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Two critical first steps before setting up payroll for your small business



Hiring employees for your small business can help lighten your workload. But it also creates the need to manage something you didn’t need to worry about when you were handling all aspects of your business by yourself:


Even if you have just one employee, you need to do payroll accurately and in compliance with all legal and regulatory responsibilities. If you don’t, you could incur costly penalties from the Internal Revenue Service.

Before you hire your first employee and put processes in place to handle payroll, make sure you pay attention to two important details.

  • Register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

The IRS requires that you have one before you hire employees. You can apply for an EIN online at or contact the IRS to establish one. Your EIN will be used for reporting taxes and other documents to the IRS. You’ll also need your EIN when reporting employee information to state agencies.

Also, check to determine whether or not you’ll need state or local ID numbers to process taxes.

  • Know the difference between an employee and an independent contractor.

Laws and requirements are different for them when it comes to withholding and paying taxes and in how you conduct your working relationship.

A few key differences include:

  • Generally, employers provide employees with all the equipment, supplies, software, and tools they need to perform their jobs. Independent contractors use those that they own.
  • Employees typically have their work hours set by their employers, whereas independent contractors control their own work hours.
  • With employees, you the employer will need to withhold income tax and Social Security and Medicare tax from their paychecks. You’ll also need to remit federal and state unemployment taxes. When hiring help, employees must complete IRS Form W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate) so you can withhold the proper amount from their pay.

Conversely, independent contractors are responsible for directly remitting tax payments; you do not withhold taxes from their compensation. Ask them to complete IRS Form W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification), which certifies they are not employees.

  • Independent contractors send you an invoice for services rendered.

After you have these key action items checked off your list, you can concentrate on other details such as deciding on a pay period and either choosing a payroll system or outsourcing your payroll administration.

For more information about payroll requirements, visit the Understanding Employment Taxes page of the IRS website. Also consider contacting your local SCORE chapter to get insight from a mentor who can point you to the right resources and guide you as you grow your business.

Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at

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The etiquette of doing business abroad



Every facet of U.S. business abroad depends upon its international relationships. As a result, it’s vital that business professionals understand what is expected of and from him or her when visiting a foreign country on business.

According to Business Etiquette International, research and retain as much as you can about the specific region of the country you are visiting. Learn the cultural nuances of the area, and–at a minimum–be able to use the local words for “Yes,” “No,” “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Help.” Clients truly appreciate the visitor who is trying to speak their language, if only in a few words or phrases.

Keep in mind that etiquette has no uniform set of standards around the globe. A gesture or remark in the U. S. may have the opposite meaning in other cultures and countries.

Business relationships cannot be overstated in international business etiquette. How you meet and greet residents in a foreign country is probably the most important part of your visit.

Behavioral studies show that, in the U.S. and abroad, most people judge your social position, economic, educational, and success levels within 30 seconds of introduction. In the next five minutes, they also form their opinions about your intelligence, reliability, friendliness, and compassion, among other traits.

Be sure to rehearse your meeting in advance and dress for it in a manner reflecting the culture and your client’s expectations. Establish clear objectives for your meeting, communicate politely, and be upbeat.

The more you know and understand about the nation’s culture–and local language–the deeper your relationships will become.

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The secret of telecommuter etiquette: communication



According to Commpro, definite etiquette factors are involved in being a responsible part- or full-time telecommuter.

Because the manager and co-workers don’t see the telecommuter every day, and his or her work may not be as visible or discussed, fitting into a workplace and the rapport so necessary to professional interaction and loyalty is often difficult to acquire and maintain.

Fortunately, the answer comes down to a single word: Communication.

Since the MIA remote worker is an employer’s worst nightmare, here’s how to stay in touch with the boss and co-workers as well:

1. Learn the communications equipment and apps and keep them in working order. It’s rude to fumble with the communication app when it’s part of your job.

2. Prepare for the worst. What if the power goes out? A generator might be helpful.

3. Appear at video meetings well-groomed and prepared.

4. Send regular updates about your availability.

5. When someone else schedules a virtual meeting, be on time, every time.

6. Maintain work hours. Working from home doesn’t mean you get to sleep late every day.

7. Don’t complain if you must go into the office and be prepared to do so regularly.

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Three tips for showcasing soft skills on your resume



By defining your skills on your resume, you’re letting employers and recruiters know why you’re going to succeed in the job they’re trying to fill. While it’s important to list your hard skills — technical proficiencies you likely learned in school or in a prior position you held — it’s just as essential to showcase your soft skills — personal traits that indicate how you interact with others. Here are three tips for effectively presenting soft skills on your resume.

1. Only include relevant soft skills. Carefully look over the job posting and see which of the sought-after soft skills are ones you can lay claim to. You should also infer which additional soft skills are valued by the company or are relevant to the role by studying the job description, looking at the company website and researching the specifics of the position.

2. Set apart your soft skills. If you have an ample number of both hard and soft skills, present them in separate sections, which you might label respectively as “technical skills” and “additional skills.” This way, busy employers will see them when doing an initial scan of your resume.

3. Demonstrate your soft skills in action. Make sure to also weave your soft skills into the descriptions of your previous jobs. It’s easy to say you have a skill: illustrating that you have it is far more persuasive.

Once you’ve fine-tuned your resume, you can start thinking about the interview. Be prepared to elaborate on the skills you listed in your resume and think of supplementary ones you might mention.

