About one in three workers in America are currently freelancing and this growing gig economy allows small businesses to grow more efficiently by hiring specialists quickly and cheaply, according to Small Business Trends.
An estimated 40 percent of those who work in the gig economy are engaged by small businesses, and those same freelancers are more likely to consider working full time for a smaller company than a larger one in the future.
Many entrepreneurs start their businesses with a small budget and limited access to human capital. It just isn’t feasible to hire full-time experts to provide the skills needed to build things like online infrastructure, branding material, or a social media presence. In these cases, a small business can turn to a freelancer that specializes in these specific tasks but often charges less than an established firm in the industry because they have less overhead and more flexibility with their time, according to CNet. Online services such as UpWork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com allow business owners to connect with freelancers quickly and provide a secure way to track activity.
When searching for a freelance worker to complete a project, such as building a website for your small business, the ability to search among many talented individuals across a variety of factors will allow you to find the perfect match for your situation. Narrow the field by focusing on individuals that have a solidly reviewed track record with a particular kind of project and offer a portfolio of work. From there, sort out whether they prefer to be paid by the hour or completed project and find someone who meets your budget. Once you find a freelancer, there will always be a contract employee on call to help your business grow.
Shoplifting 2019: Low risk, high reward
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), about 27 million people — 10% of the U.S. population — steal more than $13 billion worth of goods from retailers every year.
That’s about $35 million per day.
With 10 million people caught shoplifting in the last five years, that means one in every 11 persons in the U.S. will steal something from a store at some point in their lives. With only one of every 48 of them apprehended — and only half of those are ever prosecuted — it’s no wonder why shoplifters view their illegal industry as “low risk, high reward.”
Some companies regard shoplifting losses as a “cost of doing business,” merely passing along its extra expenses to the consumer in the form of higher prices. But most retailers resist that route, each for their own reasons. So do small businesses who, to remain competitive or simply stay in business, fear the risk of raising their prices.
Shoplifting appeals to men and women equally. About 25% of them are underage. Of the 75% who are adults, most say they started shoplifting in their teens.
In 29 states, the felony threshold for shoplifting/larceny is $1,000 or more. In states where it’s less than that (like $950 in California), shoplifting cases are a misdemeanor, which means less police involvement and minimal punishment, if any at all.
As a result, in recent years shoplifters have become more brazen with their escalating vocal abuse and threats of physical behavior during theft attempts. The people most at risk are store employees and customers, according to Mark Doyle, producer of The Annual Retail Survey.
Every year, all the numbers prove retail theft gets worse with no end in sight, Doyle says. In eight of the last 10 years, the number of shoplifters and dishonest employees has increased, and so has the amounts of money recovered from those arrested.
Now, according to Organized Retail Crime (ORC), the nation’s ever-expanding drug crisis has created a desperate need for cash by users. They, too, become shoplifters.
High tech companies: Lots of jobs and skills in demand
They are the elite positions of the 21st century: Tech jobs, where the magic happens in companies that have changed the world.
The surroundings can be glamorous like Apple’s spaceship headquarters or the Googleplex, where talent is rewarded with big bucks and a bevy of tasty benefits.
How do you get there?
First and foremost, be great at something. Pick an area that truly grabs your soul. Some engineers love hardware, the systems and components that drive devices. Narrow that down: Become an expert at cameras, audio, system architecture.
Get the right training. It’s not always about college. Nearly every Apple ad specifies a degree, but also says ‘equivalent experience.’ For example, if you know Linux servers inside and out, Apple could be the place for you. One tech employee said he got his job at Google, in part, because of his chess championships.
Develop something. Learn scripting languages (Python, Bash, Perl, Ruby, for example) and apply your knowledge on personal projects.
When your knowledge matures, get online with other experts and discuss your projects.
If an interview does come your way, be ready. Google, Apple and Microsoft, for example, don’t have you fill out a form and throw a resume at them.
Being interviewed for such a job is in itself a research project. Interviews can be a week long or more. Candidates will be asked to solve relevant problems on their feet. Software engineers might be asked to write code, for example.
Remember that, as with all large companies, tech companies will conduct a review of your social media and do a background check. Keep your social media clean: Don’t bad mouth former employers or talk politics. Keep posts upbeat.
Learn about the company. Be prepared to ask questions.
Highlight your projects and be prepared to show your passion for them.
The tiny get-rich-quick idea that worked big time
While growing up in the tiny country town of Cricklade in north Wiltshire, England, Alex Tew was known as a maverick entrepreneur. At the age of eight, he already was peddling hand-drawn comics at school for $5 each–including a chocolate bar “freemium.”
According to The Hustle newsletter, in August 2005, Tew, then 21 and needing college money, was in bed jotting down schemes for selling something cheap for a million dollars. Among his absurd ideas was a pouch for chewed gum that he called the “Gum Slinger.”
