23
Apr

Email Smarter With These Gmail and Outlook Plugins

Email Smarter With These Gmail and Outlook Plugins

Email Smarter With These Gmail and Outlook Plugins

Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Despite all the predictions that email would eventually be replaced by something better, that just doesn’t seem to be happening. No matter how hard companies like Slack and others try to kill it off, email keeps winning.

The best way to manage the daily deluge is to get some digital elves to assist in powering through those tasks. With third-party inbox plugins, you can get some help with writing better emails, creating a better system to keep in touch with your contacts, and saving those essential messages for quick retrieval.

Popular business email clients Gmail and Outlook have an extensive inventory of plugins that are ready to jump right in and get to work. If you want to email smarter and spend less time at it, here are five solid options to check out.

Boomerang is common among both Gmail and Outlook users because of how much data it can give about your inbox and those who respond to (or just ignore) your messages. This plugin lets you schedule emails, snooze them for later, get those all-important read receipts, and create follow-up reminders for those who put your emails on snooze.

The free tier gives you the basic feature set, but the real essentials like mobile tools and advanced machine learning require one of the premium subscriptions that start at $4.99 monthly.

This one’s exclusively for Gmail, and it offers a 21st century version of what was once known as a tickler file – a file folder where you put the stuff that you needed to get back to. FollowUp.cc will pull up previous messages, let you add in notes about contacts, and schedule nudges to keep in touch with others.

After the 14-day trial, you’ll need to pony up for a subscription plan starting at $18 per month. There’s also an edition that integrates with Salesforce data, though that’s priced at $40 monthly. There’s a deep amount of integration with the popular CRM software, so if your company is a heavy user of Salesforce services, it may be worth looking at.

The world of business requires that you use confident language, even if that’s not exactly how you’re feeling. This handy Chrome extension (Gmail only) called Just Not Sorry aims to help you do that. Phrases like “I just wanted to know” and “sorry about that” are flagged so you can avoid using them in your messages. You might be surprised at how often such phrases can creep into your language, and this app helps you banish them.

Evernote remains a popular organizational tool that also includes several collaboration features. Given how much information comes across via email, a one-click way to save something into Evernote can be very valuable.

Evernote makes a plugin for Outlook, and another for Chrome that will perform this same function with Gmail. Once you save a message, you can add it to a notebook, tag it and throw in a few notes for yourself.

The process of printing out, scanning and returning a document that needs to be signed feels like it belongs in the last decade. DocuSign is a workable solution. There’s a plugin for both Gmail and Outlook that allows you to add your digital signature to a document without the need to fire up the printer.

The plugins streamline the process so you can both send and receive such file types. Sending out files will require one of the company’s monthly plans, but it could be a worthwhile value for those in real estate or other industries that require a lot of authorization.

23
Apr

Best Dell Business Laptops 2017

Best Dell Business Laptops 2017

Best Dell Business Laptops 2017

As the third largest laptop manufacturer in the world, Dell commands 15 percent market share. Many business owners choose Dell over other brands because of the company’s comprehensive warranties, business-focused designs and accessible entry-level price points. When we set out to recommend our five favorite Dell laptops to our business readers, we wanted to cover as many bases as possible. We know that every business is different, so we segmented our selection to appeal to casual emailers, multitasking professionals, hardcore power users and everyone in between.

 

 

Dell XPS 13 (2017)

The XPS 13 is, hands down, the best Dell business laptop on the market. It’s not only one of the nicest-looking machines that the manufacturer has produced in the last several years, but it’s one of the most versatile and affordable as well. You can purchase the XPS 13 in a touch or non-touch model, but either way, you’re sure to be taken with the dazzling InfinityEdge display, great resolution (1920 x 1080), long battery life (13 hours, 49 minutes) and fast processing capabilities. The no-frills starting price is surprisingly low at just $799.99, but upgrading to Windows 10 Pro and an i5 core, which we recommend, will cost you a little extra.

