Many people dream of starting their own business one day, and if you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re one of them. Running your own business provides a lot of flexibility, such as being able to work from home or from the beach on your own preferred schedule. Even if you just have a 10-second commute from your bed to your home office, it’s helpful to know that running your own business can bring its own list of stresses and responsibilities. In fact, a recent study showed that the boundaries between work life and personal life become blurred when people run their own businesses and/or work from home.

In a global study, the International Labour Organization (ILO) found that nearly half of all individuals who work from home are stressed, versus a shockingly low 21% of cubicle workers. Those who work from home are also more likely to have insomnia, possibly due in part to those higher stress levels.

So what’s a business owner to do to reduce stress (and sleep better at night)?

First, try not to fret over the future. As the ILO found, many people find themselves trapped in cycles of worry and anxiety when they think about their future career paths. Whether you’re dealing with feelings of isolation while working at home, or worries about how you’ll maintain a successful business on your own, it might be best not to dwell on your worries. Instead, the ILO suggests shifting your focus to the ways you can use modern technology to overcome your obstacles.

For instance, there are many free or low-cost apps and online services readily available to entrepreneurs these days. Video conference calls and instant messaging can be even more convenient communication methods than email, and yes, the good old-fashioned telephone is still available to us if needed. You can combine these technologies with occasional face-to-face visits whenever possible, and utilize performance-based measurement applications.

It’s also important for your business to have the right software. There are many applications and payroll software companies out there. Considering doing payroll on your own without a W2 software solution? Although this is possible, it is tedious and requires meticulous attention to detail. As a business owner, your time is valuable. Rather than wasting several hours each month dealing with these types of stresses, many business owners prefer to opt for a software solution to handle the work for them.

Still need more suggestions for technological solutions to help your new business? recently compiled this great list of some of the top tech tools for entrepreneurs. It’s worth a read, and who knows? It might even help you boost your bottom line!

While you’re working to get your business off the ground, you’ll be juggling many different tasks and wearing many different hats, all at the same time. New business owners must run their business, keep an eye on workflow, handle client relationships, pitch products and services to prospects, and so much more. It’s best to be proactive and plan how you will use technology to assist you with as many of these tasks as possible. By thinking ahead, you can save yourself a lot of stress, plan for continued success, and hopefully avoid burnout.

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Freelancing and gig-based work have skyrocketed in recent years. According to Upwork, a popular freelancing platform, freelancers are expected to become the majority in the United States within the next decade. The workplace has never been so flexible, and it has never been so easy to start your own business. All you need is a skill, an internet connection, and a place to work.

Evaluate Your Skills

In the gig economy, almost every skill can be sold and marketed. Even if you know what you want to do, consider whether there is any added value you can provide to your clients that can make you stand out.

Do you speak any other languages? Are you a spreadsheet whiz? Are you good at picking up spelling mistakes and making writing flow well? Are you an animal lover, and would you like to be a dog walker or pet sitter? These are all services that you can offer and that someone will be willing to pay you for.

Be Online

Nowadays, it is essential for anyone wanting to market themselves to potential clients to have an online presence. This means having an up-to-date, professional website as well as active social media accounts. While you could hire someone to set these up for you, it is not too difficult to do it yourself and save quite a bit of money.

There are plenty of site builders that allow you to create a custom website using a simple drag-and-drop interface (no coding necessary). Many offer free trials, so you can play around with the different builders before making a choice. These will often also act as your website host, meaning your website will be based on their servers.

Next, you will need to spend some money on a personalized domain (website name). Setting up a website is free on some site builders, but these domains (for example, “”) show your clients that you are not paying for your website, which seems unprofessional. Purchase your desired domain from the web builder itself or through another domain seller such as GoDaddy.

In the meantime, you can use social media to start building up your presence. Which social media you use is up to you and depends on the services you offer. At the very least, set up a professional Facebook or Twitter account, although it’s best to have both. You may want to also opt for an Instagram or Pinterest account if your work is visual.

