Businesses You Can Start

Looking for a business you can start on a budget?

This great article from Entrepreneur catalogs 63 Businesses to Start for Under $10,000.

Some can be launched for less than $2000:

  • Resume Service
  • Personal Shopper
  • Alterations
  • Valet Parking
  • Children’s Parties
  • Cake and Cupcake Bakery
  • Personal Chef
  • Music Lessons
  • Arts & Crafts Instructor
  • Pet Sitter
  • Gardening Consultant

… and the list goes on.

Others services require more capital but are still within reach of us mere mortals. You don’t have to plunk down you life savings on a fast-food franchise in order to get started in your own business.

Look through the list and see what lines up with your talent and desires.

Also helpful is The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.

Passive Income

Do you prefer the passive income approach and have what it takes work really hard up front?Check out Pat Flynn’s podcasts at SmartPassiveIncome.

Franchises

If you do have some money to invest and you prefer a proven brand with a built-in business model, check out Entpreneur’s big list of franchise opportunities.

 

Starting a Small Business

A business of your own. You’ve got the itch, now how do you scratch it? What comes next depends on where you are on the journey to start your own small business…

Daydreaming

daydreaming

Image by martinak15

If you’re just thinking about doing something, but you don’t know what, start by taking a personal inventory:

Pre-Launch

pre-launch
image by Andy

We all know that not every business idea is a good one. Before you launch your baby into the wild (and your time and money with it), find out if you’re on a reasonable track.

Take Action

This is an action-oriented site. Take action today towards your dream!

“A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement.”

~ Bo Bennett

Suggested Reading

Understanding Software

cd-collection

What is Software?

Computer software is a collection of actions and rules that have been translated from human language (e.g. English) to computer language (binary code). This translation happens in two different steps like this:

  1. Human Language -> Programming Language
  2. Programming Language -> Machine Language

Step 1 is known as programming. Sometimes we call it ‘coding’ or ‘software development’ but the result is the same:  a software expert translates your business rules into a programming language like Java, Ruby, or Python. Programming languages have a very strict syntax and rules for what can and cannot be done. A good programmer must become fluent in this language as well as their own native speaking language. Here’s an example:

  • Human version: First and last name are required fields
  • Code version: entryFields.validateRequired()

Step 2 is called compiling. In this step, the programmer feeds their carefully structured program into a compiler. A compiler is a specialized piece of software that translates the programming language into the machine language that a computer can run.

Once the program (in machine language) is loaded into a computer and started, the computer becomes useful by performing the actions you need like taking an order or printing out a report.

Applications

A software program that has been written for a specific purpose is called an ‘application.’ That is, the programmer has written software that can be applied to a particular problem like stock trading or designing business cards.

Clients and Servers and Clouds — Oh My!

Small business software usually runs in one of two places: either on your local computer (PC or Mac) or on a computer elsewhere that you access remotely. The local computer is sometimes called a ‘client’ when it communicates with a remote computer. These remotes computers are called ‘servers’ because they serve up software and data to you as a computer user as well as many other people. They are larger and more powerful than your local computer workstation. A collection of servers is sometimes referred to as the cloud but don’t let the term throw you. It’s just a metaphor we use to talk about computers that are somewhere else — usually in a data center.

On Demand vs. On Premise

These terms differentiate your software (on premise) from someone else’s software (on demand). If you buy software an install it on your own server, it is ‘on premise.’ If you log into someone else’s server to use the software, it is ‘on demand.’ Neither of these terms refer to software that you install and run on a local workstation.

Packaged Software

The term ‘packaged’ or ‘shrink-wrapped’ software refers to software that is ready to install. It has already been written and tested and is ready to use. By contract, you may also explore ‘online’ or ‘on demand’ software that runs on a server somewhere. This software requires that you create an account and log in to access the features of the application.

Day One

Using your small business software for the first time is the tale of two programs and feels very different depending on whether it is a packaged program or an online application. A packagedprogram must be installed on your local workstation computer. Current software installers are pretty easy to deal with. The installer (downloaded or on a CD) will walk you through the process using a step by step approach. You may have to answer some questions along the way, but it’s generally painless. Online software does not get installed on your local computer. Instead, you access the software through your internet web browser which you use to log into an account that belongs to you. This is how products like QuickBooks Online work. Getting start with an online application is quite a bit faster and has other benefits like automatic updates. The obvious downside is that you cannot access your application when you have internet problems.

What About Updates?

Keeping your software up to date is handled differently depending on where it runs. If it runs on your local machine, you need to download and install the latest version. Your software may remind you to do this when a new version is released or you may have to check for updates yourself using one of the menu functions inside the software.

If your software runs on a server, you probably will have nothing to do with the update process. Whoever maintains the server itself will install the updates. You may get a notice prior to the update if there is a significant change. Otherwise, it will just happen. This is one of the advantages of using software that is hosted (runs) elsewhere — it takes the work of updates off your shoulders.

