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Finnegan Pierson - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 8

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Improve Your Resume And Get Noticed in The Business World

It can be difficult to get noticed in a large stack of resumes and cover letters in today’s employment sphere. Despite having many necessary qualifications, it can still feel challenging to stand out in a crowded landscape. However, making modifications and improvements on resumes can often be a great first step in getting additional attention in the job search process, so consider the following tips.

Tailor Your Resume

Applying to jobs can often feel like a fulltime job in and of itself and this process can feel time-consuming, however, even when you are applying to multiple jobs with the same field or same title, it is important to customize your resume to best suit that particular job listing. While many jobs within one field may have a similar focus or the same qualifications, each company may vary in their language and priorities. It can be useful to look at the responsibilities in the listing and adjust your skills, experience and objective to reflect the company’s keywords.

Every Word Count

Recruiters and hiring managers can often be inundated with an endless pile of materials from applicants for job postings, so it is useful to make sure that every word in your resume counts. Resumes that are filled with fluffy, nondescript words can easily get lost in a large applicant pool, so assess the language you are currently using. Instead of using passive language like “responsible for” consider “managed” or “supervised.” Commanding action words will punch up your resume, giving it a bit more pizazz. Additionally, it can be helpful to paint a picture with your resume, so add numbers and performance metrics to your resume, including some figures and quantifiable accomplishments to help the reader form a clear picture of what you have to offer.

Paint a Picture

The reader of your resume will often not be interacting with you at the beginning, but rather assessing your fit for a job based upon the words you have provided on your resume. It can be beneficial to provide them with a compelling story of why you are the best candidate for the position. As you are writing your resume, consider how your experience, both professional and education fit into the role you are applying to. Consider your job search and resume as the sales presentation of your life for this job, so it can be helpful to assess how you can paint that picture for the reader to allow them to see how you interpreted the job description and its alignment with your goals, future and skills.

Formatting Matters

The formatting of your resume can be an incredibly influential element of any resume and application. The level of formality, font, color use and design should be reflective of the industry where you are applying. It is important to understand what the culture and expectation are during any application process, as design-based industries will vary significantly from financial services firms. A resume with formatting that does not align with the company sends the message that the applicant does not have a clear understanding of the culture and industry. This is why it is important to conduct your research before applying, knowing your industry can be crucial.

Proofreading

Proofreading cannot be emphasized too much when it comes to job applications. This is one time that your product needs to be perfection, or as close to it as possible. Typos and errors can send the signal to your potential employer that you were not willing to put the work in during the application process. If proofreading is not your strong suit, consider asking someone you trust to look it over, as a second set of eyes can always help. Keep in mind that they may have feedback, so this is an important time to be open to their constructive criticism and not take it personally, as they are just trying to help you best showcase your talents.

Applying to new jobs can feel tedious, but there are strategies to help you survive the process. By avoiding mishaps and making some minor improvements, you will be likely to stand out vibrantly in a crowded landscape.

Publish Date: January 28, 2020 8:23 PM


Four Tips for Creating a Fun Workplace Environment

When you manage a business, you believe in it wholeheartedly and want people to believe in it with you. It's important to remember that you need to make your business an enjoyable place to work for all. You want your business to be a place where people come not only because they want to get a paycheck, but also because they genuinely enjoy themselves. Having employees who have fun and enjoy their work will improve your culture and create positive results in terms of efficiency and profitability for your company. Here are four great ways for creating a more enjoyable workplace environment.

 

Assess Your Dress Code

It's important to make sure employees dress to a standard of professionalism, but it's also okay to let them have a little fun. Allowing jeans in a professional context, as well as bright patterns, interesting ties and even novelty socks can be a way to spruce up the office without losing professional decorum and behavior.

Employees will have fun dressing with personality and feel as if they have some ownership of the decisions the company makes if you allow them to dress creatively and with a sense of fun. They will also look forward to coming to work and showing their coworkers their fancy new outfits. Giving employees the freedom to dress fashionably and enjoyably will make them enjoy working for you more as a result.

 

Provide Recreation

Your workplace is a place where people get things done, but too much work at once is a recipe for burnout. Your employees need an opportunity to relax and blow off some steam, even for just a few minutes.

Provide recreation opportunities in your employee break room and other locations for a more enjoyable, stress-free workplace. You can provide television or game consoles, free snacks or even pinball machines. It's important to regulate your employees so they don't spend all day away from work, but it's also good to make it clear that you want your employees to enjoy themselves at work. They will appreciate the effort you've put into letting them relax and reward you with increased productivity.

 

Get Together

For a truly cohesive workplace, you want a team that functions like a family. Your employees should be connected and comfortable with one another. It's important to make coming to work feel a little like being with friends. Encouraging your employees to go out and enjoy each other's company can be important.

Consider organizing a monthly trip to a local bar or another spot where employees can have fun and talk after work. For holidays or big events, you can even throw a dinner party or other large get-together. Putting your employees in positive social situations together will strengthen their bond and allow them to feel more comfortable around each other.

 

Decorate

If you want your office to be a place people enjoy working, it has to be visually exciting. The old office plant won't do it anymore. Bring in some local artists to provide art for the walls, or even commission a sculpture for a high-traffic area. Update the lighting and consider some clever architectural accents like a reclaimed wood wall.

Encourage your employees to decorate too, and let them make their space their own. Giving your workers the freedom to decorate will increase the chances that they see their workplace as a home away from home and will make them more comfortable with coming in and getting work done. Give employees ownership of their space to encourage them to be invested in the place where they work.

You can't get good results from your employees if you're not willing to work for them too. Make your workplace a space everyone can come together and enjoy, and your employees will respond with increased productivity and efficiency. You want to make your employees feel at home: help foster an enjoyable family atmosphere in order to guarantee the best possible workforce. 

