Back view woman leading a business video conference in a conference room.

The Year of the Entrepreneur: Why 2024 Is the Best Time in Human History to Be an Entrepreneur

By: A.J. MacQuarrie

Dive into the unprecedented era of entrepreneurship in 2024, where AI, remote work, global networking, and low-cost business models converge to offer unparalleled opportunities for financial independence, innovation, and personal freedom – the time to embark on your entrepreneurial journey has never been more promising!

2024 is considered the best time to be a successful entrepreneur. Barbara Corcoran from ABC’s Shark Tank said it herself so well recently on Instagram. But you’re probably asking yourself, “Why become an entrepreneur now?” Below are the reasons:

AI Propels Your Business

Artificial intelligence (AI) advancements have shaken the status quo to its core by providing unprecedented opportunities for businesses to act on their entrepreneurial mindset. AI tools like ChatGPT can assist with various tasks, from data analysis to customer service. They make optimizing operations, personalizing customer experiences, and innovating much more convenient.

Don’t Forget About Non-AI Tech

Non-AI technology refers to traditional tools like databases, content management systems (CMSs), communication tools, and others, They are based on predefined rules and do not have the ability to learn from data or improve their performance over time. Non-AI technologies provide a solid foundation for various business functions by allowing you to improve efficiency and productivity, resulting in consistent business growth.

Working From Home

The normalization of remote work has opened up global talent pools for hiring and has reduced the overhead costs associated with physical office spaces. It also freed people from the corporate environment that prevents them from thriving with their unconventional ideas. As a result, you can jumpstart your entrepreneurial career with more flexibility and less investment in office infrastructure.

Networking Is Easier

Digital platforms and social media have made connecting with mentors, investors, and potential customers easier. You can now effectively network without geographic limitations, expanding the reach and growth potential of your own business.

Freelance Marketplaces

The growth of freelance marketplaces has made it easier for many entrepreneurs to find and hire freelancers for specific tasks. This allows for a more flexible and scalable workforce to help get your business idea off the ground. It also lets you adapt to changing market demands, stay lean, and achieve economic growth faster.

Financial Independence

You can achieve financial independence much easier when starting a business in 2024. Affordable AI tools allow you to cut down on costs and maximize your earnings while starting out. You also have the potential to foster financial success by building equity in a business that can either provide a steady income or be sold for a profit in the future.

Flexibility and Freedom

Aspiring entrepreneurs like yourself can be their own boss by establishing their own work hours. Tailoring your career to your personal preferences and lifestyle choices based on your own company can lead to a better work-life balance and increased job satisfaction.

Access to Capital

You have more avenues to secure funding for your business venture. From traditional bank loans to crowdfunding platforms, venture capital, angel investors, and government grants, business financing options are abundant and diverse.

Low Start-up Cost Business Models

These business strategies require a minimal initial investment, making them particularly attractive to entrepreneurs with limited capital who want to launch a business. Examples include dropshipping, freelancing, virtual assistance, and other service-based businesses. They show that you don’t need to produce an actual physical or digital product to make money online.

Global Market Access

The internet has broken down international barriers, allowing businesses to reach a global audience relatively easily. E-commerce platforms and digital marketing strategies enable entrepreneurs to sell products and services worldwide, exponentially expanding their potential customer base.

Educational Resources

The availability of online courses, workshops, and mentorship programs means that you can continuously learn and improve your skills to benefit your career. This access to knowledge helps keep up with the latest trends, technologies, and business strategies.

Assuming you can make your own decisions 

Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship

Growing consumer demand for sustainable and socially responsible products and services is growing. Entrepreneurs who align their business models with these values can tap into a passionate and loyal customer base while contributing positively to society and the environment.

Innovation and Disruption

Rapid technological advancements offer numerous opportunities to disrupt traditional industries in your entrepreneurial journey. Entrepreneurs who can identify gaps in the market and offer unique solutions can establish themselves as leaders in new and emerging sectors.

Resilience and Adaptability

Global challenges in recent years, including the pandemic, have taught many successful entrepreneurs the importance of resilience and adaptability. If you make your own decisions as an entrepreneur, expect your successful business to be more agile and prepared for uncertainty, having learned from the experiences of those before them.

 

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Support customer service business technology concept on virtual screen.

