Check two items off the list for starting my business: finding an accountant and an online shopping cart provider.
I’ll start with the simple one first: the accountant. I called around to 11 different accountant companies in the area during the evening timeframe, because that’s what my availability is. I wanted to make sure they are available when I would be able to talk to them. Out of the 11, 6 were either closed or simply did not answer their phone. I got different rates for my personal taxes this year (another goal I needed to accomplish soon), and what sort of hourly consultant rates they charge for starting up a business, along with getting a feel for the individual.
I ended up picking one that is a local business, that I believe is even run out of their home. They are not a CPA (which is a good thing – save some $$), and have had over 30 years with bookkeeping and accounting. They have been doing taxes since 1993, and have Christian values. I have an appointment with them next Saturday for both personal and the new business consultation. If you’re in the area, and are looking for an accountant for either your personal taxes or starting up a business, contact me if you want more details on this company.
As far as an online shopping cart provider goes, I actually shocked myself. I worked at MonsterCommerce/Network Solutions for 6 years, entirely with the e-commerce product. I was even the Product Manager for 2 of those years, and helped shape the current shopping cart. I went into this thinking I would pick the NetSol cart.
However, since I worked there for so long, I also have a great feel for the direction of the company – more specifically the e-commerce product itself. Without going into any details, let’s just say it’s my belief that the e-commerce product has gone into what I consider “maintenance mode,” where no major new features are added, but it’s just sustaining basically in an as-is state. I could be wrong in this, but it’s my belief.
Now, I mean absolutely no disrespect to any of the people I know that still work there. Everyone I know that I worked with closely that’s still there are great people who still care about the customers. However, I do believe that the company as a whole is not focused on the e-commerce product, and unfortunately I don’t think anyone can change the company’s position.
So, up until I left the company, I believed that their shopping cart was one of the best out there for someone starting up a small business, and I would have chosen it without a doubt as my #1 choice. But there was one newer company I knew about that seemed to have huge potential, so I had to look them up. The name of the company was Interspire, and at the time they just had a purchase version of their cart. They had a similar business model as Network Solutions’ e-commerce product – make the cart easy to use, but flexible to work with most businesses. I looked them up this week, and saw how far they’ve come. They now have a hosted version called BigCommerce, and it blows everything else I’ve seen for a brand new business out of the water. I signed up with a free 15 day trial, and I have already decided that it’s the e-commerce platform I am going to use. It has a ton of features, and is easy to use. They seem to do just about everything just how I would do it if I were in charge of the company, so they are a perfect fit for me.
It’s a bittersweet victory for me though, as I would have liked to have used the software product I helped mold. It’s a shame that the Network Solutions e-commerce product has fallen flat over the past couple of years, due to the company’s overall shift away from e-commerce. I would have really enjoyed using that product, and using the connections I’ve made with both employees and store owners, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s time to move forward with my business, and I have to choose the best path for me.