 

Publish Date: January 27, 2020 7:38 PM


How Hiring The Right Employee Benefits Your Business

Hiring the right employees for your business is one of the most crucial components for a business to achieve its objectives. For small business ventures, employees can make or break the company. Many people may look good on paper but may not be familiar with hands-on work in the office. Every entrepreneur should know how to find, nurture, and, most importantly, retain good employees. As a business owner, you should consider researching or consulting professionals for advisory expertise on how to get the right people. These are the main factors why it's crucial to hire the right employees for your business.

 

They carry the image of the business

One of the essential factors that make a small business grow to become successful entities is its reputation. Excellent customer service should be associated with the name of your business. An entrepreneur may invest in branding and in implementing useful marketing strategies but fail in getting the right employees who uphold professionalism and courtesy when interacting with clients. People whose businesses have a good reputation may not need to invest in marketing. The right employees support a business' reputation. This facilitates word of mouth marketing, where customers vouch for the business to other people. Employees who work for famous, established brands always want to be associated with the company.

 

They shape the future of the business

Entrepreneurs should hire talent that helps the business implement its strategic plan. Companies use time and resources in training their employees, hoping that they will grow with the company in the long term. For this reason, getting the right employees will determine where the business will be in the coming years. Employers must know how each employee will grow in their capacities and how their efforts will shape the direction of the company into achieving its objectives.

 

Maximum productivity

Time is valuable in every business. Hiring the right employees ensures your business gets a return on capital invested in the shortest time possible. They understand how to make use of their time by focusing on the tasks assigned to them. It saves the business the 'headache' of having to repeat the same work over and over.

The right employees also possess the essential skills to coordinate and interact with both customers and their colleagues. Teamwork promotes an atmosphere of loyalty and friendship. When employees assist each other, they get motivated, knowing someone has got their back. This culture facilitates maximum productivity.

 

Adaptability to change

Flexibility and adaptability of employees are vital to the success of a business. The right employee easily adapts new strategies and is flexible in any direction the firm might decide to take. These employees master essential skills and develop unique solutions faster, even in areas where they have not worked before. Small businesses need innovative employees that can make them survive unforeseen problems like economic trends, stiff competition, political instability, among others. Every business grows with time, and employees may get new roles. Entrepreneurs should focus on hiring employees that have the potential to compete and expand with the business.

 

They cut unnecessary expenses

Many companies are always advertising vacant positions. It is not because the companies are big or successful and need new employees. It may be caused by failure to get the right human resource to keep for the long term. The hiring process leads to wastage of resources used in training, wastage of time, and revealing information that could be used against the business by competitors. Getting the right employees cuts hiring costs giving the business ample time to focus on its goals.

 

Hiring the right person is difficult, more so because people lie to enhance their chances of getting the job. Entrepreneurs, especially in startups, must sacrifice their time to interview employees that will get the job done. Employee performance impacts the operational and strategic plan of the business. Therefore, business owners should take time to develop objective and consistent methods of evaluating employee performance. By doing so, they can determine potential managerial gaps and employee weaknesses.

Publish Date: January 25, 2020 2:35 AM


How to Make an Advertising Plan for Your Business

To attract new customers, a business needs to have an advertising plan. Traditionally, advertising might have included a combination of print and broadcast ads in one of the few media outlets available. In today’s varied media landscape, things are more complicated. There are seemingly endless outlets and methods for promoting a business. So how do you tell which ones are right for you? Here are some advertising ideas to consider to market your brand.

First, Think About Audience

Before you start designing ads and writing copy, it’s important to define the audience for your business. Think about your existing customers and who you would like to attract to the brand. Are you aiming for younger consumers with an active lifestyle? Empty nesters whose kids are out of the house? Make a list of characteristics for your primary audience and one or two secondary audiences. Include demographic traits like age and gender, as well as behavioral traits like location, shopping tendencies and lifestyle choices. Whether you’re marketing clothing, source code review or another item, knowing specifically who you’re talking to will help you determine where to advertise.

Next, Know Your Goals

With your target audience in mind, it’s time to set goals for your company. What do you hope to achieve with advertising? It could be that you want to increase brand awareness among a specific group of potential customers, introduce a new product or promote a sale event. Knowing what you hope to accomplish with an ad will help you decide what content to include and where to place it. An advertisement promoting a limited time sale will do better in a daily publication, broadcast promotion or targeted social media ad. An evergreen piece highlighting your brand’s benefits might work well in a monthly magazine or as a digital banner ad. Set your goals, make a note of which audience you want to reach and start thinking about advertising options from there.

Print Advertising

One of the traditional forms of advertising, print ads have waned in recent years with the rise of online options. According to the marketing service Hubspot, the first newspaper ad appeared in 1650. That’s a long history for a media form. Today, print ads can still be useful for reaching specific target audiences, particularly in older age groups. A lifestyle brand or destination resort might find success in placing an eye-catching ad in a monthly, glossy magazine that’s geared toward affluent consumers interested in travel and entertainment. Chron.com notes that print pieces like targeted publications and direct mail can be especially effective with older audiences.

Social Media Advertising

Paid advertising is available and endlessly customizable on social media platforms, with Facebook being the largest ad provider. Through social media ads, companies can speak directly to their audience and promote the type of content potential customers are already accustomed to seeing in their feeds. Brands can create engaging photo and video ads that draw viewers in while they scan their networks. Targeting is the biggest advantage in social advertising, with platforms offering the ability to zero in on an audience by their interests, connections, location, buying history and demographic traits. Companies can also tap into their existing customer lists by adding databases as a custom audience on Facebook or Instagram. Testing and learning are key to success with paid social ads. Look for ads that perform well with your target audience and allocate spending accordingly. Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and YouTube also offer advertising options.

