Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Summit Bank Business Loan Review, Plus Top Alternatives

Summit Bank is an Oregon-based independent community bank with locations in Eugene, Bend, and Portland. Founded in 2004, Summit Bank’s stated mission is “to be the best community bank for businesses and professionals,” a mission they pursue in part through their business lending and business banking products.  

For qualified business owners, a Summit Bank business loan may well be the best and most affordable loan option available. Unfortunately, however, Summit Bank offers very little transparency about their business loans, so you’ll need to visit a branch to learn more about their loan programs—and with only three physical locations, that obviously disqualifies the vast majority of American business owners from securing a Summit Bank business loan.

Here, we’ll tell you what we do know about Summit Bank business loans, but we’ll also tell you about three more accessible loan options if you find that you’re not a fit for a loan from this Northwestern bank.    

An Overview of Summit Bank Business Loans

As we mentioned, other than listing the types of loans they offer, Summit Bank doesn’t provide any details about their loans, like their rates, terms, amounts, or eligibility requirements. This isn’t uncommon for banks—especially very small institutions, like Summit Bank—which often encourage interested parties to visit a branch to discuss the application process in person. Also, Summit Bank says they design custom banking solutions tailored to the needs and financial capacity of individual business owners (as is also the case with many bank lenders) so there’s really no one-size-fits-all Summit Bank business loan that they can advertise on their website.

With that disclaimer in mind, we can tell you a little more about how each type of Summit Bank business loan works, and which projects each is best suited for. That way, if you do decide to visit your local Summit Bank branch, you’ll better understand which of their loan products would work best for your needs.

Equipment Loans

Equipment financing programs lend business owners the cash they need to purchase the expensive tools of their trade, both big (like heavy machinery) and small (like office furniture).

Along with other application materials, you’ll submit a quote for your equipment to your lender. If they approve your loan application, your lender will front you up to 100% of the equipment’s cost, at a term that generally lasts as long as the expected life of the equipment.

Because the equipment itself acts as the loan collateral, lenders are mainly concerned about the equipment’s value and relatively less concerned about traditional qualification standards, like your credit score and time in business—which makes equipment loans among the most accessible types of small business loans.

Commercial Lines of Credit

Along with business credit cards, lines of credit are probably the most flexible form of business financing available.

Much like a credit card without the plastic and perks, a business line of credit is a revolving, renewable pool of funds from which you can draw whatever amount you need (up to your credit limit), at any time you need it. Unlike a term loan, you’ll only need to pay interest on the funds you actually pull from your line of credit. That makes lines of credit excellent reserve funds to keep in case of unforeseen emergencies or opportunities, or to smooth out gaps in your cash flow.

Lines of credit from banks typically range anywhere from $5,000 to $1 million or more. Generally, banks most heavily weigh an applicant’s credit score, revenue, collateral, and projected financials when considering an applicant’s qualification for a line of credit.    

Commercial Real Estate and Construction Loans

Summit Bank also offers business loans for financing commercial real estate-related projects, like constructing a new facility, purchasing a building or land, or developing a property for business purposes. Once again, Summit Bank doesn’t provide information about their commercial real estate or construction loans’ rates, terms, or eligibility requirements, so you’ll need to contact the bank directly to learn more. Typically, though, commercial real estate loans carry long repayment periods—think anywhere between five and 25 years, depending on the size of the loan—and interest rates may be fixed or variable.

Standby Letters of Credit

Finally, Summit Bank can provide business owners with standby letters of credit, which are documents guaranteeing that the bank will deliver payment to the appropriate party in case their client fails to do so. SLOCs are typically used in international trade transactions, which present several potential risks and complications that may result in either the exporter or the importer failing to hold up their end of the bargain—which an SLOC protects against.       

summit bank business loan

3 Alternatives to a Summit Bank Business Loan

Although Summit Bank doesn’t specify their eligibility requirements, as a brick-and-mortar institution it’s likely that they’ll only approve the applicants that pose the least-possible risk: Typically, that means businesses that have good credit, experience in their industry, sufficient collateral (if necessary for the particular loan they’re applying for), a demonstrated ability to repay additional debt, and that are cash-flow positive.  

If your business can’t yet qualify for a Summit Bank business loan, consider working with an online lender, which typically requires much less stringent qualification standards than traditional lending institutions do. As these lenders leverage the power of technology, their application processes and time-to-funding windows tend to be streamlined, easy, and incredibly fast, too.

Here are just three of your best options:   

Equipment Loan From Balboa Capital

If you’re seeking an even more accessible equipment loan, consider applying for the equipment leasing program through Balboa Capital.

Keep in mind that Balboa Capital offers an equipment lease, rather than a loan, which means that the lender will retain the title to your equipment. You’ll pay for the use of that equipment for as long as your remittance schedule lasts, and at the end of your lease, you’ll have the option to buy the equipment for a low price.

In order to be considered for a Balboa Capital equipment lease, this online lender doesn’t require additional collateral or hefty financial documentation. And although they will consider your credit score during the underwriting process, they don’t set a required minimum credit score for eligibility. Like most online platforms, Balboa Capital boasts an incredibly fast turnaround time—if you qualify, you may receive a credit decision and access to your loan funds in as little as a single day.

Balboa Capital can provide qualified business owners with up to $500,000, and you’ll repay your equipment lease in monthly installments at a term lasting between 24 and 72 months.

Business Line of Credit From Kabbage

Business owners seeking lines of credit with quick turnaround times should look into Kabbage, one of the most trusted and transparent lenders in the online business lending marketplace. Kabbage can provide business owners with lines of credit between $1,000 and $250,000, with repayment terms lasting six, 12, or 18 months, and fees range between 1.25% and 10%. Kabbage’s fee schedules are somewhat unusual, but you can find a detailed explanation right on their website.

To qualify for a Kabbage line of credit of less than $100,000, at a minimum you’ll need $50,000 in annual revenue (or $4,200 per month), a 550 credit score, and a year in business. As you’d expect, qualifying for a larger line of credit requires more demanding minimum qualifications: $1 million in annual revenue (or $125,000 per month), a 680 personal credit score, and three years in business.

If you do qualify for a Kabbage loan, your loan may be funded in a single day. Drawing down on your loan is simple, too—you can either use the Kabbage dashboard, app, or Kabbage Card, which is essentially a credit card tied directly to your Kabbage line of credit funds.

Term Loan From Fundation

If you need lump-sum financing to fund larger projects—but you’re not yet qualified for a commercial real estate or construction loan from Summit Bank, or another traditional lending institution—look into a medium-term loan from an online lender, like Fundation. This premium online lender can provide qualified business owners with loans between $20,000 and $300,000, at terms lasting between one and four years. Those are among the highest loan amounts and longest repayment periods you’ll find from a trustworthy online lender, which can give you the funds and time you need to finance expensive projects like expansion and capital improvements.

If you’re interested in a Fundation loan under $200,000, at a minimum you’ll need $100,000 in annual revenue, a 660 credit score, and a year in business. Those seeking Fundation loans greater than $200,000 will need at least $750,000 in annual revenue, a 720 credit score, and five years in business.

While Fundation may take as long as 30 days to review your application and deliver your loan funds, on average it takes this online lender three days to fund approved applicants—which is likely a much faster funding window than you’d experience with a brick-and-mortar bank.  

Is a Summit Bank Business Loan Right for You?

A Summit Bank business loan may be an excellent, low-cost financing option if your business is based near one of Summit Bank’s three locations, though you’ll need to visit your local branch to understand their business financing eligibility requirements.  

If you don’t yet qualify for a Summit Bank business loan, or if you don’t live near one of their branches, then you’re certainly not out of options. Consider working with a loan specialist who can help you evaluate your needs and financials, pinpoint your financing options—both from online lenders and brick-and-mortar institutions—and then help you package and submit your loan application.

