NetBooks, an online software service, launched this month.
Despite the name, which implies accounting software, the company views its solution as much broader. According to Ridgely Evers, CEO, “NetBooks is really a business management system that can run the entire business.” The offering includes accounting, customer relationship management (CRM) and inventory management software.
NetBooks is designed for small businesses with 2 to 25 employees that make and/or sell products (not service businesses). The company has identified 1.3 million businesses in the United States fitting this profile, out of the 5+ million small businesses with employees.
NetBooks is part of the trend toward software-as-a-service which seems to have picked up speed in the past 12 months for the small business market. Today you can find dozens and dozens of online software services — from data backup services to email to project management software.
Software-as-a-service or SaaS does not require that you install or maintain software locally on your computer network or individual hard drives. Instead, you and your employees go online to a Website and use it like a service that you pay monthly or sometimes annually for.
NetBooks is priced at $200/month for five users. At that price point NetBooks appears to be positioned in between NetSuite, which serves somewhat larger businesses, and QuickBooks and Microsoft Office Accounting 2007.
The landscape is further clouded by solutions such as FreshBooks and Blinksale, which offer a more limited set of functions (e.g., online timekeeping and invoicing) but are attracting a growing following at the lower end.
Similarly when it comes to CRM, there are a variety of existing players. SalesForce.com and Entellium’s RaveCRM are two that come to mind.
Having more choices is mostly a positive for your business. When vendors feel competition they tend to work hard on product enhancements and keeping prices affordable. Of course the flip side is, as the landscape becomes more crowded, it is going to take you more time and effort to sift through the choices to find the right solution for your business.
Although not cost effective for my tiny business, it seams like they offer many great features. The website is easy to navigate and answers alot of good questions in their fact section.
Anita, great review. I have several questions. First, what does the “CRM” module provide that is superior to the competition? Second, did Ridgely provide guidance on the capacity of the inventory software with respect to “shrink”. It has been my experience that any software worth its salt should provide the ability to limit inventory loss (shrinkage) to less than two (2) percent of revenue. With respect to the GL, Quick books remains the bellwether software product
Hi Neal, I saw a demo of the product but have not done an in-depth review, so I really can’t say specifically about the CRM module or the shrinkage issue (which is a great point).
And as to the cost for a very small business, I think there is a typo in your figure — it’s actually $2400 a year ($200 x 12 = 2400). While I agree with the need sometimes to invest in order to grow, on the other hand, when a business is really small and young $200 a month can seem huge and hard to justify. I believe in investing in lock step with your growth. I like to see more organic growth before investing at that level in systems. That way you don’t outrun your expenses. Just my 2 cents.
Thanks for commenting. I know as a finance guy this is a topic near and dear to your heart.
Amanda, how do you define “cost-effective”? Surely your business can afford a $1,400 dollar annual investment. Otherwise, your “tiny business” remains destined to be tiny. Don’t you agree?
Amanda, I’ve got a web-based client billing application that is cost-effective for a tiny business. It’s called Time59 (www.time59.com). It provides time and expense tracking, online invoicing and accounts receivable. The cost is $19.95 per year for unlimited use. There is also a free 30-day trial. I built Time59 in response to the needs of MY tiny business.
Amanda – leave it to a mick (Monaghan) to solve your questions. The key question is how bad do you want to win. Business is war – do you have the stomach to fight the fight? Look to my articles on how to position yourself to win. Take no prisoners.
Anita, you are absolutely correct with respect to the mathI really miss my HP 19B.
Looks like a cool application…though I think it will take a lot to pry Quickbooks out of most small businesses. There’s just too many CPA’s and bookkeepers using it. CRM and Inv Management usually are “custom” processes at a lot of small firms, and Netbooks may not flexible enough to do things according to the needs/whims of the typical small biz owner. (and thus convince them to leave QB)
Thank you Anita for seeing things a little from my perspective. People have to take into account that all applications may not be useful to all types of businesses. For the few parts that would be useful to me, $200 per month is not cost effective. Yes, I want my business to grow but not while I’m digging my debt hole bigger.
Very interesting, although I agree with everyone $200 per month is too big of a cost to a small business, because many of CRM activities can be managed without a sophisticated software. Do you know if there’s any review comparing Quickbooks and Netbooks? Do you suggest small businesses to use both, or switch from Quickbooks to Netbooks?
I mean the review written by an independent source. I am aware Netbooks position itself much better on their site.
I have been reading about the online backup industry for a while now. Online backup is maturing and slowly getting the attention of the general consumer. One website worth mentioning is the backup review site:
This very informative site, not only posts up to date news and articles from the industry, but also lists about 400 online backup companies and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis and features a CEO Spotlight page, where senior management people from the industry are interviewed.
Invoicing is such a basic function and it shouldn’t cost much. I would like to let readers know that there are more affordable and easy to use options available. Readers should also try several products before selecting the one that suits their requirements. Not all products have same features and navigation flow. Also, Time based billing software and pure invoicing software (in which you can’t track time and expenses ) are two different types of products. If you are an attorney, accountant, or other professional that use time based billing, you should use a product that offers time/expense tracking and invoicing based on the time tracking data.