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How small businesses can use the gig economy to grow

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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.

Business

Legal issues crucial when forming small business

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Entrepreneurs are busy people. They’ve got a ton of things on their mind from marketing and advertising to customer service and phones forever ringing to business appointments – and more. Unfortunately, legal and technical issues have to be attended to at the same time.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, small businesses need to take some basic steps as they grow.

  1. Set up the proper business structure. There are sole proprietorship’s, LLCs, S corporations, C corps, and partnerships. Choosing the correct one means learning the advantages and disadvantages of each. For example, as a sole proprietor, the business owner and the business are considered as one in the legal system. If your company is sued, all your personal assets are at risk. Corporate structures and LLCs offer protection of personal assets, although this protection isn’t a guarantee. Talk to a lawyer and accountant about the structure you need.
  2. Set up and follow customer service policies. When you access company websites, especially those that provide services of some sort, you’ll usually see a Terms and Conditions agreement. Included in this agreement are all the specifics for the use of your products or services and the customer’s obligations in that use. If you do not have this policy in writing and a box for a customer to check before a purchase, you are wide open to inclusion in a lawsuit should that customer become a defendant.
  3. Set up accounting and tax systems. Is your business subject to sales/VAT taxes? When must you file your business income tax returns? Do you need to make quarterly payments? Business tax laws are complex. You need a good business accountant–or at the very least, proven accounting software–to keep accurate records and file your taxes on time.
  4. Obtain appropriate and complete contracts with outside vendors. When you use the services of, or purchase raw materials from someone outside of your business, demand iron-clad contracts. Never agree to anything with a contractor without a legally-binding agreement with the terms and language set out clearly and properly.
  5. Get the proper documentation on employees. At minimum, before hiring, document and verify past employment. After hiring, document work hours, complaints, responsibilities and attendance issues such as sick days, personal days off, and vacation.

Be sure to specify, in writing, work expectations – including whether work can be done remotely.

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Business

In-demand IT jobs in 2019

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As companies adapt to an increasingly digital landscape, job opportunities in information technology (IT) are popping up left and right. Here are several tech jobs that are currently in high demand.

Mobile app developer
This job involves creating new apps for phones and tablets or improving existing ones. In a slew of work sectors — such as finance, government, hospitality and food services — companies are using apps to better serve their clientele and streamline their operations. Most app developers have a background in software engineering or computer science.

Security analyst

As cyber attacks become more sophisticated, companies are increasingly moving from a reactive to a proactive security model and are relying on security analysts to ensure their cybersecurity. Most security analysts have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming or a related field.

Web developer
This position involves using programming language to create online software according to client specifications. Given the high demand for this job, a university education isn’t always required. Completion of a coding boot camp combined with sufficient experience is sometimes adequate.

Help desk technician
This job requires providing technical support and troubleshooting services to users having issues with computer hardware or software. There are often entry-level positions available to candidates with an associate’s degree or certificate from a technical school.

These are just a few of the IT jobs that are currently flooding job markets. If you’re a techie, the world — or rather the digital world — is very much your oyster.

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Business

Three job-hunting strategies to adopt without delay

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According to a poll published by Forbes, for each job opening that gets advertised there are approximately 120 people who will apply for it. So how to stand out from the pack? Try adopting these three strategies.

1. Customize your resume
Sending out targeted resumes and cover letters to prospective employers is a must. This maneuver requires showing how your particular qualifications bear on the specific hiring criteria and demonstrating how your experiences align with the job. In an employer’s eyes, a targeted resume has an edge over a generic one.

2. Use your network

Did you know that employee referrals account for about 40 percent of new hires? Therefore you should make as many connections as you can—your next job opportunity could come from any direction.

Ideally, you’ll connect with people both in person and online. In-person connections tend to be more valuable. On the other hand, there’s no limit to how many online connections you can make through social media and professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Keep in mind that companies are increasingly fishing for new talent online.

3. Learn a new skill
If you find that a lot of the jobs that interest you require a skill you don’t have, ask yourself if you can acquire it. For instance, if a position demands that you be knowledgeable in search engine optimization (SEO) or Microsoft Office, you could consider completing an online course in one or the other (there are a number of reputable courses that can be completed in a short period of time that will provide you with a certificate upon finishing).

