19 Sep 2018
The solopreneur holds a unique position, as the future of their business rests squarely in their hands.
Will our business become a roaring success or an epic fail? That’s entirely up to us, as solopreneurs. But when we set ourselves up for success with a few essential tools from the outset, we increase the chances of saying buh-bye to the corporate world and start forging ahead towards new opportunities.
It used to be only semi-acceptable to do business with a person who worked from home, as the solopreneur’s business was marginalized by the mainstream business world.
Thankfully, this has changed dramatically over the past 25 years or so. After all, Amazon.com was founded by Jeff Bezos in the garage of his home in 1994. Not a shabby business model to follow, right?
Must-Have Tools for the Solopreneur
First and foremost, let’s get the more obvious things out of the way: a successful solopreneur must have great connectivity.
Must-haves are a reliable computer, fast internet speed, printer, scanner, cell phone, and other tools to help us stay connected to clients, vendors, and contacts. While home businesses have become an accepted norm, the initial investment in this equipment is non-negotiable.
Wow Them with a Website
A website with a “wow factor” is another must-have on the list of essential business tools. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling your housecleaning services or gumballs. You need to have one to be competitive.
Your website will serve many purposes and help accomplish the following goals:
- Make your presence known quickly when optimized.
- Engage with customers so they stay on your site a little while.
- Build a database of prospects and customers by collecting data via well-placed web forms.
- Educate customers on your products.
- Sell your goods or services
- Answer any customer questions or concerns
- Promote your company in a positive light
That’s a lot of work for one website! Fortunately, these virtual spaces are quite affordable today, especially if you have the knowledge of SEO and the technical skills to build your own site.
A website can run you anywhere from $100 for a basic, DIY point-and-click setup to a highly customized site built by a pro. Whatever the case, all websites should meet each of those goals.
Solopreneurs may be able to start their business from a kitchen table. But soon, you’ll find such a central location an inconvenience. You really need to have your own workspace; whether it’s a corner of the garage or a spare bedroom, set up an in-home office.
Canceling out background noise and distractions can go a long way.
While setting up your home office, look for ergonomic and comfortable equipment to help keep you healthy as you work from home.
Free Essential Business Tools
In addition to core internet needs, you should take advantage of several free tools to help get the ball rolling.
Each of these subscription services offer a “Free” subscription level. As you expand, you can move up to paid subscriptions that unlock additional benefits.
Here are a few apps beloved by solopreneurs:
Accounting: Wave is a free, cloud-based accounting system. Having proper accounting practices in place will ensure that you receive and pay bills on time and are ready for tax-time. The free plan includes entering your payables, receivables, invoicing, and receipt storage. Any additional fees come only if you need assistance with payroll, taxes, or credit card processing.
Photo Editing: PicMonkey offers free photo-editing and a robust supply of templates. From social media posts to creating header images for your website, you’ll find everything necessary in PicMonkey. There are plenty of templates and fonts with the free version, too. As business grows, you’ll want to upgrade to unlock even more benefits (depending on the nature of your services, of course).
SEO: You can sign up for a beginner-level free suite of SEO tools from Small SEO Tools. This suite can check your website’s Domain Authority, analyze keywords on a basic level, check for broken links, and more.
Web Forms: EmailMeForm offers users secure web forms. These will help you gather user data for sales and marketing, customer engagement, and payment collection. Their forms include security features like Smart Captcha at no additional charge. Keeping in touch with your site visitors regularly will keep them coming back for more. In addition, you can unlock more benefits by upgrading as you grow.
Social Media: This may have been beaten to death, but it still deserves a mention. We all know the big 4 platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. and Pinterest. Don’t miss out on the free promotional opportunities–even though you are starting out small with only a handful of followers. Sign up and start building relationships, which naturally leads to trust and a more profitable business.
It’s Up to You
Ready to spread your entrepreneurial wings and fly high? Your dreams of big business are within your grasp; your determination and creativity are the only things holding you back once you’ve embraced these essential business tools.