How to Leverage Free Tools for Your Business

In order to launch and grow a successful business, you must stay on top of an endless list of tasks. That can become overwhelming in short order unless you find a way to make all of these processes a bit easier to manage.

Sometimes, you can do that by hiring more staff, but that’s pretty cost-intensive. Your other option is to use technology to get things done. There are some great tools out there to help you in nearly every area of your business, and many of them are free.

Benefits of Using Free Tools

Why should business owners seek out free tools? What are the benefits of this, especially when paid versions often have more features?

There are times when it is better to invest in a paid tool. If you can’t find what you need to operate your business for free, then you should absolutely spend the money required to get what you need. Still, there are a surprising number of tools that are free, and they deserve consideration for the following reasons:

  • They let you save funds to invest in growth and staffing
  • You can test run tools via free trials
  • They can automate processes without spending money
  • You can improve your ability to grow via bootstrapping

If you are unsure that your business will benefit from a particular tool, look for a free version first.

Identify Where You Need Help

If you look, you can find a tool for nearly every business function. However, before you choose tools, it helps to identify where you’ll get the most benefit from a bit of extra help.

Businesses generally benefit from tools that help them increase productivity, improve communication and collaboration, and handle functionality that is outside of the core area of expertise.

For example, a free messaging tool could lead to better communication. Similarly, a free VoIP trial would be ideal for testing out increased telecommunications capabilities.

Additionally, it helps to consider where your team is struggling. Sometimes, a tool can help by automating processes. You can also implement free tools to free up time and resources to dedicate to mission-critical tasks such as research and development, sales, and growth strategy.

Get the Details

Before you implement any free tool, take time to review all of the pertinent details. Free or not, you want to know what is included and any terms involved.

You’ll want to verify that the free version of the tool includes the functions you need to gain any meaningful benefit. Double-check for time-based constraints too. You don’t want to rely on a tool that suddenly becomes unavailable.

Many free tools will convert to paid versions without warning. If you provide a credit card to obtain a free tool, make sure you note the end of the trial period. This way, you can choose to continue with the paid version or cancel.

4 Small Money-Saving Tips that Add Up Over Time

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And, as you probably already know, you can’t build a savings account in a single day either. Rather, it can take years of hard work and determination to accumulate enough money to achieve financial independence and stability. The good news is that small changes to your daily routine can help you save up a lot of extra capital over the long haul. To that end, here are four small money-saving tips that can add up to big dividends over time:


It’s no secret that gas prices are on the rise. Of course, even when gasoline is “cheap,” transportation costs can be a huge drain on your resources. As such, it’s definitely a good idea to carpool to places like work and school if you can. Alternatively, you may also consider public transportation like buses and trains if possible. Owning a car may be a necessity for some, but it is expensive all the same.

Review Your Expenses

Have you ever forgotten to cancel a “free” subscription to a streaming service or software program? If so, then you probably know how frustrating it is to find you’ve wasted dozens –– if not hundreds –– of dollars on a product you didn’t even use. As such, it’s always smart to review your expense accounts at the end of every month. That way, you can identify any surprising charges and eliminate unnecessary payments. This is one of the best ways to sharpen your money management skills as well.

Take Quick Action

Seemingly “small” issues can lead to big problems down the line. A crack in your basement wall might not appear like a big problem, but it could lead to serious foundation damage. Similarly, health problems can quickly become troublesome and, unfortunately, expensive. So always act quickly to address any issues that you may notice. When it comes to your health in particular, it’s always wise to err on the side of caution. Remember, medical professionals can use sophisticated equipment from companies like Greiner Bio-One to diagnose and treat many common conditions. In the end, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Shop Smarter

Some expenses, like groceries, are simply unavoidable. However, you can use coupons, rewards programs, and special sales offers to shave down the cost of essential items. Always keep an eye out for limited-time offers, deals, bulk discounts, and other cost-savings opportunities. Even reducing your regular grocery bill by $5-10, for example, can end up saving you hundreds of dollars over the course of a single year. Keep in mind that a little savvy shopping can go a long way toward helping you reach your financial goals!