The post Summit Bank Business Loan Review, Plus Top Alternatives appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/summit-bank-business-loan

PrestaShop Review: Pricing, User Reviews, Alternatives

If you’re starting an ecommerce business, you want a software application that will allow you to set up your store and manage day-to-day operations—at a reasonable price, of course. With a variety of ecommerce platforms on the market, all at different price points, you may be wondering if there are any free options. That’s where open source platforms, like PrestaShop, come in. Unlike many other ecommerce solutions, open source platforms are free to download and allow you to modify the code of the software to fit your specific needs.

The PrestaShop open source platform was created in 2005 and has grown substantially since. Now one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in Europe, PrestaShop is known for their free software, customizability, and international reach. Is PrestaShop the right fit for your small business? In this PrestaShop review, we’ll help you answer that question by taking a look at PrestaShop’s features, pricing, customer reviews, and comparing their platform to industry competitors.

PrestaShop: The Basics

PrestaShop is a European-based ecommerce software platform. Up until 2018, PrestaShop only offered their free open source ecommerce solution, which as we mentioned above, allows you to download and install the software and customize it for your particular business. In late 2018, however, PrestaShop launched a fully hosted, ready-to-use version of their platform called PrestaShop Ready.

Whereas PrestaShop’s original offering is open source and free to download, PrestaShop Ready runs on a subscription basis. Just as with other platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, everything you need to run your store is part of PrestaShop Ready—essentially, PrestaShop Ready removes the development and technical resources that are needed for their open source platform.

Additionally, with PrestaShop Ready, web hosting is included as part of the platform and your store is hosted through Google Cloud. For the open source version of PrestaShop, you need to find your own web hosting or work with PrestaShop’s hosting partner, 1&1 IONOS.

Both of the PrestaShop ecommerce offerings, however, give you the fundamental ability to set up and launch your online store. You can customize your website, add products, manage your orders, process payments, market your store, and support your customers.

PrestaShop Features

Although PrestaShop has two different ecommerce platform options, the features included with each are mostly the same. According to their website, PrestaShop has over 600 features, fulfilling your full range of ecommerce business needs—store management to shipping to marketing, and more.

Store Creation

PrestaShop allows you to create your store’s website and customize it to your business. If you’re using PrestaShop open source, you can either use and customize the default template or buy and download others from PrestaShop Addons, their official add-on marketplace. PrestaShop Ready, on the other hand, requires that you choose one of the handful of customizable templates included within the platform. With PrestaShop Ready, you also have access to a blog for your store.

For both options, however, you can organize your products, configure internal search, adjust the navigation, and dictate your checkout process, including one page checkout. In addition, you can optimize your store for international business. PrestaShop includes translation for over 25 different languages and allows you to use a multi-language product sheet to adapt to different markets. You can also set the currencies you accept and automate the exchange rate movements.

Payment Processing

One of the biggest differences between PrestaShop open source and PrestaShop Ready are the payment processing options. PrestaShop Ready allows you to accept payments four ways: Stripe, PayPal, bank transfers, and checks. Using Stripe or PayPal as your processor, you can accept credit card payments.

For PrestaShop open source, on the other hand, you have significantly more options. You can work with one of the PrestaShop Partners (free or paid), which include payment processors like PayPal, Braintree, Amazon Pay, WorldPay, Authorize.Net, and more. You also have the option to pay for and download one of the other 250+ payment add-ons from the PrestaShop marketplace.

Product and Customer Management

With the PrestaShop ecommerce platform, you can list an unlimited number of products on your site. You can give features and values to your products, create packs, sell customizable goods, as well as add and sell digital products. You can also create both product categories and subcategories, track your inventory, and get a dashboard overview of your manufacturers and suppliers.

For your customers, you can allow them to create an account and track their orders. Through your PrestaShop interface, you can create a customer information database, as well as run customer service activities.

Order Management and Shipping

You can create and edit orders from your PrestaShop admin, customize a workflow for orders and returns, print shipping slips, as well as automate email templates for different order status. PrestaShop also allows you to configure shipping with your chosen carrier, choose delivery zones, determine the pricing for different shipping methods, and calculate taxes based on location. Users of PrestaShop Ready receive a special offer, 100 euros free ($112.16 as of April 2019), from PrestaShop Partner Upela, which includes local and international shipping carriers.

using prestashop to run ecommerce business

Marketing and Reporting

PrestaShop includes integrated marketing and reporting capabilities. You can create special offers, highlight your products, and increase engagement through abandoned cart, recently viewed, and back-in-stock product emails. PrestaShop lets you manage your store’s SEO, connect to social media pages, and run digital advertising on your site. The reporting functionality allows you to track marketing, sales, customer, and product performance—as well as provides an overview of your main data.


Another one of the main differences between PrestaShop Ready and PrestaShop open source is the access to add-ons. You can only download and buy add-ons from the PrestaShop marketplace if you are using the open source version of PrestaShop. This marketplace offers over 6,000 modules, themes, and services—ranging from site navigation tools to social media integrations to shipping services. These add-ons are not currently available to PrestaShop Ready users.

PrestaShop Support

The last real difference in terms of features for PrestaShop Ready vs. PrestaShop open source is the support for their users. A PrestaShop Ready subscription includes 7/7 support (seven hours a day, seven days a week) from PrestaShop customer support, as well as tips and tutorials within the platform. Dedicated support is not included with the open source option, however, PrestaShop does offer different support plans for open source at additional costs.

For both platforms, you also have access to useful resources like the PrestaShop forum, community, documentation, FAQs, as well as YouTube tutorials.

PrestaShop Pricing

After going through the full range of features that PrestaShop offers, you may find yourself asking, “Is PrestaShop really free?” This is a valid question, and the answer, unfortunately, requires more than a simple “yes” or “no.”

To explain, PrestaShop’s traditional ecommerce platform offering is open source, so yes, it’s free to download (they also offer a free demo). However, although the actual open source software is free to download, this doesn’t mean that it will be totally free to run your ecommerce business through this platform.

If you use PrestaShop’s open source software, you’ll have to find your own web hosting, which comes at a cost. Using PrestaShop’s hosting partner, for example, will cost you anywhere from $8 per month to $14 per month, depending on which plan you choose. Other hosting providers may have different rates. Additionally, there will be the cost for payment processing, which will vary depending on the processor. Stripe, as an example, charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Some of the payment add-ons are free to download with PrestaShop, like PayPal, for example. But others, like Square, require you to pay ($169.99) to download the module itself.

Furthermore, if you want to extend the functionality of your store to more than what is included in PrestaShop, you’ll have to pay for themes and modules from the marketplace to allow you to do that. Plus, the more customization you want, the more you’ll need to work with a developer to help you build your site. This is an added cost (and potentially a big one) people often forget about when it comes to open source ecommerce platforms. Unless you have technical knowledge, platforms like PrestaShop open source typically require help from a developer to set up, and sometimes manage, your store.

prestashop add-ons marketplaceModules in the PrestaShop marketplace; photo: PrestaShop

Taking all of this into consideration then, PrestaShop open source is free to download; however, the cost to run your ecommerce business through it can vary depending on your business’ needs.

PrestaShop Ready, on the other hand, runs on a subscription basis. You can purchase a plan on a month-to-month basis, or annually. If you choose the annual plan, you will receive a 20% discount. As of April 2019, PrestaShop Ready only has one plan option, the Start plan—although according to the PrestaShop website, Pro and Premium are coming soon. The Start plan costs 24.90 euros per month ($27.93 as of April 2019), or 19.90 euros per month ($22.32 as of April 2019) if you do the annual plan.