Basic Tech Tools for Entrepreneurs in 2024

By: A.J. Macquarrie

Discover the essential tech toolkit for entrepreneurs in 2024, featuring Google Workspace for seamless collaboration, Zoom for virtual office communication, Zoho CRM for customer relationships, and Canva for stunning designs – revolutionize your business game today!

Tools and software make your job as an entrepreneur much more manageable. But which platforms should you use? And for what part of your business? Below, we prepared the best tools for entrepreneurs and small business owners that you should use in your organization.

File Storage

1. Google Workspace

Among productivity and collaboration applications, Google Workspace is one of the best. It offers a suite of productivity tools, including Gmail, Drive, Google Docs, Sheets, and Calendar. The app also streamlines communication and document management, making it one of the few essential tools for entrepreneurs.

2. Dropbox

Dropbox provides secure file storage and sharing, allowing you to access and collaborate on documents with team members from anywhere. Working together on files and documents is easy with this platform’s user-friendly interface and seamless integration with other small business tools.

Communication

3. Zoom

A successful business requires seamless communication and collaboration through a virtual office, which are things Zoom can do. It offers a reliable platform for video conferencing, which you can use for client meetings, team collaborations, and networking without being tied to a physical location.

4. Slack

One of the most popular communication tools, Slack enables real-time communication, file sharing, and integration with various business tools. Its organized channels and customizable notifications enhance team collaboration and productivity.

Productivity

5. Hubstaff

One of the more powerful time-tracking tools in the market, Hubstaff monitors the time you spend on different projects and tasks, ensuring that work is done efficiently. It’s also a workforce management tool, as you can hire the best talent worldwide without geographical restrictions.

6. Notion

Like Evernote, Notion is an all-in-one workspace that combines note-taking, task management, and knowledge sharing. Its customizable interface and collaborative features make it an ideal platform to streamline your workflows and centralize information.

Customer Relationship Management

7. Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM provides a complete customer relationship management solution with sales, marketing, and customer support modules. Its automation capabilities and analytics tools let you optimize your sales processes and drive business growth.

8. Streak

If you love Gmail, Streak is a free CRM tool that integrates directly with Gmail and allows you and your team to manage customer relationships without leaving your inbox. The tool also lets you customize your workflows by creating pipelines, setting up stages, and organizing contacts according to your unique business operations.

Social Media Management

Source

9. Zoho Social Media

Zoho Social is a social media management tool for multi-platform scheduling, engaging with your audience, and analyzing social media performance. It also integrates with Zoho’s ecosystem to help you generate more leads and manage customer relationships better.

This is the second time I mentioned a Zoho tool in this list. It’s because I’m using the Zoho One, an all-in-one business solution for running an entire business. Expect more Zoho apps on this list. 

10. Cloud Campaign

Cloud Campaign is a white-label social media platform that lets you and agencies replace the tool’s branding with their own and help clients schedule their social media posts, engage with their audience, and build reports covering key metrics to analyze the results. 

Website Analytics and Heatmapping

11. Google Analytics

If you’re looking for in-depth insights into website traffic, user behavior, and conversion tracking. Google Analytics is for you. Its robust reporting and analysis tools help you make data-driven decisions for your business strategy and optimize your online presence for better performance.

12. Mixpanel

Mixpanel offers user behavior analysis and conversion tracking to help you make data-driven decisions based on how users interact with your website. You can also improve website usability and conversion rates of your own business using the tool’s retention analysis and A/B testing.

SEO

13. SE Ranking

To rank your site on top of organic search, you need a search engine optimization (SEO) platform that offers keyword tracking, competitor analysis, and website audit features, among others. Aside from SE Ranking being that tool, it also has comprehensive features and customizable reports to assist you in optimizing your site for search engines and improving its online visibility.

14. Semrush

Semrush is one of the most complete marketing tools. It provides competitive intelligence and keyword research tools to identify SEO and paid search opportunities. More importantly, the software lets you schedule social media posts, analyze your competitors’ traffic metrics, and research other site’s pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. These help you develop effective strategies and stay ahead in the competitive digital landscape.

Design

15. Canva

Canva is a user-friendly graphic design platform that offers a wide range of templates and design tools. Its intuitive interface and collaborative features make creating professional-looking graphics and marketing materials without the need for extensive design skills much easier. The tool also has a social media integration feature that lets you post created content to your desired social media platforms.

