5 Great iOS Apps for Freelancers

5 Great iOS Apps for Freelancers

Most freelancers are frequently on the go, and many of them can function in any space where there is an Internet connection. Wouldn’t it be great to make great use of your iOS device to better manage your freelance business?

Here are a few great iOS apps that freelancers may find especially useful:

MyPrice – Costs: $1.99

MyPrice is a valuable iOS app for independent contractors who aren’t sure how much they should charge for their services, whether on a project basis or at an hourly rate. This app gives you a general idea of how much you should charge a client based on various personal and external factors such as your background and daily expenses. MyPrice caters to an extensive range of freelance jobs, from web design and programming to writing and copy editing.

Expensify – Costs: Nothing

You may not need to submit an expense report to your boss (what boss?), but you do need to be responsible when it comes to recording your business-related expenses. Expensify is a nifty app that allows you to track your purchases as they occur by syncing them with your bank accounts and credit cards. This iOS app also allows you to use your camera phone as a receipt scanner for purchases that are made with cash.

SignEasy – Costs: Nothing

Have you ever finalized a sales contract, NDA, or consent form with a client, but had no immediate access to a printer, scanner, or fax machine? SignEasy is a secure and convenient way to use your iPhone or iPad to sign documents, whether at home, at the office, or at a remote location. This app allows you to easily import a document, edit PDFs, sign with a stylus or your finger, and email the final document or save it on Dropbox or other similar applications.

2Do: Tasks Done in Style – Costs: $9.99

There are hundreds of productivity apps out there, but if an app’s overall interface matters to you, then 2Do is one thing that’s worth spending on. This attractive and intuitive task manager has tons of useful features, such as picture attachments, audio notes, tabbed lists, instant previews, multiple alerts per task, as well as dragging and dropping tasks to and from lists.

Invoice2go Plus – Costs: Nothing
Invoice2go – Costs: $9.99

One of the hardest parts about freelancing isn’t actually making money, but collecting it. Invoice2go is one app that will make it a lot easier for you to create invoices, credit memos, estimates, and purchase orders. You’ll be able to effortlessly calculate taxes based on the state you’re in, and can also keep track of the clients who still owe you. Invoice2go comes with several invoice template styles to choose from, and also allows you to place a PayPal button on your invoice to make the entire process even more convenient.

5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Creating A Business Plan

5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Creating A Business Plan

When it comes to getting your small business off the ground, one of the biggest steps you’ll need to do first is create a business plan. Of course, while it is important to include necessary elements in your business plan, it is equally important that you do not commit any of the following mistakes:

1) Procrastinating

Unfortunately, most business owners tend to put off creating their business plan until it’s absolutely necessary, only creating one when an investor or bank asks for a copy. Don’t wait until the last minute. Take the time to plan for both the present and the future, and you’ll find that your efforts will go a long way toward your business success.

2) Being too vague

Avoid talking nonsense and being too vague with your business objectives and goals. Identify specific dates, milestones, budgets, and management responsibilities. If you’re trying to avoid revealing confidential material, then you may want to show interested parties your executive summary first, and then possibly ask them to sign a non-disclosure or non-compete agreement if they want to see more.

3) Being too detailed

Keep it clear and concise. When creating a business plan, remember not to get weighed down by too many details. Focus on the key elements of your business, and keep the technical information to a bare minimum. If you really must discuss the particulars, do so in a later section like an appendix.

4) Conducting inadequate research

It’s essential that your business plan be backed up by research. Ensure that numbers, statistics, and charts substantiate all your projections and assumptions. Also, double-check that your research isn’t dated, or you may just discredit the work you’ve done so far.

5) Claiming your business has no competition

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating a business plan is failing to acknowledge the fact that you have any competition. From the very beginning, list the other players in the industry, and identify how you can best compete with them. All businesses have competitors, whether in a direct or indirect form.

7 Creative Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Thank You Notes

Great marketing goes beyond designing a great logo. Promoting a business can be a challenging task, particularly if you’re after a fresh, creative approach. Of course, marketing a small business can be even more difficult, as budgets are a lot smaller and networks are much more limited. Here are some creative yet cost-effective ways to market your small business:

1) Repurpose existing content.

Have you written lots of content on a particular subject? There’s no need to let your expertise go to waste. Turn your old blog posts into an e-book, a magazine article, a booklet, or even a marketing video.

2) Host workshops and seminars.

