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12 Incredible Business Tools No Solopreneur Should Miss

12 Incredible Business Tools No Solopreneur Should Miss

While there are lots of advantages to being a solo entrepreneur, being a one-person company can sometimes be difficult. You do it all yourself: managing appointments, sorting out taxes, following leads and managing social media. However, this is a great time to work for yourself, with hundreds of business tools and apps to help you along the way. Check out 10 different business tools to help you make working for yourself more efficient and easier.

1. Rapportive

Rapportive

    Rapportive is a free add-on business tool for Gmail which shows LinkedIn profiles in Gmail. This means whenever you log onto your Gmail account, you can get information on each of your email contacts, including their social media accounts and where they work – a huge time-saver for solo entrepreneurs. You can also see if they are nearby for convenient meetings.

    2. Shoeboxed

    Shoeboxed

      If you’re tired of keeping a paper trail of receipts, forms and business cards, ShoeBoxed is the perfect app for you. This free business tool lets you scan in all of your important papers, making your information easier to navigate and organize – ideal for taxes!

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      3. TweetDeck

      TweetDeck

        TweetDeck is very useful to any solo entrepreneur who regularly uses Twitter. TweetDeck provides you with a customizable dashboard where you can schedule tweets to be posted, monitor multiple timelines and manage multiple accounts, making your Twitter easier to use and improving your content.

        4. RescueTime

        RescueTime

          If you work from home and struggle to stay motivated, RescueTime could make the time you work much more productive. RescueTime helps you by tracking the activity on your computer to let you know what you waste the most time on while you’re working, making the time you work more efficient. If you really struggle to motivate yourself, you can even use the app to block certain sites while you’re working.

          5. Bitly

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          Bitly

            Bitly is a great business tool for users of Twitter. One of the original apps that shorten links, Bitly is a must for sharing URLs when you have a 140 character limit. Bitly also provides you with a history of the links’ performance, which is a great way to track your reach and influence.

            6. Shake

            Shake

              Shake is a web and mobile app that creates legally binding agreements in seconds, which is an ideal way to create quick contracts for freelance jobs. You can also create loans, leases, sales and non-disclosure agreements, saving you time as you take on new projects.

              7. LikeAlyzer

              LikeAlyzer

                This free Facebook analysis tool shows you stats and insights into your posts and webpage, even showing a list of recommendations for you. It helps you to keep track of competitors and will compare you to other pages, helping you to improve your social media page efficiently.

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                8. RivalIQ

                RivalIQ

                  It is important to be aware of your competition and to improve your social media pages if you are a solo entrepreneur. RivalIQ is a useful business tool that allows you to monitor your competitor’s data and social media, helping you to analyse and improve your own pages.

                  9. Infogr.am

                  Infogr.am

                    Infogr.am is a business tool that help you build beautiful infographics by simply entering information into the provided spreadsheets. You can use Infogr.am to quickly create monthly reports, graphs, charts and progress reports.

                    10. Compfight

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                    Compfight

                      If you run a blog or a website which uses images, Compfight is a great source for creative commons images to go with your content. This business tool is great for making your pages look more attractive and professional – just make sure to provide credit for the image, as each picture comes with an attribution.

                      11. Mention

                      Mention

                        If you are active on social media, Mention is a great business tool that allows you to keep track of all the different places you get mentioned online. Going beyond Google Alerts, Mention tracks everywhere online for your name and company, quickly showing you every time you have been mentioned online.

                        12. News.me

                        News.me

                          If you don’t have time to waste on social media, News.me will show you the top stories from your Facebook and Twitter in a daily summary. If you find social media distracting or time wasting, News.me is a fantastic way to make your use of social media as efficient as possible.

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                          Amy Johnson

                          Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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                          Published on September 16, 2020

                          12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

                          12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

                          Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

                          Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

                          Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

                          Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

                          Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

                          Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

                          1. Organization

                          When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

                          When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

                          Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

                          To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

                          To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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                          2. Flexibility

                          You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

                          Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

                          For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

                          To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

                          To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

                          3. Collaboration

                          As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

                          Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

                          To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

                          To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

                          4. Poise

                          Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

                          When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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                          What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

                          To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

                          To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

                          5. Communication

                          Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

                          When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

                          To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

                          To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

                          6. Good Computer Hygiene

                          Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

                          Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

                          To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

                          To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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                          7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

                          Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

                          Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

                          To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

                          To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

                          8. Respecting Feedback

                          In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

                          Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

                          To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

                          To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

                          9. Project Management

                          Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

                          To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

                          To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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                          10. Staying up to Speed

                          Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

                          To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

                          To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

                          11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

                          “Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

                          To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

                          To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

                          12. Teamwork

                          Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

                          Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

                          To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

                          To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

                          Final Thoughts

                          Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

                          More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

                          Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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