16. Visme

If you’re looking for a design tool for creating presentations, infographics, and other visual content you can use to access funding from investors, Visme is your tool. Its library of templates and interactive features should empower you to communicate your ideas effectively and engage your audience with compelling visual content.

Project Management

Source

17. Zoho Projects

Considered one of the best project management tools, Zoho Projects enables you to plan, organize, and track work across teams. You can manage tasks and streamline project workflows to help your business stay on top of its priorities.

18. Monday.com

Monday.com is another project management tool that customizes work management solutions, including project tracking, team collaboration, and workflow automation. Tracking projects and tasks assigned to your team members is easy, thanks to the tool’s visual and intuitive interface.

Email Marketing

19. SmartLead.AI

SmartLead.AI is a platform for creating and sending personalized cold email campaigns using its email warm-up tools to help improve their deliverability. The tool also integrates with CRM systems to automate the outreach process and improve productivity.

20. ActiveCampaign

If you’re focusing on marketing automation and CRM to help you create personalized and targeted email campaigns, ActiveCampaign is a more robust choice. Its advanced features, including predictive sending and site tracking, enable businesses to deliver relevant content and drive conversions through email marketing.

Accounting

21. Zoho Books

Zoho Books is a popular accounting software that simplifies financial management. The platform possesses invoicing, expense tracking, bank reconciliation, and financial reporting, which are the right business tools you need to manage finances efficiently.

22. Xero

Another cloud-based accounting software, Xero does the same things that Zoho Books can do. Its invoicing, bank connections, and expense management features to help you stay on top of your finances and make informed business decisions.

 

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Build Your Startup with a Franchise Mindset to Scale for Success

By A.J. MacQuarrie

Recent films like “The Founder” and books such as “Ray and Joan” have spotlighted Ray Kroc, one of the great business leaders of his time. Among the many lessons that Kroc’s experience holds for this era’s entrepreneurs is the business model he created for McDonald’s. This model drastically changed the landscape of how companies can expand at a rate that would otherwise be too costly for most.

Franchising turned McDonald’s San Bernardino hamburger and shake stand into a global giant worth billions of dollars with 36,899 restaurants worldwide. But even if you never take on the legal requirements to become a franchise-based business like McDonald’s, that mindset and approach can help your young company prepare for long-term success and growth.

The concept is very simple: you create a business that can be replicated over and over again by people who profit handsomely from a turnkey solution. This allows you to be in multiple locations at once without ever having to run them yourself.

Building that infrastructure upfront means you’re thinking about the future of your business. You’re preparing for the possibility of success, and not incidentally, helping make success and growth more likely long before it happens.

When I was building my own company of healthy vending machines, I shifted my mindset to create a way that I could get my product into the hands of independent operators nationwide. While we are not an actual franchise, I’ve used many of the same principles as one. I wouldn’t have been able to scale KarmaBox the way I did if I hadn’t had these people helping me. As a result, we went from one city to more than 50 in less than three years.

So what is it about the franchise mindset that makes sense for any forward-thinking entrepreneur?

For one thing, it’s about the intellectual rigor you bring to structuring and managing your business from the start, putting in place an operational foundation that works as your business expands. There’s something very powerful about mentally preparing to replicate your company for the masses. When you think to yourself “How can I have 20,000 of these stores across the country?” you will begin to create systems of consistency and efficiency. This works even if your business is a service and not the traditional brick and mortar.

But too often, non-franchised startups don’t do that hard work early on. They don’t think through the business processes, or create an infrastructure that allows for growth and it may kill their chances of broader success.

Whether you actually move forward to franchise or not, just being in that mindset is going to lead you to build systems, workflows, and ultimately think of yourself as a bigger organization from the start. That alone is going to help you build and scale your company.

Many examples exist of companies that never actually franchised yet still scaled to massive success. I used to work at Starbucks, and saw firsthand how the company used consistent systems that ensured a Frappuccino in San Diego or Seattle is made the same way as one in Boston or Miami.

While this coffee giant is not a franchise, they used the same principles to drive their massive global growth, and helped create a distinctive culture that brings customers back over and over. They create workflows for everything, from how a mocha is made to how the stores get cleaned at the end of the night, to ensure that their more than 20,000+ of their coffee shops are run the same way.

Credit for this goes to CEO Howard Schultz, who was thinking about how to create the world’s biggest coffee company even when he was running a single store in Seattle 45 years ago. Whether it’s one coffee shop or 500, Schultz knew it was vital to figure out (and document) the most efficient systems of production and operation so they could be more easily spread throughout the organization.

