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10 Products That Can Help You and Your Business Level Up

10 Products That Can Help You and Your Business Level Up

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      Entrepreneurs have to wear a lot of hats. Running and growing your business requires thinking about customers, employees, financials, investors, and more–sometimes, all at the same time–so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or even helpless.

      Fortunately, there are a number of inexpensive (even free) products on the web that can assist entrepreneurs in various tasks. From streamlining your financials to making you a better social media marketer, the following tools and products are a godsend for entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level:

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      Social media and relationships

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        Social Media Marketer – Founded by social media expert Laura Roeder, Social Media Marketer is an online classroom and community that teaches small businesses how to do social media right. It’s packed with courses and tutorials that instruct entrepreneurs on how to build a following and get more customers using various social tools. Best of all, Social Media Marketer is also a community made up of other entrepreneurs and experts who are always happy to offer guidance and answer questions.

        Buffer – Buffer is a great tool for the busy entrepreneur who still wants to get stay on top of social media. It lets you schedule posts with one click, right from your browser window, saving you time and effort. Buffer also offers simple analytics that tell you which of your tweets are getting the most clicks and interactions.

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        MailChimp – More and more businesses are seeing the value in mailing lists. They allow you to keep in touch with shoppers, provide updates, send coupons, and just stay in the radar of customers. If you’re thinking about email marketing for your business, MailChimp is a great option because not only does it offer a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers, it’s also very user friendly and allows you to create forms with a simple drag-and-drop interface.

        Legal

        Small Business Bodyguard – As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to deal with a lot of legal issues. You need to pay taxes, implement contracts, obtain licenses or permits, put disclaimers and policies, and generally just cover your butt so you don’t get sued or get slapped with a huge fine. Unfortunately, getting a lawyer to help you do all those things can cost you an arm and a leg. That’s where Small Business Bodyguard comes in. It’s an incredible resource that offers lawyer-drafted and peer reviewed sample agreements, legal templates, sample disclaimers and policies, checklists, and more. Best of all, it’s presented in a fun, easy-to-understand manner, so you won’t fall asleep or get lost in all that legalese.

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        DocuSign – Getting documents signed and ready can be a pain when the parties involved are miles away from each other. Fortunately, DocuSign’s electronic signature solution makes things a whole lot easier. Just email the documents to your recipients, have them sign electronically, and you’re set. Signatures made through the service comply with the ESIGN act, and DocuSign has been tested and certified by a number of trusted entities, including TRUSTe and the US Department of Commerce Safe Harbor.

        Financials

        Vend – Looking to level-up your retail store? Consider swapping your cash register for Vend, an iPad-based point-of-sale software that lets you accept various forms of payments (cash, credit cards, PayPal), strengthen customer relationships, and manage inventory. It even links to your eCommerce site. Vend’s POS hardware and software solution is easy to set up and you can always get assistance from the company’s experts and consultants to help you get started.

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        Freshbooks – Aside from offering a simple invoicing tool, Freshbooks has some great time and expense management features that enable you to log how much time or money you spent on a job, making it easier to generate reports and invoices.  It even has a mobile app that lets you manage your accounting on the go.  Plus, if you’re getting paid via PayPal, you can send your invoices via Freshbooks and only pay 50 cents regardless of the amount, instead of PayPal’s usual cut of 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee.

        Shoeboxed – Organizing receipts, business cards, and other paper documents isn’t fun. Good thing there’s Shoeboxed, a service that can digitize, categorize, and archive your paperwork, making it easier for you to find and store your documents.  It’s an essential service, especially during tax season when you have to stay on top of your paperwork, deductions, and filings.

        Customer service

        LiveChat – Boost the customer service in your business with live chat. According to recent data, “Live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.” One of the leading companies offering it is LiveChat, a service that lets you add a customizable chat box to your website, so you can assist visitors while they’re browsing your store.  It even lets you have a LiveChat tab to your Facebook Page so you can further engage your fans.

        Rapportive – Add more personal touches to your client emails with Rapportive, a plug-in that displays descriptions and social media information about your Gmail contacts in your email interface, allowing you to further personalize your messages.  For example, if you’re typing an email to John Smith, Rapportive will show links to his social accounts, websites, and posts, so you can find information to reference to and customize your messages even more.

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        Last Updated on June 20, 2019

        50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

        50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

        Most people want a few more dollars in their wallets. But between an employer and family, the time most of us can devote to a second job is severely limited. Running a small side business can provide a few more options: you don’t have to show up at a set time and you can use skills you already have. Not all will be perfect for everyone, of course, and I’m sure that you’ll have a few ideas of your own after reading this list. If you’d like to share any other business ideas, please add them in the comments.