Share your talent and expertise with others by teaching at workshops and speaking at seminars. You’ll get publicity both from marketing the event and the event itself.

3) Get personal.

Send handwritten thank you, birthday, or holiday cards to past and present clients and partners. Although this may seem like a taxing task, many entrepreneurs and small businesses can attest to its effectiveness.

4) Sponsor a local team.

Sponsor a local basketball team or youth camp and you’ll not only get publicity by way of feature articles and press releases, but you’ll also get your company logo on team uniforms and signs. You’ll be able to build brand awareness and become a valuable community member at the same time.

5) Raise funds for a cause.

One of the best ways to market your small business is by getting the entire local community involved. Join up with other non-competing businesses in the area and organize a fundraiser for a particular cause or charitable organization. You’ll not only do your share of good, but you’ll automatically be included in all the marketing efforts of your partners.

6) Host an event.

While networking may be a great way to market your business, hosting an event is an even better way to do so. If possible, offer freebies or free food in order to get more people to attend. An event will allow you to reach a much wider audience at once, and if you’re able to hold the event at your actual location, then people will know where you are and where they can find you in the future.

7) Go where your competition is not.

Take a closer look at your competitors, and see what marketing methods they are and aren’t doing. If they’re not on YouTube, Pinterest, or even in the community newsletter, then maybe it’s time you explore these avenues.

Photo Credit: iClipart

6 Ways to Stay Productive While Working From Home

6 Ways to Stay Productive While Working From Home

According to a study by Stanford University, more than 10 percent of employees in the United States work at home. Of course, while some people report being more productive while working from their home, there are also those who cannot say the same.

If you’re new to working from home, you may find yourself lying on the couch, watching afternoon soap operas, and still in your pajamas by the time dinnertime comes along. If this is the case, then you can use some tips on how to stay productive.

Here are some great ways to make your workday at home a more effective one:

1) Set your space.

Choose one room or area in your house to be your designated workspace. It doesn’t have to be a big space; it simply needs to be enough for your needs. With a set workspace, you’ll be aware that when you’re there, it’s time for you to get serious and get cracking.

2) Define your hours.

Set a schedule for yourself, and stick to it as best as you can. Of course, the beauty of working from home is being able to be more liberal with your hours. If you opt to take three-hour breaks in the middle of the day and end your workday a little later, then that’s completely up to you. What’s important is that you establish a routine and stick to it.

3) Let your family and friends know.

Your family and friends probably believe that you keep flexible hours, and that you are always available for impromptu coffee dates or are free to do their errands. Inform your family and friends of your set working hours and ask that they be respectful of your time.

4) Dress and act the part.

As tempting as it may be to stay unshaven and work in bed, one of the best ways to keep productive is to dress the part. Take a shower, have breakfast, and get dressed for the day ahead. Afterwards, sit at your desk, create a list of your tasks for the day, and get straight to work.

5) Take breaks.

Don’t forget to take regular breaks throughout the day, just like you would if you were in a corporate setting. Take a few minutes every few hours to stand up and stretch, do some household chores, or even leave the house for a quick errand.

6) Learn to disconnect.

As difficult as it may be to go offline in this day and age, do your best to switch off your work mode as soon as your working hours are over. While you don’t have the option of leaving everything at the office, you can turn email notifications off and shut down the computer. Allow your mind and body some time to relax, and you’ll find yourself a lot more productive tomorrow.

Photo Credit: iClipart

How to Earn Extra Income as a Freelancer

How to Earn Extra Income as a FreelancerAre you trying to get a new business or blog off the ground? Are you trying to make the transition from having a job to owning a business? What can you do to get through a dry period while you’re waiting for your new gig to make money? Performing freelance jobs for others is a perfect way to fill in when you need extra income as you’re building your business or blog. Many people do freelance work full-time as their business, but you can take small jobs on an as needed basis to get through any tough times while growing your business.

There are several great websites like Elance, Odesk, and Witmart where you can sign up and bid on jobs that match your skills such as web programming, creative writing, data entry, sales and marketing, graphic design, tax services, customer service, research, transcription and many other types of jobs.

When you promote your services through these websites you can bid on as few or as many jobs as you would like and you may quote whatever you wish. You don’t have to work full-time or even consistently in order to be a member of these sites, and you don’t have to take any jobs you don’t want. In fact, you may just want to bid on jobs occasionally when you’re experiencing slow periods or downtime with your blog or business.

