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3 Excellent Online Communities for Women Entrepreneurs

Women in the U.S. are taking their careers more seriously than ever before as well as the necessary steps to become entrepreneurs. Since 2007, there are 45% more female-owned businesses—which currently employ 9 million people in this country.

Although women have been making significant progress in the business world in recent years, it is still mostly run and controlled by men. As such, females need their own communities to help them with the motivation to succeed, resources to start their own business and support to meet the challenges head on. The following online communities are great choices for women entrepreneurs:

Chic CEO

This community targets those females who want to become entrepreneurs, or are in the first stages of developing their ideas. A common barrier to the process is fear and the belief that they can’t do it, so Chic CEO provides resources to help women conquer their fears.

The site offers tutorials and advice from actual business owners that is easy to understand and follow. Check out the following resources:

  • 3 Day Chic Start: an online tutorial that focuses on customer service and brand development
  • Business Plan format guide
  • Blog
  • Resource Center that recommends books, interviews with other professionals and more

Yes She Can

As the name itself suggests, this online community empowers women to follow their dreams and live up to their full potential. This site targets female Los Angeles business owners and professionals, sharing local events, stories, advice and resources to empower females.

Started by professional writer, Lydia Mack, Yes She Can offers several cool features:

  • Sole news source for female LA entrepreneurs
  • Calendar with hand selected events, such as conferences, lectures, meetups and workshops to help women advance in their careers
  • Weekly newsletter with strategies to improve both the personal and professional lives of women
  • Monthly meetups where members meet on the first Friday of every month to network and share their thoughts and advice

Note: Although this group is Los Angeles based, it is a great example of local groups throughout the country. With an easy online search, females can find meetups and meetings in their areas.

Lean In

This organization was created by Facebook’s Founder and Board Chair, Sheryl Sandberg. Named after a book she wrote, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, this site is dedicated to aiding women in their quest to follow their ambitions.

They accomplish their goal in three ways:

  • Create Circles, where over 37,000 different groups of women meet throughout the world to discuss their objectives and create plans to succeed
  • Create awareness campaigns to educate the public about important issues surrounding the success of women, and men’s role in this process
  • Create tutorials, videos and discussion guides for both men and women on helping females succeed in the business world

If you are a female entrepreneur who has a great idea for a new business, but lack funding, turn to IOU Financial. Our company is committed to helping both men and women follow their dreams and ambitions. Contact us today at www.ioufinancial.com to find out about our easy business loans of up to $300,000!

10 Email Newsletters Business Owners Should Subscribe To

It’s a very rare entrepreneur or small-business owner who couldn’t benefit from a little expert advice. How fortunate that there are so many sources of important information for owners, including books, courses, podcasts, forums, blogs, magazines, and newsletters. The best ones are quite valuable, because they explain topics from an expert’s point of view and that have immediate practical applicability. Here’s 10 of our favorite newsletters you can get delivered right to your inbox!

Startup Digest:

This newsletter includes multiple reading lists, so you can subscribe to specific areas and choose the frequency of emails you receive. Just about every startup-related topic is covered, from specific operational tasks to global strategies. The Digest can help you connect with other entrepreneurs and owners in your community.

Seller Labs:

This newsletter is devoted to owners who operate on Amazon as sellers, fulfillers, associates or in some other way. It will help you from running afoul of Amazon policy changes. Failure to follow Amazon’s rules can get you kicked off the platform and ruin your business, so if you do business on Amazon, getting this weekly newsletter is a smart idea.

SaaS Weekly:

This newsletter addresses issues dealing with businesses who offer software as a service. Each week it provides incisive articles and the latest news on all aspects of the SaaS industry. Whether your interested in increasing sales, introducing new services or just growing the company SaaS Weekly is a great read.

Tomasz Tunguz:

The writer runs a venture capital firm and contributes daily posts that are also packaged into emails. This is a good general source on all business topics. Just about every startup business owner will find valuable information here.

The Swipe File:

This newsletter addresses online marketing issues. If your goal is to increase website traffic and improve search results, Swipe File has actionable advice for you. In addition to discussions on topics like SEO, the newsletter offers tips on a wide range of subjects that entrepreneurs will find useful.

Mattermark Daily:

Interested in getting funding for your startup? Mattermark Daily curates posts from investors and business operators that shine a spotlight on the thought process that goes into investing and attracting investors. You’ll find out how your peers are growing their businesses and addressing challenges.

Charged:

Part newsletter, part podcast, Charged offers tech news that entrepreneurs can use. Especially important for those who want to anticipate technological innovations and how these will shape the marketplace. You read this newsletter to avoid being left behind by the latest innovations.

Statechery:

A daily newsletter that provides detailed explanations of the latest technology news. Look for sharp opinions that are based on solid data and industry expertise. A subscription costs $10/month, but it’s worth every penny.

First Round Review:

Published by a VC firm, this newsletter publishes articles from startup founders and directors that describe how they were able to secure funding. The advice is often very concrete and can help spur readers to kick fundraising into a higher gear.

