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10 Smart Business Investments That Paid Off: Lessons Learned from Starting My Venture

Updated: Jan 9


 

entrepreneur woman wearing rain jacket and hat

 

There are a lot of great tools that can help you get started with your business and help you become more efficient when working. But how do you know which ones will work for you and are worth the money? With so many choices today for software and programs, it can be hard to weed through what you really may need to get started and what will save you time down the road. Below are the 10 items I found useful for starting my business and entrepreneurial journey with the reasons why. I found each of these items critical to getting my business running. Some of these tools can be used at whatever stage your business is in and some are even free!


1. Legal Advice for Business


While legal talk is not the most exciting thing or the thing you want to start with, it's an extremely important step in getting started in the entrepreneurial process. Getting sound legal advice on what is the best way to set up your business is critical. Lawyers can help guide you on how your business needs to be set up right from the beginning for long-term growth and protect you and your assets,


Some of the most common business structures that can be set up are sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations. Each structure has its pros and cons and a lawyer can walk you through and advise you on the right structure that would be needed for your business. Having one of these business structures can also help you get business bank accounts set up, business phone numbers, and EINs that will be important later down the road.


A lawyer can also help create contracts and policies to use when your business is up and running to sell services and products to clients. While it will cost you money to have a lawyer involved the money is well spent. Getting sound legal advice can make a world of difference and it doesn't have to be scary or difficult. You will be so thankful you did this at the beginning.


2. Business Bank Account


Once you have your legal paperwork and documents this allows you to be able to get a business bank account set up. I recommend doing this for the following reasons:

  • Your finances can be split apart from your personal account. It makes it easier for tracking things coming in and out of the business.

  • Creates a clear trail of payments from clients.

  • Offers you legal protection if there are legal issues down the road. Your personal funds cannot be touched.

  • You can write off particular business expenses during tax time.

  • Makes your business look legitimate.

  • It will help you fund and grow your business if you need it in the future with a line of credit.

  • You can accept credit card payments


3. Project Management Tool - Monday.com


Monday.com is a project management tool that can be used to log projects and tasks while also allowing for collaboration and streamlining workflows There are a lot of ways that you can use Monday. com. I use this tool to track all the projects that I am working on with all the specific tasks within them and to also create content and marketing calendars. You can attach files and documents within each project or task, so they are in one location for when you need to go back and reference. It also will make it easier if there is a team collaborating on projects so that they have all the necessary information they need in one place and can go back and reference past projects.


I started out doing most of my work in Excel and found that Monday.com was a better tool where I could track and visualize my projects easier. If my business ever scales and grows everything will be in one place through the cloud and not within an Excel document and it will be able to share the information with others with a click of a button.


4. Accounting Tool - QuickBooks


I personally love QuickBooks since it makes managing sales, expenses, and invoices a breeze. The interface is easy to use and quick to learn. You can have this tool up and running in no time and it's not intimidating. People often think invoicing and tracking expenses can be a dreaded task, but QuickBooks makes it super easy. You can get everything connected and up and running within 30 minutes to an hour. Connecting bank accounts, setting up invoices, and using the automatic invoice feature are just a few things you can do. Lastly, it makes accounting a breeze by tracking all invoices and receipts and you can even give access to your tax accountant so they can easily have the information they need when it comes to tax season time.


5. Proofreading Tool - Grammarly


Grammarly is a writing tool that can be used to help with grammar, punctuation, clarity, conciseness, spelling, deliverability, and engagement turning your writing into mistake-free writing.


There is a free version of Grammarly and a premium version of the tool. Your needs will determine if you need the premium version of the tool, but I use the free version and it works well for me. You can use this tool when writing emails, documents, and social media. For someone who isn't a grammar expert and needs some additional help and guidance this tool is great and makes me feel much more confident in my writing.


6. One Drive/Google Drive


One Drive or Google Drive are two great options for storing files, photos, and documents in the cloud. These tools help save space and storage on your computer and you can essentially store anything you may need within these tools. Because these two tools are cloud-based if something was to happen on your desktop to a file or project you were working on, it is saved within the cloud and is able to be accessed. No need to worry about losing the files.


Additional features I love about these two tools is you can easily share documents for others to view or edit making collaboration that much easier. All you need is someone's email address to share the information for collaboration. Tools like Word, Excel, Google Sheets, or Google Docs can be used right within the platform, but you can also upload files from Word or Excel. Both programs integrate with a lot of third-party apps or other software so that you can easily upload the things you need when you are working on other platforms.


