MBC Consulting – Technology and Business Consulting

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MBC consults with businesses to provide software, hardware and support services for customer relationship management, databases, accounting and point of sale solutions.

MBC also works with emerging technology including blockchain and cryptocurrency payment integration for bitcoin and lightning network projects. We provide managed and self-managed solutions incorporating security, efficiency, and integrity.

Morton Business Consulting can provide business consulting to review processes, create plans of action (new business plans and reviews), and provide unbiased consulting to strengthen your business model and provide concrete solutions to help your company grow successfully. Doug has 20 years of consulting experience to help your business become efficient, increase productivity and grow your bottom line. Serving customers in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina – our regional footprint understands business needs in your area!

MBC can help you save time and become more profitable.

Contact: 843-936-0632 | doug@mortonsc.com

QuickBooks Hangs During Financial Exchange

A very frustrating thing that occurs between products that share financial data with QuickBooks is that the underlying QuickBooks.exe task may hang and not close out or end cleanly. This will cause the subsequent financial exchange to fail with messages similar to QuickBooks is already running. This can affect many products but I see it regularly with QuickBooks Desktop interacting with QuickBooks Point of Sale, and with Instant Accept payments integration.

You can try to run repair/reinstall of the software (QuickBooks and/or QuickBooks Point of Sale) but we have found that this may fix it temporarily only. The best way to deal with this right now is to disable any automated ways that financial exchange occurs, and to manually run the exchange as needed, AND to proactively look for and kill any hung QuickBooks.exe tasks prior to running the exchange. Yes, this is inconvenient but Intuit doesn’t really care anymore otherwise they would keep the QuickBooks POS product alive rather than killing off the product permanently on October 3, 2023.

First, close QuickBooks if it is open. Then go the following steps…

To find Task Manager, you have to right-click on an open space in the task bar of your screen and click Task Manager.

It will open up a list of tasks. You will need to scroll down the list alphabetically to find the QuickBooks task. Skip the top section listed Apps and scroll down through the second list, Background Processes.

When you locate QuickBooks in the background processes, right click on it to get a menu and click End Task.

Now you can bring up Point of Sale and try the financial exchange again. It should be successful.

QuickBooks Point of Sale End of Life by Intuit

Intuit has decided that the cost of running a point of sale software business is too expensive and complicated and will cease operations for the venerable point of sale software on October 3, 2023. The software will continue to work. It will not have support nor will it have any of the integrated services you may use currently including credit card payments thru Intuit, gift card services, consignment, integrated webgility ecommerce integration, and store exchange for multi-store among other functions. This means that if you use QBPOS, you will need a new credit card processor (at a minimum).

As your point of sale representative for many years, I would be happy to review your current setup and see if keeping point of sale makes sense for your business. It may be that you just need a new credit card processor. I’ll guide you in the right direction. If you need a new point of sale system, I can help with that as well. Our BTCRetailX point of sale is a full feature retail management system that has many of the same features you loved in QBPOS including in-depth reporting and integrated credit cards but with the added features of working as the store admin from anywhere in the world, as well as cloud backups and unlimited backoffice users.

Please send me a note to doug@mortonbusinessconsulting.com and I’ll reach out and talk about your options. If you decide to switch to BTCRetailX, I will provide a free transition of your product and customer database to the new system. I think you will like BTCRetailX a lot.


Doug Morton

Integrating BTCPayServer

Do you want to accept Bitcoin and BTC/Lightning Network payments? Don’t make a quick decision thinking it will be a piece of cake implementation just because your Umbrel or Start9 Embassy has a one-button install. Just like any business tool implemented, you will want to be prepared. This provides some of the questions we ask our clients about how they want to run their implementations.

  • What is your estimated volume? Low (1-500 month), Medium (501-2500), High (2501 and up)
  • What system is btcpayserver hosted on or do you need us to provide a hosting platform?
    • Are you self-hosting on a Raspberry Pi via Umbrel, Start9, Nodl, Casa or other? If so, give thought to physical node security as well as bandwidth if you run a busy store with lots of transactions.
    • Are you hosting on a VPS system? Security needs to be hardened, as well as enough resources deployed.
  • Are you connecting to your own lightning node to facilitate payments?
    • If so, is it installed and running? 
    • If not your own node, are you using a service such as opennode or lnpay?
    • If connecting to your own lightning node, is it accessible via clearnet (www.mysite.com for example) or is it on tor onion site?
    • If on tor, do you have a VPS host so reverse tor proxy can be configured?
  • What system will be processing via btcpayserver? ( WooCommerce, Shopify, etc)
    • Will you need this system configured for the btcpayserver connection?

