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How To Save Time & Money In Business Using Online Resources

10 March 2015  
Seven Fabulous Resources for Your Small Business

You might love owning your own business, but it doesn't mean that there aren't certain tasks you find time-consuming and dreary. 

Some of them you've got to do no matter what. But for other tasks, there are some online solutions that you'll fall in love with. 

These are all online apps that we use here at eNewsAZ, but in the interest of full disclosure, some of the links provided here will give us a credit or pay us money if you sign up. Of course, we appreciate your support, but be assured that we're recommending these only because we love using them ourselves. 

Fiverr.com

Have you ever needed an infographic or social media help, but your budget is just too tight? Fiverr.com is here for you. Individuals from all over the world offer their services for a minimal amount, typically $5. Of course each person offers enticing upgrades, too, so don't be surprised if you end up spending $15 or more. Explain what you want, pay the fee and wait for your project to be completed. We've had happy success with hiring infographic experts (which we paid $15 for so we could get the .psd files and edit or tweak as necessary). We also loved the resume' created for my husband. We weren't super-excited about the logo we had designed for us, but since we weren't positive what we wanted, and simply hoped to be wowed, that probably wasn't their fault. 

Some of the things you can try:

  • Website help and fixes
  • Infographics and graphic arts 
  • Voiceovers for commercials
  • Whiteboard videos
  • A paper with your business name on it next to a bull dog. (I know, really? But a lot of people signed up for this one.)

Suggestion: Many of the gigs are offered by people in other countries. Do make sure you are clear in your instructions. Also, when the gig is completed to your satisfaction, be sure to leave a review. If you are really happy, leave a donation as a tip.  

Try Fiverr.com out with a free gig offer. If you spend $10, we'll earn $5. It's a win-win for everyone! Use this link: Free gig offer.

 

Trello

Do you have projects that need organizing? Perhaps you need to keep your team on track, and provide resources in a centralized location. Trello is awesome, and perfect for the non-engineer for organizing and planning. Pretend you're sitting around in a circle and each person is writing stuff on 3x5 cards. Then you gather all the cards and sort them out according to categories, and pin them to a board. That's Trello. Your account is free, although it can be upgraded for a nominal fee. If you join, we get a nominal perk (not cash) but it's not a big deal to us, we love it so much we want to recommend it to everyone whether we're compensated or not. 

A couple of things that you'll appreciate: You can create boards, and then invite people to join you. As many as you want. Each board can have different people associated with it, on a Need to Know basis. You can create as many boards, tasks and lists as you like. You can also upload documents, reference videos and assign due dates.

Here's a website showing how Trello can help to double your productivity. There's an accompanying video, too.

Here's another video to watch, too:

Sign up using this link, it's free! Trello.com

 

Fundbox

Sometimes you'll find that cashflow issues creep into your business. You know that the clients will pay, but maybe it's not as timely as you might like. Fundbox.com to the rescue. It's free to create your account: There's no lengthy credit application, simply enter your email, choose a password, connect to a bookkeeping service app such as QuickBooks, FreshBooks,  and you're done. Here's how Fundbox explains it:

"If you have outstanding invoices we'll advance their payment. We don't buy your invoices, we don't use them as collateral. We just stick to the amounts of your issued invoices to make sure you don't bite more than you can chew. You pay back the amount and a small clearing fee over 12 weeks. If at any point you decide you want to pay early, we'll waive the clearing fee of the remaining period. You are always in control and can step in and out whenever you want." 

Fundbox automatically withdraws the payment from your bank every week. They communicate clearly about what your upcoming payments are, sending an email detailing the next two weeks payments.

How much does it cost? Every time you clear an invoice, Fundbox tells you in advance how much your clearing fee will be, and what your weekly payment will be, so there are no surprises if you decide to use their services.

If you want to give it a try, this link will provide you with a $25 coupon (that's free money! Enough to pay the service fee on several hundred $$$ worth of invoices.) We'll get a coupon also, another win-win. Fundbox for cashflow.

Of course, life is best if cashflow is controlled. That leads us to the next online service...