7. Canva


Canva is a creator’s dream tool. It’s a super easy, user-friendly tool that allows you to create content, animations, and videos for almost anything. A few things that you are able to create are templates, social media graphics, flyers, business cards, instruction sheets, how-to guides, posters, etc. You name it; most likely you can create it in Canva.


Canva is easy-to-use and you can get started working on projects without a large amount of learning time. The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to upload photos, videos, logos, etc. to use within the documents. Canva provides lots of pre-built templates for inspiration and for users to get started quickly on projects. You can also opt to create your own designs without a template.


Sharing designs and collaborating with others within the dashboard is possible. Users can also share links for others to view and collaborate on their work or when someone purchases a designer's work to be able to download and access the files for future use.


Free and premium options are available, so you have the flexibility to test and try and see what the right fit for you is. The premium tool is a reasonable cost of about $199/year and if you are going to use this program frequently, I find the cost is well worth it. But if you are just using this tool here and there the free version should work just fine. Canva offers a 30-day free trial to experiment and use the tool before you start paying for anything.


I love Canva and you will too. I recommend giving this tool a try today.


8. Photoshop


Photoshop is a great tool to use to edit images, create photo manipulations, remove backgrounds, remove objects from images, enhance images, etc. I find this tool very helpful in removing backgrounds, removing objects from images, and creating photo manipulations to layer files and turn them into something else. For example, you can have 3 different images where you have features that you like about each and you want to combine them together into one image, Photoshop allows you to do that.


While Photoshop does come with a learning curve and it can be a bit costly if you are planning to use it frequently and create specific and tailored items for your business it may be something you want to look into learning and investing in the tool. I’d first see what is critical to your needs in your business and if other services (like Canva) or stock photos (unsplash, pexels, shutterstock) may be a better option to get started.


You can always look at purchasing Photoshop down the road. Photoshop does offer a 14-day free trial so you can test the tool out and learn before even making a purchase. Just make sure to cancel the subscription if you decide it’s not the tool you need at this time. If you need Photoshop for your specific business needs like making special graphics and images and you aren't going to pay for stock photos then this is a tool you should consider. Investing time into learning the tool is necessary.



9. Screencastify


Screencastify is an online video capture software and editing tool. Tools that capture videos can be super valuable and be used in a variety of ways. If you are creating a website and want to capture each of the pages that are built into the site to show in marketing or on a website this can be a great tool. You can also do tutorials and training with the tools to build out courses, learning content, or other marketing materials. The possibilities are endless.


I really like the Screencastify program because it has a free version of the tool as long as your videos are under 30-minutes and you can edit the videos within the tool while it is super easy to learn and get started. It took me a matter of minutes to figure out how to use the program.


Screencastify allows you to capture video, edit, and share. You can download the extension on your computer to record videos. Screencastify also comes with an editing tool where you can make cuts to your video, add text, and add effects. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy to record and edit videos and it’s easier than you would even think. If you aren’t using videos today in your business but believe they could enhance your business or marketing efforts, give Screencastify a try.



10. Tailwind


Tailwind is a social media and email marketing tool that allows you to create, schedule, and optimize your marketing efforts in one place allowing you to get more things done. The tool can help you create materials that sync with your brand colors and allows you to add text to create designs that are personalized to your business but don’t take forever to create.


Second, it can help you schedule when your posts and emails will go out for your business. Automation is key for a successful business so that you don’t have to worry about manually setting things live or forgetting about something. You can put all your content into a single calendar and it helps choose what times your audience is interacting the most to push the content out so you get the most engagement from each and every piece of content.


Lastly, Tailwind helps with optimizations. Optimizations are key for looking at the data and converting customers. Tailwind provides simplified reporting that is easy to understand, insights, and suggestions on what you should do next. I didn’t hear of this tool until recently and it has changed the way that I am doing my marketing. You can easily sign up with a Pinterest or Instagram account and there is a forever free plan which is always great to test and try the service. I hope you enjoy this tool as much as I do.


All these tools have helped me on my journey to starting my business. I hope you found the information helpful to find new tools to test out and try, what tools you can look into to create efficiencies in your business, or a guide to what you can look at using if you are just starting out your business.



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