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Management

What You Should Know Before Hiring an Independent Contractor

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Are you thinking of hiring independent contractors?

Hiring contractors is a budget-friendly way to help support your small business. They allow you to get your business done and grow your company, without the legal and financial hassle of bringing on full-time, salaried employees.

Freelancing is taking off as more and more people want freedom in their work schedules. So there is plenty of talent out there to help your business succeed.

But hiring an independent contractor can be tricky, so don’t make any offers before you do some research and know what you’re getting into. Keep reading to learn more about what you need to do before hiring an independent contractor.

Five Steps to Hiring an Independent Contractor

Independent contractors and freelancers can help your business thrive, but you shouldn’t hire just anyone. Certain forms need to be filled out, and there are unique rules when tax time comes around.

If you’re new to working with contractors, here are five steps you’ll need to take before bringing on independent contractors:

1. Always Check Credentials

There are a lot of great contractors out there, but make sure you always vet your candidates before you make any official offers. A lousy contractor could cause some legal trouble down the road.

Always ask for a copy of their resume and to see past examples of their work. You likely wouldn’t hire a full-time employee without meeting them, checking their references and making sure they’re legitimate.

2. Fill Out The Proper New Hire Paperwork

Just like full-time employees, contractors have paperwork that needs to be filled out before they can start legally working for your business. Make sure you have a W-9 form filled out for them. This form is the contractor’s equivalent to a W-4.

3. Make Sure You Sign a Contract

Before your contractor does any work for you, you should have some form of contract or work agreement in place. This will keep you safe legally and hopefully prevent any disputes later on.

4. Paying the Contractor

Paying your independent contractor isn’t that complicated. You can either have them charge you hourly or agree on a flat rate per project. The exact price and method of payment should be agreed upon before the project starts and laid out explicitly in your contract that you both sign.

All you have to do is make sure that you accurately record every payment that you send to your contractors, and pay stubs is an easy way to do this. You can generate pay stubs online by going to a website like https://www.thepaystubs.com.

5. Give Them Proper Tax Documents

If you pay your independent contractors more than $600 in a year, you’ll need to give them a 1099-MISC form and include the total amount that they were paid. They will need this form and information to properly file their taxes.

Learn More About Running a Small Business

Hiring an independent contractor might seem complicated, but it’s easy to do if you remember a few simple things. The extra help will mean that you can focus on doing other things and helping your business succeed.

Check out the rest of our website for more helpful business tips. We have articles ranging from finance to marketing and sales!

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Management

The Importance of Child Proof Packaging for Supplements and Other Items

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Many important items can be harmful to children in a variety of ways. For this reason, it is vital that supplements and other common products come in child proof packaging. Today, many packaging companies with a range of products produce everything from snack food packaging to child-resistant containers.

When ordering your packaging, check to make sure it complies with relevant state and federal standards for the intended product.

Common Types of Child-Proof Packaging

Child-resistant packaging comes in several types of forms. Choose the one that’s appropriate for the contents as well as your target demographic. While preventing access by children, you do not want to make it too difficult for the adult who is the intended consumer to open it.

Common child-proof closures include caps, zipper seals and sliders. Zippers and sliders are typically used to close pouches. Caps for closing bottles or jars may use one of these mechanisms:

  • Pull rings
  • Squeeze and pull
  • Rim snap
  • Double shell push

Some of these caps may come with foam or plastic lining. Depending on the product, the packaging may also need to be proof against spills or leaks.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Packaging

When selecting a specific type of child-resistant packaging for supplements, medications, eye drops and similar substances, making the best choice depends on examining a variety of factors. Doing so will enable you to obtain packaging that is child-safe and appealing to your customer base.

Applicable Laws and Regulations

Some products are legally required to have child-resistant packaging. If your items fall into this category, it is important to find out the specific requirements. You may need to look for a particular type of child-resistant closure. In addition, you may need to comply with labeling requirements.

Access by the Intended Customer

In the course of marketing your product, you have likely identified your customer demographic. If it has a large portion of elderly or ailing people, you may need to look for a supplement packaging company that knows how to produce containers that prevent children from opening them while allowing access by people whose age or health may impair strength and coordination.