5 Simple Moves to Amplify Your Investments

One central aspect of a sound financial strategy involves practically making your own luck.

By definition, you can’t directly control your luck. What you can do is plan around approaches that maximize the likelihood that you’ll be in the right place, at the right time—and that your investments will bear fruits accordingly.

Within the financial setting, “making your own luck” may look like a lot of different things and may be referred to using several different names, ranging from diversification through risk management. And even if your portfolio seems stable and continues to do well, it might be worth considering ways you could optimize it further—so you can make more off of it.

Another lesser-discussed aspect of making your own luck is making sure you play by the rules; but doing so doesn’t have to cost you very much at all.

We’ve assembled some straightforward steps you can take to get more out of your investments.

  1. Rebalance your investments regularly.

Whether you’ve made one-off transactions or the value of specific types of assets have evolved over the lifespan of your portfolio, rebalancing your investments with some regularity can help you ensure that you continue to meet your investment goals.

For example, if you set out to have half of your portfolio held in stocks and that percentage has dropped from 50% to 20% due to a bear market, it’s a good idea to buy up to 50% again. When markets recover, you will likely profit.

It may be a good idea to consult with an expert on the rebalancing cadence. Setting a threshold for rebalancing—such as an allocation percentage change of 10% triggering a rebalance—can set guidelines for portfolio maintenance and reactivity. You also should consider how frequently you’d like to rebalance, since doing so may result in fees incurred.

That said, make sure you are aware of the fees associated with rebalancing. Otherwise, you may incur short-term trading fees that cancel out the investment gains you get from rebalancing.

  1. Don’t let experts or market hype limit your investing.

There’s a lot of noise in the world of investment advice, particularly with individuals who go on-the-record to predict positive performance by a particular asset. There are no crystal balls in investing; these commentators should be taken with a grain of salt.

Be wary of anyone encouraging you to invest in any one thing—but be equally wary of the skeptics. Particularly when the economy is doing poorly, critics come out and try to discourage or encourage specific types of investments. This includes warning against investor participation when the market is suffering. As we’ve seen with the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on stock market performance, panic hurts everyone.

The decision to fund a portfolio should be a proactive component of an individual’s plan, not a reactive step taken due to market trends. These trends can be a consideration when choosing what to buy, sell, or trade, but all decisions should be made calmly and logically.

Another consideration to keep in mind: there will always be a need for functioning businesses to carry out essential services and even to address any crisis happening at any given point in time. With a balanced portfolio, you can increase the likelihood that you will be invested in a company or financial product that is winning, even when times are tough.

  1. Buy alternative assets in your retirement savings accounts.

You may think you need to be constrained to the mutual funds, stocks, and bonds that conventional retirement accounts offer. Or maybe you’ve wanted to try buying assets like gold, but you’ve been wary of having to pay capital gains taxes.

But by leveraging other types of retirement accounts such as self-directed IRAs, you can gain access to other types of assets.

Say, for example, you’ve been wanting to venture out of fiat currency and diversify with cryptocurrency. You can buy cryptocurrency and enjoy tax-free growth using a self-directed IRA. You won’t have to pay capital gains taxes. Additionally, you can choose whether you want to pay taxes upfront, or whether you’d rather defer paying taxes and instead make a tax-free contribution with your purchase.

  1. Consider dollar cost averaging (DCA).

This sort of ties in with an investment principle from the first item listed here, and it centers on making regular contributions to your investment portfolio. Regardless of the price of shares, via DCA, you continue investing the same amount of money each and every month.

Many people find this to be useful in getting them to actually pull the trigger and invest, as opposed to those who think you should necessarily set aside a large amount of money in one sum before you proceed to invest. DCA stops you from wasting precious time for growth while you worry about whether it’s the “right time” to invest, and instead holds you accountable to actually go ahead and do it.

  1. Minimize taxes and fees as much as possible.

What might sound like a small fee now could rapidly escalate as the value of your portfolio increases. As competition in the financial services industry as well as in the investment app industry only continues to grow, so do the opportunities to save costs on service fees.

