Needless to say, running a business is complicated. Taxes, regulations, permits, contracts, payment gateways, accounting books,legal documents, spreadsheets, ad nauseam.
In the third part of "My Solopreneur Toolkit" series, I'll go over the services and tools I use to manage my business and finances.
If you missed the first two parts, they are Part 1: Project Management & Productivity and Part 2: Communication & Scheduling. I'll wrap up this series next week with "Part 4: Web Hosting & Email Marketing."
All right, I know I mentioned Google Sheets in the last part with Google Docs, but spreadsheets are a business necessity because they are just so darn useful. While Microsoft Excel is king, the ability to collaborate is becoming more popular. Sharing one link is much easier more efficient than sending multiple files back and forth via email.
I mostly use Google Sheets to share analysis data but also use it for quick scheduling tables and CSV imports.
HelloSign has been around for a long time and facilitates the signing of documents such as contracts and proposals. While you'll likely find HelloSign integrated with other all-in-one business services, I like having a separate account for one-off reasons and access to their API.
Upload a document or integrate with Google Docs. Select where you want the recipient(s) to sign. Send. It only gets faster with the other automated service integrations such as Zapier.
Purpose: Document signing
Cost: Free (3 documents per month); $13-15/month (unlimited documents)
Legal Zoom ⚖️
I'm very happy for services like Legal Zoom which helps makes the process of setting up a business and other complex legal services as painless as possible.
Legal Zoom has packages which walk you through legal processes such as Business Formation, Intellectual Property, and even Wills and Trusts. Each service has it's own price tag, so you'll need to research based on your needs.
Despite the cost, I found it was worth it not to have to spend the time filling out and submitting forms and payments with the proper state regulatory agency. Legal Zoom takes care of it all for you and gives you status updates along the way so you can get back to your passion.
Cost: LLC Packages starting at $79 + filing fees
In the United States, paying tax as a solo business owner is tough and complicated. Most solopreneurs I know are sole proprietors (either with or without an LLC). This tax designation means they are required to pay both a self-employment tax and as well as state and federal (and sometimes city) income tax.
Additionally, you're required to pay quarterly federal and state taxes, which are usually determined by your previous year's income tax.
Track.tax is trying to make this mess easier for those of us in the U.S. By suggesting how much to withhold on each bit of income coming into your business, it transfers that amount from your bank account to a holding account. Every quarter when quarterly federal taxes are due, Track.tax sends that amount to the IRS on your behalf.
This is the first year I'm using their service. So far it has saved me a bunch of calculation time on how much to save each month. It's also extremely relieving to know that I'm up-to-date on my federal taxes and won't be hit with (as much) of a penalty this year.
Purpose: United States federal income tax payment
Cost: $21/month after a free trial
Payment gateways are necessary if you're going to accept money online. Both Stripe and Braintree make this process uncomplicated.
I like Stripe for its excellent documentation and easy-to-implement solutions. Also, their website designs are top notch and absolutely beautiful.
Braintree is a lot like Stripe, but a Paypal company. Because of this, they integrate with Paypal seamlessly. I've found that some customers and clients prefer using Paypal, and for this reason, I never had a good excuse not to accept it.
Purpose: Payment gateway
Cost: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
I have mixed feelings about Xero. I chose the accounting service initially a few years ago as I was making my bookkeeping software comparison and I knew I wanted an online option. However, it might be time for a change.
It is a powerful and versatile bookkeeping service. But I find it's not exceptionally user-friendly and is rather over-featured for a solo business owner.
That said, it plays nicely with Paypal and Stripe which integrate well with the invoice process. It has also made tax time less painful with the help of my accountant.
Purpose: Bookkeeping & accounting
Cost: $9-$30/month depending on if you need payroll