These are many of the questions that will help us understand your business model to adequately provision a system for your needs.

Bitcoin and Lightning Network and Point of Sale Payments Integration

As a business owner, you want to see what this Bitcoin thing is all about and want to integrate its payments into your infrastructure. Doing all of this can be daunting if you’re not tech-inclined or if you’ve got other tasks to manage. This is where MBC can help out.

Bitcoin is in the beginning stages of becoming a monetary standard, a store of value and a method of payment and exchange. This article won’t get into the details of why and how (plenty out there to get your information but I recommend reading Saifedean Ammous’ The Bitcoin Standard as a good first step), but will provide a few options of what to do in general to incorporate it in your business.

Bitcoin as a method of payment is built on two payment rails currently: 1)Bitcoin – the main chain and 2)Lightning Network – the 2nd layer. The Bitcoin layer makes up the blockchain (the public ledger) and records transaction every ten minutes on average and has a higher cost of transaction. The Lightning Network (a 2nd layer or subordinate layer to Bitcoin) is a faster and chearper way to send transactions. Both layers have their benefits but I will focus on Lightning for the speed and the low cost of transactions for the remainder fo this article for business-use case.

Lightning Network payments are based on bitcoin but are transacted on the sublayer 2 network. These transactions are “off-chain” and hence fast (completed and confirmed in a few seconds) and cheap (fractions of a % fees generally). Businesses integrate Bitcoin and Lightning Network payments together with various tools including BTCPayServer and LNBits. These tools have integrations to point of sale front-ends such as WooCommerce and BTCRetailX (our point of sale offering). It’s fascinating technology and it’s ready for commercial use.

Unless you have the bandwidth, managing a lightning node takes effort, energy and money. If you want to take on this roll, MBC can assist with the setup. It’s an honorable endeavor if you choose to go that route as you support the Lightning Network by doing so. You also have 3rd party options such as opennode to provide tthe lightning channel management on their side and just provide the proceeds back to you, along with their transaction fees (which is substantially cheaper than traditional credit cards).

MBC has the skills to install and manage your own nodes of bitcoin core and lightning network as well as integrating these payments into your legacy or new tech systems.

Please reach out to us for a quote and business review.


Integrating QuickBooks or QuickBooks POS with a Shopping Cart

Generally, there are just a handful of good ways to connect QuickBooks Point of Sale to an online shopping cart, same for QuickBooks desktop (QuickBooks Online will be covered later). You have to use middleware. Middleware is the software that translates the data between QuickBooks and your shopping cart.

Preferably you are going down this path with the horse in front of the cart. Meaning, do some research before building a website and then wanting to retroactively connect to QuickBooks as you’ll find that not all shopping carts will connect to QuickBooks without spending a lot of consulting dollars to make it work.

To make all this work, you need QuickBooks POS or QB desktop (Pro, Premier or Enterprise) or QB Online; a shopping cart and website and middleware. My personal favorite is QuickBooks POS with a connection to QB desktop, my own website hosted on my domain name using WordPress as a content manager and WooCommerce as my shopping cart.

I am going to focus on the middleware for this conversation. Both QuickBooks POS and QuickBooks financial software are similar in how they connect. Of course there are some differences that I’ll mention as needed.

A lot of the middleware out there provides similar functionality. They all offer comparable functionality in levels such as basic, pro, multistore, etc… And they are all priced as an ongoing subscription service.

This is not an all-inclusive list of middleware providers nor are they rated in order.

Webgility eCC: Webgility offers eCC for desktop versions of QBO and QB, and eCC Cloud for QBO. Offered as a subscription service with levels based on features and order volume. Sync with QBPOS for inventory quantity starts on the first level of Premium (a step above Lite). A bit pricey in my book but offers a boatload of integrated features. Webgility is also a well-established company with top-notch support. I think it fits well with a medium to large scale company with lots of sales volume in ecommerce.
11/10/2021 – if you use QuickBooks Point of Sale V19 and a webstore, you owe it to yourself to subscribe to Webgility and their integration. They have provided a great pricing structure that is super economical for new businesses and increases as your business grows in volume – that’s fair. My clients on it are loving it. Saves time and saves money; and if you have to call support – it’s a breeze and they are super helpful.

