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Top 6 Ways Your Company Could Lose Its Corporate Veil: Is Your Business at Risk?

Small Business Compliance Checklist

If you’re like most small business owners, you probably spent days, if not weeks, mulling over how to incorporate your business. You meticulously filed your legal paperwork with the state to set up a proper legal foundation. But then, once your business launches, things move at a break neck pace. Your days are filled with finding clients, managing employees, building your products or services, and it’s easy for some legal obligations to slip through the cracks.

Incorporating or forming an LLC is an important first step for minimizing your personal liability and protecting your personal assets. But, it’s just the first step. You’ve got to continually keep up your company’s legal ‘good standing’ with the state. If you don’t, you can be fined and even have your business administratively dissolved by the state. In addition, a plaintiff can try to pierce your corporate veil in court, putting your personal assets at risk.

Small Business Compliance Checklist

The good news is that it’s not hard to keep your company in good standing. The following small business compliance checklist contains the key steps for staying in good standing with the state:

1. File Your State Paperwork on Time

After you form an LLC or corporation, you’ll most likely need to file some kind of annual report or annual statement with your state, along with paying a modest fee. The requirements and deadlines vary by state (and a few states don’t have a requirement at all). You can check with your state’s secretary of state office or an online legal filing service to learn your specific requirements. Get this paperwork in on time. It’s very simple to do, but forgetting to do it will result in late fees.

In addition, if you make any changes to your LLC or corporation, you need to file an Articles of Amendment with the state (note that the exact name of the form will vary among states). What kind of changes require an amendment filing? For example, if you authorize more shares for a corporation, if a partner or board member leaves, or if you change your official company address.

2. Keep Your Personal and Business Finances Separate

If you have a personal or business accountant, they’ve undoubtedly advised you not to mix your personal and business finances. Keeping a sharp line between the two helps you stay organized, facilitates your tax records, and helps you better understand how your business is performing. In addition, corporations are required by law to separate their business and personal finances. If you commingle your personal and business finances, a plaintiff suing your business could come after your personal assets.

3. Keep Your Registered Agent and Address Current

Many small businesses – particularly home-based businesses – use a registered agent when they first set up their corporation/LLC. This allows you to keep your home address private and provides peace of mind that you won’t miss an important mailing from the state. However, at times, busy owners forget to pay the fees for the Registered Agent. As a result, the agent stops representing the company, official mail is sent back to the state, and then the state puts the company in bad standing until it updates its address of record.

4. Sign All Business Contracts with Your Proper Business Name

If your official company name is COMPANY Inc., you need to fill out every business contract as Company Inc. Even if you reference your company with a slight variation like Company, this can be a problem. So, be careful and always use the exact name that you used on your business formation documentation.

5. File a DBA for Any Name Variations

If you operate your business under any variation of your official company name, you will to get a Doing Business As (DBA) for those variations. This is also called a Fictitious Business Name. If you don’t file this paperwork with your local government, then your business is improperly operating whenever you use a name variation in an official capacity.

6. Register to Operate in Another State

If you conduct business in another state than the one where you formed an LLC or incorporated, you’ll need to register as a Foreign Corporation/LLC in order to do so. If you don’t file this paperwork, each new state where you’re operating will perceive you as a sole proprietor, meaning you lose any of the personal liability protection of the LLC or corporation in that state. If you’re not sure if you need to foreign qualify, you can contact an attorney or small business expert. Typically, just having customers or clients in another state won’t require you to register in that state. However, if you open an office, you will need to register.

As you can see, it’s easy to avoid any of these six pitfalls and keep your LLC or corporation compliant with the state. It takes only a few minutes to fill out your annual report paperwork, but it can take exponentially more time (and added fees) to figure out why your company has been placed in bad standing. In addition, you formed your corporation or LLC in order to protect your personal assets – don’t place them at risk by failing to keep up with your basic compliance requirements.