Flexibility Factors

We’re not talking about software doing back bends or the downward dog. Flexibility within a software application is a function of:

  • Product Maturity
  • Customer Diversity

A mature product has been around long enough that its creators have received a great deal of feedback from customers. This feedback will result in improvements that you, as a new buyer, can  benefit from. When a company’s customers are diverse — have different processes, rules or needs — the software will adapt over time to allow for these variations. This benefits you again by providing a wide variety of options that someone else already asked for. You just learn how to configure the software (change its controls) to do what you want.

Custom Software

As a small business owner, you will probably not need to have custom software created. This is an expensive process and is only really justified if your business model is very unusual. I recommend that you avoid this quagmire and find an existing product to use. If you insist on having this adventure, make sure travel with a veteran like the Disambiguator so that you don’t lose your shorts in the process.

Small Business Software

Looking for software for a small business? Whether you need home business software or general business software solutions, you’re in the right place. I have carefully selected every entry in these pages to make sure that it is great small business software and relevant to what your home business or small business needs.

Online Backup Software

Business Accounting Software

Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Small business accounting software is not mysterious. We just don’t want to deal with it. This is the part where I compel you through brute force logic to do the things you know you should do but don’t want to because they take up your time.

“I have to be selling stuff! I can’t be fussing with all these little bookkeeping details!”

I hear you. When I wasn’t writing software or spending time with customers, I was grumbling and moaning about office work — those niggling details that I tend to despise as maintenance activities. Here’s the problem though… what you don’t know can hurt you!

The number one rule for any small business is:  Don’t run out of cash!

Really, Sherlock? It’s so obvious that we feel insulted when someone says this. But this is one of the key reasons why small businesses fail.

One of the main reasons to buy and use accounting software for small business is just this — to prevent you from running out of cash and halting your operations. Sure, you probably have a line of credit you can tap in an emergency, but why allow things to get that far?

cash-flow-chart

Tracking cash flow may seem easy in a small office, but those pesky payables can sneak up on you. If you don’t know where you stand on cash now and where you will be next week and next month, you run the risk of embarrassment with your vendors, customers, and staff.

“Well, I just got so busy selling that I lost track of the bank balance…” is a sad story to tell during your going-out-of-business furniture sale. Arm yourself with an ally in the war against ugly surprises — get some small business accounting software.

Small Business Accounting Software

My top pick for accounting software for small business is an established brand with a deep feature set and a long history of providing business accounting software.

QuickBooks rules in small business bookkeeping software. It’s simple to use, deep in features and very affordable. I used it extensively to manage my seventh business. Here’s a summary of the features for the Online version:

SIMPLE – $13 / mo
  • 1 User
  • Record Income
  • Track Expenses
  • Send Invoices
  • Synchronize Bank & Credit Transactions
  • Print Checks
  • Back Up Your Data Online
  • Accountant Access
  • Works with QB Point of Sale
ESSENTIALS – $27 / mo
  • 3 Users
  • Recurring Invoices
  • Pay Vendor Bills
  • Schedule Payments
  • Compare with Industry
  • Control User Access
PLUS – $40 / mo
  • 5 Users
  • Purchase Orders
  • Inventory Tracking
  • Print 1099s
  • Time Entry by Workers
  • Track Billable Hours by Customer
  • Budgeting
  • Categorize Income & Expenses
ADD-ON PRODUCTS
  • Payroll
  • Advanced Inventory
  • Financing
  • Payments
  • Point of Sale
  • Amex OPEN
  • Demandforce

See all QuickBooks add-ons.

Get all the details about QuickBooks for each version:

Want to dig deeper? Here are top accounting software reviews:

Online Backup Software

building-fire

Using online backup software helps you prevent one of a business owner’s worst nightmares —losing data to a hard disk crash, theft, fire, or flood!

Did you know that the most common cause of data loss is user error? That’s right, you are more likely to shoot yourself in the foot by deleting or overwriting an important document than to lose data due to an equipment failure. Can you afford to lose a day or a week due to a single moment of inattention? These self-inflicted wounds are pretty common, which is why you need to buy online backup software, sometimes called cloud backup software.

Buy Backup Software

This is one of the most ignored bits of business advice around. Ironically, it is one of the easiest problems to solve. Installing online backup software takes minutes and can save you days or weeks of headaches trying to recover your data — if you can recover it at all (some hard drive crashes are not recoverable).

Automatic Backup Software

If your backup solution is not automatic, it becomes yet another chore on your daily (yes, daily) to-do list. Chances are good that you’ll put it off and, according to Murphy, your hard drive will fail or your laptop will sprout legs and wander away right before you get around to making a backup copy of your data.

