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Job Interview Questions That Are Illegal

As a small business owner, it’s important to understand which job interview questions are illegal. Laws at the federal and state level exist to protect people from being discriminated against during the hiring process. As an employer, you need to carefully formulate the questions you ask during a job interview. In our office, anyone interviewing a potential job candidate must follow a standard set of best practices for interviewing job candidates. Such practices are critical for avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit that could tear down the business success you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

So what types of questions should you steer clear from so your company doesn’t land legal hot water?

Generally, any questions that guide job candidates into revealing information about their race, color, age, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or genetic information should not enter into your conversation. You also need to be careful about asking for criminal background information.

Several examples of questions you may want to avoid include:

  • Do you have a husband (or wife)? While you might want to ask this question to find out whether the candidate will have enough time to dedicate to the job, don’t ask this question. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, questions about marital status are frequently used to discriminate against women and illegally deny or limit employment opportunities. This type of question might also be construed as trying to get an individual to disclose gender or sexual orientation.
  • How many children do you have? By law, you cannot deny someone a job because they have children, are pregnant, or plan to have children sometime in the future. If the impetus to ask this or a similar question is to figure out how much time a candidate can devote to the job, then consider asking something like, “What hours would you be available to work?”
  • When did you graduate from college? Because this could enable you to figure out a job candidate’s age, you need to nix this question. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects prospective employees from being turned down because of their age.
  • What was the nature of your discharge from the military? The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects people from job discrimination based on their past, present, or future military obligations. You can ask a candidate about the skills and training they received during their military service but not why they were discharged.
  • Are there any religious holidays you honor? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents employers from denying employment based on an individual’s religious affiliation. Don’t set your business up for trouble by asking this type of question, even if your intention is simply to get a sense for how much time off a job candidate might expect.
  • Have you been arrested at any time in the past? Federal law doesn’t prevent you from asking about a candidate’s criminal history, but using that information when making a hiring decision might violate Title VII. And some states have made it illegal to ask about arrest records or to wait until later in the hiring process to inquire about them. Generally, you can’t disqualify a candidate because of a conviction record, unless the offense directly relates to the nature of the job. For example, someone with a child molestation conviction could be denied an elementary school teaching position.
  • Do you drink socially? Although you might be asking in a friendly way to break the ice, this question could be trouble for you. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects qualified individuals who have had problems with alcohol abuse.
  • When did you last use any illegal drugs? This is a tricky one. Although asking job candidates if they presently use illegal drugs (current users are not protected by the ADA), you may not ask about past drug use.
  • What is your first language? Avoid this and similar questions that could be interpreted as a way to determine where someone is from or what their nationality is.

Realize this list of examples isn’t exhaustive and it isn’t meant as a substitute for legal guidance. But I do hope it will give you a better idea about the types of questions you should avoid when interviewing potential employees. Typically, you can play it safe by focusing your interview questions on asking about your candidates’ skills, behaviors, and work experience as they relate to their ability to perform the job position you’re filling. Also, do your homework so you understand the laws that pertain to you at the federal level and within your state. I also recommend that you consider seeking direction from a human resources professional and/or an attorney. They can assist you in developing or reviewing your interview questions so you don’t unknowingly break the law and put your business at risk.

Should Your Company Use a PEO?

Small business owners may be new to the world of PEOs, or professional employer organizations, but these companies have been around now for several years and changing the face of human resources management.

A PEO provides comprehensive outsourcing for all tasks and functions typically performed by an in-house human resources department. This may include employee job descriptions, benefits, payroll, insurance, and regulatory requirements.

PEOs act as a ‘co-employer’ with your company so that they share contractual obligations with your employees. Management decisions, however, remain with your company. You continue to guide the daily job duties and responsibilities of your employees while the PEO manages their benefits administration and related tasks.

According to the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), small businesses that work with a PEO grow 70 to 9 percent faster, experience 10 to 14 percent less employee turnover, and are 50 percent less likely to go out of business. Although these sounds like terrific benefits for any small business owner, there are also some drawbacks to working with a PEO. Here, we discuss both the pros and cons of working with a PEO so that as a small business owner, you can make an informed choice before taking the next step and contacting PEOs.

The Benefits of Working with a PEO

There are many benefits of working with a PEO for a small business.

