Small Businesses Can Benefit From Freelancers, Too

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Need new talent, but don't have the resources or desire to take on a full-time employee? Hiring a freelancer is the answer. And with freelance hiring on the rise, you'll just be one of the numerous businesses jumping on the freelance bandwagon.

The "freelance revolution"

Today's hiring climate is going through a major shift, one in which increased competition will lead a growing number of businesses to invest in freelance talent, predicts The Plato Group, an outsourced sales and marketing firm that provides opportunities and training for freelancers. This "freelance revolution" will be the driving force in the emerging freelance economy, where more and more businesses will be hiring from the freelance marketplace over the next few years, the company points out.

Study after study has shown that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well among freelancers, and many more are increasingly leaving full-time jobs to take the plunge, The Plato Group revealed. Research has also shown that one-third of Americans — roughly 42 million — are freelancers, with experts forecasting freelancers to make up 50% of the full-time workforce by 2020.

Benefits of hiring ...
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Property Taxes: Why It’s Not Just About How Much You Pay

This item was filled under [ Real Estate ]

Property taxes are an additional expense homeowners must factor into their budgets. But the idea is in return they get certain services -- like public safety and public schools. A recent study released by financial technology company SmartAsset states the nearly 100,000 people living in the Georgia's Floyd County are getting the best deal on property taxes in the nation. Floyd County is near Atlanta -- the county seat of Rome is just over an hour north of Georgia's capital.

In order to figure out who is getting the most property tax value, or biggest bang for their buck, the first thing to know was how much people in each county are paying. To determine an effective property tax, the amount of money collected by the county in taxes was divided by the number of households in the county. This information was provided by the Census Bureau. Then, using FBI crime rates and school rankings relative to the state, the study ranks all counties with more than 50,000 people.

The Results -- The average county in the U.S. charges a 1.13 percent property tax rate, and has 101.3 violent ...

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5 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

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Most people who have ever been employed by someone else have entertained thoughts of starting and owning their own business. They may see successful entrepreneurs and business owners living the ‘good life’ and wonder, “Why can’t that be me?” The potential rewards of business ownership are many, but so are the challenges. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and is definitely not for the faint of heart.

An intense desire to succeed is not enough to ensure success, and there is no such thing as a fail-safe business concept. Even so, aspiring entrepreneurs who possess these five characteristics increase their chances of achieving long-term success.

Commitment

Starting a new business requires a time commitment beyond the comprehension of those who have never tried to launch one. A new business owner must be “all in,” and willing to devote more than the typical 40 hours per week if they hope to succeed. Those unprepared or unwilling to commit the time needed are usually better off holding onto a 9-to-5 job.

Stress Management

Stress and uncertainty are constant ...

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3 Ways To Maximize Your Marketing ROI

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Welcome to a world where customers rule.

The days of telling buyers what to think about products and services are long gone. As my EY colleague Woody Driggs says, marketing is about more than selling. It’s about telling a story and building trust, which leads to better relationships with the consumer.

In his recent blog, Woody explained that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) need to collaborate with executives across functions. Forging those connections can help CMOs craft stronger messages that resonate with consumers.

Let’s go a little farther and talk about finding a new venue to tell that story: the digital space.

Making the most of social and mobile is of critical importance. We partnered withForbes Insights to survey more than 300 US senior executives from various industries about the evolving role of marketing in this new environment.

As expected, social topped the list across the board as a major area of investment. To succeed, leading companies realize it’s in their best interest to strategize across the digital trifecta: the internet, social networks and mobile apps.

How do today’s best digital marketers compete?

Go where the customers are. More consumers are flocking to digital channels, rather ...

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6 Ways to Decide Which Mutual Fund is Right for You

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When it comes to making investment decisions and preparing for retirement, many investors fall prey to snap judgments based on a mutual fund's star rating or simply become overwhelmed by information overload. The good news is that there is a middle ground that can help you navigate your options and make informed decisions. The following six considerations -- all of which can be easily found on a Morningstar (MORN) fund report, can help you assess your investment options.