 

 

Dell Latitude 7280

The New Latitude 7280 is an unmistakable workhorse of a machine, and it’s the clear choice for Dell users who require power and durability in equal measure. Don’t be tricked into the starting price of $1,029 on the Dell Latitude 7280. Most professionals would do well to upgrade to the pricier $1,830 model that we tested, which includes an Intel Core i7 and Windows 10 Pro. The New Latitude makes multitasking a breeze and offers a variety of docking options, which is perfect for professionals who want a specific workstation setup. It also boasts business-grade service options such as ProSupport Plus, ProDeploy Plus and Accidental Damage Service.

Best Value in a Dell Business LaptopDell Latitude 15 3570

Starting at just $439, the Latitude 15 3570 offers solid performance for the business professional who needs a reliable machine that won’t break the bank. The 15.6-inch screen is ideal for all-day work usage despite being fairly low-resolution (1366 x 768). The variety of ports, including an SD card slot, HDMI and multiple USB ports, make the Latitude 15 3570 surprisingly versatile. While bulkier and heavier (4.54 pounds) than Dell’s higher-end machines, the Latitude 15 3570 gets the job done, and the optional six-cell battery extends the battery life to an impressive 10 hours. If you opt for the Latitude 15 3570, do yourself a favor and upgrade to the $659 version so you can enjoy the benefit of Windows 7 Pro, a license for Windows 10 Pro and an i5 Core.

 

 

Dell Chromebook 13

If you’re looking to make the switch to a Chromebook for work, the Dell Chromebook 13 is a great choice. The 13.3-inch HD display, comfortable keyboard and ridiculously long battery life (more than 13 hours) combine to make it ideal for working in the office or on the go. With a low $449 starting price point and an attractive aluminum and carbon chassis, it’s got the stylish good looks you want in a professional-grade Chromebook at a price that allows for some add-ons.

 

 

Dell Precision 5510

If you need a high-performance workstation, the Dell Precision 5510 has you covered. The starting price is a little higher than other models on our list ($1,279), but the super-fast SSD, spectacular display (1920 x 1080) with miniscule bezel, and powerful dual speakers make it well worth the money. The Dell Precision 5510 can handle all the heavy graphics work you throw at it and multitask like a champ. The battery life is just under seven hours, but for a sleek workstation with this much horsepower (the starting model comes with an i5 Core but can be upgraded to a Xeon Quad), that’s not bad.

23
Apr

Small Business Snapshot: Kenway Consulting

Small Business Snapshot: Kenway Consulting

Small Business Snapshot: Kenway Consulting Credit: Kenway Consulting

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Brian King, president and CEO of Kenway Consulting, explains how this image represents his business.

In 2004, after nine years of working for one of the consulting industry’s global giants, I decided it was time to go out on my own and start the company for which I always wanted to work. Kenway Consulting, a Chicago-based management and technology consulting firm, was born.

At Kenway, we operate under the general philosophy of “always doing, under all circumstances, what is right” and believe that the means to success is actually more important than success itself. Each employee promises to uphold a set of Guiding Principles, oaths, if you will, that focus on integrity, quality, value and respect. It’s these Guiding Principles that continue to inspire and motivate us to find new and innovative ways to support our community.

I started Kenway because I believed there was an alternative to what I was seeing in the consulting landscape. I believed there was a way to focus on delivery, and let sales and growth be by-products of being good and spreading the word. I believed there was a way to focus on always doing right, even if that meant dips in revenue, believing that in the long run, growth would result from the integrity and good will that permeated. I believed there was a way to hire and retain talented personnel by focusing less on corporate goals, and more on the unique personal and professional goals of each employee. These were the attributes of the company for which I always wanted to work, and I knew that leading with culture was the best—and right—way to run a business. I was one person. I found one client. And I hoped that doing right would lead to more. And it has.

