Advertising
Advertising

10 Products That Can Help You and Your Business Level Up

10 Products That Can Help You and Your Business Level Up

1

    1
      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:

      Advertising

      Social media and relationships

      1
        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.

        Advertising

        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.

        Advertising

        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.

        Advertising

        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.

        More by this author

        10 Products That Can Help You and Your Business Level Up 5 Life “Shortcuts” That Never Work 3 Easy Ways to Increase Your Writing Speed How to Be More Productive in Anything and Everything You Do 5 Ways to Get Your Freelance Biz Up and Running

        Trending in Money

        1 How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way) 2 How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years 3 Top 5 Spending Tracker Apps to Manage Your Budget Smart in 2019 4 How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt 5 How to Use Debt Snowball to Get out from a Financial Avalanche

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Published on May 7, 2019

        How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

        How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

        When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

        Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

        Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

        You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

        Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

        1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

        Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

        But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

        • Will you spend more time with your family?
        • What does retirement mean to you?
        • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

        Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

        Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

        2. Figure out When to Invest

        “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

        It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

        The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

        Advertising

        A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

        Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

        3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

        Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

        Why?

        Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

        Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

        Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

        Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

        4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

        Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

        If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

        You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

        1. Vanguard
        2. TD Ameritrade
        3. Charles Schwab

        5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

        Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

        Advertising

        Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

        That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

        Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

        A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

        6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

        The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

        Robo Advisors

        Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

        Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

        Bonds

        Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

        Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

        Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

        1. Treasury bonds
        2. Government bonds
        3. Corporate bonds
        4. Foreign bonds
        5. Mortgage-backed bonds
        6. Municipal bonds

        Mutual Funds

        Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

        One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

        Advertising

        Real Estate

        Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

        Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

        This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

        But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

        Savings Accounts

        Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

        7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

        Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

        So how can you master delayed gratification?

        By building your discipline.

        Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

        Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

        8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

        I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

        It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

        Advertising

        More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

        But, how can you invest yourself?

        Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

        Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

        But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

        Retire Happy with Excess Money

        The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

        It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

        I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

        Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

        One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

        More Articles About Making Wise Investment

        Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next