12 Essential Apps Every Small Business Owner Must Own

Written by Sam on . Posted in Inspiration, Small Business Owners. 5312 views.

Are you looking to better incorporate technology into your personal finances?  Want to save yourself time and money while looking impressive to your customer?  Your mobile phone/tablet currently offers a wide variety of options to do just that.

There are plenty of apps out there, but these are the top apps any small business owner should have:

  1. TeamViewer HD.  Now this is cool.  TeamViewer allows you to control your desktop computer from your iPad or iPhone.  This is perfect for when you need to access an application or file that is on another computer.  The app lets you easily log into your computer, move the mouse around like you were actually there and launch programs and access documents.  App Cost:  Free.
  2. Line2.  Want to tap your dedicated business line into your iPhone?  Line2 is a VoIP service which adds features like virtual receptionist, call conference/waiting/transfer, SMS text messaging and others to your phone.  This is a very cool feature which competes with other services that require a physical phone at your home or office.  Service Cost:  $10 a month.
  3. Dropbox.  Everyone loves Dropbox – the free cloud service that lets you store, share and backup your files seamlessly.  The Dropbox App serves another function, it provides a solution for the inability to store documents on your iPhone.  Simply save your files to Dropbox and you’ll be able to access them from the Dropbox app.  App Cost: Free.  Not into dropbox? Google offers a similar service/app called GoogleDrive.
  4. HootSuite. HootSuite is a cool service which allows you to manage all of your social media accounts at once.  It’s great for those who want a one-stop-shop to publish posts, status updates, etc. for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Foursquare.  When you’re on the go you can manage all of these functions with the HootSuite for Twitter App.  App Cost: Free (4 accounts), $6 (for more).
  5. Wi-Fi Finder.  Are you cheap like me and don’t want to pay for cellular service for your iPad?  Wi-Fi Finder is a handy app that uses your phone’s GPS to identify where the closest Wi-Fi hotspots are.  App Cost:  Free.

8 Things Executives and Entrepreneurs Do Differently

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice, Inspiration. 5494 views.

Success is not always about what you’re doing, sometimes it about what you could be doing differently.  Not everyone can run a profitable company.  In fact, it takes a special set of skills to be a true leader.  

Executives and successful entrepreneurs do things differently than you do.  We’re not talking about middle level management here, we’re talking about real decision makers.  Here’s a list of things successful business people do differently:

  1. Put people first.  Climbing the corporate ladder or maintaining a successful business is rarely done alone.  It’s the coworker that tells your boss how you jumped in when people were spread thin, or your assistant manager who works a double shift when your new employee calls in sick, who sets you apart.  These people put themselves out there for you, because you’ve shown them they’re appreciated or valuable.  Do right by the people around you, no matter how “small” they are, and they’ll do right for you.
  2. Work harder.  You probably occasionally get to work early and leave late.  When asked to do a task you do it.  Overall you’re a hard worker.  We’ll here’s a terribly kept secret – your boss’s boss works harder.  It’s those employees who take the initiative, without being asked, who rise through the ranks.  Is there something this week that you could proactively get involved in?
  3. Stay focused.  It can be easy to get distracted by the noise that surrounds your business day – becoming overwhelmed and inefficient.  Most successful higher-ups have the ability to decipher information, discarding the noise, to identify problems and focus on solutions.  When today gets chaotic, slow down and focus on the important tasks – leaving the non-priorities for tomorrow.
  4. Exude confidence.  You don’t have to be an expert for people to think you’re one.  Most positions of leadership require the respect of those around you.  Formulate your plans and ideas, keep the course, and stay confident.
  5. Change it up.  Don’t be afraid to innovate.  Just because the company or industry does it a certain way doesn’t mean you have to.  Look at companies like Virgin, Google, Dyson and Apple, who diverted paths of entire industries simply by trying things a new way.  If it ain’t broke, break it!  

6 Companies That Will Inspire You To Be Better

Written by Sam on . Posted in Inspiration. 3642 views.

Many of us are content with the comforts of an eight-to-five job. It’s hard to imagine quitting it all for a passion or cause. Yet, there’s a subliminal believe that life is more than just trading your hours for dollars. Because of this, I find it so inspiring to learn about individuals who weren’t afraid to put their product or cause out there for the world to see.

Here’s a list of 6 stories which will hopefully motivate you to put yourself out there and be someone:

  1. Teach for America.  Wendy Kopp proposed the idea for Teach For America in her Princeton University undergraduate thesis in 1989.  Her program requires a two year commitment (usually from a recent college graduate) to teach in underprivileged areas of the United States.  The teacher gets paid a modest salary, but more importantly is trained how to teach effectively and become a leader in the community.  After the program is through, the teach is given access to the program’s vast leadership database – providing a great network to pursue careers in other industries.  In 1990, a charter corps of 500 committed recent college graduates joined Teach For America and began fueling the movement to eliminate educational inequity.  The program is designed to train mainly recent college graduates to be lifetime leaders in their industry and the community. After completing the two year commitment, Teach for America helps alumni build leadership skills, develop networks, and connects them to opportunities where they can make an impact throughout their careers.

