Having trouble getting paid by customers? These services may help.
By WILLIAM M. BULKELEY
Small businesses and solo entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to online services to help with one of their most fundamental issues: getting paid.
As the economy has foundered, many entrepreneurs’ cash-strapped customers have been slow in paying their bills. So, small businesses are using online options to make billing and payment as seamless—and hard to avoid—as possible.
Some are using services that streamline invoicing, while some turn to third-party providers that ensure payments are made promptly. Meanwhile, others are trying to head off payment problems before they arise by checking potential clients’ credit history over the Web.
Of course, there are risks to relying on Web services. Just as office computers can crash, so can hosted applications, affecting many companies simultaneously. Last June, thousands of small businesses lost access to their online QuickBooks accounts for 24 hours when a power outage at Intuit Inc.’s San Diego data center knocked out service. Intuit said no data were lost.
But some small companies find that the services are worth the potential technical headaches. Here’s a look at some of these online options and how companies are using them.
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