 

Freshbooks

 
 
What can I say? For those of us that aren't trained bookkeepers, and hate the idea of becoming one, Freshbooks.com will become your new BFF. It's very intuitive to use. A friend of mine looked at the service and her first response was, "Yeah! A bookkeeping app that even I can understand."
 
The rates are ridiculously reasonable, and it is a huge timesaver. After all, how many bookkeepers can you hire for $20-40/month that will calculate your billing based on either project times or flat fee, create the invoice, mail it for you with a return envelope, evaluate your bank account and sort out your expenses into tax-friendly categories? At the end of the year, all you have to do is print reports and hand them off to your tax specialist. WooHoo!
 
Set up recurring invoices and autopay to help prevent the cashflow issues mentioned above. Clients can pay via credit card or Paypal online with simple setup steps. Obviously, they can still mail in checks. If you have questions, their customer service is very helpful. 
 
There are some extra costs if you choose to use it - for example "stamps" pay for the snail mailing services, and can cost as much as $2.29 each if purchased individually. A return envelope is included. Purchase 100-499 stamps, and it costs $1.79 each; 500 stamps, and the price drops to $1.49. They will mail anywhere in the world, although outside of the US and Canada will require two stamps. You can save that fee entirely by sending the invoice via email, or printing it and mailing it yourself. 
 
Take a look at FreshBooks.com. Sign up, and we'll get a percentage. Another win-win! Use this link: FreshBooks.com for a free trial. 

Time etc.

This is a service we just discovered, so we're not really sure how much we'll use it. Billing themselves as "Assistants for entrepreneurs since 2007," basically, it's an on-call assistant you can delegate various tasks to. It costs about $26 per hour, and you can purchase set amounts such as 3 hours a month or more. Fifteen hours a month will cost $360. These assistants can do almost anything - find flights, create an email marketing campaign, write a blog, research, transcribe audio recordings and much more. The list is practically endless. They'll even be your bill collectors if necessary, or help develop leads and make sales calls over the phone. 

The assistants are all based in the US, so one shouldn't have language difficulties. They claim to "only accept the best freelancers." 

Get a free $25 credit with Timeetc, and so will we. Sign up here: Timeetc. Assistants

By the way, are you interested in freelancing for Timeetc? They'll verify your identity, work history and educational background; they do an interview and ask for work examples. They require skill tests to evaluate the skill level. 

CoSchedule 

Small businesses often have to write things. Press releases, articles, manuals - the list goes on. One of the biggest roadblocks, or afterthoughts, which is even worse, is choosing a title. That's where CoSchedule comes in. Type in a headline into their Headline Analyzer, and see it analyzed and graded. Keep trying until you're satisfied. (Warning: It's hard to get an A.)

This is a free service, but it can be invaluable. Your headlines deserve the best. Use it! CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.

 

Mile IQ

This is an online app, but it's also an app for your phone. You need both to make it work efficiently. Everywhere you and your phone go, MileIQ tracks your mileage. You can then label your locations, identifiable on a map, and sort personal travel from business travel with just a swipe to the left or right. You can describe your trip, too, using customizable labels. 

Whenever you like, you can then download tax-friendly reports. You can also download the "Ultimate Guide to Mileage Deductions in the United States" for free. They have other free tips and resources here: https://www.mileiq.com/resources

You can use MileIQ for free for the first 40 trips per month, after that it's well worth the $5.99 per month. If you prefer, you can pay $59.99 annually and save a few bucks. 

More Services

Here are some other services you might find of interest. We don't use these, so this isn't a recommendation, but they might be worth checking out.

Harvest:Time tracking made easy

QuickBooks: The classic bookkeeping service.

OutRight: Another online bookkeeping service, provided by GoDaddy. We don't use this service, but we know people who do and they like it.

Wave Accounting & Invoicing: This is a free service. 

MakeSomeTime: Simple online time tracking and invoicing.

YouNeedABudget: Budgeting software, helping you to pay off debt, save money and break the paycheck to paycheck cycle. 

Square: Online payment processor

Xero:Online accounting software for your small business.

 

Have you found some terrific online tools? If so, please share them here!

 

 

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Lynne LaMaster