So it is getting near that time of the year, that awful time, tax time. If you are an entrepreneur this is one of the scariest times of the year. I won’t even regale you with my tax terrors but instead I wanted to provide 10 tools I wish I’d had when I started out to escape the 9 to 5. These tools will make your life a lot easier and help you build systems around everything you do (my number one tip to any start up business). If I missed any tools or tips please feel free to add extra ones in the comment section below.
1. Keeping your finances in order with Mint.com
This site is great, it is free and it helps you keep ALL your finances in order as you build your business empire. It is also wonderful if you have any kind of business related debt, because all to often start ups allow debt to pile up without thinking about it… justifying it in their minds as “well when we have our big payday it won’t matter” but this is a recipe for disaster. Mint keeps you honest with that big NEGATIVE sign attached to any debt, which in turn helps encourage you to bootstrap.
2. Getting wisdom, encouragement and virtual mentoring via Mixergy.com
This has fast become one of my favorite websites, Mixergy’s host Andrew Warner is a bonafide start up aficionado and has a powerful entrepreneurial career under his belt. What is even cooler is that daily Andrew interviews some of the best of the best when it comes to start up wisdom, people that have been there, done that or failed in an attempt. I listen to an interview on Mixergy almost daily, it always encourages me to do more and get smarter in my business and I am sure it will do the same with you.
3. Use Ping.fm to manage all your social media accounts
Ever have something you want to share to Twitter, Facebook and a variety of other social networks but you just don’t have the time? Here comes Ping.fm a wonderfully simple platform that allows you to link up all your social media accounts and blast out a message with the click of a button. This definitely doesn’t replace getting on the social networks themselves but I use it at least once a day to send a message out to all my friends/fans and followers with one easy step.
4. It’s all about the Moleskins baby (keeping track of your business in style)
Yup, moleskins make up at least 50% of my business expenses. They are the “legendary notebook of artists, writers, intellectuals and travelers” as well as the legendary notebook of Maren Kate. I have a mini moleskin that I keep in my purse, this is my “home” inbox and has all my to-dos that are non biz related. I have a second larger moleskin that works as my traveling ‘inbox’ where I write every note, scribble and idea in and later turn it into .doc form whenever I have a chance. This is the thing in my business I couldn’t live without, take away my notebooks and you’ll find a shell of a woman, weeping in the corner, drawing on her arms to keep track of her ideas. BONUS: When I’m done with a moleskin (which I go through in record time) I store in with all the others, this works as a journal of my business and life and is fun to look back over and gain inspiration from down the line.
5. Basecamphq keeps all my employees and freelancers on task, literally
I love Basecamphq, which is created by the awesome people at 37 signals, this platform allows me and my project manager to keep track of all of our Oracle Launch projects as well as the other endeavors we are apart of while tracking time and effectiveness of our employees. Basecamphq is priced for a song compared to other ‘project management’ software and you can access it from any computer. So far I’ve had no problems with it and the support service is awesome.
6. You can’t & shouldn’t live without a WordPress blog
Or granted, any other platform works but I am a wordpress junkie. It is perfect for search engine optimization and so customizable major websites run on it. I had someone build this theme on WordPress for Escaping the 9 to 5 from scratch and I love it so far. Just make sure if you are an entrepreneur of any sort to get a blog and start building a personal brand online, I foresee that in the future your blog will be like your online resume. If you want to get super geeky you can create a social media resume like the one I did here.
7. An MP3 player to learn on the go
I am always running around and while I scurry to and fro I learn. Usually this is in the form of iTunes podcasts and audio books but lately I’ve been using audible.com which offers different levels of memberships for the varying amount of book worm within each of us. I try to read/listen to at least 3 business related/inspirational books a month with one fictional story thrown in their for good measure. I can honestly say I’ve learned more from reading in the last 2 years than I ever learned in 5 years of “higher education”.
8. Google docs rock my socks
I have used Google docs since I began doing business online (and off for that matter). There are thousands of uses for Google docs and the best part is they are easy to share, easy to manage and completely free. You can pay more, but you can’t get better quality or easier usability. To see some of the many uses of Google docs including making forms online check out this Erica.biz article.
9. A reason a WHY
Every entrepreneur needs a reason why, a passion that burns deep inside or you’ll lose your fire and fall into “business as usual”. A reason why for your business is more important than the what or the how of your business. If you don’t believe me read a little up on Simon Sinek’s concept and book Start with Why this is one of the most amazing concepts I have stumbled upon recently and is completely changing the way I do business, I hope it works for you too!
Did I miss anything? Do you disagree? If so let me know in the comments!