technology skills

Become a Better Leader With These 5 Technology Skills

Jul 18, 2017

Being a leader is more than telling others what to do. 

Often, it involves showing the way and leading by example. When you have key soft skills and technical proficiency, it will be far easier to be a great leader in your organization.

Managing data was at the top of Time’s list of vital career skills. Technology cannot be overlooked, no matter what industry you work in. Here are five technology skills that will make you a better leader.

Using Virtual Communication Tools

More and more full-time employees are working from home, and companies frequently use independent contractors as advances in technology make staying in touch simple. If you can manage a virtual team using key software, you will have a skill that is in exceptionally high demand.

Communicating remotely isn’t easy. Body language is a major part of how people send and receive information, as is tone of voice. Many people say that only 7% of communication is about the actual words spoken.

As a leader, you can use a variety of tools to overcome communication barriers. You can use video conferencing to bring a lot of non-verbal communication back to remote teams. There are also a variety of project management and collaboration tools available.

Managing remote teams effectively is a key technology skill for today’s leaders.

Familiarity with Your Company’s Tech

Whether you work for a technology company or a manufacturer, all organizations use technology. As an effective leader, you need to be aware of the details of how the technology that’s important to your business works.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you have to be able to build the company’s tech from scratch, but if you have little to no idea how it works, you won’t be a successful leader. Every day your employees have to use the technology to succeed or create the tech you sell.

If you are not able to skillfully use, understand, and teach others about your company’s technology, you will be limited in how far you can go as a leader. Technology skills are not declining, they are instead becoming more complex, and you can be on the leading edge.

Understanding Data Analysis

As a leader, you need to be aware of the data your company generates and how to use it to its full potential. In today’s computerized and internet-connected world, every organization produces a wealth of customer data that can be mined for insight.

Data science is an essential business tool for leaders, not just the analysts who create reports. Analytics is about both technical skills and thinking skills. You should know how to separate good data from bad data, understand how assumptions affect your understanding, and more.

When you can stand up and give a presentation based on data you truly understand, you’ll bring additional insight into the situation. You can give excellent recommendations that are not based on faulty assumptions or an incomplete picture of a situation.

As a leader, you also make important choices about which problems in the business should be investigated and solved. When you understand the data available and the impact that each concern is having on your bottom line, you will be far better able to make these decisions.

Process Analysis and Improvement

No matter what industry you work in, processes govern workflow and production.

Understanding these processes is vital for any leader, but you can take things a step further. Become a better leader by developing skills in process analysis and improvement.

Understanding a process requires you to use technology skills, analysis, critical thinking, and more. You will need to be able to map the flow of work and detect slowdowns. You will need to understand how much a process change will cost and how much money it will save.

Perhaps most importantly, process improvements require change management. This requires the use of both technology and people skills to help your staff understand and adapt to change. There are many ways to encourage buy-in, and an excellent leader will have the skills required to help with the transition.

Data Security

Understanding and managing the security of data is a task that should concern every leader. From customer data protection to proprietary company information, data is a key asset in all businesses.

You may think that data security is a concern for IT, rather than for leaders like you. That’s far from the case. 80% of companies say that “end user carelessness” is the biggest security threat to their organizations.

As a leader, you can have a lot of influence on how well you and your team use security processes. When you fully understand the importance and process of data security, you can become an advocate for data safety. This technology skill helps you become a significant asset to your organization.

The Need for Technology Skills Is Increasing

As the “internet of things,” the cloud, and other technological aspects of business grow, the need for technology skills will increase as well. As a leader, you have an obligation to your organization to learn all you can to support your company.

When you gain these key skills, you will be able to lead not just from authority but by example. Your understanding of key technology will help your employees build respect for you. It will also contribute to higher level leaders seeing you as an asset to the company.

No one can become indispensable, but the fastest way to become replaceable is to stop learning and developing your skills. Instead, take the time to study how you can support remote teams. Learn the ins and outs of your company’s technology. Learn how to analyze data and keep it secure. Work on process improvements and change management.

When you master technology skills along with the usual soft skills of leadership, such as communication, you will be head and shoulders above many other leaders. You’ll stand out, and will have many opportunities to advance your career!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to be a great leader, subscribe to our blog today!

co-founder

How to Know If Your Start-up Needs a Co-Founder

Jul 17, 2017

Finding success as an entrepreneur can be hard, but it’s not impossible. With the right connections and enough hard work, success can be achieved.

However, if you’re looking to ease the process a bit, consider a co-founder. A business with two founders is more likely to be successful. Having a business partner can help relax some of the start-up woes.

Before selecting a partner, you’ll want to ensure that you are choosing wisely.

Picking a business partner isn’t a decision to take lightly. Read on to learn about the benefits of a co-founder and how to pick one.

Benefits of a Co-founder

There are a number of benefits to having a business partner. Let’s discuss a few of them.

1. It becomes a team effort.

Managing the early stages of a company can be difficult. From paperwork to networking, there are an endless amount of tasks.

