Freelance Advice: Hiring A Contractor Umbrella Company

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Many people who work alone use the services of a contractor or freelancer umbrella company. Not only will you say goodbye to paperwork, but also you will reap the rewards of better efficiency, improved budgeting, and enhanced convenience. The only thing you need to do is make sure you find the best contractor umbrella company for you. This post helps to do so. Read on to discover five questions you should ask all umbrella companies before agreeing to their services…

How much do you charge for your services? This is the first question you should ask any umbrella company. After all, it is imperative to know that the fee they charge is going to be something you can realistically afford. It is also advisable to go for a company that enforces fixed payments. You don’t want to pay based on what you earn. Why should you have to pay more just because you have had a good month?

Do you have any customer reviews I can read? It is always advisable to read testimonials that have been left by past customers. You should also check their credentials, for example, the accredited MBA program online they have taken. Most companies will have reviews on their website. If not, they should not put up a fight if you ask for them – unless indeed they have something to hide.

How long will I have to wait for my net profit to be deposited into my bank account?  This is another important question to ask. After all, one of the main reasons for opting for an umbrella company is because it will save you time. If you go for a company that takes ages to deposit your money, you defeat the purpose of using their service in the first place. Moreover, can you really afford to wait lengthy periods of time for your cash?

How does the service work? Of course, most umbrella companies follow a similar plan – you upload your timesheet and expenses sheet and then wait for the net profit to be deposited into your account. However, how do you upload your timesheet and expenses sheet? It is best to try and find a company that offers an online service. This will be a lot more convenient for you and will ensure a quicker service as well.

If you ask the four questions that have been mentioned in this post, you should have no issue finding the best contractor umbrella company for you. There are many umbrella companies for you to choose from. Therefore, it is important to assess your options carefully and be sure that you are one hundred percent certain before you sign any contracts and hand over any money.

Ensure Outsourcing Success

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If you’re an entrepreneur with a small business, chances are you’re looking for creative ways to grow your business and make it the best you can be for less. If that’s the case, have you considered the fabulous possibilities of outsourcing?

At one time, companies would only resort to outsourcing when they had no other options at their disposal, usually because they did not have the knowledge and skills in-house to complete a complex task. Today, there are more freelancers remote workers and digital nomads than ever before and they are working in every sector imaginable, which means it is far more feasible, not to mention affordable, to outsource anything and everything.

When you outsource work, you can choose the best people for the job every time, and because you don’t have to employ them with all of the red tape and financial obligations that come with it, you save money. It’s a win-win situation, right? Well, it can be, but only if you’re careful and you do it right…

Weigh Up the Pros and Cons

Before you outsource anything, you should first weigh up the pros and cons of doing so. You do this by looking at the task in hand, checking if any of your staff have the time and skills to complete it themselves and how much it will cost you. If on balance, outsourcing seems to make more sense, then go ahead. If not, there’s no point paying more money to someone else – that’s just not smart business sense.

Check References and Reviews

Whether you’re looking to outsource your SEO to a digital marketing agency, you want to hire a freelancer to write your web content, or you need a bookkeeper to ensure your accounts are up to date, you should never outsource to anyone without first checking their references and/or reviews. Good freelancers/contractors/agencies will all be transparent and they will all have reviews to be seen, If they do not, go elsewhere, and if they are poor, steer clear. Outsourcing is only the best option when the job gets done well, on time by someone who really does know what they are doing.

Look at Samples

Ideally, you should also ask to see samples/look at their portfolio, to ensure that they really do know what they are doing before you hire them, too. This is the best way to see exactly what they are capable of producing day to day, and combined with reviews and references, should not steer you wrong.

Be Clear About Your Project

Of course, a poorly delivered project isn’t always down to the freelancer. Sometimes, it’s your fault for not giving them a clear enough statement about the project and what you expect them to deliver. You need to lay out as clearly and concisely as you can what they need to deliver and when, how much it costs and even how the project needs to be delivered. The more specific you are, the better the results will be.

5 Challenges For Home-Based Businesses

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For many, the idea of working from home is synonymous with freedom. The typical cliché is to work from your bed in your best PJs. In truth, the work life of home-based business owners couldn’t be further from that. Indeed, when you remove the office environment, you can encounter a variety of new and complex challenges that affect both your work routine and your everyday lifestyle at different levels. Perhaps, for home-based workers, the real path to success is to learn how to identify and manage these obstacles before they impact on their health, productivity and earning abilities.

