It has been over a year since I added any posts to this blog and that is far to long.  Hoever, I am proud to announce today that…

today on numia.biz,  every small business can now shuck the shackles of only using existing pre-determined invoices as provided in pre-packaged software like Intuit’s Quickbooks, Peachtree or MYOB when it comes to creating and sending invoices.

Using cutting edge HTML5 software like PHP, Javascript and AJAX, numia.biz has made a website that allows any small business with a browser to import their own logo and design their own look & feel of an invoice for free.  After the invoice has been created, it can be printed from any computer or emailed directly to the customer also for free.

In addition, small businesses can share the invoices they create with others or use public template invoices others have created.  This creates the first online social web or community for working business to succeed and not just another place to hang out or try to make connections by giving the user power, numia.biz’s accounting engine is making life easier, more fun and empowering entrepreneur’s around the USA and globe to hire people and grow.

Now get back out there, tell your friends and sell!

I am proud to announce today that numia.biz has created a direct link into eBay.
Now all small business people who use eBay as a sales outlet can download their transactions right into numia.biz.

No more re-typing anything, wasting time or making keyboard errors.

imagine that. Cost… FREE.

– Nicholas Gerber
President

The Economist Magazine just came out with a good overview of cloud computing and how it is the next phase of computing.
See it here.

Basically cloud computing is where you use a browser (the thing you are reading this blog on) to actually do productive (or not) work on vs. old fashioned packaged software. It is also called Software As A Service or SAAS. numia.biz, our free online small business accounting software is in the vangaudr whe it come to this next phase of computing.

I passed by a computer store today that also sells smart mobile phones. There was a line outside of about 20 people trying to get in to buy the latest version of the phone. Each potential customer was attended on hand and foot by a salesperson. Only when one salesperson was free would another potential customer be let inside.

Obviously people demanded their latest mobile smart phone but the company was smart in limiting supply by only allowing a few people in the stores at a time. This had the effect of seeming to create even more demand. Every person who walked by the store could not help but wonder what was going on. It brought attention to the store & the product. Very smart way of marketing, by creating artificial demand.

Unfortunately, I think in the long run it will hurt the company. Making people along the street go around the line caused ill will among those of us just walking by. In addition, later this year, at least three other firms will enter the smart mobile phone space. Pushing down price and expanding into the mass market. This firm will see margins compress and its market share decline dramatically. They have gone through cycles like this before. Developing new & innovative products which they can sell at high prices with a lot of support. And then, over time, once they have braved the new trail, seeing competitors steal their thunder. Not a bad business model but also not sustainable over time. What happens if they cannot think of the next greatest thing? Then they will be stuck competing in a very competitive commodity business with high fixed costs.

Milton Friedman recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.” To which Milton replied: “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”

Government is notorious for not being productive.  That’s not its job.  It is the job of the private sector, business people and capitalism.  When firms compete against each other, they find ways gain short term advantages though lower costs, higher quality, innovation and productivity.  This in turn frees up capital to be used for other purposes.  Capitalism is a fluxating dynamic growth engine.  Government is not.  When it comes to businesses, Government is a static wealth redistribution monopoly.

Milton Friedman knew how to create real wealth-producing jobs. Once, when he visited India in the early 1960s, John Kenneth Galbraith, the U.S. ambassador, welcomed him by only half-joking, “I can think of no place where your free-market ideas can do less harm than in India.” Talk about irony. India has adopted much of the Friedman free-market model and has moved nearly 200 million people out of destitution and despair.

Recently Rose Friedman (Milton’s wife and co-author) was asked what she thought about the attacks on her husband and capitalism. She was mostly dismayed at how far off-course our country has veered under President Obama. “Is this the death of Milton’s ideas?”. “Oh no,” she replied, “But it is the death of common sense.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Financial Sevices Committee during his testimony that the Administration’s reform plan includes four broad components:

  1. Addressing Systematic Risk
  2. Protecting Consumers and investors
  3. Eliminating Gaps in Regulatory Structure
  4. Fostering International Coordination

All good goals but when did our Government become one gigantic consumer protection agency?  What about strengthing our capital markets, streamlining red tape, encouraging small business growth & innovation?  When you are going to grow youself out of a recession and begin hiring again, you first need to grow.