Veil Photo via Shutterstock

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New York City Just Hit Fast Food Franchise Owners with More Regulations

NYC Fair Work Week Laws Just Hit Fast Food Franchise Owners with More Regulations

If you run a quick service restaurant in New York City (NYC), you’ll soon have to deal with a series of new regulations passed into law by the nation’s largest city.

NYC Fair Work Week Laws

The legislation, known as the NYC Fair Work Week laws, are meant to provide a safety net to workers who often have to deal with difficult and unpredictable schedules. But they could possibly lead to complications for business owners, many of which are independent franchisees.

The first law requires employers to make schedules available to their employees at least 14 days in advance. Any changes made after that point would require a fee of between $10 and $75 paid to the worker, depending on the situation.

The second law states that workers need to get at least 11 hours off in between shifts. And if employers want those workers to clock back in sooner, they’ll need to pay an extra $100. This is mainly aimed at ending the practice of having employees close up shop at night and then having to immediately open again the next morning.

The third law requires employers to offer additional shifts to existing employees before hiring additional help. This is meant to give more chances for part time workers to gain extra hours and work toward becoming full time employees.

And the final law allows workers to deduct part of their salary and donate it to non-profits. This allows workers to support groups that fight for them by having their employers send that money to organizations directly.

Employees and rights groups count these new regulations as a big win, of course.

But restaurants and business associations aren’t quite as pleased.

“This legislation unfortunately is going to hurt these quick service establishments, many of which are franchises and are owned by what you would deem small business owners,” said Kevin Dugan, regional director of the New York State Restaurant Association, in an interview with Reuters.

McDonald’s New York Cityp Photo via Shutterstock

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Feds Hit Small Business Contracting Target, But Miss Mark on Women

2016 Small Business Procurement Scorecard

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) earlier in May reported that the federal government is meeting its annual targeted goals of awarding small business contracts. However, the feds missed the mark on contracts awarded to women entrepreneurs.

2016 Small Business Procurement Scorecard

U.S. Government Small Business Contracting Goals

According to the latest SBA Procurement Scorecard (PDF), which summarizes federal small business contracting efforts for fiscal Year 2016 (FY16), the federal government surpassed its statutory goal of awarding 23 percent of contracts to small businesses. The government awarded small businesses 24.34 percent of its federal contracts to small businesses in FY16, the agency reports. That’s an percentage totaling $99.96 billion in contracts — an increase of over $9 billion from FY15.

This is the fourth year in a row the government has achieved its target for small business federal contracts. Washington hit the mark for small business contracting for the first time in 8 years back in 2014.

“I am pleased to report that for the fourth year in a row, the federal government has exceeded its small business contracting goal,” said Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator, in an official release. “It is a win-win for federal agencies to get small business contracts into the hands of the innovative small business owners that create jobs in their communities and help to fuel the nation’s economy.”

But while the government met the goal for contracts awarded to women entrepreneurs last year, it missed the mark this year on all prime contracts awarded to women-owned small businesses.

Federal Government Misses Contracting Goals for Women Entrepreneurs

For women entrepreneurs, the contracting goal in FY16 was 5 percent. The government managed 4.79 percent, representing $19.67 billion. Federal agencies, however, exceeded their subcontracting goals for women-owned and small disadvantaged businesses. Meanwhile, the federal government achieved its highest ever percentage of contract dollars awarded to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVO) small businesses: 3.98 percent for a total of $16.34 billion in contracts.

Federal government contracting goals are measured as a percentage of all government contract awarded. The SBA serves as the champion for small businesses, publishing scorecards showing whether the government as a whole and individual agencies meet their small business contracting goals.

The American Small Business League has disputed the SBA’s annual Small Business Procurement Scorecard, saying the SBA has been “falsifying” the government’s 23 percent target compliance by using inaccurate budgeting figures.  Still, the SBA scorecard provides a good starting point to figure out the state of federal small business contracting in the country.

Overall, SBA graded seven federal agencies A+, 11 received a grade of A, four received a grade of B and one agency received a grade of C. A+ represents the highest score of at least 120 percent.

