How to best grow startups at a university?

Friends and I are about to launch an app at the university. What are growth jacks/marketing techniques to get this to grow and spread like wildfire?

The product itself has a neat market fit (it’s like a tutoring app) but considering the pandemic and the remote learning environment, we’re really relying on word of mouth and the network effect to get this to grow. Would really appreciate any insights on how to get this to achieve the “cool kid item” effect (a la Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc).

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

How to best automate product mockup and template design work?

Hi all, I am looking to see if anyone has experience solving the best way to automate the product mockups and design templates for apparel.

Historically I have used a full-time graphic designer to do them with self-recorded Photoshop Actions. I am looking to optimize this further since it's the same repetitive work we could be spending on the actual designs.

We do full cut & sew apparel, so there are two parts:

  1. Mockups for ~10 different products (mens t-shirt, women's t-shirt, men's tank, hoodie, etc) to be automated in one process
  2. Templates for those products for our manufacturing (it's the same template every time but we have to lay the artwork out across each product, which varies in size and orientation)

We have one "input design file" which has all of the necessary design work. I am looking for a designer with deep automation (and possible coding) experience that could help me understand the actual technology involved here to go from Point A to Z.

The process goes like this..

  1. Lead designer creates a design
  2. Lead designer lays design across a single standardized template
  3. *What I need help with begins:* design is laid across all mockups (front and back)
  4. *What I need help with*: design is laid across all printable product templates (already standardized)

Anyone with experience of a similar project?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Best Membership Management Software

If you run a club, a gym, or any other membership-based entity, then you’ll need membership management software.

Without it, you’ll struggle to manage your members, key events, content, and finances.

Luckily, there’s plenty of excellent software out there.

There’s a significant amount this type of software can do, too, including database management, email marketing, and event planning.

I’ve put together a list of the best membership management software to give you one less thing to worry about this year.

The Top 8 Best Membership Management Software:

  1. MemberSpace — The Best for Overall Customer Service
  2. Zen Planner — The Best for Sports Studios and Gyms
  3. Breeze — The Best for Church Membership Management
  4. GrowthZone — The Best for Membership Management Automation
  5. Member365 — The Best for Built-In Communications
  6. StarChapter — The Best for Member Customization
  7. Raklet — The Best for Transactions
  8. ClubExpress — The Best for the Mobile Member Experience

Now you know our picks, let’s get started.

#1 – MemberSpace — The Best for Overall Customer Service

  • White glove customer service
  • Tons of integrations
  • Unlimited members
  • 14-day free trial

Get it today!

MemberSpace is a membership management company that has a consumer-centric focus first and foremost.

The days of struggling alone without any backup are truly well and gone if you opt for this particular piece of software.

For example, while most customers have found MemberSpace to have a difficult learning curve initially, this is alleviated because the technical support is second to none.

That excellent technical support extends to everything you do with the software, too, so you can have confidence that using it won’t lead you down a path where you find yourself stuck.

MemberSpace also delivers the following features:

  • A massive number of integrations, from WordPress to Jimdo
  • Unlimited members
  • Automated upsells
  • Instant pay-outs
  • Custom signup fields
  • Multiple currencies
  • Mobile ready
  • Custom styling

Worried about the pricing due to the customer support on offer? Don’t be. There’s a 14-day free trial available to ease you in, and once that’s over, you can expect to pay an affordable $ 25 per month on the base plan.

The other monthly packages do offer more, but impressively, the VIP support is available for all of them at no extra cost. That’s something I like to see. Try it now.

#2 – Zen Planner — The Best for Sports Studios and Gyms

  • Great for gyms
  • Easy reservation portal
  • Attendance tracking and billing alerts
  • Customized pricing

Get it today!

Zen Planner is a membership management software specially catered toward sports studios and gyms.

With that in mind, the software allows club members to track their workouts, reserve classes, and much more.

On the business side of things, you’ll be able to calculate your expenses and taxes, process financial transactions, and have access to custom reports to keep everything running smoothly.

It’s ideal for sports studios and gyms because the software allows members to track their bills and make secure payments for their classes via a self-service portal.

Other key features of Zen Planner include:

  • Attendance tracking
  • Billing alerts
  • Martial arts belt tracking
  • Online scheduling
  • Workout training
  • A self-service kiosk iPad app
  • Simplified automated billing
  • Skills tracking

When it comes to pricing, Zen Planner bases this on the number of members your club has, and the price rises accordingly. For example, if you have 1-50 active members, you can expect to pay a monthly subscription fee of $ 117 per month.

Do you have more active members than that? Well, 51-100 members comes in at $ 157 per month, 101-250 members is $ 197 per month, and 251+ members is priced at $ 227 per month.

One important point here: the features don’t change based on the number of members you have and the price you pay. In other words, you won’t be missing out just because you’re a smaller club—something I think is an excellent move from Zen Planner.

#3 – Breeze — The Best for Church Membership Management

  • Mailchimp integrations
  • Gather SMS donations
  • Background checks
  • Organize members and congregants

Get it today!

Breeze, as the name suggests, aims to make everything a breeze for small and mid-sized churches. I’d say it succeeds here.

Its cloud-based church management software offers everything from donation tracking to data importing, while friendly customer support is available to help you navigate any problems along the way.

Custom fields let you store and filter through data from background checks to baptism dates, so it’s easy to find what you need.

The software also enables you to compose and quickly send emails to individuals or groups of people, and handy message stats shows you who is opening them.

Other features of the membership management software include:

  • MailChimp integration
  • Printable directories
  • Demographic reports
  • Automated daily backups
  • Event registration form creation
  • SMS donation processing
  • QuickBooks integration
  • SMS reminders and alerts

Breeze further lives up to its name by making the pricing a breeze, too. You can expect to pay $ 50 per month. That’s it—no hidden extra costs.

For that, you’ll receive phone and email support, an unlimited number of users, all the available features, and you can cancel at any time. Breeze also maintains that price rises in the future, if any, will be minimal and fair.

#4 – GrowthZone — The Best for Membership Management Automation

  • Automated welcome emails
  • SSL security
  • Accounting integrations
  • Great reporting tools

Get it today!

GrowthZone is a membership management software with a keen focus on marketing automation.

The time you’ll save from automating tasks can be used productively elsewhere to grow your business, as well as the overall efficiency that automation can provide.

An example of the automation with GrowthZone is in its dedicated ‘automation module.’ This includes a powerful drag-and-drop visual email and landing page creator, and email templates you can send out to members.

What’s more, the automation will send out a welcome email when members sign up. It can also make check-in calls to see how things are going and analyzes how members are using the software.

GrowthZone also includes the following useful features:

  • Multiple mobile options plus native apps for iOS and Android
  • Payment processing
  • SSL security
  • You can send event and membership news to leading social channels
  • Subscription management
  • Sync with other email programs and schedule mass communications
  • Accounting integration

GrowthZone doesn’t offer as simple pricing as Breeze, however, and comes in four different variants:

It’s particularly worth noting that the base features—known as core modules—are the same for all tiers, but a host of add-ons and modules, including marketing automation and member recruitment, are premium add-ons that cost extra.

As I think GrowthZone could have included these in the monthly packages to streamline things, this is a detractor, but this is still great software overall.

#5 – Member365 — The Best for Built-In Communication

  • Discussion forums and chat options
  • Great for communication
  • Job boards
  • Member reports

Get it today!

Member365 is good membership management software when it comes to the expected features, but one area it excels in is its built-in communication prowess.

I’m specifically referring to the chat option available to all members who use the software, allowing easy but vital communication to occur in a seamless environment.

Discussion forums are available for everyone to keep up-to-date on the latest events, but members can also talk directly to each other, as well as you and your business, through the bespoke chat feature.

This open form of communication helps you know how members feel about things and, as a result, can help you build a powerful level of trust with them.

Some of the other highlights of Member365 include the following:

  • Renewals and reporting
  • Manage simple and complex ticket configurations
  • Email marketing
  • Contact records (CRM)
  • Manage both member and non-member contacts in one system
  • Fundraising
  • Collaboration and self-service
  • Committee management
  • Job boards
  • Credit card processing
  • Member reports

On the pricing side, Member365 is split into four tiers via a rising monthly subscription fee based on the number of contacts:

The number of contacts considerably increases between the tiers. All tiers include access to unlimited administrators except the first tier, so think carefully about how important that is for your company.

The second tier would be a good starting point for most small businesses. A 30-day free trial is also available so you can see if it’s right for you.

#6 – StarChapter — The Best for Member Customization

  • Highly flexible interface
  • Attendance tracking
  • Memborship directory
  • Starts at $ 83/month

Get it today!