Quality of the Contents

Both closure and container should be appropriate for the contents. Items such as supplements, medications and other chemical compounds often need containers of specific types of materials in order to maintain their quality. For this reason, it is important to partner with a packaging company that has experience in providing containers for your type of product.

Quality of the Packaging

Child-resistant packaging is not all created equal. Companies that offer child-proof packaging should have their product tested and certified by a reputable facility. Look for these certifications, which demonstrate that the packaging complies with applicable standards. In general, a reliable company uses high-quality materials and processes for its packaging. Many also offer competitive pricing; however, if you see too-low-to-be-true offers, this should be a cue to dig deeper and search for the company’s manufacturer and testing certifications.

Finding high-quality child-resistant packaging is important in many lines of business. You need packaging that makes your product look good, maintains its integrity and prevents children from harming themselves by accessing its contents. Partnering with a top packaging company can help you get the right packaging for your needs.

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Management

3 Ways to Improve Your Business Operations

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In a competitive market, you have no choice but to be constantly evolving. Sticking to operations and tactics that used to work for your business years ago may be causing it to lag behind in competition today.

Regardless of the size of your business, there’s no room for improvement without modern technology. Innovations work primarily in operational efficiency, which is crucial if you need to cut costs, optimize time, and enhance the customer experience. And guess what? Every business needs that if owners aren’t planning to shut them down anytime soon.

Without streamlining and facilitating, your company’s potential goes to waste. It’s time to change that with three simple tips.

Take a step back to evaluate shortcomings

If you haven’t kept track of industry trends in a while, you should get back into the habit ASAP. Sure, you know your company has something that makes it stand out, as do all other companies with similar purposes, and that should definitely stay the same. What shouldn’t stay the same are inert internal operations and old methods screaming for improvement.

Business owners aren’t the only ones involved in operational gearing. Without competent and productive staff, companies would never reach their goals or thrive in any way. That’s why your employees are as much a part of the goings-on as you are, and may have noticed several things you probably haven’t.

Periodically meeting with your employees to address gaps and areas in need of development is an open-minded approach, as it brings together different points of view from different departments into plans, and consequently tangible goals. Adopt this tactic to kickstart refinements and work towards increased efficiency.

Outsourcing is key

You may already have sketched out the changes you want to make, but the question is: how can you make them work well?

Oftentimes, being a constant part of your own business’ daily operations will lead to you and your employees overlooking certain aspects. When deploying an impartial party and its services, experts who aren’t familiar with your management might quickly pinpoint what needs to be improved, alongside when and how it should be done.

For example, companies like brightpattern.com offer a range of services to streamline customer service by implementing modern technology in call centers. There’s software that rids customers of dreaded long holds, allows customers and representatives to communicate through various channels (email, chat, phone calls), and provides employees with a dashboard containing all the necessary customer data for quicker and complete assistance.

So if poor customer service is what’s been holding your progress back, consider hiring tech-savvy services to assist with development.

Empower your employees

If workers can’t measure how well they’re doing and whether or not their work has a positive impact on the company, then they might be wasting time and money, and a reduction in headcount may be necessary. That’s why you need the right tools to use your best judgment.

It’s virtually impossible to accurately track employees’ productivity without performance metrics and a good communication strategy. Your staff members need numbers and pointers to know their strengths and weaknesses, but they also need to stay in the loop about current operations in order to help the company move forward. A combination of solid communication and numbered progress helps employees know how crucial their hard work is to collective success.

When operations are running smoothly and everybody is aware of their respective importance in a business, you’ll see a shift in events, customer retention and higher gain, and a cut in costs. Even after modern solutions are established, you should never stop seeking growth and ways to educate your employees. It’s a huge team effort — get everyone involved the right way, and you’re off to exceptional management.

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Management

Energy Up: Developing a Healthy, Competitive Work Culture

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Employees are burning out at increasing speeds at work. Work-related stress has increased significantly over the last several years. The stress increase is undoubtedly caused by higher expectations at work, increased work hours, and a toxic competitive culture. How can you, as a business owner, develop a healthy competitive culture that motivates workers and allows them to have a good work-life balance?

