Have you been thinking of starting a side gig business to explore a new career, earn additional money or to take advantage of tax breaks available to small businesses? The possibilities are endless, but so are the choices that you must make. To get you up and running quickly, here are some of the business service options and software solutions that Logbook Financial Planning, LLC selected to get up and running. Use our list as a starting point when evaluating the needs of your own startup business.
Not sure about a side business? I recommend you read the Tax & Legal Playbook by Mark Kohler to understand how to get started. One note, this book has great information about selecting a business entity choice (Sole Prop, LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp) and explains the many tax benefits of small business ownership really well, but I am not recommending Mark’s real estate or stock market strategies.
After the business is formed, here are some choices to make:
If you want to take advantage of the tax code, you must be ready to prove to the IRS that you are running your business for profit. Separating your business finances from your personal finances is the first step. Since our normal banking provider, USAA, did not have small business checking, we selected TD Bank – Business Checking & Credit Card because they had the lowest fees of the banks in our region. Also consider Wells Fargo.
2. Client Relationship Management (CRM)
You can keep what you need to do for each client in your head or on paper for a while. But if the business starts getting too big or you need to bring on staff you will need a central depository of emails, tasks, notes, etc. This is where your CRM software comes in handy. I recommend you use CRM software from day one. We selected Insightly. Also consider Less Annoying CRM.
3. Video Conferencing
If you are going to run any portion of your business virtually then you need video conference software. Skype of Google Hangouts can get you started but when your needs get more complicated, other vendors can step in. We selected GotoMeeting. Also consider Zoom.
4. Scheduling Software
Coordinating your busy schedule with your client’s takes time. Now there are several online solutions that make it easy to book appointments automatically. We selected ScheduleOnce. Also consider Calendly.
5. Email Marketing
You will need a low-cost option to send out newsletters, emails and other client communication. Make sure you get a newsletter host that can link to your CRM and can add a link to your business webpage. We selected Mailchimp.
6. Accounting Software & Receipt Capture
There are several online accounting solutions available now. The good ones will also upload photos of receipts to your software. We selected Wave Also consider Freshbooks or Quickbooks Online.
7. Graphic Design
Most businesses market through LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media platforms. Where do you get the cool graphics and photos to post with your marketing material? Canva. We love it.
A conventional telecom suite can be a large expense for a small business. A less expensive option is to have business calls routed to your person phone. Goodbye to two devices – hello, Grasshopper. We loved how easy it was to set up.
9. Password Vault
After you use a password vault for a while you will quickly forget the pain of trying to remember 200 passwords in your life. Pick an industry leader for security. We selected Dashlane.
10. Web Hosting
You need a website to promote your business 24/7. We used Wix but Wordpress is the most popular and may be a better choice. Also consider Squarespace.
11. Email, Calendar, Cloud Storage
To reiterate, you need to separate your personal life and business for legal and tax reasons. We use Google’s G Suite for email backup, Google Calendar, and Google Drive.
12. Track Auto Miles
It is a good idea to track the miles you drive for your business, charity and medical appointments. Your accountant will love you at tax time. MileIQ does this flawlessly.
13. Digital Notebook
Come across a great article to send a client or that you what to keep to as a reference? Use Evernote to clip articles and keep them forever.
14. To Do List
Face it, you only have so much time in the day so you need to your business and personal projects, taskers and to-do’s in one place and to be synchronized across all of your devices. Wunderlist is my favorite app of all time.
I hope these ideas will be the start of your new side gig business!
If you are interested, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn where I post an interesting personal finance, leadership or management article daily.Good Luck!