  • Saving Time:  Working with a PEO can save you considerable time. SCORE reports that 25 to 35% of a small business owner’s time is spent handling HR-related tasks, with 7 to 25% of that time alone spent on paperwork.  A business owner’s time is precious and the more time that can be spent on tasks to grow a business and increase revenues, the better. Every minute spent on paperwork decreases the amount of time you can spend growing and running your business.
  • Avoid penalties and fines: Tax laws continue to evolve into complex tangles that can be difficult for the average business owner to unravel. Missing deadlines or paperwork can lead to penalties and fines from the IRS, state or federal agencies. A PEO is skilled at handling all types of HR paperwork and takes the responsibility from your shoulders of managing deadlines, filing periods, and paperwork. It becomes their responsibility so you will not incur fines if problems arise.
  • Improved employee retention: Because the PEO handles questions regarding benefits, there’s always someone available to help your team understand their benefits and work through any questions or problems. Additionally, a PEO can find better employee benefits and draw upon their industry contacts and resources to improve the benefits package you can offer to your employees. This tends to increase job satisfaction and makes your company more appealing to work with, leading to better employee retention rates.

Drawbacks of Working with a PEO

There are also some drawbacks to working with a PEO that you should be aware of before embarking on a co-employment relationship. These drawbacks include:

  • Lack of control: The PEO manages all aspects of the HR department include health insurance coverage and other important benefits. They can, at their discretion, offer new policies or coverage to your employees. Sometimes this works out for the best since they can tap into their resources and can often gain better coverage than you can on your own. But this lack of control can be disturbing to a business owner used to retaining total control over all aspects of his business.
  • Impersonal service: All questions about HR and benefits are now handled by the PEO. Employees must call a hotline or 800-number instead of stopping by the HR department in your company. This may feel distant and unfriendly to some used to the former method of getting help for their questions. It does add a layer to your organization that may not be comfortable working through at first
  • Monetary risk:  Most PEO contracts require that their fees are paid in advance before work begins. If the PEO goes out of business or is sold to another company and you are unhappy about the new company, you may be out of luck and unable to break the contract. Choosing a stable, well-known PEO with a history of successful work helps mitigate this risk.

Is a PEO Right for Your Company?

A PEO arrangement can offer significant benefits to a small business, but they aren’t for everyone. Companies with less than five employees may not be able to find a PEO willing to work with them; the average contract size with a PEO is for five or more employees.  

Working with a PEO will cost your organization anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per employee. You may be able to handle your employee benefits administration and other HR tasks at a more cost-effective rate internally than by working with a PEO.

As the world of HR and benefits grows increasingly complex, small business owners may continue to turn to PEOs for help. But if you’re just looking for help with payroll or taxes, there are self-service options such as payroll software that may be a better option.

If you’d like to start looking for a PEO, consider this comparison of several services that offers insight into costs and features. And you may also want to file the link away for future reference, since as your business grows, so too will the number of employees needing benefits and other HR support. If a PEO isn’t right for you now, we hope you grow so big that you’ll need one someday!

By | March 22nd, 2017|Business Operations, Business Tools, Other|0 Comments

Four Ways Busy Entrepreneurs Can Show Their Loved Ones They Care

Although Valentine’s Day has passed, it doesn’t mean the time has expired for us busy business owners to show our family and friends we love them. Building and nurturing relationships never goes out of season. And now more than ever, with the divide among people getting wider as the political and social climate becomes ever more heated, I believe we all need to step up our efforts to show we care.

But when you’re an entrepreneur bogged down with countless tasks and multiple concerns on your mind, how can you mange all that AND show your people some love?

That’s challenging for all business owners—whether you’re starting a business or have been running one for years.

I’ve found the key is to plan ahead and make a conscious effort every day.

Some ideas for ways you can show your loved ones you care despite your hectic schedule include:

  • Break bread with them. Although it may be tempting to work through lunches and dinners, set time aside to dine with your significant other and/or family and reconnect. You will likely find you’re more productive and mentally alert after breaking away and spending time with them.
  • Listen to their concerns and challenges—even when you’re inundated with your own. They need you! And I always find it’s therapeutic to lend an ear and know you’ve made someone’s day better by just being there to hear what’s weighing them down.
  • Schedule one-on-one time. Whether a romantic rendezvous with your spouse, a shopping trip to the mall with your teen, or an hour at the local café with your best friend, schedule time to communicate one on one. When you’re dealing with daunting deadlines and a never-ending list of to-dos at the office, it may be the only way to ensure you and your loved ones have alone time together.
  • Embrace the power of “it’s the little things that matter.” Whether it’s stopping at the local convenience store on your way home to buy them their favorite ice cream or giving them a big hug “just because,” realize even the smallest gestures of caring can demonstrate your love in a big way. Best of all, this can literally require only seconds or minutes out of your jam-packed day.