PrestaShop Ready has a few additional costs besides the monthly fee as well. There is a 1.5% platform fee that kicks in after 3,000 euros ($3,364.51 as of April 2019) turnover. Furthermore, just like with PrestaShop open source there is a cost for payment processing. Unlike with the open source platform, however, you don’t have to pay for the actual module because Stripe and PayPal are included (these are your only two options though). As we mentioned above, Stripe charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

PayPal works with PrestaShop Ready at a special rate, 0.25 euros ($0.28 as of April 2019) per transaction and 1.40% of the amount cashed for six months, starting from the date of your choice. Two cost benefits, however, you receive with this platform are 100 euros ($112.16 as of April 2019) in free shipping with Upela and 75 euros ($84.12 as of April 2019) free for every 25 euros ($28.04 as of April 2019) spent with Google Adwords. PrestaShop Ready also offers a free 15-day trial of their platform, no commitment or credit card required.

Luckily, unlike with the open source platform, web hosting, themes, and user support are all included in the subscription price. Remember, however, that PrestaShop Ready does not give you the ability to download (free or paid) add-ons from the marketplace; you must work with the integrations already included in the platform.

Pros of PrestaShop

Now that we’ve broken down the features and pricing of PrestaShop, let’s take a look at some of the most beneficial aspects of the platform. Here are a few:


There’s no doubt that with 600+ features, PrestaShop gives you a lot to work with when building and running your ecommerce store. From unlimited products to one page checkout to abandoned cart emails, you certainly can’t say you’re missing out if you use PrestaShop. For PrestaShop open source in particular, you have an impressive amount of capabilities, considering the software is free to download.

Additionally, if there is an ability you’re missing when you use PrestaShop open source, you can explore the 6,000 add-ons in their marketplace to increase your functionality. Also, if you choose to capitalize on the flexibility of open source, you can truly customize the software to your business, in ways you can’t with a typical ecommerce platform. If you use PrestaShop Ready, on the other hand, you still have full access to the platform’s features, plus the added bonus of web hosting, included themes, user support, and those cost deals we mentioned earlier.


Even though PrestaShop was first and foremost an open source platform, by all accounts it seems to be user-friendly and pretty simple to use (as you can see from the free demo). The platform has incredible functionality, and yet, the dashboard is still clean and intuitive. Although you may require some developer assistance if you’re using open source, PrestaShop certainly appeals to beginner and advanced users alike, especially when compared to some other open source software like Magento.

prestashop free demo dashboardPrestaShop free demo dashboard; photo: PrestaShop

International Reach

Probably one of the most unique qualities about PrestaShop is the international reach their platform offers. Based in Europe, PrestaShop has ensured that their users’ businesses can function across the continent—and beyond. In fact, out of their almost 250,000 live sites, over 30% of those sites are U.S. based. Since you can present your store in several different languages and currencies, as well as adjust your checkout for varying taxes and shipping, PrestaShop is equipped to facilitate businesses all over the world.

What PrestaShop Customer Reviews Say

PrestaShop product reviews on the internet are generally positive, with users discussing much of what we mentioned above. Customers say that the platform is flexible, handles many different capabilities, and can be a good fit for users of varying experience. Users of the open source platform comment on the large PrestaShop developer base and community, saying that these resources are extremely helpful. Many users, in fact, compare PrestaShop to other open source offerings, like OpenCart and Magento, and say that PrestaShop is better for cost and functionality. It’s worth noting, however, that PrestaShop customer reviews as of April 2019 focus on the open source software and do not mention PrestaShop Ready.

Cons of PrestaShop

Although PrestaShop has some strong benefits, there are drawbacks to consider, as well. Here are a few cons to keep in mind:


In terms of PrestaShop open source, if you don’t already have technical knowledge, it’s always going to be more difficult to run your ecommerce business through an open source platform. Although PrestaShop includes much of what you’ll need already, you still have the challenge of downloading, installing it, and figuring out the technical aspects of the software. More than likely, you’ll need development help, which can certainly be a hassle (and expense) for many business owners.

Additionally, due to the nature of open source, developments in the software are constantly being released, which means the possibility of bugs, version conflicts, and no professional support from PrestaShop to help you through them. Not to mention, although the marketplace can give you access to helpful add-ons, you have to incorporate them into your platform yourself, and risk the possibility that they don’t integrate quite right with the software and cause software issues.


The free aspect of platforms like PrestaShop open source is appealing to many owners looking for the most efficient way to run their ecommerce business. However, although open source is free to download, as we’ve explained, there are numerous additional costs to consider. These costs are unpredictable and can vary—you may end up spending more on this “free” platform than you would with a subscription-based, full-service option.

In terms of PrestaShop Ready, on the other hand, you have more upfront costs for one service option. Although this may seem beneficial, especially considering the number of included features, the platform fee in combination with the payment gateway fees, could end up making PrestaShop Ready more expensive than it appears.

What PrestaShop Customer Reviews Say

Although most PrestaShop product reviews are positive, users do mention their problems with the platform as well. The biggest con that users seem to agree upon is the development issues of open source. These PrestaShop customer reviews say that the software can be buggy and there are glitches between versions and when adding modules from the marketplace. Another common complaint is the cost of some of the add-ons and the comment that PrestaShop is not really free. Again, it should be noted that these reviews all apply only to the open source version of PrestaShop and there aren’t currently reviews discussing PrestaShop Ready.

ecommerce business owner fulfilling orders with prestashop

PrestaShop Alternatives

Before deciding PrestaShop is the ecommerce platform for you, it’s worth exploring all of your options and taking a closer look at some of PrestaShop’s competitors. Here are two alternatives:


Shopify is one of the biggest players in the ecommerce industry, and for good reason. Shopify is known for its ease of use (beginner and beyond), customizability, and integration capabilities. Shopify, like PrestaShop Ready, is a fully hosted platform. Although Shopify has many of the same features as PrestaShop Ready, it also offers different plans and pricing based on your needs, app integration possibility, and does not have a platform fee (unless you use an alternate payment processor). Shopify is a worthy alternative to PrestaShop Ready and even to PrestaShop open source if you’re concerned about development resources and cost. One customer review for PrestaShop even says if you don’t want to learn the technical aspects, choose Shopify.


If you’re looking specifically for an open source ecommerce platform, the only one that truly compares to PrestaShop is Magento. Magento is actually one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world and is well-known for their open source offering. Magento has an impressive feature list and gives you the ability to extend your functionality, like PrestaShop, with add-ons from their marketplace. Although much of what Magento offers is quite similar to PrestaShop, Magento focuses more on their customizability, offering a wider range of add-ons for users. Additionally, Magento appeals to businesses who are larger or growing quickly and have unique needs. Admittedly, however, Magento seems to be more costly because of the development resources required for set up and maintenance of the platform. If you’re looking to take your business to the next level in terms of customization and have the development capabilities to do so, Magento is worth considering.

Is PrestaShop Right for My Business?

Ultimately, the right ecommerce platform for you depends on your business and specific needs. If you’re particularly interested in an open source platform, PrestaShop is definitely one of the best out there. With over 600 features included in a free, downloadable software, you already have impressive functionality that you don’t get with many other platforms. Additionally, if you’re looking to run your store internationally, PrestaShop is a great choice to facilitate that business.

Like with all open source platforms, however, keep in mind that there are added costs beyond the software itself. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a fully hosted platform, you might be better off going with a tried-and-true solution, like Shopify. Although PrestaShop Ready gives you access to a significant amount of features, other more established platforms give you similar functionalities at a similar price point, with the added bonus of plan options and integration capabilities. At the end of the day, if you’re considering either of PrestaShop’s offerings, you should take advantage of the free trial and free demo to help you reach a decision.

The post PrestaShop Review: Pricing, User Reviews, Alternatives appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/prestashop-review

How to Find the Right Small Business Tax Advisor for Your Business

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of small business ownership is dealing with taxes. Of everything involved in business accounting, taxes are not only the most difficult but also probably the most complex—and costly to your business if mistakes are made. For these reasons, many business owners work with a tax advisor. A small business tax advisor can take the hassle out of preparing and filing taxes, while also offering you financial advice and representing you in the case of an audit. If you think this type of person would greatly benefit your business, you’re not alone—but how do you find the right tax advisor for your business? There are a few things you need to know in order to find and hire a good business tax advisor: understand the types of tax advisors, what exactly they do, and what makes a good one.