He had the vision to become the largest coffee company in the world, and the only way he would achieve that is by making sure everything was smooth operational from the start.

But what really separates the successful ones from those who do less well?

I’ve noticed our most successful local operators were those who were really engaged in what it takes to make a business go. They’re eager to collaborate and take advantage of the resources provided to them. They think, “This busy gym or that office building might be a good opportunity.”

I’ve structured my business to leverage collaborative partners, so I succeed when they do. The most important thing is to make sure you’re creating the lean, efficient processes and collaborative mindset that will allow you to grow. The type of business matters less than the way you go about operating it. If you aren’t ready for success, you’ll never be able to take advantage of it when it comes.

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What Drives You Crazy About Millennials Is What Makes Them Great Entrepreneurs

By A.J. MacQuarrie 

 

For some bosses, millennial employees are a maddening source of frustrations over their stereotypical habits and unconventional approaches to workplace expectations. But what drives those traditional bosses crazy is also what can make millennials great bosses of themselves as entrepreneurs, creating their own business opportunities.

I’m one of those millennial entrepreneurs, a 28-year-old who found my place in business after getting great training by one of the world’s biggest companies. It took my business just a year to hit its first million from a $20,000 investment. I came up with a novel vending machine idea called KarmaBox, which sells healthy snacks and beverages. The main driving force behind this was when I gained a bit of weight in college – I lived off vending machines and all the food was junk. I then got healthy and a “hey, why aren’t healthy snacks more convenient” light bulb went off in my head that led to the birth of my business.

If you are creative, hardworking and fearless, you are the perfect entrepreneurial candidate. Naysayers have plenty of complaints when it comes to us. But let’s decide to turn those into positives and why they make for a great entrepreneur, if not always the perfect corporate employee:

  • We have a sense of entitlement. Yes, we may have participation trophies just for showing up at youth soccer or karate class as kids, no matter how bad we or our team might be. But that also built a sense of confidence, optimism and willingness to try even unlikely things, and an unshakable belief that we’re good enough to make it happen. Can you imagine a better mindset for someone testing the uncharted waters of entrepreneurial creation?
  • We’re glued to our phones. Well, yeah, but that also means we’re more comfortable with all kinds of new technologies, mobile and otherwise, adopting them fearlessly and then adapting them quickly for new uses. That openness means we’re more likely to see the opportunities in new technologies, and less bound to old business models and old ways of doing things. Every entrepreneur finds opportunity in overlooked or misused existing resources, and the unexpected potential created by new technologies. Technology, and being unafraid to use it, also gives us the opportunity to implement lean business models that otherwise wouldn’t be available.
  • We don’t respect our elders. This isn’t quite true. Unlike baby boomers who spent their youth rebelling from everything their parents represented, we millennials are close friends with our parents and have many older friends. We even like their music. But it also means we don’t want to wait in line for our shot at success 10 or 20 years from now, trudging up some slow-moving corporate ladder. We want to make things happen now, controlling our own destiny, and heading out to create our own opportunities. That’s core to the entrepreneurial spirit.
  • We don’t respect corporate hierarchies. Yes, that sometimes means the 24-year-old assistant thinks nothing of emailing the CEO with suggestions about how to run the company better. It also means we’re not interested in silos and are capable of thinking of the bigger picture. After years of group projects in school, we’re far more collaborative and solution-oriented. And in the small teams that characterize startups, that’s a vital mindset. Everyone wears just about every hat in the closet at a small company. Entrepreneurs need to be able to do all the things that need to get done, with little concern about who “owns” what role.
  • We’re lazy. What that really means is we look for other, more efficient ways to get things done, instead of relying automatically on the same old processes that don’t always make sense in a fast-changing economy and technological landscape. It means leveraging new tools and new ways of thinking to get to a better, different place. Every entrepreneur needs to know how to do more with less.
  • We’re job hoppers. To some extent, this is less about millennials than it is about the changing job environment we faced coming out of college. Fewer companies are investing in employees and giving them reasons to be loyal. Given that most millennials became adults in the middle of a long, brutal recession or its slow-growth recovery, for many, our best opportunities for success came from the ones we created for ourselves.