    Why you should be inspired:  Since starting in 1990, nearly 33,000 participants have reached more than 3 million children nationwide during their two-year teaching commitments. They have sustained their commitment as alumni, working within education and across all sectors to help ensure that children growing up in low-income communities get an excellent education.
  2. Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Nancy Goodman Brinker watched her sister Susan Komen die from breast cancer at the age of 36.  Convinced that her sister could have survived if there was more awareness for the disease, she founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Whether or not you agree with their recent stances on abortion and planned parenthood funding, it’s hard to deny the unbelievable amount resources and attention they continue to provide for research and support.

    Why you should be inspired:  Starting as a promise to a sister, the foundation has donated over $2 billion, working to end breast cancer in the U.S. and throughout the world through ground-breaking research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 50 countries.
  3. Toms Shoes. In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers. Interestingly enough, the “Buy One – Give One” business model turned out to be extremely profitable and motivated others to do the same thing (funny how that works…).  Warby Parker Glasses , Bobs by Sketchers and OneMillionLights are just a few of the successful start-ups utilizing buy one give one –  It’s nice when capitalism and philanthropy align.

    Why you should be inspired:  It’s fascinating to hear about individuals who are so affected by others in need that they start companies focused on being profitable, not to further the founder, but to further (and hopefully eliminate) their cause.  Since starting in 2006, Tom’s has given away over 2 Million pairs of shoes.  What are you so passionate about that you’d dedicate your life to raising money for it?

9 Reasons Why a Woman Should Be Managing Your Personal Finances

Written by Sam on . Posted in For Women, Inspiration. 4334 views.

Sorry men, we were just passed by women as the better manager of family finances.  Recent studies are showing that personal finances are shifting from a primarily male dominated responsibility to one now being managed (effectively) by females. We all know that money problems can ruin a marriage.  Conversely, having joint involvement and ownership of accounts decreases the chances of miscommunication and misinformation – transparency in family finances is essential.

Yes (OF COURSE!), there are exceptions to all of these somewhat sexist statements, but until societal norms diverge toward equality, these reasons apply to more situations than they do not.  If you’re a woman who isn’t currently involved in family finances or a man too proud to ask for help, maybe the following will persuade you to try a new approach.  Here are 9 reasons why a woman should be involved in the management of your family’s personal finances:

  1. Women run the day-to-day of the household.  Whether working full time or not, most women oversee the daily operations of the household.  Subsequently, amounts spent on some of a family’s biggest expenses such as groceries, maintenance and entertainment are left to them.  It only makes sense that the overseer of these matters be exposed to and involved in the budgeting/financial aspects.
  2. Women are more afraid of debt.  The latest studies tell us that women are more intimidated by debt than men.  Women tend to save up for big purchases instead of putting them on credit.  Debt is the #1 killer of family finances, it’s good to put someone who is leery of debt in charge of spending/budgeting.  Avoiding debt is also one of the 18 Financial Tips I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was Younger.
  3. Women have less of an ego when it comes to investing.  Any successful investor must exercise both patience and discipline when seeing investments go up and down – especially in today’s market.  Ego, pride and over-confidence (traits more likely found in males) must be removed from the equation. Women are typically less likely to show these emotions and panic sell if an investment goes down.
  4. Women are better at finding value.  U.S. News reports that, on average,  men dramatically outspend women on things like holiday shopping.  Being able to identify value and needs (as apposed to wants) is valuable in both investing and budget management.  A dollar saved at Target is a dollar earned!
  5. Women bring a unique perspective.  A family unit should be a partnership with each spouse having an equal say.  Women need to be equally involved in spending and investing decisions, offering a checks and balances approach to the partnership.

25 Things to Stop Doing Today at Work

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice, Inspiration. 37632 views.

Often times we can fall in a rut at work.  We start accepting unhappiness as our destiny and quit fighting it like we did in our twenties.  Make it a point today to identify some of the hindrances you’re facing with your company or position and take a step to get past them.

Personal growth should be something you’re looking to accomplish each and every day. No one likes change, but how many of these 25 things can you stop doing at work today?

  1. Stop bottling up your talent.  The 21st century is perhaps the most exciting time in history to possess unique knowledge and talent.  There are so many outlets for you to showcase your talent.  Whether it’s a blog, eBook, podcast or other form of expression,  get your knowledge out there – it’s one of the 7 ways to be seen as an expert in your industry.
  2. Stop being afraid to fail.  I know it’s become a cliche, but failure can be extremely valuable.  Do you really think that successful people never fail?  Of course this is not the case, they’ve just worked through failure and ended with success.  No one should strive for failure, but I’d rather swing and miss than never be in the game.
  3. Stop being unorganized.  Start making lists and setting goals for yourself.  It’s easy to lose sight of what you want to accomplish if you don’t keep in front of you.  Try to organize the tasks you must complete today as well as those which are not priorities – your day will be more efficient and less stressful, guaranteed!
  4. Stop shrugging responsibility.  You should be the first to volunteer for a new project.  Not only will you probably learn something new, you’ll gain the respect of those around you.
  5. Stop being afraid to socialize with upper management.  Manager’s want to promote and hire well rounded, likable people.  While it’s always important to be respectful, don’t wait around for executives to notice you, put yourself out there to be noticed.  Take the initiative to setup a happy hour or group lunch – it will be noticed.