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What Is a Data Breach and How Can It Impact Your Small Business?

What Is a Data Breach and How Can It Impact Your Small Business?

If your business stores or collects information from customers, suppliers, partners or anyone else, you’re likely a potential target for a data breach.  A data breach occurs when someone unauthorized steals or accesses data like personal records, intellectual property or even financial information.

What is a Data Breach?

In a nutshell, a data breach is a cyber security issue where information falls into the wrong hands.

Even brick and mortar stores do some part of their business online these days. Technology has moved the dial toward an environment where there’s an overwhelming amount of information in the hands of businesses. That opens the door for data breaches from a variety of bad actors.

Data breaches can originate from a variety of sources from disgruntled ex-employees to loyal employees who answer phishing emails by mistake to professional cyber criminals. Each of these groups and some others can have a devastating effect on your business. If you think it can’t happen to you, consider the fact 50 percent of small businesses reported experiencing data breaches between 2015 and 2016.

A recent report from Verizon indicates a full 75 percent of these cyber crimes are committed by outside parties.

How Data Breaches Can Impact Your Small Business

So, how do these data breaches impact your small business? The consequences fall under three main categories.

Reputation

Even if the breach is contained and fixed, the cost to your businesses’ reputation can be big. For example, if customer purchase and personal information gets stolen, customers might go and shop somewhere else where they feel more comfortable.

Finances

Hackers can access bank account information or even crash your small business website. The first scenario means they can drain your accounts. With a website that’s down completely, you lose revenue until it’s back up again.

Ideas

Losing money and credibility in the marketplace is bad enough. However, having your ideas, templates and blueprints stolen can damage the ability of your company to grow. Intellectual property is quite often another casualty of data breaches.

What Your Small Business Can Do To Prevent A Data Breach

Although cyber criminals are constantly looking for ways in, small businesses can take some proactive steps to prevent data breaches.

Stay Patched

Software patches make sure your data stays protected. Implementing these as soon as they become available is a good line of defense.

Stay Vigilant

Taking advantage of two-factor authentication, meaning you need a password and one other piece of information to gain entry to a computer system, works well. Watching for suspicious emails with unusual attachments is another way to head data breaches off. Both these techniques combat malware.

Stay in the Cloud

If your small business isn’t using cloud services, you need to check them out. This is where your applications and data can be safely stored. The cloud offers scalable, secure solutions for all of your sensitive data.

Log-in Screen Photo via Shutterstock

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Kauffman Index: Percentage of Older and Immigrant Entrepreneurs On The Rise

2017 Kauffman Index: Percentage of Older and Immigrant Entrepreneurs On The Rise

A growing number of older and immigrant people are discovering a passion for entrepreneurship. That’s according to a new study (PDF) by the Missouri-based non-profit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Findings from the 2017 Kauffman Index

Older Adults Form a Growing Segment of the U.S. Entrepreneurial Population

According to the report, entrepreneurs aged 55 to 64 made up for 25.5 percent of all new entrepreneurs in 2016, up from 14.8 percent in 1996.

The number of younger entrepreneurs (aged 20 to 34), on the other hand, has witnessed a decline, down from 34.3 percent in 1996 to 24.4 percent in 2016.

Number of Immigrant Entrepreneurs Also On the Rise

Much like the older adults, an increasing number of immigrants are now becoming entrepreneurs.

The study shows immigrant entrepreneurs now account for almost 30 percent of all new entrepreneurs in the United States. And that’s not all. The percentage of immigrant entrepreneurs in the U.S. is at a two-decade high, reflecting the increasing population of immigrants and their entrepreneurial spirit.

What’s perhaps even more fascinating is that immigrants are almost twice as likely as the native-born to become entrepreneurs.

Startup Activity Index Went Up Slightly

The startup activity index, a comprehensive indicator of new business creation in the U.S., has given a reason for businesses and the market to cheer.