What Is a Small Business Tax Advisor?

Before you can go about finding the right tax advisor for your business, you should know exactly what a tax advisor is. A business tax advisor is a certified professional who can help your business with your full range of tax-related needs. The role of a small business tax advisor, therefore, can include:

  • Record keeping and planning for tax purposes
  • Preparing business taxes
  • Filing business (and possibly personal) taxes
  • Maximizing business tax returns
  • Offering tax and other financial advice for businesses
  • Representing businesses in case of an audit

A business tax advisor is not someone you only work with during tax season, instead, it’s someone you consult with and utilize for your business tax purposes all year round.

Types of Business Tax Advisors

Technically, anyone can be a small business tax consultant—all they need is an IRS preparer tax identification number (PTIN). However, in order to ensure that your business and taxes are in the most capable hands, there are a few types of IRS-certified tax advisors you should know about. These kinds of tax advisors meet the additional skill, education, and expertise requirements set out by the IRS and therefore are the most reputable and are recommended to handle your business taxes—and even more importantly, they’re all authorized to represent you before the IRS:

  • Enrolled Agents (EA): An enrolled agent is a tax professional licensed by the IRS. These professionals have passed a three-part special exam to demonstrate their tax proficiency or have worked at the IRS for a minimum of five years.
  • Certified Public Accountants (CPAs): CPAs are accounting professionals who have passed the CPA Exam and comply with the CPA requirements. CPAs offer a range of services, including tax preparation and filing.
  • Attorneys: Attorneys are law professionals who have passed the bar exam and are licensed to practice by their respective state. Although all attorneys technically fall under this IRS requirement, business owners will want to work with an attorney who specializes in business taxes.

If you’re looking for a business tax advisor, you’ll want to find a professional that falls into one of these three categories. You’ll also want to look for a tax professional who has specific experience with business taxes, not just personal taxes. If possible, someone who has a familiarity with small businesses, startups, or your particular industry, will be even more beneficial.

small business tax advisor

How to Find a Small Business Tax Advisor

So, you’re looking for a business tax advisor that falls into one of those three categories, but how do you start the process? If you haven’t worked with a tax professional before, where do you look?

A good place to start is with your business accountant or bookkeeper. If you already work with a CPA for your other accounting needs, they might have the experience to also serve as your business tax advisor. Even if you don’t work with a CPA, your accountant might have colleagues or references in their network that have the experience you need. Similarly, referrals, in general, are a great way to find a small business tax advisor. Consult other business professionals you use and trust—or talk to other small business owners for references.

If you don’t use a referral, another good route to explore is to consult professional tax organizations to find certified business tax advisors near you. You can go to the Association of International Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) website to access a CPA directory or the National Association of Enrolled Agents to find an EA. Local bar associations can help you find tax attorneys in your area. As you go through this process, you’ll want to meet with several different people to find the tax advisor that will work best for you and your business.

How to Choose the Right Business Tax Advisor

Now that you know the basics about small business tax advisors and where you can start your search for one, let’s dive deeper into how to find the right one for your business. Since this person is going to be working with you year-round and handling some of your business’ most important financial information, you want to be confident about the person you choose. These questions can not only help you assesses your business tax needs, but also the business tax advisor themselves to determine if they’re a good fit for your business:

1. What role will the tax advisor play on my financial team?

Will your advisor interact with the other members of your team (attorney, financial planner etc.) to make sure everything in your financial plan is working smoothly? Will they have access to all of your business finance tools like your accounting or bookkeeping software?

2. How much experience does the tax advisor have delivering the kind of results you are looking for?

Ask the tax advisor to share some success stories from other clients they have worked with. Most tax advisors will be able to share stories, testimonials, or even references with you. Make sure you check them out.

Don’t be afraid to ask about specific strategies the advisor has used. You want the advisor to respond with answers like “we educated the client on which costs were deductible” or “we restructured this client’s business to take advantage of lower tax rates,” etc.

What you don’t want to hear is evidence that the advisor has used aggressive strategies that would cause red flags with the IRS, or strategies that are just plain illegal. Listen for words like planned, restructured, educated, and documented in the advisor’s answers—these are legitimate.

3. What experience does the tax advisor have with your issues?

Does the advisor have knowledge about your industry? Do they work with anyone inside your industry right now? Do they know about any trends or news that relate to your business? What can be done to either profit from or protect you against those trends?

You want to be working with an advisor who understands your business and specific issues concerning business taxes, like the small business tax rate. If you have to educate your tax professional about how your business routinely operates, they probably aren’t the right person for you. A tax professional should refer you to someone else if your business is not their specialty.

4. What does the advisor do for their clients year-round?

Business (and life) happens year-round, not just at tax time. You need to be able to have access to your tax advisor all year long so if a situation comes up and you need guidance, you can get advice before the transaction or event happens.

If your tax consultant only does taxes between January and April and takes the rest of the year off, that should be a red flag to you. You want somebody who lives and breathes the tax code and can apply it to your situation. You also want an advisor that will stay in contact with you during the year and alert you to any tax saving opportunities that may arise.

5. What level of responsibility will they take for your tax return?

Finally, you want an advisor that will stand behind their work. If problems come up with your tax return, your advisor should be able to address them. If you face an IRS audit, your advisor should be able to help you through the audit process.

Asking questions like these will give you, as the business owner, the opportunity to finesse your tax advisor needs, as well as assess the individual tax advisor themselves. Like we previously mentioned, don’t be afraid to meet with multiple tax professionals to weigh their skills, experience, and even personality—at the end of the day, it’s of the utmost importance that this person is right for your business and will be able to fulfill your tax needs.

small business tax advisor

The Final Word on Small Business Tax Advisors

If you’re in the market for a small business tax advisor, don’t wait until the business tax deadline is around the corner—start your search now. Keep in mind the kinds of professionals you’re looking for as you go through the search process and don’t be afraid to ask tax professionals about their qualifications, experience, and specific services. Ultimately, only you can decide on the right business tax advisor, but once you’ve found them, you’ll have the tax consulting and expertise (not to mention save yourself time and stress) that your business needs and that will certainly benefit you in the long run.

The post How to Find the Right Small Business Tax Advisor for Your Business appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/right-tax-advisor

Monday, April 22, 2019

The 8 Best Bookkeeping Apps for Small Business Owners

In the world of small business accounting, bookkeeping apps can change how you do business. As a small business, you don’t have a big accounting or bookkeeping department to balance your books and help with financial planning. This is where bookkeeping apps can help.

Bookkeeping apps can make you or your bookkeeper a lot more efficient by organizing and presenting your financial information in a way that’s accessible and easy to understand. This also makes it easier to plan for your business’s future and understand the impact of different financial decisions. There are several different bookkeeping apps designed for small business.

Here, we’ll cover the the eight best bookkeeping apps for small business owners. These apps have the potential to save you lots of time and can elevate your business to the next level.

The 8 Best Bookkeeping Apps for Small Business

Here are the eight best bookkeeping apps for small business:

1. QuickBooks Online: Best for Reporting

Out of all cloud-based bookkeeping apps, QuickBooks Online is one of the best overall. You can do all of the basics, such as tracking revenue and expenses, reconciling your accounts, and preparing financial statements. It takes the pain out of manual record keeping because you can simply connect QuickBooks to your bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial accounts.

Compared to other bookkeeping apps. QuickBooks Online also has the best reporting functionality, with over 50 pre-built reports and the ability to create custom reports. You can also schedule reports to run on a periodic basis and be emailed to other individuals on your team. Reports are important, because it is the ultimate output of your books. Reports are how you get the information you need, in order to determine how well your company is doing.

QuickBooks Online also has a great mobile app and a powerful ecosystem at apps.com that lets you complete a solution for just about any industry and any business model.

