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17 Essential Free Online Resources for Entrepreneurs

17 Essential Free Online Resources for Entrepreneurs

Starting and running a modern business can be challenging to say the least. There are so many things to juggle. So many tools and services. So many people to meet and contacts to make. Business plans, marketing– you name it.

As busy and as hectic as the world of business is, there is one huge benefit we can all make use of – free online resources aimed at helping small business owners and entrepreneurs. There’s a stack of great stuff out there; if you know where to look.

To help you, we’ve compiled a big list of all the best free resources (including guides, tutorials, articles, tools, & services) that will help you take another step towards success.

Business Ideas

Coming up with a viable business idea is not always that easy. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be a fun learning experience. SpringWise looks at innovation around the globe with a focus on high tech stuff that, unfortunately, tends to be out of the reach of a solopreneur type startup. Nevertheless, it’s still hugely valuable to keep tabs on what’s coming onto the market.

Springwise business ideas

    Not every idea you see on Springwise will be a viable startup option for you, so you might want to look at something like SME Pals’ Small Business Ideas resource page, which offers a huge, growing list of unusual, innovative, and quirky ideas with a focus on low startup costs and great online potential.

    Business Plans

    Whether you are looking for investors, approaching the bank for a loan, or simply doing extensive marketing research, a good business plan can give you the knowledge and industry insight needed to take advantage of new business opportunities.

    Bplans offers hundreds of freely available business plan templates on their Free Sample Business Plans resource page.

    Bplans sample business plans

      There are over 116 business plan outlines for retail and online startups alone, which makes an unbeatable business plan resource for home based or small business startups, that want to do everything from blogging to selling things online.

      Websites

      Every modern business needs a website. But not every modern entrepreneur should have to learn programming, HTML, CSS, MySQL, DNS, SSL and every other piece of technology that goes into making a website.

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      Free yourself from complicated and expensive custom Web design issues by following SME Pals’ How to make a website guide for complete beginners. See how easy, fast, and cheap it is to create a professional, cutting edge website for yourself.

      How to make a website

        What’s nice about this resource is that it is organized into sections that you can dip in and out of depending on where you are in the process of creating a website. Access everything from important concepts and basic definitions, to costs, guidance, and advice on domains, hosting, and step-by-step beginner guides to building a website on all the major Web platforms.

        Analytics

        Having a great website is only the first step. Next, it’s important to monitor Web traffic to understand where visitors come from, what they do while they’re browsing your site, and where they go afterwards.

        Analytics is a vital part of any good marketing, advertising, content, sales, and search optimization campaign. Google Analytics offers a complete (and completely free) way to work with your visitor data to better understand how your business is performing.

        Web analytics

          I find that the Audience Overview, Real Time, Acquisition Channels, and Behavior Events data reports are the most useful because that covers everything from who has visited my site, whos online right now, where they came from, and what they did.

          Marketing

          Marketing is a huge discipline making it difficult to cover every little aspect in one go. However, there are a few standout resources that I think are definitely worth mentioning.

          Inbound

          The particular demands of the Internet audience lead to an evolution in the way marketers approached their craft. Inbound marketing was born and espoused a shift in attitudes from telling consumers to buy your products, to engaging with them to build trust and authority. At the vanguard of this movement is Hubspot, and there is a lot of extremely valuable information on inbound marketing at their blog.

          Hubspot inbound marketing

            Blogging

            For me blogging just wouldn’t be the same without the longstanding service of Darren Rowse’ ProBlogger that offers a massive array of articles, guides, tips, eBooks, podcasts, and other resources on everything to do with creating content for blogs.

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            Blogging tips and advice

              While some of the resources on the site are paid, I highly recommend browsing their blog for more actionable advice and tips than you can shake a stick at.

              SEO

              Search engine optimization is the art and skill of ranking your website and webpages higher in Google (and other search engines) in order to generate as much valuable organic search traffic as possible. SEO is a huge discipline encompassing everything from content creation (blogging) to technical aspects such as server speed and performance.

              There’s no-one better in the industry to offer reliable free advice and insight then Brian Dean and BackLinko.

              Backlinko SEO advice and tips

                The best feature about Brian’s site is that he doesn’t produce tons of articles. You’re lucky if there’s a new one each fortnight. But, each article contains a wealth of really valuable insight and information. I’ve been in the biz for years and I still learn new stuff each time I pop in to read something.

                My favorite is his list of 201 powerful SEO tips, which contains enough actionable search optimization hints and tips to keep you busy for weeks at a time.

                Software

                There’s no one single piece of free software I could recommend since any type of business requires a whole array of software in order to function. That’s why this section is going to be a list of the most useful software packages available for download online. Enjoy.