With a partner, you can split the workload. This makes the process much more manageable. A partnership also keeps both parties accountable.

At the same time, you both bring different experiences and knowledge to the table. When it comes to delegating tasks, it’s much easier if one of the founders has more experience than the other.

2. More networking opportunities.

Having connections as a start-up is a must.

As time passes, you’ll have new questions and face new challenges. On your own, you only have your network to consult.

With a business partner, there is another network to tap into. Having two communities for support can make all the difference.

3. One on one support.

Building a business requires plenty of outside support.

With a business partner, you’ll get more personalized help. You’ll receive the benefit of having someone who is on the journey with you.

Ideally, your co-founder will be there to support you and to guide business decisions.

What to Look for in a Business Partner

Once you’ve decided to seek a business partner, don’t take the decision lightly. Your choice can make or break your startup.

When selecting a partner, keep this information in mind:

Your business partner should fill in gaps.

Take a look at your background. What experience or knowledge are you missing? The co-founder you choose should provide what you are lacking.

Maybe you have an MBA, but have no technical knowledge. Your business partner will need to bring technical experience to the table.

Think with the future in mind.

As an entrepreneur, making business decisions is vital. Every decision you make should consider the future. The business partner you choose should be one that makes sense in the long run.

Do your personalities mesh? Do you trust this person? Can you envision long-term business with him/her?

Answer these questions before making your decision.

Business 101 from an Experienced Professional

Are you looking to learn about entrepreneurship? Want to add to your business knowledge? If so, check out Rafferty Pendery.

We offer a wide-range of business information. From advertising to branding, we’ve covered it!

Contact us today for the business information you need.

brand yourself

Why It’s Important To Brand Yourself

Jun 30, 2017

Successful entrepreneurs and business owners know the effect that good branding has on their sales.

Developing a strong, well-established brand is one of the most important things you can do for your business. So you create a logo, a catchy business name and headline, have your packaging sorted out and publish content on a daily basis.

But many entrepreneurs don’t realize that they can grow their business even more through effective personal branding.

So how can you develop a personal brand along with your business brand? How can you do it and still stay focused on your big goals?

Keep reading to find out why it’s crucial to brand yourself and how to do that successfully.

Why It’s Important to Brand Yourself

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a solopreneur or a business owner, you have to work very hard to position your product or service on the market.

One part of your business success is related to the quality of what you’re offering and the other parts are the branding and the relationship you build with your potential customers.

This is where personal branding comes into play. It’s basically your chance to tell people your story and connect with them on an emotional level. This will establish trust and credibility.

Another reason to brand yourself is to stand out from the crowd. This is important in an overly saturated market.

One of the best ways to do so is through social media. If you use these platforms the right way, you can connect with other like-minded business owners. You can meet people who may have business opportunities for you.

How to Brand Yourself for Success

Creating a personal brand alongside your business brand is easy if you know where to begin.

For example, attending as many networking events as you can is essential for spreading the word about your business. It’s also important for meeting other entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.

Networking is a great way to expand your connections and meet people who can help you grow your brand.

Another way to brand yourself is to connect with your customers on a personal basis. Tell them the story of your brand and how you started it. Listen to what your audience says, the feedback they give you, and what they’d like to see next.

Paying attention to your customers’ needs and implementing them in the future will help them trust you.

One of the best parts of developing a personal brand is the opportunity to show your personality. You can do this through creating online content and videos. Show people that behind your successful brand stands an equally successful person.

Bottom Line

Creating a personal brand for yourself and your business at the same time may seem daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before.

But if you learn how to approach and execute it, you’ll find it incredibly rewarding both personally and professionally.

More and more entrepreneurs and business owners invest their time and work into personal branding and it’s what takes them to new heights.

hiring independent contractors

The Benefits of Hiring Independent Contractors

Jun 26, 2017

“Should I hire independent contractors?”

It’s a hand-wringer for many business managers. It might come up as your business experiences a sudden surge, or when the chance to bid on a huge contract presents itself.

The independent workforce now makes up over 40% of US workers, so there may be no better time to tap into that resource. But is it right for you?

While we can’t answer that question outright, we can give you the tools to understand why hiring independent contractors could be a real benefit to your company.

Give yourself flexibility

Everybody wants to be able to do everything in today’s commercial marketplace.

Partly that’s because we all want to be ready to respond to the latest changes in our industry. That could be anything from developing technology to a social media trend.

Hiring independent contractors is a great way to add that flexibility to your organization. With traditional employees, your ability to capitalize on situations is limited by the skill set of your employees and the long lead-times involved in the hiring process.

You could hire new employees, sure, but then who’s to say their skills will remain relevant to you over time?

Independent contractors are also great for managing changing business needs. You can bring on a retinue of contractors to cope with high volumes of work or a particular project without needing to find a niche for them when the work reduces back to normal levels or the project comes to an end.