The video below highlights what you need to know about QuickBooks Online.

2. Wave: Best Free Bookkeeping App

Wave is a powerful bookkeeping app that also happens to be free at at the entry-level pricing tier. The free pricing plan actually comes packed with quite a few time-saving bookkeeping features. You can sync up an unlimited number of bank accounts and credit cards, and track income and expenses from various streams.

On the invoicing end, you can set up and send custom invoices with a choice of professional invoice templates. Capturing receipts is as easy as taking a picture with your mobile phone, and this feature works even when you’re offline. To accept online payments or add on payroll functions, there are extra fees.

Wave accounting bookkeeping app for small business

Photo credit: Waveapps.com

3. Bill.com: Best for Automating Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable

Bill.com is a bookkeeping app that will save you a ton of time and allow you to almost completely automate your accounts payable process. Accounts payable is one of many tasks that a bookkeeper does. Bill.com works with your existing accounting software, whether that is QuickBooks, Xero, Sage, or Oracle.

With Bill.com, every invoice that a vendor sends you, and eventually the payment that you make, syncs to your accounting software, so you only enter the data once. Vendors can send you a digital invoice to a secure ‘@bill.com’ email address, or you can drag and drop invoices into your Bill.com dashboard. Since Bill.com updates your accounting software for each transaction, transactions reconcile faster, and you have a better real-time view into your business’s expenses.

You can also use Bill.com to manage your accounts receivable. When you have it handling both sides, you also wind up with a powerful cash flow management tool. Bill.com ultimately lets you spend less time entering and paying bills, which is a big part of bookkeeping.

The video below highlights what you need to know about Bill.com.

4. QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Self-Employed is a basic bookkeeping app that supports one user (plus an optional login for an accountant or bookkeeper). This app gives you the ability to send and track invoices, track mileage, calculate your Schedule C deductions, and see quarterly estimated taxes. It also makes it easy to separate business from personal expenses, which can catch contractors and freelancers off guard and make it much more difficult to file small business taxes.

Although you can access QuickBooks Self-Employed on a desktop or laptop, their mobile app lets you do a lot as well. With one swipe, you can easily sort business from personal spending, import expenses from your bank account, and track expenses. You can even set up custom categories for expenses so you know what your business is spending the most money on.

QuickBooks Self-Employed Bookkeeping App for Small Businesses

Photo credit: QuickBooks.Intuit.com

5. Bench: Best for Full-Service Bookkeeping

Bench Accounting is a full-fledged bookkeeping service and app. Bench Accounting is a little different from the other apps on the list because a team of professional bookkeepers will do your bookkeeping for you. To get started, you link your bank accounts, credit cards, and financial accounts to Bench. Every month, your bookkeeping team, made up of one senior bookkeeper and two junior bookkeepers, reconcile your accounts, balance your books, and prepare financial statements.

At the end of the year, Bench will even provide some tax help. They offer a year-end financial package that makes it easy to file taxes. They also will talk with your accountant or tax preparer when it’s time to file, to work out any discrepancies.

Along with the personalized services of Bench comes a financial app that lets you track your income and expenses and review your financial statements on the go. It’s also easy to message your bookkeeping team from the app, and they will respond within one business day. Bench will save you a ton of time because they completely take bookkeeping off your plate.

Bench Accounting best bookkeeping apps for small businesses

Photo credit: Bench.co

6. Expensify: Best for Handling Expense Reports

The Expensify app makes it a snap—literally with your mobile device’s camera—to capture receipts. Then you can throw the physical receipts away and forget about them. Expensify’s SmartScan will figure out the payee, amount, and other critical info from the receipt. Then you can submit the receipts to be synced to QuickBooks Online, and, if necessary, reimbursed.

Since travel comes along naturally with expense reports, it makes sense that Expensify has an amazing travel concierge and trip planner as well. Just forward your itinerary to Expensify and it will track your trip for you. You’ll even get updates about your flights where applicable, and the concierge will tell you if you’re over-budget on travel.

Expensify has another use not many people think of. It has to do with the business expenses you charge on a personal credit card. Many small businesses co-mingle funds this way, which can be harmful from a financial and legal standpoint. With Expensify you can avoid that by linking up your personal card’s feed but submit only the business-related expenses to be synced to QuickBooks Online.

The video below highlights what you need to know about Expensify.

7. Finagraph: Best for Financial Planning

Finagraph gives you powerful financial information about your business that you can use to make predictions. This app essentially takes your QuickBooks Online data and explains it.

Finagraph is a powerful analytical tool that makes it easy to analyze the financial health of your company and then form a plan of action for how to improve it. Finagraph keeps a history of your “finagraphs” so that you can get comparative info and make sure you’re always improving.

The visual interface of Finagraph makes it a powerful tool for small business owners to use together with their accountant or CPA. You can download almost any component in PDF or an image format. Some modules are interactive, giving you a “Large View”—for example, a close-up look at working capital or accounts receivable.

The video below highlights what you need to know about Finagraph.

8. Hubdoc: Best for Document Storage

Hubdoc is a central way to organize all of a small business’s receipts and documents. You can automatically sync up your financial accounts with Hubdoc, forward invoices from your email, or upload paperwork. Once Hubdoc receives your docs, it will archive them and convert the data into digital-ready files. You can then configure any bills from any account to push to your favorite cloud accounting software, such as QuickBooks Online.

The video below highlights what you need to know about Hubdoc.

What to Look for in Small Business Bookkeeping Apps

There are several unavoidable accounting and bookkeeping tasks that businesses have to do on a regular basis. The bookkeeping apps listed above make it easier and faster to complete these tasks.

Here’s what to look for when shopping for a bookkeeping app:

  • Core Features – Most small businesses use bookkeeping apps for a combination of the following tasks: invoicing, reconciliation, tracking income and expenses, financial statement preparation, and forecasting. Optionally, you might want to add on forecasting or payroll processing.
  • Cost – You shouldn’t have to spend an arm and a leg for a good bookkeeping. Even QuickBooks Online, the gold standard in business bookkeeping, costs just $20 per month and offers a 30-day free trial. Wave is a free option for businesses on a tight budget.
  • User-Friendliness – The whole point of using bookkeeping apps is to free up your time and give you better insight into your business’s finances. There might be an initial learning curve, but it shouldn’t take more than a few weeks to get the hang of your bookkeeping software.
  • Number of Users – Think about whether you’ll be using this bookkeeping app just for yourself or whether you’ll need to share the info with a tax preparer, accountant, or business partner. If you need to share the information, make sure the app is set up for multiple logins and secure sharing of financial information.
  • Automation – A good bookkeeping app frees up your time by automating tasks. For example, instead of manually uploading information from a receipt, the app should be able to “read” and automatically fill in certain information such as the amount and date of the purchase.

As long as you keep these five tenets in mind, you should be able to find a bookkeeping app that’s perfect for your small business’s needs.

Best Bookkeeping Apps for Small Businesses: The Bottom Line

These eight bookkeeping apps for small businesses are designed to save you time and help you get a better handle on your finances. They’re all easy to use, reasonably priced, and have the powerful features that small business owners are looking for. With these bookkeeping apps, there’s no longer a need to manually track transactions, type information from receipts, or input income and expenses. Your newly organized financial information will help you make better business decisions, while giving you back more time to run your company.

The post The 8 Best Bookkeeping Apps for Small Business Owners appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/bookkeeping-apps/

Magento vs. Shopify: Which Is Right for Your Business?

When you’re starting an ecommerce business, choosing a platform to build and operate your store is one of the most important decisions you’re going to make. In researching the many options out there, you may see these names pop up again and again: Magento and Shopify. Although these are two of the most popular ecommerce platforms—each supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses—you may be unsure how to determine which one is right for you and your business’s specific needs.