These fees come under various names: management fees, commissions, and so forth. You may have operating fees, advisory fees, or management fees that are levied annually for the duration of time that your retirement account is open. You may also have transaction fees, which are taken whenever you buy, sell, or trade assets within the service.

You may also have custodian fees or other annual account fees that are tired to tax reporting, which often can be considered separately from the standard management fees since a limited set of accounts require an added layer of reporting (e.g. IRAs). While these may be pesky and you should try to shop around, be sure that you are not compromising the level of service that you get. For example, if you are paying for IRS reporting to be managed, it might be worth paying a premium to work with a custodian who is very highly regarded and known to do thorough, timely work.

Also consider the fee structure. A flat fee might be the easiest and often best option, since you can plan around this defined cost. A percentage fee limits your profit potential, particularly as your success increases.

9 Top Tips for Managing Your Personal Finances

Good financial management is an essential life skill, but it can be challenging if you’re just starting out. If you have trouble maintaining financial stability, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are numerous resources and tools available that can help you learn the main aspects of financial management. Once you understand the basic ideas, you can choose which techniques and tools work best for you. Here are some essential tips that can help you develop and follow a budget, save more money, and improve your credit score.

1. Track Your Income and Expenses

Before you can start making changes to your financial strategy, you should get a comprehensive overview of your current income and spending habits. Many experts recommend tracking your spending for a while to get an idea of exactly where your money goes every month. You may be surprised to see how much you spend on certain items or services. Once you have a good idea of how your spending compares with your income, you can prepare to make a budget.

2. Make a Savings Goal

Before you finalize your budget, you may want to consider making a savings goal. Once you know how much you want to save for an emergency fund or a vacation, for example, you can figure out how much to allocate to savings in your budget. You may decide that you want to save up six months’ worth of living expenses or have enough money for an overseas trip in a couple of years. By creating a specific goal, you can calculate how much you need to save out of every paycheck and include that number when you make your budget. 

3. Create a Realistic Budget

After you’ve spent a while tracking your income and expenses and making a savings goal, you can create a detailed budget. There are several ways to make and manage a budget, from a traditional paper ledger to a modern budgeting app. No matter which method you choose, make sure to account for all your expenses, even those that only occur infrequently, such as property taxes or home maintenance services.

4. Look for Unnecessary Spending

Now that you have a budget, it’s important to use it regularly. By following a budget and keeping track of all your spending, it’s easier to identify areas where you overspend. You may also want to spend the first couple of months with your budget looking for unnecessary expenditures. This could mean small impulse purchases that add up over the month. You may find that you’re making automatic payments to music or video subscriptions you forgot about or never use. Once you’ve identified unnecessary expenses, it may be easier to resist those purchases.

5. Contribute to a Retirement Fund

Another aspect of good financial management is planning for the future, which includes saving for retirement. If you already have some sort of retirement plan through your employer, that can be a great start. Some companies even offer a contribution matching plan, where they increase your savings by matching a percentage of your personal retirement contributions. You may also want to consider contributing to another retirement plan on your own. This can be a good option if you’re self-employed or if you change jobs a lot. 

6. Include Fun Purchases in Your Budget

One of the hardest parts about sticking to a budget is that it can feel like you’re depriving yourself all the time. If you never allow yourself to have a fancy latte or a night out at the movies, you may start to feel stressed or frustrated. You may even give up budgeting entirely. Many personal finance experts recommend leaving room in your budget for discretionary spending. You shouldn’t spend more than you make, but you may want to cut back slightly in other areas in order to give yourself a little bit of fun money every month.

7. Understand Your Credit Score

Your credit score is an essential part of your overall financial health. It can determine whether you qualify for an car loan or a mortgage and be a significant factor in the terms lenders offer you. There are numerous things that can affect your credit score, including your overall debt, the type of debt you have, and your history of paying bills. You are allowed to pull your own credit report from any of the major credit bureaus. Keeping track of your credit score can help you make better borrowing decisions and make it easier to qualify for loans when you need them.