This photo symbolizes much of what Kenway represents as a company. We’ve hosted a golf outing each of the past seven years to raise money for a local charity, and this picture was taken at our 2016 event.  Kenway’s Shara Scheibe, who at the time had been an employee for only 4 months, is featured with her husband, Adam. Neither of them plays golf and employee attendance was not required. Despite these facts, Shara, her husband, and 90 percent of the Kenway team elected to come out that (rainy) Saturday to volunteer for Alive Rescue, a Chicago non-profit that serves as a rescue and safe haven for animals.  We raised $30,000 helping Phinney, the adult dog in the photograph who had been rescued from a Puppy Mill and sheltered by Alive Rescue, find his forever home.

What’s next for Kenway? Undoubtedly, some challenges still stand before us, not the least of which is being viewed with similar street credentials as those same industry giants that inspired me to start Kenway.  But from our modest means and thanks to our 40-plus employees’ efforts, we are on pace to achieve our five-year plan targeted for completion in 2020. In terms of culture, size, impact and location, Kenway’s employees are marching our company towards a shared vision that despite its documented outcomes, is focused squarely on the means to get there. We view our past with learnings, and look to our future with excitement, and hope to find some furry forever homes along the way.

23
Apr

Closing the Wage Gap: Salary Negotiation Tips for Women

Closing the Wage Gap: Salary Negotiation Tips for Women

Closing the Wage Gap: Salary Negotiation Tips for Women

Credit: Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

Most professionals have been asked about their current salary during a job interview. This question allows companies to base your new salary offer on your company’s identification of your worth, rather than what your actual market worth.

Because of this discrepancy, the salary question makes it easier for employers to perpetuate the gender pay gap. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, in 2015, based on median hourly earnings, women earned 83 percent of what men earned in both full- and part-time positions. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 44 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2015.

Massachusetts was one of the first states to bar employers from asking about applicants’ salaries before offering them a job, the New York Times reported last year.

The law, which is set to go into effect in July 2018, will require hiring managers to state a compensation figure upfront — based on what an applicant’s worth is to the company, rather than on what he or she made in a previous position.

“Professionals should be paid based upon their skills, experience and the value they bring to a position, not by their negotiation skills or salary history,” said Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume. “The [Massachusetts law] is an important step to closing the wage gap between men and women of equal talents and abilities.”

New York City is following suit. As of April 5, the city approved a measure that will prohibit companies from asking job applicants about their previous salary history.

“Proponents of the law champion it as a way to eliminate the pay gap, arguing that an employer’s use of an applicant’s previous salary history could lead to gender-based wage discrimination,” Christine Hendrickson, co-chair of Seyfarth Shaw’s Pay Equity Group and senior counsel, said in a statement. “The theory is that applicants would be paid based on their past earnings, rather than what they would be offered if judged on a blank slate.”

Hendrickson notes there is criticism of the bill because it’s believed that it will not eliminate any wage gap, but will instead create greater reliance on salary negotiation.

To further crack down on this initiative, the New York City Commission on Human Rights will be enforcing the new law, the statement said. The commission will impose a civil penalty of up to $125 for an unintentional violation, and up to $250,000 for an “intentional malicious violation.”

Though closing the gap through legislation is the first step, women have the power to demand change in their pay. However, according to Augustine, women are less likely to negotiate a job offer, setting themselves up to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their careers.

“Many women are scared to negotiate because they’re afraid of being considered too pushy,” Augustine said. “There is a fear that if they demand more money, the job offer will be revoked. They’re overly concerned about being polite, often to the detriment of their paychecks.”

In addition, Augustine said women often feel they need to prove their value before they can ask for more money. Men, on the other hand, often enter these conversations expecting to ask for, and receive, a better job offer.

“The fact of the matter is, if you don’t ask for what you want, you won’t get it,” Augustine said. “You have to negotiate.”

Regardless of gender, here are four tips from Augustine to help you negotiate the compensation package you deserve:

Do your homework. If you’re going to negotiate confidently, you need to be prepared. Research the market rate for your position by visiting Glassdoor.com, Salary.com and PayScale.com, accounting for the company’s location, size and industry.

