Running a business can add plenty of stress to your life

Opening a business has long been the goal of people that have an entrepreneurial spirit. Why? Running your own business can mean freedom. You won’t need to follow the orders of a boss. You’re able to build your business on your terms. However, running a small business is difficult and stressful. A recent story by Business Insider ponders if running a small tech or other business is just too stressful for some.

Ecomom

The Business Insider feature starts off with the story of Jody Sherman. He had built the online business Ecomom, which sold environmentally-friendly products for children. The business was running low on cash. Then Sherman shot himself. Shortly after the suicide, the business closed until a new owner brought it back in the summer. Business Insider asked the question: Did the stress of running a business lead to Sherman killing himself?

Pressure-packed

Is Sherman’s tale a warning for stressed-out business owners? The Business Insider story says that running a small business is one of the most stressful tasks people can undertake. And it’s hard to argue. The competition is overwhelming. Consumers still aren’t willing to spend lots of money. And even if small business owners do everything right, the chances are high that their businesses will still close within three years. That’s one stressful occupation.

Ups and downs

As the Business Insider story says, creating a small business is like riding a really violent roller coaster. Life becomes a series of high, highs — Our business is open! — and low, lows — We lost how many dollars last quarter? This kind of emotional up-and-down isn’t healthy. That’s why not everyone is cut out to be the owner of a small business. It takes a certain personality, confidence and a willingness to log long, long hours to be successful as a small business owner. The bottom line is, it’s a job for a risk-taker, not for the faint of heart.

Don’t get off track. Download these biz apps today

This isn’t an easy time to run a small business. Competition is always intense. The economy is still sluggish. And consumers are hesitant to spend their cash. To stay alive today, the owners of small businesses have to be organized. They must ensure that their companies are operating as effectively as possible. Fortunately, there are lots of apps for iPhone owners that really help business owners organize their days. The Web site Business News Daily recently had a review of some of the more powerful of these apps.

A new calendar

Yes, your iPhone already has a default calendar app. But it’s just not that impressive. The $1.99 Fantastical 2 calendar app, though, is. Business News Daily raves about a number of its features. But the most interesting? You can tell Fantastical 2 what you must do in a given day — for example, you can say “I’m meeting Sarah for dinner on January 21 at five p.m.” — and the app will instantly schedule that appointment for you. That’s a true time-saver.

A more powerful scheduler

The Schedule Planner app is free. That’s fantastic. It’s also easy to use, allowing you to quickly plan out your day. As Business News Daily reports, you can also color-code tasks depending on their category. For instance, you can color work activities blue and free-time activities red. The app will then create charts that show you exactly how you’re spending you’re time. Then you can make changes to become more efficient.

Any.do

Another free app, Any.do mixes a traditional to-do list and adds some functionality to help you check tasks off your daily to-do list. With this app, you can add tasks to four different categories: today, tomorrow, this week or someday. You eliminate tasks by crossing them out as you complete them. As Business News Daily writes, this app helps make planning your busy day, at least, an easy task.

Tech is eliminating jobs. Is it creating them, too?

Improving technology comes with advantages and drawbacks. On the positive side, it greatly improves our life. Just take a look at smartphones. We can now search for our favorite Mexican restaurant, watch movies and search the Internet all with our phones. So what’s the downside of technology? Often it means the loss of jobs. New tech made plenty of steady jobs obsolete. This two-edged sword was recently looked at in an intriguing new story by the Economist newspaper.

Job losses

We always wish that technology creates jobs. And sometimes it does. The Economist points out an historical example: Think back at the United States 100 years ago. In those days, about one out of three U.S. workers labored on a farm. Today? That’s not even close. In fact, not even 2 percent of U.S. workers labor on a farm today.

Production

But as a result of technology, farms in the United States are more productive than ever before, according to the Economist story. Farms today produce far more food than they did when so many more U.S. residents worked on them. At the same time, the laborers who left farm life found, as a result of technology, different jobs.

The problem

The problem now, as the Economist story explains, is that no one is sure if new technology will keep creating new jobs. We know already that new technology has made it simpler for companies to operate more efficiently. And we know that new technology in doing this has allowed many companies to reduce the number of workers they employ. What we do not know is if new technology will create the new jobs these displaced workers need. The Economist’s solution? Education must change, changing its focus to teaching the creativity and talents that workers need in today’s new economy. And, the Economist adds, it’s up to governments around the world to enact legislation that will make this switch in educational philosophy possible.

How small businesses can use tech for a more profitable year

You want your business to soar in 2014. To do so, you must make smart investments in technology. It’s not easy for small businesses to succeed in today’s cut-throat environment. Tech, though, can provide you with an advantage over other businesses. The right technology can make your employees more productive and efficient. SmallBusinessComputing.com recently took a look at 2014 and what the site thinks are the most important small business tech trends for the future. If you’re thinking about new technology investments in 2014 for your business, the website’s predictions can help you make the right decisions for your business.

Cloud computing

SmallBusinessComputing.com is predicting that 2014 is the year that more small business owners turn to the cloud to store their company’s data, programs and software. That makes financial sense: Why go to the expense of storing these files on hard drives on your company’s computers? Using the cloud, your business won’t need as much IT help. And you won’t need to take the time to store programs on each and every computer.

The power of big data

As SmallBusinessComputing.com writes, large companies have long relied on big data to better understand their consumers. Small businesses, though, can begin to use big data analysis, as well, according to SmallBusinessComputing.com. As the website says, a growing number of small business owners in 2014 will start analyzing large data sets to provide better service to their customers. If you’d like your business to thrive this year, you ought to do a better job of analyzing your customers’ spending habits.

The end of desktops?

Small business owners need to save as much money as they can. One way? It’s time to get rid of the desktop computer. Most employees these days can do their work on smaller mobile devices or laptops. There’s no reason, then, for small businesses to put a desktop computer on the desk of each and every employee. SmallBusinessComputing.com anticipates that more businesses will adopt this strategy in 2014.

Need a productivity boost? Try these business apps

Apps are downright fun. They can be used to play games such as Angry Birds, check the latest Hollywood gossip or find out which Mexican restaurant in your town is ranked the highest by local diners. But what about for your business? The good news is there are lots of apps which can help you grow your small business in 2014. And the Orlando Business Journal just recently ran a story highlighting some of the best.

Business on the go

Square Register is an incredibly useful app. It allows business owners to accept credit and debit cards by swiping a small square device that plugs into to your iPad or iPhone. As the Orlando Business Journal says, no small business that operates mobile locations — such as restaurants that run food trucks or retailers operating kiosks in busy malls — should be without this device.

The end of business cards?

The CamCard app lets business people scan business cards into their smartphones. The app then automatically places the business card into these owners’ phone contacts. It’s a pretty amazing way to eliminate the clutter of drawers full of business cards. This app isn’t free, but it’s only $2.99.

Keeping your employees on track

The Asana Mobile app is another one that no small business owner should be without. This app lets you post the schedule for yourself and your business. Your staffers — those you give permissions to, at least — can then open this schedule to see exactly what tasks need to be completed during the day. Employees can also select which tasks are assigned to specific staffers and which ones still need to be tackled. It’s a great way to keep your business organized and efficient.