1. Read up on your funds' portfolio managers. The captain of a ship controls the fate of passengers just as a portfolio manager of a mutual fund is in control of the individual investor's financial journey. Therefore, it is important to review the manager's tenure and the performance of the fund since they've been the "captain" of the portfolio. If performance has steadily improved or declined over the course of their tenure, that may tell you something important.

With a bit of digging, you'll find details on a fund manager's experiences and background that can be telling. If the manager has overseen the fund for less than two ...

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Facebook tests an unconventional new ad unit in India

This item was filled under [ Marketing ]

Facebook’s new “missed call” ad unit in India demonstrates the social giant’s capability to capitalize on the distinctive behaviors found in emerging markets.

Because voice calls and data plans are expensive in India, people regularly call and hang up to communicate with their friends and family. Depending on the context, a missed call could relay messages like “I’m outside” or “call me back.”

Now Facebook has introduced a way for companies to cater to that practice, it announced in a blog post today.

The social media company is testing a “missed call” ad unit, which automatically places a “missed call” to an advertiser when clicked. In return, those companies will send back content like music, cricket scores, or celebrity messages — alongside a brand pitch — without using minutes or data, Facebook explained. Cosmetics maker Garnier is an early program participant.

“In high-growth countries, necessity often breeds creativity in mobile communication,” said Kelly MacLean, a product marketing manager at Facebook.

Facebook has more than 100 million users in India, and 66 percent of those folks access the social network primarily through a feature phone, not a smartphone, according to the company. Facebook’s 69 million strong Indonesian userbase is similar: 71 percent access Facebook through basic mobile ...

10 Mac apps worth $400 – but you name the price

This item was filled under [ Business ]

StackSocial has launched its latest Name Your Own Price Mac Bundle. This one, dubbed “The Summer Blockbuster,” features a few of our favorite apps like Fantastical, Flux, Gemini, and more. In full, it’s 10 Mac Apps worth $400, but you name the price.

For any price over $1, you can get Tangerine, DiscLabel, and SyncMate. Or, if you beat the average price, you’ll get all 10 apps. This includes Fantastical, a powerful calendar app for Mac, which is one of TNW’s essential Mac Apps. Also included are Flux 4 (a Dreamweaver competitor), and handy utility apps like Path Finder and Gemini.

This bundle has a few different angles to it. For example, if you land on the leaderboard at any time during the promotion, you will be entered to win a new 11-inch MacBook Air. In addition, 10% of your purchase price will be donated to a charity of your choosing (Child’s Play, World Wildlife Fund, Creative Commons).

Here’s a full list of the apps included:

Path Finder 6 ($40) – Access & Manage Your Files In A Flash Fantastical ($20) – The Mac Calendar You’ll Actually Enjoy Using Flux 4 ($125) – Powerful Mac Web ...
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How does a small company make a big company successful?

This item was filled under [ Business ]

Every single day I have multiple conversations and emails from CEOs and people at companies I work with about how to work with Big Tech Companies. You know — Google, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce, SAP, LinkedIn, Cisco, Yahoo, HP, AT&T, Verizon, I could keep going for a long time.

But this conversation is not limited to just the gigantic tech companies. They include all the up and comers (and a bunch more you probably don’t think are that big but are), including a long list of newly public companies or still private but mega-funded companies.

This conversation comes from two different directions.

- BigCo reaches out to LittleCo and has a classic “happy ears meeting” where BigCo talks a great game about all the great things the two companies can do together and how it’s going to be awesome, and LittleCo hears what they want to hear, not what has been actually said. And then the giant black time-suck hole of the “let’s work together dance” begins. In the typical case, this goes one for months and months without any resolution or action. Eventually everyone gets tired of each other.

- LittleCo reaches out ...

