Being an entrepreneur obviously isn’t easy, which is why most people shy away from trying to be one. There are, however, tons of services and programs for you to use that will make your entrepreneurial life a lot easier. So, before you throw out the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, make sure you check out the following free services and programs:
Microsoft Biz Spark
Whether you love or hate Microsoft, as an entrepreneur, you’ll need its software. For example, I always find myself using Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Not a day goes by without me using one of those three applications.
In the beginning, you may not buy all of the Microsoft products you need as money will probably be a bit tight. Luckily for you, Microsoft gives all entrepreneurs its software for free through its BizSpark program. There are no strings attached, and they literally just hand you all the software you need for free. They even let you use their cloud program, Azure, for free for 750 hours.
The best part about BizSpark is that once you get your startup up and running, through their media relationships with sites like Mashable and Techmeme, they’ll help you get your business out to millions of people at no cost.
One of the main reasons why entrepreneurs fail is due to their lack of experience. One way you can try to solve this problem is by attending conferences, talking with other entrepreneurs, and even reading/listening to books.
One of the easiest ways to get a head start is to join a mentorship program like TechStars, which will not only provide you with seasoned entrepreneurs to mentor you on a daily basis, but will also give you money for joining the program and help you raise venture capital.
Now, granted, there is a catch – they take a small percentage of your business. But in the end, it’s worth it if you are a first time entrepreneur.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an entrepreneur? One program that gives you a quick glimpse of what it’s like is Startup Weekend.
All around the world, entrepreneurs connect together to build and launch companies over a two-day weekend. You meet up with other entrepreneurs, build something, and get it out there.
By joining a Startup Weekend in your neighborhood, you’ll learn:
- How to pitch your business idea
- How to work in teams
- How to create a minimal viable product
During those two days, you’ll have a fun time and learn a lot about entrepreneurship.
SF Ruby Workshops
Whether you want to be a computer programmer or not, programming is something that you need to have a basic understanding of. Although it’s not an easy thing to pick up, you don’t have spend years in school to become a good programmer.
Through programs like SF Ruby Workshops, you can learn about programming for free. With some practice, you will get good over time.
So, if you are one of those entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out how to learn programming, don’t waste your time by going back to college. Instead, sign up for free programming workshops.
The biggest reason that companies fail in the first five years of starting up is because they lack capital. In the past, in order to raise money from angel investors or venture capitalists, you would have to travel to see them in person, pitch them at their offices, and wait anxiously to hear back from them.
Although that process still takes place today, there is a new program that makes fundraising a lot easier. It’s called Angel List. On one website, you can outline what your company does, how much money you are looking to raise and see which investors are interested in giving you money.
However, before you take money from investors, you may want to get to know them first and find out how they can help you. Getting big-named investors is great, but it’s smarter to get strategic investors that can help you grow your business.
If you own and operate a company within the United States, you don’t have to hit up venture capitalists or go to the bank to get money. The Small Business Administration provides grants to businesses. You just have to apply.
You’ll be surprised to see how much free money you can get by just applying for business grants. I know it takes work, and you won’t get money from all of the grants you apply for, but there is a good chance you’ll get something.
If you aren’t willing to take the time, energy, and effort to apply for free money, don’t waste your time as an entrepreneur as that’s probably one of the easier tasks you’ll need to take part in.
The one thing you should never do is try to run a business by yourself. You should always have a business partner. That’s because when you are starting out, there will be way too much work for one person to do, and you won’t have enough money to hire employees.
Through Founder Dating, you can potentially find your perfect business partner. If you aren’t familiar with how it works, just think about speed dating. First, you meet a lot of people in a given hour.Then, you start to engage in detailed conversations with the matches you are potentially interested in.
If you happen to meet your ideal match within a few hours, don’t rush into partnerships. I have had multiple business partners over the years, and the one thing I learned is that you need to really know and trust someone before you seal the deal. Just think of it as a marriage that can’t be easily gotten out of.
Do you want the Black American Express credit card? Well, unless you spend $250,000 a year, you won’t qualify for it. And even if you do, the fees typically aren’t worth the perks.
But one card that has great perks for entrepreneurs is the Founders Card. It gives discounts on plane tickets, hotels, and other things that you’ll need when you travel. There are no hidden fees – all they are doing is combing the buying power of thousands of people so that everyone can get good deals like the big corporations do.
Think of them as a modern version of a business networking event that has some sponsors, free food and beer, where people vote on what they are going to discuss.
The best part about BarCamp is that you don’t have to travel far distances to attend one. If there isn’t one in your city and you want to put one on, all you have to do is go to the BarCamp site and announce that you are throwing one. Because the site gets decent traffic volumes, the word will spread, and you’ll have attendees.
Help a Reporter Out
Getting your company out there in the mainstream media doesn’t have to be costly. Yes, good PR firms may charge $10,000, if not $20,000 a month, but you can always get in the mainstream media by yourself.
Through Help a Reporter Out (HARO), you’ll get a daily email with all of the stories journalists need help with. And if you think you can provide them with the insights they are looking for, all you have to do is email them. After they interview you, if they like what you have to say, they’ll include it in their magazine or newspaper.
If you haven’t tried HARO out, you should. It works well, and I can tell you that from experience because I have been using it for years. Through it, I have been mentioned in places like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.
If you are a first time entrepreneur, stop stressing out about the small stuff. There are services, programs and people out there who will help you out for free. You just have to find the ones that are the right fit for you.
Now, even if you sign up for all of the services and programs I mentioned above, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be successful. It just helps increase your odds of succeeding.
Do you know of any other programs and services that entrepreneurs should try?