The liberating world of pajama work is nothing but a rose-tinted cliché. Indeed, to benefit from the freedom of your remote arrangement, you need discipline and effective management of tasks and processes. Here are the top 5 obstacles you need to be aware of and prepared to address as you establish your business.

#1. Where does work end?

Picture the scene. Your work commute is only a few seconds, as you make your way from the bedroom to the home office. You don’t even need to worry about what to wear or whether or not to do your hair. Admittedly, while working from home can shorten your prep time in the morning, it comes at a significant disadvantage. You lack closure at the end of the day. While when you’re office-based, you need to leave the office to get back home physically, it’s not something you need to do when you live and work in the same place. Consequently, you can struggle to leave work behind at the end of the day. Sticking to a scheduled time in a separate space is a difficult discipline to develop. Indeed, many home-based workers are tempted to stop working when they’re done for the day. If you’re running a small business, it’s fair to say that you may never be done. Instead, for your sanity, stick to fixed working hours.

#2. Thinking you have to do it by yourself

We get it. You’ve launched your own business, and, consequently, you need to run it alone until you can afford to hire a team. Multitasking is a common approach for home-based business owners, but it’s not half as effective as you might think. For a start, the brain is unable to multitask successfully. Additionally, multitasking implies that you master most business elements and can happily perform all tasks. In truth, you need to delegate some of your jobs if you want to keep your business afloat. Successful solo entrepreneurs rely on outsourcing advisory services to identify areas that can be delivered by external suppliers – such as IT. You can find experts to advise and guide you through your outsourcing journey.

#3. Feeling lonely and sad

Entrepreneurship is a famously solitary journey. For home-based entrepreneurs, the feeling of loneliness can be overwhelming and lead to serious cases of anxiety and depression. With almost a third of sole traders and solo entrepreneurs claiming that isolation is a big problem, you can’t ignore the way working alone affects your mood. You need to create a network of connections you can rely on at the start of your journey. Whether you meet people through online communities or you surround yourself with like-minded individuals who are experiencing the same thing than you, is up to you.

#4. Staying on top of your health

Contrary to the common belief, being at home doesn’t mean you’ve got more time. On the contrary, home-based workers struggle with time management and tend to work longer hours which makes it difficult for them to focus on their health. In an office, you can plan a visit to the gym after working hours. But when you work from home, you might lack movement. However, if you can create a work schedule, you can make time for your workouts. More importantly, you need to stock healthy food only, as one gets easily tempted by sweet treats — if they’re readily available.

#5. Missing the latest trends

Regular training and business talks are an everyday occurrence in an office. At home, keeping up with the latest industry trends can prove difficult – especially as your time is precious. However, to stay relevant in your market, you need to use smart tools to update your knowledge regularly. Google Trends can help you to monitor what your audience is searching and to identify trends on time. Something as simple as tracking social media mentions can provide enlightening insights on what people are talking about.

Working from home is a disruption to the typical office environment. However, it’s a disruption that comes at a cost, your mental and physical health. Looking after yourself and using smart strategies and tools can ensure you remain on top of your field at all times.

Growing Your Small Business By Outsourcing

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In business, you don’t have to keep every procedure that you do ‘in-house.’ You can outsource specific assignments, or even whole departments of your company to other businesses, when it comes to work that you can’t (or don’t want to do) yourself. Businesses don’t always need to be in direct competition, and can work side by side for mutual benefit. Here’s what you need to know about outsourcing.

Why would you send work to other companies?

There are certain tasks in business that require specific tools, materials or expertise. Purchasing your own equipment and hiring your own employees comes with risk. What can be quicker, cheaper and less hassle can be sending the work to a company that already has these things in place. For example, instead of manufacturing your own products (that would require factory space, warehousing space, vehicles, machines and more) you could hire a company which already has this set up to manufacture for you. When it comes to IT services, companies like www.cyberjaz.net will have employees with experience and expertise, and the right equipment. In the long term, you might consider setting up these processes yourself, but it’s not something a small business can necessarily afford (or have the skills to do) in the beginning. Therefore, outsourcing allows your business the chance to grow but with less pressure on you to oversee every task, and without being held back by money for upfront costs.