A while back, a very inexpensive WooCommerce connector called 61Extensions came out and was a hit but they had bad business management and went under. Some of its customers got together and bought the website and now point to a connector called MyWorksSync. A moderately priced subscription service connecting WooCommerce, Shopify and Magento (and others) to QBPOS and QB.
6/17/2020 – so far so good on using a new connector between QBPOS v18 and WooCommerce. It has a wordpress interface that talks to Intuit’s Web Connector that then transfers data to and from QBPOS. Their pricing is very reasonable and they actually answer their phones, respond to email, and provide a Slack account access.
11/10/2021 – after running MyWorksSync for a year with a couple clients, I wanted to review the software again. Personally, it works pretty well and the price is competitive. We had some BIG issues with the sync tool not being able to handle matrix items from QBPOS. Because of this, we had to look for new solutions or review old ones because if you deal with size and color variations, you would have to build the matrix in MyWorksSync and then sync down to QBPOS. While this may be OK for new businesses, it was a complicated mess with existing merchandise at the store and on the web. As such, QBPOS V19 now has direct integration with Webgility that works AWESOME. I recommend that path first and MyWorksSync second.

Atandra T-Hub: Atandra offers an online version for QBO and a desktop version for QBPOS and QB. Offered as a subscription service with various levels – note that you connect to QBPOS with the Pro version, you can’t sync inventory quantities until the Advanced level. You pay for features – not volume. Pricing is reasonable to me for the Advanced feature set. Atandra has been around for a long time and support is reasonable in its turnaround.
6/17/2020 update – It is disappointing to say this but Atandra’s support has slipped a lot. It has taken a lot of brow-beating to get them to respond, if they respond at all. T-Hub does not sync categories from QBPOS to WooCommerce – what a major fail! Just based on this lack of support – I can no longer recommend Atandra T-Hub.

Connex for QuickBooks: Connex is a subscription service with various levels – note that you can’t sync inventory quantities or attach to QBPOS until the Pro level. You pay for features and for order volume. For QBPOS, it uses a proprietary web connection to send data between QBPOS and your shopping cart. For QB, it uses Intuit’s Web Connector.

If you want an assist on getting this up and running for your business, give us a call at 843-936-0632 or email sales@mortonbusinessconsulting.com

Should you buy QuickBooks Point of Sale v19?

The short answer is Yes.

New QuickBooks Desktop Point of Sale offers more

It’s built for your retail business—online and in-store—with seamless ecommerce integration, contactless payments, multichannel inventory management, and a whole lot more.

Pricing for QBOS v19 is on sale in February. Sales prices are available for new customers of Intuit Payment Services (IPS) – the fastest, most accurate and efficient way of processing cards in QBOS. IPS offers competitive rates and no long-term contracts and dscounts on software. It’s a win-win-win.

Please call us at 843-936-0632 to arrange a purchase of the software or send us an email we will reach out to you. sales@mortonbusinessconsulting.com

Retirement and Taxation

In my business I interact with many small to medium business owners and their employees. Since I deal with accounting, I naturally get asked questions about personal finances and more specifically retirement planning. Just to be transparent, I am not a certified financial planner and what I share is not meant to be construed as advice. I read a lot and share what I learn and can offer the solutions to my clients. If it fits and works in a given situation, then we run with it and get the solution in place. If it is not a solution I can provide, I let you know and offer alternatives outside of my expertise. While a 100% tax-free retirement would be great, it is more realistic to be tax SMART and lower your tax burden as much as possible to provide more income in retirement.

Regarding retirement and taxation, I believe that the banking and investment world has sold the American employee the belief that a qualified retirement plan such as a standard tax-deductible IRA or 401(k) is in their best interest. The transition to pushing these products heavily in the 1980’s was portending the end of the pension era. Pensions were funded by the employer and managed by the employers fund management. With that management comes a lot of pressure to perform and pay the pensioners what they are promised in retirement. A vast majority of companies liked the concept of the 401(k) as it is funded by the employee (generally also contributed to or matched up to 3% by the employer) and directed by the employee on its management.

Employees liked the 401(k) because they were given matching funds by their employer to entice them to build their retirement. Who doesn’t want free money? The lure of tax-deferred growth was also sold as very beneficial. The retiree would pay taxes at an assumed lower rate since they were no longer working and Social Security benefits are provided tax-free.

