The best way to get more done is to do the basics well. As an entrepreneur and budding micro-hustler, you will want to become a master at the tasks that you will do most frequently.
The following “money making skills and programs” are great because they are what I consider to be evergreen assets that will not lose their value anytime soon.
Even if you to not plan to be a master at the skills below, it is very important that you try them at least a few times on your own. This will help you when hiring freelancers if you decide to outsource and know what to reasonably expect from them.
I wasn’t real quick, and I wasn’t real strong. Some guys will just take off and it’s like, whoa. So I beat them with my mind and my fundamentals. -Larry Bird
1. Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel is used extensively by nearly every business in the US. It can make quick work of large sets of data and complex calculations all while providing a great interface for presenting data and reports. If you learn Excel on a professional level (requires at least a course or two and hundreds of hours of practice), you can do a lot of really creative things. I have made good money in the past by selling customized spreadsheets to companies. Easy money once you know what you are doing.
A free resource for learning Excel is excelcentral.com. I was blown away by how much free content is there. Also, check out my post about improving the look of your spreadsheets even with little experience.
2. Google Drive and/or Evernote
These cloud-based services allow you to store and organize large amounts of content, collaborate with others and create functional documents quickly.
All of my blog posts and eBooks are created in Drive or Evernote (and then Scrivener for Final work).
Both have their perks and similar functionality, but Google Drive is free, has more storage and more functionality (ability to create spreadsheets, docs, forms, etc), but EverNote is a staple in the entrepreneurial community for its aesthetic appeal and built-in search features.
You can get 100 gb of storage on Google drive for just a couple dollars each month.
3. Basic WordPress
All of my most profitable websites are based in WordPress. WordPress is incredibly functional and easily customized. The beauty is that most WordPress work can be done with any deep understand of coding.
I highly recommend you master WordPress before considering learning another coding language. Learning a different language first is like learning Mandarin Chinese when your English grammar is garbage.
For most entrepreneurial sites, it is very likely that what you want can be completed in WordPress.
Software or large database sites can not be done in WordPress.
Check out this site for a large list of helpful links and tutorials.
I have a confession to make…I use wpcurve for minor tweaks to my sites. I know how to do most of what they do, but it is a real time savor.
4. Proficient Writing
This is vague, but critical and there are many ways to improve this. Simple is better in business writing. You shouldn’t aim to be wordy. You should aim to have the words you do use to be understood. No one cares about your vocabulary, they care about whether or not you are getting to the point so they can get on with business.
Consider a recent Grammarly study of 100 LinkedIn profiles. In the same 10-year period, professionals who received one to four promotions made 45 percent more grammatical errors than did professionals who were promoted six to nine times.
TIP: Write a lot. Hire an editor and encourage them to be very critical of your writing. Install the plug-in Grammarly. Run your writing through programs like Hemingway app for simplification
5. FreshBooks or Accounting Software
Like it or not, creating invoices and managing cash flow is an inevitability of being an entrepreneur. You might as well become a master of these because you will be using them constantly. I highly recommend FreshBooks for this and Quickbooks for accounting. Over time, you will master these just due to the frequency you will be using them
6. Gathering Data with Forms and Surveys
I use a tool called Typeforms that allows me to collect data quickly and easily. I can run surveys, gather emails, collect file submissions and receive payments. Most of my businesses start with some sort of survey. I am able to get a feel of the pulse of the niche and find out what people want.
7. Screen Capture and Image Annotation and Editing
Even if you are not planning on creating video content, knowing how to create annotated videos and images makes outsourcing much easier.
I recommend Camtasia 2 by TechSmith if you’re all in and ready to go premium (it is what I use for all of my YouTube videos and tutorials.) For screenshots and annotations, I recommend a tool called Snagit (made by TechSmith as well).
8. Webinar and Meeting Software
I use Skype and/or Zoom. Both have free versions and allow screen sharing. If you are running a virtual team, you will want to meet with them periodically. I also find it easier to make sales and confirm project details when I meet with my clients via an online video chat session.
Update: For commercial webinars, I now use Webinar Jam exclusively.
9. Speed Reading
You need to read to learn.
You need to learn to be an entrepreneur.
The time it takes you to learn how to speed read will pay itself off thousands of times over during the course of your lifetime. According to Tom Corley of RichHabits.com, 88% of the wealthy read at least 30 minutes each day compared to 2% of the poor.
For speed reading programs, check out 7 Speed Reading. It is the most comprehensive program out there for learning speed reading and learning it fast.
10. Touch Typing
Business users send and receive on average 121 emails a day in 2014, and this is expected to grow to 140 emails a day by 2018.
Calculate how many emails you send each day and tell me that you couldn’t benefit from learning how to type more quickly. I recommend keybr.com.
Note: A typing speed over 40 WPM (with no errors) is considered above average and a speed of over 100 WPM is considered incredibly fast. Test your typing speed here.
11. A Second Language
The benefit here is that you can take a successful business idea from the United States (or whatever your native country is) and emulate it in another market, in their language. If you decide to go this route, I recommend a tool like DuoLingo or something that allows you to communicate with other native speakers of the language.
12. Social Media Marketing
This was a late addition to this article and frankly, that embarrasses me.
How to Learn These Skills
1. The tutorials and getting started videos within the tools
This sounds too easy…this is honestly the best way I have found to learn how to use programs and services. Some of these are better than others.
2. Ask the right questions
If you are stumped on something, try it yourself and then find a professional who can show you and explain it (if possible).
3. Online courses
You can find quality courses both paid and free all over the internet. For a list, check out this article by Lifehack.org. My online learning program of choice is Udemy. They have courses on nearly any subject and often have fantastic discounts.
Don’t underestimate the power of YouTube! It is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google. Oh, while you’re on YouTube, remember to sign up for the Entreresource channel.