                7-Zip

                7-Zip is a free (no payment or registration required) utility that can archive and compress files and folders as well as unzip them using a range of formats – like Windows’ .zip, and the superior .tar.gz, as well as its own high compression .7z format.

                7zip free zip utility

                  Skype

                  Skype provides free online conversations and instant messaging, file sharing, video sharing, conference calling, and VoIP to land-line calls.

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                  Skype free VoIP IM

                    Avast

                    Avast offers a free trial of their antivirus software for 30 days. After that time you can choose to extend your free usage period or upgrade to their full, paid protection plan. While there are a few annoying popups to deal with on occasion, overall, their free protection plan is excellent.

                    Avast free antivirus

                      Thunderbird

                      Mozilla’s Thunderbird is a modern, easy to use email client that will have you sending and receiving emails in no time on virtually any platform you can imagine – Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.

                      Thunderbird free email client

                        OpenOffice

                        Apache’s OpenOffice is open source’s answer to Microsoft Office, which used to be bundled free with Windows, but now costs a small fortune to install separately.

                        OpenOffice free office software

                          Adobe Reader

                          Adobe Acrobat Reader is an essential free utility for reading (but not creating) PDF documents. PDF is a widespread document format that is common online (if you do any work online, you’ll need a PDF reader).

                          Adobe free PDF reader

                            Dropbox

                            Dropbox is a free, cloud based application that allows you to store, share and synchronize files online.

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                            dropbox free cloud sharing and storage

                              Chrome

                              Google’s Chrome Web browser has risen to become the most dominant PC browser on the planet. It did this by being fast, and easy to use while rendering Webpages elegantly.

                              Chrome free Web browser

                                Q&A

                                Without a doubt, the best place to get surprisingly good, in-depth and knowledgeable online advice about virtually every aspect of starting, growing, and operating a successful business of pretty much any size in pretty much any industry is Quora.

                                Quora free expert answers

                                  A good way to find quality answers is to search for questions that have garnered a lot of views. Generally, popular questions attract better and better answers that go into more and more detail as they compete to be upvoted to the top of the answer results.

                                  Tax, Loans & Finance

                                  Government recognizes the importance of startups, innovation, and small businesses within the economy. Small businesses account for almost half the nation’s contribution to GDP and almost half of the overall employment. That’s huge.

                                  It’s no wonder that the SBA was created to help entrepreneurs and small business owners navigate the tangled Web of tax, legal, and finance laws, regulations and practices.

                                  Small Business Administration

                                    While there are plenty of local and regional resources available from the SBA, the two most important online ones are their Loans & Grants and Learning Center. The loans section, in particular, offers plenty of valuable advice and information on how to apply for loans, connect with lenders, and access other financing resources.

                                    So that’s the end of my list of free, online entrepreneur resources. Hopefully you’ll find plenty of valuable insight and information to help boost your own business and take you one step closer to success.

                                    Do you already use any of the resources mentioned here? Have they been of help to you and your business? What other free sites, articles, tools, and resources would you recommend?

                                    Share your thoughts in the comments.

                                    Featured photo credit: Jeff Sheldon via albumarium.com

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                                    Last Updated on November 5, 2018

                                    20 Best Places to Work for a Great Career in 2018

                                    20 Best Places to Work for a Great Career in 2018

                                    Looking for a job? There’s no doubt to the fact you will want to work with a company that appreciates you for who you are.

                                    Well, good news. The labor market today is one that has peened up with more opportunities for advancement and personal employee improvement. This is partly due to the fact that a lot of companies have been made to understand the value of their biggest assets: the employees.

                                    To wit, here’s a list of companies- across a wide array of industries- that have been able to develop working environments that are healthy and accommodating to workers.

                                    Take a look at these 20 best place to work for a great career:

                                    1. Salesforce, San Francisco, California,

                                      Salesforce is in the information technology business and the company ranks highest due to their commitment to learning and innovation. They are ready to try new things and everyone with a new idea is always welcome to share it at the company. The company has also been known to exhibit an exceptional approach to alignment.

                                      Find out more about careers in Salesforce

                                      2. Wegmans Food Markets Inc.,Rochester, New York

                                        Based in Rochester, New York, employees have been known to enjoy a sense of purpose from working here. The company has been able to achieve an optimal level of engagement across all working tiers and they’ve been able to achieve great things together. They even do deliveries.

                                        Find out more about careers in Wegmans

                                        3. Ultimate Software, Weston, Florida

                                          Employees get amazing benefits here but that’s not the only reason why this place is so awesome to work. Whenever there is a need or a death of an Ultipeep or any of other family members, the company shows love and support like no other.

                                          Find out more about careers in Ultimate Software

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                                          4.The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts

                                            Development is at the center of anything that goes on here. The business is about people and employees are the company’s biggest asset. Employees are able to challenge the status and also leave impacts on clients.