Save on expenses

It’s no secret that regular employees come with a lot of requirements and expenses employers must meet or incur.

Among the considerations for a company hiring employees are:

  • Providing space for employees to work. This will include health & safety considerations as well as comfort.
  • HR support to deal with parental needs, ambitious or underperforming employees, requirements to show continued professional development, and other personal and interpersonal issues such as stress and disputes.
  • Benefits such as health insurance, pension etc.
  • Continued payment for employees outside of a usual working pattern, such as long-term sickness and parental needs.
  • Compensation in the event of accident or injury
  • Meeting travel and training expenses

All of these add up to a lot of expense for an employer. And that’s fine if you’re investing in your company’s future and trying to build a skilled in-house team.

But you don’t always need that. By hiring independent contractors, you can bypass a lot of these expenses while still completing work.

Independent contractors may have a higher payment per hour, but when you factor in the extra investment of time and money into regular employees, the savings soon become obvious.

You can hire independent contractors fully-trained without any of the other financial obligations to your company except their salary.

Protect your company

As we’ve covered, regular employees can need a lot of maintenance to keep them happy. What happens when the employer/employee relationship breaks down?

Lawsuits can be devastating for a company. By hiring independent contractors, you can insulate yourself from this risk.

Contractors aren’t your direct employees, so you don’t have the same legal responsibilities for them as you would a regular employee.

Here’s a selection of rights held by regular employees that you won’t have to worry about when hiring independent contractors:

  • Right to form a union
  • Right to sick or parental leave
  • Protection from employment discrimination (except racial discrimination)
  • Right to minimum wage and increased overtime payment

So hiring independent contractors can ensure your core business doesn’t become eclipsed by legal issues and expensive payouts in the event of a dispute.

Anything that allows you to focus on what you do well gives you an advantage over competitors distracted by other issues.

There are some legalities you’ll need to keep in mind. Your written contract will need to be smart to set the terms of employment. You’ll also need to consider things like the question of what happens to intellectual property created by independent contractors.

Recruit quickly

Recruitment can be a hellish process for all involved.

Timescales are long. Even after posting a job ad, you’ll often have set a closing deadline and be unable to advance before then. Following which you need to go through the lengthy and time-consuming process of interviewing candidates.

It can often take a least a month before the candidate is able to come and work for you.

And this all supposes you’ve found the right candidate and that the hiring won’t turn out to be a mistake. It’s also pretty common for new employees to change their minds and jump ship within weeks.

In some cases, you can go through all this for just a single employee.

By contrast, hiring independent contractors lets you get boots on the ground quickly. You can mass-hire, skip interviews (even if you conduct a less intensive skills check), and deploy within weeks rather than months.

Being able to deploy workers so quickly could be the difference between winning or losing a contract, or delivering a project to budget.

It can also allow you to manage harmful backlogs.

Expand your scope by hiring independent contractors

Depending on the nature of your industry, you may find that hiring more employees isn’t the best way to scale up your business. The extra overheads of regular employees may keep your company at a certain size.

Hiring independent contractors can be an effective way to break through that ceiling. You can effectively inflate the size of your workforce and the size of your company.

Knowing you can bring in independent contractors to cover more ambitious work gives you a realistic way to beat your competitors without taking dangerous risks.

Independent contractors may help you punch above your weight in your chosen industry. You may even find they help you snowball to the point where you can afford to invest in more regular employees.

So next time you see an uptick in your work or need to meet the requirements of a project, consider hiring independent contractors and feel the benefits.

For more business tips, follow my blog or head on over to my Contact Page if you need to get in touch!

 

 

small scale business ideas

How To Turn Your Small Scale Business Ideas To Reality

Jun 16, 2017

small scale business ideas

Are you are an entrepreneur with a small scale business idea?

If so, you shouldn’t stop there!

With the right mindset and dedication, you can help turn your small scale business ideas into a reality.

As of September 2015, there were 27 million working-age Americans who started or were running a new business.

That makes up nearly 14% of all working-age Americans!

Part of being a successful entrepreneur is creating a good idea and having the passion, intelligence and work ethic to develop.

Read on to learn how to turn your small scale business ideas to reality.

Identify Your Goals

To bring your small scale business ideas to life, you need to have clearly identified goals.

What product or service are you offering your customers that they cannot get anywhere else?

If your product or service is not the first of its kind, how are you doing this better than the competition?

Once you answer questions like this, you should identify how your product or service will help to solve a problem your customers are facing.

Your goals should be narrowly tailored so that you can measure your progress towards each of them. You should also be careful to ensure that you are setting both short-term and long-term goals.

By doing this, you have a measuring stick for your small business as your idea becomes a reality.

Understand Your Market

Even the best idea can fall flat if you don’t understand your target market.

What are the demographics of the market you are targeting with your product or service?

By identifying this market, you can determine the ways that you can connect with them the best.

This might be through presentations, emails, your website or a combination of different ways.