Well, we’re here to help. We’ve previously reviewed both Shopify and Magento separately and discussed the pros and cons of each. Now, we’ll compare Magento vs. Shopify directly and break down how each measures up to the other. After looking at pricing, features, pros and cons, and user reviews, we’ll offer suggestions on which platform is right for what kind of business so that you’ll have a better idea of which ecommerce platform will work best for you.

Magento: The Basics

Magento operates a little differently than many other players in the industry. To explain, most ecommerce platforms function as software as a service or SaaS. This means that the software is accessible online and using it, you can create and manage your ecommerce store. With this kind of ecommerce software, your store is hosted through the platform and you have access to all of the functionality included through their interface.

Although not as prevalent, there are also open source ecommerce platforms. With an open source platform, you acquire your own web hosting, and then download and install the software yourself. In this situation, you’re doing more development work, building your store and its capabilities.

Keeping this distinction in mind, let’s discuss how this applies to Magento. Magneto is unique in that it offers both an all-inclusive and an open source platform option. Magento Commerce is the typical ecommerce offering—the platform is hosted on the cloud (part of the Adobe Commerce cloud) and everything you need to set up and run your store is included as part of your Magento Commerce subscription.

Magento Open Source, on the other hand, is an open source ecommerce platform. Magento Open Source is free to download, but, as we explained, requires you to obtain web hosting and install the software yourself. Despite this distinction between the two offerings, Magento, on the whole, gives you the ability to create your ecommerce website, add products, set up your shopping cart and shipping process, accept credit card payments, and customize additional elements for your specific needs. The exact features (which we’ll discuss in more detail later), however, that are included with Magento depends on which offering you choose.

Shopify: The Basics

Shopify is a fully hosted ecommerce platform that allows you to build and operate your store using their software. Generally, selling on Shopify is known as one of the easiest ways in the industry to run your ecommerce business as the platform is incredibly user-friendly. Beginners and beyond can develop their ecommerce store with Shopify.

With the Shopify platform, you can create your ecommerce website, as well as a blog. The platform gives you access to over 70 themes, a drag-and-drop builder, unlimited products, and a built-in mobile shopping cart. Shopify offers five different subscription plans, each at a specific price point and an increasing number of included features as the price increases.

Shopify offers their own payment gateway to process credit card payments, as well as the capability to utilize over 100 other different gateways. Additionally, Shopify POS, or point of sale system, allows you to accept payments in person as well as online. Shopify Shipping integrates directly with the Shopify platform and allows you to offer different shipping options. Furthermore, Shopify has a number of extended features that are helpful to setting up and running your store.

Magento vs: Shopify: Features

One of the most significant factors that plays a role in deciding which ecommerce platform is right for you is the features that the platform offers. Does the platform have the capabilities that your business needs? Now that we’ve gone through the basics of both Magento and Shopify, let’s dive a little deeper into their respective feature sets and explore some of the unique highlights of each.

Shopify Feature Highlights

One of the reasons that Shopify is so popular, in fact, is because of the breadth of features that are included in their platform. In fact, the included features are one of the factors that distinguish it from other similar software, like when comparing Shopify to BigCommerce, for example. Some of Shopify’s unique capabilities include:

  • Shopify Payments: Shopify has their own payment processor included with their platform; if you use Shopify Payments, there are no additional transaction fees.
  • Abandoned checkout recovery: Automatically send an email to users with a link to their abandoned card encouraging them to complete their purchase
  • Blogging platform: Not only do you have a store website, but also a blog to publish articles and encourage discussion from customers.
  • Automatic taxes: Shopify automatically handles country and state tax rates.
  • Mobile app: Shopify’s customizable mobile app lets you manage your orders, products, staff, and customers while you’re on the go.
  • Marketing: Shopify has advanced marketing capabilities like SEO optimization, loyalty programs, discounts, gift cards, social media integration, and more.
  • Shopify App Store: The Shopify App Store has over 2,500 apps (everything from dropshipping to email marketing) that you can download to extend the functionality of your store.
  • Customer support: Shopify offers their users 24/7 support, as well as access to their help center, discussion forums, and ecommerce university.

The exact features that are included with Shopify ultimately depends on your subscription plan, which you’ll see broken down in the photo below.

magento vs shopify, shopify feature and price chart

Photo credit: Shopify

Magento Feature Highlights

Similar to Shopify, Magento is known for the impressive list of features included with their platform. Here are a few highlights:

  • Instant checkout: In addition to your general shopping cart capabilities, Magento offers an instant checkout, which allows users to quickly and easily checkout on one page.
  • Site management: Magento has advanced site management abilities, allowing you to control multiple websites and stores from one admin, as well as create, preview, and schedule content updates.
  • Payment processing: Magento works with common payment gateways like PayPal and Braintree, and has integrations with over 300 more, including international gateways.
  • Reporting: Magento’s platform includes 100 predefined reports, nine reporting dashboards, as well as the ability for you to create and edit your own reports.
  • Customer development: Magento gives you numerous ways to engage and support your customers like guest or login checkout, email marketing campaigns, coupons, promotions, product wishlists, and a gift wrapping option.
  • International commerce: In addition to working with international payment gateways, Magento allows you to manage multiple country sites from the same store or environment. With Magento, you can also support multiple currencies, languages, and tax rates (including EU fixed product taxes).
  • Add-ons: The Magento Marketplace offers over 4,500 different add-ons and extensions that can be downloaded to improve your store functionality.

Just as the capabilities differ between Shopify’s subscription, however, the same is true for Magento Commerce vs. Magento Open Source. The chart below shows some of the main differences between Magento’s two offerings. As you’ll see, Magento Commerce offers many more included features.

magento vs. shopify, magento feature chartPhoto credit: Magento

However, since Magento Open Source, is an open source platform, you do have a unique ability to customize your store and make your ecommerce business stand out. Although Open Source may not include some of the features that Magento Commerce has, you can work with a developer to add extensions and integrations that will improve your capabilities.

Magento vs. Shopify: Pricing

In addition to an ecommerce platform’s features, pricing is another important consideration when trying to decide if that platform is right for your business. Whereas both Magento and Shopify have extensive feature lists, their pricing is very different.

As we mentioned earlier, Shopify operates on a subscription basis, which you can do month to month, annually, or biennially. Shopify also offers a free 14 day trial, no credit card required. Shopify’s most basic plan is Shopify Lite, which costs $9 per month. This plan, however, does not give you the ability to create an online store—instead, you can sell via an existing website or Facebook page.

Shopify’s next plan is Basic Shopify, which costs $29 per month plus a 2.9% + $0.30 fee on all online credit card purchases. For this plan, as well as the remaining three, Shopify charges an extra 2% fee if you use a payment provider other than Shopify Payments. The next two plans are Shopify and Advanced Shopify, which cost $79 per month and $299 per month, respectively. The credit card purchase fee is 2.6% + $0.30 for the Shopify plan and 2.4% + $0.30 for the Advanced Shopify plan. The final plan Shopify offers is called Shopify Plus and is designed specifically for high volume merchants and large businesses. This plan is priced based on your business’s specific needs and you have to contact Shopify directly for a quote.

Whereas Shopify has their pricing information readily available on their website, the same cannot be said of Magento. Magento’s website does not offer any pricing specifics on Magento Commerce, instead, you have to contact their sales team for a quote based on your business. The website does give you the opportunity to sign up for a free demo, but you have to submit your information to the Magento team to do so.

Magento Open Source, on the other hand, is free to download. However, although the download is free, there are other additional costs associated with this open source platform. As we’ve discussed, you’ll have to find and pay for your own web hosting, security, as well as any development work that’s needed to develop and launch your store. Furthermore, there will be a cost for you to accept payments online, which will vary depending on the gateway you choose.

Magento vs. Shopify: Where Shopify Wins

As we’ve seen, both Magento and Shopify have a lot to offer. However, there are certain areas where Shopify stands out. Here are a few:


When it comes down to it, one of the reasons that Shopify is a top ecommerce platform is because of its usability. Shopify’s platform is clean, intuitive, and easy to use whether you’re a beginner or have more technical knowledge. With Shopify’s theme offerings and drag-and-drop builder, you can design your store quickly and it’s not too difficult to do so. At the end of the day, Shopify is incredibly user-friendly, and this is one of the top reasons that customers like the platform.