Digital Display Advertising

Through digital advertising networks like Google, companies can place digital banner and sidebar ads on a wide variety of websites. These visual ads can appear on sites based on interest targeting, demographics and location, meaning your ad can be placed in front of the people most likely to engage with it. When designing digital display ads, be sure to keep text to a minimum, with only the most important information featured to draw customers into your ad and on to your website.

Publish Date: January 24, 2020 9:20 PM


Creating a 2020 Tax Plan for Your SEO Company

What will your business’s tax obligation look like in 2020? Depending on your business entity type, there may be new tax implications for you this year. You may want to consider changing to a different structure to ensure that you pay only what taxes you need to. The following is some guidance that will help you decide on your plan for 2020 taxation.

Avoid Double Taxation

This tax tip is nothing new. C corporations pay their own taxes as do their owners. For smaller businesses, this can be crippling. If you are incorporated, you should seriously consider switching to a different entity type. Fortunately, the process for setting up an S corp or an LLC is very easy, especially with expert help.

Both these structures are pass-through organizations. That means that the owners pay tax on their own tax filings rather than the corporation paying them. In short, that means that the profits won’t be taxed twice.

Take Advantage of the Pass-Through Deduction

The 2017 tax cuts introduced a new deduction for pass-through organizations. This new rule applies to all pass-through entities. The most common type of pass-through organization is an LLC. However, you must make sure that you are electing to be taxed as a pass-through entity.

Other popular options include partnerships, proprietorships and S corporations. If you want to switch to a pass-through entity, a sole proprietorship is very easy to form. However, it does have some added liability. Nonetheless, the benefits of the deduction outweigh the cost of a good business liability policy.

An S corporation is a very good option for small businesses but does have some restrictions including the owners being employees. If you aren’t paying yourself a regular W2 salary, it may not be the right choice.

Consider Making Purchases at the End of the Year

When it comes to the end of the tax year, consider making any major purchases you may have been thinking about. This can help you cut down your profits significantly while acquiring assets. Obviously, don’t do this if you need the money for other purposes or if you don’t need the capital assets.

You will only pay taxes on your profits. When you eventually sell assets, there may be capital gains that will be taxed. However, many assets depreciate. This could significantly reduce your tax liabilities in the long term. So, if you have cash that will be taxed at the end of the year, consider investing some of it into assets that could help your business grow the following year.

Similarly, you can accelerate other expenses such as payroll. Before the end of the year, make your outbound payments rather than waiting for January. Depending on how your process those expenses, you may be able to reduce your on-paper profits without causing any disruptions or confusion.

Make Sure You Know What You Owe

Taxes can get complicated for businesses, especially if you sell in multiple states. Make sure you fully understand what you will owe. Many small businesses may owe sales taxes, excise taxes and employment taxes. These may be levied by multiple jurisdiction including federal, state and local. The state and local taxes get especially complex.

While individuals can often get away with preparing their own taxes, a business needs professional help. Even if you don’t hire an in-house tax accountant, work with an outside professional service. You will be glad for the assistance when you are making sure you’ve paid all your 2020 taxes. Additionally, many services can help you save on your tax bill, easily outweighing the cost of hiring them.

Learn more about business taxes and how you can set yourself up for success in 2020. SEO companies can range from sole proprietorships to corporations with multiple owners and many employees. Understanding how your specific situation affects your tax situation is important. It is also important to learn more about how you can potentially save on your tax bill this year.

Publish Date: January 24, 2020 5:10 PM


How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Millions of American consumers fall victim to identity theft on an annual basis, yet only a small fraction take measures to protect themselves from it. According to Experian, only 13% of consumers use a paid product to monitor their credit and finances, and 18% use a paid monitoring product. A whopping 81% rely on their banks, credit unions and lenders to monitor activity for them.

 

If you are part of the majority, it’s only a matter of time before your personal information — which includes your birthdate, social security number, driver’s license number and address — is misappropriate by a thief. From there, the perpetrator has access to your most private and valuable information, which it could use to cause you personal, professional or financial harm. If you want to safeguard your identity, as you should, take the following measures today.

 

Know the Signs of Identity Theft

 

First and foremost, it’s important that you know how to identify identity theft. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they’ve become a victim until their bank accounts are emptied, a police officer shows up at their doors with an arrest warrant or their tax return is rejected. You can avoid being blindsided by knowing what signs to look for:

 

  •     Bills no longer coming in the mail
  •     A rejection notice for a loan or credit card, despite an outstanding credit history
  •     Bills for purchases you did not make
  •     Financial accounts with seemingly fraudulent transactions
  •     “Test” charges on your credit card statement (small purchases to see if a card is still active)

 

Safeguard Your Social Security Number

 

Knowing the signs is important if you suspect that you’ve already fallen victim to identity theft. However, you can take proactive measures to ensure it never gets to that point, the first of which is to safeguard your Social Security number. Never carry your Social Security card with you. Secure or shred any paperwork with your number on it. If someone or some entity asks for your number, ask why it is needed and make sure the recipient plans to safeguard it.

 

Strengthen Your Passwords

 

Make sure that every digital device you own is password protected. Most people don’t realize how much personal information their devices contain and often leave them unsecured. When it comes to selecting passwords, try to mix them up. Use a different password for every device, bank account, social media account, email account, etc. Never use obvious information for your passwords, either. “Obvious” includes your kids’ birthdays, your address, your own birthday and your name.

