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14 Tools to Run Your Business Wherever You Are

14 Tools to Run Your Business Wherever You Are

Intuit, the makers of software like Quicken, estimates that by 2020, 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers or independent contractors, and with that freedom comes the flexibility of being location independent. More and more business owners are taking advantage of that flexibility and using the internet to travel the world while still running a business. Here’s a list of tools that you can use to run your business wherever you are:

IFTTT: Automate online tools

    Stay organized & productive

    When you’re constantly changing your location, one of the hardest things you’ll deal with is keeping all of your information straight. Evernote lets you take notes and bookmark websites, organize them by notebook, and syncs across mobile and desktop apps (including an offline sync), so that your information is always at your fingertips.

    Asana and Trello are two very popular project/task management tools, both with free options, mobile apps, and easy-to-use layouts, and will grow with you as your add team members to your business (if you decide to go that route).

    IFTTT will let you hook up different apps and sites to automate your internet usage. For example, if you’re a freelance graphic designer, you can set it up to send you an email every time the RSS feed of a job board is updated with a new post. That means you spend less time refreshing job boards, more time working, and get more work done (which means – you guessed it – you make more money!).

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    Streak: A CRM that lives inside Gmail

      Keep up with leads

      If you’re going to run a profitable business, you need to keep track of potential clients & customers and follow up with them regularly.

      Streak is a wonderful free app that works inside Gmail and can be used to handle sales/CRM purposes, and it has an iOS app that’s just as easy to use. It’s a great way to keep track of people as they move through your sales funnel, from being a lead to being a client. It also can track how many times an email was viewed and lets you schedule emails to be sent later.

      Insightly and Contactually are two other CRM apps that are more full-fledged than Streak. Both have mobile apps available for iOS and Android. I personally use Streak to keep track of potential clients, and then after they become a client, put them into Contactually so that I get reminders to keep in touch after we’re done with our work together – did you know that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75%? (Source: Bain & Co.)

      Have an office on the go

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      Offices for location independent business owners

        Running a location independent business has its many upsides, but one of the downsides is that there’s no dedicated office. It can be distracting working at coffee shops. And if you need to meet a prospective client, coffee shops can be crowded and noisy, which is not the best meeting environment. This is where coworking spaces, which are spaces entirely dedicated to business owners and freelancers who don’t need full time dedicated office space, come in.

        The Desktime directory will also let you search by location and duration (day, week, or month) to find coworking spaces wherever you’re at. ShareDesk is similar and has an option for searching for meeting rooms, too.

        The one downside of coworking is that it can be more casual than some business owners need, and the experience is going to vary from place to place. If you’re looking for a more uniform experience, Premier Business Centers offers executive suites and office centers in multiple locations.

        Share multimedia

        Sharing multimedia can be useful in a location independent business in two scenarios: when you’re trying to explain something to a team member or your assistant and an email just isn’t cutting it, or when you’re engaging with your followers. Videos, audio, and photos/images tend to do much better on social media than just text updates. And the time used to be that you needed a powerful computer and expensive software to create and send multimedia files – but that’s not the case any more with apps like these:

        Jing - screen recording software by TechSmith

          Video: Jing and Screencast-O-Matic

          If you need to record a quick video to send to a client or team member explaining something, Jing is a great way to go. It’s a free download for both Mac and Windows which lets you record a video of up to five minutes in length, upload it to screencast.com, and then gives you a link to share, all from inside the app.

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          Screencast-O-Matic is a great option if you’re recording videos for your blog or company website. You can record a video of up to fifteen minutes on the free version and the paid version is only $15/year. Both versions include easy in-app sharing to Google Drive, Vimeo, and Youtube, among other sites, and the pro version includes editing tools built in.

          Clyp.it: Free and simple audio sharing

            Audio: Clyp

            Clyp is to audio as Jing is to video – it’s a super simple setup that lets you click one button, record audio, and then automatically uploads it and gives you a link to share. Best of all, there’s mobile apps for both iOS and Android, so you can do this on the go. There’s multiple ways a business owner could use Clyp, including sending a short audio to a team member or client to explain something (easier than juggling a smartphone or tablet keyboard while, say, your hands are full at the airport and you don’t have time for a full-on conversation, but an issue needs to be addressed).

            You could also do an interactive Q&A on your Facebook page or Twitter account using audio responses – much more personal and fun than text. It’s especially suited for people who deal in a lot of audio like musicians or speakers – audio sneak peeks posted to fans are a great way to give a “backstage pass” and grow online engagement.

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            Canva - free tool to create images for sharing

              Photos/Images: Canva

              Even if you aren’t a designer, you want to have nice looking business cards, social media icons, and website graphics – and Canva can help you do just that. It’s free, easy to get the hang of, and most of the graphical elements are free, with select stock photos starting at $1/photo. There’s also several templates (include business cards, posters, social media graphic, Pinterest graphic, and so on) that make it quick to whip something up without it looking totally amateur.

              If you’re looking for more useful tools for entrepreneurs, check out these seven seriously hardcore project management apps, or these productivity tools for visual thinkers

              Featured photo credit: Bobbi Newman via flickr.com

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              Last Updated on March 25, 2020

              How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

              How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

              Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

              Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

              Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

              In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

              How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

              Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

              Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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              • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
              • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
              • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
              • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

              If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

              After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

              We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

              Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

              Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

              One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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              These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

              40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

              All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

              For Changing a Job

              1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
              2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
              3. Get a raise.
              4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
              5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
              6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
              7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
              8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
              9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
              10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

              For Switching Career Path

              1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
              2. Find a mentor.
              3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
              4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
              5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
              6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
              7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
              8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
              9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
              10. Create a financial plan.

              For Getting a Promotion

              1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
              2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
              3. Become a mentor.
              4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
              5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
              6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
              7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
              8. Become a better communicator.
              9. Find new ways to be a team player.
              10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

              For Acing a Job Interview

              1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
              2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
              3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
              4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
              5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
              6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
              7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
              8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
              9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
              10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

              Career Goal Setting FAQs

              I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

              1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

              If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

              If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

              How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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              2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

              Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

              Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

              Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

              3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

              You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

              Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

              4. Can I have several career goals?

              It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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              On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

              For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

              Summary

              You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

              • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
              • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
              • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
              • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
              • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

              By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

              More Tips About Setting Work Goals

              Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

              Reference

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