Understanding your market will also help you to competitively price your product or service. If you are too high or too low, you risk missing out on valuable business opportunities.

Find Funding

You should also be prepared for where to find funding for your small scale business ideas.

Depending on your idea, you may able to fund the initial start-up costs yourself.

But if your small scale idea is bigger or more costly than you think, you may need to seek funding from a bank or investors who may want a stake of ownership in your business.

Make Small Scale Business Ideas a Reality

Bringing your ideas to life in the form of a business can be challenging but rewarding.

You need to ensure you spend time brainstorming your idea and how it fits into the current and future of your industry. But making your idea a reality also requires understanding your target market and identifying your goals.

If you need more funding than what you have on your own, you will need to find it from other sources, which will require you selling someone else on the idea of your product or service.

Rafferty Pendery is an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist who is here to help others who share a passion for business.

Contact him today to learn more about how he can make your business dreams become a reality!

entrepreneurial development

7 Ways to Improve Yourself as an Entrepreneur

Jun 13, 2017

Did you know that nearly 70% of all entrepreneurs start by running their businesses from their home? 

What about the fact that entrepreneurship is responsible for creating over 3 million jobs in the United States alone? 

The reality is that, no matter what industry you choose to work in, where you start your company from, or even how many employees you have, you need to have an incredible drive in order to succeed as an entrepreneur. 

Of course, drive alone isn’t enough. You also need to continually and rigorously work to refine and better your personal entrepreneurial development. 

How can you make sure you’re doing that? 

You can start by reading this article. 

In it, we’re telling you the top 7 things you can do to grow entrepreneurial development and become a better entrepreneur. 

1. Surround Yourself With Good People

The company you keep is one of the most important factors when it comes to entrepreneurial development. 

We know you’re already probably attending tons of events, talks, and other networking events in your industry. 

But keep in mind that, in order to keep developing your own skills, it’s not enough to just milk these connections to grow your business. You have to be willing to really learn skills from others on your team or in your larger industry. 

You also need to know how to delegate tasks according to what each member of your team is good at. This can be difficult, as it will often mean acknowledging your own shortcomings. 

However, the reality is that every person on your team is an asset in their own unique way (which is why it’s so crucial to hire a diverse team.) 

You want to find people who share your vision of success and who you work well with, but they need to be leaders just as much as you are. Ask yourself what you can learn from everyone on your team, and what you can teach them in return.

2. Know How To Measure Your Progress

We all want success – but unfortunately, it never comes overnight. 

Instead of focusing on one giant (often unattainable at your current phase of business, anyway) goal, you need to break it down into several smaller goals that you can actually reach. 

This won’t just hone your entrepreneurial development and keep you motivated to moving forward. 

It will also allow you to clearly evaluate whether or not the current steps you’re taking, and methods you’re using, are actually effective. 

3. Outsource What You Can

Especially at the start of your business, you need to seriously evaluate how much time you’re losing every day to tasks that, in the end, could really be done by someone else. 

As an entrepreneur, every minute of your day is incredibly valuable – and every wasted one represents a real loss.

To foster your own entrepreneurial development, ask yourself and your team to think of the tasks that can only be done by them, that could probably be done by someone else (especially down the line) and that could easily be outsourced.

For example, only you can meet and pitch your company, vision, and projections to a potential million-dollar investor. However, someone else can probably run the updates on your computer.

4. Know How To Lead

Even if you’re just starting out, we know you ultimately want to still be in charge when your company grows to a multi-million dollar empire. 

But to do that, you’re going to need to teach yourself how to be a good leader. This doesn’t just mean managing your specific team. 

It means becoming an innovative thought leader in your field of choice. 

Ask yourself: what are you continuously doing every day to make sure you know the latest news and trends in your industry? How are you incorporating that into your own management style and product/services? 

Always learn from mistakes – your own, and other people’s. Make sure those you work with feel valued, and take the time to listen to and ask for their ideas. 

5. Take Risks

Especially in today’s hyper-competitive world, if you don’ take risks as an entrepreneur, you’re never going to see the kind of growth you want – personally and professionally. 

If you’re not comfortable playing around with money, keep in mind that there are lots of other ways to take risks. 

Hire someone who thinks differently than you do. Attend an industry event with people you look up to, and make it a point to talk to them. Take on a bigger client.

Do something that your competition is afraid to. 

It’s the only way you’re going to be able to differentiate yourself.

6. Avoid Distractions

Yes, it’s true – in order to get the most out of every day, you’re going to have to schedule your time like crazy. 

This also means that you need to be incredibly protective of it. 

Especially in today’s world, it’s easy for a “quick five-minute break” to turn into a long lunch, cocktails, happy hour, and a hangover the next day. If you don’t see your time as one of the most valuable aspects of your business, you won’t make it far. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks. In fact, they’re incredibly important when it comes to keeping you productive! It just means that these breaks need to be scheduled.

Give yourself at least 5 minutes every hour to unwind. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself losing hours of time later. 

