Monthly Archives: December 2010

Did you get a new Mac for Christmas?

OK, which Mac did ya get for Christmas? Laptop? Desktop? Maybe both? We can dream, can’t we on getting both.

Which ever one you got, you have some things to do before you start using it. Things to plan for that will help you in the long run. Here is a list of sites to visit to work things out:

Enjoy you’re new Mac, you’ll never look back.

15+ Mac Accounting, Finance, and Money applications

While you start your business with a product or server, startup entrepreneurs need to track their business with accounting software, here’s a list of what I have found, from the simplest to the more detailed, from free to hundreds of dollars.

  1. iWork Numbers (iWork $79, checkbook template is free): There’s a template in iWork Numbers that if you have a bank that can download QFX file format, you can drag and drop the file into this template and customize to your hearts content.
  2. Checkbook ($15 Single, $25 Family): A simple checkbook program.
  3. Checkbook Pro ($25 Single, $40 Family): Expanded version of Checkbook above.
  4. SEE Finance ($30): A very capable version to the original Quicken. I much prefer this application for my needs. The export transactions to QIF, CSV, and TXF files is a great boon for dealing with accountants and CPAs.
  5. Koku ($32): A tagged based checkbook that manages personal finance.
  6. Easy Money ($20): Simple checkbook.
  7. Quicken Essentials for Mac 2010 ($50): The best feature: categories and tags. Worst feature: More basic from previous versions. Use to be Ca-Ching, but merged with IntuitA software review and another software review.
  8. Express Accounts Easy Accounting Software: Mac and Windows, this small business accounting package does a lot.
  9. iCash ($50): A business accounting software. It is a rather extensive money manager with plenty of details that might be beyond most financial needs, but as a low cost application with plenty of details, iCash does well. Not very well done on the eye candy compared with other apps, but lots to work with. Runs on both Windows and Mac and file format compatitable.
  10. Liquid Ledger ($50+): Personal finance program that can be used for a small business.
  11. MoneyDance ($50): Uses categories and subcategories and includes tags. Runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Has a free iPhone app. Not as nice as other eye candy financial apps.
  12. MoneyWorks Gold (Version: Cashbook $99, Express $279, Gold $599, Datacentre $1999): Your accountant gets a free version.
  13. iBank: Personal finance and small business. Multiple subcategories. It has an iPhone version.
  14. Moneywell ($49 Single, $79 Family). It has an iPhone version of the software.
  15. Books ($250): A more advanced accounting, job costing, contact management application.
  16. MYOB Accountedge ($299): Has free mobile version. They send a free copy to your accountant!
  17. Xero ($20/month+): Online small business accounting. Windows, Mac, and mobile devices.

The one aspect that I want most in an accounting package is not only split transactions (where amounts are split into different categories), but I look for subcategories of the categories, i.e. if I have an Auto expense category, I want to have Auto:Gas or Auto:Insurance categories as well.

Reviews of Mac accounting software

There are also more choices available at Apple’s web site for Third Party software downloads.

My last Junior Achievement class for this school year

I had my last Junior Achievement class last Thursday at the school I was volunteering my time. It’s an alternative school so things were a little different than a normal Sept – June school classes. A normal nine month school class was compressed into two months worth of work because they had class four days a week versus a normal once a week class. So we had to cut out some of the stuff normally discussed as there was not enough time to go over it.

Here are some of the comments from the kids (translated somewhat into adultese):

  • “I liked the class because the material was relevant to what were were doing.” They learned information and skills that made nearly immediate sense to them, “Not like some of my other classes that I have.”
  • “I liked the class because I got to participate on a team.”
  • “I did not like the class at first because we didn’t know what were were doing (the class had a beginning business test score of “0,” but ended up with a “78” overall), but once we learned what were were doing we really moved ahead and got the job done.”
  • “I did not like working with some of the people in my class.” This was sort of universal among the kids. Same with adults.
  • “I did not like paying taxes, especially the RTD tax.” I gave a short civics lesson here that the RTD (Regional Transportation District) tax was voted on by those that had voted. If he wanted to change the tax, he could get his friends and neighbors to vote against it next time. Or even now, to work to make future changes.
  • “I did not like the class toward the end because our customers were mad at us.” The kids had to end the course and the class and their selling their food and drink to “close down” their business. Their customers wanted them to keep selling them their food and drink. The kids were also afraid to talk about their “failures” as it made them look bad, but this is a leadership issue. If leaders use fear to motivate then messengers will not tell the truth. I mentioned that telling the truth means that good decisions can be made now to make changes. But there’s a happy ending from this experience below.
  • “We could not GIVE some of our failed products away.” They saw that some products (in this case Emergen-C) not only did not sell but they could not give it away. Not all products sell well, that’s the nature of business.
  • “I’m able to use the stuff I learned in this class out in the real world now, not later.” This was the best comment I heard from all of the kids. He got it!

