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Businesses can never be budget-free, but they can get budget software for free, now that Adaptive Planning has put its new Adaptive Planning Express Edition online. The entry-level, on-demand software lets companies move beyond Excel-based (or worse, manual) spreadsheets with no fees, no restrictions on how long they use it, and access for up to 50 users. And if they like it, they can include a line in their next budget to upgrade to Adaptive Planning's more full-featured commercial versions, which start at less than $500 per user.
I'VE GOT AN IDEA ...
Any fool can come up with an idea to start a business - we've had six in the past hour - but most fools have no idea how to start a business. One particularly opaque aspect is the whole process of officially incorporating, so Intuit's MyCorporation offers to take care of it from start to finish.
Would-be incorporators simply answer a set of questions online and choose an entity type, and MyCorporation takes care of everything else, from preparing the forms to filing them in the right jurisdictions, for a low price starting at $149. They also offer registered agent and trademark registration services, and more. Best of all, they have an affiliate program, where accountants who refer clients can get up to a 15 percent referral fee.
Like-kind exchanges of real estate are getting a lot of play these days, but the accompanying paperwork is so fiendishly complicated that it may make you wish you'd built a new building instead. Single-handedly. In the dark. T-Rex Global's free online application Defer 'Em aims to take the pain out of the paperwork, with guided assistance to produce both the nightmarish Internal Revenue Service Form 8824 and an exchange report that explains the whole transaction to clients.
THE FIELD WIDENS
Sarbanes-Oxley, as we never tire of saying, is not going away - and neither is the opportunity for software vendors to offer new applications to help companies deal with it. D2C Solutions recently introduced another player in the field of SOX solutions, its ComplianceNow suite, a cross-platform risk and compliance management solution that helps reduce fraud and handle segregation-of-duties issues. The C-Advisor component assesses, remediates and monitors compliance risk in every part of a business process, delivering reports tailored to the recipient, while the C-Monitor component scrutinizes sensitive transactions and user activity.
GIVE 'EM THE FINGER
We here at New Products worry that the rise of biometric products like Shimon Systems' Bio-NetGuard WiFi Security Solution, which prevents unauthorized access to WiFi networks with fingerprint verification, will only force serious hackers to remember the original meaning of the word "hack." Sure, Bio-NetGuard only takes about five minutes to set up, can make your wireless network much more secure, and comes in both fingerprint-only and two-factor fingerprint-and-password versions - but do you really think a determined hacker will stop at a little thing like cutting off your finger?
NEW AND IMPROVED!
AccuFund Inc. has released Version 3.05 of its AccuFund Accounting Suite for nonprofits and governments, with enhancements to a number of its core modules. ... LexisNexis has added the LexisNexis Tax Advisor - Federal Topical, a 35-volume library of articles and insights from an army of experts, to its Tax Center research platform.
If cooking the books is the business world's equivalent of loading up on steroids, then Wiley's Best Practices series is the equivalent of a scientifically designed (and legal) training regime. Two recent titles in the series illustrate how you can boost company performance without inducing the corporate equivalent of 'roid rage.
Best Practices in Planning and Performance Management, now in its second edition, examines traditional budgeting and forecasting practices, and finds them woefully inadequate for the 21st century (think Indian clubs and medicine balls). The book details a whole new set of best practices for all the elements of the performance management process, and then shows you how to implement and customize them for your own business.
Travel and Entertainment Best Practices is not, as we hoped, about getting upgraded to business class or finding good restaurants, but rather about handling T&E expenses. It explains how to create and implement solid policies and procedures - and includes tips on how to deal with those who refuse to abide by them.
John Wiley & Sons; Performance Management - $45, T&E - $60
LEAVE THE EMUS TO THEM
As we noted ("I've got an idea ..." above), business ideas are a dime a dozen, but business plans are much less common. That's because the person who wants to be an emu farmer probably knows a lot about emus, but next to nothing about business. That's where trusted advisors like accountants come in, to provide expertise on all the fiddly non-emu-related details. Two new books from legal publisher Nolo can help you brush up on those details: How to Write a Business Plan, which takes you through the whole process of creating a plan and presenting it to lenders and investors, and includes a CD-ROM with sample plans; and Quick LLC, which explains all the ins and outs of this entity type, and who should opt for it.
Nolo; Business Plan - $34.99, Quick LLC - $29.99
A WHOLE ENSEMBLE
While accountants no longer need their stereotyped costume of green eyeshades and arm garters, there's an old-time fashion accessory that they cannot do without: the sandwichboard. And yet the very notion fills many with fear and loathing. Get Clients Now! aims to make independent professionals more comfortable with the straps over their shoulders, with a 28-day marketing program that's laid out step by step. Covering everything from the "universal marketing cycle" to Internet marketing, networking and goal-setting, it should bring the sandwichboard back into style.
THE GOOD WILL
While many are familiar with the Five Stages of Grief that the terminally ill go through - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance - less familiar are the Five Stages of Inheritance that their heirs endure: squabbling, screaming, arguing, bargaining and, finally, ignoring the wishes of the deceased. Creating the Good Will demonstrates how often wills fail to serve their creators' wishes - and how often that failure is related to emotional, rather than financial, causes - and then shows how to create a "good will" that will help you and your estate-planning clients ensure the successful passing on of a legacy that includes not just assets, but values, beliefs and wisdom, as well.
ALSO IN PRINT
Accounting firm J.H. Cohn has released The Annual Meeting: What Shareholders of Middle-Market Companies Want to Know, 2007, its latest guide for management to survive the yearly lovefest.
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