There is little so empowering as the thought of being your own boss. You set the priorities. You set the hours. You control your own success. It should come as no surprise, then, that women are increasingly grabbing the bull by the horns and seeking to make their own mark in the business world. According to a 2018 report from American Express, four out of every ten small business owners today are women, up more than 58% since 2007. That trend isn’t slowing.

This surge in entrepreneurship has been heavily facilitated by the digital age. Rapid fire connection and information flow, access to a broader audience, and availability of resources have made it easier, in some respects, to strike out on one’s own. What once might have seemed like a pipe dream for launching one’s own business is now feasible with one person, a computer, and a little bit of gumption. No need to worry about pesky things like employee time tracking or employment contracts… not yet, at least.

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Scaling beyond that one person in front of a computer, however, can be more than a little challenging. The ins and outs of running a business where it’s more than just your paycheck on the line are complex, but, luckily, the same rich digital environment that has opened the doors for many a dreamer also offers a variety of tools that can ease some of those growing pains. 

Not sure where to look? Here are four big ones to help female entrepreneurs get the ball rolling.

Bplans

For a number of entrepreneurs who originally struck out on their own, the plan was simple: get paid. But once you’ve moved beyond the initial hurdle of making sure there’s money coming into the bank, it’s time to take a step back and start thinking about how best to build your operations to ensure more money is coming in over time in a sustainable fashion. That doesn’t mean you have to have an MBA from Harvard. Bplans.com offers more than 500 free sample business plans that can give you a starting point for plotting your path forward.

Buddy Punch

As a company grows beyond a party of one, there are new complications in the mix. How will employees be compensated? How will their contributions be tracked? In settings featuring contract work, the math is simple; a deliverable gets payment. In some cases, however, you may find yourself in need of reliable hourly support, and, in turn, a tool to help track the hours logged.

That’s where Buddy Punch comes in. Designed by a business owner who had previously been reliant on paper time cards for his multiple storefronts, the software allows a small business owner to centralize and streamline the time tracking functionality of their workforce. Custom pay structures, scheduling, PTO tracking, integrations with platforms like QuickBooks, mobile applications, and even facial recognition options are all included, giving small business owners a powerful, flexible tool for scaling their business and managing their workforce. 

Docracy

It was one thing when you were operating with clients on an agreement and a handshake, but as your book of business grows, you start hiring new people, and new expenses may come into play, another important and often expensive element of running your business will be the legal side of things. In some cases, hiring an attorney to get things 100% bulletproof is the only real option. In other cases, however, it might not be necessary or immediately feasible.

Docracy can help fill the void. An open source treasure trove of enforceable legal agreements of all sorts, you’ll be able to find examples of almost any kind of contract you might need during the course of running your business, easily modified to suit your purposes. It’s community driven, with transparent sourcing and social proof available to help you best understand the applications of the contracts in question. While you’ll likely want to have an attorney take a look at documents resulting from your digging here, it’s a low resource starting point that can help protect you during lean growth periods. 

MailChimp

When first starting a business, you might not have a million people to keep in touch with at once. Over time (hopefully), that changes. As your prospect and client lists grow, your contact list will likely no longer be adequate to manage communications, and will certainly fall short in terms of facilitating a robust marketing or communications strategy. 

MailChimp is a great solution at this point in the business growth cycle. Each month you’ll be able to send up to 12,000 total emails to 2,000 subscribers for free! Paid accounts increase the amount of emails and subscribers you can tap and unlock additional features. The easy to use interface, template design options, and actionable reporting make MailChimp a favorite among even larger brands, but it’s distinctly beneficial for a small business that needs more than an inbox to get the job done but doesn’t quite need to pay for a full blown CRM yet.

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