Morning Cybersecurity:

If your business depends in any way on internet access, then cyberscecurity has got to be an important consideration. This daily newsletter looks at the intersection of politics and cybersecurity, a place that can have important implications for your business. If your business must keep sensitive data secure, you’ll want to read this newsletter.

10 Blogs You Should Be Reading for Business Advice

Everyone can benefit from some good advice. If you run a small business, or want to, good business advice is worth a whole lot, especially if its free, or at least reasonably priced. Which brings us to the top nine business blogs we think many entrepreneurs and small business owners will find useful.

  1. Small Business Administration Blog:

    Headed by Caron Beesley, the SBA Blog tackles the full range of topics of interest to business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s especially helpful for businesses seeking loans underwritten by the SBA.

  2. The 4-Hour Workweek:

    A blog/podcast founded by Tim Ferris, who wrote the New York Times bestseller of the same name. The emphasis is on improving your efficiency and freeing yourself from the mind-numbing drudgery that most businesses can inflict.

  3. American Express Open:

    A financial blog site that helps explain complex topics to the average small-business owner. It teaches owners how to go about using financing to grow your company. It also hosts a forum to answer your questions.

  4. Small Business Bonfire:

    This daily business blog, run by Alyssa Gregory, bristles with tips and tools for operating your small business. Topics cover everything a business owner should think about, from productivity to security. Whether you work from an office or at home, this blog is well worth your attention every day.

  5. Social Triggers:

    A marketing blog by Derek Halpern for the ecommerce set. It describes how to exploit social media using consumer psychology to achieve your business goals. The advice focuses on a mix of data-driven marketing and content marketing to boost your traffic, prospects and sales. If you’re looking for ways to recruit and keep online customers, this blog is for you.

  6. Copyblogger Blog:

    Copyblogger is a company that teaches online content creation for business. Content marketing can be in the financial reach of any small business, because you can do it yourself for free, without having to pay for expensive ads. Founded by Brian Clark in 2006, the free daily blog continues even as the remainder of the marketing company was split off as Rainmaker Digital.

  7. Entrepreneurs-Journey:

    This blog, started by Yaro Starak, is for folks who want to “live the laptop lifestyle,” that is, make money online with your website and blog. It’s a good resource for building your website, populating it with content, and using it to earn a living. You’ll also learn about operating an email newsletter and other marketing techniques that will drive traffic to your website.

  8. Jim’s Marketing Blog:

    Jim Connolly explores the many ways a small business can grow through effective marketing. His advice is geared to specific strategies and tactics rather than generalized (and mushy) “solutions.” He is also a convincing advocate for list-based content, though not to the exclusion of other forms, such as essays.

  9. Women on Business:

    A great resource for the often-underserved population of female entrepreneurs and business owners. Run by Susan Gunelius, the blog encourages contributions from business women that cover all manner of topics, from financials to management to marketing.

  10. IOU Financial Small Business Blog:

    Featuring some of the most sparkling writing on today’s business scene, the blog covers a lot of territory, beyond the basics of small business finance. You can learn about advertising, management, recruiting and much more in this free and timely blog.

Why Your Company Needs a Freelance Contract and What it Should Include

Thirty percent of companies hire freelancers. Hiring a freelancer allows you to hire an individual to help you with anything from graphic design or social media management to creating videos or accounting services. You, too, may utilize independent contractors to meet deadlines, handle staff shortages and fill in talent gaps. Before you hire freelancers, though, create a detailed contract.

Why your Business Needs a Freelance Contract

 

The independent contractors you hire for temporary jobs are not your official employees. To get on the same page and protect your company, you need more than an oral agreement. Your freelance contract will be specific and clear as it outlines details about the project, including payment, deadlines, confidentiality, and other conditions of your work agreement.

For the freelancers, a contract provides peace of mind. As they create your company’s promotional video, complete remodeling projects, or perform seasonal deliveries, they know exactly what type of work they will perform, how long they have to deliver the goods or services, and when they’ll get paid. Signing a contract also motivates your freelancers to commit adequate time and energy to the project.

The contract protects your company’s assets and proprietary information, too. A contract reduces your liability during a project disagreement and gives you legal recourse if a freelancer steals privileged information. Additionally, you will need copies of all freelance contracts if your business undergoes an IRS audit.

What to Include in a Freelance Contract

When creating a freelance contract, include several details:

Contact Basics

Include contact information, such as the address, phone number, email, billing address, and contact information for your company and the freelancer. This information ensures both parties can contact each other throughout the project process.

Project Details and Scope

Record details about the project’s parameters and expectations. Be as specific as possible to ensure you get the product or services you need, to verify that the freelancer knows what’s expected and to prevent misunderstandings. This part of the contract will also outline steps you will take if the work isn’t completed on time or as expected.

Nondisclosure Agreement

Protect your interests, including sensitive, confidential and proprietary information, when you require freelancers to protect details about the project’s work and clients. You can ask freelancers to sign an NDA before you begin contract negotiations or include it in your formal contract.

Non-compete Agreement

Preserve the relationships you have with current clients and protect your interests. For example, if you hire a freelance graphic designer to create graphics for your clients’ presentations, the non-compete agreement prevents them from offering their services directly to the clients.

