6 Must-Have Digital Tools for the Self-Employed Entrepreneur
Starting your own business can feel like a leap of faith (sans safety net). But, despite the risks involved, being your own boss and pursuing the avenues you’re passionate about can be a thrilling pursuit. With the ability to work on their terms, few entrepreneurs look back after base jumping into their wildest entrepreneurial dreams.
However, when it comes to growing your business, you may not know where to turn. Finding opportunities can be difficult if you don’t know where to look, and managing your finances can feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are plenty of digital tools that can help you work smarter and boost your productivity, from marketing software to project management apps.
Ready to make your entrepreneurial fantasies a reality? Here are six must-have tools for freelancers and entrepreneurs that’ll set you up for success.
An online PO box
There’s quite a bit of paperwork involved with establishing your own business. If you’re afraid of essential documents being stolen out of your mailbox or you don’t want clients to know your personal address, reserving a PO box is the best option for receiving mail. However, after a few wasted trips to the post office, only to be faced with an empty PO box, you may think that a PO box isn’t worth the hassle.
Luckily, services like iPostal1 have seen the need for a better option and have created online PO boxes for busy entrepreneurs and business owners. With this revolutionary technology, your online PO box will notify you every time mail arrives, and you can request a digital scan of your documents that you can view from any device. You’ll never have to worry about missing deadlines for time-sensitive documents again with the convenience of an online PO box. Additionally, you can use your online PO box as a business address and even attach a local phone number to your address to establish a remote office presence in the city of your choosing.
If you’re a fresh-faced freelancer, you may not know where to look for business opportunities to start building your client list. Luckily, there are plenty of freelance marketplaces you can peruse to find your first clients, from Upwork to Fiverr.
Freelancers specializing in design, web development, copywriting, marketing, social media, photo, video, audio, and more can easily find clients looking for their work. If you sell digital prints and other design products, marketplaces like Creative Market and Envato make it easy for you to sell your pre-made designs and tools to a broad audience.
Warning: these websites will claim a portion of your pay as a commission or fee for listing your work on their site. With this in mind, conduct research before using any of these sites and ensure you’re making the best financial decisions for your business.
An online business portfolio
As you build your client list and complete projects, it’s time to develop your website with a portfolio. With an independent platform, you can distance your business model from third-party marketplaces that take a percentage of your earnings with every project or product sale. Additionally, you can display every project you’ve completed to establish your credibility and provide potential clients with examples of your work.
Keeping track of your billable hours and ensuring all of your expenses are accounted for isn’t easy to do on your own. Software like FreshBooks, Coconut, and Wave offers the ability to track your work hours, send invoices to clients, log expenses, and accept payments. Setup is often quick and painless, and it’s easy to manage late payments from clients with automatic reminders so you don’t have to worry about sending extra emails and messages.
A project management app
When working with multiple clients on many different projects, it can be challenging to keep track of everything on your plate. Instead of losing track of your progress, invest in a solid project management application to keep tabs on high-priority projects.
Project management software allows you to organize every stage of all of your various projects and check off every task as you complete it. If you’re collaborating with your client or other freelancers, it’s easy to add additional users and assign tasks to each other. You can visually organize your workflow and stay up to date with all of your collaborators’ progress.
Starting your own business doesn’t mean you’ve learned everything you need to know to succeed. Plenty of skill-building websites like Udemy, Skillshare, edX, and more allow you to continue honing your skills so you can deliver the best final products to your clients.
The more training you undergo, the more higher-paying clients you can win. If you’re interested in expanding your skill set and offering more services to clients, it’s easier than ever to explore subjects you’re interested in and master a new skill. In addition, you can take classes on your own time, at your own pace, so you never have to sacrifice your business to improve your skills.
The bottom line
Becoming an entrepreneur can be overwhelming, and it’s daunting to strike out on your own. Fortunately, building a digital toolkit will set your business up for success and help you gain clients quickly. So while starting your own business isn’t as stable as a salaried, 9-to-5 job, you can achieve a new level of independence and march to the beat of your own business drum.