8. Choose a Budgeting Tool

Once you become comfortable with budgeting and tracking your money, you may be able to take a slightly more hands-off approach. This doesn’t mean you stop budgeting entirely, but you may be able to move toward checking your spending and bank balances every couple of weeks instead of each day. You could also choose to use a budgeting program or app. Many of the available options can automatically import your transactions and categorize them for you, so you don’t have to spend time manually recording all your expenses, especially those that occur every month. 

9. Be Vigilant

Once you get out of overwhelming debt or stop living paycheck to paycheck, it can be easy to become complacent with your budget and spending habits. However, putting your financial management on autopilot can quickly lead back to unnecessary spending, debt, and an empty savings account. Even if you feel like you are at a comfortable place financially, don’t give up tracking your spending or following your budget. It is also a good idea to check your credit reports frequently. This can help you understand what actions affect your score and catch any fraudulent activity as soon as possible. 

Keeping your finances stable requires some hands-on management, but resources and tools can make it easier. By using a budgeting app or signing up for credit monitoring, you can automate some aspects of managing your finances. No matter which tools you choose to use, it’s essential to follow some foundational principles: save for retirement, don’t overspend, and keep track of your credit score.

KaratGold Coin (KBC) is Bridging the Digital Gap Between Gold and Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is the newest major asset class to emerge in the 21st century. Most famous is Bitcoin, but the crypto markets now include several thousand digital currencies and tokens. These tokens are used for all kinds of purposes, but the ones used as digital money are still the most popular. Among the top 10 cryptocurrencies trading today, 4 (Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ripple…or 6 six if you count Tether and Binance Coin) are primarily as digital forms of cash.

However, none of these digital assets has a foundation of inherent value. Sure, the law of supply and demand ensures that these cryptocurrencies have value as long as people use them, but there’s nothing built into these technologies that makes them reliable stores of value.

This has led a whole new generation of asset-backed-cryptocurrencies to enter the stage. Coins like these will theoretically always hold their value, as long as they continue to be backed by real world assets that retain value. A number of different asset-backing types have been used since these so-called “stablecoins” first emerged, but none is so interesting or promising as gold.

Gold can sound downright out of place when it comes to cryptocurrency. After all, this is an ancient asset that seems out of step with the internet age. But a coin called KaratGold Coin (KBC) has found a remarkable way of unifying gold with this newest kind of asset.

KaratGold Coin wasn’t the first cryptocurrency to be linked to  gold. But it is the first cryptocurrency to be 100% tradable for gold (in the form of CashGold – more on this later). The company that introduced KaratGold Coin to the market in the first place, Karatbars International, has introduced a remarkable array of products and services that are transforming the very notion of gold ownership in the 21st century.

Take, for example, the K-Merchant app. K-merchant allows users to transact with KBC in all kinds of ways. The can buy it with Bitcoin, Ethereum, or fiat currencies, or sell it for the same. They can also spend KBC for goods and services with thousands of online retailers. This essentially means that gold is now spendable online, because KBC ownership and gold ownership are now equivalent.

This last point is true because of the possibility of exchange. Starting July 4, 2019, KBC will be swappable for gold in the form of CashGold notes (at participating ATMs). CashGold notes a paper bills that resemble normal fiat bills in style and form. The difference is that CashGold notes hold a tiny bar of gold, weighed at just 0.1 grams. The gold confers value upon the note.

KBC prices are tethered to the value of specific quantities of CashGold. This means that users can own gold without having to possess it. They can also transfer the ownership of this gold by spending KBC online. KBC also pays for services on the new IMPulse K1 smartphone. With the IMpulse K1 Phone that complements the Karatbars’ infrastructure, calls and text messages will not be transmitted through conventional ways, but instead, they are encrypted and broadcasted by a newly created Voice Over Blockchain Protocol (VOBP). As a result, there’s no need to worry about third parties monitoring user’s actions, as the VOBP uses peer-to-peer encryption that cannot be hacked or manipulated in the current state of the art. Linked to the phone, Karatbars presents a clear utility of Karatgold Coin being that KBC serves as a credit for phone calls.