If making sure your club’s members have a high level of customization on your platform is essential, then StarChapter has you covered.

One great feature of this software is that it allows members to customize how they appear to others on the platform.

Members that sign up can tweak their profile photos, add additional information to their profile, change privacy settings, and update contact information without any input from your side.

While some of this sounds like standard stuff, you might be surprised at how little control some of the other pieces of software offer to members. In other words, it’s user-friendly for both administrators and members, and I like that a lot.

StarChapter also provides the following:

  • A membership directory
  • Manage member and non-member data
  • Track attendance
  • Import membership data
  • Send newsletters and surveys
  • Design layouts
  • Sponsors and ad management
  • Email templates
  • Secure login

On the pricing front, things can get quite complicated. There are four central tiers:

Keep in mind the initial setup fee that isn’t included in the monthly subscription, and be sure to sign up for a package that covers the number of contacts and members you need.

#7 – Raklet — The Best for Transactions

  • Easy payment transactions
  • Automated membership reneals
  • Payments directly thru app
  • Free plan comes with 50 contacts

Get it today!

Raklet does many things well, but I particularly liked its flexibility regarding transactions and everything it can do in that area.

Whether it’s collecting payments from your members or helping to organize fundraising events, this is a powerful piece of software that is primarily transaction-focused in its design.

Membership renewals are automated with Raklet, removing the hassle of chasing members for their renewal fees, and members can make payments directly through the software. You’re able to schedule payment reminders, too.

The ticketing system is seamless and helps create fundraising events, boost reservations, and create check-ins without seemingly breaking a sweat.

Other nifty features of Raklet include:

  • Seating maps
  • Social clubs
  • Social media management
  • Sponsorship management
  • Staff management
  • Ticketing
  • Visitor management
  • Voter database
  • Alumni management
  • Application management
  • Attendance tracking
  • Attendee management
  • Barcode and ticket scanning

How much does it all cost? Well, you can get started for free. Although the free plan limits you to only 50 contacts, so I can’t see it being a long-term solution.

That said, the ‘Essentials’ package includes almost everything you’ll need and comes in at $ 49 a month. An impressive price considering how much you can do with the software overall.

#8 – ClubExpress — The Best for the Mobile Member Experience

  • Great mobile app
  • 300+ reports
  • QuickBooks integration
  • Customized pricing

Get it today!

ClubExpress is a great piece of membership management software, all-around, in fact, but it’s the mobile functionality that shines.

I’d say this is where the software begins to distinguish itself from the others, providing a slick mobile experience that can’t be found elsewhere.

The design of the mobile app’s UX is not only smooth and easy to use—but it also offers some exclusive features that the desktop version of the ClubExpress software doesn’t.

For example, a geolocation feature can facilitate members to meet up using their phone’s location data. There’s a handy chat option in there as well, and you can even sync events to an iPhone’s calendar.

There’s been a push to make the mobile experience as definitive as possible, and ClubExpress leads against the competition here.

Other features I like are the following:

  • Includes more than 300 reports and over 50 data exports
  • Integrated non-member database
  • Integration with QuickBooks
  • Members and non-member mailing list
  • Members can log in to update their profile
  • Modules for documents, committees, interests, photos
  • Multi-page, multi-question, answers in over 25 formats

ClubExpress calculates the price of the software depending on the number of memberships you think you’ll need.

Be aware that there is also an initial setup fee starting at $ 150 and going up to $ 4550 for the ‘pro pack.’ The pro pack is for businesses that want everything taken care of by ClubExpress, so the higher price is really for convenience more than anything.

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, I think the other packages are a better bet.

How To Find The Best Membership Management Software For You

It can be tough to pick just one piece of membership management software to use, especially as there are so many choices available.

This process becomes far easier when you start to break down what exactly you need step-by-step.

Let’s start with the audience. For example, if you run a gym or sports studio, opting for Breeze’s software, which targets and is specifically created for small and mid-sized churches, isn’t going to the best answer.

On that same note, it’s important to realize the difference between membership management software that can be used for all businesses and those that target explicit niches. Raklet is a good example of general membership management software, which could, in theory, be used for most membership-based entities.

In contrast, a piece of software like Zen Planner is clearly sports-centric and will be best suited to gyms and sports studios. It has bespoke features designed for that type of business, such as workout training and tracking for your members.

Once you’ve thought about your audience and the type of membership entity you’re running, you can then start to further break your choice down by thinking about the following criteria:

Software Customization

When I talk about customization, I’m asking how vital is it that you can customize the membership management software to suit your specific needs. Do you have precise business requirements, or would a general piece of membership software be fine? How much flexibility do you need?

The price of customizing a piece of membership management software from its generic state can be costly. Large businesses tend to have the resources to do this, while smaller ones might be perfectly happy with the off-the-shelf software. The cost of customization is often included in the startup cost that some membership management software providers use as a calculation. Or, as in the case of GrowthZone, you can get a custom price quote.

Keep in mind the higher the level of customization, the higher the fee, so think carefully.

Mobile Optimization

Companies that don’t harness the power of mobile with optimized platforms can miss out. Of course, this is dependent on the context and what exactly your business or membership-based entity does overall. Think about how and when your customers are accessing your business. Do they need it on the go, or are most of your customers accessing it rarely and from a computer?

For instance, Zen Planner and ClubExpress offer a custom experience with apps that allow your members to enjoy a full and proper mobile experience. In Zen Planner’s apps, you can track workouts and book classes from anywhere from your phone.

Other membership software doesn’t provide an app at all or a mobile-responsive website, and for some, that may be fine.

Think carefully about how crucial a mobile-optimized experience or app is for your company.

Pricing Model

The pricing model for membership management software is unique. There are many different forms it can take. Some of the vendors of this software charge per member, for others, it’s per user, and some have a base rate that you build on when extra features are needed.

On my list, for instance, Member365 charges per the number of contacts, while MemberSpace lists its packages via the likely revenue you will generate from members. They also include a transaction fee of 4% on the base package.

The most important thing to do here is to work out the best pricing model for your business.

For example, if you have a lot of members and will have to pay significantly for them, then it might be better to find a piece of membership software that offers a different pricing model.
Of course, this all depends on the context of your company, so think carefully.

Summary

There are some excellent pieces of membership management software in this guide. The right one will make running your business that much smoother.

ClubExpress is hard to beat when it comes to the mobile experience, and Zen Planner is great for sports studios and gyms, while Breeze makes everything a literal breeze for churches with a single and consistent price point.

Raklet is ideal if you have many fundraising events and transactions that need dealing with, while StarChapter is all about the members themselves, and Member365 has powerful communication features.

GrowthZone is for fans of automation, and MemberSpace should be your pick if you want top customer service.

Don’t forget to think about the different audiences and which software aligns with yours.
Keeping your members happy and business flowing is the ultimate aim here, so use this guide carefully, and you’ll already be halfway there.

Quick Sprout

Best Online Calendar and Scheduling Apps

As a leader, you most likely keep a schedule. Your schedule keeps you on track and tells you what you need to accomplish each day. There may be meetings, appointments, and events listed that you don’t want to forget.

Leaders have always found that work and personal life intertwine and calendaring is the best weapon against missing the essentials in either world. With scheduling and calendaring, besides work requirements, your schedule also includes gym appointments, concerts, and your kids’ games or recitals.

Best Online Calendar and Scheduling Apps

Here are some of the top schedule apps for business owners that will help you juggle everything in your business and life. You’ll work smarter — and never again will you forget an appointment or task.

  • Calendar for smart scheduling, unifying all of your calendars, and time analytics.
  • Google Calendar for basic online calendar functions for Google users.
  • Apple Calendar for basic online calendar functions for Apple users.
  • Microsoft Calendar for basic online calendar functions for Windows users.
  • Deputy for scheduling employees at various locations as well as the capability to publish schedules through email or SMS, and create shifts.
  • Hot Schedules for business owners with a team of employees to oversee in industries like restaurants, hospitality businesses, retail, and recreation and entertainment.
  • When I Work for its compatibility with payroll platforms like Quickbooks and ADP and its mobile accessibility, online scheduler, messaging, and customer support features.
  • Timely for its dashboard view, scheduling feature, and cloud functionality.
  • Planday for its simple scheduling by job role, push notifications and email alerts, payroll reporting, labor cost and overtime tracking, and customer support.
  • Fleetmatics Work for field service management businesses that have this type of team, cloud-based system, and integration with accounting software like Quickbooks.
  • Shiftboard for employee and workforce management scheduling, communications tools, employee self-serve options, and time and attendance processes.
  • FreeBusy for its artificial intelligence, compatibility with Outlook desktop and web app, embed feature, and integration with major digital calendars.
  • Meekan for its ability to work Slack and HipChat, flight search, RSVPs, double booking alerts, and meeting reminders.
  • Meetin.gs for its functionality, live communication tools like Skype, Microsoft Lync, Google Hangouts, and teleconferencing.
  • NeedToMeet for its collaborative meeting scheduling and management, custom URL to invite attendees, notifications and comments, and a dashboard view.
  • X.ai for its personal virtual assistant capability and artificial intelligence.
  • Fantastical for Apple users wanting to try a different option with a critically acclaimed design and user-friendly features.
  • Yahoo Calendar for recreation event integration, solid to-do lists, and long-term planning.

