Entries Tagged as 'Firelace'

Starting to Freelance? Take Heed to Your Books

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If you’re starting your own business, one of the first and foremost things you have to do is your incorporation work. One of the second things on your to-do list? Accounting.

Believe it or not, regardless of how little you know about it to begin with, you have to choose your accounting software wisely. This is due to the fact that the ease of billing and getting paid is supremely important (unless you don’t want to be paid). Thus, if you’re considering going solo or doing anything on the side, my suggestion is to take a look at what sort of accounting software is out there for freelancers. Perhaps brush up on some of your terminology and read some guides on how to set up. It’s well worth your time and you’ll be better prepared to take on managing your business if you take care of this first.

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Eating your own dog food

There are many varieties of commercial dog foo...

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In the world of software development, there’s a term called “eating one’s own dog food” that should mean something to anyone that has ever had a product to sell. Basically, the meaning behind it is that one should always use their own product. There are not only many benefits to do so, but it also gives you multiple perspectives on where the product cycle should go and what kind of changes should be made.
In my own case, this definitely can be applied to Merchant’s Mirror. We not only use it for our own books, but I have paid accounts for other businesses where I do my accounting. This gives me something special that many of the other people that are actually selling their products do not have. It gives me the perspective of the customer. So I also understand the joys and frustrations coming from those of my clientele which allows me to connect on a totally different level.
The biggest achievement here is not the fact that you could perhaps fix bugs before the public finds them. If that’s your goal, then that’s not a very good one (although fixing bugs is actually a good thing). Your priority should be to figure out what your customer wants and in being both your consumer base and production team, you gain knowledge of why your customer operates in the certain way that they would and why they would want a feature that you could have deemed useless otherwise.
Finding this out is not only beneficial to all, but it builds a relationship that you can’t counter. Don’t forget the one major thing in the world of business. If you have the greatest product in the world, and no one to use it, then it might as well be a lousy product. That developer and customer relationship is crucial for any business to be successful.

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The power of Twitter in a business environment

twitter_logo_s.png I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong.
Well, not completely. But I did finally over the course of the a year or so, start back on Twitter even though I had thought it to be a complete waste of my time. And from a personal standpoint, I still can’t see myself doing this if it wasn’t for my business. But from a marketing and customer service standpoint, Twitter allows me to touch base with not only a new market, but it also allows me to respond a lot more quickly to my clients. Something that only email could have done before.
Am I sold as far as this being the only virtual network out there from a business perspective? Of course not. Friendfeed, and a whole slew of other social networks allow for a new medium to run merchant services from. But when you operate a SaaS such as Merchant’s Mirror, being virtually online at almost real-time is imperative to both sales and support.

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Merchant’s Mirror small business accounting

Those of you that know me on a personal level know that recently I’ve been working diligently on a startup with John Brown called Merchant’s Mirror. In planning and development it’s been over a year in the making and we’re happy to announce that on January 1st, we released it to the public. At $15.95USD per month, we provide a small business with everything necessary in accounting (and if you prepay a year, it’s $169.95USD per year!) at a fair price.
Creating invoices for customers and paying your vendors doesn’t have to be a difficult process, so why make it such? While only in our first release, we’re already looking into methods and ways to make it easier for the small business owner to take full advantage of doing their accounting the way they can understand it, not because they’re forced to do so.
There’s one thing that we stress and that’s the fact that we’re not only writing this for our clients, but with our clients. That means that every person that uses Merchant’s Mirror is in fact helping craft and shape the tool. Keeping track of your books shouldn’t take you all day nor should it confuse you. And as such, we’ll be striving to work with our customers on all things great and small to try to provide the best in SMB accounting.
And in case you haven’t seen the press… our interview with Fast Company’s Robert Scoble, our mention by Inc Magazine, and a mention by Dennis Howlett.
But let’s get back to the business at hand. Your small business accounting. Let’s be frank. When was the last time your accounting software provider actually wanted to help you make your life easier? Or actually cared that it would save you time, and money? The fact that it could be used by your accountant and yourself without a tremendous learning curve? These are all questions that we seek to answer… for you.
So give it a try.