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What the best administrative professionals have in common



Administrative Professionals Day takes place this year on April 24 and Administrative Professionals Week occurs during the last week in April (April 21 to 27). The annual event strives to be a reminder for businesses across the country to acknowledge the devotion and hard work of administrative professionals.

These days, many businesses have entire teams of multitasking administrative professionals that keep their offices running smoothly. Administrative positions vary and those that have them may be office managers, executive assistants or secretaries. However, regardless of their exact position, administrative professionals must demonstrate core competencies that include the following:

• Computer skills. Not only do administrative professionals need to be quick with a keyboard, they also need to be computer literate. Creating spread¬sheets, word documents and presentations are all in a day’s work.

• Time management. It’s not uncommon for a secretary or administrative assistant to have many different tasks on the go at one time. The best will be able to prioritize and get everything done without breaking a sweat.

• Communication. Often working on the front line for an entire company, an administrative professional needs to be able to communicate with everyone, from CEOs and interns to suppliers and clients.

If you have an executive assistant, secretary or administrative assistant in your office that does an outstanding job, make sure you show your appreciation for the work they do this week and throughout the year.

This year, show your admin team you value their work with the gift of professional development. Consider sending your superstar administrator for training or to a conference to inspire them.

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Successfully re-entering the workforce as a senior



Are you a retiree who’s looking for work? You’re not alone. There’s a growing trend among today’s seniors of returning to the workforce post-retirement. But to find a job in your golden years that’s gratifying and meets your financial needs, you’ll need to leverage the skills and knowledge you’ve built up over your lifetime.

Identify your assets
Before you put yourself out there, take a bit of time to pinpoint your skills and abilities. Consider proficiencies that you gained from your work experience as well as more general ones like time-management, leadership and communication skills. And don’t forget the life skills you’ve developed over the years in other areas such as in your role as a parent or mentor. You can even look to your hobbies and interests as a place to mine for hireable skills.

Consider a new career path

Your skills and abilities might steer you in a new direction, completely away from your previous career. For example, the people management skills you acquired working as a contractor might be put to use in many other contexts (company manager, real estate agent, etc.).

Consider the job market
Sometimes it happens that the primary skills you possess have become unmarketable due to advancements in technology or a change in your health or physical capacity. In such cases, it’s best to fall back on secondary knowledge and skills you’ve developed over the years.

Begin your job search online
If you’re looking to venture into the workforce, a good place to start is by scouting online job search sites such as Indeed and Monster. You may also want to build a public profile on the professional networking site, LinkedIn.

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Legal issues crucial when forming small business



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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Upcoming Events

all-day Local 5K for Lyme Awareness Month @ Anytime Fitness
Local 5K for Lyme Awareness Month @ Anytime Fitness
May 19 all-day
Local 5K for Lyme Awareness Month @ Anytime Fitness
It’s Lyme Awareness month and one of your local Lyme patients has organized a 5K to support Lyme awareness and research! Lauren Nicole is no stranger to Lyme disease. She has personally dealt with Lyme[...]
10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
May 20 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster[...]
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes: In and Ou... @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes: In and Ou... @ Art in the Valley
May 21 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes: In and Out of the Studio @ Art in the Valley
This four week course will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance. During the first class[...]
6:30 pm Rose Wine Class @ Element
Rose Wine Class @ Element
May 22 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Rose Wine Class @ Element
Join us for Rose’ Wine Class & Tasting at Element on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 6:30pm led by our own Caitlin Love! APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY ROSE! Come join us as we celebrate the[...]
9:30 am Painting: Composition and Color @ Art in the Valley
Painting: Composition and Color @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Painting: Composition and Color @ Art in the Valley
Explore your painting potential by creating unique compositions. We’ll find out what motivates you to paint and how to express your point-of-view on canvas. Learn methods of developing a composition and how to best use[...]
1:30 pm Portraits for Beginners: People ... @ Art in the Valley
Portraits for Beginners: People ... @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Portraits for Beginners: People and Pets @ Art in the Valley
Learn to create realistic portraits of people and pets. Students will practice drawing and painting techniques used in portraiture. Class meets once a week for five weeks. Students are required to bring their own reference[...]
3:00 pm The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
May 23 @ 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
Have you been thinking about a career change? Are you nearing graduation and not quite sure what you want to do, or what your next step should be? Are you a parent of a student[...]
6:00 pm Painting the Landscape with Oils... @ Art in the Valley
Painting the Landscape with Oils... @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Painting the Landscape with Oils: Late Spring @ Art in the Valley
This class provides a hands-on experience for painting with oils. Students will focus on techniques for painting landscapes. Class meets once a week for five weeks. Students are recommended to bring their own reference photos[...]
6:30 pm Confederate Memorial Day ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery's Soldiers Circle
Confederate Memorial Day ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery's Soldiers Circle
May 23 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Confederate Memorial Day ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery's Soldiers Circle
The Warren Rifles Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will again lead the annual Confederate Memorial Day ceremony on the anniversary of the Battle of Front Royal. Where: at Prospect Hill Cemetery’s Soldiers[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Author: Stephen Hudak @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Meet the Author: Stephen Hudak @ Royal Oak Bookshop
May 25 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Meet the Author: Stephen Hudak @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Of Dreams and Leadership: Learning to lead and sharing along the way by local author, Stephen Hudak In this collection of essays, Stephen Hudak shares his thoughts on Leadership and Learning.