The Ins and Outs of Your Finance Software Stack
As you evaluate your tech-stack, here’s a few softwares that are helpful to support the billing/finance side of business.
The all-in-one guide to your financial software stack
Once customers are willing to purchase a product, the need to receive and track payments is crucial. As you evaluate your tech-stack, here’s a few softwares that are helpful to support the billing/finance side of things. This isn’t an exhaustive list but a guide to get you thinking about the financial software ecosystem of your business.
Banking is one of the first things you should open after starting a business, the bank will be necessary to receive payments from your customers, and house all operational transactions related to your business. For a few things to consider before choosing your bank read more here.
“Know thy customer!” A well managed customer relationship manager (CRM) is helpful. Needs of a CRM look different depending on the type of business you’re running. The CRM can be lightweight—like using an organized google doc, mid-range—that passively tracks unique or repeat customers, or more robust like Salesforce—fully equipped with CPQ. No matter which solution you go with, I’d recommend starting something, even if it's a google doc. The last thing you’d want to do is miss billing a customer that’s getting value out of your product because you forgot their renewal was upcoming, or miss out on a valuable marketing opportunity to relevant users because you lack customer information.
Here’s a few options from lightweight CRMs to something more robust that can get you going:
• Google Sheets + Zapier
3. Payment Gateway & Processor
A gateway is typically where clients provide credit card or banking information. As consumers when shopping online we may be familiar with gateways when checking out an online cart and inputting our card information. Or walking into a coffee shop and using a credit card at a Point-Of-Sale machine. In situations where there are cash businesses, then the gateway could be seen as the physical exchange from customer to the employee receiving the cash.
Processors are technically different from a Payment Gateway, although most of us may perceive them to be the same thing. The processor is actually responsible for translating the information on a card or banking details, checking to see if the information is correct and if funds are to be remitted to the merchant. It’s actually how we get digital funds remitted to us.
These days companies that may have started out as only gateways have become processors as well, which can be more convenient than using two separate systems. Cases where it may be necessary to use a gateway separate from a processor may look like:
• Embedding pay links into a contract form via PandaDoc.
• Using Calendly to provide paid consultations/meetings with Stripe.
• A shopping cart on your website hosted by Webflow for your online goods.
• Embedding pay links into adjacent invoicing softwares.
Below are a few gateways and processors to evaluate in order to receive payments for your business:
4. Billing solutions / All-in-one solutions
Billing solutions typically help facilitate payment/gateway relationships, as well as customer invoicing and operational matters. Billing systems ideally should fit into your day to day operations where yourself or an employee can safely and securely bill clients, follow up on receivables, and address billing concerns. Billing systems can be seen as all-in-one payment solutions and may be the first softwares purchased for business operations.
General billing systems typically look like:
These systems not only facilitate payments and anticipate operational needs, they also provide specific insights related to your industry. These solutions may be better than using generalized solutions due to the potential they provide to improve operations. A few examples of industry specific billing solutions are:
• SingleOps - Business management software for the lawn care businesses
• Jobber - All in one system for home service pros
• Coworks - Software for managing coworking spaces.
• Toast - POS system for restaurants.
5. Vendor Payments + Day to Day Expenses
In order for us to provide our products to our clients, we need to pay the vendors necessary to keep and maintain our product and operations. Spend management has evolved over the years from simply expense reimbursement, to limiting spend based on card limits, and predictive cash flow dashboards.
Payments to vendors can be as simple as having one business credit card and a bank’s bill pay, or utilizing a full suite of expense management software. These options can be fully utilized through a bank, or third party solutions. Here are a few tools to consider for making payments to your vendors for day to day operations:
• Bill pay - This is usually the first solution for companies, pay vendors directly from a bank.
• Bill.com - Great for paying bills, integrates with many financial systems.
• Divvy - business card and spend management tool
• Brex - business card and spend management
• Expensify - card and expense management + reimbursements
• Major business credit cards - Amex, Visa, Mastercard, Discovery
6. Financial System: Your accountant will thank you!
You need a place to keep track of all your business operations for the purpose of filing state and federal tax returns, and issuing other forms like 1099s to vendors and local sales tax to local governments. The Financial system should be able to provide you with a P&L, Balance Sheet, Statement of CashFlows, sales reports etc. These reports are often needed by management and stakeholders in the business in addition to your tax preparer. Keeping clean records is vital.
Here are a few financial systems to consider from lightweight to more robust:
Maximize your financial software ecosystem by utilizing Integrations. Integrations provide relevant information across multiple systems, where the understanding generally is, data in one area of the business is relevant to another area of the business. Integrations can provide smoother back office processes and up to date info for management.
A few examples are:
• Integrating your bank and credit cards with your financial system for real time info
• CRM integration with your financial system to keep up with customer renewal
• Sales tax software like Avalara, integrating with your billing system
• Square POS integration with inventory in your financial system
• Vendor payment system integrating with A/R and A/P
• Using a software to message clients once they take a certain action
Most softwares you’ll use will have the potential to connect to another tool you’re using, that’s also the benefit of using more popular systems. However, sometimes you may want to get a little creative and link different systems that don’t have native integrations, for this you may have to use a platform that specializes in integrations.
A few common softwares are:
• Zapier - Workflow automation and facilitates thousands of integrations
• Penny Pipe - Connecting payment data to accounting systems
• Automate.io - Simple one to one automation workflows
• Integrately - One click automations and workflows between systems When designing a businesses’ finance software stack try to use solutions you like that will speak to each other, relevant to your industry, ease day-to-day operations, all while tracking business activity. Constantly seek solutions that fit your needs, and have the potential to scale with your business. Each finance software stack can and should look different for each business. The beauty of it all is you get to design your own ecosystem. Which tools are in your finance software stack today that you can’t live without?