        1. Selling collectibles — From antique books to teddy bears, there are plenty of opportunities to buy and sell collectibles. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the collectible of your choice but if you choose something that you’ve been collecting for a while, you’ve got a head start.
        2. Locating apartments — It can take time to sort through apartment listings, but you can make some money by finding the perfect apartment for a renter.
        3. Baby proofing — New parents often prefer to bring in an expert to make sure their home is safe for a new baby.
        4. Calligraphic writing — If you’ve got elegant handwriting, you can pick up gigs writing or addressing wedding invitations, holiday cards and more.
        5. Selling coupons — Search on eBay for coupons right now and you’ll see thousands of listings for coupons. It’s just a matter of clipping and listing what you find in your Sunday newspaper.
        6. Pet training — A surprising number of people don’t know where to start in training a pet. Even teaching Rover simple commands like ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ can bring in a few dollars.
        7. Running errands — A wide variety of people want to outsource their errands, from those folks who aren’t able to leave their homes easily to those who have a busy schedule.
        8. Researching family trees — Amateur genealogists often call in experts, especially to handle research that has to be done in person in a far off place. If you’re willing to go to a local church and copy a few records, you can handle many family tree research requests.
        9. Supplying firewood — The prerequisite for selling firewood is having a source of wood; if you’ve got some land where you can cut down a few trees, you’ve got a head start.
        10. Hauling — As more people trade in their SUVs for compact cars, hauling is becoming more important: people have to rent a truck or hire a hauler for even small loads.
        11. Image consulting — Image consultants provide a wide variety of services, ranging from offering advice on appearance to teaching etiquette.
        12. Menu planning — For many people, the trip up in eating home-cooked or healthy meals is knowing what to prepare. Meal planners set a schedule to solve certain dietary problems.
        13. Microfarming — Cultivating food and flowers on small plots of land allows you to sell produce easily.
        14. Offering notary public services — Notary publics can witness and authenticate documents: a service needed for all sorts of official documents.
        15. Teaching music — If you’re skilled with a musical instrument, you can earn money by offering lessons.
        16. Mystery shopping — Mystery shoppers check the conditions and service at a store and report back to the store’s higher-ups.
        17. Offering research services — Just by reading up on a topic and compiling a report on it can earn you money.
        18. Personal shopping — Personal shoppers typically select gifts, apparel and other products for clients, helping them save time.
        19. Pet breeding — Purebred pets can be quite value, especially if you can verify their pedigree.
        20. Removing snow — During the winter months, shoveling walks can still be a reliable way to earn money. You might be asked to take care of the driveway too.
        21. Utility auditing — As people become environmentally-concious, they want to know just how efficient their homes are. With some simple testing, you can tell them.
        22. Offering web hosting services — Providing server space can be lucrative, particularly if you can provide tech support to your clients.
        23. Cutting lawns — An old standby, cutting lawns and other landscaping services can provide a second income in the summer.
        24. Auctioning items on eBay — Want to get rid of all your old stuff? Stick it up on eBay and auction it off.
        25. Babysitting — Child care of all kinds, from babysitting to nannying, can offer constant opportunities.
        26. Freelance writing — If you’ve got the skills to write clearly, you can sell your pen for everything from blogs to advertising copy.
        27. Selling blog and website themes — Do a little designing on the side? Customers that don’t want to pay full price for a website will often pay for a template or theme.
        28. Offering computer help — Particularly with people new to computers, you can earn money by providing in-home computer help.
        29. Designing websites — It may require a little skilled effort, but designing websites remains a reliable source of income.
        30. Selling stock photography — For shutterbugs, an easy way to put a photography collection to work is to post it to a stock photography site.
        31. Freelance designing — Check with local businesses: you can provide brochures, business cards and other design work and get paid a good fee.
        32. Tutoring — Math and languages reamin the easiest subjects to find tutoring gigs for, but there is demand for other fields as well.
        33. Housesitting / petsitting — Stopping in to check on a house or pet can earn you some money, and maybe even a place to stay.
        34. Building niche websites — If you can put together a site on a very specific topic, you can put targeted ads on it and make money quickly.
        35. Translating — The variety of translating work available is huge: written word, on the spot and more is easy to find even on a part-time basis.
        36. Creating custom crafts — No matter what kind of crafts you make, there’s likely a market for it. Etsy remains one of the easiest places to sell crafts.
        37. Setting up a wi-fi hotspot — With a little bit of equipment, you can set up a wi-fi hotspot and charge your neighbors for the access they’ve been ‘borrowing.’
        38. Selling an e-book — You can write an e-book about almost anything and put it up for sale online.
        39. Affiliate marketing — If you’re willing to market other companies’ products, you can earn a cut of the sales.
        40. Renting out your spare room — From looking for a long-term roommate to listing your guest room on couch surfing sites, that spare room can make you money.
        41. Offering handy man services — Handling small household tasks can provide you with plenty of work, although you’ll probably be expected to have your own tools.
        42. Teaching an online class — Share your expertise through a website, an online seminar or variety of other methods.
        43. Building furniture — For those with the skill to create handmade furniture, selling their creations is often just a matter of advertising.
        44. Providing personal chef services — Personal chefs prepare meals ahead of time for customers, leaving their customers with a full freezer and no mess.
        45. Event planning — From planning corporate events to bar mitzvahs, an event planning business can require plenty of work and offer plenty of pay.
        46. Installing home safety products — Particularly as Baby Boomers age, people able to install handrails and other home safety products are in demand.
        47. Altering / tailoring — If your sewing skills are up to par, altering garments is coming back as people try to stretch more wear out of their clothing.
        48. Offering in-home beauty services — Hair cuts, makeup and other beauty services that can be performed at home have a growing demand.
        49. Business coaching — Helping others to establish and develop their businesses can provide many opportunities to earn money.
        50. Writing resumes — Writing resumes can provide a reliable income, especially if you can put a polish on a client’s credentials.

        There are plenty of offers that claim to provide you with the opportunity to make thousands of dollars a week. Unfortunately, none of these businesses will provide that sort of income, but they aren’t scams either. They were chosen because they all require a minimum investment to get started — some require nothing more than a flyer advertising your business. Even better, if you do enjoy any of these businesses, there is a potential with most of them to continue to expand — perhaps even to the point of going full time.

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        Featured photo credit: Omar Prestwich via unsplash.com

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