5 Popular Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

5 POPULAR HELPFUL BOOKS EVERY ENTREPRENEUR SHOULD READ

Intro by Eb: Guest post by my hubby Philip Looney, who is an ACE Fitness Personal Trainer and fitness blogger at PhilipLooneyFit.com. In this guest post, he shares 5 popular business books that every entrepreneur should read. This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Having a summer reading list shouldn’t just be for the kids.  If you’re  an entrepreneur, you should especially buy out time for reading, because it gives you knowledge and insight that can help you grow your business.  Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerburg, and hundreds of other successful business leaders devote dedicated time, usually one hour or more, to reading each day.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “that sounds great, but I’m already super busy!  Where will I find the time???”   Stop and reflect on when you have a few down moments, and ask yourself what you end up doing.  Is it surfing social media on your phone?  Could that time be better spent reading a book?

There are lots of tips on how to read more out there, but here is what has helped me read more this year:

  • I’ve made it a habit to carry a book with me wherever I go.  The time you find yourself waiting in line, waiting in the dentists office, etc. you have something to read.
  • Read during a meal.
  • Block out time on your calendar to step away and read.  You’ll find you come back refreshed from the reading break, and maybe even with an immediate insight that you can apply to a project.
  • Go to bed earlier and wind down with a few minutes of reading.  This means maybe one less episode of your latest binge-show, but so what.

So what should you be reading?  Here are top 5 books that I either gift or recommend to budding entrepreneurs that I’ve worked with:

4-hour workweek

The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss – While the promise in the title seems to be about working less, this book is really about time management.  Specifically, the tips and tools in this book will help you make the best use of your time and learn how to avoid things that swallow up your precious time.  This book out of all the others has had the greatest impact on improving my professional life.

the 100 dollar startup

The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau – This book is one of the best I’ve read that simply explains product management concepts like value, pricing, and identifying your market.  It has dozens of simple, actionable worksheets that you can use to define and document your business practices.  It also contains dozens of case studies of successful small businesses that you’ll find inspirational.

show your work

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon – This is the best book on social media that I’ve ever read, and it’s not even really about social media.  It’s a reminder of the need to share with people something that is useful, interesting, or entertaining so that you don’t just get “followers” but actual people that are interested in you and your business.

poke the box

Poke the Box by Seth Godin – This short manifesto on doing work could be summed up in three words – Do, Start, Ship.  It’s an inspirational reminder that all the planning in the world won’t make your business successful if you don’t actually produce something and share it with people.

brains on fire

Brains on Fire by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church, and Spike Jones – This changed book changed the way I viewed marketing, focusing less on military terms like “campaign” and “tactics”, and instead taught me how to think about really talking to people and seeing what they want.  Worth the read just for the story of how this agency helped Fiskars scissors double their profits through growing an online community.

In Conclusion

So which book would you read? Do you have a personal favorite that you would like to share, please let us know about it below.

If you have found that this list helpful, please share it with your friends who are looking to start or grow their business.

Tech Talk – Creating a Wix Website

I wasn’t a fan of WIX until I tried it.

I can’t knock their hustle. Their product isn’t for everyone and that’s ok. There is a lesson in there for us creating products and services.

In the short (3 minutes, 26 seconds) video tutorial below, I show you how easy it is to create your website using WIX.

Did you find this tutorial helpful? Will you try WIX for your next website project?

6 Simple Ways to Make Tax Season Easier

Tax season might be one of the most stressful times of the year. However, there is a way to make it less stressful.

With a little bit of planning and having the right tools, you can get thru another tax season. Here are a few steps I like to take to ease the overwhelm of tax season.

In full disclosure, this post will include some affiliate links, which means that, in no extra cost to you, I will will earn a compensation if you click through and make a purchase.

1. Use an accounting program

I like using Freshbooks, an online small business accounting software program. The program is easy to use, is fast and secure and my accountant loves it, too. With Freshbooks, you can record expenses, link to your preferred bank account, create invoices and estimates for clients, run profit and loss reports and provide access for your accountant… All from the app, desktop or tablet.

2. Keep your previous year’s return in an easily accessible file cabinet.

You will most likely need your previous year’s Adjusted Gross Income to include on the current tax year form. Unless you save it digitally, it helps to have the previous year’s return handy.

3. Create a tax return file folder clearly labeled

Whether you’re filing single, joint or married, having all your paperwork in one place will be a time saver. If some of your documents are sent digitally, I recommend creating a folder on your computer or in a file sharing dropbox labeled something like “20xx Tax Documents”.

4. Create a checklist

I like to print the list from IRS.gov (for US residents) and tap it on the front of my tax file return folder. As I add items to the folder, I check off the list. This helps me stay organized.

5. Save a little money just in case you need to pay.

We all would like a tax refund, however, there are times when you might have to pay. So to prepare for this, put a little money away in an interest-bearing savings account. I recommend talking to a professional certified public accountant to get advice on what amount is good to save.

6. Get an accountant

Unless you were a math whiz in school or understand all the new tax laws, I recommend working with a certified public accountant. I used to do our family taxes for years, but I realized that paying someone else gave me peace of mind. Accounting wasn’t my favorite subject in school, and it isn’t now. Having a professional on my team helps ease the pressure of feeling like I need to do it all.

via GIPHY

In conclusion.