The reason online backup software is so popular is that it becomes automatic backup software — you set it and forget it! That’s the way to create a true safety net.

Computer Backup Software

My recommended solution is an industry veteran, offers a quick setup process, is very affordable, and makes it easy to restore a lost file. And that, after all, is the point of using backup software in the first place.

Carbonite has been my go-to backup solution for years at home. The unlimited personal version can handle a lot of data, including image files.

If you can pinch a penny ’til it screams (guilty), maybe you should start with Mozy. I used this solution until my backup needs outgrew the free version. This level won’t handle a lot of big files, so it’s is not good for photographers or those with many video files.

Test Your Backup

Installing software doesn’t take long. Proving that it works and has your back is another quick step that you should take so that you can sleep nights. The process is very easy:

  1. Create a file that you don’t need (or copy one)
  2. Run a backup (or wait until it runs automatically)
  3. Delete the file you created
  4. Use the Restore function to restore the lost file

That’s it. Do this just one time and you’ll feel safe, knowing that your backup software is watching over your important documents and data.

If you want to dig deeper:

 

Image credit: Stephen Radford

Massive Free Image Libraries

beautiful-island

The right image adds life to your page. We’ve scoured the web to bring you the best free image libraries. On each site you will find dozens if not hundreds of beautiful images to use in your small business. To use them, you just credit the author as we have done here — a practice known as attribution. Fair is fair. You get beautiful pictures to brighten up your posts and the artist gets credit for their hard work. If you are using them on a site that makes money, make sure that you check for a Commercial (still free) license.

Image credit: Killiney Beach by Virgil Ispas

Site & Features Types of Imagery
Unsplash

Search box, Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
StockSnap

Search box, Membership

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
LifeOfPix

Free, Search box, Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media, Videos

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Creative, Emotive, Food, Human experience, Nature, Object, People, Scenic
Foter

Search box, Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Creative, Emotive, Food, Human experience, Nature, Object, People, Scenic, Sports, Technology & MORE!
Gratisography

Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Creative, Emotive, Food, Funny, Human experience, Nature, Object, People, Scenic, Weird
FreeDigitalPhotos

Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Cartoon, Creative, Emotive, Food, Funny, Human experience, Nature, Object, People, Scenic & MORE!
Flickr

Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Cartoon, Creative, Emotive, Food, Funny, Human experience, Nature, Object, People, Scenic & MORE!
FreeMediaGoo

Search box, Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
PicSearch

Search box

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic & MORE!
CommonsWikimediaImages

Search box, Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
UnrestrictedStock

Search box, Categorized galleries, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Cartoon, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
FreerangeStock

Search box, Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Cartoon, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
PDphoto

Search box, Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
FromOldBooks

Social media

Medieval period
Clker

Search box, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Cartoon, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
StockVault

Search box, Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
OpenPhoto

Search box, Categorized galleries, Membership, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
SuperFamous

Categorized galleries, Social media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Scenic
Picography

Search box

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic
Getrefe.Tumblr

Social Media

Abstract, Animal, Architecture, Artistic, Beauty/Model, Child, Creative, Emotive, Food, Holiday, Human experience, Love/Romance, Nature, Object, People, Religious, Scenic

More Free Image Libraries

Can’t get enough free stock images? I wish I had your free time! But hey… you gotta do what you gotta do, right? So check out this collection of 73 Sites to find Free images.

And yet another exhaustive (-ing?) compendium of great places to find visual content from Koozai.

Be a Great Manager

Even if you only have one employee, you’ll want to keep them. That means taking good care of them as a manager. These guys write one of the smallest, but most powerful books on the subject:

The New One Minute Manager by Blanchard & Spencer

Humans haven’t changed that much in the last 50 years… but the world we live in has!

We thrive by being recognized for doing things right and we need constructive, factual feedback when we are off course. Off course from what?you ask. Good question! That’s why we need goals to steer by.

Blanchard and Spencer are experts at delivering wisdom in winsome ways.

This classic work has been updated for our fast-paced modern world and will help you not only with your staff but in your personal relationships as well. The principles are timeless and the authors do a great job of delivering them.

Business Strategy 101

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” ~ Winston Churchill

I’ve been the manager and I’ve been the managee. We all aspire to be great managers but it seems that few of us rise from the pack.  Jim Collins can help.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Collins defines a great company as having 15 years of increased profits. You may think that companies become great by having a solid gold CEO. Collin’s 21-person research team combed through thousands of documents for 1,435 companies over a five year period. What they discovered was 11 distinctive attributes that challenge the corporate status quo.

Among the more powerful insights is the Hedgehog Concept, representing a single area of focus for a company that allows them to outshine their competitors. This concept of zealous focus to the exclusion of other distractions is one of many great principles distilled by the Collins team and articulately described by the author.

Collin’s assertion that “Good is the enemy of great” should lead us to build and observe a long list of things not to do.