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5 Ways to Validate a Business Idea, Right Now

Don't let your day job or lack of capital stop you from finding and testing a business idea. Here's how.
Last year, I embarked upon a personal challenge to validate a business idea in 30 days. To make it even more difficult, it was a random idea chosen by my readers. They asked me to do it without using my existing website, traffic and business connections and without spending more than 20 hours per week on the project. On top of that, I limited myself to spending no more than $500 validating this idea. The experiment was a success.In just two weeks, I built an email list of 565 subscribers without having an actual website. Then, I reached out to a handful of those subscribers and pre-sold 12 copies of a book that didn't even exist yet, all in less than 30 days. I wrote about the experiment in real-time with in-depth weekly updates, successes, failures and lessons learned along the way, right here in my validation challenge. Today, I want to share with you the five most effect…

10 Business Expense Apps to Help You Track Your Spending

Here are 10 business expense apps that you can use on your smartphone to track purchases, mileage and more.

Expense tracking can often seem to be an afterthought, especially if you travel frequently. (I know I’ve crammed my share of receipts into my wallet on business trips, only prolonging the agony of having to collect and record them all once I’m back home.) Yet it can be a necessary part of owning a small business, if you want to take advantage of tax laws and avoid potential trouble with the IRS.

Now that most of us are carrying smartphones, expense tracking has arguably never been easier. Here are 10 business expense apps that can help make expense tracking much less painful.
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Evernote

There are plenty of specialized expense tracking apps for business—we’ll get to those soon—but if you’re looking for a catch-all, you may have to look no further than Evernote (iOS, Android, OSX, Windows, Web). Available on virtually every device across desktop, tablet and mobile, Evernote does an exceptional job at image capturing and receipt tracking, among many, many other things.

Now that most of us are carrying smartphones, expense tracking has arguably never been easier.

Evernote is free, but you can upgrade to its premium version to get extra helpful features, like my personal favorite, the ability to send emails into Evernote.

Mileage Log+

If you travel often by car for your business, Mileage Log+ might be a helpful app for tracking your mileage and expenses. The iOS app was designed with IRS compliance in mind, and does some nice things for quickly entering frequent trips. You can also sync and backup your data with Dropbox.

Expensify

Expensify is a popular iOS app for tracking business expenses, used by over 300,000 companies and 2.5 million individuals.
Expensify captures receipts, tracks time and mileage, as well as quickly creates expense reports. The app has built-in SmartScan technology that, like Evernote, is able to find text in pictures. Taking a picture of your receipt means that Expensify can read the image as well, quickly creating the expense.

Concur 

Concur (iOS, Android, Windowsis a comprehensive time tracking and travel app that allows you to capture, manage and track business receipts, approve expense reports, itemize hotel charges and approve travel requests, to name a few features.
The app also boasts some nifty features for managing travel: You can book airfare and hotels, check in on car and flight itineraries, check flight status and more.
Concur only has a 30-day trial before you’ll have to purchase one of its plans, starting at $8/month.

EasyBiz LITE Mileage Tracker

The EasyBiz LITE Mileage Tracker strips away as much of the complexity of milage tracking. By using GPS pin-dropping (instead of lengthy manual fields), the iOS app can quickly find and track routes that you’ve used.
Unlike the other apps covered thus far, EasyBiz LITE Mileage Tracker is only a mileage tracker, but still very handy for road warriors.

MoneyWise

MoneyWise is more of a universal money management application for Android. Create budgets, monitor cash flow and track expenses on the go. While it’s not a business-only app, it’s still a handy expense and cash flow tracker.
MoneyWise is a free app, and has gotten 4/5 stars from over 6,500 users (at press time).

Cashbook

Cashbook may not win any awards for the prettiest app in the world, but it gets the job done for many Android business owners. It’s actually quite robust in terms of features offered. Some notable features include tracking mileage by GPS, backing up to Dropbox, making expense charts and graphs, filing reports, a timer, calculator and more.
Cashbook costs $5.99 in the Google Play store for Android.

Expense Manager

Expense Manager is an Android app that not only tracks expenses and budgets; it provides a clean interface to quickly add expenses, and has some other useful bells and whistles like the ability to add payment reminders, take pictures of receipts, schedule payments and more. The app uses Google Drive to back up data for peace of mind.
Probably the most impressive thing about Expense Manager is that the app is currently being used on 1 million to 5 million phones at the time of this writing. 

FreshBooks Expense Management

FreshBooks (Android, iOS, Webis cloud and time tracking accounting software for businesses. If you already use FreshBooks—and many small businesses do—then the Freshbooks app has expense tracking already built in. Quickly assign expenses, as well as track time and send invoices, all from the convenience of your phone.
The app is free with a FreshBooks account, and you can try Freshbooks free for 30 days.

Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed (iOS, Android, Webis a beautiful app that does one thing really well: It collects receipts. With Shoeboxed, you can easily snap pictures of receipts and the app extracts the vendor, total amount, payment method, date and also categorizes into the most common tax categories.
More than 1 million businesses use Shoeboxed to scan and organize their receipts and other paper documents. Not only that, but these digital scans are IRS-accepted, and can be exported to Quickbooks, Excel and other tools.
The Shoeboxed app is free at Shoeboxed.com, which offers a free starter account.

Glen Stansberry
Co-founder, Gentlemint

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