Best Online Calendar and Scheduling Apps — the Details

Calendar

Calendar is a calendar, scheduling, and appointment app. The web portal and mobile app provide a machine learning-enabled platform that learns about your contacts and typical schedule. The more Calendar works with that information, the better it becomes at understanding your schedule and those you interact with regularly.

Not only does the schedule app see how it can help with scheduling, but it also does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. That means you can enjoy automated reminders and real-time updates that get you where you need to go. It integrates with other apps and tracks information about routes, weather, and traffic to make sure you stick to your schedule.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is one of the most accessible online calendars out there. You can download it on virtually any device and can dive in even deeper on a desktop computer. If you love the other products included in the Google Suite, you can easily integrate them into this calendar for easy use. Schedule meetings with Google Hangout links and attach Google Documents, Sheets, and Presentations as needed.

Google Calendar is also one of the most versatile of calendar apps, able to sync with most other apps to easily move from platform to platform or collaborate with users of other online calendars.

Apple Calendar

Apple Calendar is the default calendar for iPhone, iPad, and Macbook users. For those who live and die by the Apple brand, this calendar is great because it syncs across all your Apple devices, allowing you to switch seamlessly from one to the other. Don’t have access to one of your many devices? Your calendar information will be stored in Apple’s exclusive cloud, and you can access this from anything with a web browser and internet connection.

The Apple Calendar also doesn’t discriminate, allowing you to add additional online calendars from other sources for easier and all-inclusive time management.

Microsoft Calendar

Microsoft Calendar, also known as Outlook or Office 365 Calendar, is comparable to Google Calendar in that it works seamlessly with the other applications in its suite. It’s an optimal calendar for businesses that already rely on Microsoft products for their daily operations. This is an easy calendar for Windows users as Microsoft integrates well into virtually any PC.

While being able to create multiple calendars isn’t a unique feature, Outlook takes it a step further by allowing you to easily view separate calendars in a side-by-side view, as well as the ability to stack them. This way you can more easily balance your work and personal calendars, along with any others you have created.

Deputy

Deputy helps you stay on top of your schedule and anyone else on your team. It’s made for business owners to take care of staff management duties and lead more effectively. The complete scheduling solution includes a way to schedule employees at various locations, publish schedules through email or SMS, and create shifts. You can also get shift costs and compare wages to sales forecasts. It’s easy to add new employees to this scheduling system.

Other features include timesheet management, communication channels, and tasking tools. The cloud-based scheduling system also lets you oversee schedules from anywhere because it works with Android, iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch.

Hot Schedules

Hot Schedules is another scheduling app that is ideal for business owners with a team of employees to oversee. It’s especially ideal for certain industries like restaurants, hospitality businesses, retail, and recreation and entertainment. The scheduling app provides a cloud-based platform so that schedules can be produced quickly and optimize the available labor force. Features include time and attendance record-keeping, shift communication, labor compliance, and employee engagement.

In addition to the scheduling functionality, it provides a full-scale back-office solution for businesses like restaurants, including inventory management, talent development, forecasting and budgeting, and more.

When I Work

When I Work is another scheduling app that works for those leaders that have a team. This scheduling app is for numerous types of businesses across industries like hospitality, customer service, retail, healthcare, nonprofits and more. It specifically benefits those business owners with hourly employees because it makes scheduling so easy. It also works for all types of employee meetings, and task scheduling.

The scheduling app also works with payroll platforms like Quickbooks and ADP so the work schedule can transfer over easily. The app works with Android or iPhone so it makes employee requests for shift trades or time off even simpler. It’s free for up to 75 users, including mobile accessibility, online scheduler, messaging, and customer support features.

Timely

Timely is a scheduling app for individuals, freelancers, and business owners that also works as a team management platform, overseeing hours, projects, and tasks. The dashboard view provides a business owner with an overview of all projects to see what everyone is doing. Plus, you’ll see how much time it actually takes them. Over time, this can help you reduce overhead costs and optimize productivity while also balancing the team’s workload.

The scheduling feature helps you schedule work according to available capacity while also tracking who has recorded their hours. All it takes is a few clicks to create the schedule as well as put together detailed results that can be used along with invoices to bill clients. The scheduling app can be used from anywhere, including iOS and Android devices.

Planday

Planday is a powerful, yet affordable, scheduling platform that grows with you as you add users. There are starter and pro levels of the scheduling app set at different price points. Even the starter level is packed with features. For example, it includes simple scheduling by job role, an app for iOS and Android, push notifications and email alerts, payroll reporting, labor cost and overtime tracking, customer support and more.

The pro-level includes these features and adds even more. Some features that come with the upgrade are HRM tools, vacation management, scheduling statistics and reporting, electronic signatures, and employee file management.

Fleetmatics Work

Fleetmatics Work is a field service management platform for businesses that have this type of team. The scheduling tools are easy to read and only require a few clicks so you can assign jobs in a way that lets you maximize the number of customer appointments you can book each day. The format also makes it easy to change or cancel appointments, including alerting each employee to a change in their schedule.

Since you have a mobile workforce, it offers a cloud-based system that can be accessed anywhere, most importantly your field service technicians. Additionally, the platform allows you to efficiently manage dispatch, invoices and quotes, and reports. Also, it integrates with accounting software, such as Quickbooks.

Shiftboard

Shiftboard is an employee and workforce management scheduling solution. This cloud-based system provides a way to automate much of the scheduling and time tracking process. It can forecast resources and build schedules based on that data. Additionally, the scheduling app can assign the right people to each job and make real-time scheduling adjustments should anything change.

Other features include a set of communications tools, employee self-serve options, and time and attendance processes. Also, the scheduling app offers reproving and analytics on shifts, workforces, teams, and financials. When you have new hires, you can use Shiftboard for applicant tracking and onboarding. Lastly, it integrates with hundreds of other apps and software for payroll, time management, and other business processes.

FreeBusy

FreeBusy is powered by artificial intelligence and serves as your scheduling assistant for teams and enterprises. You can use this scheduling app within the Outlook desktop and web app. The Outlook add-in features provide a way to identify the best time to meet for those who will be attending from inside your company as well as those from the outside. It also does the same with Google Calendar when you add the FreeBusy Chrome Extension.

Additionally, the scheduling app gives you a personalized webpage. Here, your contacts can see your availability and book meetings. You can also embed your availability on your website, blog, or LinkedIn. Integrating with major calendars will cost you a monthly fee. Otherwise, the basic version is free.

Meekan

Meekan is another scheduling app that uses the power of artificial intelligence to optimize your scheduling processes. it works with Slack and HipChat. The free app is very simple to use. Just request a new meeting in a simple language and then invite who you want. The AI machine goes to work to match everyone’s time and preferences, selecting an optimal time.

Once it has been established the meeting is synced for everyone on their Google, Office 365, or iCloud calendar. Other features include flight search, RSVPs, double booking alerts, meeting reminders, and more.

Meetin.gs

Meetin.gs is an app that helps you create, schedule, and manage meetings as a business owner or manager. It simplifies the meeting scheduling process by allowing you to integrate your calendar with its functionality and easily share that personal scheduling page as par at of an email tagline or website. You can access meeting information from your mobile device, respond to meeting requests, or get or make meeting updates.

The schedule supports Google apps, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Contacts, Outlook, Live People, and Office365. Additionally, it offers live communication tools like Skype, Microsoft Lync, Google Hangouts, and teleconferencing. It’s available as a monthly or yearly subscription.

NeedToMeet

NeedToMeet is a scheduling tool for collaborative meeting scheduling and management. This is a simple, yet highly effective, app for business owners and their teams. Features include simple scheduling, a custom URL to invite attendees, notifications and comments, and a dashboard view of all meetings. It works on multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, and the Web as well as with their Microsoft Outlook plug-in.