Choose Your Workspace

Many freelancers choose to work from a co-working space, which offers the resources of an office, such as meeting rooms, printers, and a physical work address, as well as the socialization of working alongside other people. According to Forbes, almost 1.2 million people have co-worked at some point, and the trend continues to rise.

The problem with this option is that it costs money. If you are just getting started with your gig-based business, you may want to save up until your income is steady and reliable. One option is to work from local cafes, but you should always consider the proper etiquette if you are going to do this, including buying something regularly to justify you occupying that table.

If you really want to save money, you can easily set up a home office. Invest in a decent desk and a comfortable chair and set up your office in a space that is quiet and pleasant. If you can, set it up in a dedicated room, but if you don’t have that option, you can also just be smart with your space.

Of course, these are just the basics. Owning a gig-based business involves wearing many hats. You will be your own accountant, marketer, salesperson, and secretary. But these are all things you can figure out as you go, using the many online resources designed to support freelancers. Start with these three steps, and you can take it from there.

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Ahmed was an IT professional who worked for a large marketing firm. He was good at his job, but after several years of working in the same office doing the same job day after day, he began wondering what it would be like to do something more interesting, setting his own hours and having the flexibility to work wherever he wanted. His firm frequently hired freelancers, a common occurrence in the marketing and advertising business, and he got to know a couple of them over time. After a conversation with them about the gig economy, Ahmed, who always enjoyed writing in college, decided to find out how to become a freelance writer.

He was surprised to learn that approximately one-third of the workforce today is involved in the gig economy, doing work they love and enjoying the flexibility of working at home or on-site. Gig-style businesses encompass a broad range of pursuits, from website design to dog walking. Even some college professors have elected to take advantage of the flexibility it provides, working part-time at different campuses. When Ahmed learned that freelance writers comprise a large section of the gig economy (and many of them do very well), he decided to give it a try.

Professional and Punctual

A professional, reliable, and punctual worker — important qualities in a gig worker — Ahmed began doing some networking and picked the brains of a friend who had started his own business. He learned that there’s a high demand for reliable freelance writers who can produce compelling online marketing content, edit academic papers, research and write copy for online newsletters, write engaging blogs, and much more. When Ahmed realized he could do it all from the comfort of home, at his own pace and in his own time, he was sold. He decided to give it a try using the income from his IT job while he got his freelance writing gig up and running.

Getting Started

Millions of dissatisfied full-time workers have found, as Ahmed did, that the gig economy provides a degree of freedom and flexibility rarely found in corporate America. He began writing a blog that earned him lots of followers and which he was able to use to promote himself as a candidate for other freelance opportunities. Through his website, which features an online portfolio, and using social media, Ahmed began making a name for himself as a writer. He also used online resources, such as a business name and slogan generator and a logo-making service, to help brand his service and set him apart from competitors.

Getting Organized

Working as a freelancer took some getting used to. Freedom and flexibility notwithstanding, Ahmed learned how important it is for a freelancer to stay organized. There are lots of distractions when you’re working at home, so it’s necessary to set up a dedicated work area with computer and supplies all together in a space that’s free of distractions like the television and mobile devices. Once Ahmed decided to devote himself full-time to his freelance business, he incorporated some of the helpful habits that helped keep him on task as an IT worker, like remaining on task in his workspace until 4 or 5 p.m., or whenever he completes each job.

Today, Ahmed maintains a successful freelance writing business, with clients in the healthcare, marketing, and insurance industries. He’s even done freelance writing for the marketing firm he used to work for as an IT professional. In many cases, he’s been able to use work samples to grow his business and become an entrepreneur doing work he truly loves. Ahmed is happier than ever and enjoys being able to spend more time with his wife and children.

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People with disabilities and impairments often find it difficult to maintain traditional employment due to a lack of flexibility and support in a typical work setting. As a result, many are turning to business ownership, finding it appealing to become their own boss and take control over their daily schedule and income. Becoming a successful business owner is certainly possible, especially for those who dig in and seek out resources that help make the plunge into ownership possible.

