(Mostly) Free Web Tools for Entrepreneurs – Part 2 of 2

Continuing the blog post from the previous week, we will complete our list compiling some of the best web-based tools available to help entrepreneurs and growing businesses that are free/inexpensive to use. This list was originally compiled by Jeff Boss, an entrepreneur, business consultant, and former Navy SEAL.

WomanwithLaptopBright Journey:In this online community, a group of successful entrepreneurs join together to share information to help the next generation of dreamers and doers. Users can ask a question and receive answers through this community, or search by popular topics such as legal, marketing, funding, equity and more.

Cool Text: This web tool is useful for businesses who are looking to create a logo or web graphic for free. This is a great resource for startups who may not have the funds to hire a designer to create a logo. You can also download and use over 1,900 fonts from this site (also available at no charge).

Marketing Grader by Hubspot: Simply go to this site and type in your website’s URL to find out how your website stacks up in terms of metrics such as blogging, SEO, and lead generation. Hubspot also offers many free marketing and SEO resources such as weekly email tips and free e-readers to help you create a full-scale marketing plan for your business.

LucidPress: Create professionally-designed print documents such as magazines or company newsletters by using this web tool. Using a drag-and-drop interface, it is easy to create visually aesthetic reports and content that you can customize and share. Starting with a basic free trial and ranging up to $40/month, users can select monthly pricing structures based on their specific needs.

What low- or no-cost web tools do you find most effective for your business? Have you tried any of the aforementioned resources for your startup?

For more information on this topic, please visit: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235287

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

Image credit: iStock Photo

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(Mostly) Free Web Tools for Entrepreneurs – Part 1 of 2

There are so many web-based tools available to help entrepreneurs and growing businesses. Finding the least expensive (or no cost) tools are even more effective for a startup’s bottom line.

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Former Navy SEAL Jeff Boss is an entrepreneur and business consultant whose company McChrystalGroup helps organizations become more adaptable through CrossLead, a combat-proven leadership framework. Below, he has compiled some free/inexpensive web tools that can help entrepreneurs with various tasks and projects (and ultimate increase efficiency!)

Newswhip.com:Rather than searching through hundreds and thousands of brand-related Twitter hashtags, use Newswhip to aggregate the high volume of topical discussions and deliver the most popular ones to you. This way, you can start a conversation with the right influencers.

Lucidchart: Use Lucidchart to create visual projects, such as diagrams, mind maps, or flow charts. Get started by using the free trial version and if you like it, you can sign up for monthly packages with low fees and options, ranging from as low as $3.33/month up to $21/month for the premium package.

Google for Entrepreneurs: This site created by Google hosts an online community featuring insider knowledge, such as instruction and advice videos from entrepreneurs and small business owners who have ‘been there, done that’.

CreativeLive: Use this site to listen in on free video content ranging on various topics related to creativity, such as photo and video, art and design, music and audio, craft and maker, to money and life. There is also an option to upgrade to a paid status and gain access to all content, not just the limited selection of free videos.

Skimlinks: For businesses looking for another revenue stream, this can be a useful tool to help your content monetization strategy by turning links and keywords on your site into their equivalent affiliate links. The best part about this resource? Skimlinks works on a revenue share model, meaning that you don’t pay anything to join or use the service; they just take a small cut from the commissions you earn.

What low- or no-cost web tools do you find most effective for your business? Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s blog post which will share even more web-based tools for entrepreneurs!

For more information on this topic, please visit: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235287

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

Image credit: iStock Photo

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Hiring Your First Employee

If you’re a startup entrepreneur, at some point you may want to hire an employee to help out. Hiring an employee is a critical step in building your business (should that be the direction you’re heading in). However, it’s important to really plan for your new hire and to take your time in the process. This can help to alleviate stress and help with your company’s cash flow.

7K0A0223Logan Chierotti is an entrepreneur and startup expert who has experience in brand management, SEO and business development. The following are some questions to think about for solo entrepreneurs who are thinking about hiring their first employee.

Ask yourself: Can I still do this myself?

It’s important to determine up front whether you’re capable of doing everything yourself—the sales, the marketing, the customer service, etc. Going it alone can be very stressful and time consuming, but can definitely help to keep the overhead at its lowest during the early stages of your startup. When you reach the point where you can’t do it all, it is probably time to hire someone.