Burnout is precisely what employers should always be looking to avoid. A burnt-out employee is one who is stressed, possibly depressed, and of course, exhausted from work. As a business owner, it is essential to identify workers who are suffering from this condition, and the only way to do that is to communicate.

Identifying and Communicate

Sally is generally cheery at the office and brings baked cookies every Friday, yet since the three-weekend project you assigned her, she has not been herself. Sally’s suddenly quiet demeanor would be easy to spot and address, but not all employees manifest their signs the same way.

Burnout manifests itself in many ways, even catching some people by surprise. Before they know it, they are exhausted, cranky, unable to go on. You’ll notice a burnt-out employee will start to miss days at work, the quality of their work will decrease, and they may make mistakes they otherwise would not.

When you approach a burnt-out employee about their behavior, be sure to do it carefully as there can be varying reactions. While most will be happy to discuss their exhaustion and find solutions together, others may become angry by the assumption and flat out deny it. Being understanding is a top priority because it opens the door for answers.

Solutions to Burnout

Finding solutions to avoid potential burnout in your employees comes down to thinking proactively. You want to be sure that you can create an environment that is productive and competitive without asking too much of your employees. Below you will find some tested strategies to increase productivity without causing burnout.

Schedule Appropriately 

It can be easy to lose track of scheduling when assigning projects. If you yourself are juggling various projects at a time, you may be inclined to attribute as many to your employees. Everyone works at a different pace, and everyone demands a different level of attention. If you create a schedule based on the needs of your current team and consider the capabilities in each person, soon you will have a productive and competitive environment.

Provide Incentives

Everybody needs incentives; it is just the way that humans work. By pushing performance-based contests, you can have your employees eager to work on the projects you are assigning. A reward system can ease stress because it gives the employee a clear sense of what they are working towards and a goal to be reached. Incentives can help you eliminate burnout at work while harvesting healthy competition.

Communicate Properly

Once again, we return to communication. By leaving your office door open, you are letting your employees know that they can come to you with any concerns they may have. When employees know they can communicate with their supervisor, they are far more likely to work diligently and voice any concerns along the way so that they can be addressed right away. Open and eager communication is an excellent way of fostering a healthy work environment.

Provide Resources

Make work not only fun but also productive by providing your employees with all the tools they need to succeed. Clear outlines, reliable resources, and constant updates can help your team be in the loop of what is happening at the company. When an employee understands the mechanics of the workplace, he or she is less likely to suffer from stress and feel like a more valued part of the process.

A Positive Environment

Last but not least, a positive environment can make a world of difference at work. You and your employees should all have a can-do attitude to succeed. Why is this attitude so important? A can-do attitude is essential because positive thoughts help the brain release endorphins, thus reducing stress and boosting concentration. A group effort can take a team a long way, and it is up to you to make the necessary changes to promote it.

If Burnout Does Happen

Against your best efforts, burnout is still likely to happen. You can’t control how much your employees choose to work outside of the office, so it is inevitable that an overachiever will hit a wall. When this does happen, it is important to approach the situation respectfully and humanely.

Remember that even if you did your best to prevent this, the current situation is what’s important, and they are a human before they are your employee. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about the internal conflict they must feel like an overachiever having to force themselves to take a break.

It probably feels totally wrong and foreign to them, but it is important that you convey that they will perform better after they give themselves a break, and will be even more productive. Once your employees see you taking the steps to care for their colleague like this, they will be comfortable approaching you in the future if it happens to them.

The burnout might come with terrible timing – right before quarter close, the holidays, the beginning of the year – so it would be important at that point to discuss a scaled-back version of their role. A total break might not be feasible immediately, but emphasizing that a break will come soon can give them a light at the end of the tunnel.

Burnout No More

If you follow some of the tips listed here, you will find that harvesting a healthy competitive environment at work is not as difficult as it seems. Everything comes down to finding a balance and managing correctly. Remember that your employees look up to you and seek your guidance. Creating an environment where everyone can thrive is as simple as promoting an open and collaborative space.

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