Month: June 2019

Self-Employed 401(k) Plans: Frequently Asked Questions

June 17, 2019

The number of people who run their own business continues to trend up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.6 million people worked for themselves in 2016, and that’s projected to increase to 10.3 million by 2026.

Working for yourself may give you the ability to make more money than you would working for someone else, but it also means you need to have your own retirement plan in place. One of the most popular retirement plans for independent workers is a self-employed 401(k). We spoke to two financial experts to find out how these retirement plans work.

Logan Allec, CPA and owner of the personal finance site Money Done Right, and Adam Bergman, a trained tax attorney and president of IRA Financial Trust and IRA Financial Group, offered their insights about these plans, including the maximum contributions, taxes, investments and fees.

Editor’s note: Looking for an employee retirement plan for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

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What is a self-employed 401(k) plan?

Allec: This plan goes by many names, including solo, individual and single-k, but they all mean a 401(k) retirement savings plan for the self-employed person. You can contribute a large amount of money to this plan every year and then start taking distributions from the account after you turn 59.5 years of age.

What is the best retirement plan for a self-employed person?

Allec: I think that, for most businesses, the solo 401(k) is the best. Many small businesses can contribute more to a solo 401(k) than, say, a SEP at the same income level. With an IRA, you can only contribute $6,000 (50 years or under) or $7,000 (50 years or over) in 2019. With a SEP IRA, you can’t …

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How to Create Meaningful Blog Content for Your Audience

June 17, 2019

Due to the stiff competition in the marketing world, it’s crucial that you jam-pack your blog with fantastic content. High-quality blog posts are more likely to rank well on Google because they give your audience valuable information or make them feel good, which generates traffic.

Listen to your readers

Listening to your audience is crucial to creating a successful blog. Generally, something only has meaning if it appeals to you, right? The same rule applies to the people you write for on your website.

There are a couple of ways you can get feedback from your readers. The most common way that businesses discover what kind of content their audience wants to read is simply by asking them. You can put a poll on your website or your social media account and give your followers the ability to vote for the content they want to see on your website.

Similarly, you can send out a message to subscribers on your email list and ask them which article headline has the most appeal. Odds are, if consumers are dedicated enough to subscribe to your email list, they are loyal enough to voice their opinion when you ask them for their thoughts.

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Incorporate images and video

Creating quality content is about more than the words you choose when writing; it’s also about presentation. The use of videos and images is on the rise across all industries. After looking at the research, it’s not hard to imagine why media is so important in your blog posts. A staggering 43% of consumers expect videos when browsing blog content.

At the same time, studies show that content …

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How to Navigate a Potentially Polarizing Partnership

June 17, 2019

On certain issues, such as diversity in the workplace or gender equality, some businesses can’t afford not to take a stand.

For many large companies, this doesn’t carry as much of a risk, as they can be more difficult to boycott if customers don’t agree with their views. According to the CMO Survey conducted by Forbes, only 17% of small businesses feel that it is appropriate for them to take a stance on a social issue.

But what should small business owners do if they have an opportunity to partner with a larger company that has made its polarizing opinions known? Would this be good or bad for their business? 

How to conduct thorough due diligence 

According to the 2017 Edelman Earned Brand Report, more than half of consumers buy or boycott brands based on the brand’s stance on a social issue. Therefore, whenever you are considering a partnership, it is important to understand the risks involved.

Due diligence is extremely important in the current social climate. Rather than taking an overt social stance, some brands may instead invest money, resources, expertise or technology in areas that your customers don’t agree with. Even if your partner isn’t directly or indirectly promoting a social issue, they may have stakeholders who are actively taking a particular stance. 

So, how can you conduct thorough due diligence and know exactly who you’re partnering with? Look at the potential partner’s past and current marketing tactics and social media, including those of their stakeholders, associates, and board of directors. Review the results of those marketing strategies and see how successful they were, how they impacted sales, how the public reacted.

Organizations that spend more than $13,000 quarterly on lobbying activities are required to disclose those activities to the public. Also, try to find out if …

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Choosing an Employee Monitoring Software Solution: A Buyer's Guide

June 17, 2019

Almost everyone has worked alongside someone who didn’t take their responsibilities seriously. Whether they’re checking social media and playing games on the clock or searching for inappropriate content on company-owned devices, there are always employees willing to use their computer privileges improperly.

As online work has grown, so, too, have remote workers and independent contractors, exacerbating the need for keeping tabs on employee device usage. As employee independence increases, employers need a way to ensure they are remaining honest and productive. That’s where employee monitoring software comes in.

Employee monitoring software can track time, protect sensitive data and monitor individual employee productivity. It can help employers identify problematic usage, such as unauthorized web searches or software. It can even track every keystroke made by an employee and capture real-time footage of their screens. Best of all, problematic usage can be automatically identified through custom rules and policies, which administrators can set and edit at any time.

Whenever a violation occurs, administrators will be automatically alerted and provided with supporting documentation. Some employee monitoring software applications even allow your admins to take control of an employee’s device if needed. Employee monitoring software is a comprehensive tool that gives control back to employers and restores accountability in the digital era.

If you’re considering using employee monitoring software, there are a few things to understand first. This buyer’s guide will help get you started and steer you toward some of the best employee monitoring software on the market today. 

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What Is Employee Monitoring Software?

Employee monitoring software provides administrators with a set of tools and features that track and record employee behavior on …

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How To Become A White Hat Hacker

June 17, 2019

6/17/2019 8:00 amA white hat hacker, or ethical hacker, uses penetration testing techniques to test an organization’s IT security and identify vulnerabilities. IT security staff then uses the results of such penetration tests to remediate vulnerabilities, strengthen security and lower the organization’s risk factors. 

Penetration testing is never a casual undertaking. It involves lots of planning, which includes getting explicit permission from management to perform tests, and then running tests as safely as possible. These tests often involve the very same techniques that attackers use to breach a network for real.

Background and education requirements

White hat hacking involves a great deal of problem-solving, as well as communication skills. A white hat hacker also requires a balance of intelligence and common sense, strong technical and organizational skills, impeccable judgment, and the ability to remain cool under pressure. 

At the same time, a white hat hacker needs to think like a black hat hacker, with all their nefarious goals and devious skills and behaviors. Some top-rate white hat hackers are former black hat hackers who got caught, and for various reasons, decided to leave a life of crime behind and put their skills to work in a positive (and legal) way. 

There are no standard education criteria for a white hat hacker – every organization can impose its own requirements on that position – but a bachelor’s or master’s degree in information security, computer science or even mathematics provides a strong foundation. 

For those who aren’t college-bound, a military background, especially in intelligence, can help your resume get noticed by hiring managers. Military service is also a plus for employers who require or prefer to hire employees that already have a security clearance.

Pertinent certifications

Many white hat hacking and security-related IT certifications can help a candidate get a foot in …

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