The Era of the Unintentional Entrepreneur

In Part 1 of this interview, Kevin Reeth (Co-founder and CEO of Outright.com) and I discussed some of the challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship and the emergence of a new breed of “unintentional entrepreneurs” – people who, because of the economic downturn, find themselves exploring the possibility of going freelance, starting their own business, or hiring out as a consultant. In part 2, we discuss some of the technological tools that make entrepreneurship – unintentional or otherwise – a viable option right now.

Kevin Reeth (KR): One of the good things about the timing now is that it has never been cheaper or easier to start a company from the logistics and marketing perspective. The ability to get your name out there, to get a web presence, to get online, to get people to be able to find you, has never been greater. If you just know the basics, you can use technology to better manage your time, better manage your processes, and then get paid and deal with the money. Open Source software, websites like ours [Outright.com], all this new technology has made it a lot easier.

Dustin Wax (DW): What are some of the most effective and promising tools that are out there for entrepreneurs?

KR: We’re big fans of social networks for self-employed people, because what it basically does is kind formalize those informal relationships. And you can get it down without worrying about curstomer relationship software and all that stuff. Of all of them, I think for professionals LinkedIn is the leading candidate.

Definitely get on Google and use Gmail and Google Calendars. It’s free, it’s awesome,  and you can tie it to your own domain name using Google Apps for Your Domain. Phenomenal toolset, and it’s completely free.

And we strongly recommend that people take advantage of free online tools to get a web presence. Get a blog on WordPress or Typepad or Blogger. If you want something a little more expensive, get a domain. Go to GoDaddy, get a domain, get cheap hosting, and get something very basic website up.

We also recommend Craigslist. It’s a great business tool! If you have to buy anything, do not pay retail. See if it’s on Craigslist first. Companies are started and fail all the time. And they’ve bought the things you need and they’re going to want to sell that stuff. You can find a lot of stuff in great condition. Also, you can use Craigslist to promote your services for free or very little.

And then of course, once you do start making a little bit of money and Uncle Sam wants their piece, then we strongly recommend people take a look at Outright.com.

DW: I think the real interesting thing right now is the way that data is being shared between different applications, like from Freshbooks to Outright. Once that stuff starts being really integrated, when you can put your LinkedIn contacts for instance into your CRM program or whatever, that’s going to be pretty interesting.

KR: I think you hit the nail right on the head, and that’s exactly where we’re trying to take this. You see it with The Small Business Web, a site that was put together with the folks at Freshbooks and Shoeboxed and BatchBook and MailChimp. One of the greatest things that has happened in the last few years with the web is, in addition to open source software, the open movement around data flow. You see this with Facebook and  the number of developers they can get building on top of it, you see it with Twitter. Most of the success of Twitter is all the people who’ve built stuff on top of it to extend it in really new and creative ways. Making the data open and available basically creates the opportunity for the broader population to innovate on it and it creates little micro-industries. It’s a massive development and I think we are at the very beginning stages of this.

In Part 3 of this interview, Kevin and I will discuss the program at Unintentional Entrepreneur and how they’re working to provide knowledge and support to small business owners, solopreneurs, and freelancers. Be sure to check back Monday!

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