The key to Entrepreneurial success is ORT: Opportunity, Resources and Team. Resources are the internal and external services, vendors and partners that help you operate your business.
Here are the services and vendors that we use to run Saunders Machine Works:
We use Xero for accounting including invoices and quoting. Xero is able to seamlessly import transactions from our bank, our business credit card, Shopify, PayPal and more. We pay $30/month and it’s well worth it! An alternative if you are a bootstrapper would be Wave (http://waveapps.com); we chose Xero over wave because it has better integrations with third parties and it has much more accounting features – specifically the ability to create “classes” of revenue. This lets us track revenue by categories – e.g. job shop, SMW product sales, etc. We also use a local accountant to help with accounting questions and to prepare our annual LLC tax return. We formerly used Quickbooks desktop version but are glad to be rid of the Quickbooks product and Intuit; we found their software to poorly designed, overpriced and it did not integrate well (if at all) with third parties.
Merchant Account (accepting credit card payments from customers)
Shipping & Packaging
is CRITICAL for our operation! It integrates and imports orders automatically from Shopify, Amazon, eBay, Etsy and most other e-commerce and online retail channels. It then allows us to use FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, 3PL’s and most other common carriers (including freight shipping) to handle all of our shipping and order fulfillment needs. The ShipStation App Store offers customization and plugins for things like automatic box selection, dimensional weight and more.
Custom boxes – we used PackLane before switching to Buckeye Boxes for our Saunders Machine Works Tormach Fixture Plates. We LOVED PackLane. They were easy to deal with, did a great job on the box quality and graphic printing and had exceptional customer service. Unfortunately, while custom, they weren’t going to be a good long term fit for the SMW Fixture Plates which needed beefier boxing to protect them during shipment. But I highly recommend checking out PackLane for general consumer products. Having your Logo printed on a box adds a very nice, professional touch!
Video Conference Calls
We use join.me, Google Chat, and Skype to do video meeting with customers and vendors. Being able to talk “face to face” or share a screen showing, for example, a CAD file, can be incredibly helpful. We have found that job shop customers greatly appreciate a brief screen share video meeting to show any problems, concerns or ideas when discussing a machined part. Click HERE for our article on two great FREE screen share websites we use!
Instead of Microsoft Word and Excel
Google Suite for saundersmachineworks.com email accounts as well as shared google docs.
For website domains
Dreamhost.com for website domains. Tip: buy your domain name for your business! It is much more professional to email from email@example.com versus “firstname.lastname@example.org” – this can help when doing things like opening up a new vendor account.
Allows us to hire experts
We couldn’t live without UpWork. Upwork allows us to hire experts, consultants, administrative help, graphic design, programmers, designers and more for either individual jobs and tasks or long term projects. We use UpWork on a regular basis for graphic design, photo editing, website customization, powerpoint presentations, market research, product design and more. UpWork allows you to choose what level of skillset and price, as well a geographic location, you’re looking for help in. UpWork helps us scale up when we are busy and acts as a force-multiplier, but avoids the hassle, cost and commitment of hiring full time employees. Click here for our video tips on how to use Upwork!