Ask yourself: Do I know what I want out of this employee?

Remember that hiring is like making a purchase—something you do to fill a specific need in your life. Ideally, you would hire someone who has different strengths than you and who would have specific tasks and goals to complete from Day One. If you hire someone simply to ‘help out around the office’ you won’t be getting the most out of this person. Creating specific job descriptions and training manuals will greatly help you to stay organized and make the most out of your new hire.

Are you thinking about hiring an employee? If yes, have you asked yourself the above questions? If you have multiple employees in your firm, what was your criteria for hiring your first employee(s)?

For more information on this topic, please visit: http://www.inc.com/logan-chierotti/are-you-ready-to-make-your-first-hire.html

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

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Marketing Yourself as an Intrapreneur: Embracing Qualities of Entrepreneurs is Key

Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are not so different. Sure, an entrepreneur may be bootstrapping and working in a solo capacity and an intrapreneur may have the resources of a larger firm. But one thing remains the same for each type of individual: the passion and drive to innovate and take risks. If you have the qualities of an entrepreneur but are waiting for the right idea or the right time, perhaps you’d best be fit for a position as an intrapreneur—using your passion to find opportunities for a company or small business.

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Katelyn Oster is a writer and entrepreneur with startup experience in manufacturing, distribution, management, sales and operations. The following are tips on how to market yourself as an intrapreneur (note: entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs alike, take notice!)

Don’t be shy: If you’re a hard worker who has a steadfast drive and you treat your company with respect, you’re an intrapreneur. Taking risks and being innovative are other qualities of intrapreneurs. It’s OK to label yourself as such, but be sure to be confident, not cocky. Prove yourself each and every day!

Be helpful, not pushy: If you see an inefficacy, try to approach it by being helpful, not authoritative or imposing. It’s important to treat others with respect, and the overall goal for an intrapreneur is to support the business owner/leader, not take over command.

Recognize responsibility: As an intrapreneur, you have a great opportunity to make a lasting impact on the company’s success. Showcase your skills and own that you are an asset, not just another number in a long list of employees. Work towards greatness each day. This could include getting involved with company events, sharing social media posts from the company, or talking about your company with friends and family over the dinner table.

Do you qualify as an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur? Do you identify with the qualities discussed above? How do you define Intrapreneurship?

For more information on this topic, please visit: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233966

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

Image: iStock Photo

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Tweet Your Way to the Top at an Event

At events such as conferences and tradeshows, there is never a shortage of people to meet, vendors to visit and sessions to learn from. The amount of information shared/presented can be overwhelming at times! One of the greatest benefits of social media sites like Twitter is the opportunity to easily sift through information. By following conference participants/speakers and using the event hashtag, you can stay in the conversation and find out the really cool things happening on site.

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Trace Cohen, serial entrepreneur and president and co-founder of Launch.it, a self-publishing platform for PR professionals, agencies and brands to launch and socialize everything new, shares simple ways to join the conversation on Twitter at an event to help grow your social network.

Keep it relevant: If you’re new to the world of tweeting, start off by introducing yourself and use the hashtag for the event. That way, people will know who you are and what you do. While at the event itself, tweet relevant information that is related to the topic(s) being covered, speakers in attendance or vendors and products showcased on site.

Tweet pictures: If you’re at a tradeshow, walk around the floor and tweet photos of some of the cool products and services that are being showcased. Come across a really interactive/cool booth? It’s worth a tweet!

Share interesting facts: Most speakers have relevant information to share with event attendees, and the purpose of attending is to learn something new. Take a few moments to share that cool factoid with your network by tweeting it out! Get even more exposure by using the event hashtag (and tag the speaker, when possible!)

Retweet: People retweet for many reasons—to share something interesting, to show support/endorsement, and to support an industry. Follow some new companies/individuals and retweet things that you support. You’ll be contributing to the conversation while supporting a fellow industry member or business!

How do you prefer to engage with attendees, speakers and exhibitors? Do you join the conversation through Twitter at events?

