need to download Google Maps to get it.

The database is robust, mostly up-to-date, and shows not only places but also traffic congestion.

Waze

Waze is a crowd-sourced app that is good for current traffic conditions.  It has some fun features, such as the speed limit of the road you’re on. You can even set it to warn you when you’re speeding. Waze users let others know where local police are checking for speeders, although this is a bit of a controversial use of the software.  Other user reports include the locations of construction, road hazards, gas stations, and toll roads. A carpooling feature is also available.

At this writing, Google Maps and Waze, both owned by Google, are the only apps available for Auto navigation on the Android.

Komoot

Do you prefer to cycle or hike?  If so, Komoot’s AllTrails app maps all of the hiking and cycling trails around your town.  It lets you know the distance, elevation, and suggested fitness level of each trail so you can plan accordingly.  You can set routes and save them as well as favorite your local trails.

There’s no fee to use the above apps.  The following apps require a fee to use.

Bird and Lime

Don’t have your own rideYou may have seen people riding on motorized scooters or simply seen scooters parked on sidewalks scattered here and there. Welcome to the new field of micromobility. If you need to get somewhere that’s too short a distance for a car but too long to walk, you can unlock one of these rides with an app and hop on. A couple of companies in this space include Bird Rides Inc. (bird.co) and Lime (li.me), and Lyft.

Uber and Lyft

Of course, if you want a car, you can get a quick ride via Uber or Lyft as well as rent a car at all the traditional places.

Try out these apps so you can get where you want to go.

How to Work from Home More Often

If you agree that “there’s no place like home,” then you may also have a wish to work from home more often. In many cases, you can, and here are some tools you need to get started.

If the products and services your business sells can be sold or delivered digitally, then you’re a candidate for working from home most of the time. If you have a storefront where customers visit to purchase your products and services, you can still perform some of your business duties remotely or rely on staff to greet and serve the customers.

You may also be able to be proactive about moving more and more of your business online. Some examples include:

  1. Hold more business meetings online instead of face to face.
  2. Encourage employees to work from home if their presence does not require face-to-face customer meetings.
  3. Provide online training for clients who cannot travel to an onsite course.
  4. Move your scheduling online by providing an app for clients to book their own appointments.
  5. Move your products online by using a shopping cart.
  6. Provide a delivery option in your business. (This may have you or your staff traveling more and not less unless your items can be delivered via a shipping service.)

Meeting with Customers

The next best thing to greeting customers in person is using video-conferencing.  You can easily start with FaceTime (for iPhone users). Android users have it a little tougher, but many use Facebook’s Messenger, Google’s Duo (both parties need to download the app), or imo (ditto on both parties).

If you have more complex meeting needs, software like Zoom is perfect to get you started. Hardware-wise, you’ll need a webcam, and a microphone is preferred. If you have a cell phone, you can use the mic and speakers in the headset provided.

Simply create your account at Zoom, and set up a meeting.  Invite people by emailing them a link to join you. Join the meeting at the set time, and conduct your business with your customer. You can hide your webcam if you’re shy, and you can share your screen in case you want to go over a report or something else with your client. Zoom has a free account option and can be found at https://zoom.us.

And remember, if you’re a little too shy for videoconferencing, you can always conduct business with clients using the good old-fashioned telephone or email.

Sharing Documents with Customers

If you have documents to share with all of your customers, you can post them online on your website. If you have private documents, you can use portal software to securely create a private section of the portal exclusively for that client. Apps that can do this and that are not accounting-specific include Citrix ShareFile and Box.com.

You can also share documents that don’t have sensitive financial or company information with clients using Google Drive. Simply create them, then share them using the email addresses of the appropriate clients.

Receiving Client Communications

Already customers are reaching out to businesses via all of the social media platforms as well as the messaging platforms, such as Messenger and WhatsApp. Your virtual team can easily track all of these incoming messages by watching for notifications from anywhere in the world.

You might also be using an industry-specific app for customer interactions. For example, if you’re in the wellness space, MindBody apps are ubiquitous. If you’re an attorney, you’re likely using Clio.

Keeping in Touch with Your Team

You can use the same tools mentioned above to connect with your team members, but you will probably want one or two more apps – a private messaging app for when urgent things come up that need an immediate answer, and in some cases, a task management system.

Software like Slack is perfect for you to stay in touch with your team and keep communications private. It provides messaging functionality and more.

For task management, there are literally hundreds of apps to choose from. The simplest is something like Todoist, and typical small business options include software such as Asana and Monday.com.

