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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 April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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