7. Always Remember Why You Started

Accepting some losses and going through some challenging times are an important part of entrepreneurial development. But often, especially if these are big losses, it can make you feel like you want to quit. 

When this happens, think back to why you started your company in the first place. What problem did you want to solve? Who would you help? What do you love about it? 

This will encourage you to push yourself through the tough times. 

Build Up Your Entrepreneurial Development With These Tips!

Thanks to these tips, you’re ready to make this the year your company hits its all-time highs! 

Looking for more ways to motivate yourself and manage your time

Want to know what else you can do to push yourself to grow? 

Check out the blog and website to ensure that you never let another opportunity pass you by.

branding your business

10 Tips For Branding Your Business

Jun 12, 2017

branding your business

Do your customers or readers know who you are? I’m not talking about them knowing about your brand. We mean, do they know who your brand is as if it was a person.

Does your brand have a personality? Do your posts tell the world what your company is about along with what you do? To stay relevant in today’s market your brand needs to be knowable and read like an open book.

If this is a new concept to you, don’t worry! It’s not too late to start branding your business. We’ve got 10 tips for you to make it easier to turn your company into a friendly face.

What do Well Branded Businesses Look Like?

Successful businesses are open books in that you know what they stand for. For example, Starbucks stands for good coffee and well-treated employees and suppliers. They market as friendly and welcoming. That’s why employees try to learn names and orders.

They want you to believe that each store is a friendly place. That’s their brand: your friendly neighborhood Starbucks. What’s yours?

10 Tips for Branding Your Business

Branding your business is not a quick process. Like anything worth doing, it takes time and effort. If you’re willing to do the work, you’ll be rewarded with more visibility and loyal customers.

1. Keep it Simple

Let’s think about some big successful brands we know. Google, Netflix, Dunkin Donuts, and Amazon. What do they have in common? They aren’t overachievers. Their brand is one or two things at most. It’s simple. 

Dunkin Donuts does coffee and donuts, that’s it. Amazon does home delivery of goods, Netflix does streaming, it’s not complicated.

A good brand’s services can be easily described and easily remembered. So when you’re branding your business don’t go overboard!

2. Don’t Be Fake

No one like a facade. The same is true when it comes to brands consumers commit to. If your company’s brand is about honesty and you’re caught lying about anything – you’re finished.

This is something to think about when you’re branding your business, can you live up to your own brand?

3. Write it Down

Before you decide on a solid brand identity, get out your business’ mission statement and values. Look at those and consider your ideas for a brand. Once you’ve decided, write it down.

Your brand needs to be concrete, something you can tell marketing directors or people you hire who are new to your company. It has to be concrete.

4. Catchy Tagline

This may come before or after you’ve decided on a concrete brand identity, but either way, it’s important. When you’re building your brand you need to have people remember what you do, as well as who you are.

Make sure that your tagline fits within your brand. For example, if your tagline is about being family friendly, make sure you post only family friendly content.

5. Your Logo isn’t Brand Content

In simpler days, it was enough to have your brand be represented by your logo. Now, you need to have appealing and engaging content that is unique to your business.

For your company’s Instagram, your logo will be your profile picture, but that should be the only place it’s visible. If it is on your product and you post a picture of that product, that’s ok.

6. Be Visible

Speaking of Instagram, your company needs one. It’s hard to keep up with all the social medias, that’s true. However, if you want to engage younger generations, it’s a necessary evil.

When you’re choosing networks to be on . Start small. You don’t want to have accounts that get neglected. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are a must.

7. Be Consistent Across Networks

When you have a presence on different social media networks and otherwise online (emails, website content) you need to stay consistent. Your brand needs to be obvious for your content on each one.

Try not to post the same content on each social media network at once, your Facebook page and your Instagram shouldn’t match post for post. If you are announcing something big, tweak the graphic or the picture a little on each network.

You should be consistent across networks, but not copy and paste your content.

8. Be Consistent In Person

This goes along with creating an honest and fitting brand. When a customer engages with your company in some way, they should feel like your brand is representative of your services.

This is a little vague, so let’s go back to the Starbucks example. Their brand is friendly and welcoming. They act on that in person by learning customers names and their orders. That’s what it looks like to be your brand.

9. Brand Ambassadors? Don’t Hire Out!

This is a tip for smaller businesses. If you have a huge marketing budget and want Kylie Jenner to advertise your product, then go ahead.

If you have a small or medium sized business, you don’t necessarily need a Kylie. You have brand ambassadors right under your nose. Your employees! (Assuming that your employees believe in your product) They are a gold mine of brand content.

10. Associate Strongly

Pick some companies with similar brands. For example, if part of your brand is about being a local business, feature another local business from time to time. You don’t have to make it extreme.

An Instagram post of a snack table at a meeting with a local company’s food and logo visible would be a good example. This is something you should keep in mind when you’re partnering as well: do your brands work well together?