Focus on your current and future value. What do you bring to the table? Make a list of your major contributions and accomplishments, quantifying them whenever possible. How have you (or will you be able to) cut costs, increase revenue, streamline efficiency, improve customer satisfaction, etc.?

Remember, it’s not personal. Negotiation isn’t about one person winning and the other losing. It’s about each party giving a little to keep or get what they want most. Leave emotions at the door. If you feel your emotions rising, hold off negotiating until you can pull it together.

Fake it till you make it. Confidence is essential to being a strong negotiator. You must exude self-assurance, even if you insecure or uncertain. Don’t apologize for negotiating – own it. Women often apologize when they’ve done nothing wrong and may be viewed as being weak or lacking conviction. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap.

“Not every great employee is a great negotiator,” Augustine told Business News Daily. “If [you don’t] possess stellar negotiation skills, there’s no reason why you should tolerate earning less money than an equally qualified candidate who does.”

23
Apr

Workplace Harassment: How to Recognize and Report It

Workplace Harassment: How to Recognize and Report It

Workplace Harassment: How to Recognize and Report It

Credit: KieferPix/Shutterstock

Harassment in the workplace manifests in many forms. It can present itself online or in person, and be verbal, physical or sexual in nature.

Abusive behavior like this creates a toxic work environment, but many workers feel uncomfortable reporting harassment to their bosses or HR managers.

“If you are being harassed or think you may be but are too scared to go forward, educating yourself on the facts is a great way to gain confidence to stand up for yourself,” said Becca Garvin, executive HR recruiter at Find Great People International. “The sooner you act on it, the easier it will be to put an end to it.”

Broaching the subject at work is understandably nerve-wracking. This nervousness is a normal feeling, said Brian McClusky, human resources director at InkHouse PR.

“Nervousness is probably the main reason employees don’t bring these issues forward,” he told Business News Daily. “If they are not comfortable addressing the issue with their harasser [there are some instances when it may not be safe to do so], HR is a neutral, safe, third-party resource.

“Employees should be reassured that their issue will be taken seriously, addressed quickly and thoroughly, and with as much discretion as possible,” he added.

Understanding what is happening to you may help when approaching the issue. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.

Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker or a nonemployee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.

“First and foremost, know that if you are being harassed at work, it’s illegal and you are protected by law. Not only are you protected from the person(s) harassing you, [but] you are also protected from your employer failing to protect you,” Garvin said. “If you know someone who is being harassed at work, you cannot lose your job by reporting it yourself.”

Harassment online can include hateful speech in emails, instant messages, tweets or other social platforms. It can range from name-calling to threatening behavior.

“People tend to be braver, which unfortunately includes being meaner, behind a screen,” Garvin said. “The good news about online harassment: It is documentable and easily proved. This helps so much with reporting and proving it.”

To monitor the situation, Garvin suggested taking screenshots, saving emails on your personal computer and keeping a file of everything that makes you uncomfortable.

Bullying is defined by the Workplace Bullying Institute as a systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction that jeopardizes your health and your career. It is typically a nonphysical form of violence, instead consisting of verbal abuse, gossiping or threats that result in emotional harm.

Indicators of health issues resulting from bullying can include intense job stress, a feeling of being controlled by another person at work and using your paid time off for “mental health breaks” from the misery.

“One cannot establish a sizable successful company in today’s world while having a culture of bullying,” said Phil Shawe, co-CEO of translation technology company TransPerfect. “Not only is bullying or intimidation the wrong managerial style to permit for moral reasons, it also is a bad way to do business that cannot scale and, anything built on such a culture will eventually fail once it gets beyond a mom-and-pop size.”

Violence in the workplace should be dealt with urgently. If a situation becomes violent, employees should call 911 immediately and avoid trying to intervene themselves. McClusky advised.

“Even security officers employed by a company or its facility are usually not legally allowed to physically touch the employees,” McClusky said. “Any threat or potential threat from a harasser should be reported and taken seriously, so that the proper parties — whether it be police, security, management, etc. — can be alerted and can take the proper steps.”