Even the standard free version of the schedule app is ad-free so there are no distractions. Two other versions of the schedule app come with more features and offer various pricing plans.

X.ai

x.ai is your personal virtual assistant for scheduling that leverages artificial intelligence to lighten your workload. It’s easy to use. It’s just a matter of CCing amy@x.ai on any email. Then, she does the rest to make sure a meeting time is coordinated and scheduled. She learns pretty much everything about you. This includes appointments, phone number, Skype username, and any information that a colleague or client might need to schedule time on your calendar.

The artificial intelligence component to this virtual assistant studies people’s natural speech patterns to reply in the most human ways possible. It’s free for up to five meetings per month. A fee-based version adds more features, a customizable signature, and unlimited meetings each month.

Fantastical

Fantastical is exclusive to Apple users and is another option for those who aren’t the biggest fans of the default Apple Calendar. The app can be used for free but is greatly restricted without an account subscription, but $ 4.99 a month isn’t a steep price to pay for calendar efficiency. Critics and users alike rave about Fantastical’s layout, giving it high ratings on its clean and user-friendly design.

One of its unique features is calendar sets, allowing you not only the ability to organize your daily schedule but a myriad of calendars of different types. For example, a business owner can create different calendars for their sales, customer service, and IT teams and add them to a calendar set focused on work. Another set can contain a specific calendar for each one of your kids including their individual events and commitments.

Yahoo Calendar

Yahoo Calendar is a blast from the past. While it has been outpaced by many other calendars as far as updates are concerned, it’s still a very serviceable program in the right hands. Being able to sync with Apple and Outlook calendars is a huge plus, helping you begin integrating right away. Something that sets it apart is the ability to work flawlessly with event sites such as Evite and Eventful, which allows you to more easily book events to attend and have them added automatically to your personal calendar.

Yahoo also excels with its to-do list feature, helping you plan out all the details of your day to accomplish all of your short-term goals. Additionally, for what it’s worth, a 100-year calendar allows you to plan as far in advance as you would ever need to.

Best Online Calendar and Scheduling Apps was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

The post Best Online Calendar and Scheduling Apps appeared first on KillerStartups.

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5 reasons why crises are the best times to launch your startup

With an unprecedented crisis, comes unprecedented opportunities. It sounds counter-intuitive when the world seems to be slowing down and contracting from the current pandemic, but history tells us that this could be the perfect opportunity to turn that startup idea into a reality. In a 2009 study conducted by non-profit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, well-over…

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The post 5 reasons why crises are the best times to launch your startup first appeared on EU-Startups.

EU-Startups

Best way to bring on non-technical business partner? About to launch B2C SAAS.

Hey,

I am getting ready to launch a B2C SAAS product that I have been developing for the last 6 months. I think I have a good chance to make money with this product since there are a few players with similar products in the space already and they have employees and spend money on ads.

I'd like to partner with someone to help kick growth into high gear. What is the best way to bring someone on for this?

My initial thought is to offer temporary revenue sharing so this person would be able to get in on considerable potential upside and our incentives would be aligned. What do you think?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Best Merchant Cash Advance

Getting caught up in turning a profit at the expense of managing cash flow is all too easy for small business owners. Consider that 82 percent of small businesses fail because of cash flow-related issues. Furthermore, 84 percent of small businesses are not profitable until the fourth year, so you can see that your business’s cash flow should be a primary focus.

So, what do you do if you cannot qualify for a traditional personal or business loan to bolster your business?

For many entrepreneurs today, merchant cash advances offer a vital lifeline in an otherwise murky landscape. Alternative financing can be a viable solution if you need money quickly and with few qualification criteria. We have put together a list of the eight best merchant cash advance services you might consider for your business.

The Top 8 Best Merchant Cash Advance Services

  1. Fundbox – Best For New Business
  2. PayPal Working Capital – Best For High Volume PayPal Sales
  3. National Business Capital – Best For Large Loans
  4. National Funding – Best For Long-Term Financing
  5. Can Capital – Best For Bad Credit
  6. Stripe Capital – Best For High Volume Stripe Sales
  7. Reliant Funding – Best For Quick Funding
  8. Main Street Finance Group – Best For Consolidating MCAs

Read on to see our reviews of the top eight merchant cash advance services and learn how a cash advance works and how to choose the best one for your needs.

#1. Fundbox – Best Merchant Cash Advance For Startups

  • Good for entrepreneurs and startups
  • Borrow as little as $ 1,000
  • Up to $ 50,000 without collateral
  • Credit score of at least 500

Try it today!

Most merchant cash advance services target relatively established businesses, making it difficult for new business owners to qualify. Fundbox has some of the lowest requirements to be eligible for a business line of credit.

You can borrow as little as $ 1000, which is perfect for solving day-to-day petty cash shortfalls quickly. You can also borrow up to $ 50,000 without collateral or a personal guarantee. However, you will need to provide a personal guarantee and blanket lien for amounts exceeding $ 50,000. The maximum amount for borrowing is $ 150,000 with Fundbox.

Fundbox’s credit score requirements are also low and easy for small businesses to qualify. You only need a credit score of at least 500 and at least three months in business.

Accounting software also integrates with Fundbox to make the application process painless. Fundbox syncs with the most popular accounting software, including QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Jobber, Xero, Clio, Harvest, Zoho, eBility, and Jobber. As long as your accounting software reflects at least three months’ transaction history and $ 5000 or more in monthly revenue, you have a good chance of qualifying.

You can also link your checking account, but you will need at least six months of credit card transactions in your business account. Fundbox can be flexible with its requirements, particularly if you have high monthly revenue.

The application process is mostly automated with minimal paperwork. Most applicants receive a verdict within minutes, and the money can be available in as little as a day.

While Fundbox has all the MCA features tailored for small businesses and startups, the fees can be a little high. The APR ranges between 10.1% and 79.9%, depending on your terms. Some people may also find the 12-24 week repayment period a little short.

Overall, if you are happy with the fees, Fundbox is one of the most forgiving merchant cash advances (more accurately, a business line of credit) out there for startups with its low requirements.

#2. PayPal Working Capital – Best Merchant Cash Advance For High Volume PayPal Sales

  • Financing based on PayPal history
  • Repayment between 10%-30%
  • Borrow up to $ 20,000
  • Minimum $ 1,000

Try it today!

If you primarily accept PayPal payments, qualifying for a merchant cash advance can be a little tricky. Most institutions only allow you to link your bank account or accounting software to determine your eligibility.

This financing option bases your eligibility on your PayPal account history. You don’t have to worry about your credit score or a hard check that may affect your score.

The qualification criteria are also relatively accessible. You need a PayPal Business account or Premier PayPal account with at least three months of transaction history. Additionally, you need annual sales exceeding $ 15,000 for the Business account and $ 20,000 for the Premier account.

It’s also hard to beat PayPal Working Capital’s speed. You get your verdict in just a few minutes, and the funds are made available in your PayPal account almost immediately after approval.

Repayments work on a percentage basis. You choose what percentage of your daily sales go towards repaying the advance. The repayment ranges between 10 and 30 percent, with lower fees applied for higher repayments. The only catch is that you have to pay back the amount plus fees within 18 months. PayPal Working Capital reports that most borrowers clear their loan in one year.

You can borrow up to $ 20,000 with a minimum of $ 1000. The repayment is also transparent, and you know exactly how much you will be paying back, with no hidden fees.

PayPal Working Capital is technically a business loan and is perfect for PayPal merchants with a good track record of PayPal sales. This is true if you are comfortable with the factor rate of between 1.01 and 1.58.

#3. National Business Capital & Services – Best Merchant Cash Advance For Large Loans

  • Borrow between $ 10,000 and $ 5mm
  • Franchise & comm. mortgage financing
  • Need at least 6 months in business
  • Receive funds in 1-3 business days

Try it today!

National Business Capital & Services isn’t a direct lender but connects applicants with over 75 lender partners. The institution boasts a 90% approval rate for small businesses, which is believable given its vast lender network.

First off, NBC offers a wide range of products, including merchant cash advances, invoice financing, franchise financing, commercial mortgage financing, online small business loans, and business lines of credit.

You can borrow between $ 10,000 and $ 5 million, depending on how much you qualify for. Repayment is based on a percentage of daily sales.

The requirements also aren’t too bad for seasoned businesses with high revenue. You need at least six months in business and $ 120,000 in annual gross sales. National Business Capital & Services also claims to work with all kinds of credit profiles and will most likely not run a credit check as long as you meet the requirements. In the instances where National Business Capital & Services does a credit check, it is a soft pull that will not hurt your credit score.