Hopefully, we’ve given you some helpful tips for branding your business in today’s ever-changing marketing world. The name of the game in 2017 marketing is engagement and you have to give your consumers something they can engage with.

If you’ve already picked a brand for yourself and it’s not working out, re-branding is always an option. You can be successful at branding your business if you work hard at it, even if you don’t have a marketing team.

Now go get your brand on!

solopreneur

9 Tips and Tools Every Solopreneur Needs

May 28, 2017

Being a solopreneur is filled with challenges.

While the freedom from bosses and incompetent coworkers is incredible, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. After all, you don’t have anyone else to help pick up the slack.

It’s just you.

So what can you do to keep on top of the never-ending flood of to-do list items and keep from burning out?

The successful solopreneur toolkit

You might not want to hire a support staff, but there are a number of apps and online resources that can be just as helpful as a paid staff.

1. Evernote

One of the best parts of having a personal assistant is having someone available to write down your good ideas as you have them.

Evernote isn’t quite that good, but it is a great tool for keeping all of your notes in one place. Evernote includes a huge amount of free storage and is accessible from any device.

It also won the 2010 Webby for the best mobile app, so you know it’s good.

2. Sighted

The most important part of any business is making sure you get paid.

Sighted allows you to send and manage your invoices in one place. It allows you to work among several different currencies.

And when your business outgrows the free accounts, the premium options are still affordable.

3. Grammarly

You don’t have time to proofread. You’ve got business to do.

That’s where Grammarly comes in. Grammarly is a program that proofreads as you type, saving you time and embarrassment. There’s also

There’s also a free Grammarly extension for Chrome. Can’t beat that.

4. Hootsuite

You can’t do business these days without a social media presence. But it can be hard to manage all your separate accounts without a social media manager.

Hootsuite allows you to manage all of your social media pages from a single program, saving you time.

5. Canva

If you want to lose legitimacy fast, the easiest way to do that is to have bad design work.

Canva is a free web-based design program. It features beautiful drag-and-drop templates that allow you to create fresh graphics for all of your design work.

And all of this without hiring a designer.

6. Square

No one carries cash anymore.

And if you’re trying to get paid, that’s worth remembering. Square is a convenient alternative to traditional Point of Sales systems.

With Square, you can accept credit cards anywhere thanks to their free reader and mobile app.

7. Workflow Max

Workflow Max is the ultimate program for maximizing your productivity.

It allows integration with over thirty add-ons so you can handle your invoicing, scheduling, client management, and more from one program.

8. WiseStamp

Nothing legitimizes you as a serious solopreneur like a high-quality email signature.

WiseStamp creates a professional email signature with a variety of customizable features.

You can add your picture, link to your social media accounts, list your contact information, and more. All for a low-price annual subscription.

9. Assistant.to

Scheduling meetings can take forever if you’re doing it on your own.

Assistant.to makes it easy to organize meetups and appointments using only your email. It’s like having your own personal secretary, but without all the unsolicited gossip.

Oh, and you don’t have to pay it.

Beyond apps: more solutions for the solopreneur

These days, we are rich with free resources for every task.

But there’s only so much we can do on our own.

If you are a solopreneur that needs individualized help with organization, expansion strategies, social media, or online PR and marketing, contact me today.

how to start an llc

How to Start an LLC: A Beginner’s Guide

May 27, 2017

Have you always wanted to start your own LLC, but had no idea where to start? 

If so, then this is the perfect guide for you!

Here, we’ve created a beginner’s guide that will briefly and clearly tell you how to start an LLC, so you can stay focused on your business for years to come. 

Step One: Pick A Name

The first step in understanding how to start an LLC? 

Picking and claiming the perfect name!

First, you’ll need to make sure that no one else has already claimed the name you’re interested in. Most states won’t allow for duplicate names or names that are too similar to an existing one. 

Additionally, your home state likely has local laws when it comes to picking out a name. You can find out more about these local laws here

Be sure to select a name that’s relevant to your business, easy to pronounce, and clearly separates you from other businesses in your industry. Remember that in most states, you’ll need to include the initials “LLC” in your business correspondence and official documents. 

Once you’ve chosen your name, you can reserve and register it either at the time you file your articles of incorporation or before you create your LLC (this will once again depend on your state.) 

Should You Trademark Your Name? 

Once you’ve made the effort to select the name of your dreams, it’s generally a good idea to have it registered as a trademark. This way, no one can steal your name and your intellectual property will be protected. 

To start the trademarking process, you can go to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s website. 

Step 2: Start Setting Up Your LLC

It’s time to start making some decisions about the overall operations of your LLC. 

When it comes to who is in charge of your company, there are two possibilities. 

The first is called a “member-managed LLC.” This means that everyone who owns the LLC also manages it. This is the most popular option because most people who start their LLC want to be in charge of it!

If you’re the only member of your LLC, and also want to serve as its manager, good news! Depending on your state, you might not even need to file any articles of incorporation. 

