Before You Buy That Software...

Check out shareware--it's cheap and it (usually) works

Dick Nethercot was in paperwork purgatory. The Wichita entrepreneur had built Bill Griffing Painting Inc., the 40-year-old house-painting firm he had purchased three years earlier, into a local powerhouse; more than a dozen men worked for him, and his annual revenues stood at nearly $1 million. But success meant his increasingly elaborate billing needs could no longer be handled manually. So, in the spring of 1997, Nethercot began hunting for software. After installing Intuit Inc.'s QuickBooks Pro, the leading small-business accounting program, he decided it was too complex and laden with features he didn't need. Instead, he chose a simple billing program, Financial Freedom Billing Manager Pro, from tiny M&R Technologies Inc. of Palm Bay, Fla. "It turned out to be a slick little program that did everything we wanted it to do," says Nethercot. Not only that, he was able to download the program from the Internet and test it out before sending M&R a dime.

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