Be sure to sustain business connections.

Outsourcing work to another company requires trust. Your business is of course important to you, and you need to know that everything being completed on your behalf is done to a standard that you’re happy with. For this reason, you need to maintain good business relationships, with good communication and regular meetings to ensure the standard is being met. Outsourcing benefits both companies- they have a regular client and regular work coming in, and you have a company who is able to complete the work that you can’t. So it makes sense for you both to nurture this relationship.

Evaluate frequently

If you find that the standard slips, or that another company is able to offer you a better deal then it could be worth making the switch. If you attend trade shows or business expos, you’ll come across lots of other companies who may be able to offer you a better or more tailored service. To keep your business moving forward you need to ensure that the outsourced company is doing the best work possible. So it won’t always make sense to stay loyal to one business, especially if another is able to offer you something better.

Outsourcing is a way for your business to grow when you don’t have lots of money upfront to create new departments. In some cases, it will make sense to continue outsourcing long term, and others you will be better off creating your own in-house departments when you can afford to do so. Either way, it’s something that can be highly beneficial to most kinds of businesses at some point in their journey.

If You’re Not Outsourcing These Tasks, You’ve Got It All Wrong

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Unless you’re in a creative industry, the chances are that your job involves doing a series of individual tasks. You may be living under the illusion that you have to perform all of these tasks yourself, but the chances are that you’re wrong.

Today there are lots of tools that you can use to remove a lot of the donkey work from your daily grind, some of which will surprise you.

Taking Reservations

You might think that taking reservations is a classical secretarial task. And, you’d be right: secretaries have been doing this for years. But what if you don’t want an expensive secretary? Most people will just choose to do the task themselves, but it turns out that technology offers a solution. Scheduling apps, for instance, can be embedded on your website and then linked to your Google calendar so that both you and your clients can see exactly when you’re free. These apps usually don’t cost much each month –  far less than the cost of a secretary – and they negate the need to actively keep a diary. You merely check what appointments you have for the day, and your schedule is decided for you.

Answering The Phone

Science shows that working people are not good at dealing with distractions. Distractions take people out of their workflow, forcing their mind to switch to another task, reducing the quality of their work.

And what’s the biggest interrupter of all? Your telephone. The good news is that you can outsource picking up the phone to a third party operator. These “virtual secretaries” take calls as if they are you, but filter them out depending on whether they feel that they are essential or not. What’s great about these services is that you only pay for the secretarial services you use, rather than having to shell out a full-time wage.

IT Systems

If you’ve got a laptop and an internet connection, you’ve already got all the tools you need to conduct your work, no matter how sophisticated your IT needs. Managed IT services make it possible for people working from home to have complicated software stacks, provided through the cloud, without any need for at-home implementation. Not only does it reduce costs, but it also helps to simplify your workday: you’re never actively involved in the management of your systems.

Research

Research sounds like something that you’d have to do yourself. But it turns out that there are dozens of people out there, all offering research services online. Researchers can help you find out anything, and do it in far less time than it would take you as an amateur. You can find researchers for a fee on sites like Fiverr and Elance.

Making Freshly Cooked Food

Cooking is vital for your health and productivity. But it also takes up a lot of time – something that isn’t helpful when you’re trying to progress your career. Now though, busy people trying to boost their incomes can use meal-delivery services to provide freshly-made, “home-cooked” meals to their doors.

This Is How You’re Going To Organize Your Way To Success

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Getting overwhelmed with work is normal. Yet when it happens to us, we freak out. We feel like a failure or a fraud, and find it hard to get ourselves back on track. And, in all honesty, it just sucks! In a world where possibilities are endless, and we really can pave our own way if we want, why should we let the pressure bring us down? Instead, we need to take action. One of the best ways to do that, is to make sure that you’re organized. When you know where you are with your work, it can make you more productive, more confident in your abilities, and help you to actually work on your success. So if you’re lacking motivation or a sense of direction, try these tips for getting back on track.

  1. Create A Career Plan

First of all, you’re going to want to come up with a career plan. Because we all know that planning really is a crucial part of bring your success into fruition. If you have no idea what you want to achieve, how can you possibly achieve it? Whether you work for yourself or you’re climbing the career ladder, sit down and really think about where you’d like to be in five or ten years time. Then, you can work backwards and consider what you will need to do to get there.