The Difference It Makes

When you make the time and effort to give your loved ones the attention they deserve, everyone wins. They will feel needed and cared for, and you will feel better about yourself and less personally stressed because you’re not neglecting the people who matter. I find it also helps me maintain a positive attitude in my work. When your personal life has harmony, your mind has greater peace and can more fully focus on doing what it takes to make your business succeed.

Want more time to show your loved ones you care? Free up more time by using CorpNet.com to prepare and submit your business filings. Contact us today to save you time—and money!

2017 Financial Goals for Small Business Owners

If you are a small business owner, you should be setting goals as early as possible so that you are not caught behind the eight ball as the year goes by. Sweeping changes are expected in 2017, and you’ll need to be ready. For example, it’s predicted that 2017 will be the year that video finally overtakes text as the No. 1 form of communication on the internet. 2017 will also mark the rise of the independent mobile commerce culture, and, of course, virtual reality is on the immediate horizon.

Here’s how to prepare for the changes ahead.

Target Your Niche Even More Precisely

In order to grow your business, shrink your marketing. The major search engines, like Google and Bing, continue to reward localization and punish wide-net marketing strategies. There is also more competition in 2017 than ever before, including premium prices on the best keywords. You will need to stretch out your long-tail keywords even further and delve more deeply into a local or niche culture in order to get that organic traffic that drives the highest conversion rates.

Bother People

Many small business owners believe that the advent of new communications technologies means an automatic influx of customers. Even with the hands-down best product on the market, this is never the case. More robust communications only means more noise as potential consumers are bombarded with a deluge of advertisements and indirect marketing. In order to stand out, you have to personalize your messages – even going customer by customer. You cannot be afraid to bother people, and rejection cannot bother you.

Create an Emergency Fund

The businesses that are prepared for emergencies well ahead of time will be the ones that have a strong chance of thriving in 2017. Make sure you have access to an emergency budget just in case the market gets a bit unpredictable and your business takes a hit. If your funds quickly run out and you find yourself managing debt some time in the next year, then make sure you look into debt management plan (DMP) options. A DMP, which is usually offered by a counseling service or financial services company specializing in debt management, will help you tailor a solution to your situation and create monthly payments within your budget.

Shore up Your Free Business Listings

Before you get into all of the advanced marketing strategies for 2017, you need to have all of your basic bases covered. Make sure that you have a business profile on all of the major search engine business platforms. Competitors today have no problem cannibalizing your listing and driving traffic away from you if you do not. Also, make sure that your NAP is exactly the same on all of your business listings, abbreviations and all.

Automate Your Social Media

You actually need to spend less time on social media if you are going to be successful in 2017. This does not mean that your customers see less of you – only that you spend less time actually producing your messages and opening lines of communication. There are simply too many automation tools that you can take advantage of to stay on social media all day. The longer that you stay on social media for business, the more likely you are to gradually drift over into wasteful clicking that will eat away at your workday.

Stretch Your Budget

If you are a small or midsize business, your money will be moving in many different directions at once – marketing, operations and administration – and you will need to learn how to use financial leverage in order to keep everything afloat. There are certain credit card strategies that you can take advantage of in 2017 if you have the right partner. The financial industry is finally beginning to catch up to new technology, and bankers are happily doing more business with their best customers through these new avenues. Make sure that you understand the wealth of new techniques that are now at your disposal.

Prepare for the new year by taking control of your small business finances. By using even one or more of these strategies, your business will be able to face any and all of 2017’s challenges.

Five Steps To Becoming An Empowered Woman (Or Man) Business Owner

As a woman business owner, I’ve found that empowerment comes to us in two ways:

1. Access to external sources of inspiration and knowledge

2. Self-respect and self-confidence

You can sit around and wait for someone to empower you, or you can take the bull by the horns and take action to empower yourself. I will always vote for the latter of the two because it gives you more control over your entrepreneurial destiny.

Although women own nearly 30 percent of U.S. small businesses (according to the Status of Women in the United States website), I find that many of us still struggle with accepting it’s OK to seek empowerment on our own. We often think of it as something that is handed to us. That doesn’t seem very empowering to me!