All told, this diverse set of products and services changes the way it’s possible to use gold, and a new class of investors is reconsidering gold for a place in their (virtual) portfolios.


Dwayne Rettinger, Other Experts Discuss: Updating Your Will – When To Do It

It’s time we stopped viewing our wills as stagnant documents, completed once then filed away in a dusty safety deposit box until death. In reality, a will should be seen as a living, breathing file that must be periodically updated to reflect changes in our lives. Here are some situations where another look at your will might be necessary.

1.  A New Addition to the Family: Children need plenty of attention, especially when they are young. But it’s also important to prepare for the worst, says Dwayne Rettinger, an Executive Financial Consultant with IG Private Wealth Management. “What if you are unable to care for your child due to an illness or an accident?” he asks. “You must designate a guardian who is prepared to take custody of your children.” If you already have children who are named in your will, make sure the new addition is added to the will as a beneficiary, Rettinger adds.

2.  Common-law marriage: Living common law is much more frequent now, as well as being socially acceptable. Young couples in particular may choose this option, especially if they price out the cost of a wedding. However, in some Canadian jurisdictions, common law spouses don’t have the same rights as married ones. It’s unfair but your financial consultant can help you check the rules in your jurisdiction and structure your will and estate plan in a way that best reflects your intentions with respect to your partner.

3. Second marriage: Getting married again can complicate matters, especially if you have kids from your first marriage. You have to decide whether your new spouse deserves a share of your estate. And you’ll want to make sure that your children’s inheritances come directly from you. This is not a matter of trusting the new spouse, it’s an effort to make the transition as simple as possible.

4. Caring for the disabled: Special needs children will always require detailed attention in any will, says Dwayne Rettinger. “It’s possible you’ll need to support them for the rest of their lives, so make sure that fact is spelled out in your will,” he adds., “Think about the child’s long-term needs and act accordingly. In such cases, you might need a lawyer who specializes in such cases to cover all the bases.”

5. Have you moved recently?: If you have recently moved out of the country or even out of the province, you should consider re-drafting your will in the new jurisdiction, according to Edgar Chana Law in Toronto. “Each province in Canada has different laws governing estate succession, and planning techniques used in one province may not be valid or effective in another province. Moving to another country or acquiring assets in another country can also add complexity to your estate planning that would require revisiting your will.”

6. What Else has Changed?: Lawyer Michelle Kaminsky suggests going through your list of heirs, representatives, guardians, trustees or executors. Consider whether their circumstances have changed in some way. “For example, are they still of sound mind and capable of serving in the role you have designated? Have they passed away? These are definite reasons you may need to immediately update your will,” she says.

At the very least, experts suggest reviewing your will every five years to reflect any major changes in your financial and personal circumstances. More importantly, does it still reflect your wishes? Major life events should make you seriously reconsider the information in your current will. In any event, it’s always a good idea to have your financial advisor and your lawyer involved in the process of drawing up your updated will. Their expertise will help smooth over what can be a challenging process.


Data Driven Decisions

Making decisions is the ultimate job of anybody in a position of responsibility in a business, especially if they’re ultimately in charge. As a founder, CEO or Chief Operating Officer, the majority of your job is taking high level, strategic decisions for your business. You need to inform yourself so you know what the right long term goals are you need to be working towards, as well as dealing with the day to day issues that arise as part of running any complicated organisation.

It’s a cause of stress: successful CEOs command high salaries not just because they create success for businesses but because they are capable of handling the stress of being the person with whom the buck stops. Today we’re looking at a way of making decisions that makes that stress easier to handle, and makes the business of running a company less taxing and easier to succeed at.

Lifting the Load

The mains source of that CEO stress and isolation is that the responsibility for your decisions is concentrated solely on you. You might seek feedback, or talk to experts in the field, but the ultimate decision comes down to you and your judgement.