 

Stop Clicking

 

One of the worst things you can do is to click on a link from an unknown sender or that originates in a popup ad. Identity thieves routinely use emails, text messages and websites to steal information regarding individuals’ bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage lenders and finances. If a link looks suspicious in any way, or if you don’t recognize the name of the sender, do not click it. You should also never type your username or password information into an unfamiliar login screen.

 

Use TLS

 

What is TLS? TLS stands for Transport Layer Security and is a method by which networks keep internet connections secure. TLS is a cryptographic protocol that provides robust authentication, privacy and data integrity across computer networks. It is used in everything from email to instant messaging to data browsing and is more effective than SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer. TLS was designed to address and overcome SSL vulnerabilities and support stronger and more secure algorithms.

 

Monitor Your Credit Report and Financial Statements

 

Finally, stay vigilant. Don’t count on your banking institution or credit union to search for, identify and inform you of discrepancies in your reports. It is ultimately up to you to spot suspicious activity and bring attention to it.

 

The best way to protect yourself against identity theft is to take control of your information and take proactive measures to safeguard it. Use the above tips to do just that today.

Publish Date: January 24, 2020 12:31 AM


Four Tips for Starting Your Ecommerce Business

The internet has made it easier than ever to start a business. Gone are the days where you need a building, a warehouse or even other employees! Nowadays, almost anyone can start a business by themselves from the comfort of their home and reap the benefits of being their own boss.

When starting an ecommerce business, it's important to still do the research and put in the time to prepare before launching. Figure out what you need to do and how to do it, and you'll be set up for success in no time. Here are some tips for starting your ecommerce business off on the right foot.

Make a Plan

Before creating your website, doing any design or even advertising, it's important to research and plan. All potential ecommerce business people should know how to build a business plan. This plan isn't just about the practical logistics of what to sell and how much to sell it for. Your business plan will also tell you what story you want to tell to customers and how you want the culture of your business plan to look.

Once you create your business plan, it's the bedrock of your organization. Make sure to stick to it and not go off-script too much: if you need, you can always revise the plan, but a business operating with some kind of plan will always work better than if you just decide to wing it and see what happens.

Evaluate the Market

The internet is hardly new, and the reality of starting an online business in today's day and age is that someone else will already be doing what you plan to do. The question is, how will you do it different? Better? More ethically? 

To figure out what will set you apart from your competitors, you first have to research your competitors. Who are they? What is their brand message? What do they sell, and for how much? Once you've determined who you're up against, you can determine how you will set yourself apart from the competition. 

Learn the Law

Online commerce is governed by a wide range of regulations, laws and codes, just like brick-and-mortar business. The key to success in the online world is to know the ins and outs of the law. You want to make sure your business is run properly and doesn't run afoul of any regulatory boards or government agencies that might get in the way. Find out how to properly comply, and you'll be sailing smoothly.

One great way to make sure you've covered all of your bases is to retain a legal counsel or other regulatory expert. If you have a friend or family member willing to work pro bono or for relatively little, you can get access to an expert who will tell you which pitfalls you must avoid. Retaining the services of a qualified expert can help you avoid a legal or financial headache in the long run.

Measure Your Success

You've got an online business set to launch with a good plan and a solid niche. You're even compliant with all the laws. When people start buying your product, how will you know if you're a success? What are your next steps?

Good businesses identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that demonstrate what's going well and what isn't. Use measures like sales figures and online engagement to determine if you're a success or if you're struggling, and make changes as needed. KPIs are useful in setting a baseline so you can continually improve your ecommerce business.

Thanks to the internet, starting a business is now easier than ever, but it's important to still know what to do to be successful. With the right combination of research, know-how and measurement, you can create a successful ecommerce business that allows you to be your own boss, set your own rules, and live your own life the way you want to live it.

Publish Date: January 23, 2020 11:55 PM


How to Successfully Market an Instagram-based Business

In the world of social media, Instagram dominates growth and follower engagement. Recent statistics show that the platform has around a billion monthly active users. Your business may have a high-quality product or service, a well-optimized website ... and far fewer customers than you'd like. A well-run social media campaign is often the missing link, and Instagram is one of the best places to find passionate customers who fit a younger demographic — a group that values innovation and authenticity. Maybe you're intending to make Instagram the focus of your marketing efforts? Great! Here are some steps to get you started. 

Gather Your Assets

Professional-quality photos of you and your staff (as well as your business/product), appropriate stock photos, and easy-to-use graphics tools are all important to have on hand before you start promoting your business on Instagram. It's not too early to start identifying your unique aesthetic — carefully drawn from your website, existing graphics, and the business itself. A consistent "look" with high-quality photography will immediately differentiate your business from the competition. It's a good idea to gather your personal resources for the long game, too — sources such as Le-Vel Thrive Reviews can be helpful supports for your energy and vitality. 

Plan Your Strategy

Planning an effective strategy will make a significant difference in the success of your Instagram-based business. It's essential to do your homework first! Research your competitors, potential allies, and preferred customers. Get to know their strategies, communication styles, and needs. You'll likely discover a common theme that you won't necessarily copy, but will find inspirational. Once you've taken thorough notes, begin to create a series of varied posts around consistent themes. Providing the right content mix is especially important; sites like Social Media Examiner can offer practical tips on the topic. 

Invest in Some Apps

So many apps, so little time! Most Instagram-based businesses utilize a few carefully-curated apps that actually save time in the long run. A few helpful ones include Linktree, which makes the "link in profile" work double-time for you, a followers app that tracks follows/unfollows, a graphics app that corresponds with your main software/online service, and a photo editing app that gives your account a consistent look and feel. 