So, what can women entrepreneurs (and men, too) do to boost our level of empowerment and reach our personal and professional potential?

1. Recognize what knowledge and skills you lack, and find tools and resources to increase your proficiency.

This requires a commitment to honestly assessing your strengths and weaknesses. After you’ve done that, actively seek blogs, books, webinars, podcasts, conferences, mentors, and other resources that will help you get up to speed.

2. Align yourself with positive people (professionally and personally).

I cannot emphasize enough how much this affects morale and motivation. Chronically negative people drain your energy and enthusiasm. When they direct their skepticism and sarcasm at you and your endeavors, they deplete your self-confidence and leave you feeling defeated. As much as possible, minimize your exposure to them so you can fill your life with people who truly care about you and who will encourage rather than discourage you.

3. When you meet people who exude empowerment, ask them if they’ll share their insight about attaining that level of confidence.

I’ve found most people who have an empowered aura about them are immensely gracious and open to sharing about how they’ve helped themselves. I encourage you to reach out to them for inspiration. Even though their approach may not work with precision for you, you will no doubt take away some valuable ideas to apply in your own quest for empowerment.

4. Start the day on a note of gratitude.

I make it a point to devote a few minutes every day to consciously thinking about everything I have to be thankful for. What better way to get a positive start? It immediately puts me in the right frame of mind for dealing with whatever work and life will bring my way. This is so simple to do. I dare you to find an excuse as to why you can’t try this!

5. Acknowledge that mistakes and setbacks happen.

Because they will. The good news is they won’t make you a failure unless you dwell on them. Get beyond goofs and misfortunes by treating them as lessons learned and by remaining agile so you can shift gears and move in a new positive and productive direction.

6.  Don’t be afraid to say “no” or voice your position. 

If people ask too much of you, learn to say “no.” Overextending yourself will create excess stress and pull you away from what really matters. Also, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion when you disagree adamantly about something. Although initially you might meet criticism, in the long run you’ll gain more respect. Most importantly, you’ll respect yourself—and that is mission critical for feeling empowered.

Empowerment Begins With Embracing Its Power

Whether you’re a female or male entrepreneur and regardless of whether you’re just starting a business or have been running your company for years, empowerment wields great power. I urge you to embrace its potential to help you mold your vision and achieve your goals and dreams.

Providing legal document filing services at affordable rates, CorpNet.com helps business owners save time and money. Empower yourself by knowing your business registration and compliance filings are in capable hands. Contact us today!

How Job Titles Can Help You Hire Great Talent

So it’s a new year, and you’re looking to hire new talent. You start off by posting a job online, but you’re not finding many candidates, at least not the great ones your company needs. How come? You may not realize this, but the job titles on your postings might be the reason.

Professionals care about the job title a company will provide them with (as well as one they’ll be proud to boast on their resumes in the new year). If you spend enough time looking at other job descriptions and titles, you’ll begin to notice a trend. There’s an increase in outside of the norm job titles. Riding this trend could help you recruit better candidates.

So what should you do heading into the new year? Spend more time crafting your job titles.

Here’s why job titles are so important in the hiring process.

They Help You Target the Type of Person You’re Looking to Recruit

Millennials are looking for different types of job titles than seasoned professionals, so depending on who you want to attract, you may need to tweak your titles accordingly. Those who have been around the block in their careers may be searching for more traditional job titles, while the fresh-out-of-college set may like funkier titles like “Brand Evangelist.”

Your Job Title is Your Welcome Mat

The first thing a potential candidate sees on a job board is your job title. Consider it your click-bait: if the title is boring or uninspiring, some job seekers won’t click to see what qualities you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you spend time coming up with a concise job title, you’ll attract more candidates to choose from.

Being Specific Narrows Your Applicant Pool

On the other hand, you may not want tons of applicants but prefer to have only highly-qualified folks with a very specific skillset submit their resumes to you. Be sure to use precise terms like “Senior” or industry knowledge keywords you want in the job title to winnow down those that will apply.

But Being Overly Zany Might Put You in the Corner

Yes, companies like Google are replacing older keywords like “Human Resources” with “People Specialists,” but that might not be the best strategy for your company. The problem with getting too off-the-wall is that people won’t be searching for your one-of-a-kind job title. Even if internally, you call your programmers “Awesomeness Creators,” you can still use more traditional job titles in your search to ensure that people find your posting.