50 Ways to Be Smarter With Your Money While You’re Still Young

Written by Sam on . Posted in Inspiration, Retirement. 17150 views.

Be Smarter With Your MoneyThe personal finance habits you develop when you’re young will determine the standard of living you enjoy (or regret) when you’re older.  Take it from me, adding just a couple of these to your financial routine can make a big difference at the end of the year when you look at your bank statements.

How many of these 50 ways to be smarter with your money do you commit to (most admit to less than half):

  1. Maintain only two forms of debt:  Mortgage and (minimal) car payment.
  2. Donate your time, not your money.  Getting involved is far more valuable to yourself and the organization.
  3. Don’t panic when good investments go down.  Investing should not be based on emotion, stick with your strategies.
  4. Avoid any fees – they take from principal and reduce compounding.
  5. Get your spouse involved in family finances – it’s better for your marriage and for future financial decisions.
  6. Renting is cheaper than owning – we have a good 10 years of this staying true.
  7. Have a 3 month cash reserve for unexpected emergencies.
  8. Save up for your big purchases, don’t put them on credit – helps determine what you need/want and what was just an impulse buy.
  9. Lend family members your time and expertise, not your money – sorry.
  10. Max out company matching/contribution to 401(k).

7 Ways to Be Seen as an Expert in Your Industry

Written by Sam on . Posted in Education, Inspiration. 14735 views.

Ways to be seen as an expert in your industry

Being perceived as an expert in your industry is one of the Financial Tips I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was Younger as well as a great source of job security and profitability.  As someone who has become an expert in a specific niche, having sold a successful information based resource website to a Fortune 500 company, I’ve seen the benefits of expertise first hand.  I’ve also seen others expand upon their own expertise to create phenomenal entrepreneurial opportunities.  Follow these initial steps to start down the path of becoming an expert in your industry:

    1. Be organized!  I’m a huge believer in organizing your resources and information.  To be perceived as an expert you don’t have to know every answer immediately, you just need to be able to access information in a timely manner.  Throughout the day I have no problem telling a client that I’ll have to call them back – I’ll then review my notes or do additional research and formulate a focused and intelligent response.
    2. Ask for help.  Experts become experts by learning from other experts.  Mistakes can be good, but avoiding them can be better.  Associate with people who share your same level of passion, even if it’s a different niche, and you’ll be inspired to achieve more. Excellent Read: Outliers: The Story of Success.
    3. Get your knowledge out there.  This may be the most important takeaway – get your expertise out there in the marketplace.   I have seen great results, including job offers,  from non-monetized websites, twitter posts or Facebook pages.  Volunteering to speak at a company seminar, submitting a guest article for your industry newsletter or writing an eBook will all work to get you recognized as an expert.

    14 Ways To Trick Your Customers and Co-Workers Into Liking You

    Written by Sam on . Posted in Education, Inspiration. 10655 views.

    Business relationships matter.  It’s the relationship that keeps your clients coming back and not going across the street to your competitor. The key to starting (and maintaining) a successful relationship is being likable.

    Whether you’re already likeable or a real SOB, if you want to be successful in business you’re going to need to be liked.  For some of us, that means playing dirty.

    Here are some sneaky ways to trick people into liking you:

    1. Jump on a crisis.  People never forget when you help them out in their time of need.  Even small tasks like helping a busy co-worker make copies or filling in when they’re on vacation will make you stand out (and appreciated). Better yet, help a coworker or client who was recently laid off – I guarantee it will solidify a relationship for life.
    2. Bypass technology.  Email is the enemy of effective communication.  With everyone being so damn reliant upon email, most of us have become afraid to meet in person.  A face to face lunch, an impromptu meeting at the office, or even just picking up the phone will go further than years of email communication.
    3. Open up personally.  The more you share your passions, hobbies, and family stories the less likely you are to get fired and more likely you are to get the sale.  People are suckers for a good “My kid started walking for the first time this weekend” story.  Your life is interesting, I promise. Excellent read: “Rework”, by David Heinemeier Hansson.
    4. Show your sense of humor.  Don’t be afraid to tell a cheesy joke or play a prank.  Loosening up a client or coworker can help cut through inefficient formalities and accomplish what you want quicker.   Humor is obviously a sign of tremendous intelligence.
    5. Grow a mustache.  Just kidding…or am I?