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10 Essential Tools For Entrepreneurs and Startups

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Ideas can strike anytime. An idea may wander in your thoughts waiting for the best time when it can be implemented. A process of thought in your mind can be worth millions. In the present era idea and innovation is they key for a successful business. Addition of new game changing ideas, thoughts and young entrepreneurs are making the business world more dynamic and human life simpler and easier. If you can earn money from your hobby, then what can be a better and more satisfying job than that? You are your own boss, you manage your own money and you have more time for your friends and family!

When a group of colleagues or students think of a startup they are initially not much organized. Often people start with a hobby and when they observe that they have started making good money or money equivalent to their salary they plan to make it bigger and take it to another level, taking it to a complete professional platform. At this one needs to be professional and should create a professional environment that keeps the team motivated and give them the feeling of working on a big change. To help with this we are going to list some ten tools which will definitely help you in managing and running your startup.

1. Dedicated Contact Numbers

A visible complete office address, professional website and a dedicated line number can make your business look more professional and established. For examples having a toll free easy to remember number or 0845 numbers in case you are in UK can help your customers to connect with you without spending much. While having a toll free number will help your customers to connect with you for free, a 0845 number will help your customer to connect with you by paying only for a local call no matter wherever you are. A number of companies are available to provide you dedicated numbers hosted on their telecoms network making it sit on  top of your existing numbers. Thus, avoiding any need to install additional lines. You will also get additional features like call statistics, disaster recovery and online call management.

2. Wave

Wave is a very famous free tool that helps you be your own boss. Wave can help you with invoicing your clients and get paid by them, Accounting, managing Payroll and receipts and personal money management. Wave provides everything for free, only the Payroll feature is paid where they charge $1 per employee. You can connect your banks directly with Wave and it will help you keep a track of your transaction, your earnings, and will tell you where you stand financially and how you can manage it. All the features of Wave are inter-connectable, i.e any money earned through invoicing will automatically be updated in the accounting tool, similarly any bank transaction you make will be updated there. No need for manual entry, although Wave provide manual entry feature for those who are uncomfortable connecting their bank with the tool.

3. Skype

Skype has proven its supremacy when it comes to VoIP. It is quick, free and connects you with your team members around the world whether they are on computer or mobile. After the recent purchase of Skype by the Microsoft it has been nicely embedded in latest Windows OS and Windows Phone devices. Skype is available for almost any platform, not just Windows. There are a number of apps supported by Skype that can enhance its ability to be used as official communicator for your company. There are apps that provides complete PBX (Private Branch Exchange) solution. With Skype you can record your calls, divert your incoming calls to another number or voicemail, call people on their mobile or telephone for a very low price, etc.

4. Cloud Storage

Today with improvement in mobility and degree of freedom we need our data where ever we go. It will cost a lot of space if we start copying everything from our computers to tablet and mobiles and then a lot of effort to keep them on sync. Here comes cloud storage in picture. You can store your file on the online servers and access them, make changes and do whatever on any device. You can also share your documents with your team members and can give them authority to make changes as well. Dropbox is a famous cloud storage provider. With its free 2 GB space and desktop apps you can keep your systems at sync and upload files on the server so that you can access on other devices. Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive are one step ahead as they provide essential Google Docs apps and Microsoft Office web apps respectively for creating and editing documents, spreadsheets and notes. When it comes to storage and costs, Skydrive is slightly better as it provides 7 GB of free space when compared to Google Drive’s 5 GB and Dropbox’s 2 GB. Also when it comes to extending your storage, Skydrive with its yearly plans comes to be cheaper. You can extend your storage capacity by 500 MB for free in Dropbox by inviting your friends to use it.

5. CrowdFunding

Often you have great ideas that when implemented can bring a good change and generate a large amount of revenue, but to implement such an idea and convert it into a startup requires some investment. If you do not have money to invest and if bank is unavailable to provide you loan, then crowdfunding is the solution for you. As the term suggests it is a platform where crowd (individual people, investors or companies) can fund your idea (can be anonymously) if they really like it. In return you can either give them momentos or gifts or a part of your profit when your business will be a success. There are a number of online services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo which can provide you robust platform to get started and raise money for your idea or cause.