Look for jobs that will fit with your schedule and that will pay frequently or within a short timeframe to keep your cash flow going smoothly. Some projects may take a month or two and if bidding on those you’ll want to request frequent small payments, or you could look for shorter jobs that can be completed within a week or so where you’ll receive full payment when you’re done.

I recommend setting up a free account with one or two freelance websites so you can slowly build up good feedback and relationships with clients over time. The beauty of performing services through a freelance website is that you can find paying customers rather quickly for an infusion of cash whenever needed so you can focus on building your blog or business without worrying about how to pay the bills.

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5 Sources of Start-Up Money for Your Business

5 Sources of Start-Up Money for Your BusinessOne of the biggest challenges that every start-up business owner needs to address is where to get the funds to actually start the business. If you lack in start-up money to get your killer business idea moving, then here are some great sources of business start-up money:

1) Your pockets

Sure, coming up with your own start-up money may seem like a long shot at first—but it’s very possible with a little commitment and discipline. Many go-getters sell property or possessions, or even mortgage their homes in order to come up with the money they need. If you aren’t comfortable with taking such a big risk, then regularly set aside a portion of your paycheck until you have saved up enough money.

2) Friends and family

Family and friends are the second most common source of start-up money. Talk to your circle of friends and relatives and see if anyone is interesting in investing in your idea. Sometimes, your loved ones are willing to provide you with a start-up loan. Other times, they are willing to give you the money as a gift. Be careful, however, that personal relationships are not ruined or compromised in the process.

3) Credit

Although it isn’t recommended as a sole source of start-up money for a business, a credit line is fundamental for a start up phase. You can pay for certain items or get cash advances with your personal credit cards. You can also opt to open a credit line with your bank and use this to fund your business venture. Before using credit as a source of start-up money, however, it is essential that you first establish a good relationship with your bank manager and ensure that you have a good credit rating.

4) Online

While the Internet may not seem like an obvious source of business start-up money, it is definitely an option to be considered. A number of reputable small-business financing alternatives have popped up on the web. On Deck Capital, for example, is an online lender that doesn’t focus on your credit score or tax returns but on your cash flow instead. This site collects small amounts on a daily basis instead of large installments on a monthly basis.

5) Peer-to-peer loans

A peer-to-peer loan, also known as a social loan, is generally a personal loan that can be used for practically any purpose—including business purposes. Individuals with disposable income facilitate this type of loan. It is unsecured and has one of the lowest interest rates in the entire market. It is a great options for borrowers who may not qualify for bank loans and loans from other financial institutions.

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Don’t Forget Overhead When Pricing Your Products

Overhead costs are those fixed expenses that you have to pay no matter how much you create or sell.  These fixed expenses are often overlooked when sellers determine the prices for their products or services. Unfortunately, when you forget to take your overhead costs into consideration, it can really take a bite out of your profits! Here are some of the more easily identifiable overhead costs you should include in your prices:

1) Transportation

If you use a car or van to deliver your products or even to pick up your supplies, then your gas is an overhead expense you’ll need to compute.

2) Office supplies

All the office supplies needed to run your business are also considered overhead expenses. This includes letterhead stationery, envelopes, pens, business cards, printer cartridges, computer paper and even software.

3) Packaging and shipping materials

Don’t forget the little things you use for packaging and shipping your items that also need to be added into the equation. This includes your packing tape, boxes, bags, labels, bubble wrap, tissues and stamps.

4) Rent

You may feel that your business is rent-free if you are working from home, but that really isn’t the case. You are using a specific portion of your living space so your business should pay for a specific percentage of your monthly rent or mortgage payment.

5) Utilities

Lights, heat, air conditioning, and water are some of the utilities that need to be included in your pricing. If you are involved in a craft that uses up a lot of electricity, then you need to take this into consideration when figuring out your overhead costs.

6) Equipment

The various equipment and tools you use for your business are considered an investment. Maintenance, repair and even replacement of these items should also be considered.

7) Phone bill

Do you have a separate phone line for your business? If the answer is no, then you need to estimate the number of incoming and outgoing business calls you make. If you make or take long distance calls, be sure to add this into your total.

Overhead costs are usually measured over a specific period of time, such as a year. If you’ve been selling for quite some time, you can easily estimate such costs based on your expenses from previous years. If you are just getting started, however, you will need to make an educated guess.  It may seem a tedious task to keep track of your overhead expenses, especially if you are managing a home business. However, if you truly want to be profitable, then you must make more than what you spend.

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