Be sure to adopt these strategies and it likely won’t be long before you’ve landed your new position.

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Business

Five blunders to steer clear of during job interviews

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It goes without saying that showing up late or being inappropriately dressed for a job interview hurts your chances of getting hired. However, there are also a number of less obvious blunders job seekers should guard against. Here are five of them:

1. Being ill prepared. If you fail to take the time to study the job posting or research the company, this will likely show indifference and the employer could interpret it as a lack of seriousness on your part. It’s important that you have a good understanding going into the interview of what the position entails.

2. Showing disrespect. Your credentials aren’t all that count. Employers are also looking for someone with a respectful and positive attitude. Don’t, for example, check your phone — even for a second — during an interview. This will inevitably create a bad impression.

3. Stretching the truth. Experienced employers are quick to detect fibs and exaggerations. Always be truthful. Selling yourself is one thing; false advertising is another.

4. Being negative. Avoid speaking about former employers or co-workers in negative terms. If you have to talk about an unpleasant job experience, do so with tact and reserve.

5. Saying too much. Don’t be a chatterbox. Being overly gabby can come off as unprofessional. As a rule, respond to the questions you’re asked without rambling and avoid talking about your personal life.

Avoid the above missteps and you’ll improve your chances of landing the position you’re after. Best of luck in your job search!

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Business

Nice-to-have employee benefits

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When narrowing your job search, be sure to look into what employee benefits are offered. You probably already know to investigate things like health insurance, flex hours and number of vacation days. But there’s also no shortage of new and interesting benefits cutting-edge companies are offering their employees. Here are some of the more noteworthy ones.

Health perks
These benefits can include anything that positively impacts the health and well-being of employees. Health perks can be offered as on-site yoga classes, paid gym memberships and the availability of healthy snacks.

Paid volunteer days

This benefit suits socially conscious employees who want to get out of the office and make a positive difference in their community.

Conveniences
These are benefits that help employees manage their day-to-day lives. Some popular ones are dry cleaning pickup and delivery, on-site daycare and free parking (possibly with an on-site car wash).

Amenities
Benefits that allow you to let off a bit of steam while at work can be a nice add-on. Some companies — following the lead of giants like Google and Facebook — offer ping-pong, foosball or video games in their break room. Some don’t go quite so far but still provide a homey and comfortable space for employees to unwind.

Sweet perks such as these are worth taking into account when mulling over job options — they may well swing the balance one way or the other when it comes time to make a decision about where you want to work.

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Business

Cube versus open work space debated

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Since the introduction of cubicles to the workplace a half-century ago, the pros and cons of their existence have been well-debated.

But today cubicles are being compared, often favorably and sometimes fondly, to open work spaces.

Open work concepts save floor space and encourage camaraderie, they also convey a false sense of productivity, in which movement and sound translate to only intermittent concentrated quiet, according to the International Facility Management Association.

On the other hand, open work spaces are often most suitable for telecommuting employees who only visit offices occasionally.

But those who work in the open office tell IFMA surveys that privacy is at an all-time low and 74 percent of workers are concerned about it.

The question is whether gains in office communication, brainstorming and camaraderie justify the open space. According to Business News Daily, a cubicle environment can also foster a sense of community, motivation and accountability. Open offices and cubicles also are easier to manage.

Separate office space ranks highest in terms of concentration, privacy, and personalization. But ranks lower in community.

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Humanity Day @ Main Street Gazebo
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Humanity Day @ Main Street Gazebo
This Saturday, April 20th, will be the 1st Annual Humanity Day sponsored by SONA Bank and the Habitat for Humanity. The event will take place at the Gazebo on Main Street in Front Royal from[...]
1:00 pm Dawn McCarty – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Dawn McCarty – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Apr 20 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Dawn McCarty - Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Thanks to the efforts of VGSR volunteers, Mickie was surrendered to the rescue and started a new adventure. Mickie was very special and it was not because of his feet. He was a fabulous companion[...]
1:00 pm Jeff Ryan – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Jeff Ryan – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Apr 20 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Jeff Ryan - Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Author, speaker, photographer and avid hiker Jeff Ryan was born and raised in Maine. His love of the outdoors was evident early in life. He was skiing at the age of three and spending at least[...]