                                            Find out more about careers in The Boston Consulting Group

                                            5. Edward Jones, St. Louis, Missouri

                                              Edward Jones is admired for their ability to acknowledge history without being mired down by it. The company builds on a solid foundation but there is also a level of flexibility that allows for innovation.

                                              Find out more about careers in Edward Jones

                                              6. Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, San Francisco, California

                                                Kimpton is a trendsetter in the hospitality industry. The company always strives to try something different and that perspective is welcomed there at all times. Enjoy the weekends with luxury rooms, conformable mattress, furnished and well dressed service staff. A great opportunity for job seekers.

                                                Find out more about careers in Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants

                                                7. Workday, Pleasanton, California

                                                  Newbies will find no issues with feeling welcome and at home here as this has always been a core culture component of the IT giant. Everyone is treated like family and this fosters a sense of oneness.

                                                  Find out more about careers in Workday

                                                  8. Genentech, South San Francisco, California

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                                                    Here, employees are encouraged to be themselves. There is a feeling of care, safety, and acceptance that you get here that you can’t get at many firms. The development of an all-inclusive environment has always been foundational.

                                                    Find out more about careers in Genetech

                                                    9. Deloitte, New York, New York

                                                      Deloitte is one of the biggest professional service providers in the world, noted for their focus on constant learning, development and improvement. They invest in their employees and are concerned about their well being.

                                                      Find out more about careers in Deloitte

                                                      10. Baird, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

                                                        Baird is a financial services provide that is known for adopting a “no asshole policy’ which guides the way people relate with and respect each other, regardless of their position on the company’s hierarchy.

                                                        Find out more about careers in Baird

                                                        11. Quicken Loans, Detroit, Michigan

                                                          At Quicken Loans, the views and opinions of everyone are respected and heard. The organization is revered for the amount of investment they put in their team members and everyone looks for ways to grow and be better.

                                                          Find out more about careers in Quicken Loans

                                                          12. Capital One, Mclean, Florida

                                                            Capital One has adopted a culture that encourages employees to take risks and try new things. They foster a healthy work-life balance and associates are challenged to live better lives.

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                                                            Find out more about careers in Capital One

                                                            13. Cooley LLP, Palo Alto, California

                                                              Cooley LLP is a law firm known for their ability to care about the company culture and being able to develop a working environment that is empowering and fun. Cooley is known to go for the best when it comes to their employees, regardless of the occasion.

                                                              Find out more about careers in Cooley LLP

                                                              14. Southern Ohio Medical Center, Portsmouth, Ohio

                                                                The medical center has been known for their propensity to delegate so much to their employees, thereby providing them with the ability to grow and learn on the job. In the end, you get a workplace that is all-engaging and super fun.

                                                                Find out more about careers in Southern Ohio Medical Center

                                                                15. American Express, New York, New York

                                                                  American Express is a firm that celebrates wins, no matter how small. Everyone is made to share the same attitude towards service and the people they are to serve, thereby making people care about what they do.

                                                                  Find out more about careers in American Express

                                                                  16. Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, California

                                                                    The culture at Adobe Systems is one that encourages employees to develop their own ideas and get a strong viewpoint. As opposed to encouraging competition, work-life balance is fostered everywhere here.

                                                                    Find out more about careers in Adobe Systems Inc.

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                                                                    17. The Cheesecake Factory Inc., Calabasas, California

                                                                      The Cheesecake Factory rewards dedication and hard work. Promotions come pretty easy, and there is always space for guidance to develop your experience and skills.

                                                                      Find out more about careers in The Cheesecake Factory Inc.

                                                                      18. Sap America, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

                                                                        If you’re looking for a new career path, SAP might be the best bet for you. The company is adept at recognizing value and transferable skills. And you can always look for a new path while maintaining your employment.

                                                                        Find out more about careers in Sap America

                                                                        19. NVIDIA Corporation, Santa Clara, California

                                                                          NVIDIA is known for looking after even the smallest of things. With even a “pets allowed” policy this company accepts you for who you are, and helps you to work within your personality. Advancement is also fostered, and you are able to collaborate effectively.

                                                                          Find out more about careers in NVIDIA

                                                                          20. KPMG LLP, New York, New York

                                                                            Communication and progressive collaboration are the foundation of this company’s workforce treatment. Regardless of the level you are, someone is always at the ready to help and the company rewards extra effort with gratitude.

                                                                            Find out more about careers in KPMG LLP

                                                                            All in all, it’s safe to say that you will be able to find somewhere to apply your skills (whatever they are) that is all inclusive and highly accommodative. Companies today are being made to understand how much they can get when they treat their employees right and this has opened the door to an encouraging work environment for all.

                                                                            Happy job hunting!

                                                                            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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