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How startups can truly make a social impact

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In the Amazonian forests, wildlife presenter Charlie Hamilton Jones was looking to make a statement. He went and bought a patch of Amazonian wildlife, looking to protect it for generations.

Instead, he wound up buying a cocaine plantation. The most dangerous one in the area, owned by the “most dangerous family.”

When he went to confront the drug dealers, he was in for a surprise. Far from being gun-toting murderers, they were desperately powerless. Charlie had always demonized those who had spoiled his precious forests: now he saw that they were merely doing what they had to do to survive.

They implored him to “pay them so they wouldn’t do it.”

The story of the 20th century has been the elevation of private incentives to a quasi-religion. Capitalism won the battle of isms, and reigns supreme to this day. Credited with lifting billions out of poverty, the march of private capital seemed to be a matter of destiny.

Now that the story has flipped to the next chapter, we can clearly see that there are numerous issues with rising private incentives above social needs. From climate change to political and economic chaos, the ...

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13 Point SEO Checklist for Websites (+ Resources)

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Building your own website? So am I. Here is a no-frills list of important SEO elements that will help maximize your web presence and increase rankings.

Hopefully I’ll get around to completing this checklist for my own site. Some of these points are more effective than others, but it all makes a difference.

1. Use a Keyword-Based URL Scheme

Opting for keyword-based URLs rather than number-based permalinks will help search engines to index and rank your content, which can potentially improve your SERP (search engine results page) rankings.

2. Optimize Image Alt Keywords
It’s important to optimize images,  including using descriptive keywords in the alt tags for your images. Most CMS platforms (such as WordPress) will do this for you automatically. Need your web pages to load faster? Compress images using Image Optimizer or Smushit.

3. Fine-Tune Title Tags
Every page should have an H1 tag that encapsulates that page’s content. Your H1 title tags are where you’ll want to make conspicuous use of major keywords, just make sure you use them naturally; don’t keyword stuff your title tags.

4. Use Canonical Tags
Duplicate content can ...

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To Be a Great Leader, Follow First

This item was filled under [ Business ]

Want to be a better leader? Start by becoming a better follower. That's the approach advocated by Matt Tenney, a social entrepreneur and author of the new book "Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom" (Wiley, May 2014). 

Tenney, a keynote speaker and business consultant with Perth Leadership Institute, believes that even the most effective leaders can achieve better results — in both their professional and personal lives — by making a simple shift in their approach to leadership.

The shift that Tenney outlines in his book involves seeing one's self not as a manager, but as a servant. Though it might sound counterintuitive, Tenney argues that by learning how to obey and follow, today's business leaders can hold greater sway over those they're positioned to lead. 

"I'm not suggesting that we coddle the people on our teams or cater to their every whim," Tenney told Business News Daily. "Clearly, we need to set clear expectations for excellence and let people know that they will be held accountable to those expectations."

However, Tenney said, leaders who make serving and caring for the people they lead a higher priority than what they can get ...

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Congrats! Your New Job Is A Nightmare

This item was filled under [ Business ]

As "The Golden Girl's" Sophia Petrillo would say, "picture it:" You're so new to the job that you haven't memorized the bathroom code. But you've been there long enough to realize your boss is a harpy. Or your responsibilities are insultingly easy. Your co-workers are nincompoops. Your work-life balance has tipped the scale the wrong way. Plainly, your job is a lemon, but the ink isn't even dry on your first-day paperwork.

An exaggeration, maybe, but for some, not by much. Disliking a job you've worked for a while because it's changed or you've changed is common and the solution is simple: Look for something new. But when it isn't what you thought it would be from the beginning, what should you do? 

For starters, keep your head up. The first day and week aren't barometers for how well you'll like what you're doing or whom you work with – something that people who love their new job should also remember.

But if time passes and your mood remains the same, here's how to improve your situation.

Retrace your steps. There are three reasons this might have ...

