These innovations will save you time and money

If you work from home—and particularly if you’re self-employed—saving time and cutting down business expenses is a top priority. Here are a few tools that will revolutionize the way you work, so you can make time for more important things. Most of them are free, and none costs more than $100.

6. Small business accounting software

If you want to spend less time on busy work, you can’t afford to track your revenue, expenses, and tax information on an Excel spreadsheet. Programming your own formulas is time-consuming, and can lead to costly mistakes; and any decent accounting software will sync directly to your bank, so you never have to input figures manually again.

5. Cloud calendar

Coordinating calendars with family, clients, and colleagues can be a hassle, especially for home businesspeople who usually keep non-traditional schedules. With a decent calendar app like Cozi or Google Calendar, you can sync all kinds of tasks, whether it’s updating a blog, completing a report, or remembering who needs a ride home from soccer practice. As any work-at-home mom can attest, miscommunications like this can be costly—so save yourself some headache.

4. VoIP calling

Most home businesspeople maintain a work line as well as a personal phone—but there’s no reason to pay for a landline if you have a plan that supports VoIP calling. Check out a FreeTalk phone adapter, which allows you to send and receive calls over Skype from a standard home phone. If you have regular meetings with clients or colleagues, don’t pay for the minutes, especially if they’re in another country—get everyone signed up for a free VoIP service. Skype is good, but FaceTime is another competitive option for Mac users.

3. Mobile credit card reader

No matter how small your business is, going cash-only is less and less feasible. Most people just don’t carry cash anymore. Fortunately, you can send out for a free app and iPhone credit card reader from Square, Intuit, or PayPal, and start accepting credit cards directly from your phone. This is especially useful for repair, crafting, or housekeeping businesses—busy customers would rather turn down a valuable service than run to an ATM, so it pays to be able to swipe a card right at the door.

2. Tablet PC

If you do any kind of face-to-face presentation in the context of your home business, a basic tablet is a worthwhile investment. Beginner options like the Kindle Fire or the Lenovo IdeaPad are cheap, and getting cheaper—and having the freedom to run a Prezi or PowerPoint that prospective clients can physically touch and manipulate can be invaluable. Tablets are also a great way to check email and track tasks on the go—which means you can get more done while you’re out running errands.

1. Cloud storage

The ability to access important files from any device with an internet connection can absolutely change the way you do business. Instead of sending endless attachments to yourself (and then digging through your inbox), check out a service like Google Drive or Dropbox for cloud storage.

Dropbox is definitely the most intuitive option—you simply drag and drop files into your Dropbox folder, and they sync across all authorized devices automatically—but if you need more storage space, Google Drive has the most competitive rates.

Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and teenage son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.

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After having three kids right in a row following marriage and starting a business with her husband Shmuel, four years later Margelit Hoffman says she’s, “On the best track yet.” Hoffman Productions is a video and media production company operating in New York, Jerusalem and Berlin. The goal of the company is to, “Create visually sunning movies that inspire your audience to buy your product or support your cause.”

Hoffman balances family and work in a variety of ways. She has no Internet connection at home, therefore, work stays at work and she can focus on her children. The family relocated to live near relatives so she could have extra help. In addition, a housecleaner and babysitter are used a few times a week to keep life balanced. Hoffman’s advice for other mom entrepreneurs is simple: “Remember that your family comes first. They are more important than your email. Keep your work at work.”

Hoffman and her husband market Hoffman Productions in a variety of ways. They use a combination of social media, email marketing, blogging SEO and holiday mailings. If you’re ever in need to “wow” your audience through online video and media productions, contact Hoffman through social media via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. You can also contact them through their online blog.

Do you ever feel as if it’s hard to find practical information that would make it easy to take your children into new countries? If so, Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan’s website (Momaboard.com) will provide you tips and tricks to make traveling with your kids simpler. Momaboard.com was created in 2009 after Kaamna had her first child and was living in Australia. She found it difficult to locate places to buy baby supplies and restaurants to eat other than McDonald’s.

The Momabaord community website was launched in 2011 to, “share this information
and to enable sharing amongst a community of like-minded parents.” The site offers international city guides, travel tips, discounts, giveaways and product reviews. Fans of the Facebook page and followers on Twitter are given the opportunity to directly ask DhawanKaamna for advice on specific questions.

She is thankful that her business encompasses two things she loves to do: spending time with family and traveling. However, by being a solo entrepreneur, she has realized there are many things she just can’t do on her own, especially while taking care of a three-year-old and a six-month-old.

She plans her work in the mornings and nights while her son is in school. Kaamna also hired a nanny to take care of household chores and watch her daughter when she is working from home. However, she allocates meal times and one activity a day solely to her children. She said, “It’s tough because it never feels like you are giving anything your all but it’s important to pace yourself and set realistic goals.”

She advises fellow mom entrepreneurs to, “know your skills and find partners that can fill in the gaps. If you think really hard, you’d be amazed at how you can come up with mutually beneficial partnerships that don’t involve money.”

If you’re ever traveling abroad and can’t seem to locate places that are children friendly, visit Momaboard.com to find restaurants, hotels and general sites that she personally vows are accommodating to families with young children. You can also directly email her with questions, thoughts and feedback.

Happy and safe travels from Momaboard.com! 

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