6. Mailchimp

Often you disregard communication and service mails from websites and uncheck “send me communication and promotional mails” while signing up for a service, but there are people who do select it. Interested people want to hear what is new with your company, or when can they expect a new exciting announcement from you, or may be you will provide discounts and offers directly to their inbox to keep them engaged. Never undermine the power of emails. Even if you are not sending any such mails at present, it is a good idea to at least have contact information of your regular readers/viewers/customers as anytime in future you might require to send them a communication mail. For this reason Mailchimp is there to help you out. It can build a list of your customers for you and can help you to contact them with appealing email templates. This service is free up to 2000 customers and sending 12000 mails per month.

7. Website/Blogging Tool

It is very important to have your online presence whether your business require direct online involvement (like e-commerce, online journalism) or not. Having your company online connects you with your potential customers who may be out of your reach in the real world. Customers can find you and easily contact you online. Wix is a platform that can help you create free and beautiful website for you quickly without any requirement of coding. When it comes to online customer engagement, you need to have an updated blog about your company, containing updates, offers, communication etc and anything that is official. WordPress and Blogger are two most popular and powerful blogging platform. Whatever you write is available for everyone and can generate even more potential customers as blogs are indexed by search engines and they can be shared on social media websites generating more views and expanding your reach.

8. Domain name and Professional Email

When you have created a website and blogs for yourself, you need domain name and professional email. Just like point number one that we discussed, having a professional domain name www.somecompany.com and then directing it to your website and having professional email [email protected] can make your business look more professional and established. Godaddy is one such popular service that can provide you domain name and email Id for your company. You can even chose Google apps and that can buy you a domain via Godaddy or any other service and provide you its premium email features on Gmail.

9. Personal Productivity

You have a lot of ideas and things in mind but you forget one thing while doing the other thing? You note down at your desk or on papers creating a lot of mess and clutter. Often startups do not exactly start with an office space you might have your own private space and your team members might have their own. So if you are at any other location you will not be able to access or refer to your notes that you had pointed down on the papers or on the desk. There comes Evernote to help you. Again it is a multi-platform application and you can use it on your mobile, tablet, and computer no matter what operating system you are using. It can capture anything from your ideas, your thoughts, and anything that you think might need to be referred later. When you need to refer to your notes you do not have to search in the clutter of paper, but all you have to do is type some search keywords and Evernote will present you your notes. You can even share your notes, ideas and collaborate on project with your teammates. A similar service exclusively for Mac and Apple products is Omnifocus. If you are already using Skype and Skydrive, then you can use Microsoft Office OneNote, another service by Microsoft like Evernote.

10. Hootsuite

It is the time when almost every company is trying to make their presence on social media bigger. It not only keeps you connected with your followers and customers but also extends your reach to potential customers. Social media is not about time pass and killing time when moms used to scold their kids for wasting a lot of time on Facebook. Today it is a virtual market and with the help of customized Facebook pages you can even sell your products. Hootsuite is an application that can help you manage all your social network profile at ones. In a free account you can add up to five social media profiles. You can not only post, track each posts, respond to notification, view analytic, but also schedule posts. Scheduling a post at night can help you target the people on the other side of the globe even when you are asleep. keeping your social media pages active 24X7.

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Editor | The World Reporter. An economist, IT specialist and a post graduate student from Romania.

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Operating With the Blinkers On? Why You Need To Reconsider Your Outsourcing Strategy

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A lot of what makes a business effective is its ability to roll with the punches. If you find yourself constantly adapting to trends, you need to remember that it has to come from a place that will have a positive impact on the business, rather than keeping up with trends for the sake of it. One of the biggest trends in recent years has been outsourcing. And so many companies look towards outsourcing as a way to reduce the bottom line, but is this an effective approach? Is it actually time to stop outsourcing? Let’s show you some components that can help you to decide what would be best, and whether outsourcing will benefit your business or hinder it?