10 Tips For Creating An Engaging Office Space On A Budget (Hint: Forget The Slide)

This item was filled under [ Business ]

Chris Booth is managing director at leading UK office fit-out specialist Overbury. Overbury delivers projects of all sizes and works for SMEs across offices, retail, leisure, education and technology so, with nearly 20 years of experience at the firm, there isn’t much he doesn’t know about fitting out an office from scratch. If you’re setting up a new business, you’ll want an office space that keeps employees happy, impresses clients – and doesn’t cost a fortune. Slides, helter skelters, firemen’s poles, table football and juke boxes probably shouldn’t be on your shopping list. But good coffee is right up there …

So: how do you create an engaging office space when you’re working to a budget?

The practicals: go with your head, not your heart

“First of all, look at what sort of space you’re going into. For a brand new office or a converted space taken to a landlord’s category A finish you could be looking at anything from £40 up to £120 per square foot. As well as looking at the rent and what you can afford, look at the terms of the lease, going forward: if you grow out ...

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Alibaba Acquires UCWeb, Maker Of China’s Most Popular Mobile Browser

This item was filled under [ Technology ]

Alibaba, already an investor in UCWeb, will buy all remaining shares of the web browser and search company. The two firms announced the merger, one of the most significant among Chinese Internet companies to date, earlier today. UCWeb will join UC Mobile, one of Alibaba’s business unit as Alibaba preps for its U.S. IPO. Though Alibaba did not disclose how much the deal is worth, it did say that it is worth more than the $1.9 billion paid for 91 Wireless by Baidu last year, formerly the biggest deal in China’s Internet sector.

In a statement, the companies said “The move highlights the comprehensive integration of Alibaba and UCWeb following Alibaba’s investment in UCWeb in 2009 and 2013, and will enables deeper synergies between the companies by marrying Alibaba’s strengths in e-commerce, cloud computing and big data technology and UCWeb’s leading market position and technology in mobile.”

UC Mobile will oversee Alibaba’s browser, mobile search, location-based services, mobile gaming, app store and mobile reader operations.

UCWeb is one of the biggest web browser companies in China, with more than 50% market share. It also surpassed Opera as the top mobile browser ...

4 Marketing Tactics that Refuse to Die

This item was filled under [ Marketing ]

Gordon Plutsky, the chief marketing officer at King Fish Media, recently wrote a post about the nine marketing tactics that will be dead in the next five years.

In it, he included things such as the cubicle and the 9-5 job, silo’d marketing departments, company-provided technology, wide-net sales tactics, and the printer. These things make sense.

He also included travel, customer engagement, salespeople, and personal branding.

Some of these marketing tactics are closing in on their deathbeds and some have a longer shelf-life than five years.

In the growth of a virtual company, we know the cubicle and 9-5 job and company-provided technology are already dead for some. And, as co-author of Marketing in the Round, we hope silo’d marketing departments are on their way out.

But personal branding, customer engagement, salespeople, and travel (as nice as that would be)?

Personal Branding

The death of this marketing tactic doesn’t make sense. People no longer have paper resumes. True. A world where a digital footprint is made up of everything we do on the web. True.

Very few people will still have an old-school paper resume. Instead we will have a curated (and in some cases not-so-curated) ...

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How I Decided to Quit My Job to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom

This item was filled under [ Finance ]

Recent studies have an interesting thing to say about working moms: They're happier. As someone who was a working mom, I can understand why. When I'm working full time, my husband and I both bring in income, meaning there's less financial strain on our family. I have a set routine, and I have a career where I am valued and able to interact daily with other adults. It's by no means easy, but it can be a very satisfying choice.

Despite all of that, I recently decided to quit my job to be at home with my 18-month-old daughter. And the numbers say that I am not alone. A Pew Research study found a significant increase in the percentage of stay-at-home moms in the past decade and a half. Being home with my daughter has always appealed to me, but after she was born, it made more financial sense to continue with my full-time employment. According to another survey, nearly half of working moms would like to stay at home or work less, and their main motivation for continuing their career is to provide income. I fell squarely in that ...