Your Job Titles Speak Volumes About Your Company Culture

Just like you will be assessing job candidates, those same professionals will be assessing your company. If your job titles are more creative, you might give off a startup culture vibe, which is appealing to many. Or, your more traditional titles might lure experienced professionals looking for stability and familiarity. Consider the ethos you want to portray with your company as you craft your titles.

Creating Better Job Titles

Just because you’ve had a Marketing Manager for years doesn’t mean the next person that fills that role needs to have the same title. Before you post your next open position on job boards, review what that role currently consists of. It likely has evolved over the past several years, and the job title should reflect that. Maybe now that role looks more like a Content Marketing Guru or a Social Media Manager. The more specific you get with the title, the more appealing it will be to the right candidates.

See what your competitors are calling similar roles and determine if you want to mimic those titles or branch off from them. You want candidates to be able to find your job listing, so you might not want to get too creative.

And skip the acronyms or abbreviated words, as well as internal reference IDs (Marketing Mgr Ex75-4). These only make it harder for job seekers to search for your position.

Above all, keep your job titles short and searchable. Leave the details for the job description itself. Consider what a candidate might search for to find your position on a job board. Search there yourself to see how good a fit your role is in search results. And if over time, you don’t get the caliber of candidates you’re seeking, you can always update that job title; it’s not set in stone.

When you post an open position, you are, in a sense, marketing it to potential buyers — or applicants. If you want qualified leads — applications — you’ve got to put the effort into developing the most relevant and appealing job title possible.

5 Tech Trends Shaking Up Small Business in 2016

In this digital era, small businesses now have access to a wealth of tools they’ve never had access to before.  Even small startups are now able to compete in local and global markets at levels previously limited to enterprise companies. New marketing techniques, payment methods, inventory management tools, and development tools – all of these are being made possible by rapid changes in technology. And small businesses are the ones who are winning. Below are the top five trends you should keep an eye out for during the rest of the year.

EMV Chip Technology

Now that security is at the top of the minds of most consumers, EMV chip technology is gaining popularity as these chips make it difficult for malicious individuals to create fake payment cards. Traditional credit cards use magnetic strips which contain unchanging information. When an attacker gains access to the information, they’re easily able to clone the cards and use it for malicious purposes. EMV chips on the other hand generate codes for each transaction. If an attacker were to gain access to these databases, they wouldn’t be able to use the codes for future purchases.

Since EMV technology is fairly new, most small businesses need to overhaul their credit card processing software and terminals with modern versions which support reading the chips.  

Ecommerce Business

Now that many point of sale (POS) systems have ecommerce support built-in, small businesses are able to leverage the best of both digital and in-store customers, leading to greater sales.  Popup shops for example, enable small businesses to test new revenue streams, engage with customers offline, improve brand awareness, and also educate new customers on product offerings. At the end of the season sales don’t have to stop because your online properties can stay open throughout the year.

Analytics Tools

Business analytics tools are becoming increasingly popular. While they were mostly considered useful for large corporations, small businesses are beginning to realize the value of real-time data and use analytics tools. Why? Because analytics tools help small businesses see what they’re doing wrong, what’s working for them, and how to improve. There are many tools for different aspects of your business such as social media, email, and marketing campaigns. Most popular of these tools is Google Analytics. By allowing all your data to converge on one platform, small businesses can now leverage their new found information to make informed decisions.

Inventory Management Software

Inventory management is one of the biggest challenges small businesses face because they often don’t have the ability to dedicate individuals to handle the tasks. This often results in wasted stock and lost goods. Fortunately, modern inventory management software makes it easier than ever for small business to keep track of inventory simply by scanning barcodes and then having the data digitally logged into their systems.

Mobile Applications

Although they used to be limited to larger companies, many small businesses are beginning to launch their own mobile apps. Tools such as the Microsoft PowerApps tool are making it easy for virtually anyone to create their own apps regardless of technical expertise. In many cases the advanced technologies behind applications are enabling businesses to embed click-to-call voice and video communications capabilities within their code. This means you can seamlessly integrate video chat into your apps as a new way to communicate with your customers and enhance the overall experience.

Looking Ahead

Although all these trends are fairly notable, this list is far from comprehensive. Technology is always evolving and there’s so much innovation going on that it’s impossible to list everything here. The best way to keep pace with these shifts and changes is to ensure you’re always open to learning new things. By reading up on industry trends and having the flexibility to try new things within your business, you’ll be able to make the most of the modern systems out there.