Sexual harassment is a serious offense, and it’s more common than you might think. According to a recent survey of 2,235 full-time and part-time female employees conducted by Cosmopolitan, one in three women have experienced sexual harassment at work at some point their lives. But it’s not exclusive to women: A person of any gender can be the perpetrator or the victim of sexual harassment.

Very generally, “sexual harassment” describes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment victims are protected under the law, because it’s a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law applies to employers — including federal state and local governments — that have 15 or more employees.

“Many people — the harasser, the victim, any witnesses and sometimes even the employer — do not know what is legally defined as harassment,” Garvin said. “Point blank, if someone is making you feel uncomfortable in a sexual way, it’s not right.”

The EEOC reported that 70 percent of women who experience sexual harassment at their jobs don’t report it, for fear their report would cause negative repercussions both personally and professionally. Regardless of how you think your action will be viewed, sexual harassment should be reported.

Human resources departments are meant to help employees at their companies, especially in serious situations in which employees feel uncomfortable or in danger. If you’re unable to resolve an issue with your harasser or feel that you’re in immediate danger, it’s time to seek help from HR, said Kaitlyn Apfelbeck, HR manager at Voices.com.

“The first question to ask yourself would be, ‘Do you think the situation would resolve itself from one conversation?’ If the answer is no, it is then appropriate to involve HR and department managers,” she said.

McClusky advised going to HR as soon as you can, because the sooner HR can appraise the situation, the better.

“Sometimes, the employee will wait, either because they are afraid of others finding out, or possibly even [of] retaliation or negative consequences to them,” he added. “HR can assure the employee that these situations are treated with confidentiality … and that an employee will never experience retaliation or adverse consequences for bringing a claim forward.”

Most HR departments take harassment allegations very seriously, and at the very least, they will launch an investigation. However, for disciplinary action or termination to occur, there typically needs to be a direct witness or hard evidence against the harasser.

“Hard evidence comes in the form of emails, texts or other forms of written communication, but he-said-she-said [disagreements] will need eye witnesses to be considered plausible,” Apfelbeck said. “If nothing can be proven, a note can be placed in an employee’s file to document an incident in case further situations arise. If other incidents do occur, they should be considered a trend in which you may investigate further.”

McClusky noted that in cases where there are no witnesses, the company must do its best to investigate thoroughly and take the most prudent course of action they can with the information that they have, while being fair to all parties.

“Even if there was not a witness to the event itself, the investigation usually reveals information about the parties that can help fill in some of the blanks,” McClusky said.

When in doubt, it is best to consult with HR, even if an issue seems minor, Apfelbeck suggested.

“If you are uncomfortable about something or suspect you might be involved in some form of harassment, tell your manager or the HR manager,” Apfelbeck said. “At the end of the day, your safety starts with you. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help.”

Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

23
Apr

The 10 Best (and Worst) States for Small Business Taxes

The 10 Best (and Worst) States for Small Business Taxes

The 10 Best (and Worst) States for Small Business Taxes

Credit: RawPixel/Shutterstock

The amount of state and local taxes you pay each year can have a huge impact on your business’s bottom line. That’s why it is important to know the type of tax burden you are facing when deciding where to launch your business.

A new study from Fundera revealed that Alaska and South Dakota are the best states for small businesses taxes, while New Jersey and New York are the worst.

“There are certainly other factors entrepreneurs should consider when deciding where to open up shop — population growth, access to capital, local laws, competitors, and so on — but looking at tax data is a great place for an aspiring business owner to start,” wrote Ben Johnson, a content marketing manager for Fundera, on the company’s blog. “If you choose to locate your business one state over, you could save thousands a year in taxes and hundreds of thousands over the course of your career.”

To determine the best and worst states for small business taxes, researchers primarily focused on tax burden, which is calculated by looking at the total amount in taxes residents of a state pay and then dividing that amount by the state’s total income. The tax burden shows the percent of total income an average business owner is paying toward taxes, rather than simply their income tax rate.

