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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.

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        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 July 20, 2021

        Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There

        Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There
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        Have you ever considered your life now, and how it would be if you had more time to spend with your family and less worries about money?

        Nowadays, financial stress is one of the most troublesome weights in life. If you’ve ever encountered financial stress, you know the difficulty of not having enough income to pay your obligations or bills.

        Many people say that money is not the ultimate goal of life. While that’s true, money certainly plays a very significant role. The meaning of financial freedom changes with the different phases of our life, but ultimately, it is something that many people strive for.

        In this article, we’ll explain how to capture that financial freedom you’ve been looking for. Read on to learn the secrets to financial freedom.

        Break Free of Your Finances

        Financial freedom is about having a constant flow of cash from your assets to cover all your regular needs.

        When you are not worried about your income, or living paycheck to paycheck, you gain a great sense of freedom. It’s the freedom to be obtain and do what you truly need to make your way through everyday life.

        Gaining financial freedom, though, is a process of growth, making small improvements and gaining emotional strength.

        Though it seems hard to believe, it is really very simple to get financial freedom.

        To do so, you simply need to make sure that your assets exceed your liabilities. In other words, you’ll need to find the sweet-spot where your residuals meet or surpass your expenses. This is something that you can achieve with the proper plan.

        While not every person will accomplish financial freedom, the potential for anyone to do so is certainly there. Anyone can achieve this success, regardless of their income level.

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        Outlined below are 9 secrets that will help you in your goals of achieving financial freedom.

        1. Stop Unnecessary Spending

        We often spend money inwardly, instead of objectively.

        For example, you may spend when you’re anxious, depressed, restless, exhausted, from fear of missing out, or to please others. This is a very unhealthy way to handle your finances.

        To stop this habitual spending, log down all your spending over the course of a month.

        Just as some people keep a food diary, keep an expense diary. Remember not to just write down how much and what you spent the money on, also include the circumstances of why you spent the money. Was it an impulse buy at the checkout line or was it something you planned to purchase?

        This increased self-awareness could enable you to avoid triggering situations in the future when you are considering an impulse buy.

        2. Plan a Monthly Budget

        This is a great opportunity to get serious.

        Take a seat with your spouse or partner and make a monthly budget based on your income, not your expenses. You are never again going to spend more cash then you have on hand.

        Overspending is the thing that led you to more financial obligations. Make sure you decide every month what is coming in and what will be going out and stick to that budget… no matter what.

        3. Cut-up Credit Cards

        Perhaps you are the type of person who always pays your credit card balance in full before the end of your billing cycle, and enjoys the reward points you gain. If this is the case, then you’re already way ahead of the game.

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        If not, you may want to consider ridding your life of the burden that credit cards bring.

        Many cards have strategies set up so that if you make a certain number of late payments, they will raise your interest rate much higher. This can really add up in the long run and you won’t be doing your financial situation any favors. If you’re prone to late payments or have a large balance due on your cards, cut them up!

        Without proper self control on credit card spending and payments, you are basically throwing your money away. To ensure that you have better control over your spending, use only cash or debit for all future purchases (and don’t forget to pay at least your minimum payment on your cut-up cards each month!).

        4. Increase Savings

        There is no doubt that for a comfortable retirement you must accumulate satisfactory savings throughout your working life.

        It’s good practice to save up to 15% of your income.

        Start with your workplace 401(k), if you have one. If not, a Roth IRA (if you are eligible) or a traditional IRA (if you are not eligible for the Roth) are the next logical steps.

        Increase in longevity means you might be able to look forward to 25 to 30 years in retirement, or possibly even significantly more. Investing now in good retirement plans will ensure that you have a guaranteed a stable monthly income when the time comes to stop working. [1]

        5. Invest Wisely

        Consider investing in funds.

        Specifically, you will gain higher returns if you invest in different types of mutual funds such as Debt funds, Equity funds and Hybrid funds with a proper balance, although it absolutely relies on your personal preferences and sense of risk taking.

        To get the most of these benefits, make sure you are investing in a variety of assets. Another resource of investing in mutual funds is SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) where you invest some money every month in funds. SIP works by averaging the per unit price of the stock.

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        Mutual fund investors are aware of the benefits of an SIP (Systematic Investment Plan). For one, it is the most secure way to invest in equity mutual plans so that wealth is created over a long period of time. This plan also helps you to gain a better sense of financial discipline, which will come in handy in all your financial endeavors.

        6. Invest in Gold

        There isn’t really a better way to invest in gold than to have the physical gold itself in your possession.

        You can purchase gold coins and bars from mints as well as from coin dealers and other private sellers.

        Another way to invest in gold is through ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds).

        These are is similar to mutual funds but they are exclusively investments of gold. ETFs are great because they offer more liquidity; the ETF owns the actual physical gold, stores it, and retains the value of the shares. These shares can then be bought and sold in the stock market, and one big benefit is that the transaction costs of gold ETFs are much lower than the that of physical gold.

        With its consistently-increasing demand, investment in gold can be very wise long-term investment to make.

        7. Stash Emergency Funds

        Whether it’s a cash gift or a work bonus, always try to save any extra money that comes your way rather than making unneeded purchases.

        If you get paid every other week, you’ll get an “extra” paycheck (three rather than the usual two) twice a year. Either save those paychecks towards your emergency funds or utilize the money to pay down other obligations, such as loans, credit cards or other debts.

        Make it hard to get your cash.

        Put your savings in an alternate bank, maybe an online bank that forces you to delay for several business days before transferred money hits your regular bank account.

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        8. Find Fabulous Mentors

        Find a mentor, such as a friend or family member, who has exceptional control over their finances and pay attention to everything they do.

        If you do not have any friends or family that are enjoying financial freedom, then find a mentor online! There are numerous blogs and guru websites featuring the advice of many people who have reached financial freedom, and they exist primarily to let you in on how to achieve it for yourself.

        There are also plentiful forums available that share tips and tricks on how to best achieve financial freedom. Read as much as you can and start changing your habits for the better.

        9. Be Extra Patient

        Patience is the key of financial success.

        Being patient can be quite tough, especially when you’re struggling with your finances, but having faith is worth it. You’ll continuously be on the right track if you are taking the proper steps above.

        So don’t be discouraged, even if you are only saving a few dollars a month; it all adds up. Within just a few years you’ll look back proudly at your accomplishments and be glad that you had the patience to get there.

        Financial Freedom for All

        Anyone can achieve financial freedom, regardless of their financial circumstance.

        Use the tips provided above to get yourself on the track to financial freedom and toss your monetary concerns out the window. If you wish to achieve a life with financial freedom for yourself and your family then you must adopt a disciplined approach towards your finances.

        Following the simple secrets above is a great start to making your money work for you, so you can work less and live more!

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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        Reference

        [1] Hartford Gold Group: IRA Retirement Accounts

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