If you want a Swiss-army-knife suite of tools that perform many of the above functions and are deeply integrated, Microsoft Teams fits the bill by providing a full collaborative platform for businesses of all sizes.

There’s No Place Like Home

We hope these apps provide you with the ability to stay in touch with your customers and your business while working from home, sweet home.

Mobile Accounting? It’s Here, Now

That’s right: The future is here! Now that it’s officially 2020, it may be time to jump on that accounting app bandwagon if you haven’t already done so. The exciting news is you can actually do a lot of your accounting tasks from your phone instead of your computer.

Here are just a few examples of accounting things you can do on your phone.

Banking

Are you still trudging to the bank to make your deposits?  If so, there is a better way! Simply download your bank’s mobile app, login, and look for the Make Deposit function. Get the check you want to deposit, write “For Electronic Deposit Only” on the back and endorse it. On your phone, enter the amount, then take a picture of the check. Presto! Hit Deposit and the money will be in your account in no time.

Receipts

Shoeboxes of receipts are a thing of the past. (Thank goodness, we say, as we wipe our forehead!) Send your receipts to your accountant simply by taking a picture of them and sending them via email or through a document entry system like Receipt Bank or AutoEntry.  You’ll need to set this up to connect with your accounting system, but once it’s set up, it’s a real time-saver.

Accounting

Wondering how much income you made last month? Download your accounting app on your phone and login to get many of the features that you have on your computer onto your phone. You’ll need to be on a cloud system like QuickBooks Online or Xero, or possibly have a hosted desktop solution in order to have this functionality.

Payroll

There’s no need to be tied to your desk on payroll day if you can submit or approve payroll from your phone.  Many payroll systems have apps you can download so you can be free of your computer.

Add-ons

There’s a mobile app for almost any add-on you might need, such as TSheets for time tracking or Square for taking payments.

Artificial Intelligence

There are even some apps where you can talk in plain English and get a plain English answer back. These apps are using artificial intelligence which is exploding in the accounting space.  You can ask questions about your cash flow or check a metric that you like to follow.

Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to find out more or get help moving some of your accounting functions to your mobile phone.

If you find yourself on the go more often than not, having constant access to your business accounts and these features will be beneficial.

Add Functionality to Your Accounting System with Apps

Did you know that you can add apps to help increase the functionality of your core accounting system? The process will save you time and frustration. It is because every business is different that you may—and likely will—need these add-on features that aren’t already included in the accounting system you currently use. That’s where the apps come in: They provide a deeper functionality in the areas you need them. Take a look below at some examples we’ve put together.

  1. Payroll

Payroll apps help to simplify how you pay your employees. These payroll apps were created to help you implement an easy and automated method of managing payroll and all things HR-related.

Popular payroll options include Intuit’s many options, Gusto, ADP, OnPay, and Patriot.  Explore the different features of each app and find which one works best for you and your needs.

  1. Time Tracking

The best and most accurate way to keep track of an employee’s time is with an app. A wide range of apps can make not only tracking but scheduling your employees’ time simple, too. These apps include:

  • ClockShark
  • BigTime
  • Time Tracker
  • TSheets
  • And more!

Again, each app will offer different features. For example, most have timers, but only one might offer geofencing, so find the one that’s best for your business. Regardless of which one you choose to use, though, you will quickly discover how much time and energy you save without having to do time tracking manually.

  1. Inventory

Need more functionality to better manage your inventory? If you run an ecommerce, retail, or wholesale operation, you may need an inventory app to give you more features. Back order functions, drop ship handling, and recall functionality may be required depending on what you sell.  Here are some popular apps for inventory:

  • SOS Inventory
  • BigCommerce
  • Unleashed

There are also many ecommerce apps in this space: WooCommerce and Shopify, to name a few.

  1. Cash Flow

Dozens of apps exist to help you manage your cash flow as well as get funded:

  • CashFlowTool
  • Cash Flow Frog
  • PayPie
  • Chata.ai
  • FUndbox
  • Blue Vine
  • Fundera
  • And too many to list

Managing your cash and debt are important areas and ones that are easy to find to help you get quicker answers to your questions.

Now that it’s 2020, try working smarter, not harder. Add-on features can help! Remember, the examples listed above are just a few apps currently available. Determine what you need for your company to make better decisions, and then look around for the perfect app.

And, if we can help you implement your ideas faster, feel free to reach out to us anytime.