Money. No matter what field you go into, no matter what product or service you offer, and no matter what your entrepreneurial goals are, you’ll have to deal with money. You’ll need to pay for website hosting, buying ingredients, materials or tools, and advertising. You’ll need to keep track of the money you make and decide where it goes.
Thankfully, you don’t need a Ph.D. in advanced economics to get a grip on your small business’s finances. You don’t need to be in a ton of advanced math classes, either. Wherever you are on your entrepreneurial journey and whatever your mindset, there are free online tools out there for ambitious teens like you.
This is a straightforward tool that you can get started with right away. The menu is simple: inbox, expenses, reports, and settings. The home page even offers a free “concierge” service that will walk you through a tutorial of their free plan. The expense page allows you to drag and drop receipts into your account or add expenses manually. If you want to get fancy (still for free!) you can create reports based on how much you’ve made, spent, categories of your expenses and cash inflow, or specific dates. You can even set up “expense rules” for yourself to make life easier!
Expensify is a great app for those of you who already have a basic idea of how the financial side of business is run and like expense reports, invoices, and data tracking.
You’re probably already familiar with Square if you’ve ever used a credit card at a small business in your community. Square offers an enormous number of extra features, but for your startup needs, you’ll probably want to focus on their retail POS benefits, or point of service. These include:
- Managing inventory
- Selling online
- Tracking customers by phone numbers, email addresses, and number of visits
- Regular expense and inflow tracking
Those of you planning to set up stalls at farmer’s markets, open stands at street or county fairs, work in a food truck, or otherwise do business in person, should check out Square’s services. Their free plan includes a credit card reader and an app for in-person purchases!
The name says it all. It’s totally free and it’s designed with startup entrepreneurs like you in mind. Not only are you able to record expenses and inflow, but it lets you keep track of any venture or seed capital you get, forecast future costs and inflow, and tells you when and how you can break even.
Speaking of venture capital, this app helps you create a professional pitch deck for your investor meetings!
Everybody knows PayPal. We’re guessing you’ve used PayPal to make online purchases, pay friends back, or get paid back. But did you know you can also use PayPal for your small business?
The one tiny drawback to using PayPal is that you’ll need your own checking account so you can spend and get paid through their service. Once you have that set up, you’re good to go with a free PayPal account for business. Your customers will be able to use PayPal for your products and services, you can pay for materials and any other expenses you have, and you can create invoices and track all your money’s activity.
Since so many people have already heard of PayPal – and so many already use it – this is an ideal way for you to get on top of your finances quickly and easily.
Wave’s free plan includes accounting, invoicing, and banking. In other words, you can track all your inflow and expenses, pay for expenses through the app, and create custom invoices (if that’s a thing you need to do). For free.
Like Square, Wave includes features that allow customers to pay you with credit cards or through Apple Pay (for a small fee). They even include an “accounting education center” for small business owners like you who want to learn the basics or go above and beyond.
Use this free, online software if you want a one-stop shop for all your small business’s financial needs wherever you go. Not only does Akaunting offer tons of services all small businesses need, such as invoicing, payment processing, and expense tracking, but it allows you to give loyal customers discounts. (Hello, awesome customer service!) Akaunting also gives you the ability to customize your dashboard so you can keep track of what’s most important to you.
AKA, You Need a Budget, is about as simple as it gets. If bells and whistles don’t impress you, if words like “invoices” and “expense reports” are not important to running your small business, and if you just want to see how much money you’re spending and how much money you’re bringing in, then YNAB is for you.
YNAB was designed to help young people learn how to manage a budget. It allows you to track every expense you make as well as budget for future expenses.
While YNAB is the only financial tool on this list that isn’t free, we think it’s great for young entrepreneurs like you. Not only is keeping a budget important for running a business, but it’s a life skill you’ll need in college and beyond. Learn how to track what you spend, save up for big goals (thinking of buying your own car?), and see where your money goes. Once you get to college, YNAB gives you a free year of their services.
Like YNAB, Mint is a personal budgeting tool that young entrepreneurs can use for their small business needs. Those of you just starting out who need to keep things simple might consider Mint. Because it’s designed for personal budgeting, there aren’t all the bells and whistles you’ll find with some of the other tools listed here. Instead, you’ll learn how to track every penny you spend and every penny you make. It’s a great first tool for those of you who don’t know how to get started managing your business finances.
Whatever financial tool you wind up using for your new enterprise, you’re doing yourself a huge favor. This is a vital life skill that will stay with you through college and beyond!
Find out more about the Kantner Foundation’s commitment to young entrepreneurs, including our college scholarships for high school students, by clicking here.