Additionally, you don’t need to put down collateral, especially for the lower amounts. You receive the funds in 1-3 business days after your application is approved.

You have to fill out an application to receive a personalized quote.

#4. National Funding – Best Merchant Cash Advance For Long-Term Financing

  • Great for small businesses
  • Rewards loyalty and on-time payments
  • Borrow between $ 5,000-$ 50,000
  • Credit score of at least 500

Try it today!

If you are looking for a long-term merchant cash advance partner for your small business, you can hardly do better than National funding. Their service is described as a working capital loan but is indistinguishable from a merchant cash advance. The company also offers equipment financing should you need to weigh your financing options.

National Funding rewards loyalty and customers who pay on time. For example, you can get an extension on your first capital loan as soon as you pay off 50% of the loan. Unlike most other MCAs, National Funding rewards rather than penalize you for repaying your loan early. You automatically get 7% off your total remaining balance if you repay the loan within the first 100 days.

You can borrow between $ 5000 – $ 500,000, which is a good range for most small to medium-sized businesses. Additionally, you qualify for better future loan rates if you keep your account in good standing by repaying on time or early.

Loan terms vary between one and five years. Again, you can qualify for more extended periods by keeping your account in good standing. You also don’t need collateral or a personal guarantee for funding below $ 250,000. However, you will be required to file a blanket lien over your business assets if you borrow more than $ 250,000.

To qualify, you will need at least three months’ worth of bank statements and a credit score of at least 500. Factor rates start from 1.17 per week, but you will have to sign up before accessing the actual rate. This design makes it difficult to price shop, and a rate calculator would have been handy. Still, you are not obligated to agree to the terms should you find the rate too high for your liking.

#5. Can Capital – Best Merchant Cash Advance For Bad Credit

  • Good for owners with poor credit
  • Borrow between $ 2,500 & $ 250,000
  • Payment schedule based on sales
  • Daily automatic ACH deductions

Try it today!

The main attraction for alternative funding is the accessibility of financing, particularly if you have poor credit. Can Capital has over 20 years of experience and has served more than 80,000 businesses with over $ 7 billion in funding.

You can access between $ 2500 and $ 250,000, which is a decent range, particularly for startups. The qualifications are also reasonably easy to meet and include at least six months in business and gross revenue of $ 150,000.

The kicker, and what makes Can Capital so attractive to business owners with poor credit, is that there is no minimum credit score required. The underwriting process heavily relies on your gross revenue, which works out well if you meet the $ 150,000+ threshold.

Furthermore, Can Capital can finance business owners with a history of personal or business bankruptcy, as long as it has been at least one year since you obtained a discharge.

You will need to pay an origination fee of $ 595 to process your merchant cash advance. Although the financer does not have a minimum credit score requirement, they may sometimes perform a hard credit pull. Can Capital may also file a blanket UCC lien on your business assets, particularly for significant advances.

Finally, your payment schedule is based on your credit and debit card sales. You set up daily automatic ACH deductions based on the agreed-upon factor rate.

#6. Stripe Capital – Best Merchant Cash Advance For High Volume Stripe Sales

  • Great for Stripe users
  • Takes % of daily sales as payment
  • Qualify for up to $ 25,000
  • Need 12 months of Stripe history

Try it today!

If you primarily use Stripe for your business, there is no need to set up a different business account or link your accounting software. Stripe Capital also has no minimum credit score requirements. The financer only considers your Stripe history when making a final verdict.

You can check your eligibility before you sign up for the advance. Simply enter the required information, and Stripe will let you know if you are eligible for an offer. Typically, Stripe will send you three offers to choose from, with the additional option of customizing your loan amount.

Strip Capital takes out a pre-agreed upon percentage of your daily sales until you clear the advance. The maximum loan term is 18 months, and you can qualify for up to $ 25 000. Your repayment rate depends on the amount advanced. There is also a standard loan fee of 10% of the loan amount.

You need at least 12 months history of using Stripe to qualify, and you can receive funding in as little as 24 hours after you are eligible.

#7. Reliant Funding – Best Merchant Cash Advance For Quick Funding

  • Fast funding
  • Good for emergencies
  • Revenue of at least $ 100,000 needed
  • Finance up to $ 250,000

Try it today!

If you need cash for an emergency, Reliant Funding offers same-day funding if you qualify for an advance. The three-step application process is quick and easy, and you will get a final verdict within hours of applying. The longest you will typically have to wait for funding is the next day.

In addition to merchant cash advances, Reliant Funding offers additional services, including lines of credit, equipment financing, and short-term business loans.

Reliant Funding does not have a minimum credit score requirement. This financer focuses more on your sales track record. You will need to have been in business for at least a year and have annual revenue of at least $ 100,000. Reliant Funding is also flexible and may agree to advance funds if you have been in business for six months but have higher-than-average monthly revenue.

The maximum financing amount is $ 250,000 with a 12-month maximum term. Like your typical merchant cash advance, Reliant Funding takes out a percentage of your daily sales until you clear the advance.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know the factor rate until you apply for the advance. They offer customized repayment terms based on their assessment of your finances and the amount you require.

If you have good standing, you can renew your funding after paying off 50% of your advance. You can choose to pay off the funds in one of two ways: Either pay a fixed percentage of your credit card revenue or ACH debits from your checking account.

#8. Main Street Finance Group – Best Merchant Cash Advance For Consolidating MCAs

  • Large MCA for preexisting advances
  • Merchant cash advances
  • Healthcare cash advances
  • Great for consolidation

Try it today!

It is notoriously easy to get into a debt cycle with merchant cash advances. Although we don’t advocate for stacking debt, sometimes, this is the only recourse when faced with chronic cash flow problems.

An easier way than stacking loans is to consolidate your advances with one lender, and Main Street Financing Group fits the bill. The lender offers a large MCA to cover your preexisting advances so you can focus on paying off a single debt. While you can expect the factor rate to be higher than applying for a new advance, it is still cheaper than the total cost of repaying many different cash advances. You will need to apply for debt consolidation to get your personalized repayment rate.

Main Street Finance Group also offers other services, including merchant cash advance, healthcare cash advance, equipment financing, credit lines, and collateral loans.

How Merchant Cash Advance Works

A merchant cash advance is unlike a traditional business loan. Essentially, the lender offers you lump-sum cash upfront in exchange for a percentage of your future sales.

The lender takes a pre-agreed upon percentage of your daily or weekly credit card sales until the total amount is repaid. This repayment structure means that you don’t technically have a set repayment term, although lenders typically impose a maximum repayment term. Payments are automated and generally made on a daily or weekly basis.

Rather than a standard interest rate, you instead get a factor rate, which determines the exact amount you pay back. You multiply the factor rate by the cash advance amount to find the total amount to pay back. For example, if you borrow $ 100,000 at a factor rate of 1.25, the total repayment will be $ 125,000 ($ 100,000 x 1.25).

Essentially, the more sales you make, the more money you pay back each day or week. The reverse is also true. Also, the lender will typically calculate an estimated repayment period based on your sales history.

Some of the criteria that lenders use to determine your factor rate include average monthly revenue, how long you have been in business, seasonality of the company, and revenue consistency.

Another term to be familiar with is the holdback rate. This is different from your factor rate. While the factor rate relates to the total amount you pay back, the holdback rate refers to the day-to-day payments you make towards your advance.

The holdback is expressed as a percentage and is the amount of money taken out of each day’s or week’s transactions. For example, if you get a holdback rate of 10 percent and you make credit card sales worth $ 8000, you will be paying back $ 800 on this day. If you make sales worth $ 5000 tomorrow, your lender automatically takes $ 500, and so on.

How to Find The Best Merchant Cash Advance Service

Merchant cash advance services have often been accused of being predatory. Since merchant cash advances aren’t technically loans, these companies are not subject to state usury laws.

On a more positive note, stiff competition means that the factor rates have improved over time. Still, there are a few factors that you need to keep in mind when shopping for a merchant cash advance service. We used these same criteria when picking contenders for our best merchant cash advance review.

Rates & Fees

Generally speaking, merchant cash advances are more expensive than traditional loans and other financing options, so you really want to pay attention to the rates and fees.

Watch out for the factor rate. This rate ranges between 1.14 and 1.5. Remember, the higher your factor rate, the more money you have to pay back.

Most merchant cash advance services charge a holdback rate of between 10 and 20 percent. Choose a figure that you can live with. There might also be additional fees such as an origination fee or closing fee, so ensure that you understand everything you have to pay before you agree to the terms.