Provide Value

Providing value to your Instagram followers is vital. While connection and promotion are important parts of an Instagram strategy, providing value is often overlooked, and may make the difference between growth and stagnation. Entertainment, education, and information are three aspects of providing value, and the exact mix and tone will vary according to the DNA of your business. Innovative use of Instagram Stories and Instagram TV are a great way to add value — and have a lot of fun, too! Instagram is increasingly becoming a more full-featured app as years go by. Leveraging all of its components improves the experience while adding value for both you and your followers.  

Remember Hashtags

Here's another area where doing your homework pays off. Researching the hashtags used by competitors and potential customers (and writing them down!) will enhance the reach of your posts. Take a look at how successful Instagrammers format their hashtags. Apps can be helpful here, too. In the past few years, the quality of hashtag-generating apps has increased — try one or a couple to see if they're worth your time. 

Integrate, Integrate! 

Even if you're planning to focus most of your marketing efforts on Instagram, it's crucial to connect the account to your website. Showing the actual feed is preferable (the footer is a great place to put it) — you'll quickly be able to tell if it's visually well-integrated. It's also a seamless way to attract visitors to your account. If showing the Instagram feed is not possible, a prominent icon link will direct visitors to your preferred destination. 

Successfully marketing an Instagram-based business takes planning, discernment, and perseverance. Following these intentional steps can help lessen feelings of overwhelm and improve your business's chances for success.

Publish Date: January 23, 2020 9:24 PM


Three Things to Keep In Mind As You Start Your Business

All major companies start somewhere. Whether yours is a scribble on a napkin or is already in production, all new businesses have something in common: They're so very green. If running a business is a brand new concept and you haven't the foggiest idea what to do once you've got your small business license, keep a few pointers in mind.

1. Employees Are Expensive

For all those times at your past jobs that you grumbled about not getting paid enough, donuts to ten you didn't have a clue what was happening behind the scenes. Now that you can appreciate how much everything costs from this side of the spectrum, you also realize just how much it costs to hire employees. It's not only their salaries that you should consider, but also things like:

  • Benefits, if you decide to offer any kind of package to your staff
  • An upgraded insurance policy on your company itself
  • Sick, vacation and personal days

Lucky for you there are tools that can help. Have you ever checked out an online employee cost calculator? These handy little widgets can break down line-by-line what you're looking at before hiring someone new.

2. Have a Plan

You've heard the words "business plan" floating around, but how much stock have you put into yours? Don't be fooled into thinking that you can simply "wing it" when you're starting a company. Seriously, it's worth sitting down and drafting a business plan, even if it's not super formal or fleshed out yet. At least thinking about the direction you want to go and putting it on paper is one step above deciding to fly by the seat of your pants. Include things on your business plan like:

  • Your goals. Where do you want your company to be in a year? In five years?
  • How will you achieve those goals? What can you do to make your dreams a reality?
  • What resources do you have available? For example, do you know local vendors who can help you get a deal on wholesale materials? 

Remember also that in the beginning stages your ideas will change a lot. As you come up with new ideas and innovations, step back and modify your business plan. Work your new ideas in and ask yourself the exact same questions, focusing specifically on how to make your ideas reality. A dream is only a dream until you take steps to make it happen.

3. Don't Let Fear Hold You Back

Author Erin Hanson put it best:

"What if I fall?"

"Oh but my darling,

What if you fly?”

Do you think that Arianna Huffington knew what a success that her website Huff Post would become what she started typing away at her laptop? Or that Steve Jobs would foresee how incredibly successful his brand would become as he wrote code? Innovators are a different species. They are the ones that dive into the great unknown with both feet and take a chance.

Could you fail? Absolutely. You could sink precious time and money into your endeavor and find out that it doesn't work out after all. But should you let the fear of failure dictate whether or not you make it happen? Absolutely not. If there weren't people like you willing to take a chance and make the world a little better with your awesome idea, then nothing new would ever happen. We would not have groundbreaking technologies, gadgets to simplify life or new trends to look forward to. Yes, you could fail. But you know what? You could also succeed beyond your wildest dreams. It's worth taking the risk and seeing what happens.

Let your dream come true as you navigate through the world of entrepreneurship. You have an amazing new concept that could change the world. Introduce it and roll the dice. You might be afraid and that's okay, but understand what you should expect as you start your new business.

 

Publish Date: January 23, 2020 5:35 PM


What is Crypto Tax?

If ever in your life, you have experienced trading cryptocurrencies, you usually need to include them on your annual tax forms. This is legally required whether you made money or not so be sure to make this happen. If you need professional assistance, there are downloadable tax programs out there that were built to help you with this matter. If that does not help you may need to locate a tax expert that is proficient in the laws of cryptocurrencies and how to file them on your yearly taxes.

Reporting your Tax Info

Each year you are required to report all gains and losses of every one of your cryptocurrency transactions. The IRS holds you responsible for sharing all of this information with them when you file your taxes. It is no one else's responsibility but your own. There are also websites and programs that are available to you in which they list the transaction histories for every customer. However, you will need to meet certain thresholds in order to receive an IRS tax Form 1099-K. Please keep in mind that cryptocurrencies are handled differently depending on what country you reside in and what country you trade in. It is best to contact your local country tax advisor in order to discover exactly what your crypto tax reporting obligations are according to your residential location.

Variety of Bitcoins

For tax purposes, Cryptocurrencies are treated the same as Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin and more. None of these are treated as real currencies. Cryptocurrencies must be treated like owning a form of property rather than money. They will be listed with real estate, gold and stock market funds. If you do not report your cryptocurrencies gains and losses, you will be committing tax fraud. This is why it is the best idea to consult a professional or a computer program for the reporting.

The IRS identifies cryptocurrencies as property so it is taxed as if it is real estate, collectable coins, vintage cars, etc. All of these items have the potential to appreciate in value so they will be handled as such according to the IRS.