In 2013, the Index was at its lowest point in the last 20 years. Today it has gone up three years in a row, reaching close to its peak before the Great Recession drop.

The report suggests this rebound has been driven mostly by more people opting for entrepreneurship.

New Entrepreneurs Should Follow Their Passion

Whether you are an older adult or an immigrant, you must take your business seriously if you want to succeed. Entrepreneurship is all about focus, dedication and a lot of hard work. It is therefore crucial for you to focus on your value proposition, market strategy and competitors to stay ahead.

Woman Business Owner Photo via Shutterstock

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What is a Business Incubator?

What is a Business Incubator?

What does a startup need to survive and thrive? Start-ups often need access to regular capital, a range of structural resources and professional mentoring in order to survive. Finding all of those tools in one place is incredibly difficult.

That’s why more and more startups are turning to business incubators for support.

What is a Business Incubator?

Business incubators are organizations that offer startups shared operation space. In doing so, entrepreneurs enjoy a collaborative work environment with invaluable mentoring and networking opportunities, funding support and shared equipment. In short, they offer fledgling young companies a warm, safe place to grow and prosper.

Incubators have been around for quite a while, but the concept only began to gain traction in the 1980s after an influx of higher education institutions decided to launch school-affiliated business incubators in order to offer students better employment prospects. Fast-forward a couple of decades, the sound reasoning behind the founding of those university incubators has led to the creation of thousands of new, diverse incubators across the globe.

Most of America’s top incubators are industry-specific. For example, the Houston Technology Center specializes in supporting energy start-ups, the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives in Worcester focuses on biotechnology and The Incubator in Chicago centers on technology companies.

That being said, there are plenty of non-industry-specific business incubators, too. Incubators like The Research Park at the University of Illinois and the MGE Innovation Center in Madison, Wisconsin are recognized as two of America’s top incubators because they place emphasis on what they’re able to offer tenants – rather than who it is they’re offering those resources to.

What Does a Business Incubator Offer?

Because the vast majority of startups lack the experience and networks required in order to grow, business incubators seek to offer entrepreneurs a range of essential resources and skills development programs.

Every business incubator is different, but the vast majority provide companies with marketing assistance, market research and analytics tools, access to accounting professionals, access to loan facilities or grant programs and legal advice. Bearing in mind that a huge number of incubators continue to enjoy affiliation with area colleges and universities, tenants can also typically expect some sort of access to higher education resources – perks normally include discounted access courses or library access.

Incubators also run loads of workshops on all the basics like business etiquette, management, presentations and pitches.

What is the Goal of a Business Incubator?

Simply put, the goal of a business incubator is help your startup succeed. Most incubators are non-profit organizations that select tenants on a non-competitive basis. They receive their funding from government or lottery grants, donations and rent you pay as a tenant. They provide both virtual and on-site tactical support if and when you need it, and they gauge success based upon the success of their tenants.

Incubators have plenty of hybrid cousins, like accelerators, that are far more intensive and profit-driven – but as cheesy as it may sound, incubators are genuinely there to help.

What are the Benefits of a Business Incubator?

Based on the typical offerings, the implications for a startup taking up residence at a business incubator are clear. Unrivalled access to funding, mentors, skills development programs and a collaborative work environment can make a world of difference to your success. There are less obvious benefits, though.

Unlike accelerators, incubators don’t put a time stamp on their support programs. That means you aren’t bullied into growing too quickly, and are free to scale and expand at your own pace. Likewise, business incubators don’t ask for equity in your company in return to access for resources. That means you reap all the benefits without having to hand over a piece of your company in the process.

What are the Drawbacks of a Business Incubator?

Incubators do have a couple of drawbacks, too. Because most incubators are non-profit organizations, they generally can’t offer you the sort of access to capital you might enjoy from an accelerator or wooing an angel investor.

Furthermore, business incubators aren’t quite as intensive as accelerators – which means the support you receive from an incubator will be a bit more ad hoc and spaced out. An incubator is a place your company will generally live and grow for years on end, and so if you want instant results, an incubator might not be for you.

