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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 March 25, 2020

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes effectively.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    1. Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    2. Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    3. Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    4. Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    5. Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    6. Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    7. Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    8. Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More Note-Taking Tips

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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