entrepreneurship

I’ve talked about the shift in the American dream before, but it’s probably more true now than ever.

June 30th, 2012 marks exactly 12 months since I worked my last day in a cubicle in exchange for a paycheck and I’ve learned so much it’s hard to believe it’s the new “normal”.

It’s no longer having the house with a white picket fence, a Mercedes and 2.5 kids. In fact, today most people don’t have any desire to own a car at all.

Today, the dream is to own your own business and have the kind of personal liberty that almost nothing else can provide.

It’s not a cake walk, in fact you’ll never work harder than you will as an entrepreneur but it gives you the latitude to spend your time on work that you actually love.

“I want to be en entrepreneur for the personal satisfaction instead of just cashing the easy paycheck for “today” money.” [Click To Tweet]

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The Monopoly Guy There has been a lot of buzz recently about the sky rocketing cost of getting an education in the United States because, most recently, there is talk about the Government stepping in to do something about a proposed doubling of student interest rates.

It’s worth nothing that not too long ago, student debt exceeded credit card in the United States.

Read that sound bite again, I’ll wait.

Student Loan Debt > Credit Card Debt.

The Entrepreneurs Dilemma

If you knew me back as an 18 year old, back in 2006 you might have chuckled.

You see, I was running quite a profitable business drop-shipping 200-300 laptops per day on eBay and all was right with the world.

I was even having to hack the school filter to run my business (and then I sold access for others to get around the filter for a quick buck too since I had setup my own proxy server at home haha).

The point of telling you this was that, for an 18 year old I was making way too much money. It’s not to brag, but rather to give you context.

I was 18 and “crushing it”, but it had been beaten in to me that to be successful there was a way of going about things.

1. You went to College and got a respectable degree
2. Good jobs were supposed to be easy to come by, and you work your way up
3. It didn’t matter how much school costs, you were just supposed to do it

This couldn’t have been any more misleading. Did I have a great experience at school? ABSOLUTELY, there are definitely perks to doing it.

BUT, were those perks worth the current cost of entry? I’d say for at least 50% of people going to school it’s a horrible financial decision.

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One of the wonderful things about technology is that it makes it connects people across the globe with a seamless and constant connection. Here is a quick run down of the things that I absolutely have to use in order to get my job done when I am mobile.

The Device

A lot of people will argue about what hardware is the best to use when running a business on the go, and while I am sure my choice will polarize people just like every other post about iconic cell phones in the technology community, I simply cannot go through my day without this device:

iPhone 4

$199-299 w/2 year AT&T Contract

Hate or love Apple, you have to admit that they know how to create a reliable product with a slick and smooth user interface. I had the iPhone 3G before this device and while I liked it, it was just too slow and was missing a few key features that make the iPhone 4 a kick ass device for running a business on the go. The 4th iPhone is VERY fast, runs applications in the background, feels solid in the hand, has great battery life (for a smart phone), and has a gorgeous high resolution screen.

If you are lucky enough to live in one of AT&T’s more reliable coverage areas, this phone does the higher speed version of their 3G connection that in my experience.. has actually been exceptional (Pacific Northwest). This phone has a lot to do with my next recommendations, if you happen to prefer an Android based smartphone (for the software.. or to use Verizon) then you would have to find the equivalent application on that platform.

Messaging

The built in SMS app on the iPhone has great threading for each contact, and the new threading for e-mail conversation into a more usable (and search able) story line. For messaging across your instant messaging accounts and social media though here are my 3rd party recommendations:

Meebo

FREE

This is easily my most used app on my iPhone when I need to be available for my developers, editors, designers and more to get in touch with me. It connects the messengers across all of my accounts including Live!, AOL, GMail and Facebook. If you like to use Meebo.com in your browser (pro-tip for those of you who want to IM on a machine that can’t download new messengers.. like a friends or a work machine), then you are you going to love the Meebo App. This app is not only costs absolutely nothing but it syncs with the Meebo servers if you leave it logged in on your home machine.

Skype

App: Free Service ~$60/year

With the last update, iOS 4 and AT&T lifting some restrictions, Skype has become infinitely more useful when on the move. If the App is running in the background you can accept audio calls over 3G without the need for WiFi or even being directly in the App. It only uses your data, instead of your minutes and gives you a cost effective way to talk to anyone in the US or Canada without paying an arm and a leg. You can buy a Skype out number and unlimited talk to US and Canada for roughly $60/year which absolutely kicks ass.

Facebook & Twitter

Free

The two most popular social media services have their own free application available for the iPhone. While the Facebook App is a great way to control updates to your Fan Page, I don’t recommend trying to use the messenger.. go get Meebo instead for more reliable delivery and notification.

In regards to Twitter, I had been using Tweetie before it was acquired and is now the free and official Twitter application which does a pretty good job. However with the new launch of Seesmic Destktop 2 I am considering moving my day-to-day usage over to the free Seesmic app in order to sync which notifications I have already read on my mobile for when I am back on my laptop or desktop.

Productivity

Google Apps

Free to $50 per account/year

Do you remember when e-mail and productivity used to be expensive? Not with Google Apps, now you can use the same collaborative tools you love about GMail in your business for a branded e-mail, Google Docs, Instant Messaging and a boat load of other useful features. Google Apps runs the backbone of my business, my life and my way of making money. From calendaring, being able to share documents with developers to track progress, to the seamless integration of Google Apps into my iPhone, Mac Mail, Outlook or whatever platform I need, Google Apps JUST WORKS.

I hope these tools help you get your business running a little smoother while on the go. Do you have any suggestions of things you use and love that I haven’t listed? I’d love to hear what makes your business work while on the go!