Think about assistive technology aspects when choosing a business

Ideas that can work well for people with impairments include building businesses around tech support, writing, graphic design, consulting, tutoring, or services related to one’s specific disability. Once you have a business idea you want to pursue and get a sense of what type of technology assistance you may need, it is critical to put together a detailed business plan before pursuing financing help.

For many people with disabilities hoping to start their own business, some ideas could be a great fit but need some modifications. Financing can be a challenge when it comes to ownership, especially for those with some impairments that perhaps have greatly impacted their personal financial situation. Luckily, there are grants, loans, and other financial resources available that can help fund a business and make it easier to acquire the technology assistance needed to build a business successfully.

Financing help may be available to support necessary technology modifications

The Small Business Administration details that there are quite a few low-interest loan options available for people with disabilities who are hoping to launch their own business. In addition to low-interest loans, some entities specialize in providing grants to people who are seeking business ownership. Don’t limit yourself to checking out the SBA, however. Be sure to look for state and local programs, ask your bank about options, and consider private and nonprofit entities that are looking to support businesses like yours.

These types of loans and grants can be especially helpful when technology assistance is needed in a new business. The Job Accommodation Network suggests pursuing multiple sources for funding assistance when it comes to assistive technology. Some needs will require little financing to get into place, but depending on the modification needs, sometimes things can get costly.

For example, Washington University’s DO-IT details that for some people, special keyboards or types of software need to be utilized to allow an individual to easily use a computer. Changing the position of a monitor or even a power strip can make a big difference, and specialized devices can be used instead of a mouse. In addition, an aspiring business owner may need speech recognition software, Braille input devices, or speech synthesizers to assist in getting work done.

Networking can be key in business development too

Self Made shares some resources specifically geared toward aspiring business owners who have disabilities. As you formulate a business plan and think about financing options, it may help to start networking with others who have walked a similar path. Some people may find organizations like the US Small Business Administration to be a helpful resource, for example, and the International Network of Women with Disabilities blog shares additional resources as well.

Starting a business can be intimidating, especially for people with disabilities who have additional obstacles to work through. However, there are networking, development, and funding resources available that can make the process move along more smoothly. As you build your plan, you should consider what kind of technology assistance may needed to build your business successfully and be sure to look to loans and grants designed to help business ideas like yours flourish.

[Image via Pixabay]

You’ve packed your bags, booked your flight, and are headed out for a weeklong whirlwind of client meetings and networking opportunities. Unfortunately, your 9 to 5 obligations don’t stop when you’re 500 miles away from the office. Don’t fret, we’ve got a few ideas to help you leverage technology to keep things moving in the right direction.

Utilize automated social media postings

Connect with your contacts and customers with prescheduled Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn postings. Start your trip with a notice that you will be out of the office for a short time. Your followers will appreciate the heads-up. Pagemodo, which specializes in social media tools for small businesses, offers a free trial with the option to upgrade anytime. It’s worth checking out if you don’t want to check out of your Facebook for a week.

Consider a temporary assistant

Nobody really wants to leave their business in someone else’s hands for any amount of time, but Murphy’s Law often comes into play while you’re away. If you don’t have a trusted employee to take care of unexpected issues, you should. It is still your responsibility to provide thoughtful and efficient customer service despite your physical absence. Vistaprint suggests seeking the services of a virtual assistant, especially if you are a one man (or one woman) show. You may also ask your regular customers, who already know your products and services, if they would be interested in helping you out occasionally. Whichever option you choose, spend a few weeks with your proxy beforehand to ensure they understand your processes and can provide real solutions in case of a problem. It should be someone you trust to handle a crisis with grace and professionalism, and that you feel confident handing the “keys” to.

Don’t trust your hotel’s internet

Most hotels nowadays have both basic and premium internet plans available, usually for free. This is essential to business travel since you will need to access information during your stay. But, if your information is sensitive, don’t rely on the hotel’s security to keep your connection safe. Always travel with a portable router that allows for secure wireless connections — it can also be handy in airports with spotty Wifi and busy cafes with unsecured networks. Norton offers a great list of additional steps you can take to sideline data-stealing snoops, even in public Wifi locations, here.