Cash Advance Term

This type of financing doesn’t have a set repayment period since how quickly you pay depends on your sales. Some lenders don’t have a set deadline to clear the advance. They simply continue to take a percentage of your sales for as long as it takes to clear the amount you owe.

Others, however, have set deadlines. You may incur additional fees by taking longer than the stipulated repayment time. This time can vary between four and 18 months. Make sure you know if there is a hard deadline before you agree to the financing.

As a general rule, consider your worst-case scenario before taking the advance. Many borrowers overshoot their sales projections when applying for funding, which can be a problem if you experience slow sales and a looming repayment deadline.

Repayment Structure

Most merchant cash advance repayments are daily, although a few vendors accept weekly payments. These are automatic credit card payments, so you may have to switch to a different card terminal provider that supports your financer.

ACH withdrawals may also be an option. Typical ACH repayments work with a fixed amount, where the lender takes the agreed figure every day or every week regardless of your sales.

Some ACH repayments also work with the variable repayment, where you are paying back a percentage of your sales. Make sure you clarify this with the cash advance service before you sign the contract.

Also, make sure that you are not getting penalized for paying early. In some cases, your APR may rise if you pay back the loan faster than expected.

Eligibility Requirements

For the most part, merchant cash advances are more accessible than traditional loans. Most lenders require a business bank account with a history of at least six months of transactions. Others may link with your accounting software, eliminating the need to file paperwork.

Other requirements may include:

  • Minimum credit score – usually between 500 and 600
  • Driver’s license
  • Personal guarantee
  • Certain number of monthly or annual sales or credit card transactions
  • Business ID
  • Recent tax returns

These requirements are not always mandatory. For example, some lenders do not check your credit score, especially if you have a high volume of transactions. Others may even work with you if you have filed for personal or business bankruptcy in the past.

However, merchant cash advances extended to high-risk clients tend to attract a high factor rate.

Minimum & Maximum Cash Advance

Finally, assess your business needs and figure out how much you need. A minimum cash advance can be between $ 1000 and $ 5000, while the maximum amount can be as high as $ 5 million, depending on the lender.

Also, check how long it takes to get approved and how long it takes for the money to hit your account. Many of these lenders process applications within hours or may take up to a few days. Similarly, it can take as little as one day or as long as five business days to receive the funds you qualify for.

Summary

The best advice you can get regarding merchant cash advances is to price shop. Watch out specifically for the factor rate and holdback rate to determine whether you are getting a good deal. If you have a good credit score and a long history of high-volume credit card transactions, you may qualify for traditional business loans, which will be much cheaper to pay back. Otherwise, merchant cash advances make more sense when you are in a bind and are not eligible for conventional loans.

Moreover, a merchant cash advance is more of a quick fix than a long-term solution to your businesses’ cash flow challenges. You will still need to solve the underlying issues if you hope to remain in business for a long time.

Use this guide to help you find the best merchant cash advance service for you and your business’s needs.

Quick Sprout

Best Business Plan Software

Many entrepreneurs can attest to having a hard time getting started writing their business plan. Once underway, you have to consider your target market, identify financial projections and cash flow, and sort through seemingly endless mounds of data.

Moreover, not everyone is born with the gift of writing. Keeping your business plan interesting and concise can prove to be a challenge.

Business plan software can help you overcome these challenges and more. With the software, you can easily and quickly create a professional business plan even if you have never written one before.

The Top 6 Best Business Plan Software

  1. Enloop – Best Free Business Plan Software
  2. LivePlan – Best Business Plan Software For Startups
  3. GoSmallBiz – Best Business Plan Software For Business Consulting
  4. BizPlan – Best Business Plan Software For Raising Capital
  5. Business Sorter – Best Business Plan Software For Simple Business Plan
  6. PlanGuru – Best Business Plan Software For Financial Reporting & Forecasting

So which is the best business plan software? Check out our reviews to find out!

#1. Enloop – Best Free Business Plan Software

  • Get it for free
  • Very feature rich
  • Analyzes 16 financial ratios
  • Generate bank-ready forecasts

Get it today!

If you are looking to create a one-time business plan, Enloop is the resource for you. The free version is incredibly feature-rich, and you don’t even have to enter your credit card details. The free version is good for seven days, with enough time to put together a solid business plan.

With the free version, you can do up to three business plans. The software also analyzes 16 critical financial ratios based on your specific industry. Furthermore, the software automatically generates bank-ready financial forecasts for the next 36 months.

Additionally, you can add colored charts, tables, and images to augment the automatically generated text for each section.

Other features include:

  • 100+ currency formats and symbols
  • Real-time performance score
  • Synced data and text
  • Pass / Fail report
  • Text, tables, and images formatting

Essentially, you are getting Enloop’s entire premium Performance plan for free. The only difference is that you can’t collaborate with team members using the free version. The Performance plan, which costs $ 39.95 per month (you can save 60% with an annual subscription), lets you collaborate with up to 5 team members.

If the features sound good, but you need more business plans and a more extended subscription, you can go right ahead and get the Performance Plan. Alternatively, the Detailed pan costs $ 19.95 per month and gives you all of the features mentioned above. The only difference is you get three financial ratios analyzed and two-person collaboration.

We cannot think of a better free business plan software for a one-time, professional business plan.

#2. LivePlan – Best Business Plan Software For Startups

  • Good for beginners
  • 500+ business plan templates
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Starts at $ 20/month

Get it today!

If you are just getting your feet wet as an entrepreneur, chances are you will need a lot of hand-holding. First off, the software lets you create a one-page summary. The executive summary is surprisingly detailed and includes expected sales activity and target market in addition to a mission statement and value proposition.

LivePlan has a step-by-step approach that walks you through the entire business plan from beginning to end. All you need to do is enter the correct information when prompted before moving to the next section. You can also customize the order for filling out the business plan in case of missing data.

LivePlan also offers 500+ business plan templates, so you won’t have a problem finding one for your industry. You can also configure most fields and even itemize some sections by individual or job category. The software also provides multiple example texts for each section that you can copy-paste or use for inspiration.

LivePlan prompts you to enter crucial financial data for financial forecasting, so you don’t miss anything. The software integrates with QuickBooks and Xero to quickly import your data, or you can opt to use the program’s drag-and-drop feature. Then, the software calculates and outputs financial projections for up to five years. Additionally, you can automatically create monthly or annual budgets based on your data.

Finally, LivePlan puts all your financial data in easily digestible graphs and charts.

Additional features include:

  • Real-time performance tracking
  • Create multiple plans
  • Collaboration
  • Milestones
  • Tutorials
  • Export your plan
  • SBA-approved form
  • Compare your plan against real businesses

Rather than tiered plans with different features, you get all the features in a single plan. However, you can choose how to pay, whether monthly, every six months, or annually.

LivePlan also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee in case you are not happy with the software.

#3. GoSmallBiz – Best Business Plan Software For Business Consulting

  • Hands-on consulting
  • Connect with business attorneys
  • Free attorney services
  • Starts at $ 39/month

Get it today!

While business plan software like LivePlan takes you through the process step-by-step, you are mainly on your own. GoSmallBiz offers real, qualified consultants to answer your questions every step of the way. The consultants guarantee an answer in two days, and you can ask as many questions as you like.

Moreover, GoSmallBiz will also link you with a network of business attorneys at 40 percent off their standard rate. Some attorney services, such as initial consultation and document review, are free.

GoSmallBiz’s business plan software is comprehensive. The solution includes industry-specific templates, financial statements and projections, and a step-by-step wizard. Furthermore, this software provides you with a business roadmap, including targeted advice and insight and a comprehensive business assessment based on your data.

Additional features include:

  • Business documents library
  • HR document builder
  • Website analysis
  • Digital marketing dashboard
  • Customer relationship management
  • Corporate minutes writer
  • Business courses

You have everything you need to start a small business from scratch right here with one service. You get all these features and more with a single plan costing $ 39 per month. It’s expensive, but hardly surprising given the features and support you get with this software provider.

#4. BizPlan – Best Business Plan Software For Raising Capital

  • Great for startups
  • Integrations with Fundable and Launchrock
  • 500+ business plan templates
  • Automated financial reports

Get it today!

BizPlan has raised over $ 500 million for startups. This software lets you create a professional business plan and also gives you access to potential funding.

BizPlan partners with Fundable and Launchrock so you can share your business plan with potential investors on these platforms. Alternatively, you can share a link to your business plan directly with investors of your choice.

The business plan creator is robust and sports all the features you would want with this kind of software. Just like LivePlan, this software takes you through the business plan process step-by-step. The software also has 500+ templates, impressive visuals, and a progress tracker.