Taxable Events

Some of the taxable events as far as cryptocurrencies go are anything that triggers a tax reporting liability. Any taxable event can be a loss of cryptocurrencies, a gain of cryptocurrencies or a steady flow of just the same with no real gain or loss to report. If you trade them, you report it. If you use them to trade for goods or services, you need to report it. If you earn cryptocurrencies, you have to report it.

Sometimes with cryptocurrencies, it is not a tax reportable liability. These events can include but are not limited to, giving cryptocurrencies as a gift, transferring them between wallets without gaining or losing any amount, and buying cryptocurrencies is also not a taxable event.

The Basic Steps

Some important steps to follow when dealing with cryptocurrencies and taxes are: determine if you owe taxes on your cryptocurrencies at all, know what airdrops and tax implications are, know what is and what is not taxable, learn about charitable contributions, gifts and tax implications, learn about Coinbase customers and how to calculate gains and loses.

Conclusion

Working with cryptocurrencies is a tricky situation. You need to do all of your research and make sure that you have all of the information before you do your taxes for that year. As mentioned above, it is best to set up a meeting to speak with a professional tax preparer, accountant or lawyer who has plenty of experience on dealing with cryptocurrencies. It is also important to not just brush them off and assume that they do not need to be reported on your annual taxes. The little bit of work that it saves you now is not worth it in the end. Especially if you leave them off and you are accused of tax fraud by the IRS. Most importantly, do your research and consult a professional.

Publish Date: January 23, 2020 5:21 PM


How to Improve the Customer Experience

The digital age has totally changed the way businesses go about interacting with consumers. In the past, the main opportunity a business had to impress a customer was when he or she was physically present in a store. Now, a majority of transactions occur on the internet. This means it is more likely the average consumer will interact with your company through a handful of clicks while browsing your site. The trick nowadays is understanding how to improve the customer experience and make the brief encounters online both pleasant and memorable.

Creating the right impression with your customers does not need to be a complicated process. In fact, there are a number of simple tactics you can take advantage of to see a difference. Take a moment to review these suggestions and discover a path that will help you reach your professional goals in no time.  

Avoidance Is a Huge Issue

The first point to remember is that you can’t avoid customers and what they have to say. In the past, there were a million excuses that businesses could use to put off engaging with customer feedback. Now, consumers expect prompt replies when they send messages. If a customer’s order is delayed by even a day and there is no notification, the customer is likely to reach out to find support. Should support not provide the assistance the customer requires, you can bet that this person will take to social media to rip the credibility of your establishment apart.

When you avoid customer complaints or concerns, it immediately has a negative impact on your business. To create a better experience for consumers, you absolutely need to dedicate time to developing exceptional customer support processes. While you definitely don’t need to provide assistance 24/7 if you don’t have the resources, you should clearly state on your website the hours you will reply and what methods a customer should use in order to best contact support. When you excel in this area, it can make all the difference to the user experience.

Use Analytics

While the digital age might put a lot of pressure on businesses to perform well, it has also led to the development of a number of invaluable tools that companies can take advantage of. Data is one of your biggest assets when it comes to the future of your business. Of course, you need to know how to extract, read, and analyze the information that is being presented to you. Analytics can help you take data related to the customer experience and translate it into a strategy for making improvements that will creating lasting results.

It can also be wise to invest in a program or service aimed at helping you use analytics to your advantage. A comprehensive customer experience strategy begins with selecting a program that can help keep you organized throughout the process. Give yourself the opportunity to review the various applications available to you and research the latest features available. New technologies like augmented intelligence can make a world of difference when it comes to providing you with data-driven analytics. Once you have software you can feel confident in, the rest of your process will begin to fall into place.

Keep Records

Another way to make sure your customers are always getting the best possible experience when interacting with your company is by keeping detailed records. If a customer contacts your support department for help with a particular issue, have the employee handling the interaction create a file with information related to the call. Should the problem persist or repeat, the customer will not need to repeat the same information again to the next representative. This makes customers feel heard and aids employees with providing fantastic service. 

Business has changed dramatically over the course of the last few years. In order for your company to excel, it is crucial that you dedicate time and energy to improving the experience your customers have during interactions. Explore the most efficient practices and discover which habits will help your business discover the success it deserves.

Publish Date: January 23, 2020 5:12 PM


6 Ways to Improve the Safety and Security of Your Website

Your website is a vital component of your business. It gives you an online presence, letting consumers know that you exist. Your website enables you to reach potential customers that you might otherwise never be able to reach.

Having a secure website is essential for providing your customers with the best possible service. Vulnerabilities in your site not only leave your information in jeopardy but can jeopardize the personal information of your customers. Here are six ways to help you improve the safety and security of your website.

Scan for Vulnerabilities

Website scans should be performed regularly for vulnerabilities. In addition to setting up a schedule, you should also perform scans when you make changes or add anything to your website components.

There are several free tools that you can use to scan your site on your own. Keep in mind that these tools can only provide a brief overview. They can’t detect all vulnerabilities in your site or server. For a thorough scan, hire a professional.

Have a Secure Host

There are several web hosting services available. It’s important that you choose a reputable web hosting service to ensure the security of your site. Make sure the host knows what potential threats there are and find out how the company works to keep your site safe. The company you choose should back up your data to a remote server, which enables you to get back what might be lost in the event of an attack.  

Get an SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate helps to ensure the security of your site. Visitors know you are secure because your website contains the letters “https” at the beginning of the address.

While any website can be secured with an SSL certificate, you need to have it if your site requires login credentials from customers or takes payments. The certificate allows sensitive data to be transmitted securely, rendering it useless to anyone who might intercept it. Some web browsers, such as Google Chrome, are marking any sites without SSL certificates as potentially unsafe.

