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.