With the latest technology tools in place, it’s a good time to revisit your business structure. Call CorpNet.com today for a free business consultation to incorporate a business, form an LLC, file a DBA and more! 888.449.2638

Charles Costa is a writer and marketing analyst for Fit Small Business and other publications. He focuses on helping companies grow, one word at a time. His areas of expertise include software, hardware, biotech, finance and general technology. You can learn more about him at CharlesCosta.net.

Image: Adobe Stock

                               

How Outsourcing Can Help Grow Your Business

hiring or outsourcing concept handwritten on whiteboard

Small business owners and entrepreneurs wear many hats when building a successful venture. Something our owners know a lot about!

Sometimes all of the hats get too heavy and you need to outsource assistance to free up time to focus on your business services or product instead of tedious other tasks. Outsourcing help is beneficial to those starting a business who can’t afford to hire new employees. It’s so helpful that the outsourcing industry has flourished in the last 15 years from earning $45.6 Billion in 2000 to US$104.6 Billion in 2014, according to global outsourcing. The consistently strong growth of outsourcing means one thing: it works!

Outsourcing help comes in all shapes and forms. Many top entrepreneurs are relying on virtual assistants to help them manage tasks. Virtual assistants work online from a remote location and are contracted to perform non-essential and highly-specialized work. Here are a few successful outsourcing examples that may motivate you to hire someone for your small business:

  1. Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris used to own a supplement company called BrainQUICKEN. According to Tim, he had a brutal 14-hour daily work schedule when he managed the day-to-day operations of his business He could not find time for himself just to relax and unwind.

When the demands of work became overwhelming versus the returns, Tim decided to take a two- week vacation in Europe. He decided to delegate non- essential tasks to virtual assistants. Tim made a strict commitment to only check with his virtual assistants a few days during the week.

The experience was a revelation for Tim. He came back to work relaxed and rejuvenated. He sold BrainQUICKEN and wrote of his experience managing business with virtual assistants and outsourced work in the bestselling book “The Four- Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich” in 2007.

  1. Pat Flynn

Before he became one of the most popular bloggers, Pat did the 9- to- 5 grind in the concrete jungle. After he got laid off from his regular office job, Pat decided to become an online entrepreneur and started the widely successful blog, “Smart Passive Income”.

When he was a regular 9- to- 5 employee, Pat was earning a five figure salary per year. Four years into his blog, Pat started earning five figures per month!

For Pat, outsourcing services paid dividends in that he was able to allocate his time more productively. By delegating non- essential tasks to virtual assistants, Pat was able to focus more on the core functions of his blogging business.

  1. Michael Hyatt

Bestselling author, publishing company consultant, resource speaker, entrepreneur and blogger Michael Hyatt is a man who wears many hats.

Entrepreneurs are people who love challenges and they never say “no” to a great opportunity. But work eventually became overwhelming that Michael had a difficult time managing his choice of hats.

Michael’s decision of hiring a full- time employee versus hiring a virtual assistant hinged on its costs and benefits. It did not take long for Michael to opt for hiring a virtual assistant.

It cost him much less to maintain virtual assistant services and he was able to increase his productivity.

  1. Cody McKibben

Cody is a typical entrepreneur. He takes calculated risks, has a creative mind and thinks outside the box. He lives and breathes the entrepreneurial lifestyle and has made it his advocacy to help other entrepreneurs by sharing his experiences.

Cody is co- founder of The Digital Normal Academy, a company that guides entrepreneurs how to succeed at their chosen ventures by embracing the virtual lifestyle.

Cody has used virtual assistants in every facet of his business. Outsourcing services such as non- essential tasks and specialized work which did not fall under his core competencies helped Coby become more productive and save up on valuable costs.

  1. James Schramko

This highly successful Sydney- based entrepreneur left his regular job to become one of the best Internet marketers in the world. His blog can be found on page one on the number two spot for the highly- coveted keyword “Internet Marketer”.

For James, the value of hiring virtual assistants commiserates with the number of virtual assistants you hire. James did not hire just one Virtual Assistant, he hired an entire team!

By outsourcing that work, James was able to focus on his duties and responsibilities as an in- demand internet marketer.