Ensure Your OS and Software are Up-to-Date

Operating system and software manufacturers are constantly rolling out new updates to ensure smooth operation and optimal security. Alerts are typically sent as soon as the updates become available, letting you know that they are ready to be installed.

If you’re busy, it can be tempting to push off an update and say you’ll do it later. The longer you ignore them, though, the greater your risk of a security attack. If you’re likely to keep pushing off updates or forget to install them, set up automatic updates. With automatic updates, your computer will install the updates as soon as they become available. You don’t have to do anything.

Clean Up Regularly

Just like keeping your office space clean can help to improve your performance, keeping your website clean can help to improve the security of your website. Applications, plugins, and databases on your website provide potential points of entry for hackers. While they might be necessary, having too many can cause big problems. Go through your website regularly and remove any applications, databases, and files that aren’t being used anymore. This keeps your website clean and keeps entryways to a minimum.

Hire Help

Keeping your website secure can take a lot of effort. You might be able to manage the smaller aspects of security, there are certain measures that should be handled by a professional. In addition to scanning your website for vulnerabilities, a security company can perform security audits, provide monitoring, offer managed detection and response services, and make repairs as necessary. With professional assistance, you can rest assured that your website is always secure, keeping your site and your customers safe from potential security attacks.

Having a safe and secure website doesn’t just keep you safe. It also protects every person who visits your page. With a secure site, you can help to ensure a positive experience for everyone.

Publish Date: January 22, 2020 11:01 PM


Consumer Lending Trends, 2020

 

 

Non- to subprime borrowers make up a majority of the consumer market today. Non-prime borrowers are those with “good” credit scores, while subprime borrowers are those with “fair” to “very poor” credit scores. The score range for these consumers is between 300 and 739. Borrowers who do not fall into the “prime” category may struggle to obtain traditional lending, especially after the market collapse back in 2008. Lenders are more stringent than ever before, and borrowers are much more careful. As a result of this, companies must get creative with their lending solutions if they want to attract the non- and subprime market. And get creative many have.

 

Lending has drastically changed over the decades, and it continues to do so at a rapid rate. Whereas a decade ago non-prime borrowers struggled to get any sort of funding, many lenders today cater to just this category of consumer. To understand the changes in lending and how they may impact you, you must first seek to understand lending trends. Below are a few worth exploring.

 

Online Lending Continues To Grow

 

The rate of origination of online funded installment loans and online single pay loans continues to grow at a rapid rate. According to the data, lenders — which range from pool loan companies to auto loan companies to mortgage lenders — now originate online loans at 7.4 times the rate at which they did in 2014. Installment loans in particular have increased by 30% on an annual basis for the past three years, and the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing any time soon.

 

Changes in Loan Characteristics

 

As how loans are originated continue to evolve so too do loan characteristics. Over the past five years, everything from loan amounts to repayment terms to scheduled payments amounts has changed. For instance, original loan amounts are growing. In 2018, just 15% of original online loan amounts were less than $500. In 2014, more than a quarter of all original loan amounts were $500 or less. Since 2014, an increasing number of lenders are making loans of between $500 and $1,000 the standard, with loans of more than $2,000 the second most common amount.

 

In 2016, 2017 and 2018, lenders tried to shorten the repayment period. During those three years, approximately 40% of lenders offered repayment periods of between seven and 12 months. Nearly 50% of lenders, however, preferred repayment periods of less than six months. In 2018, 62% of lenders offered repayment terms of over seven months.

 

Scheduled monthly payment amounts have also been on the decline. In 2015, only 17% of online installment loans had a schedule repayment amount of less than $200. In 2018, that percentage increased to 34%. This aligns with longer repayment terms, thereby making loans much more affordable for the non-prime borrower.

 

Plastic Still Prevails

 

Though the market collapse deterred individuals from credit for a while, it wasn’t long before consumers started swiping plastic again. More consumers than ever are carrying credit card balances these days. In fact, the average American consumer has at least four credit cards and carries a revolving credit card balance of $6,849. This is in large part because more lenders are extending lines of credit to non-prime borrowers. However, to be fair, lenders are monitoring credit limits more closely, and ensuring that those with fair to poor credit ratings receive only a small limit and on a secured basis.

 

Origination of Online Unsecured Personal Loans Increase  

 

The unsecured personal loan market is growing at an annual rate of 20% in the United States. This is the result of increased demand. Millions of Americans face unexpected expenses on a daily basis. Car repairs, medical expenses, home improvement tasks and debt consolidation are all propelling consumers to seek funds on a same-day basis. The most innovative lenders are able to deliver by underwriting applications and depositing funds within 24 hours.

 

The lending market is ever evolving. These days, it seems to be evolving in consumers’ favor.  

 

Publish Date: January 22, 2020 10:43 PM


How to Successfully Market an Instagram-based Business

In the world of social media, Instagram dominates growth and follower engagement. Recent statistics show that the platform has around a billion monthly active users. Your business may have a high-quality product or service, a well-optimized website ... and far fewer customers than you'd like. A well-run social media campaign is often the missing link, and Instagram is one of the best places to find passionate customers who fit a younger demographic — a group that values innovation and authenticity. Maybe you're intending to make Instagram the focus of your marketing efforts? Great! Here are some steps to get you started. 

Gather Your Assets

Professional-quality photos of you and your staff (as well as your business/product), appropriate stock photos, and easy-to-use graphics tools are all important to have on hand before you start promoting your business on Instagram. It's not too early to start identifying your unique aesthetic — carefully drawn from your website, existing graphics, and the business itself. A consistent "look" with high-quality photography will immediately differentiate your business from the competition. It's a good idea to gather your personal resources for the long game, too — sources such as Le-Vel Thrive Reviews can be helpful supports for your energy and vitality. 