  1. Stick To A Daily Schedule

The next thing to do is to have a daily schedule that you can rely on. When you are self-employed, you can often take that idea of freedom too far. But if you’re going to find success, you have to hold yourself accountable and get the work done. Organization really helps with this. Some draft a daily schedule that will work for you and help you to stay on track.

  1. Use Software, Apps & Equipment

Another thing that can be really handy is the equipment that you’re using. If your work is a mess, it’s hard for you to get anything done. So look into the benefits of USB 3.0 flash drives and cloud storage so that you can keep your files organized. Then, take a look at the apps and software packages that help you to boost productivity or manage your projects better too.

  1. Bring In Help

If you’re really stressed out about time, then hire someone. Don’t try to do everything yourself and struggle as a result. This is going to make you feel anything but organized. Instead, when you have someone to lighten the workload, you can keep your stuff more organized, get it done, and sail your way to success.

  1. Set Goals & Reassess Regularly

Now, one final thing that will help you to really stay on track with what you’re doing, and feel more organized, is to have goals. You can set these as part as your overall career plan, or you can set smaller goals monthly or weekly that can keep your workload and schedule organized on a micro level. Either way, you’ll want to make sure that you’re assessing them regularly. You need to check in with yourself to make sure on track, and this helps that overwhelming feeling to stay at bay.

Tried And Tested Business Practices

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You don’t really have to worry about trying something new out with your business. Chances are it has already been done by someone else, and it has already been tested to the highest standard to make sure it’s going to improve the way a business is ran. But the sad thing is, not a lot of businesses actually try and use them. They stick to what they know, and often what they know might not be the smartest move. So, if you know you haven’t pushed the boat out a bit and experimented with different business practices, here are a few tried and tested ideas for you to give a go.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is easy, simple, and one of the best things a business can do. There’s so many different elements to a business that could be outsourced as well. Some are more important, and will probably benefit your business so much if you actually gave it a go. One of the best is marketing. It’s so hard to understand how marketing actually works for some people. You’ve got the simple techniques such as social media marketing. This is a technique that is pretty easy to master yourself. Then you’ve got techniques such as SEO which is pretty complicated, but there are specialist agencies that you could outsource to to get them to do the work for you. Techniques such as SEO are so effective, so it’s probably best to outsource to get it right.

Relying On Software

Relying on software is something every business should do because there’s just so many different bits of software that can help a business. First, you’ve got ones such as cpq. what is cpq software you ask? It’s software that allows you to track and monitor sales and revenue, something that can be really difficult to do without the aid of such software. For pretty much every department of your business, there is software that can help with it. With accounts, there’s pieces that will allow you to track profits, losses, new customers etc. to see what your overall figures for the year might be without actually knowing. These predictions can save a companies life with things like overspending or overestimating the profit that might be made for the year.

Flexible Company Policies

A lot of companies are so strict, and it can have a real negative effect on the people that work for them. However, there are some companies that are so flexible, and their employee turnover is so low, and the overall satisfaction for working for the company is high. Try and be flexible with things such as annual leave, bonuses etc. You should also consider letting employees allocate their own breaks and their own break times. So long as they’re getting all their work done in the day, letting them have an extra half an hour or so to relax and recharge before finishing the rest of their shift might be beneficial for them and you!

We highly recommend you try a couple of these business practices and see how they help your business!

Outsourcing 101: Everything You Need to Know

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An increasing number of businesses are choosing to outsource today. As businesses grow, owners delegate certain tasks to external professionals to help them get ahead. If you are at this stage at your business, you may be searching for a bit more information about the outsourcing process and what to outsource. This post reveals everything you need to know.

What is outsourcing?

Outsourcing is a rather broad term. In general, it means assigning a task that would typically be performed in-house to a firm or individual outside your own office. Outsourcing can take many different forms, including the following:

  • Using online services for one-off tasks
  • Using work-from-home contractors and virtual assistants
  • Working with an agency to help you locate the best outsource contractors
  • Contracting with outsourcing firms that provide a wide selection of services
  • Hiring speciality independent contractors to perform tasks that your current staff do not cover

There are no restrictions regarding the tasks that can be outsourced. Everything from social media marketing and technical support to human resources (HR) and accounting can be outsourced.

What are the benefits of outsourcing?