“Tax burden is an important measure for small business owners — it shows what percentage of their income they are spending on taxes rather than reinvesting in their own companies,” Johnson wrote. “With less of their income going to local and state taxes, entrepreneurs have more capital to reinvest in their business and potentially start new business ventures.”

This index includes 26 individual tax measurements, including taxes for income, property, sales, motor fuels, alcohol and death.

For the study, researchers started with the average salary for a small business owner in the United States: $76,010. They then applied the maximum possible deduction for single individuals, which varied from state to state, to determine the taxable income for the average business owner in that state.

The study’s authors then multiplied the taxable income by the state’s tax burden to figure out what the average entrepreneur would pay in state and local taxes.

“And since over 90 percent of U.S. businesses are pass-through entities (sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and S Corps), these businesses report their income on the business owners’ tax returns but are taxed on the individual income tax,” Johnson wrote. “So to calculate how much the average small business owner pays in taxes, we were able to look exclusively at individual taxes rather than business taxes.”

Based on the data, these are this year’s best states for small business taxes:

1. Alaska

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $4,930.42
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 6.5 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: No state income tax

2. South Dakota

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $5,391.10
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 7.1 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: No state income tax

3. Louisiana

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $5,422.16
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 7.6 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 6 percent

4. Wyoming

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $5,428.41
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 7.1 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: No state income tax

5. Tennessee

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $5,584.58
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 7.3 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 5 percent

6. Texas

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $5,759.25
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 7.6 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: No state income tax

7. South Carolina

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $5,877.73
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 8.4 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 7 percent

8. New Hampshire

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $5,987.03
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 7.9 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 5 percent

9. Oklahoma

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $6,011.25
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 8.6 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 5 percent

10. New Mexico

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $6,073.59
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 8.7 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 4.9 percent

On the flip side, New Jersey and New York are the worst states for small business taxes, because the research shows that business owners who live there pay almost twice as much as they would if they lived somewhere else.

These are the 10 worst states for small business taxes in 2017:

1. New Jersey

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $9,279.68
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 12.2 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 8.97 percent

2. New York

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $8,652.48
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 12.7 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 8.82 percent

3. Illinois

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $8,349.68
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 11 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 3.75 percent

4. Maryland

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $8,073.92
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 10.9 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 5.75 percent

5. California

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $7,883.32
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 11 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 13.3 percent

6. Massachusetts

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $7,805.71
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 10.3 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 5.1 percent

7. Connecticut

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $7,760.00
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 12.6 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 6.99 percent

8. Pennsylvania

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $7,743.42
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 10.2 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 3.07 percent

9. Oregon

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $7,642.56
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 10.3 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 9.9 percent

10. Minnesota

  • Average small business owner state and local taxes: $7,560.69
  • State tax burden (as percent of income): 10.8 percent
  • Top state income tax bracket: 9.85 percent

The study’s authors admit that there were some limitations to the research. They said it is difficult to define the average business owner, since salaries differ by industry, location within a state and a business owner’s experience.

In addition, applying a maximum deduction assumes that all small business owners only deduct the standard deduction from their incomes.

“But many business owners have deductions, exemptions, and credits that decrease the amount of taxes they pay,” Johnson wrote. “To compare states, we needed a control for the study — so we assumed the typical small business owner takes the maximum deduction available for a single filer.”

You can find specifics on tax burden and maximum deductions for each state on Fundera’s website.

23
Apr

The Best Fonts to Use on Your Resume

The Best Fonts to Use on Your Resume

The Best Fonts to Use on Your Resume

Credit: lyeyee/Shutterstock

One of the most important design choices you can make on your resume is your font. The typeface you use can send a strong message about your personality, style and professionalism – all of which can impact a hiring manager’s impression of you before they’ve even met you in person.

“Since a prospective employer is looking at the resume for only (a few) seconds, you want (a font) that is aesthetically pleasing and grabs the employer’s attention at a quick glance,” said Wendi Weiner, a certified professional résumé writer and founder of The Writing Guru.