ConvergeSouth 2008 and BlogHer Alternative

convergesouth2008.png It’s that time of year again. And Sue’s done a fantastic job at coordinating the event. Yet again. Kudos, Sue. As always, you’re awesome. I had thought I’d be more involved this year, but with Firelace launching our product, Merchant’s Mirror, during the same time, my time has been limited.
But in any case, October 16 and 17th are the dates for this year. Conference day is the 17th and the annual barbeque at Hoggards, and if you want to go to a dinner, then the speakers will be in on the 16th. Those that are signed up for the video tour will be doing that in the afternoon of the 16th. On the 18th there was supposed to be the BlogHer Road Show, but for whatever reason, they canceled because not enough people signed up, or resources or something. Personally, I’m just a little annoyed by the “month” out cancellation instead of giving enough notice since it threw the people that already had non-refundable tickets holding the ball. Sorry, but while I agree that conferences are planned by human beings, I personally found that it to be somewhat bad form.
Fortunately, a buddy of mine, Dave Slusher of Evil Genius Chronicles and Kelby Carr of Type A Mom have decided to make the best of it and setting up sessions and workshops on short notice and developing BlogHer Alternative in a month’s time.
Whomever said that bloggers aren’t a dynamic bunch, has another thing coming! Anyhow, I’m glad a bunch of bloggers got together and said… hey… we’re going to be there anyways. Dave, you know that you got me working if ya’ll need me. I’ll be there.

Small business accounting taken to the next level

MerchantMirror_horiz_4c.png Ever get confused with all of that accounting software? Feel overwhelmed? Believe me, I know exactly how you feel. And while it would be great to spend time learning the ins and outs of accounting, wouldn’t it be nice if it just made sense? Just like when you balance your checkbook?
The wait will be over soon. If you’ve been waiting for an accounting solution that is simple to use but has the complexity to fulfill your small business needs, sign up here. You won’t want to miss this.

Back on the grind with Debian

109px-Tux-G2.png Ever since GLUG (Greensboro Linux User Group) started back up for 2008, I’ve been starting to toy with Debian again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been running predominantly an Ubuntu workstation for some time now. But I haven’t really messed with kernels and such for a while.
In between my day job, and my current two business projects of Merchant’s Mirror and Five18, along with prepping for a network build out and grant proposals for my nonprofit (Phoenix Networks) my time has been severely limited.
But I broke out the tiny lil’ Sony Vaio I got as a present years ago and re-installed linux on it. First I tried fluxbuntu, but it just had too many issues that I didn’t care to deal with. So I went back to the old favorite of Debian. Things definitely have changed since I last seriously tweaked kernels and such. There have been a lot of new projects that have come and gone… heck, Gnomemeeting is apparently now called Ekiga. Who knew!
Apparently the computer is so old that the CMOS battery died. Don’t feel like fixing it, but maybe one day. I got most things running including my favorite fluxbox and all sorts of commandline goodies. hostap is still throwing back some issues, but I’ll have it hammered out when I get some time to look at it. It’s good to tinker in the wild world of linux.
All in all, it’s a great feeling. Have this little Celeron 333 purring again. And it’s pretty amusing when you’re booting up with a mere 128M ram. Maybe I’ll actually use this as a notebook for working on some database code eventually. In any case, it’s good hit the grease again.

Firelace stickers!

Lookie Lookie at what came in today. Just in time for ConvergeSouth. This was exciting since Firelace is taking a new direction since setting up shop last year and starting a supa-secret project. It should be interesting and exciting. Certain people in-the-know already know the type of project we are hoping to release by second quarter of 2007. So what are the stickers for? Brand promotion.

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