There are many benefits associated with outsourcing, so long as you go about it in the correct manner. This includes the following:

  • Cost savings – One of the main reasons why a lot of business owners outsource is to save money. This is because you pay for what you need when outsourcing, which can sometimes be cheaper than the cost of taking on new staff or training your existing employees.
  • A specialist service – You can take advantage of expert knowledge to ensure a task is carried out to the highest standard. If you run a pet store, for example, it makes sense to outsource your marketing to a firm or individual that has the specialist skills to give your pet store greater visibility and attract more customers.
  • Develop internal staff – Rather than your staff focusing on tasks that do not fall within their specialism, they can focus on skills that will benefit your business and your bottom line.
  • Risk management – Inconsistency and uncertainty can occur when there are periods of high employee turnover. Outsourcing can help to bring a level of continuity to your business while reducing the risk that would occur due to a substandard level of operation.
  • Staffing flexibility – You can easily adapt to cyclical or seasonal demands thanks to outsourcing, as you can bring in added resources as and when you need them.
  • Focus on core activities – Focus on what your business does best! By outsourcing important business activities that are not your main area of specialism, your team can re-focus without sacrificing service or quality in the back-office.

How do you decide what to outsource?

The key question… should you outsource that or is it better to continue handling it in-house? There are a number of key questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you should outsource something.

  • Will you save money by outsourcing? The first thing you need to do is spend a bit of time working out your finances. You need to determine what is the most cost-efficient route to go down. It is important to consider costs as a whole; don’t merely look at the startup costs. Outsourcing can often be a bit more costly to begin with, yet it is usually cheaper in the long run. This is why it is a good idea to calculate the costs over a period of a year when comparing the two so that you can get a good understanding of the true cost of both options.
  • Is it distracting your employees? Are your employees spending more time on the task in question that they should be? If you find that your core activities are suffering because your employees’ attention is elsewhere, it is time to start thinking about outsourcing. This will enable your staff to focus on doing what they do best.
  • Do you need a one-off service or will it be on going? This is one of the important questions you need to ask yourself. Does this part of your business require constant attention? Is it a one-off task? Or will you only require people during certain months of the year? This will help you to determine whether outsourcing is right for you. If it is a one-off task you are dealing with, outsourcing is often best. For example, if you require legal services for a case that has been made against your business, this isn’t something that happens every day, and so it is certainly better to enlist the help of professionals. This site explains more about seeking outside expertise for such incidents. On the other hand, if this is an on-going task, for example, bookkeeping or accounting, you may want to consider keeping it in-house. This is so long as it is not distracting your employees, as per the former point.
  • Does the task demand specialist skills? You need to discover whether specialist skills are required for the task. For instance, if you are going to start a marketing campaign, and your team does not have any training or experience in this area, you may want to consider outsourcing. After all, the success of your service or product will heavily rely on how it is marketed, and so it is important to get it right. You don’t want to risk your product being a flop because of an amateur marketing campaign.

Before you get started…

Before you get started, make sure you carry out the following steps…

  • Make sure you put together thorough mock-ups – People are going to be fives times more likely to respond to you if you are clear about your requirements. Of course, your requirements may change over time, and this is completely fine. However, you do need to be clear about what is necessary so that you and the professionals you are conversing with are on the same page.
  • Know your budget – The next thing you need to do is determine how much you can afford. You will be able to narrow down your search more effectively if you know your budget.
  • When do you want to start – In most cases, the answer to this question will be ‘yesterday!’ However, it is important to have a good think about when you do really need to start the project. Service providers will often pitch to you depending on the availability of talent within their teams.
  • Deadline – It is also important to determine when the tasks need to be completed by. Do not enforce a strict deadline for the sake of it, as you could end up alienating some of the best candidates. However, if you do have a strict deadline and you cannot budge, make sure you are upfront from the very beginning.
  • Your necessities – You should make a list of any of the necessities you have, i.e. those qualities that you simply won’t budge on. For instance, you may require specific experience or you may want a service provider that is local.
  • Understand your priorities – Last but not least, you need to understand your priorities. Figure out what is important to you, be it scalability, security, budget, timeline or something else.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding the process that is entailed when outsourcing, as well as how to decide what areas of your business to outsource. You can now start looking for the best service providers for the tasks you have ready to be completed.