BizPlan also automatically generates financial reports based on your data, including income statements, balance sheets, team salary forecasts, and break-even analysis.

Additional features include:

  • Access to expert advice
  • Access to lauchrock.com and fundable.com
  • Masterclasses with 600+ videos
  • Advice and interviews
  • Online courses

You get access to the full list of features with one plan. You can choose how to pay. The annual plan costs $ 20.75 per month, while the monthly billing is $ 29. You can also select a one-time payment of $ 349 for lifetime access to the software.

#5. Business Sorter – Best Business Plan Software For Simple Business Plan

  • Simple, efficient software
  • Speedy plan creation
  • Assign tasks to team
  • Starts at $ 10/month for 3 users

Get it today!

Putting together a business plan can be time-consuming, even with the extra help of business plan software. For business owners not interested in complex financial projections and steep learning curves, Business Sorter is an appealing option.

This software is basic, simple, and efficient. You are present with 273 cards to help you sort out your priorities from the get-go. You can choose only the business objectives that you would like to focus on. The cards cover the main areas, including finance, goods and services, sales, marketing, brand, operations, and people.

Next, arrange the steps for each area of your business plan. Business Sorter then creates a business plan template that you only need to fill in with the relevant information.

Additionally, you can assign sections of the business plan to team members via email. You can also invite people to only view or view and edit the plan as you go along. Business Sorter provides tips and prompts as you go along to streamline the process further. You can also add notes to your business plan so you don’t lose track of your ideas.

This software is very visual, and you can create your business plan in as little as one or two hours.

Each plan includes all features. You select your plan based on the number of users. Business Sorter pricing is as follows:

  • Enterprise – Custom pricing for unlimited users
  • Large Team – $ 80 per month for 30 users
  • Medium Team – $ 30 per month for ten users
  • Small Team – $ 10 per month for three users

Business Sorter also has a 14-day free trial, and you can save 33% by selecting annual billing.

#6. PlanGuru – Best Business Plan Software For Financial Reporting & Forecasting

  • Great for reporting and forecasting
  • Integrates w/ Excel & Quickbooks
  • 20 forecasting methods
  • Steep learning curve

Get it today!

If your business plan is heavy on data, you want a tool that will put everything together concisely. PlanGuru is a business plan creating tool with a heavy focus on budgeting, forecasting, and reporting.

PlanGuru integrates with Microsoft Excel and QuickBooks so you can easily import your financial data. The software has an integrated cash flow statement, balance sheet, and income statement to cover all your bases. You can also choose from more than 20 different forecasting methods, including turn-key methods and intelligent forecasting.

You can also build a rolling forecast by importing historical data. The software lets you compare actual vs. budget reports for every month, so you always have a clear idea of where you stand.

PlanGuru can have a steep learning curve, but the service provides plenty of videos to help you through the process. You also get prompts and suggestions as you go along.

This software competes with some of the best budgeting software out there. You can forecast monthly cash flow from multiple departments, automatically create a cash flow statement, and track the business’s growth rate.

Additional features include:

  • Scenario analysis
  • Export to Excel, Word, and PDF
  • Create custom business drivers
  • Unlimited number of analysis
  • Business valuation tool
  • Automatically solved cash flow statement
  • Financial ratios
  • Notes payable and credit tools
  • Payroll utility
  • Consolidate an unlimited number of projections
  • More

You can choose from two different plans, the PlanGuru App and PlanGuru Desktop. The latter option installs on your Windows computer, while PlanGuru App is a cloud-based service that you can access anywhere.

  • PlanGuru App – $ 39 per month or $ 899 per year
  • PlanGuru Desktop – $ 99 per month or $ 899 per year

PlanGuru offers a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you are not happy with the software.

How To Find The Best Business Plan Software For You

Not all business plan software is created equal. You might have noticed that we haven’t ranked the software from best to worst. Instead, we have picked the best software for different categories. Comparing these tools is often like comparing oranges to apples since they are built with different users and applications in mind.

Having said that, below are the most important criteria we used when creating our top six best business plan software reviews.

Business Plan Templates

The whole idea behind using business plan software is you don’t have to create one from scratch. Surprisingly, some software does not come with ready-to-use templates. These types of software focus heavily on other areas like data.

Mercifully, most of this software comes with hundreds of industry-specific templates. You may want to dig a little to make sure that you get templates for your specific industry.

Step-By-Step Wizard

Putting together a business plan is hard enough without using frustrating software with a steep learning curve. Ideally, you should get right to preparing your business plan.

Many business plan software come with a step-by-step wizard. The software breaks down the business plan into manageable sections. Simply fill out each section in its turn until you are finished.

A step-by-step procedure isn’t only easy to use but ensures that you do not miss any crucial information. Some software offers suggestions, prompts, and examples to make the entire process easier.

Additionally, some business plan software automatically generates text that you can edit to your liking.

Also, make sure that the software you choose has in-depth video tutorials. This is especially true if you are not well versed in accounting and finance. Some tools are designed with CPAs in mind, and inputting different fields and using the software can be difficult. Video tutorials offer guidance in case you get stuck.

Financial Projections

If you are looking for funding, your business plan will be rich in data. Potential investors want to know how much money they will make, when, and how. You want business plan software that captures all crucial data like profits, sales, cash flows, and ROI.

Most software comes with basic financial projections for up to five years, but it’s prudent to confirm. Typical offerings include automated forecasting for cash flow, expenses, revenue, loss and profit, monthly or annual budget, and sales.

More sophisticated software allows you to compare your projections to the actual data once you are up and running. Others will compare your projections to industry standards and give you a pass or fail report.

Consider also integrations. Manually inputting data can be tedious and error-prone. Check if the business plan software integrates with Microsoft Excel or your preferred accounting software.

Finally, keep in mind that you have to present all this data somehow. Choose business plan software that offers visual representations, including images, charts, and graphs.

Collaborations

If your business plan is a team effort, you want a way to bring multiple team members to the fold. Most business plan software allows you to add members. You can allow members only to view the business plan or edit the document.

Some options also allow you to give access to only some parts of the business plan if you don’t want to reveal sensitive financial data.

Summary

If nothing else, business plan software can be a time saver. Some tools offer advanced financial analytics, in-depth projections, and even connect you to potential investors.

The crucial bit is deciding which features are most important to you. From here, you can choose which software fits your needs based on your assessment of its features. Also, many of these tools offer a free trial. Take advantage of the free trial to see the software in action before you commit your money.

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Best Dispatch Software

Using dispatch software is the difference between hammering a nail with a dish sponge or using a sledgehammer. Throwing out cluttered dispatch paperwork for software you can update with drag-and-drop tools to create schedules, decrease downtime, and increase your revenue is the best decision to make if you’re in the field service business.

But how do you find the right software for your type of business? How do you know you’re getting all the features you need?

I created this guide to answer all your dispatch software questions so you can find the best one for your business and start building a daily management workflow that keeps you and everyone you dispatch working more efficiently.

The Top 6 Best Dispatch Software

  1. Service Titan – Best for job costing
  2. Samsara – Best for GPS fleet management
  3. mHelpDesk – Best all-in-one dispatch management
  4. FieldEdge — Best for HVAC dispatching and management
  5. Service Fusion – Best for tracking and managing service calls
  6. Scheduling Suite – Best for free scheduling and appointment booking

Read on to learn the best features of each dispatch system and how their prices breakdown to make sure you choose the optimal management tool for your operations.

#1 – ServiceTitan — Best For Job Costing

  • Categorize costs with labels
  • Easy communication with techs
  • Streamlined costing dashboard
  • Customized pricing

Try it today!

Service Titan is a top-rated field service platform with more than 100,000 users. With the number of dispatchers using the software, you can bet one of the things they love most is ServiceTitan’s job costing tool.

It doesn’t matter if you work in service, construction, or maintenance, their robust job costing feature makes it easy to estimate what each field job will cost and if it’s a good idea to greenlight it.

With ServiceTitan, you can easily keep in touch with the foreman on any job site, the person in charge of inventory, or your technicians to ensure you’re capturing the cost of materials and equipment.

Cash flow, an integral part of field service work, is easily managed and streamlined on their job costing dashboard, so you aren’t stuck with budgeting blindspots on project summaries. This enables you to stay clear on project progress, timing, and expenses all in one place.

Tools like project labels, the ability to categorize costs by any criteria you’d like, and the ability to sum up the cost of every aspect of a project to see a profit estimate can be invaluable in the field.

ServiceTitan’s abilities don’t stop at job costing. You can seamlessly take care of call bookings, contracts, payroll, reports, scheduling, and property data too. They easily integrate with Quickbooks for added financial features that can complement your job costing efforts.