If you build data into your decision-making process, you lift this crushing load. It’s no longer you and best instincts, you have measures of your business’ performance, of customer behaviour and market forces to work with. The very best data experts can turn those into reliable predictions about the outcome of your decisions.

Using data like this gives you an objective foundation to your process. You don’t have to justify your decisions simply with your judgement and experience, you can point to a prediction about how this choice will likely result in a positive outcome for your business, while another would cause a poorer result.

Data Gathering

Consumer intelligence agencies can give you an insight into your market: the many consumers out there who could potentially choose to spend their money with you, whether they have yet or not.

This kind of insight can inform every level of your business: for marketing and product design it’s obvious. Understanding your market lets you tailor your offering to appeal to biggest possible cross section of people, and communicate what you have to offer in a way they’ll respond to.

It can also influence your customer service policy, informing whether they’d respond well to a generous policy, and letting you know the platforms your customers value being able to engage on, whether it’s phone, email or via social media.

Building data use into your business from the ground up – and showing you really listen to hard, evidence based feedback creates a constructive company culture that can survive successfully in the long term.

5 Tips for Paying Off Those Credit Cards Quickly

If you’ve ever dealt with credit cards, then you already know they are a useful tool, but they can also get you in a heap of trouble if you aren’t careful. There are many myths out there associated with these cards and the debt they carry, but what it comes down to is you have to pay your bills if you don’t want to ruin your credit score. With that in mind, read on below for a few tips to help you pay them off quickly.

Pay off the One with the Smallest Balance First

It makes sense to pay off the credit card that has the smallest balance first to get one out of the way. For example, if you have one credit card that has a $1000 balance and one that has a $200 balance, pay off that one first. If you don’t have the money to do that, consider getting a small personal loan to get it done. It’ll be easier to pay off the loan than it will to be late on the card and end up with late fees and interest that will have you owing a cool 1K before you know it.

Look at the Bill in Chunks

There is really no certain order that you should pay off your credit cards in, but it does help to pay off the smallest ones first and then look at the rest in chunks, not as one huge bill that needs to be paid. For example, if your credit card debt is totaling $10,000, you should look at it in manageable chunks of $2500 a piece. It will make it easier to deal with, when you aren’t looking at the debt as something that has to be paid off all at once.

Work on the Cards with the Highest Interest Rates

Once you have paid off the smallest cards and broken the others down into manageable chunks, start working on the cards with the highest interest rates, since those are the ones that are costing you the most money. You have to whittle down the principal owed on the card, so that the interest doesn’t eat you alive.

Consolidate Your Debt

One of the best ways to pay off your credit card debt quickly is by consolidating that debt. There are many places out there that are willing to help you do that. If you can put all of your credit card balances into one lump sum and make one low, monthly payment, you won’t be scrambling to figure out who to pay first and get behind on some.

Create a Budget

Another way to pay off your cards quickly is by dedicated so much of your monthly budget to paying each card. In this way, you’ll be whittling away at them a little at a time, but they will get paid.

These are just a few of the top tips out there for paying off your credit cards as quickly as possible. Remember, interest fees are killer, so work to pay the principal down as fast as you can.

How to Maintain a Good Credit Score

What causes bad credit? Late payments, charge-offs, defaulting on loans, foreclosure and bankruptcies are some of the things that can ruin your credit. An unpaid judgment can also cause your credit score to drop to the point where even an easy personal loan isn’t so easy to get. Dealing with bad credit can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are ways that you can keep your credit score high.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Check Your Credit Report

It is estimated that 20 percent of people have at least one error on their credit report. If you have a low score, then it may be due to errors on your credit score. That is why it is important to obtain a copy of your credit report. Keep in mind that you can get one free report each year. If you have errors, then you will need to report them to the credit bureaus as soon as possible.

Watch Your Credit Card Balances

A credit card can make or break your credit score. If you keep your credit card balances low, then you can increase your credit score. Paying on time can also boost your credit.

The optimal credit utilization percentage is 30 percent. This means that if your credit card limit is $1,500, then your balance should not be above $500. You can keep your balance low by making multiple payments throughout the months. If you are getting close to the 30 percent limit, then you can ask for a limit increase.

