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30 ways starting a business is easier than ever

  • Podcasts

    Podcasts make learning about starting a business easy. Some favorites for company founders include "StartUp," which takes listeners through the process of various companies trying to make it; "How I Built This," which interviews various successful entrepreneurs; and "The Pitch," which functions like a version of “Shark Tank” for entrepreneurs and investors.

  • Mentorship programs

    Mentors are the secret weapon of any successful business owner. However, you don’t need to get an MBA or do tons of in-person meet-ups to get a mentor. There are many mentorship matching programs online, including SCORE's free mentorship program and 500 Startups’ mentorship program.

  • Email newsletters

    Stuffing envelopes with newsletters is a thing of the past. Today, entrepreneurs opt for email newsletters, designed on platforms such as MailChimp. Digital newsletters can keep your friends and family in the loop of how your business is doing, and it’s a valuable way to connect with customers and promote products.

  • Virtual assistants

    When you’re starting a business, you likely won’t have the resources to bring on full-time employees. Virtual assistant services can help you in a pinch if you need some short-term help answering emails, bookkeeping, doing research, managing schedules, and even sending out thank you cards. Examples include Fancy Hands or Zirtual.

  • Scheduling assistants

    Hiring administrative help is nice, but most early stage entrepreneurs juggle those tasks themselves. One of the trickiest jobs? Scheduling meeting times. Paper calendars are fine and sure, you can coordinate Google or Outlook calendars, but webinar services like ClickMeeting, scheduling services like Doodle, and other helper apps streamline the process.

  • AI email managers

    Today, new business owners don’t even need to write all of their own emails. In fact, they don’t even need a human to do it at all. There’s AI for that. X.AI can set up meetings, send invitations, and more, using the “voice” of a regular assistant. If you want to respond to messages yourself, Knowmail prioritizes, summarizes, and provides context for the messages cluttering your inbox.

  • Project management apps

    Spreadsheets and hard copies of tracking sheets have been usurped by project management apps. Trello and Asana let teams track and manage projects from conceptualization to completion.

  • Online market research

    Market research once consisted of calling target demographics, crunching numbers from published research, and polling people on the street. Today, that has moved online. Not only will Facebook and Google Analytics let you see how potential customers respond to your products online, but you can also use social media or other apps to create polls, test products, and more. Inc. has a guide to everything first-time entrepreneurs need to know about online market research, from the questions to ask to places to draw data.

  • Side gigs

    Years ago, it was nearly impossible to have a full-time job and a side project. Today, online organizational tools make having multiple income streams easy and common. Many new business owners hold down a steady job while logging on in their “off time” to run their business. With proper organization, it might not be as hard as you think.

  • SEO optimization tools

    Once you have a website, blog, or online store, you want to be sure that customers can find it. Search engine optimization once seemed mysterious and difficult to descramble. Now, there are apps and services like BuzzSumo, which shows what content performs best, or Searchmetrics, which analyzes links’ SEO visibility.