To learn more about their prices, you can input a few details about your business to get a free price quote or request a free demo.

#2 – Samsara — Best For GPS Fleet Management

  • Custom monitoring for your fleet
  • Dashcam & sensor connectivity
  • Powerful mobile app
  • Deep, real-time vehicle insights

Sign up today!

More than 20,000 customers worldwide use Samsara to handle their fleets effectively. They offer a unified dispatch system that keeps your workflow intact and ensures each technician’s safety with plenty of vehicle data tracking.

With Samsara’s dashboard, you get an overview of your entire fleet in real-time. Once you click on a specific unit, you can learn everything from the vehicle’s engine check light, fuel rate per mile, whether the engine is running, and real-time tracking that allows you to see each vehicle’s navigation on a map as it’s being driven.

If you’re a dispatcher in the food industry and manage a fleet of refrigerated vehicles, Samsara’s software can get as detailed as monitoring and reporting on the vehicle’s temperature at any given time. Dispatch software tools like these make Samsara one of the top platforms in the industry for accurate and cost-effective fleet management at scale.

Samsara also offers fleet Wi-Fi connectivity, dash camera functionality, wireless sensors for accurate equipment monitoring, and a robust Android or IOS compatible mobile app. These features help technicians stay connected and ensure quality service regardless of location.

To get started with Samsara, answer a series of questions about your fleet management needs so they can send a personalized quote to your preferred email.

#3 – mHelpDesk – Best All-In-One Dispatch Management

  • End-to-end management
  • Built-in lead manager
  • GPS integration with Google Maps
  • Get quote in less than 15 mins

Get it today!

mHelpDesk is the top choice for an all-in-one dispatch system that ensures you’re getting more done on the field in less time. It’s no surprise that it has been awarded the most trusted field automation software since 2007.

mHelpDesk’s end-to-end management helps you with everything from job booking, creating estimates and accurate quotes, and even increasing leads through their built-in lead management marketplace.

A drag-and-drop calendar ensures you’re quick about reassigning jobs and sending out timely texts and email notifications for efficient communication. The GPS tracker integrates with Google Maps to easily monitor and track your team on each job.

mHelpDesk emphasizes efficiency by letting you customize every step of your workflow with automation and mirroring capabilities. Job management is made easy with custom forms and recurring jobs you set up once and automate.

Their all-in-one platform also offers inventory management by allowing you to configure multiple locations, setting low inventory alerts, and assigning inventory managers. mHelpDesk truly has it all for multifaceted field service businesses that want to cover all their bases.

To get a quote in less than 15 minutes, call to get in touch with one of their product specialists. Or you can request a free demo.

#4 – FieldEdge — Best For HVAC Dispatching and Management

  • Tailormade for HVAC
  • Integrates with QuickBoooks
  • Easy scheduling
  • Try a free demo

Get it today!

FieldEdge is an indispensable tool for an HVAC business to thrive and manage its dispatching effectively. Specifically designed for HVAC technicians, the software allows technicians in the field to upsell customers on the spot with their sales enablement tools.

Their scheduling and dispatching platform makes it easy to assign technicians to any number of jobs based on location or skill set. You don’t have to deal with confusing calendar configuration when all you need to do is drag and drop to create schedules and deploy technicians on time.

FieldEdge’s integration with Quickbooks allows you to update financials on both systems, so you’re never left in the dark about job costs and billing updates.

Their mobile app lets your technicians attach files and images, provide easy updates on work orders, add notes and recommendations, and create custom forms. Access to these tools makes sure you consistently meet customer expectations with more personalized HVAC services on the spot.

To learn more about how FieldEdge works, you can use the interactive video on their site to see the dispatch board, dashboard, parts requests, Quickbook integration, and service agreement features. Or you can book a free demo once you give them your contact details.

#5 – Service Fusion – Best For Tracking Service Calls

  • Text or call customers
  • Create call queues
  • Unlimited users
  • Starts at $ 99/month

Get it today!

The Service Fusion operating system offers unique call tracker software to manage an influx of service calls as efficiently as possible.

With the addition of AI and the power of VoIP, the feature was built specifically for service contractors. As a service business, receiving a high volume of calls is not uncommon.

With their call tracking software, you can deal with new work orders quickly and seamlessly. Service Fusion marries the usefulness of a dashboard with the ability to create call queues, bring up customer work history and billing details, and even track call locations to link customers to jobs and send them estimates.

For instance, many customers prefer having text conversations with a service business before making any final decisions. With Service Fusion, you can advertise your number as a text or call number to ensure every customer interacts with you as comfortably as possible.

Along with plenty of field service management tools, GPS tracking, and Fusion Pay, their flat-rate payment processing system, Service Fusion is perfect for businesses that need to handle every aspect of their dispatching workflow in addition to high call volumes.

They boast some of the most affordable prices on the market for what they offer, broken down into three tiers. The Starter plan is $ 99 a month, Plus is $ 199 a month, and Pro is $ 349 a month.

Each tier offers the following features:

  • Unlimited users
  • Customer management
  • Estimates and jobs
  • Scheduling and dispatching
  • Quickbooks integration
  • Invoicing
  • Payment processing
  • Reporting
  • Text messaging alerts
  • Estimate options

Beyond that, tiers get more personalized with more features like job photo uploads, job costing, e-signing documents, and even GPS fleet tracking for additional fees per unit.

I recommend you visit the pricing page on their site for a detailed breakdown of each tier. Unlike other dispatch software, you don’t have to go through the trouble of reaching out to them for a quote.

#6 – Scheduling Suite – Best For Free Scheduling and Appointment Booking

  • Drag-and-drop calendar
  • Smart analytics
  • Easy appointment tracking
  • Starts free

Get it today!

Free is never a bad price! Especially when it comes with all the tools Scheduling Suite offers to make sure you’re appointment management and dispatching is top of the line.

They offer 100 MB of storage and allow you to keep two weeks of activity logs for reference. You can send professional estimates, organize a drag-and-drop calendar that makes sure you never miss an appointment, add custom fields to modify any forms, and even keep track of your parts and inventory storage.

Job life cycle tracking and smart analytics give you insight into your small business’s health so that you can make sound financial decisions. And, of course, you can also send email notifications, reminders, and invoices to your customers whenever you need.

If you’re ever in need of support, you can fill out a form on their site, email, or call them for more personalized assistance. With Scheduling Suite, you can start dispatching and managing all of your field service jobs for free in a matter of minutes.

How to Find The Best Dispatch Software For You

When you’re trying to manage field employees successfully, you want to approach scheduling and dispatching with an operating system that will ultimately increase productivity for everyone involved. While most dispatch software can take care of the basics like scheduling and customer support, there are a few key features you want to look for when choosing the best one for your business.

GPS Tracking

Real-time routing ensures you always know the location of each employee on the field. This ensures coordination of breaks, canceled or late appointments, rescheduling, and adjustments to ETAs.

If you’re a dispatcher managing both technicians and company service vehicles, then a sturdy GPS tracking system allowing you to track vehicle locations in real-time can be a huge time-saver for your business.

Some dispatch software also provides historical vehicle tracking if you need to reference it in the future. Some can go as far as tracking gas usage per vehicle, unauthorized usage, and even alerts dispatchers if a technician is speeding or being unsafe on the road.

Accounting Capabilities

While dispatch software helps you optimize the management of your technicians, some can fall short in the accounting and billing department. With third-party integrations, you can connect software like Quickbooks to ensure your numbers and estimates are accurate.

Other dispatch software isn’t as flexible and only lets you use the built-in accounting software, which can be basic depending on what you need it for. If integrated accounting is a big part of how you manage field service scheduling, you’ll want to find software with either the ability to integrate with third-party software or which has a built-in accounting system that goes beyond basic billing.

Automated Customer Notifications

In the field service business, keeping your customers happy means repeat business, better word of mouth, and business growth. But this can’t happen if you aren’t connecting with your customers in a way that’s convenient for them.

With service-based businesses, anything could happen in the process of getting one technician from point A to point B. Automated ETA notifications help you manage customer expectations if technicians run into trouble, need to stay at one location longer, or need to be replaced with a new technician. To manage customer relationships and expectations, look for software that enables you to easily communicate with them through instant text, automated emails, or phone calls.

Wrapping It All Up

What’s the best dispatch software for your business? That answer can change depending on the features your business needs and how large an operation you manage on a daily basis. To recap, here are our top five options:

Whether you’re a small business dispatching a few technicians a day or managing an enterprise fleet, you can definitely find the best solution for your business with this guide.

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