The second management option is called a “manager-managed LLC.” This is when those that don’t own the LLC are in charge of running it. As the LLC owner, of course, you decide who manages your LLC in this option. 

Step 3: Filing Articles Of Incorporation 

Once you’ve decided on a management style, it’s time to file your articles of incorporation! These need to be filed with your state’s specific secretary of state. 

You will need to provide your LLC’s name, the legal address of your business, the purpose of your business, and who will help to manage and own your LLC. You’ll also need to provide an outline of the basic structure of your business. 

Of course, you’ll have to pay a fee when you file! Luckily, it’s only between $100-$300. 

At this time, you’ll also have to select who will be the “registered agent” of your LLC. This means that you need to pick a foreign or domestic company – other than your own LLC, of course! This entity will need to be registered to legally do business in your state and is usually a partner of your LLC. 

Step 4: Get Your Business License 

What’s the next thing you’ll need to do when you want to know how to start an LLC? 

Apply for and receive your business license! Though the specific license requirements will vary based on the state in which you live and do business, there are a few more general things you can expect. 

You’ll likely need to get additional licenses that vary based on the type of business you’re planning to run. This can be things like liquor licenses, licenses from the health department, and more. 

The Chamber Of Commerce in your specific city will also be able to give you additional information about the fees, overall application process, and kinds of licensing you may need to have. 

If you’re lucky, you might even be able to both get and renew your business license on the Internet!

Step 5: Get Right With The IRS

Next, it’s time to apply for your own Employee Identification Number (EIN,) through the IRS. This will ensure that your employees’ taxes are handled and filed properly. 

Even if you are the only person in your LLC, you’ll still need to get an EIN. Keep in mind that if you’re only working with independent contractors, you won’t need an EIN. 

If you’re your LLC’s only employee, you can apply for your EIN online through the IRS’s website

Once you have your EIN, you’ll be able to open your LLC’s official bank account! Select your bank carefully, and always ask about the different account options available to you. 

Step 6: Draw Up Your Operating Agreement

This is the final, and also one of the most important, steps of how to start an LLC. 

(Of course, if you’re the only person in your LLC, you won’t need to complete this step.) 

Even if you’re in a state that doesn’t legally require you to have an operating agreement, it’s still a smart idea. This agreement will help you to ensure you keep your status as an LLC, will help you outline in writing your financial and management plans, and will help you to set out rules for operation. 

You Know How To Start An LLC

Thanks to this quick guide, you now know the basics of what it takes to start your own LLC. 

Though there initially might be a bit of work involved, it’s always worth it in the end!

Looking for more advice on how to start your own business? Want to make sure things keep running smoothly? 

Check out the website and blog for more invaluable advice!

online business ideas

7 Online Business Ideas That Work

May 20, 2017

You’ve always seen yourself as someone that would be a good business owner, but as of yet, you haven’t taken the chance to open one of your own. After all, it’s estimated that 25% of all new business fail within their first year, and you’re worried about taking that kind of risk.

Instead of opening a brick and mortar location, think about starting a business online. Whether you want to start a new career or make money on the side, there’s something you can do. There are plenty of online business ideas that could make you a lot of money.

The best online business ideas

The online market for businesses is unlimited. If you stay focused on your latest business venture, you could make an entirely new career for yourself.

Are you curious about what the best online business ideas are for you? Take a look at these and see if any of them interest you.

Social media consultant

Do you like using Facebook, Twitter, and other major social media platforms? Have you had success gaining your own followers?

If you enjoy social media, you may want to consider becoming a social media consultant. It’s something you can do entirely online and demand for social media help is high.

Draft posting plans and write content for clients. In fact, if you’re good online, you may want to consider another internet career path…

Web designer

Building a good website takes time. If you have HTML and design skills, you could easily start to build websites for clients.

Doing web design full time or for freelance work could be one of the online business ideas you’re looking for. You’ll be able to make your own schedule and build a portfolio while you work.

Online craft seller

Do you see yourself as a crafty person? Do your friends love it when they get your homemade gifts? If so, selling goods on Etsy or Amazon could be what you need to do.

It’s estimated that over 1.6 billion people purchased goods online last year. There’s a market for what you’re selling, and you could make a lot of money.

Event concierge

If you’re a good planner and don’t mind spending time on the phone, being an event concierge may be the new career you’re looking for.

Planning a wedding, party, or other event means that someone needs to spend a lot of time on the phone making arrangements or learning about services. You could make money acting as a go-between for event hosts and businesses.

Affiliate marketing

Do you like to leave reviews on Amazon or Yelp? Your opinions could help make you money!

Affiliate marketing may be one of the best online business ideas ever created. People with established accounts on big websites can give their honest feedback on products or services.

Resume writer

A resume is essentially an advertisement you’re giving a potential employer. If you have good writing skills, you could make money online by writing resumes professionally.

Talk to clients about their professional background, and ask them for a list of places they used to work. If you have a creative enough mind, you’ll be able to do the rest.

