Regardless of what you might have heard, there has never been a better time to start your own business. There is tons of support out there for startup entrepreneurs and the costs associated with opening your own shop or office, particularly if your business is web based, have never been lower.
Less Money, More Options
Website hosting is extremely affordable and you can set up your own website using a CMS like WordPress or Drupal for free. Now that most communication happens via the cloud, businesses do not need nearly as many physical supplies as they used to and, in fact, many offices are choosing to go completely paperless (or as close as they can get to it). Inventory can be drop-shipped, reducing your overhead there and renovating your spare room into a home office can be done quickly, easily and cheaply using thrifted furniture and supplies.
Even business’s internet costs have gone down now that there are more companies entering the market. Where one or two companies used to hold the monopoly over DSL and cable internet access, limiting speeds and throttling service, new players are shaking things up. For example, Frontier internet availability has expanded to include DSL accessibility as well as their traditional fiber-optic products and services. This is fantastic news for businesses that are located rurally (rural areas are dependent upon DSL connectivity because cable and fiber optic installation requires extensive work within the municipal grids) and where DSL connectivity has been traditionally monopolized and service has been less than stellar.
They Make an App for That
The biggest player in reducing expenses and increasing productivty, however, is the app. Now there are apps that will help you run every part of your business. Here are some of our favorites.
Every business that accepts in-person payments should use the Square App. Square allows users to set up an inventory database, automatically calculates sales tax and syncs up nicely with your bookkeeping software. It also charges the lowest fees of any of the other web based processors. It’s true that PayPal and Intuit also offer card readers now but Square is still the smoothest of them all. It also allows you to track cash payments in the same system as card payments.
Now available on mobile devices Skype is a great communications tool. In addition to real time video conferencing and text based chat, Skype also offers businesses affordable “land line” phone numbers for reasonable prices. If you need a dedicated business line and don’t want to set one up through your home or cellular phone provider (understandable as that complicates your book keeping), Skype is the way to go. It allows you to take that phone number with you anywhere via the app which, in turn, keeps you from having to shell out a bunch of money for a separate physical phone for your business.
Nobody likes having to use the touch keypad on their phones and/or tablets. ScribbleRT lets you handwrite notes using your fingers or a stylus on the screen of your device. It recognizes your handwriting, allows you to highlight and draw within your note taking system. This is the perfect app for jotting down notes during meetings or when you just want to quickly record a thought. It’s also easy to share your notes and send them to anybody who can accept PNG files.
Mighty Meeting is a fantastic app for presentations. This app allows presenters to sync their live presentations to teleconferences to mobile devices that are both in the room and to those who might be attending the meeting via virtual space. Users can also store their presentations on the cloud so that they (and the materials used within them) can be accessed at any time. This is especially helpful for employees who couldn’t be at the meeting can catch up when they have the time.
Business Card Readers
There are a lot of different business card readers out there. There’s the Abbyy card reader, CamCard and OneNote can read cards that are scanned in as well. Business card readers are great for keeping track of the cards you receive during network events, out in the wild, etc. Using card readers keeps you from losing track of someone before you have the chance to contact them.
OneNote, Evernote, 2Do…there are lots of great apps to help you keep track of the details of your different projects and the other parts of running your business. Stop relying on little scraps of paper!
There are lots of apps out there that help you keep track of projects, notes, client information, contracts, money, etc. Finding the apps that work best for