Being able to plan ahead and use an easy accounting program has helped me not dread tax season (as much as I used to). I hope you use these tips and breeze thru this tax season, too.

Supercharge Your Business Growth – 5 Ways to Get Organized

It’s a new year and we all know what that means. Resolutions, good intentions, and hopefully a ton of growth in 2018!

If you’re planning on growing your business, though, you need to have a solid plan of organization.

I’m not going to lie. It’s tough to stay organized and on task, all the while looking at your bottom line. Over the years, though, I’ve learned that cutting corners to “save time,” in the end only causes more stress, and eventually the loss of revenue.

You know what I’m talking about.

It’s when you decide that you’ll move that client file to right digital spot when you have time. Or, that you’ll sit down and make your weekly to-do list later, but right now you have to get to work because someone has to pay the bills!

Ultimately, you just end up spending more time (hence, money) later on when you’re trying to find that missing file or when you have that sneaking suspicion you’ve forgotten to do something (like a client project).

Let’s let 2018 be the year we all kick the bad habit of organization neglect. Here are a few of my tried and true tips and tools for easing the overwhelm and getting organized.

5 Ways to Beat Organization Neglect

Take a few minutes each morning to plan. It can be tempting to roll with the punches and tackle every project or issue that happens to confront you during the day. It’s also exhausting! So take a few minutes each morning to think about what you want to accomplish this week. Then think about what you want or need to accomplish that day. Tie up any loose ends from the day before and then work methodically through your task list.

Use project management apps. A few of my favorites include ToDoist and Trello. I’ve used ToDoist when working with clients and I use Trello as a tool to plan my blog posts, content, and my goals. It integrates with many other apps, and it’s free!

Set a timer. How many times have you thought to yourself,“Oh that takes about five minutes to do,” and an hour and a half later, you’re still at it. Setting a timer helps to keep you aware of how you spend your time. Also, if you have clients that you bill by the project, it will help you to provide a more accurate estimate as well as keep you on task so you don’t lose money. Toggl is a great tool for keeping track of your time — both for solopreneurs and for teams.

Don’t let your inbox get overwhelmed. Alright, this is definitely easier said than done. However, it’s totally possible to get to inbox zero (I admit I’m still working on this!). Make it your goal to address your email every day at a fixed time. Reply to any emails that warrant a response, and if they involve a to-do item, put it on your Trello list. Delete any emails that you don’t need. Email extensions like Sortd can help you to organize your emails and even integrate tasks, put snooze timers on emails, and sort them into lists that you’ve created.

Name your files and/or label them. If you’ve noticed that “wheel of death” (for Mac users) or the timer that just won’t go away (for PC lovers), it’s probably time to do some digital cleanup. However, when looking at your thousands of files, it can be overwhelming to try and sort through them all. So, this year, make it your resolve to clearly label all of your files. For instance, if you have client image files, name them all something consistent, like “[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Client Name] — [Images] — [Image Name].” When you have to delete old files, it will be so much easier to do so!

I hope these simple tips help you to get ready for an amazing new year with lots of growth, and of course, an incredibly organized business![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

5 Reasons You Should Take Online Payments

Getting payment in cash is always good, however, taking online payments should be your preferred method of payment for your clients.

Here are a few questions to consider when deciding how your business will receive payment:

  1. Is your office or home within 25 miles (or 25 minutes) from your client?
  2. Do you want to take the time to travel to pick up a check from your client?
  3. Do you have a dedicated work mailing address?
  4. Do you want to have the flexibility of traveling with your business?
  5. Do you have an accounts payable system in place?
  6. Do you have a business account set up at a bank?

Your business must be equipped to handle multiple payment options.

  • Cash is great for taking payments, however, the transaction must always occur in person
  • Checks can be mailed or taken electronically (if you have a your client’s routing and account number number and their permission for the transaction)
  • Electronic Debit/Credit works well in person, over the internet on your website or through a link sent directly to your client

Here are 5 reasons you should consider online payments

  1. People are not carrying as much cash. Studies show that “forty percent of consumers hold less than $20 in cash at a given time” (Source: BankRate)
  2. Increase your reach. Taking payments online expands your business beyond where you live or operate your business. If someone from another state or even country wants your services and products, why not make it easier for them to pay you.
  3. Adds credibility to your business. Nearly all major business players are accepting payments online. With the recent sale of Whole Foods to Amazon, the retail online ecommerce game is definitely changing. Who would have thought just a few years ago that we could buy groceries online?
  4. Save time and make bookkeeping simpler. With just click of a button, you can send an invoice through the many online accounting solutions such as Freshbooks or Paypal. This is a time saver and your accountant will love you for it. With all payments recorded digitally and balance sheets updated, all you need to do is print a report.
  5. Improve cash flow. You receive your money quicker with online payments.

Things to consider before accepting online payments.

  • How much money do you receive in a month of payments
  • Who will integrate your payment option on your website
  • How you will let your clients know.

Options to add online payments to your website

  • Add a Paypal button on your website. Paypal lets users create custom buttons (with code) on the Paypal website that a user can embed onto most website platform.
  • Add a store such as Woocommerce to sell products and services. This is for WordPress self-hosted websites.

In Conclusion

Taking payments online on your website can help increase sales, save you time, make bookkeeping simpler, improve cash flow and add credibility to your business.

*  Please note this post contains affiliate links. Image credit is Shuttershock)