Where Is Your Business Falling Down? 

Skills are pivotal to the success of any company, and when we are lacking the right skills, this is where we turn to outsourcing. However, when we utilise skills from an outsourced entity we end up in the position where we are relying on these people to help us get to the next stage of our business. There are times when we can outsource when it is not to do with the skill. For example, if we had to move our headquarters to a different location, rental truck companies like flexfleetrental.com can help with the practical components. But if you find that your business is falling down in a place as important as a lack of skills, you have got to think twice if outsourcing is the best approach. And this is because if you have someone on board to help you get to the next stage, and then you let them go, are you going to need them to come back further down the line? In which case, surely it is better to have a full-time member of staff fulfilling this position? 

Is Outsourcing More Cost-Effective? 

Everybody uses outsourcing as an approach to save money, but outsourcing costs can vary, but they can also be more expensive when you have gone into it with the right mindset. Knowing your costs is crucial, and calculating the maths is something you will need to do. This guide to outsourcing costs at classicinformatics.com can provide some insight here. Outsourcing can reduce costs, but if your overriding goal is to improve the business, you might want to think about investing in the company rather than cutting corners. Outsourcing can be cost-effective, but only when done over a short period of time. The difficulty of outsourcing over a short period of time is in finding the right person. If you are able to find a person with the right skills, it can be more cost-effective. However, the hunt for the right person can be as expensive.

What Does Outsourcing Do for the Business? 

The goal is to improve the bottom line, but we’ve got to look beyond numbers and metrics. A business is not just successful in terms of its figures, but it’s the people within the business and the cultural components that will ensure its efficacy. Many businesses utilise outsourcing in such a manner that it says to the employees “they are not good enough.” Therefore, this is not going to help the company in the long run. Employees will become dissatisfied with the company and their roles and will go and find someone that will support them. Outsourcing is great for numbers, and if you are the type of entrepreneur that is looking to create an environment where you can rule with an iron fist, outsourcing can be very effective. There are still entrepreneurs who prefer to operate with an “it’s not personal, just business” approach. But if you use outsourcing as a crutch to prop up your business during tough times, you’ve got to think about the long-term impact on your employees. 

It proves harder to keep a business going when you are forever outsourcing. It is a common trend that will continue for years to come but we have to remember that outsourcing is not always the most effective solution. We are forever blinkered in our approach to doing business, and this is driven by the desire to make money. But a business is so much more than that. It is an entity that should provide a need within society or provide for a certain demographic. So if you are thinking about either utilising outsourcing or giving it up, it is important to make sure that all of your lightbulbs are on.

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How To Make Business Life So Much More Favourable

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If you have a business or you’re heavily considering starting a business, then you’ll know all about the perils and the difficulties that will come with it all. While it seems like such a wonderful idea from the outside looking in, it’s actually something that can really take its toll on you if you’re not prepared enough both mentally and physically. 

You’ll always be looking for ways to make business life an awful lot more convenient. The idea in this game is obviously to work hard as you never get anywhere without a serious commitment. You’ll really want to focus on working smart, however. Hard work for no reason is foolish when you have much better ideas and techniques staring you in the face. Business life can be a real hassle if you get things wrong and have to go through laborious days. Here are just a few ways to make your days, weeks, and months a lot more favorable for you: 

Get The Right People Around You  

Who you share your time with in business matters so much. If you have all of the wrong people, then you could be on a downward slant over the next few years. If you have good people with the right attitude and intentions, then you’ll likely become a lot more successful. In terms of using the right people, we’re talking about networking, hiring staff, bringing in specialists, soliciting advice, and so many other areas. Business is an interpersonal game, so make sure the right groups and individuals work with what you’re trying to achieve. 

Embrace Technology A Lot More Than Perhaps You Are Right Now 

If you’re already someone who wants to milk every platform they have, then this idea won’t worry you too much. There are so many pieces of ai powered software around that will help you with what you’re trying to achieve. Analytics, ads, management, and so many other areas can be bolstered with good programs. 

