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This is the first in a series of upcoming, original columns for Entrepreneur.com by Laura D. Adams that will publish every other Monday. And don’t forget to purchase a copy of Adams’ latest book for Entrepreneur Press, Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers, via Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound.
If you’re thinking about becoming a solopreneur or have already taken the leap, you know there’s a lot to manage in a one-person business. Instead of getting overwhelmed, preserve your sanity, and reach your goals by using the best online tools. They can make every part of running your solo venture easier and more enjoyable, even if you don’t have a big budget.
Whether it’s a web-based program, desktop software,or mobile app, most tools offer free trials so you can do a thorough review. Consider the following based on the skills you’d like to improve, your business needs and goals.
A grammar tool is at the top of this list because how you communicate says a lot about you. Grammarly is a digital proofreader that will make you appear more professional.
You install Grammarly on your devices as a browser plug-in. Then watch it catch spelling and grammar errors in your emails, texts, social media posts and everywhere you communicate online. It integrates with various apps, such as Gmail, Google Docs and Slack.
Grammarly also has a simple dashboard where you can create and save a document or copy and paste content into it to check for errors. If you’re like me, you’ll probably be amazed at how many typos Grammarly prompts you to correct. And if you make a grammar error, it even tells you why it’s wrong.
The free version of Grammarly checks basic grammar, spelling and punctuation. The Premium version is about $11 per month and reviews your tone, readability, variety in vocabulary and more. There’s a Business plan that supports up to 149 users for $12.50 per month per user.
Related: Top Tax Tools for Solopreneurs
Another way to take your writing skills up a notch or two is taking a LinkedIn Learning course, such as Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. In under an hour, Mignon Fogarty, author and host of the Grammar Girl Podcast, gives you her best tips.
There are more than 16,000 courses on LinkedIn, a staggering array of choices covering just about every business skill you might need as a solopreneur. Classes are taught by real-world professionals and in seven languages. You can access the courses with a 30-day free trial and continue learning for $29.99 per month or $19.99 per month with an annual plan.
If you’re interested in a new career in real estate, online school Aceable.com makes it easier than ever. You can get your real estate license and complete continuing education using the AceableAgent app in many states.
Getting licensed makes you qualified for a variety of independent work, including:
- Earning commissions as a residential or commercial sales agent.
- Becoming a real estate broker.
- Working as a property manager.
- Becoming a leasing agent.
- Investing in real estate at a discount.
For some fields related to real estate, such as mortgage lending, appraising and home inspecting, you need a different license or training (requirements also vary by state). However, having a real estate license can give you an advantage by having an in-depth understanding of how the industry works.
The cost of an AceableAgent licensing course may range from $199 to about $425, depending on your state. A continuing education course to renew your license is about $30.
If you want to browse for free online courses from top-ranked universities and leading companies, such as Stanford, Dartmouth and Google, check out Class Central. Whether you want to understand machine learning, master Excel or become a better public speaker, you’ll find it in this education search engine.
One of the most effective ways to boost your productivity and business success is to delegate or outsource tasks that someone else can easily do. Consider using Upwork to connect and collaborate with a vast network of contractors.
Upwork allows you to find and hire individuals or teams of professionals for a wide range of work, such as accounting, customer service, design, marketing and web development. You can choose contractors based on many factors, including their reviews, hourly rate and experience level.
Keeping up with business accounting can seem like a never-ending job if you don’t have the right tool. QuickBooks is the gold standard that can simplify every aspect of bookkeeping across all your devices, from billing to budgeting. It connects with financial institutions to import your transactions so you can easily categorize them.
There are various versions of QuickBooks for the self-employed, ranging from $7 to $17 per month. These allow you to send and track invoices, separate your personal and business expenses, make estimated tax payments, run reports and even get advice from a CPA when needed.
If your solo venture doesn’t require all the features that come with QuickBooks, check out FreshBooks. It’s a user-friendly, cloud-based solution that aggregates transactions from your financial accounts for categorization.
The strength of FreshBooks is the ability to create customized and attractive proposals and invoices. You can create reports, track time and receive payments in a sleek dashboard.
FreshBooks pricing is based on how many clients you need to track. For $15 per month, the Lite plan allows you to bill up to five clients. When you upgrade to the Plus plan for $25 a month, you can track up to 50 clients. The Premium version allows up to 500 for $50 a month.
Related: The 6 Best Ways for Solopreneurs to Manage their Books
If you need to track your vehicle business mileage, MileIQ will revolutionize how you keep up with them. Once you install the app on your phone and carry it with you, it uses GPS to record your mileage automatically. Then MileIQ prompts you to categorize each trip as personal or business.
Try out MileIQ’s free version, which records up to 40 trips per month. Or upgrade to the Premium version for $5.99 per month for unlimited tracking. They integrate with other expenses-tracking programs, such as QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Concur.
With any or all of the above, you don’t have to actually feel like you’re flying solo.