Deadlines

Define deliverables and milestones. Include specific delivery dates and details about what happens if the freelancer misses a deadline.

Expenses

Describe who will pay for expenses such as software, stock photographs or mileage. While most independent contractors take sole responsibility for these expenses, your company may wish to cover some or all costs associated with specific projects.

Payment Terms

Outline when the freelancers will be paid and the payment total. Be sure to include the hourly pay rate, if applicable, and who’s responsible for billing. For payments made in increments, include the project and invoice deadlines and the exact amount of the payments. Remember to add information about acceptable payment methods and how quickly you will pay after you receive an invoice.

Final Copyright

Detail which party holds the final copyright to the finished project. In most situations, freelancers retain full rights until they deliver the milestone or final project.

Relationship of Parties

Specify that you are hiring freelancers as independent contractors, not employees. You may also need to include that the freelancers are responsible to pay their own income taxes.

Dispute Resolution

Review the procedure for handling disputes over incomplete or completed work and other contract details.

Signatures

Remember that both your company’s representative and the freelancer must sign the contract. It’s not legal or binding until it’s signed.

DIY Contracts Versus Hiring a Lawyer

You can customize a freelance contract template online or hire a lawyer to write one. With a legally-binding DIY contract, you can write in understandable language and customize each contract. Alternatively, a lawyer can write a clear, concise and specific contract that covers your legal bases. Ultimately, the decision is yours.

If your company hires freelancers, you need a contract. Use these guidelines to create a thorough and clear contract that protects your company and your freelancers.

Guest post: About the Author

 

PJ Taei is the founder of Uscreen, a video monetization platform to help you sell any kind of videos online.

 

Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Accounting is not the most fun aspect of the business, but it’s surely one of the most important. That’s why, no matter whether what kind of products or services you sell, you’ll need a reliable accounting software as the backbone of your business’ finances. But if you’re a small or growing company, you probably don’t need the huge-scale feature—or price tag!—of the accounting programs that are targeted for much larger companies.

So which ones are the most affordable and intuitive to use? Are there any programs that create automated invoicing, expense reports, and bill payments? What about cloud-based software for convenience and security? If you’ve been wondering about the answers to these kinds of questions, the good news is that we’ve done all the research so that you won’t have to. After all, you’ve got a business to run.

QuickBooks Online

If a convenient and simple-to-use accounting program is what you’re looking for, Quickbooks Onlineis a smart choice. With an intuitive interface and cleanly designed dashboard, you have an at-a-glance look at your overall financial health, from outstanding or paid invoices, expenses, sales, and profits and losses. With built-in report templates and automated features like recurring invoices, bill payments and reminders, QuickBooks Online does away with the tedious and time-wasting nature of manual transactions to free up your time for actually running your business.

Via Quickbooks Online

QuickBooks is compatible with a ton of external applications so that you can automatically import and export data with no hassle. Plus, your data is automatically backed up, so you never need to worry about losing important transactions or reports. With a $10-$30 monthly subscription fee, as well as a free trial, the price for making your small business more efficient couldn’t be better.

Wave Accounting

When something seems too good to be true, it usually is. But Wave Accounting is a completely free accounting software, with no catch or tricks up its sleeves. Even better, it’s one of the best financial software programs out there for small business owners who don’t plan to scale (past 10 or so employees). Keep in mind that it is a step down in complexity from some of the more robust accounting programs since it doesn’t track billable hours or automatically attach tracked expense to invoices. And because it’s not capable of tracking inventory or creating purchase orders, this one isn’t for you if your business provides more than a handful of products. Still, reviewers swoon over its ease of use for a small company with simple needs.

Via WaveApps

And with basic features like automated recurring billing and payment reminders, automatically synced data with your other financial services like your bank, credit card, or PayPal, as well as cloud-based data backup, you can rest easy. If what you’re looking for is simple and frills-free, you can’t beat with Wave Accounting.

FreshBooks

Looking for a program that’s simple to use and offers reliable, top-notch customer service, as well as various integrations? FreshBooks makes it easy for you to invoice customers and track both billable hours and expenses. You can send payment reminders and see when a client has viewed your invoice.

Via FreshBooks

One downside is that FreshBooks is meant for single-entry accounting only, so if you require more complex features, this may not be the best choice for you. But with an easy-to-use intuitive design, mobile apps, and solid invoicing and billing capabilities, it gets the job done for a small business that doesn’t need all the fancy bells and whistles. Keep in mind that pricing is set upon your number of customers, as well as features and additional users.

Xero

If you’re looking for a platform that provides real-time updates from your bank and credit cards, and you’re the type who wants to know what’s going on with your finances on a moment to moment basis, a subscription with Xero will be your best bet.

Via Xero

Xero features a subscription model with tools for bookkeeping, invoicing, expense management, taxes and more. When you upgrade from the starter subscription (which allows you to send invoices to send five invoices and quotes, and reconcile 20 bank transactions per month), you get unlimited access to these features plus payroll, so you can adjust as your business expands.

Guest post: About the Author

Lauren Pezzullo is an east-coast-raised Austinite and musicophile who writes about the latest software and B2B trends for TrustRadius. She’s currently at work on her debut novel.