Set Up Genuine Plans With Achievable Goals 

This sort of goes without saying because you’ll likely have plans for the tasks ahead. This is more the idea of creating more structured plans for areas that are perhaps freer and less structured. Setting goals for everything you do can lead you to understand more about what needs to be done. It also gets everyone even more motivated. 

Take Care Of The People Working With You 

In terms of those you’re with, you’re going to need to treat them properly. It’s amazing what can happen if you neglect how they feel and the work they put in. The best leaders will always hone in on each individual and check in with them. 

Outsource Certain Jobs That Are Tedious

Sometimes, there are particular tasks that – although they need to be done – take up lots of unnecessary time and stress. If you are outsourcing admin, for instance, it makes life a lot easier for you as you all can focus on the productive and progressive side. 

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Current Trends in Business That Every Entrepreneur Should Work Towards Achieving

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The world of business is changing and with it the trends that entrepreneurs should be working towards. Entrepreneurship has become a lifestyle as opposed to just a paycheck. With an entrepreneurial mindset, you can do anything. Check out these current trends in business that every entrepreneur should work on achieving:

E-Commerce

E-commerce has been a significant trend for the past few years, and you can expect it to continue being so. E-commerce has multiple benefits, including increased revenue, high availability of products, and a more significant customer base.

E-commerce allows businesses to be present on all digital platforms, which helps them reach out to more customers quickly. In addition, it makes it easier for companies to reduce overhead expenses as there are no physical stores that have rent costs associated with them or inventory levels that need maintenance constantly. Statistically, e-commerce has grown rapidly in the past few years from 25% – 30% year on year.

Financial Apps and Software

The software aspect comes into play when considering how businesses manage their finances moving forward. Companies must adapt to technology. Otherwise, they will find themselves left behind by competitors who embrace emerging technologies such as cloud computing and mobile apps. It is also easier to make purchases using these apps and communicate with the sellers. Incorporating such software with equipment and partnerships with a payment processing company will diversify the business activities and set you up for expansion.

These apps allow them to move away from traditional forms of financial management such as spreadsheets and accounting software to financial management apps such as Xero. With these new apps comes the ability to monitor business finances from anywhere, which can help businesses grow faster than what they would ordinarily be able to manage with slower conventional processes.

Blockchain Tech

Blockchain tech is the current trend in business that every entrepreneur should work towards achieving. You can apply this technology to many different industries, and entrepreneurs need to find their niche within this growing market. It’s also critically important not to overlook blockchain tech when deciding which cryptocurrency or token you want your company associated with.

Both positive and negative factors are involved in choosing one solution over another, but it all comes down to finding what works best for each situation. For example, today’s most valuable aspect of blockchain tech is its promotion of secure transactions between parties while eliminating third-party transaction fees (or at least significantly reducing them).

It means that businesses operating on a global scale could potentially enjoy significant savings in maintaining financial records. Transparency is also an important selling point for blockchain tech. The decentralized nature of its design makes all transactions public and easily accessible by anyone who has access.

Fraud and Cyber Crime

Another current trend that every entrepreneur should work towards achieving is fraud and cybercrime. In today’s modern world, the internet has brought the business community closer together as it allows you to reach a global market from almost anywhere with an Internet connection. Unfortunately, this means those who want to take advantage of this have access to millions of more potential customers, making it easier for fraudsters to steal money from unsuspecting victims.

Businesses that are not careful can fall victim to several types of cybercrime, including phishing, spoofing, pharming, and identity theft. These crimes are increasing at an alarming rate as more people use the internet for business purposes which means scammers often target them.

Conclusion

Today, business is becoming increasingly challenging. The traditional ways of doing things don’t work anymore, and it’s time for entrepreneurs to adapt to stay relevant within the industry. However, the industry itself is evolving rapidly, and it’s challenging to keep up with the changes that are happening every day. Fortunately for you, this post is here to help you understand the current trends that every entrepreneur should work towards achieving.

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