Here’s some of the results of the kids actions and attitudes:

  • Since the school does not have a cafeteria, they do have a Cafe that sells food and drink to the kids. They wrote a report to the person responsible for the Cafe what their market research found what the kids wanted to buy.
  • Some of the kids wanted to be able to “make up my grades” with selling more stock and product.
  • Kids that were VP of their company wanted to get better grades because of the amount of work they did compared with others.
  • Their marketing material was taken down from class hallways because it was “tagged” by other school kids. They thought it was a waste of resources and a loss of potential revenue.
  • They spent a lot of time trying to find out why there was a discrepancy in their inventory accounting. Some blamed each other, but then found out that it was just stolen or bad inventory accounting.
  • They wanted to take some of the profit beyond their break-even point and buy a secure cart to keep their product in because it was being stolen. Too little time to buy one, but good thinking on their part.

Here are my observations.

  1. Get our Government and School Boards out of the classroom. Make schools accountable to their community more, directly with their community and less to school boards. By this I mean school boards need to get out of the business of overseeing the curriculum and let great businesses have direct access to influencing school curriculum to improve it. Why? We’ll all spend 1/3 or more of our lives working for others or for ourselves as entrepreneurs, so if kids do not come out of school with business basics, schools have failed to prepare the kids for life. Whether or not kids want jobs or to work for themselves, they need to be prepared for both perspectives because even learning how a business works if they don’t choose to start their own makes them a better employee. The most critical part is now the businesses compete for the kids and the kids compete for jobs. There is a direct response to what the kids have learned and the businesses see how much they can improve the business bottom line.
  2. Schools should have Project Based classes. After seeing what a rural teacher Emily Pilloton’s speech on TED.com was able to get her kids to do, I was inspired to see what I could do. I found that Jefferson County in Colorado had Enterprise Zones that receive tax credits, etc. for development. The enterprise zone map they provide gives us a view that the school I was at and another school was within five minutes of these zones could possibly use student-lead projects to use their schooling to help out those economically depressed areas. Local projects cause the kids to connect with their community, provides a sense of accomplishment (I helped build that), and they see all of the many factors and issues involved with completing a project.
  3. Business involvement creates well being among schools. With businesses involved by providing donated materials and labor costs (i.e. summer jobs for the kids to complete the project they started during the school year) it helps create a sense of community for all involved. The donated materials and labor costs can be split among many companies and they get marketing rights as sponsors.
  4. Kids get valuable life long learned skills. But most of all, the kids get skills they’ll use the rest of the lives and a sense of accomplishment and a “I did that” pointing to what they did in their community. But then, it’s all about getting the kids to be productive with their lives, right?

What comments do you have with Junior Achievement and helping kids?

Apple abandons their Xserve, what’s up with that?

Apple has recently announced that they’re discontinuing their XServe hardware for businesses on Jan 31st, 2011 and letting them move to either a Mac Pro or a Mac Mini running Snow Leopard Server. Some people in the tech industry just cannot connect the dots.

Apple is probably moving toward a Amazon S3 server approach with their own version in their new server farm in NC. Why? Because there are a number of reasons for businesses to move toward this.

  • Businesses don’t have to worry about hardware issues, i.e. where to host the server.
  • Offsite location so the server is protected from most natural disasters (tornados are the largest issue, but not likely).
  • Scalable as needs come up.
  • Location not an issue for sys admins, developers, etc.

And if you’re looking for a server for your business, you can figure a lot more reason why.

So let’s see if my connecting the dots shows up correctly by next year.

Your thoughts?