Consulting

Nearly every business or company could benefit from a consultant. If you’re knowledgeable about a certain industry or business practice, you could be a consultant.

If you know how to market for small businesses, be a business consultant. If you know a lot about making sales you could be a sales consultant.

If you have questions about how to make money, write us a message so we can start a conversation.

5 Ways Backlogs Can Be the Death Of Your Company

Apr 12, 2017

Tech entrepreneurs are busy. However, you do not want to fall behind on your work. You want to make sure you are not getting backlogged. Tech entrepreneurs are already busy. Having a backlog of work will create more stress and make you even busier. This could very well be fatal to you and your company.

  1. Backlogs will burn you out.

You getting stressed out is the worse thing for your company. You need to be able to keep your company energetic and enthusiastic to get the work done. If you are stressed out, then you won’t be able to do the work properly, creating more backlog. You will not be able to achieve your short-term goals or meet your deadlines if you have a backlog. You’ll be running late to everything and stressing out, making you unfit for the job you created.

2. Backlogs will burn out your employees.

You do not want your employees getting tired and stressed out. Late nights happen, but having them all the time because you are constantly trying to catch up on work is not acceptable. Take care of those who work for you. Make sure they are getting breaks at reasonable intervals, and rotate your employees so that the same people are not working all the time. If your employees can’t work properly, then the company isn’t working. You may have started it, but the employees keep it running. Don’t let them get stuck with backlog. Keep up on your deadlines and short-term goals, and celebrate accomplishments with them.

3. Backlogs burn out your resources.

Backlogs create a rush. Rushing around uses up all of your current resources, not giving you time in between each project to replenish them. There is a lot of work that goes into what you do. Whether that is ink and paper for printing, venues to host events or finances, it will all eventually run out if you are constantly using them without allowing for breaks. Without the proper resources, your company will not be able to function or complete its projects properly.

4. Backlogs burn out your clients.

If you are a business that takes clients, then backlogs will destroy your company. You don’t ever want to have deadlines pass without having completed and turned in the work. Your clients only have so much patience, and they will only give so much grace. Eventually, it will get to the point when your client will leave you and go to someone else. A decrease in clients is a decrease in income. Lower income means a lower pay.

5. Backlogs burn out your ideas. 

When you have a backlog of projects, you, your coworkers and your employees will run through ideas to try to catch up and get them done. It will only stress you out, make you tired and give you no desire to complete your job. Do not let backlogs build up or you will lose motivation and inspiration. These two things are vital for any company to stay on its feet.

Do not let backlogs build up. They will only damage your company and lower your morale. If you honor your customers and respect your employees, then a backlogs should never happen. Keep up to date on your work, and, if you can, get ahead. Never let yourself fall behind because that will lead to a chain of disasters that can be avoided. Stay organized, and keep your tasks written down. It is possible to run a business without building a backlog.

4 Reasons Every Business Should Hire From the Top Down

Apr 9, 2017

If you own a small business, and you’re looking to expand, then you must be looking to hire some people. As a tech entrepreneur, this is a great opportunity to look for people who have the potential to grow within the company and to help make the company grow. That is exactly how you should choose who to hire. You don’t want to hire people when you are in a rush or panicked. Take your time, and look at each individual candidate for hire. Analyze their potential within the company, and if they have the skills you are looking for, hire from the top down.

1. Hiring from the top down helps you hire people with similar goals.

Hiring people with similar goals is important. If they do not have similar goals, then it will create confusion within the company. Hiring someone who is like-minded will help build up and improve the company rather than create confusion. You will want to hire someone who can encourage you toward and help you achieve those goals.

2. Hiring from the top down will help you find people are committed.

If the people you hire are not committed, then your projects will take longer to complete. You will want to hire enthusiastic people. People who are enthusiastic will remind you of why you’re doing what your doing and will encourage you to keep going. Committed people will help keep up the moral of the team and  negativity out of the work space.

3. Hiring from the top down helps you find specific people to fill your need.

Look for people with specific skill sets. Know who you want and what you want them to do. If you aren’t specific, then you’ll go through a long training process. Training isn’t bad, but if you have a short term goal coming up, then you will need to be specific. You need to find people who can jump right into the project without holding the company back.

4. Hiring from the top down will help you create a team with the same mindset.

You want a team with the same beliefs and core values. If the people you hire do not hold to the same core values that you do or that the company does, then it will create dissension within the team. A group of people working together need to see eye to eye. If they don’t, then it is much easier for arguments to break out. If the team is arguing, then work isn’t getting done, and the project is being delayed. Know your core values, and hire people who agree with them.

If you’re looking to expand your company, go for it. As a tech entrepreneur, you should keep in mind the hiring process and be specific. Hiring from the top down may take a little longer than just hiring the first people who apply. However, hiring from the top down helps you find people who are fit for the job and take little to no training. Know your coworkers and employees. They represent the company, so you want to make sure you are hiring people who can do so well.