Scope out meeting spots and plan ahead

Eliminate stress by knowing which places in town are best for intimate discussions. There are few things worse than trying to close a deal by shouting over unruly children the next table over, so scout reviews for the most adult-oriented dinner spots in your area. Entrepreneur VIP Contributor Murray Newlands recommends letting your dinner guests select from a shortlist of suitable and convenient locations. You may not be aware of dietary restrictions or palate preferences, so letting them pick will make things less stressful on their end.

It is quite common to discuss business proceedings over a glass of wine, but this isn’t an option if you are sober. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to find a venue that combines a professional atmosphere with a lack of alcoholic beverages, so it is important that you prepare and have a plan in place for saying no. Have a script ready, such as telling clients that you prefer to discuss business details with a clear head or that you have an early meeting.

Keep in touch with family

Being a business owner means a lot of long hours away from home. This can lead to disconnects with your partner and children if you don’t make an effort to remain in-tune while you’re taking care of business remotely. Tools such as Skype, FaceTime, and even Facebook video calling can keep you connected with your loved ones, so you can travel with less guilt and thus fewer distractions. Implement an emergency text code if there are domestic issues that require your immediate attention so you don’t feel obligated to return messages right away unless you are prompted.

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You’ve started a new business, and you’re thrilled that you get to work from home. In fact, just yesterday you stayed in your flannel pajamas all day as you worked. Yes, you’re excited about starting this new business venture, and things are already going well. You’re even making a bit of a profit. There’s just one little thing that’s been worrying you. Okay, it’s really a huge thing–your business finances!

In fact, if you’re being totally honest with yourself you could say that you’re more than a little scared. After all, running a business involves spending money–not just earning it! It involves paying taxes, tracking invoices and a million other financial details. So what‘s a new business owner to do when she’s worried about all the financial issues that arise? Read on for some tips on how to be smart about managing your money when you own your own business.

Do yourself a huge favor and stay on top of your bookkeeping. If you neglect this part of your business, it can quickly snowball into an overwhelming task. Instead, divide the bookkeeping into small chunks to make it more manageable. If you consistently keep track of invoices and your expenses, you’ll be less likely to put everything off to the last minute. And three months won’t go by before you realize you have outstanding invoices that need to be paid!

Consider purchasing finance software that will help you keep track of those invoices, earned income and other financial matters. Whatever you do, don’t keep receipts in an old shoe box! And carve out about 15 minutes each week to work on bookkeeping tasks.Doing a little at a time will prevent everything from snowballing out of control.

Keep separate bank accounts for business and personal expenses. Don’t use your company’s credit card to buy groceries, your kid’s school supplies or that new dress that was marked down last week at your favorite clothing boutique. Maintaining your accounts separate helps you easily keep track of deductible expenses when it’s time to pay your yearly taxes.

Consider hiring a CPA, also known as a certified public accountant, to do your annual taxes and provide you with valuable tax advice. If you decide to do your own business’ taxes, at least consult an accountant that can give you some initial advice before you tackle the job.

Protect your personal money by incorporating your business or creating an LLC. This can protect your personal income from some of the financial risks that are inherent in any new business venture.

Starting a small business involves risk and countless worries. But one thing you don’t need to worry about is moving your business from your home to a rented office. Many small businesses can successfully run from a home. Renting an office space may be an unnecessary expense, so don’t be in a hurry to get one if it’s possible to continue working from your home.

Market your business in an effective but inexpensive manner. You don’t need to hire a huge advertising agency to promote your business. Engage in networking, increase your social media presence, create marketing materials in-house and grow a customer email list. These relatively inexpensive marketing strategies can boost your business without breaking your bank account.

Starting a new business is an exciting and often frightening experience–especially when it comes to financial data. Be smart about business matters by regularly tending to bookkeeping tasks, consulting a tax professional for tax advice and avoiding unnecessary expenses for your new business. By following these tips, you can stay on top of financial matters without getting too overwhelmed.

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