Despite the vast array of features included with Magento, it is not particularly user-friendly, especially when compared to Shopify. Magento Open Source is especially difficult, as it requires advanced development abilities and knowledge to set up. Although Magento Commerce is a little easier, the sheer amount of capabilities makes the interface more complicated and therefore difficult to get your store up and running.


Although it can be said that costs for Shopify can extend past their actual price structure (taking into account themes, shipping services, add-ons), due to Magento’s lack of transparent pricing for their Commerce offering, we have to conclude that Shopify is better here. When you consider signing up for Shopify, you have a starting point for what setting up your store will cost (and what it would cost any other business to run their store with Shopify) and therefore can budget your spend accordingly. Additionally, if you compare Shopify’s subscription fee to other similar platforms, like Volusion, you can see that it’s pretty competitive. With Magento Commerce, on the other hand, you have no starting point for pricing and you have no way of knowing, after talking to their sales team, if you’re actually getting a fair price.

Furthermore, although the “free” Open Source option of Magento may seem appealing, you may actually end up paying more than you would with an alternate platform. Between web hosting, security, and especially development costs, Magento Open Source could end up being more of an expensive (and time-consuming) option than you would think.

magento vs. shopify

Magento vs. Shopify: Where Magento Wins

Although Shopify offers you transparent pricing and user-friendliness that Magento does not, Magento wins out in the ways you can customize and develop the capabilities of your ecommerce store.


Magento’s list of features seems to be incomparable to any other ecommerce platform out there—including Shopify. The amount of capabilities provided to you through Magento Commerce in particular, is short of incredible. More than likely if you’re looking for your ecommerce store to operate a certain way, Magento will allow you to do it. In particular, Magento’s instant cart checkout, content preview, and international commerce functionalities are especially impressive. Although Shopify too has a broad feature set, Magento Commerce simply offers more.

Add-ons and Customization

One of the other big pros of Magento is, continuing off of their feature list, if the platform doesn’t have something you’re looking for, you have the ability to add it. The apps and integrations available in the Magento Marketplace is nearly double what is offered in the Shopify App Store. The variety of these integrations allows you to truly customize your store and extend the functionality to what you need to operate your business. Additionally, many of the integrations included in the Marketplace are “Magento Partners,” who work with Magento users to enhance their store capabilities.

Furthermore, although not right for all businesses, Magento’s Open Source option gives you a completely unique way to create and customize your store. If you want the freedom and have the resources to develop your store with an open source platform, Magento does give you that ability where other ecommerce platform offerings don’t.

Magento vs. Shopify: User Reviews

Much of what is mentioned in user reviews of both Magento and Shopify echoes the points of our discussion thus far.

Customer reviews of Shopify are generally positive, with users highlighting just how easy it is to get set up and start selling using the platform, especially for beginners. Many users write that Shopify fulfills their ecommerce needs and gives them the ability to grow their business. The most consistent Shopify con that users mention is the payment processing fee. Since competitors like Volusion and BigCommerce don’t charge this fee, this seems to be a valid complaint.

For Magento, on the other hand, the user reviews for both Commerce and Open Source are wholly mixed. In terms of positives, customers frequently mention Magento’s customization abilities, especially with the Open Source platform. Users also highlight the vast features Magento offers. As for the negatives, users focus on the difficulty of using the platform and the time, effort, and resources it takes to get your store set up, as well as to train employees to use it. Many users also mention the cost of Magento as a negative, despite Open Source being free to download.

Magento vs. Shopify: Which Platform Is Right for Your Business?

So, in looking at Magento vs. Shopify, which platform do you choose? Shopify offers you a fully-hosted platform with a variety of capabilities, set pricing, and is known for its user-friendliness. Magento, on the other hand, gives you the choice between Commerce and Open Source, both praised for their vast feature sets and customization abilities.

At the end of the day, although these are two of the biggest players in the ecommerce industry, it seems they are best-suited for very different types of businesses. Shopify is probably best for small to medium-sized businesses that want an easy to use, one-stop-shop platform to create and run their store. Magento, in contrast, is more suited for larger or fast-growing businesses that need advanced features, want a high level of customizability, and have the extended resources to dedicate to getting their store set up. Ultimately, the one that you choose depends on your business needs and what is right for you.

The post Magento vs. Shopify: Which Is Right for Your Business? appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/magento-vs-shopify/

Heartland Payroll Review 2019: Features, Pricing, Alternatives

Administering payroll is just one aspect under the bigger umbrella that is managing HR for your small business. Although payroll might seem like an easy enough task, as your business grows, and your responsibilities increase, it can become more and more difficult to properly attend to this process. With all of your employees, different pay types, tax and compliance considerations, and more, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and make incidental mistakes. Luckily, payroll software was developed to solve these kinds of problems.

Payroll solutions, like those from Heartland Payroll, can automate your payroll process, manage employee information, and on the whole streamline your HR operations. Just like with many other business tools, however, there are numerous options on the market to choose from. Is Heartland Payroll Services right for your business? We’re here to help you find out. In this review, we’ll explore what Heartland Payroll has to offer, the features included, pricing, as well as highlight reviews from their customers. Plus, we’ll discuss alternative payroll services to help you find the best solution for your business.

Heartland Payroll Solutions: The Basics

Heartland Payroll is a web-based platform that digitizes your payroll, allowing you to easily and securely manage the process, as well as facilitate additional HR tasks. Using Heartland Payroll Services, you can pay all of your employees according to your payroll schedule, input and store forms and information, and monitor hours and PTO. Additionally, you can file your payroll taxes as well as handle ACA reporting and compliance. Heartland Payroll includes a self-service portal for employees, so they too can view important information like W-2s, pay stubs, and vacation and sick days.

Heartland Payroll Services tailors to your specific requirements and creates a customized service based on your business. This customization includes access to your single point of contact, a service representative dedicated to your business who serves as your point person and addresses all of your payroll and HR needs.

Heartland Payroll is one of several services available from Heartland Payment Systems, which also offers payment, POS, and customer engagement solutions.

Heartland Payroll Features

Now that we’ve gone through the basics of Heartland Payroll, let’s dive deeper into all of the features that this software offers.


As you might imagine, Heartland Payroll Solutions includes the full range of payroll capabilities. Using this platform, you can pay your employees with free direct deposit or cut checks and order them directly from your Heartland Payroll dashboard. On this dashboard, you also have access to a drop-down for employee payroll forms and links to external payroll related sites. You can set up your payroll to adhere to your particular schedule, including all different pay types and frequencies.

Additionally, you can create automatic emails to notify your employees that their paychecks (physical or electronic) have been sent. If you need a customizable pay grid on your platform, you can work with a Heartland specialist to set it up. Furthermore, if you currently run your payroll on another system and need to switch over, your Heartland representative will help you complete that process.


With Heartland Payroll, you receive full-service tax management. Heartland Payroll Services takes care of tax calculation, tax filing, and automatic tax payments. In your platform, you can create account access levels that are specific to your business, including third-party CPA and insurance broker access levels—making working with your advisors easier.

Employee Management

In addition to your basic employee payroll information, Heartland Payroll allows you to assign departments, divisions, jobs, and job groups to your employee profiles. You can also track the hours your employees have worked and build schedules for them. Heartland Payroll Services gives you the ability to monitor PTO and sick days, calculating accrued time, time used, and facilitating requests and approvals.

Furthermore, your employees have access to all of their information through the employee self-service portal. You can customize the employee homepage, and through their dashboard (available online or mobile) they can view 1099s or W-2s, pay stubs, time off, as well as any company notifications or reminders.

heartland-payrollPhoto credit: Heartland Payment Systems

Reporting and Compliance

Work with Heartland Payroll Solutions to create payroll and other reports based on your particular needs. Additionally, Heartland will help your business with compliance, preparing, printing and filling out the required forms for ACA reporting, as well as tracking employee eligibilities through their ACA reporting tool.

