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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 26, 2020

        25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

        25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

        “How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

        If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

        You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

        Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

        As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

        And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

        But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

        • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
          • food
          • rent/mortgage
          • cell phone
          • insurance
          • socializing/entertainment
          • transportation
          • hygiene products
          • household bills
        • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
          • travel
          • clothing
          • medication (*depends)
          • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
          • gifts

        Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

        Save Money on Food

        1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

        Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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        Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

        2. Buy the store-brand version

        Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

        3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

        Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

        4. Have group dinners

        If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

        Save Money in Transport

        5. Get a bicycle

        Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

        6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

        Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

        7. Find the cheapest gas

        Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

        Save Money in General Shopping

        8. Shop online

        Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

        9. Sell your old stuff

        Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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        Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

        10. Bulk buying stores

        For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

        Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

        11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

        You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

        12. Generic brand medication

        More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

        13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

        It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

        Cut Down on Household Expenses

        14. Printing

        Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

        e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

        Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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        15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

        A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

        16. Shop around for insurance

        Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

        Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

        17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

        If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

        18. Don’t get a TV

        Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

        19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

        My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

        Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

        20. Have house parties

        Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

        For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

        21. Open festivals, meetups and events

        It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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        22. Volunteer

        If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

        23. Housesit

        There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

        Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

        24. DIY beauty

        French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

        25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

        If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

        Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

        Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

        • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
        • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
        • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
        • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
        • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
        • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
        • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

        Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

        What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

        Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

        More Tips for Personal Finance Management

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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