  1. Brendon Burchard

Brendon went from being bankrupt to becoming an entrepreneur earning a seven figure income. He owns and operates The Experts Academy which hires business experts and consultants to teach you how to manage your business and career as an entrepreneur.

When he was bankrupt, Brendon hardly had enough money left to get help onboard his new venture. Hiring a virtual assistant was his only option and it proved to be a highly productive one.

According to Brendon, he started out with one assistant and delegated only the non- productive tasks so he could focus on growing the business. His virtual assistant rode the turbulent waters with Brendon in all of the ups and the downs. Today, The Experts Academy is one of the most successful business consultancy companies.

Outsourcing services is a proven effective strategy for growing your business. But make sure to qualify your virtual assistant to be sure you have found the perfect fit for your needs.

 

Felix Tarcomnicu is a virtual assistant with a passion for writing articles about entrepreneurship and businesses. He enjoys helping small businesses find the right outsourcing solution.

Image: Adobe Stock

   
       
       
       
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By | June 28th, 2016|Business Operations, Business Tools|0 Comments

Why Customers Love Us – CorpNet Reviews

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 2.43.23 PMAnother month, another great set of 5-star CorpNet reviews to showcase our stellar customer service.

Our team has been hard at work helping all kinds of clients with their business startup needs. From assisting someone who accidentally selected the wrong entity to helping an oversees entrepreneur, our team gets the job done so you can focus on what you do best – running your business.

Here is a look at why customers love using CorpNet.com to incorporate, form an LLC, file a DBA and more! Check out all of our reviews on TrustPilot. Are you ready to get your business off the ground? Reach out anytime for a free business consultation.

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5 secrets behind effective invoicing

Entered InvoiceFor many entrepreneurs who start a business, having customers who pay on time, every time, would only happen in an alternate universe. While you can’t eliminate the hassle of nudging customers to pay, you can make invoicing less stressful.

Invoices detail how much money a customer owes for goods or services provided by a business. Small-business owners use invoices for accounting and tax purposes, as well. When customers let invoices slide past the due dates, maintaining cash flow can become a challenge for business owners.

To help set up your business for success, here’s how to invoice more effectively.

1. Lay out your expectations in writing

Provide a quote to your customers before any transactions occur — and do it in writing. A conversation is fine for an initial agreement, but follow up with more specific terms, including an estimated cost, time frame for delivery of your product or service and the kinds of payment you accept.

Once you’ve provided a service or product, the invoice should detail exactly what a customer needs to know to make a payment, such as:

  • An itemized list of the goods or services provided — including costs, taxes and totals.
  • Specific payment instructions with an address to send a check to, credit cards that are accepted, or directions for using PayPal or another online payment system.

2. Use invoicing software 

If Excel is your only invoicing tool, you’re missing out on the benefits of automating. Invoicing software can reduce mistakes because you don’t have to manually enter billing information. This feature will come in handy with repeat clients. You can send invoices digitally to streamline the process.

3. Track invoices consistently 

Software can make invoicing more efficient, but remember to keep a digital or paper trail. Create a chronological, numerical system to assign your invoices and stick to it. A system is only useful if it’s consistent. This organization also will be a big help when tax season arrives. 

4. Send out invoices immediately

As soon as the services have been provided or goods delivered, send your invoices while you’re still on the client’s mind. If you want to get paid faster, offer the ability to make online payments at your website or via a mobile app. Some businesses send email as well as snail-mail invoices as an extra reminder.

5. Be clear about payment terms and follow up 

To increase the odds of getting paid on time, lay out clear directions for the payment due date. You can ask your client to pay by a specific date or within a number of days, typically 14 to 30 days after the date of the invoice.

Consider charging an interest fee on late payments, but be sure to disclose the interest fee in your written agreement with a client. To motivate clients, you could offer discounts for paying early or by check instead of credit card.

Before you expect the payment, send a written reminder that payment is due and note the day it is due. If the date passes, follow up within a week and include any interest fees that are part of the new payment.

If you end up with a slow-to-pay client, always remember to be polite in your interactions. A simple “please” and “thank you” can go a long way toward maintaining a business relationship. If an invoice slips badly, consider reaching out to the client to see if you can arrange an alternative payment plan.

Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, which provides clarity around decisions that help you start or grow your small business. We provide clear unbiased information, entrepreneur-focused advice, and tools for small-business loans, tax and legal issues. We also connect you with experts who can answer questions about growing your small business.

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