Payroll + HR

Heartland Payroll gives you the option to add further HR capabilities to your platform so that you can manage more in one place. You can use this integration to house all of your HR materials including customizable documents such as job descriptions, offer letters, and company handbooks.

Heartland Payroll + HR includes a built-in electronic employee file system to securely store employee data. Here, you can add not only basic employee information, but also emergency contacts, certifications, trainings, and create a process for employee reviews. Additionally, this integration gives you access to the Heartland HR Support Center. In this center you’ll find up-to-date HR news, as well as helpful information and training resources. Using HR Support, you’ll also be able to submit questions or work directly with a certified HR professional to receive guidance when you need it.

Recruiting and Onboarding

In addition to the HR add-on, you can also integrate with Heartland Hire, Heartland’s employee onboarding portal. From this portal, you can give new employees access to complete their hiring documentation—and once documents are approved, the data is automatically entered into the payroll system. Through Heartland Hire, you can also add recruiting and applicant tracking services enabling you to manage the whole process from candidate search and applications to interviews to eventual onboarding.


Not only can you add HR, onboarding, and recruiting to your Heartland Payroll Services, but you can also integrate Heartland Payment Systems’ other offerings—Payment, Point of Sale, and Customer Engagement. Moreover, you have the ability to integrate with third-party applications (as long as they’re compatible with Heartland Payroll), for time and attendance, 401(k), accounting software, and workers’ compensation.

Single Point of Contact

As we mentioned briefly earlier, one of the most unique features of Heartland Payroll is the single point of contact. In order to provide a truly customized solution, Heartland Payroll assigns every customer a dedicated single point of contact, or service representative, who serves as your point person for all your Heartland service needs. Throughout your time with Heartland Payroll Solutions, you’ll work with this individual to get your platform set up, troubleshoot any issues, and generally assist you with anything you need.

Heartland Payroll Pricing

Heartland does not list the pricing for their payroll services on their website. Although their site says that they have competitive pricing, specifically, “straightforward payroll pricing for our all-inclusive service without hidden fees or surprises,” you have to contact the Heartland team to get a quote priced based on your needs.

Typically, factors that will affect quote-based pricing for payroll services include the size of your business, the number of employees you have, and the specific capabilities you require. Along these lines, sometimes payroll providers charge additional fees for integrations, internal or third-party. Additionally, it’s worth noting that other payroll providers often charge a monthly base fee plus a monthly fee per employee. To find out how these considerations may or may not apply to Heartland Payroll Services, you’ll have to work with them directly.

Heartland Payroll Solutions Reviews

Surprisingly, and especially when compared to other payroll services on the market, there is not an abundance of Heartland Payroll reviews on the internet. However, that being said, the ones that are available are wholly positive—focusing greatly on the Heartland customer service.

Heartland Payroll Positive Reviews

Customer reviews of Heartland Payroll are generally positive. Users say that Heartland Payroll is easy-to-use, accurate, and efficient. Additionally, users highlight the benefits of Heartland’s service especially for payroll and taxes—consistently saying that Heartland saves them time and prevents worry or frustration. Although the pricing for Heartland Payroll Solutions is quote-based, many customers, in fact, report that the service is affordable.

Furthermore, the most overwhelming aspect mentioned again and again in Heartland Payroll Solutions reviews is their customer service. Users praise Heartland’s customer service for their helpfulness, accessibility, and knowledge. Many customers say that if you have an issue with your service, not only can you easily reach a representative, but they can also help you solve the problem. A great amount of users say for this reason, among the others we discussed above, they’ve been using Heartland Payroll for years—with some reporting the benefit of switching from big payroll competitors like Paychex and ADP.

Heartland Payroll Negative Reviews

Although the Heartland Payroll reviews are overwhelmingly positive, some users also report areas of the service that could be improved. The most common of these complaints is concerning the speed of the platform, especially in relation to reports. Customers say that the platform can be slow and that running reports takes too long.

Additionally, some users say that the interface, overall, could be improved. These users feel that it’s not easy to navigate and that it’s outdated. Furthermore, some customers say that Heartland Payroll lacks more extended HR functionality.

However, it’s also worth noting that although users do report these problems, a good majority of customers also report having no issues whatsoever with Heartland Payroll.

Alternatives to Heartland Payroll

If you’re considering Heartland Payroll as your payroll software, you should also look into industry competitors to determine if another option may, in fact, be a better fit for your business. Let’s take a look at two of the top alternatives to Heartland Payroll Services:

Gusto Payroll

Gusto is one of the most popular payroll software out there and for good reason. Gusto is known for their usability, flexibility, and modern interface. Similar to Heartland’s emphasis on customization, Gusto Payroll offers you three different plans (each increasing in functionality) with the option to add further services a la carte so that you can choose what’s best for your business. The most basic plan, Gusto Core, costs $39 per month, plus $6 per employee per month. Gusto Complete costs $39 per month, plus $12 per employee per month. The last plan, Gusto Concierge, is $149 per month, plus $12 per employee per month. The a la carte add-ons, which include offerings like health benefits, workers comp, and 401(k) plans all come at additional costs. Gusto also offers a one-month free trial of their services.

Like Heartland Payroll, the most basic version of Gusto, Gusto Core, includes full-service payroll, employee information storing and self-service portal, as well as PTO tracking and customer support. With the more advanced plans, you receive benefits like the ones associated with Heartland Payroll + HR: employee onboarding, HR resource center, and access to HR professionals. However, with Gusto, you only receive dedicated support (similar to Heartland’s single point of contact) with Gusto Concierge, the highest level plan. If you’re looking for a more modern and tech-savvy payroll platform with available pricing, Gusto is a worthy alternative to Heartland Payroll Services.

running payroll with heartland payroll
Patriot Payroll

Patriot Payroll is another very popular payroll software, as well as one of the best reviewed on the internet. Patriot Payroll is known for its simplicity, ease-of-use, and affordable cost. This payroll software is offered in two plans: Basic and Full-Service. The Basic plan includes your general payroll processing and costs $10 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. The Full-Service plan, on the other hand, is more robust and includes full tax management. This Patriot Payroll plan costs $30 per month, plus $4 per employee per month, making it cheaper than Gusto’s most basic plan. To increase your functionality with Patriot Payroll, you can add their time and attendance feature, as well as Patriot HR. Although these add-ons require extra monthly fees, they’re still quite affordable, and much less than the Gusto add-ons. Patriot also offers a free month trial of their software.

Like Heartland Payroll, the reviews of Patriot Payroll are incredibly positive, with many users praising their customer service and commenting on how much time the software has saved them. Although Heartland may have a few more features included in their platform, not taking integrations into consideration, Patriot has the advantage of actually disclosing their pricing structure. This being said, if you want a highly rated payroll software with some of the most affordable (and available) pricing out there, you might want to consider Patriot Payroll.

The Bottom Line on Heartland Payroll Solutions

At the end of the day, only you can decide which payroll software works best for your business. Keeping that in mind, it seems that Heartland Payroll is best for small businesses that highly value customer service and want the kind of specialized attention for payroll and HR that Heartland offers. Although the Heartland Payroll reviews are incredibly positive, it’s worth considering that other options might offer you a more modern and user-friendly interface, as well as advanced HR capabilities.

Furthermore, it’s difficult to know if Heartland Payroll is competitive with their pricing as it’s only available by talking to their team directly. Competitor payroll offerings, on the other hand, have standard pricing that you can compare to determine if you’re getting the best price. All of this being said, though, if you’re looking for a payroll software you can count on—with the added benefit of a dedicated service representative—Heartland Payroll is certainly a viable option.

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from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/heartland-payroll/