Plan Your Strategy

Planning an effective strategy will make a significant difference in the success of your Instagram-based business. It's essential to do your homework first! Research your competitors, potential allies, and preferred customers. Get to know their strategies, communication styles, and needs. You'll likely discover a common theme that you won't necessarily copy, but will find inspirational. Once you've taken thorough notes, begin to create a series of varied posts around consistent themes. Providing the right content mix is especially important; sites like Social Media Examiner can offer practical tips on the topic. 

Invest in Some Apps

So many apps, so little time! Most Instagram-based businesses utilize a few carefully-curated apps that actually save time in the long run. A few helpful ones include Linktree, which makes the "link in profile" work double-time for you, a followers app that tracks follows/unfollows, a graphics app that corresponds with your main software/online service, and a photo editing app that gives your account a consistent look and feel. 

Provide Value

Providing value to your Instagram followers is vital. While connection and promotion are important parts of an Instagram strategy, providing value is often overlooked, and may make the difference between growth and stagnation. Entertainment, education, and information are three aspects of providing value, and the exact mix and tone will vary according to the DNA of your business. Innovative use of Instagram Stories and Instagram TV are a great way to add value — and have a lot of fun, too! Instagram is increasingly becoming a more full-featured app as years go by. Leveraging all of its components improves the experience while adding value for both you and your followers.  

Remember Hashtags

Here's another area where doing your homework pays off. Researching the hashtags used by competitors and potential customers (and writing them down!) will enhance the reach of your posts. Take a look at how successful Instagrammers format their hashtags. Apps can be helpful here, too. In the past few years, the quality of hashtag-generating apps has increased — try one or a couple to see if they're worth your time. 

Integrate, Integrate! 

Even if you're planning to focus most of your marketing efforts on Instagram, it's crucial to connect the account to your website. Showing the actual feed is preferable (the footer is a great place to put it) — you'll quickly be able to tell if it's visually well-integrated. It's also a seamless way to attract visitors to your account. If showing the Instagram feed is not possible, a prominent icon link will direct visitors to your preferred destination. 

Successfully marketing an Instagram-based business takes planning, discernment, and perseverance. Following these intentional steps can help lessen feelings of overwhelm and improve your business's chances for success.

Publish Date: January 22, 2020 9:47 PM


How To Create Effective Communication in Your Workplace

Effective communication can be imperative in your workplace. It can help distinguish between an incompetent and exceptional leader. Friendly conversations with your workers can foster a peaceful and healthy work environment and eliminate misunderstandings. They can also let a team complete its assignments professionally and quickly. With open communication, you can be surprised how meeting targets can be easier. Here are a few tips that can help managers create open lines of communication at their workplace.

 

Encourage Feedback

Managers often make the mistake of talking and walking away. It is always wise to allow feedback so that you can assess how effective your communication style can be. Feedback can help you know if your message was understood.

 

Be Appreciative

Managers should not take their workers’ effort for granted. Instead, they should appreciate their workers for their exceptional achievements. A simple courtesy could be the only thing your workers expect from you. Workers who feel valued often work together to boost their productivity.

 

Be Humorous

Being friendly and using jokes when communicating with your workers can help pass the message effectively. The practice has often proved useful in dousing tension at the workplace. It can work magic when the atmosphere seems tense and unfriendly. However, managers are often not stand-up comedians. So, they should avoid overusing jokes when engaging their subordinates.

 

Use Presentations

Most workers tend to grasp messages easily when sounds and images are used for demonstration. For example, your team can refer to a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation highlighting how to form an LLC to understand the procedure well.

 

Use The Appropriate Tone

A word or phrase can mean a different thing when the speaker uses a different tone. Managers should strive to use the appropriate tone when communicating with their workers to avoid misunderstanding. Using an inappropriate tone can also discourage team members and hamper their productivity.

 

Listen To Your Team

Communication in the workplace is often intended to be two-way traffic. Managers should not just lecture their workers because they are the leader. Instead, they should encourage open communication and sharing of ideas.

 

Display Seriousness and Confidence

Managers can ensure that their juniors don’t take them for granted by being sober and confident. Team members are likely to treat communication with a manager who doesn’t seem confident with disregard or disdain.

 

Create a Receptive Atmosphere

A receptive atmosphere at the workplace can allow for effective communication. A tense work environment can make it hard for workers to understand or retain the message being communicated.

 

Use Constructive Criticism 

Virtually every manager wants his or her team to do its best. Managers should strive to ensure that their comments are friendly and that their juniors understand the message they are trying to communicate. You can criticize your workers in different humorous ways.

 

Pay Attention To Your Body Language

Body language can be more powerful than verbal communication. Leaders should observe how their juniors act when communicating to avoid misunderstanding. The behavior of your workers can tell whether they are afraid of meeting the deadline or not.

 

Schedule Open Meetings

Open meetings can create an enabling environment for managers to communicate their with their team. Open meetings can not only allow team members to hear what their manager is saying but also feel and see it. Public meetings are arguably one of the best ways to communicate with a team.

 

Communication can make a significant difference in the productivity and morale of the workplace. Encouraging feedback can help leaders measure how effective their message was. Open meetings and using appropriate tone can also foster a healthy and peaceful environment. Excellent communication can also set an exceptional manager apart from the rest. Managers should use constructive criticism and create a receptive environment when communicating with their teams. Workers are less likely to take a message of a confident manager for granted. Managers should not just instruct and talk to their workers but listen to them as well.

Publish Date: January 22, 2020 6:41 PM

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