Yet by and large, incubators are invaluable safe havens that the vast majority of start-ups should seek to benefit from. Incubators aren’t for everyone, but they’re definitely worth checking out. Remember to do your homework, though. Just like any other organization, no two incubators are alike, and some are undeniably better than others.

Business Incubator Concept Photo via Shutterstock

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Work from Home Doesn’t Mean Work Alone (INFOGRAPHIC)

Working in Remote Teams is Common

More people are working remotely, and the 2017 Gallup “State of the American Workplace” report and survey revealed as much. According to the survey, 43 percent of employed Americans spent some time working remotely. In a world where collaboration and teamwork is now the modus operandi of many organizations, this might present some challenges.

However, working remotely doesn’t mean the demise of team work and collaboration. The number of solutions specifically designed to bring teams together remotely are getting better and more secure.

Businesses want to leverage remote/flex work because it is efficient, cost effective and increases the level of engagement and productivity by employees. Another survey from HipChat, join.me and Trello was conducted to examine remote and on premises work behavior.

The survey was carried out with the participation of 1,000 professional knowledge workers in the US. A little more than 4 in 5 or 83 percent said working remotely had little to no impact on their work, while 80 percent reported they are just as productive or more when working from home.

Working in Remote Teams is Common

So, any questions a company might have about the effect and productivity of working from home are quickly answered. Regarding teamwork, 100 percent of them said they worked in teams part of the time, while half of those said they worked with teams all of the time.

The next obvious challenge is bringing both worlds together seamlessly, so no matter when and where teams are working, they can do so effortlessly. This of course will require a range of tools.

Jim Somers, VP of Marketing for Collaboration at LogMeIn, explained in a release announcing the survey:

“Communication is critical to high-functioning teams. With the myriad tools at our disposal today, companies must deliberately seek ways to ensure that employees use the right tools to make collaborating with coworkers, clients and partners from any location simple, yet effective.”

The remote/flex work movement is not a fad that is going away anytime soon. A 2016 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) benefits survey revealed 60 percent of companies provide telecommuting opportunities. A more startling number in the survey was, 51 percent of employees said they would change jobs for one that offered them flextime.

The good news is the tools that are now available, such as LogMeIn for using remote access products or HipChat, join.me and Trello for communications and collaboration, make the challenges of geography a thing of the past by bringing teams together.

Here is an infographic with some of the other data points in the HipChat, join.me and Trello survey:

Working in Remote Teams is Common

Images: join.me

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How Small Businesses Can Rise Above the Healthcare Debate – With Self-Insurance

How Self-Insured Health Plans Have Become a Small Business Safe Harbor

Did you know there’s an alternative to the traditional route small businesses take when looking to get healthcare for their employees. You can pay an insurance premium to an insurance carrier and transfer the risk of covering any claims. However, there is a viable substitute.

“Self-insurance is an alternative,” says Mike Ferguson, CEO of the Self-Insurance Institute of America. “Instead of paying that premium up front to the insurance carrier, some companies decide they’d be better off paying the claims themselves as they are incurred.”

Simply put, the focus for a company’s healthcare costs gets shifted and becomes another operating cost of the business. Make no mistake, this isn’t a stop gap between Obamacare and Trumpcare. It’s a third option that takes the place of both.

Self-Insured Health Plans for Small Businesses

Standalone Option

Small Business Trends spoke with Ferguson and got the ABC’s of this standalone option.  He suggests that although there’s really no magic number that self-insurance is limited to  for a SMB, the 50 to 500 employee range is where this option is used most often.

According to the website, siefonline.org, self-insurance covers around 60 million individuals. Some of the benefits include giving the employer the ability to lower overall healthcare costs by avoiding the bumps in commercial insurance premiums and allowing for more direct and effective claims management.

