30 ways starting a business is easier than ever
Starting a business two or three decades ago seemed tough. Entrepreneurs needed office space—or an empty garage, bulky file cabinets, specialized computer skills, and, eventually, in-house employees. Busy founders had to split their time between jump-starting their business, raising funding, and completing frustrating administrative tasks. Doing all that work by hand or in person cut down on their time to work on their innovative offerings.
Today, the digital age has made starting a business easier than ever, especially for founders in their 20s and 30s. There are apps, software programs, and other technologies to consolidate tasks, outsource work, organize projects, and make plans with team members. In fact, as of 2016, there were an estimated 25 million people in the United States starting or running a new business, and that number has been on the rise since 2010. What tools are these new business owners utilizing?
Stacker has compiled a list of the 30 resources, tools, and technologies that have made starting a business easier than ever.
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Years ago, business owners relied on ads, newsletters, and word of mouth. Today, it’s never been easier to spread your message and interact with potential customers over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. New business owners use social media to show off products, solidify their brand, and update customers on their progress and upcoming deals. Most social media platforms are free, and there are plenty of free and low-cost software programs available to manage and coordinate posts across networks, including Hootsuite and Sprout Social.
Business incubators offer training, business plan refinement, mentorship, office space, and funding. Though many of the most well-known incubators like Y Combinator and IdeaLab specialize in tech-focused businesses, there are plenty that welcome companies with different types of products. That includes the Telluride Venture Accelerator and niche incubators like SKU, which helps companies with packaged goods, and Side Project, which offers financial scholarships for non-profits. The International Business Incubation Association has thousands of members and an incubator directory.
Online matching with lenders
Most entrepreneurs need funding from lenders like banks or private lending groups. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to find potential lenders online. The Small Business Association offers tons of free resources, including its online Lender Match. Fundera also offers lender guides and search tools.
Old-school lenders aren’t the only way to get much-needed funding. Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and other crowdfunding sites can help entrepreneurs raise the cash they need to get their product off the ground. Even better? It’s a great tool to promote early-stage businesses. Some crowdfunding products like the Oculus Rift VR headset or the Coolest Cooler have even gone viral.
Years ago, invoices had to be printed out and sent by snail mail. Today, there are tons of apps and software programs for billing clients. Invoicely lets you keep track of invoices sent, outstanding, and received. The program even lets you customize the look of your invoice so it stays on-brand. Smaller businesses might opt for something a little less complex, like PayPal’s Xoom.
A formal office isn’t required to have a home base. Co-working spaces, such as WeWork and Impact Hub, let start-ups, entrepreneurs, and freelancers rent space in their shared workplace at a low cost. Co-working spaces often offer cool perks, such as free coffee, Wifi, and a dedicated mailing address. What’s more, companies sharing the space have numerous opportunities to connect and network.
Networking offers plenty of benefits, from sharing ideas to meeting people that you might someday work alongside. Conferences and seminars are great, but it’s easier than ever to find free networking events for like-minded business owners. MeetUp connects people with specialized networking events throughout the country.
Early stage business owners have to take on many administrative tasks themselves, including accounting. Now you don’t need a CPA to track your finances. Software like QuickBooks makes tracking expenses, earnings, and taxes easy. Bond Street, which runs a newsletter for small businesses, has a full guide to cloud-based accounting software.
Once upon a time, business owners needed clunky file cabinets to keep track of their paperwork. Later, files were stored on hard drives and floppy discs. Today, cloud computing has changed the game by making it easy to store and access files from anywhere in the world on any device. Plus, cloud systems can back up files so you never have to worry about losing important documents.
Financial management apps
Entrepreneurs should keep a careful eye on their finances to make sure they’re on track for success and profitability. Luckily, there are plenty of apps that streamline the process and crunch the numbers to present the data in an easy-to-understand way. Wave tracks finances for companies with nine employees or less, and Gusto offers payroll services to growing companies. Since many entrepreneurs use personal funds to fund their companies or forego payment until their businesses take off, they can keep track of their personal finances with an app like Mint.2018 All rights reserved.