Fifty years ago, men and women had little choice but to enter into a traditional career. Many from small towns simply followed their mom or dad’s footsteps and even those living in big cities typically molded themselves into whatever jobs were available. Work was something that, up until just a few decades ago, meant logging a 40-hour week and toiling away on someone else’s timeclock. But the internet has changed things dramatically.
Today, the dream of most working adults is to enjoy life on their terms and work when it makes the most sense for their lifestyle. And it’s easier than ever to connect to opportunities. Sites such as Fiverr and UpWork allow independent contractors and freelance workers to locate one-time and temporary projects. From freelance writers to dog-walking debonairs, today’s advanced level of social connectivity makes it easier than ever to break in to what has been dubbed the “gig economy.”
A balancing act
For those looking to break in to the wonderful world of freelance or consulting work, the most important thing to know is that it’s a balancing act. There are plenty of pros and cons. On one hand, a freelance worker makes his or her own schedule and sets their own pay rate. On the other, work is not always guaranteed and even a minor misstep can leave a seat open for the next contract worker in line. But, without risk, there is no reward.
According to Harvard Business Review, there are four things that all freelance workers must connect before jumping headfirst into the world of temporary work. The first is simply having a place to work. For writers, graphic designers, and other desk-job professionals, this might be a home office. Artists and artisans will need a dedicated space to complete their craft. Others still may only require a place to store tools and materials needed for off-site work, such as tutoring, painting murals, or performing at events.
The second necessary element to successful freelance work is having a routine in place. Third, people who work independently must have a purpose in the form of a clear objective. Finally, independent workers must have a strong social network to avoid loneliness, which can be a real problem for people devoid of human contact during the workday.
Getting started in the gig economy isn’t that difficult for those willing to put themselves out there. Many people don’t realize it, but they have talents that others are willing to pay for. “Dog people” are a great example and can provide valuable pet sitting or dog walking services to busy families unable to devote that time to their canine companion. Similarly, people who have a knack for calligraphy can sell the services to create signage for wedding venues or artistic birth announcements. Graphic designers can also pull away from the corporate world by offering their visual marketing services to individuals or businesses not needing a full in-house design team.
More than anything, new freelance workers need to understand the ins and outs of business. From being able to communicate effectively with potential clients to knowing how to manage money and properly pay self-employment taxes, being a gig guru requires a nearly unimaginable amount of business acumen.
Success is a slow process
Aspiring freelancers need to understand that success is not an overnight achievement in the gig economy. One completed job won’t lead to another if it’s not top-notch. In addition to traditional marketing, freelancers often enjoy the bulk of their financial gains in the form of word-of-mouth and, to an ever-increasing extent, from online reviews.
Contrary to popular belief, being an independent contractor is not an open invitation to success. It takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance that must begin and renew with each gig.
For more on the pros and cons of self-employment check out this Forbes’s article on the topic.
One of the most critical decisions for launching an online business is deciding on which credit card processor to use and how you will choose to process your customer's payments. There are two primary methods to choose from: You can use a true merchant account and do it yourself or you can use what is known as a third-party processor. The credit card processor method you select can possibly effect the execution of your entire website.
Probably the best way to choose a credit card processor is by simply listing your needs and then comparing the various available plans. Will cost be the most important element and what other factors will be involved? Try comparing both a true merchant account to third-party credit card processors side by side.
How is a true merchant account different from a third party credit card processor?
True Merchant Credit Card Processors
With a true merchant account, you are the merchant and you have the option of applying directly through a bank. However, this is often done through a sales agent. The account will be dedicated to your business only. You, as the merchant will have total control over the account and be totally responsible for it in every way. You will have to provide a gateway for the account because this will not be included in the account.
Note: Some companies that offer credit card processor plans will extend a bundle that includes a gateway as an enticement. You are free to choose any gateway you prefer since they are totally separate entities.
Basically, your merchant account for a credit card processor is a direct account with MasterCard, Discover Card, Visa, and American Express. If you resolve to accept payments from their members, you must abide strictly by their rules.
Third-Party Credit Card Processors
A third-party credit card processor company has it's own merchant account and they allow individuals and businesses to accept credit card payments through them. A third-party credit card processing company has all of the power since they make the rules, which you must adhere to since they are allowing you to share their merchant account.
When should you consider using a third-party credit card processing company?
-If your business isn't registered
-If you have been blacklisted
-If you or your mechanize is considered high risk
-If you have poor credit or no credit
-If you only process a small amount of transactions
If you are a non-programmer and can't carry out a complex API.
