Finding the Right Long-Term Contractor

May 16, 2011 by

It's no longer difficult to find good remote contractors, but even easier than finding a new contractor is building trust and rapport with one you already know. Any competent contractor should follow your instructions, stick to budget and meet deadline — so how do you identify the potential star that you should invest in an ongoing relationship with? Read Full Article

Establish an Online Presence (Without Paying Much of Anything)

May 4, 2011 by

Having an online presence is not an option anymore. Whether you’re a coffee shop on Main Street or a graphic designer working from that coffee shop, you need an Internet home. Customers are going to look for you on the Web, and if nothing turns up in the search results? Well, they’re likely to move on to a competitor. “But wait,” you protest. “I don’t have the money for a nice website, and I sure don’t want to look like the online equivalent of a junk shop!” Ahh, sweep those protests aside. I’ll show you how to establish a cheap (and even free) online presence and make it look snazzy to boot! The Host With the Most To begin with, you need a hosting company to provide a spot for your web home. These companies sell you space (either by the month or by the year) in which to park your online domicile. Prices run a wide gamut, but here’s a few to check out that are inexpensive but (reportedly) reliable: ($5.95/month – unlimited storage space & free domain name) ($4.45/month – unlimited storage & free domain name) ($4.95/month – free site migration & wind powered hosting) Websites For Hire Often hosting companies offer building tools that allow you to quickly build an attractive website. But if you want more customization or a different look, then check out website templates. These are pre-designed sites that you upload to the host site, then tweak by plugging in the graphics and text you want displayed. It’s a very easy way to make your site look good without hiring a designer. If you’re not very comfortable with HTML or CSS, make sure that your hosting company provides help for uploading the template, … Read Full Article

What to Do When an Employer Goes AWOL

May 3, 2011 by

For a couple of minutes, think of your favorite contract and the awesome employer who awarded it to you. You love the job, you love how responsive and helpful he is, and yet along the way something strange happens. You haven’t heard from him for more than 3 weeks! What should a contractor do when his employer goes AWOL on him? Read Full Article

The Best I Ever Had

April 26, 2011 by

Everyone has something beyond their expertise and skills that they bring to work every day. For some, it's a nonstop positive attitude. Others, the ability to make everyone's workload feel a little lighter. As a contractor, what "bonus" characteristics can you bring to be considered a valuable member of the team? Read Full Article

Go Paperless: 5 Ways to Cut Costs & Eliminate Paper From Your Office

April 22, 2011 by

Ever feel like your desk (and your life) is buried in mounds of paper? Not only are those piles of documents organizational nightmares, they’re also potential money pits. The effort expended in trying to keep papers organized is zapping time that you could instead be using to get productive work done. Maybe it’s time to think about going paperless. Establishing an (almost) paperless office is good for you. It’s also good for our planet. Save money AND become a green crusader by implementing the following 5 tips and their accompanying tools into your existing workflow. Green Nirvana awaits! Create a Paperless Organizational Scheme: You can’t just start scanning documents willy nilly. You’ve got to first decide on a plan for keeping your digital files organized, searchable and properly archived. Otherwise, the paper headache on your desk will simply become the paperless headache on your desktop. Remember these rules: Choose clear & understandable file names Make ample use of folders and subfolders Keep folder size limited. 20 files per folder is a good size. Use software that allows you to search not only file titles, but file content as well. Paperless Toolkit: Once you’ve decided on a organizing scheme, then use a PDF scanner (like Scansnap) and a document storage tool (such as Evernote) to implement it. For more information on this particular software/hardware combo, check out John Chow’s blog post, How to Create a Paperless Office. Use Digital Contracts: Contracts are a vital necessity for every small business and freelancer. (For more info on contracts, check out this past oDesk post.) But trees no longer have to be chopped down to ensure you get paid. Thanks to the E-Sign Act (put in place by Congress in 2000), digital signatures are now considered … Read Full Article

How to Leverage the Global Workforce: 5 Quick Tips

April 13, 2011 by

The first precept of remote work is that it doesn't matter how far an employer has to go to find the right contractor. Even for small businesses, workers from around the world are within reach. For many employers, getting used to the idea that the web designer they need is in Lahore, or the graphic designer is emailing artwork from Buenos Aires, is the first conceptual hurdle to tapping the power of a global talent pool. The next step is realizing that not only is great distance not a disadvantage, it's something that can work in your favor. Read Full Article

Network Like a Politician: Building Effective Business Relationships

April 4, 2011 by

A successful run for government office is impossible to accomplish without participating in the time-honored tradition of shaking hands and kissing babies – in other words, doing some serious networking. Likewise, a successful small business or freelance career is only possible when you take time to develop and nurture connections. Whether it’s with vendors, customers or colleagues, career advancement depends on learning to build and maintain effective business relationships. Working as an elected official is the ultimate networking job. Nothing can be accomplished without at least some form of consensus, so the process of winning people over to your side is vital to success. One of America’s most famous presidents, John F. Kennedy, knew that networking was about far more than twisting arms – it was about extending AND maintaining his list of important contacts. Throughout JFK’s first year as President, there were frequent clashes with an uncooperative Congress. But he didn‘t simply adopt an “us versus them” mentality. Instead, he worked at building relationships. Sending handwritten birthday cards to members of Congress, inviting them to small, informal gatherings and making many personal phone calls to reminisce about old times were just a few of the expert networking techniques he employed. So how can you do the same? Here’s some tips to help you take your business networking to the next level. Network with Attitude First point to keep in mind: networking is not about you making a sale! No matter how “subtly” you go about it, the majority of potential contacts will be turned off by that kind of self-serving attitude. If finding new customers is the only reason you network, then you’re missing out on the bigger picture. Instead, adjust your attitude. Approach networking as a way to meet people who can give you useful advice, help … Read Full Article

Quirky Business Advice from Guy Kawasaki

March 29, 2011 by

Best known for his contributions to Apple's 1984 "evangelistic" marketing of the Macintosh, the co-founder of and popular business author/blogger Guy Kawasaki is frequently turned to for unexpected but profound business advice. When it comes to originality in his memorable tweets or his best-selling books, Kawasaki rarely disappoints. Read Full Article