When you’re a 10% Entrepreneur, you spend at least 10% of your time and, if possible, 10% of your money on side projects. As a 10% Entrepreneur, you invest your time, capital, and know-how to diversify your career, make more money, have fun, and learn how to succeed as an entrepreneur without all the risk of full-time entrepreneurship.
Since you’re only using a part of your time (and we’re all busy), you’re going to need to draw on a host of tools to help you to succeed. Whether you’re looking for partners, seeking out projects, or designing the perfect business card, you’re going to need help. No man (or woman) is an island, and 10% Entrepreneurs are masters of drawing on the skills and talents of others or finding the best hacks and tools to get things done.
With that in mind, here are 8 fantastic tools that every part time entrepreneur should use. Best of all, these services are either free or they offer affordable plans that you can adapt to your needs. Thanks to the tools below, you don’t have to break the bank to build a slick website, set up an efficient accounting platform or find partners anytime and anywhere.
Let’s start with an easy tool to connect with like-minded people in seconds.
In life and in business, it’s often said that it’s not about what you know, but about who you know. Networking events can be hard to navigate and even sap much-needed energy that you’d rather invest in other things (even an extrovert like me gets tired of pressing the flesh). What if you could have access to a curated system which can connect you to people who could help you move your business forward?
If you have ever asked yourself that question, then it’s time to check out Shapr. This powerful app works with an algorithm to provide a daily list of up to 15 people that you should get out and meet based on your interests, professional experience and location. If you get a match, you can take everything to the real world by connecting and meeting up in real life (#IRL)
How easy is that? You can make clutch connections without having to sneak out of the office for a networking event. Thanks to Shapr, your next Angel investor or business partner may be just a swipe away.
Platform: iOS and Android
Now, let’s talk about numbers. I heard you groan. One of the hurdles that come with building a business is keeping track of accounting. Rather than hiding under your desk, turn to QuickBooks. This user friendly platform can help you handle all of the key day to day aspects of your venture, from knowing when you’re getting paid, to storing your receipts and even helping you calculate your taxes. Plus, there are plans designed specifically for a range of ventures, so you can opt for a plan that fits your specific needs. When you’re a 10% Entrepreneur, you’re always on the go. Thankfully, you can manage all of your numbers from mobile devices as well.
Platform: Web, iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android
Price: Free 30-day trial. There are several plans, depending on the type of business.
If I’ve learned one thing as a 10% Entrepreneur, it’s this: Always get it in writing! The only thing that can be more of a hassle for business owners than money is the legal side of things. Whether you are setting up your venture, looking for standard contracts, or seeking to protect your ideas from copycats and patent trolls, you can find the answers at LegalZoom. More than 1 million companies have used LegalZoom to get their legal affairs in order. Plus, the firm maintains a network of legal experts who can help you when you need more specialized guidance.
Price: Plans depend on the type of company and the package chosen.
This next platform has become the defacto way of figuring out who works where, but do you know how to leverage it for your 10%? If you have a Linkedin account, and most of us do, you’ve probably been collecting connections over the years. So what can you do with all of these contacts? The risk many run when using Linkedin is to treat it as just another (hopefully, more professional) Facebook: liking status and job changes here and there, sharing the occasional article and staying up to date with the moves of people in your network…but little else. This passive approach won’t cut it for 10%-ing, so make these two changes for the benefit of your 10% venture:
First, Upgrade your Profile and Write a Comprehensive Bio
In my book, The 10% Entrepreneur, I talk about the importance of knowing what your resources are and how you can leverage them for a part-time venture. If you don’t know yourself, how can you sell yourself to others? This goes beyond updating your profile with your current position and responsibilities. It’s about condensing that information in a short, introductory text (think: a pitch) that you can deliver to anyone who could be interested in working with you. Also make sure to write a detailed professional bio, listing the most important skills and accomplishments you’ve achieved in your career. Finally, leave some space to list what you’ve been working on in your 10% so that you can tell the world that you’re in business and looking for ventures.
Second, Connect With Like-Minded People Through Groups
Once you’ve polished your profile, it’s time to look for groups related to entrepreneurship and the industries where you’d like to focus your 10%. Caution: Joining groups isn’t about pitching your new venture. In fact, many groups will ban you if you use this approach. Instead, use these groups as a way to stay updated about your industries of focus and to build long term links with other members, many of whom may be able to help you with ideas, contacts, or insights.
Platform: Web, iOS and Android
Price: Free, with four premium plans adapted to your needs.
The next three tools dig in into the less exciting, but very important practical elements of running a business. Even though you’re working part-time, you need to run your business like a professional.
They say that if your business doesn’t have an online presence, it might as well not exist. I think that this is a little harsh, but there’s some truth to that statement. The Yellow Pages are a thing of the past, and few are willing to call you asking for your services (ask yourself how often you call businesses these days). Having a highly professional website is more affordable than ever, thanks to Squarespace. It’s an all-in-one website platform that offers you the tools you need to build your own site in minutes. From aesthetically pleasing templates, to powerful sales and marketing tools, and even the ownership of your domain, Squarespace covers all. I had my first site up and running in a few hours and putting together was actually kind of fun.
Price: Depend on the type of plan you choose.
6. 99 Designs
In many lines of business, image is everything. Leave it to 99 designs to help you find the designer that will create a memorable brand identity for each venture you launch. Here’s how it works: you choose a service (a logo, a brand book, even a poster) and explain what you’re looking for in your design. Then, BOOM!, 99 Designs community of designers will compete for your businesses. They submit designs and then you pick a winner. It’s like The Apprentice, except this time you’re the boss! If you fall in love with your designer’s skills, you can even commission them for future one-on-one projects as your 10% keeps growing. Finding great talent is easy with this platform, but remember that the more time you spend describing what you’re looking for, the better results you’ll see.
Price: Depends on the design package, prices begin at US$299.
Alright, you have your idea, your legal papers, your branding, etc. Where are you going to keep all of the files you’ll need to manage your business? Tools like Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive are must-haves for the budding 10%-er. They allow you to access your files anywhere you have an internet connection and share them with other collaborators. I find Dropbox to be the easiest service to use (sorry Box), but I suggest that you test drive the free versions of all of these apps to see what you think.
Price: Free, but there are paid plans for businesses.
As a 10%-er, you are - by definition - working with limited amounts of time. Even if you’re working hard, you may need to ask for help to get things done. Platforms like Upwork and Freelancer connect you with a wide range of professionals, who can help you with things like copywriting, website development, or app design You can even find virtual assistants to take care of the mundane and time consuming parts of your business that you cannot manage on your own. Both platforms offer special plans for businesses, which will connect you with a wide variety of freelancers. They also offer tools that will ensure that each collaboration goes off without a hitch.
Price: Signing up is free, but both websites offer several types of business oriented plans.
There you have it! This is my basic arsenal of tools for every 10% Entrepreneur who’s ready to take their venture seriously and thrive. Whether building your website with Squarespace or your professional network with Shapr, all of these mostly free tools wil get you started.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive and I’m always looking for new ideas. Do you think there’s another tool I should add to the list? Share it in the comments, so I can add it to a future list.