Additional considerations concerning third-party credit card processing
1. They will not charge higher rates for high risk businesses
2. They don't perform credit checks
3. They can't be used with a separate gateway
4. Their name appears on your customer's credit card statements
5. It can take up to a month to receive deposited funds.
6. You can't negotiate rates for third-party credit card processing.
Most reputable online merchants understand they will be accepting credit cards online and that they will need a merchant account and a payment gateway. There are good reasons for assuming this:
-If there are large volumes of transactions to be processed, the discount rate will be far superior with a true merchant account than with a third-party credit processing company.
-The merchant will have 100% control over the account. The merchant can deal directly with customers and it's the merchant's name that appears on the customer's credit card statement.
-Transparent checkout feature - Allows the customer transaction to be processed directly on the Merchant's Website, rather than being redirected to a third party site.
-Portrays a more professional image - A true merchant account is a more seamless process which is expected from customers.
When you apply for a true merchant account, you will have to go through a full credit check and you may not use the account in anyway for your own personal use. The rates are always negotiable but high-risk products will garner much higher rates. You may use a separate gateway of your choice for credit card processing and your business name will always appear on the customer's statement. Funds will be deposited within 1-3 days and you may be locked into a contract for several years.
Most online businesses that are just starting out have small margins and tight budgets. Cost will be the single most important factor in choosing a credit card processing company for most of them. The needs of each business will vary, as will the offers they receive for credit card processing. In making a comparison, it's almost like comparing oranges and oranges and can be quite difficult.
One way to approach the comparison process is to collect the data on fees associated with both third party and a true merchant account first.
-Setup fee: how much you need to pay to establish the account
-Discount rate: the percentage of sales that the processor takes
-Transaction fee: the flat fee the processor charges for each transaction
-Monthly fee: the monthly fee associated with keeping the account active
-Setup fee: the cost to set up a gateway
-Gateway monthly fee: the monthly fee charged by the gateway provider for use of their payment gateway services
Next, list the number of transactions you will make each month and how much the average customer will spend on your Website. There is a multitude of third-party processors and true merchant providers for credit card processing that may be compared. For example, Paypal and Verisign are two well known companies, but are completely different.
You may ultimately use both of these methods to use credit card processing online but the way in which they are implemented are very different. Each has it's own particular advantages. Since every business is different, you must consider all of the factors involved with accepting credit cards online, not just the costs. Sometimes, paying a few additional costs in fees can enhance your customers experience and the overall appearance of your Website. Take ample time to explore all of your options in order to find the best cost-effective credit card processing company that fills the needs of your online business.
You can end procrastination if you set up a plan to do it. It only takes eight small steps toward success to beat it. If you keep these steps in mind before you get started on any project, you’ll be able to stop procrastination before it even gets a foothold.
1. Change Your Perception
Often when you think of the end project it can be overwhelming. It’s important to switch your perception on a project and not see it as an end product. Plus, you don’t want to let your false opinion of any one thing to cloud your judgement, whether that is that the tasks are dull, or that they’re worthless, or that you just can’t do them. You have to let all that go and try to find some excitement in doing the work.
2. Let Go of Fear
Realize that most procrastination is rooted in fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of not being good enough. Many people get so tied up in perfection that they can’t finish anything and never succeed, so that fear becomes self-perpetuating and never-ending. If you can let go of judgment and fear as you work through the tasks, you’ll be able to end procrastination.
3. Chunk Up the Project
No project is just the deliverable. All projects have steps that need to be done some in order, some together, but no project is just the end. In school, when you first started doing reports, your English teacher assigned to you different aspects of the project with due dates. You probably did the outline first, perfected the outline, worked on your topic sentences, and then each point of the report, a little bit at a time. Chunk up the work you need to do in the same way.
4. Just Get Started
You may not realize it’s that easy, but it is. Our minds change focus when we get started. It’s like that workout you don’t want to do; in the middle of it, you’re perfectly fine with it. And of course when it’s over, you’re satisfied that you did it. It’s the same with any work that you don’t want to do. Get started, and someplace in the middle you’ll feel differently.
5. Talk About It Publicly
Social media is great for this. Just announce on Twitter or Facebook to your friends, or a special group, that you’re doing xyz right now and will be for the next 90 minutes. Telling people you’re doing it will help you actually do it because you don’t want to become a liar.