The reality is different. Retirees are finding they no longer have itemized deductions they did when they were working. No mortgage interest write-off after paying off the house. No school loan interest write-off with the kids out of the nest. Just a standard deduction. The current 2020 tax rate for ‘married filed jointly’ for income less than $80,250 is 12% for a tax bill of up to $9,630. It jumps to 22% over $80,250 ($17,655 in income tax for $80,251 in income – yikes!) and goes up to 37%. The money you withdraw from the IRA and 401(K) is taxable income (not capital gains). Retirees are finding that if they want to live a lifestyle befitting a well-off retired person that they have to contend with a higher tax rate than expected which eats away at the nest egg. This forces some to reduce the lifestyle they were expecting if they want the money to last. If you have a 30 year retirement, it is said by Morningstar research that you should only withdraw 2.8% a year on a million dollar retirement fund (pre-tax) in order for it to stay funded (producing money for you) over that 30 year period. 2.8% on $1,000,000 is $28,000 – that’s pre-tax! A millionaire having to live on $28,000 a year. That’s sad. It also speaks volumes about our current retirement planning system. Oh yeah, remember when I said Social Security benefits are paid tax-free? Not so fast – if you are taking Social Security and you have a retirement distributions funded by an IRA or 401(k), you are eligible to be taxed on your Social Security payments through the Provisional Income model. The IRS adds 50% of your Social Security income to all of your annual IRA/401(k) distribution to set your Provisional Income and then tax it according to the income tax schedule. If that total is over $80,250 then expect to pay a minimum of 22% in tax or $17,655. So much for tax free Social Security benefits. Note – if all your income is just Social Security – it is tax-free in full.

What are your options, you ask? There are several good paths.

One is to fund a Roth IRA with after-tax dollars and also participate in a matching 401(k) up to the maximum. A Roth IRA is taxable now; and then generally tax-free upon withdrawal in retirement years. The 401(k) with the matching funds is a no-brainer for free money. If your employer offers a matching 401(k), take the money and match the contribution, but when you want to go over 3% (which you should as 3% is only covering the cost of inflation), put that money into a Roth IRA at up to $6,000 a year if less than 50 years old or $7,000 if over 50. Any money available after the additional $6,000 may go into a standard IRA for conversion into a Roth later on. This is a blended solution to provide tax-free growth benefits from the Roth IRA and matching contributions

Another path to Roth IRA is to convert funds from a qualified account, pay the taxes now, and convert the funds to a Roth IRA. It’s also good to do this in a down year for income. That means a 50 year old with $57,000 converted into a Roth IRA has about $50,000 (taking into account a 12% tax) that grows it to $225,000 (4x basis) over the course of 20 years can enjoy ALL of that money tax-free at retirement paying tax on just the original $57,000 basis (the amount he originally put into the account). In 2020, with the corona virus and economic hardships and job layoffs, a 12% tax rate is feasible for many. Conversions to Roth IRA’s are ideal during low income years. A $57,000 (or more) conversion for a business owner who has a loss in 2020 would hit the 12% tax rate. You do need to keep in mind the tax implication of converting too much each year in combination with your income could put you into a higher tax bracket for that year.

Another path to tax-free retirement funding is through an over-funded high cash value 10-pay whole life insurance policy through a non-participating mutual insurance company. You get many benefits with such a policy. You get a guaranteed death benefit. You get tax-free withdrawals in retirement. You get access to cash via loans where the interest charged can be offset by dividends provided by the policy. You get guaranteed growth of your basis as well as non-guaranteed growth by way of dividends and indexing.

As a member of the SMART Advisor Network, I am trained to providing solutions as listed above to you. I can help individuals (the employee or business owner) as well as companies create options to assist your employees plan for a smarter retirement. Click this link to fill out a contact form or watch a video on more of these concepts. I’ll get back with you ASAP!

Point of Sale, eCommerce and QuickBooks Online Integration Made Easy!

Oh yeah, who hasn’t pulled their hair out when trying to synchronize all the working pieces of their accounting software, point of sale software, shopping cart and middle-ware? If you can’t see me, I’m in the back office pulling out my hair. Ouch.

But there is a better way! MBC (that’s us at Morton Business Consulting) can make all the pieces work.

We offer two very distinct but very workable solutions:

QuickBooks Online with WooCommerce Shopping Cart and WooCommerce POS

This is the ultimate online solution. Use QuickBooks Online to manage your accounting and inventory control. Use WooCommerce to sell online via its shopping cart. Use WooCommerce POS to sell to your brick and mortar customers. All integrated!

QuickBooks desktop (Pro, Premier, Enterprise) with WooCommerce Shopping Cart and QuickBooks Point of Sale

This is a traditional way of doing things. Use QuickBooks desktop perform your accounting, use WooCommerce to sell online and use QuickBooks Point of Sale to manage your inventory and sell to your brick and mortar clients.

MBC can get all of this set up for you. Call us at 843-936-0632 or fill out the form and we will reach out to you.

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