So how do you choose from the countless available fonts to find the right one for your resume? Though there are several different font families, most job seekers go with serif fonts — stylized fonts with tails and other decorative markings, like Times New Roman — or sans-serif fonts, simpler, no-frills varieties like Arial. A Weemss infographic on the psychology of fonts said that serif typefaces are associated with being reliable, impressive, respectable, authoritative and traditional, while sans-serif fonts are seen as universal, clean, modern, objective and stable.

No matter which font family you choose, your typeface should be easy on the eyes and should show up well both in print and on a screen, regardless of size or formatting. It’s also a good idea to choose a standard, universal font that works on any computer’s operating system, as your resume will also likely be scanned by automated applicant-tracking software.

According to resume and career experts, here are the best font choices for job seekers, and the kind of message each one sends to potential employers.

If you want to use a sans-serif font, Arial is one of the best options for your résumé. Barbara Safani, owner of the career management firm Career Solvers, told AOL Jobs that she likes to see the Arial font because the lines are clean and it’s easy to read. A Creative Group blog post noted that some hiring managers may find Arial to be banal and unsophisticated. However, this tried-and-true classic has become a standard and is definitely a safe choice.

As the default Microsoft Word font, Calibri is an excellent option for a safe, universally readable font. Professional résumé writer Donna Svei is a strong advocate of Calibri on resumes, noting on her blog, AvidCareerist, that this font is familiar to most readers and renders well on computer screens. Svei also noted that 12-point Calibri produces a “perfectly sized” two-page résumé of 550 to 750 words.

This serif font is another “default-type” font that works well for a resume because many recuiters are familiar with it. A Monster.com blog post describes Cambria as being “not as formal as Times New Roman, but just as dependable.”

If you work in a creative industry like fashion or photography, you can showcase your style and sophistication with Didot. A Canva Design School blog post called this serif font “distinctive” and classy,” praising its upscale look. However, author Janie Kliever cautioned job seekers that, since delicate serifs display best at larger sizes, you may want to use Didot only for headings on your resume. Download it from UFonts.

Job seekers looking for an old-style font should consider using Garamond for their résumés. This timeless typeface has “a simple elegance that looks polished in print … or on screen,” wrote The Creative Group.

If you want a traditional-looking alternative to the oft-overused Times New Roman, consider switching to the Georgia font. A Colorado Technical University infographic on Mashable recommended using Georgia because of its readability: The font was designed to be read on screens and is available on any computer.

This clean, modern, sans-serif font is a favorite among designers and typographers. Helvetica appears in numerous corporate brand logos (Nestle, Lufthansa and American Apparel, to name a few) and even on New York City subway signs. In an article on Bloomberg Business, typography expert Brian Hoff of Brian Hoff Design described it as “professional, lighthearted and honest,” noting that is reads as “business-y.” Helvetica comes preloaded on Macs, but PC users can download it from The Fonty.

Despite being called the “sweatpants of fonts,” this universally recognized typeface remains a popular résumé choice. Marcia LaReau, founder and president of Career Strategist, wrote on Forward Motion Careers that Times New Roman will show up as clean, easy-to-read text on any computer. While this font is highly readable and safe, be aware that, as with Arial, using it may be construed as boring and unimaginative, and it is unlikely to stand out in a sea of résumés.

Job seekers who want a sans-serif typeface but don’t want to use Arial or Verdana can switch to Trebuchet MS. According to ZipJob, this font was specifically designed to appear well on a screen. It’s also a bit more textured and modern-looking than many traditional resume fonts.