6. Work in Breaks
If you have a long day of tasks you don’t like doing, and you cannot outsource them, work in breaks. In fact, even if you like doing the tasks, you need to have breaks in order to be healthy. Eat right, exercise, and drink plenty of water no matter what you’re doing. It will help keep your mind clear and your body healthy.
7. Ask for Accountability
If you are having more problems, be sure to find an accountability partner. You can pay for that in a life coach, or business coach, or you can ask a trusted friend or family member to help you break your pattern of procrastination.
8. Reward Yourself
Everyone likes to be rewarded for a job well done. Work in ways to reward yourself that are healthy. If you finish a huge project on time, get a massage or go to a good movie with your partner.
Procrastination doesn’t have to beat you. You can control the desire to put off things by just taking small steps each day to end procrastination.
There are a lot of ways to increase your income and set yourself up for success.
One of them is to find ways to create multiple streams of income.
What that means is that you have different ways to bring in income that don’t depend on each other.
For example, you may provide a service, sell a product, host paid mastermind groups, create an inner circle, provide coaching and more.
There are many things you can do that will enable you to bring stability to your income so that you don’t have all your eggs in one basket.
You can earn money blogging by getting your name out there, becoming popular in your niche, and building up traffic to your blog. You can make money off ads, sponsored posts, affiliate products and more.
2. Email Marketing
Collect targeted audience information (from a form on your blog), and you can then market affiliate products, information products, training programs and more to them.
3. Information Marketing
Do you know things that have worked for you in some area of life within a particular niche? If so, you can create and sell information products, such as books and videos, which teach your audience something valuable.
4. Affiliate Marketing
This type of marketing works both ways. If you have information products or other types of products that you sell of your own, you can create a program that allows other people to promote the product and earn a small commission. Conversely, you can do the same by selling products for a commission on your website, blog, and in email marketing.
5. Training Programs
While information products are sometimes types of training products, you can go far more in depth with the training. You can create a drip course for email, or by using some form of learning management system on your website.
6. Continuity Programs
One of the best ways to earn money is to create a monthly recurring program that never ends. They pay by subscription. There are many types of examples of this, such as a paid inner circle or private group.
7. Coaching Programs
If you’re successful running a particular type of business, you can actually start coaching people on the side about how to do what you’ve done. This can be a lucrative extra stream of income.
8. Online Communities
A popular stream of revenue is online communities such as mastermind groups, inner circles, and private groups that you can only enter if you pay and are part of the right audience. Typically space is limited.
These are just a few of the ways you can create multiple streams of income online. There are also ways you can do it offline such as savings, investing, rental income, and more. This will keep you from being stuck trading hours for dollars, which inherently limits your income.
For some people, the idea of starting a business sounds like the worst idea in the world. They would rather work all the years of their life for someone else than even consider having a business of their own. For others, however, there is nothing more exciting than the thought of starting a business they can call their own.
Many people dream of starting a business from the time they are young. These people love the idea of being creative and of selling products or services they believe in. They love the idea of convincing others to love the same things they love and they usually like the idea of working with money. Starting a business of their own sounds like the ideal way to spend their life.
If you're one of these entrepreneurial people that dream of one day starting a business, you can begin the process by taking the time to ask yourself some important questions that will give you more understanding and direction of how to proceed.
First, if you're considering starting a business, try to brainstorm the kind of business that you would want to start. Do you dream of selling your services or of having coffee shop, or is the idea of selling sports equipment more your style?
You see, you can have a business for just about anything, so it is important to narrow your ideas into a couple of focused ideas for starting a business. It's usually true that starting a business will go better if your business is focused on something that you love. Without passion you will not get very far with your dreams. However, many people create businesses that become very successful in areas they no nothing about if they hire the right people.
You should be a combination of realistic and idealistic when you're making plans for starting a business. You have to have a real understanding of factors like money (have you hired a bookkeeper and CPA?), time, and resources for your business, but you'll never have the business you dream of if you wait until you have all of the details figured out. So allow yourself to get pretty detailed in your ideas for starting a business. Write out parts of starting a business that seem easy and possible and write out parts of starting a business that seem hard or like they could never happen.
Another important thing to do before you rush off in starting a business is to sit down with current business owners and learn everything they can teach you. Their years of trial and error will be invaluable to you as you seek to begin the process of starting a business yourself. Many have gone before you, so utilize their resources and be a learner.
Take steps of planning and preparation and your dream of starting a business can become a reality quicker than you'd expect.
Kaylin Leland, owner of The Bean Counters Bookkeeping is the author of Putting The Puzzle Together - A Modern Business Perspective, a must-read for every new entrepreneur.