Customized Plan

“Under a self funded model you can customize the plan to best meet the needs of your workforce as opposed to purchasing a more traditional group health policy that’s a more off the shelf kind of arrangement,” Ferguson says.

On the downside, there’s no surety of the claim’s costs without a set premium that doesn’t fluctuate over the year. This can make a difference in cost over the short term of one or two year periods, but over the longer run they tend to even out.

Stop Loss Insurance

That said, small and mid sized employers can purchase what is known as stop loss insurance which acts as a buffer against some of the higher claims costs that crop up through unexpected illnesses like some kinds of cancer. If claims exceed a certain amount the stop loss insurer covers the difference.

However, this option does require a more hands-on approach—you need to monitor the claims and take over the administration of any self-insured plan.

“The companies that are the most successful with self-insurance plans are the ones that realize this is a long term approach,” Ferguson says.

There are some small businesses better suited to the self-insurance model than others. Some of the characteristics that are a good fit include:  the bigger you are the better. That way you’ll be able to spread risk out and manage claims.

Ferguson explains how a strong balance sheet makes your small business a good candidate.

Good Cash Position

“You want to be a company with a good cash position because you need to be prepared to write a check when claims come in.”

Professional organizations like law firms and accountants fit the bill for self-insurance. Ferguson also points to work force stability as another litmus test. With employees that plan on staying, it’s easier to forecast the self-insurance costs.

If your small business is interested in setting up a self-insurance plan, the first step can be contacting a broker/consultant or third party administrator.

Woman at Desk Photo via Shutterstock

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Bye Bye Google Talk: What You Need to Know About Transition to Hangouts

Bye Bye Google Talk: What You Need to Know About Transition to Hangouts

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is axing its much-loved instant messaging service Google Talk on June 26 in favor of Hangouts. In an official update, Google said that Talk users will automatically be transitioned to Hangouts “unless contractual commitments apply.”

Bye Bye Google Talk, Hello Hangouts

Google Talk first started in 2005 and has over the years grown in number, registering about 7.5 million active users. Hangouts was, on the other hand, launched in 2013 and it currently offers advanced improvements over Google Talk such as group video calling and integration with other Google products. And “With the introduction of Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, which add further improvements in meetings and team collaboration, it is now time to say goodbye to Google Talk,” said the Google team.

The search engine giant also said that in an effort to provide easy-to-use and consistent SMS experience for Android user’s right of the box they are focused on making Android Messages the primary place for users to access their SMS’. More so, they said that they are working with careers and device manufacturers to include Android Messages natively to Android devices. “Over time, we’re working with partners to upgrade SMS to RCS—the next standard in carrier messaging that will bring features like read receipts, group chat, hi-res photo sharing and more.”

And well besides the improvements, other Gmail Lab features that will be getting the bullet include Google Voice Player, Picasa previews, Pictures in chat, Authentication Icon, Quick Links, Quote Selected Text, Smartlabels, and Yelp previews. Two legendary Google+ features: Google+ Circles and Google+ Profiles are also up for the chop.

The Google team is convinced that the updates will help them focus on providing features that will improve the G Suite users experience for everyone.

If you would like to monitor the retirement dates for these features, subscribe to the G Suite What’s New Calendar.

Image: Google

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How These 4 Things Will Help You Stand Out as a Freelancer

How to Stand Out Among the Competition as a Freelancer

I was working with one my long-time coaching clients recently when she brought up something that happened to her while she was looking for freelancing leads. “I saw how much competition in freeelancing there was and I froze,” he said.

The notion of there being too much competition in freelancing has been addressed in the past. Is freelancing more popular than ever? Yes. Are there a lot of people out there trying to get a piece of the freelancing pie? There sure are.

But there are several ways to ensure that competition in freelancing is irrelevant. Here are some of my best tips (and personal views) on how to stop seeing competition as an obstacle.

Working with, and Beating, Competition as a Freelancer

Stop Competing and Start Collaborating

The first step in making competition in freelancing irrelevant is to stop competing and start collaborating. In other words, you need to change the way you think about competition.