For more information on this topic, please visit: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140523161558-19235158-14-things-you-can-tweet-about-when-attending-or-exhibiting-at-a-trade-show?trk=hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_ARTICLE_POST

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

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Save Time and Make Valuable Connections by Networking Stategically

There’s never enough hours in a day. It’s probably a phrase you’ve heard (and said) many times over the course of your professional career—whether you’re an entrepreneur starting a new business or you’re working for someone else. Regardless of who you are and what you do, networking and making new (and strategic) connections is extremely important.

FriendsLewis Howes is author of LinkedWorking (418 Press, 2009) who shares tips about how to manage to find time to network—no matter how busy you are. His number one key to success? Leverage.

Network with like-minded people: Identify people who share the same goals and who have the same work ethic as you. There’s not enough time to sit down with every single person you meet. Instead, concentrate on asking for recommendations from your current network. You can also branch out to your alumni groups or local networking groups who share your industry interests.

Schedule in time to network: Adding a specific task to your calendar will help you to accomplish it. Be sure to identify networking events that you want to attend, and put them in your schedule. If there are no networking events lined up for that week, add in a ‘networking’ hour into a day during the work week. Use that time to pick up the phone and call a contact you’ve been meaning to check in with, sending out a personal card, or tagging a client/contact in social media about their area of expertise (and how it’s helped you!)

Never eat alone: Borrowing this tip from the title of a popular networking book, it’s no secret that everyone needs to eat. Get away from your desk and invite a contact to lunch. Have a goal in mind when you set the meeting. This will help you choose your lunch partner strategically (and will help you to move towards achieving the goal when you meet up).

Host a Google Hangout: Instead of sending a content-laden e-mail with tips (that could easily be ignored), try hosting a Google Hangout and connect personally with your network. You can connect with individuals no matter where they are, and easily build relationships and answer questions.

Give positive feedback and ideas: Try giving feedback in your area of expertise to a few key contacts. You don’t have to give away the farm, but learning a bit about what they do (and some ideas that you have to help them to reach their goals). Offering a few small tidbits could lead to gaining some valuable (and paying) clients.

How do you find time to network between meetings, family, friends, and your limited schedule? What helps you stay focused?

For more information on this topic, please visit: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234108

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

Photo credit: iStock

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Best Practices to Boost Success in Life and Business

Everyone defines success differently. For some it might be about purchasing a new car or taking a trip to an exotic location. For others it might mean providing for one’s family. It is important to define what success means for you. What makes you happy in your personal and professional life?

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Stephen Key is an inventor, author, speaker and co-founder of InventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nev.-based company that educates entrepreneurs in how to bring ideas to market talks about what actions have led him to be the most happy in his personal and professional life. The following are some of his ‘best practices’ for being a successful person.

Seek out new experiences: Being in your comfort zone is the easiest. But if that is all that you do, you won’t grow much as a person. Exposure to different perspectives, new experiences, lifestyles and people helps you to become more flexible about evolving your thought process. Seeking out new experiences means you’re willing to challenge yourself and keep learning about the world around you—these are two keys to success.

Abandon your expectations: Having expectations tends to lead to disappointment. Instead, try walking into an unfamiliar situation with an open mind. If you don’t have any assumptions, you won’t be let down. Amazing things can happen when you open yourself up to possibility.

Treat everyone you meet with respect: Everyone has something to offer—don’t miss out and lose an opportunity. You may be surprised at how willing people are to support you just on the basis of how you treat them. And we will all need help at some point. Treat people with respect and you will grow your network, learn new things and get the support you need.

Give back: There are so many ways to give back, whether it’s financial support to a charity or cause you believe in, or lending your talents in a different way. Helping others can help you a better and more attentive listener.

Celebrate milestones, large and small: Don’t keep waiting to celebrate that one elusive goal. Instead, celebrate and appreciate those smaller, yet significant, accomplishments that happen all along. Welcome others, such as friends, family, and stakeholders, to help you celebrate these milestones.

Let go of the past: Taking risks in business inevitably lead to mistakes at some point. Rather than holding that over your head as a negative, instead realize and acknowledge what went wrong. Hopefully you won’t make that same mistake moving forward. In essence, mistakes form the path to success. You will learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.

Share your views on how you define success and work to achieve it!

For more information on this topic, please visit: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233364

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

Photo by Caitlyn Bom Photography

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