5 Things Productive Entrepreneurs Do Each Day

This item was filled under [ Business ]

This is probably an understatement, but entrepreneurs are some of the busiest people around. A day in the life of an entrepreneur is chock-full of business decisions, research and networking. Because there’s so much to do and so little time to do so, entrepreneurs can easily get off track and become distracted with nonessentials.

Chat or listen to some successful people, though, and you'll notice that they have several daily routines or habits that have steered them to success. Here are five things that productive entrepreneurs do every day:

Related: Join the League of Extraordinary Bosses: 4 Habits to Cultivate

1. Establish a routine. If an entrepreneur doesn’t set and stick to a daily schedule, how can he or she accomplish anything? It’s a challenge for the average person to juggle his or her personal and professional lives. Without a routine, an entrepreneur won’t be complete any work.

No one can really provide a routine for you. Set up one yourself based on what’s going on in your personal life and your work habits. If you have a family and happen to be an early riser, then you probably want to ...

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5 big investments you don’t know you have

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Businessman walking down front steps © Peter Dressel/Blend Images/Corbis

You don't write a check for every investment you make.

Investing in yourself

When you hear the word 'investment,' you probably think of your home, stocks and mutual funds, your retirement account, maybe your baseball card collection. But how often do you think of your job?

You should, because for all but the wealthiest, your job is probably your No. 1 investment. Just think of your wages as the equivalent of a portfolio's income stream. The median household income in the U.S., about $51,000, equals the income of a stock-and-bond portfolio worth more than $1.2 million—assuming sustainable withdrawals of 4 percent a year.

Most U.S. households don't have anything close to $1.2 million saved. Among households with financial assets like stocks and bank certificates of deposit, the median portfolio was barely $30,000 as of 2010, according to Federal Reserve data. Or, to put it in corporate accounting terms, most Americans are all income statement and no balance sheet.

So while everyone should learn ...

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E-Commerce Success: 5 Ways to Build Your Online Store

This item was filled under [ Business ]

As entrepreneurs look to get new businesses up and running quickly, many are heading straight online.

New e-commerce sites are popping up each day. Recent research shows that there are more than 100,000 U.S.-based online stores. However, that doesn't mean they are all successful.

A study from ReferralCandy discovered that less than half of all e-commerce websites are generating more than $25,000 a year.

Nikole Haiar, director of marketing, retail and partner services for cloud, managed and hybrid hosting services provider Hostway Corp., said if you're getting ready to take the plunge as an e-commerce entrepreneur, there's a world of opportunity out there.

"If you create the right business strategy, running an online business can be one of the most rewarding career paths you can choose," Haiar said. "But it pays to know what the challenges are ahead of time, so you can make plans to address them."

To help business owners, here are the several tips Haiar offers for launching an online store.

Mobile is the future. Since many of your potential customers use their mobile device as their primary gateway to the Web, it's essential to optimize your e-commerce site for mobile viewing. Purchasing products and services from a ...

You’ve Earned Your Degree – But Can You Handle Your Finances?

This item was filled under [ Finance ]

Remembering back to when I graduated from college, there are many things I wish I could go back and tell my younger self. Some are truisms that you can carry through life –- like avoiding debt -- and others are more palpable at the moment –- like hard work trumping your piece of paper.

I knew nothing about managing money when I graduated college and, sadly, I believe I was not alone in that experience. Most graduates -- and there were 2.85 million in 2013 -- are focused on getting a job, moving to wherever that job is and living in the real world -- not financial literacy.

With that in mind, here are four basic financial steps you should take as a newly minted college graduate. If you're still looking for a job, these steps can still be implemented on a smaller scale.

1. Establish a Spending Plan

As a new college graduate you're going to experience a lot of things you've never dealt with before, especially if you're moving to a new location. They include paying rent, dealing with variable expenses, buying groceries ...

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