Take the financial blogging community as an example. We celebrate each other. We recommend each other for opportunities. We give each other relevant media leads. We share each other’s content. When one of us is launching a big project, the others are helping them get the word out.

This is in stark contrast to other niches where I’ve seen people in Facebook groups tear others down simply because they celebrated a win. It’s mind-boggling to me that people would shoot themselves in the foot this way.

Here’s the reality of the situation: A rising tide lifts all boat.

The more you work with people who are seen as your competition, the more you all win.

A few weeks ago I celebrated the fact that my colleagues were speaking all over the country, launching bestselling books, getting interviewed by the likes of T.D. Jakes and livestreaming from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The only reason we’ve been able to accomplish any of this is because we’ve made competition irrelevant within our own community. We’ve all got each other’s backs and it helps us all grow our businesses.

Focus on Your Unique Brand and Story

I’m going to show you can example from another industry in order to explain how your own unique brand and story can help make competition in freelancing irrelevant.

Those of us who are also in the business coaching world have noticed something in our Facebook feeds: the coaching industry has become overly saturated.

A lot of people coaching isn’t necessarily the problem because quite frankly, there are far more people who need coaches.

The problem is every coach looks and sounds exactly the same. The same stylized photos, the same ad copy and the same six-figure dreams. I seriously can’t tell any of them apart at this point.

In this case, then yes, competition is a bad thing and it’s leading to a saturated market. However, those coaches who actually have a unique brand and story will be able to wipe the competition off the map for the mere fact that they are different from all the others.

The same thing happens when it comes to competition in freelancing. Writing, designing and coaching are all skills that millions of people have and a skill alone may not get you hired.

Having a good story and brand, on the other hand, can help you stand out from the pack. For example, I often get hired to write about millennials because I’ve made a brand out of speaking to millennials about money.

In fact, I even have the stereotypical millennial story of having graduated during a down economy, moving back home and dealing with stagnant wages.

Where my story takes a turn is when I decide I’m going to teach myself about money in an effort to never be that broke again. As I’ve since come to realize, not many people come to the same conclusion I did. This puts me in a position of having a unique angle which helps get me hired for writing gigs and speaking gigs.

Produce High-quality Work on a Consistent Basis

Do you want to know why there’s a stigma out there about creatives being irresponsible flakes? It’s because, for the most part, it’s true.

With that being said, that’s good news for you because knowing this information will help you make competition in freelancing totally irrelevant.

If you produce high-quality work on a consistent and timely basis, it will eventually start speaking for itself. For example, I haven’t had to prospect for new freelancing clients in almost a year because I in addition to the points I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been consistently putting good work out there for years.  And by “good work” I mean both good work for clients as well as high-quality content I put out there on my own in an effort to build my own brand.

This good quality work eventually led to high-quality clients which has led to even more high-quality clients over time.

Stop Focusing on the Skill and Start Focusing on Becoming a Subject Matter Expert

As I previously mentioned, millions of people have a specific skillset which is a part of why competition in freelancing seems so fierce.

The mistake I see a lot of creatives making is they insist on focusing on the skill instead of becoming a subject matter expert.

It’s one thing to be a writer. It’s another thing entirely to be a financial writer, or a health writer or a home improvement writer.

The former means you’ll likely get nothing while the latter ensures you’ll get paid. Why? Because you’ve made the jump from generalist to subject matter expert.

Having made that jump myself helped me negotiate a rate that was three times higher than what a prospective client had initially offered me. The reason I was able to negotiate this is because no one else had established themselves as an expert in what they were looking for.

Final Thoughts

While it does seem like there’s a lot of competition in freelancing and that the market is oversaturated, there are several ways you can stand out from the crowd. By implementing these strategies consistently, you’ll be able to overcome a seemingly saturated market.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Image: Due.com

This article, "How These 4 Things Will Help You Stand Out as a Freelancer" was first published on Small Business Trends

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