The reason so many young millennials have dived into entrepreneurial opportunities is they’re smart enough to know they need to find the best setting for their talents and mindset, and brave enough to seek it out. And for would-be entrepreneurs, that’s a combination that’s tough to beat.

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8 Tips for High School Students Ready to Start Their First Businesses

By A.J. MacQuarrie

More than 15 million U.S. high school students head to school every fall, and many 

of them will become entrepreneurs, building their own futures, creating wealth and doing what they love.

Entrepreneurship is respected, fun and dynamic (now more than ever before). There’s never a dull moment. It’s something you can start at any time in your life and, especially if you are young, you’ll only get better at it as you travel through life. It’s like a muscle you can work on and practice.

As Mark Cuban says, business is the ultimate sport. It’s an exciting way to do life. You have a direct impact on the economy, create jobs, create wealth and solve a multitude of problems that make peoples’ lives better.

There’s no time better than now for any young entrepreneur to embark on the adventure of their life.

1. Do it now: Start your own business.

Like swimming, you just have to jump in and start paddling. You know those ideas you’ve been batting around? Write them down. What’s your best one? What makes it better? How can you gain an edge? Talk about your idea with your friends, gather feedback from them, from parents, teachers, your target customers. And go for it.

Don’t make it complicated. It can be a simple business, like babysitting, yard work or dog walking. This is going to give you experience in setting up a business — organizing paperwork, registering it, getting a business license, a tax identification number and so forth. Legitimize it as much as you can because your age is working against you. Babysitters who have CPR and First Aid certificates are a cut above. References from satisfied customers, before and after photos of a house-painting project you completed — whatever you can point to that shows you are serious and that you care about what you do.

2. Find your first mentors.

This step is very important. And it’s a lot easier than you might think it would be. The business world is filled with people who’ve made it and want to “send the elevator down” to pass along the knowledge, lessons and insights they’ve accumulated in their climb to success. It might be intimidating to ask someone, but go ahead and approach some local business owners and ask them if they can help you and mentor you. Throughout your life as an entrepreneur you should actively seek out and ask for mentorship. You will always need someone supportive, honest and neutral to turn to for advice.

3. Get a job.

Wait, wait … why get a job when you’re starting a business? Well, for one very good reason: You need to get more experience with customers and people. American businesses pride themselves on providing excellent customer service — but no one is born innately knowing how to do that. It’s something you learn how to do. The experience of interacting with people makes a huge difference to building a successful business. You need to learn to be the face of the company, to exhibit grace under pressure and to spread that smile on your face to satisfied customers and coworkers even on their crummiest day. Attitude may not be everything, but it’s always going to be a lot, so start becoming an entrepreneur by learning from McDonald’s or your local supermarket.

4. Embrace failure.

Everyone fails. It’s what we learn from our failures that teaches us what we need to be successful. Overcome any fear of failure you might feel — that feeling is the biggest obstacle of any you’ll ever face. Try. Fail. Get back up. Convert the experience into education. Learn its lessons. Did you need more focus, attention, effort? Get back up and try again, armed with your experience.

5. Put yourself out there.

First, be yourself. Remember what may not be considered cool in high school could give you an edge as an entrepreneur. Step out of your comfort zone. Run for student government, join a sports or academic team, get involved with the school news team. You need to start getting comfortable being a leader and marketing yourself, because ultimately that’s what entrepreneurship is all about. You’ll benefit from anything where you work on teams with others. It’s good to be able to juggle a lot going on, to meet obligations and develop accountability.

6. Get involved with theater.

I was involved in community theater since I was very young and I started my own theater company when I was 17. It was my first real business. It developed so many skills in working with people and overcoming shyness. Today, I can command important phone calls and my team, and I credit my experience being involved in 35 productions with developing the skills necessary to build up my business into a nationwide healthy vending company.

7. Pay attention in these classes (I wish I had!).

Math is critical because you won’t be able to rely on an accountant or bookkeeper when you get your business started. And after you’re successful, you still need to keep an eye on your finances — your livelihood is at stake.

English and writing are crucial. You need to communicate your ideas clearly and often. You need to persuade customers and financiers and suppliers. You need to sound intelligent and inspire confidence.

 

8. Recognize opportunities and pursue them.

Look for a problem in your community. Think about how you can possibly create a business around solving it. Start thinking about it even if you never do it. You need to start exercising the creative brainstorming part of your brain.

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