Leave Old Debt on Your Credit Report

Many people remove items that they have paid off from their credit report. However, it is a good idea for you to keep these items on your credit report. Keeping items that you have paid off on your report will help you add points to your credit score.

Pay Bills on Time

Your payment history is one of the main things that affect your credit score. In fact, it determines 35 percent of your credit score. That is why paying your bills on time is one of the best things that you can do for your credit score.

It is important to note that one missed payment can drop your credit score. If you have any missed payments, then you will need to pay them off as soon as possible. Ask your bill collectors to delete past-due accounts after you have paid them off.

Be Careful About Applying for New Credit

You can add points to your credit score by having multiple credit cards on your credit report. However, applying for too many credit cards at one time can cause your credit score can drop. Lenders may also consider this a risk. Many people apply for credit cards in order to supplement their income.

Bad credit is a problem that many people have due to things like late payments, past-due accounts, collection accounts and errors. However, there are ways that you can improve it. You will need to make sure that all credit errors are corrected. You will also need to keep your credit card balances low, pay bills on time and leave old debt on your credit report. Additionally, you will have to be careful about applying for new credit.

5 Keys to Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Successful Business

Starting a side hustle is the perfect way for people to pursue their passion while paying their bills. With hard work and dedication, entrepreneurs can start a business while using their regular income to support their efforts and keep the lights on.

For some, keeping a side hustle is a great way to supplement one’s income while working a full-time job. For others, the goal is to create a full-time endeavor. Here are five keys to turning your side hustle into a successful business.

Get the Right Tools in Place

When you’re building a side hustle, you have wiggle room to try new things, make mistakes, and determine what is going to work best in the long run. Get the right tools in place– particularly the costly ones– when you have another income to support the expense.

Assemble what you need to create professional-looking Self-Employed Invoices and social media graphics. Determine if you need to outsource and purchase a branding consultant and designer. Get those big bucket items handled before attempting to shift from a side hustle to a full-time gig, and you’ll take off some of the pressure to succeed in the early months of your transition.

Set Goals and Deadlines

If you want to successfully shift from the side hustle mentality to that of a full-time entrepreneur, it is critical that you set goals and deadlines for yourself. Remember the SMART goal-setting process: goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

If you decide that you want to make this shift, set a deadline for yourself. You are highly more likely to achieve your goals if you have a perceived deadline, even if you’ve assigned it to yourself. To ensure you meet the goals and deadlines, you must also create an action plan. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

Develop Your Time Management Skills

If you are handling both a full-time job and a side hustle, you already have some strong time management skills in your favor. That being said, as you transition into full-time business mode, you’ll need to become even more efficient. Work to develop your time management skills and determine how you will prioritize your tasks.

Many entrepreneurs opt to use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to determine which tasks should be conducted when. With this matrix, you divide tasks into four quadrants:

  1. High Urgency, High Importance – tasks you must do right away.
  2. Low Urgency, High Importance – tasks you should schedule for another time.
  3. High Urgency, Low Importance – tasks you should delegate.
  4. Low Urgency, Low Importance – tasks you shouldn’t bother with.

By breaking these tasks down as such, you ignore petty distractions and put your focus where it should be to reach your goals.

Network Like a Champ

If you haven’t already taken steps to cultivate connections both within your industry and in your community, now is the time to do so. Let people know about your business plans and create a network of people with whom you can consult and build referrals.

It’s worth noting that you may never work with the people you add to your network, but you never know when a potential client will come your way via one of your connections, and a part of building a successful business is having a strong client base.

Prioritize Self-Care

Entrepreneurs face a high potential for burnout and stress. Be sure to set aside time to take care of yourself and do the activities you love, apart from work. Set business hours for yourself, so that you are able to unplug and focus on the joys in life. Take care of your mind and your body so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Turning your side hustle into a successful business will be challenging, but well worth the effort if you go about it the right way. Use these five tips and success is sure to follow.