Suddenly, an idea glowed in his head:
He would create a website that sold ad space for $1 per pixel. Advertisers would buy a 100-pixel block for $100 to promote their logos or images with its hyperlink.
Tew designed the website in two days, spent $50 in domain fees, then introduced his brainchild to cyberspace. It was new. It got press. It caught on.
In 30 days, “The Million Dollar Homepage” made $250,000. It was attracting 65,000 hits a day. By the end of October, it had made another $500,000 from nearly 1,500 advertisers.
By New Year’s Eve, Tew had sold 999,000 pixels and auctioned off the last thousand on eBay for $38,000 from MillionDollarWeightLoss.com.
His four-month earnings: $1.04 million.
Tew’s fundamental idea of selling pixels on the Internet was something countless other people could have done. However, Tew beat them to it, and everyone was wondering why they didn’t think of it first.
Among his subsequent ventures, in 2012 Tew co-founded the meditation app, “Calm.” Five years later, Calm was named Apple’s App of the Year.
According to Inc.com, Calm is now worth more than $1 billion.
Women’s office fashion can be fun
Wondering what to wear to work that isn’t gray, black, or–gasp–a pantsuit?
Here are some suggestions that bring the fashion to “office fashion”:
Above all, keep your industry in mind. Although casual is more acceptable than ever before, that doesn’t mean it’s always appropriate. An attorney, for example, will don a more business formal outfit than many other professions.
Work-appropriate clothing sometimes can be casual, but it should not be revealing. Women should skip off-the-shoulder and low-cut tops, just as men should not wear shorts or t-shirts with political messages.
Incorporate pops of color. You can wear those gray dress slacks but add a bright shirt and fun shoes and accessories.
Depending on your office environment, have some fun with statement pieces in your jewelry, which doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Bold, even chunky, pieces can add some personality to your outfit without overwhelming your professional look. When in doubt, however, stick with classics.
Closed-toe shoes are typically considered best for work. Again, it depends on your surroundings and what is considered acceptable. But if you do go with open toes, pay attention to those tootsies and how they’re groomed.
Avoid matchy-matchy. The idea is for your colors and pieces to complement one another, not to match.
Again, it’s important to understand your needs as well as HR’s requirements. If you’ve got a dress code, by all means abide by it–unless you plan on job-hunting.
Book Review: Is Online Interaction Worth Our Privacy?
Although it’s easy to shop online these days–and communicating with others is faster than dialing a phone number–it all comes with a price.
So warns Shoshana Zuboff, a Harvard Business School professor emerita who has written “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power” following decades of scrutinizing labor and power in the digital marketplace.
With scant resistance from the law or society, Zuboff writes, surveillance capitalism is very close to shaping the digital future and–in the process–ruling social order.
In its book review, the New York Times notes that instead of serving the needs of people, surveillance capitalists make billions more by monitoring, purchasing, and selling the characteristics of peoples’ behavior. Simultaneously, the fundamental production of goods and services is being governed by “behavioral modification.”
Comparing companies like Google and Facebook to the slaughter of elephants for their tusks, Zuboff writes that instead of being the product, the public is the “abandoned carcass” from the wrenching of raw material from the daily experiences of humans.
Such big tech platforms continue to sell advertising, but now it’s targeted by the behavior information gleaned from users.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power
Author: Shoshana Zuboff
Today’s and interpersonal skills
According to The Conover Company, research shows that inferior interpersonal skills are the No. 1 reason employees don’t get along, fail to get promoted, and–worst of all–lose their jobs. Following are tips for displaying these essential interpersonal skills and etiquette in today’s workplace.
As a full-time employee, you’re spending at least 40 hours a week with coworkers and managers. Start and maintain good relationships with them and all newcomers. You’ll help maintain a pleasant workplace and make new friends too. Even with a difficult manager or coworker, stay professional and polite. If you need to confront someone, do so thoughtfully and professionally.
Your attempts to understand and relate to the feelings of others is called empathy–the laudable sense of understanding them and how they feel. When a coworker shares something personal with you, try to put yourself in their shoes. Think carefully about how you would react in the same situation. What would you want to hear someone say or have them do for you?
When approached by a person who wants to talk to you in private, set aside your phone, computer, or task. Share eye contact, nod occasionally, and ask for clarification on issues that can help you better understand the situation.
Cooperating with others–especially working on a team with others–is among the vital interpersonal skills in the workplace. Even though each person may have his or her own individual tasks and goals, all must share the primary goal: helping the company succeed. Without cooperation, the atmosphere of your workplace suffers and threatens the company issuing your paychecks.
Finally, when you’re talking to a manager or co-worker, stand at arm’s length so that person will not feel like you’re invading his or her personal space. Except for perhaps a simple pat on the back or handshake, it’s probably wise to refrain from touching any person in the workplace.