Here are a few other popular résumé font choices that are clear, legible and scalable:

Serif – Bell MT, Bodoni MT, Book Antiqua, Bookman Old Style, Goudy Old Style

Sans-serif – Century Gothic, Gill Sans MT, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, Verdana

Additional reporting by Chad Brooks. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

23
Apr

Want to Join the Gig Economy? 15 Companies Hiring Freelancers

Want to Join the Gig Economy? 15 Companies Hiring Freelancers

Want to Join the Gig Economy? 15 Companies Hiring Freelancers

Credit: LOFTFLOW/Shutterstock

The way people work has been changing. No longer is it commonplace for a worker to spend their entire career at one company. In some cases, even working a single full time job at all is a thing of the past. Many workers have eschewed the structural limitations of the 9-to-5 and the physical office in favor of becoming independent contractors; freelancers; in short, by becoming entrepreneurs. While the flexibility and autonomy is enticing, being a freelancer means hard work, networking to land good gigs, and producing great work to boost your reputation. Here’s a look at the lay of the freelancing land and some advice on how to succeed out on your own.

According to a study by Upwork and Freelancers Union, 60 percent of freelancers in the U.S. started freelancing by choice versus necessity, and 67 percent of freelancers agree that more people are choosing to work independently today compared to three years ago.

Freelancing offers freedom and flexibility, and many workers are opting for this lifestyle over traditional, full-time opportunities. For instance, Nick DiUlio, a freelance journalist and adjunct professor of journalism at Rowan University in New Jersey, had been freelancing in his spare time and assumed it would be a stopgap between full-time gigs.

“It started as a way to get out of a toxic workplace where I was unhappy,” DiUlio told Business News Daily. “I loved the flexibility and variety. After a year, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

Whatever your skill set, it’s important to recognize market demand to keep your freelance business running. According to a study performed by FlexJobs, these are the top 15 companies for hiring freelancers so far this year.

  • Mandarin-English Interpreter
  • ASL Interpreter
  • In-field Quantitative Market Researcher (multiple locations)
  • Danish Telephone Interpreter
  • Cantonese Telephone Interpreter
  • Teacher – Family and Consumer Science
  • Project Manager
  • Senior Project Manager
  • High-Value Insurance Consultant (multiple locations)
  • Curriculum Consultant
  • Sales Associate
  • Virtual Teacher, English
  • Virtual Teacher, Chemistry
  • Social Studies Curriculum Writer/Subject Matter Expert
  • Astronomy Alignments Contractor
  • Relief Veterinarian (multiple locations)
  • Insurance Premium Auditor
  • Loss Control Surveyor
  • Content Manager
  • Guide – DIY Fashion
  • Local Childcare Coordinator (multiple locations)
  • Picture Editor
  • Vector/Illustration Reviewer
  • Senior Web Developer
  • Business Program Launch Manager

DiUlio advises having a well-thought-out plan and doing your research before you begin looking for freelance work.

“You need to know and approach [freelancing] with an economic plan,” DiUlio said. “Web-based writing is a little easier, because the payment turnaround is quicker, as opposed to print which could have 30-, 60- or 90-day turnarounds.”

Knowing payment structure, how much you’ll get paid and when is invaluable information for your freelancing career, he added.

Most importantly, think of yourself as a business of one, said Ryan Johnson, director of categories at Upwork.

“Budget time to build your personal brand and market yourself,” Johnson said. “In addition, allocate some of your time to refreshing your existing skills and adding new ones. Businesses are increasingly turning to freelance marketplaces to access skills that an in-house team doesn’t have. Keeping yourself up-to-date with new and emerging trends will make you more desirable.”

It’s important to remember to keep in touch with your contacts, and to make new ones, said Michael Parker, vice president of collaboration at join.me. Networking is especially important for freelancers, to help get new client leads.

“Attend industry events you’re interested in,” Parker said. “Go to other events to network with prospective clients and sources.”

The best way to start once you’re ready? Just do it.

“Once you set up [an online] profile and land your first project, you’ll be able to showcase your work, receive client reviews and start building your online reputation,” Johnson said. “You should view your profile as a more innovative, better version of a résumé, since it provides proof of your work.”

Whether you make a career out of freelancing or use it as a part-time platform, acknowledge your worth and don’t work for free, DiUlio said.

“[For] your work, whatever that may be, you deserve to be paid,” he said.

Additional reporting by Adam C. Uzialko.