We have a one time event for a non-profit coming up in a week that has been scheduled for a year now. The project leader never made a timeline of important tasks that needed to get done. They never trained people on the different software packages or delegated responsibility of what had to get done. And now, one week before the event, a major life changing event (and not the good kind) has affected the project leader.

What kind of backup plan does your organization have?
Are you a hand’s on leader who maybe should not be?

I know of a small one man firm with a great product, excellent customer service and fantastic prices. He has customers lined up outside his door and around the corner every day.
He would like to grow and know he can easily except…

Except no one can do the little things he does every day just like he does and teaching them and managing others would take away his productive time. And so, he will always be a small one man firm.

Learn what the key points of your business are and learn to delegate everything else. Figure out how to replicate yourself and then clone your success many times over just like a franchise restaurant (McDonalds) does.

One of my businesses is a mutual fund. We try & beat the stock market every day, what we sell is trust. The horse & buggy makers thought they were in the carriage market and not the transportation market. They got beaten by cars. Likewise, rail roads forgot they were in the transportation business and got beaten by trucks. Now they call themselves logistics firms and know they compete & cooperate with trucks & FedEx.

This story comes from The Knack by Norm Brodsky.
There once was guy named Fred who owned a fish company that supplied a number of restaurants.
“You want to know why I’m successful?” asked Fred.
“Because you sell to a lot of restaurants?”
“No,” said Fred, “because I know what business I’m in.”
“You’re in the fish business.”
“Not exactly,” said Fred, “I’m really in the banking business. I make loans to restaurants in the form of fish. You see, a restaurant is a seasonal business. Like any good banker, I know when my customers are short of cash, and I know when they’re busy. I carry them during the slow periods and collect after they’ve had a big week. They pay me not only for the fish but for the credit I extend to them. I build the cost of the credit into my price.”

You may not know what business you really are in at first. Fed Ex Kinkos, a copy chain, started out selling copies, pens, paper, posters and many other items at first before they figured out they not just sold copies but piece of mind to harried people needing to make copies.

numia.biz

“I think that one of the reasons Silicon Valley creates so many entrepreneurs is, you work next to someone who has started a company and you say to yourself. “That guy has been successful and he’s a dumb shit.”

 –Nolan Bushnell, Founder Atari, Chuck E. Cheese and many many others

I have many competitors in the online small business accounting world.  The big gorilla is still in packaged software, Quickbooks, Peachtree & MYOB.  Luckily many people don’t like paying high prices or dealing with updates, operating systems, backup or networking so the online space and cloud computing is growing.  Two competitors to numia.biz I can recommend here are:

                       Clarity Accounting              LessAccounting

They both charge about $10 or more a month (vs. our FREE one) but I like their look, ease of use, intuitive feel and features which numia.biz has yet to incorporate (but will sooner or later).  So go ahead, explore us all and pick the one that’s best for you.  Just remember to use one that allows you to export your data in case you want to switch to another.  Try not to get locked into proprietary formats.

Lastly, check out Compete.com.  This site allows you to see how many unique visitors your web site is getting vs. your competition!

More visitors = more customers.

Site                                                    March 2009 Average Daily Visitors

  • numia.biz                                                                  286
  • Clarity Accounting                                                   6,731
  • LessAccounting                                                      17,001
  • NetSuite*                                                              1,200,846

As you can see, numia.biz has some catching up to do.  Anyone know SEO?

* NetSuite provides online accounting for larger firms.

You should read books.  Many books from different fields to get a broad scope of what others are seeing, doing & thinking.  Then apply their lessons to your business.  Some of the smartest people read all the time.  It is an exercise in continuous learning.  I once heard a story about William G. McGowan, one of the people who helped lead MCI and the breakup of the old AT&T.  When he flew, he would carry a stack of books with him to read.  So, even toughs of us who have made it continue to read.

Two great books which I just finished and highly recommend are:
“Copy This” by Paul Orfalea, the person who founded & grew Kinko’s and
Leading For Growth” by Ray Davis, the CEO & President of Umpqua Bank.

I am sure I will be sharing many of their stories here, in the meantime… read!

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