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19 Entrepreneurship Websites Worth Checking Out

19 Entrepreneurship Websites Worth Checking Out

entrepreneur

    The number of websites dedicated to helping entrepreneurs is incredible: there are always new sites, to the point that it can be hard to keep track of them. However, I have a few favorites. There are some tools I absolutely rely on for everything from marketing to billing, some blogs I read constantly and a few resource sites that I consult for all sorts of small business issues.

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    If you are an entrepreneur of any kind, it doesn’t particularly matter where you are in the process. Whether you’re just starting out freelancing in your spare time or you have a thriving business and you’re looking to expand, there are always new resources that can help you along in the entrepreneurial process. These sites are a great starting point: they’re all good resources and you may not have explored all of them.

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    Blogs

    1. Startup Nation: Startup Nation offers entrepreneurial advice from a whole slew of people who have been there and done that — and have the business to prove it. The site has advice on just about every aspect of creating and running a startup.
    2. IttyBiz: This site is an especially valuable resource if you’re looking to start an online business, but it’s got tons of great information on marketing in general.
    3. Lateral Action: For creative types, like graphic designers, writers and such, there are some special challenges that come with running your own business. Laterlal Action offers up advice specially targeted to those fields.
    4. Freelance Switch: FreelanceSwitch has all things freelance — business advice, ideas for staying productive and far more. Even though the title says ‘freelance,’ there’s plenty of good information for anyone running their own business.
    5. Young Entrepreneur: Young Entrepreneur focuses on the challenges that younger entrepreneurs face when they start business. It’s also got some great profiles of young entrepreneurs.
    6. Small Business Labs: It isn’t easy to predict the trends that will affect small business, but Small Business Labs goes the extra mile to help entrepreneurs figure out what’s coming next.

    Web Applications

    1. Basecamp: There’s a reason that Basecamp and 37signals other tools are so popular — they work better than a lot of the other options. Basecamp is the company’s project management tool. 37signals also offer Highrise (CRM) and a few other great tools.
    2. Blinksale: There are quite a few online options for invoicing. Blinksale is one of the most recommended options, in part because it works well with other tools like PayPal and Basecamp.
    3. Skype: Skype is a popular choice for making phone calls online, but it has a lot of bells and whistles (like video conferencing) that make it a far more useful tool for a small business than you might expect.
    4. LinkedIn: LinkedIn has come in handy for me many times. It’s an easy way to find contacts for a wide variety of purposes, as well as get answers and advice on all sorts of business topics.
    5. Zoho: For a full suite of business tools, including CRM, invoicing, project management and databases, check out Zoho. All of the tools have at least some level of free use, perfect for an entrepreneur bootstrapping a business.
    6. RocketLawyer: If you aren’t sure where to start with the legalities of running your own business, RocketLawyer provides free forms as well as help with all sorts of legal documents.
    7. Google Docs: At least when you’re starting out, Google can be the easiest way to share documents, manage your business’ calendar and far more. It may not be a long term solution, but it can help you get started without spending a ton of money.

    Resource Sites

    1. SBA: The U.S. Small Business Administration is a treasure trove of information for entrepreneurs. In general, the SBA’s focus is helping entrepreneurs create long-lived small businesses, but there are also some great resources for folks further along in the process. If you aren’t in the U.S., there’s still some valuable information on the site — and you may find a similar agency where you’re living.
    2. SCORE: If you find yourself in need of mentoring from an entrepreneur who’s already been through it all, SCORE can help you find a mentor. The organization is an amazing source of free business advice.
    3. Freelancers Union: The Freelancers Union offers a long list of resources for freelancers — and the Union’s definition includes a pretty wide variety of entrepreneurs as freelancers. Among the information you can find on this site is health insurance options that don’t require quite the expense of other non-employer options.
    4. Entrepreneur: For a huge collection of information on starting and running your own business, start with Entrepreneur. The company behind the site also runs Women Entrepreneur — a good resource for women looking at entrepreneurship.
    5. About.com Entrepreneurs: About.com offers a regularly updated resource on entrepreneurship. It’s got links to all sorts of other resources, both on About.com and elsewhere on the internet.
    6. Entrepreneurship.org: The Entrepreneurship.org site is run by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to provide global resources for entrepreneurs.

    These sites are only a starting point, of course. They’re the resources I use myself — and I know there are thousands out there I haven’t seen yet. If you’ve got any resources that you’d like to recommend to entrepreneurs, I’d appreciate it if you would share your links in the comments.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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