Being Freelancer, Finances and Taxes, Freelancers, Marketing Yourself, On Your Own, Self-Employed, The American Dream

Splitting The Most Common Business & Personal Expenses

Splitting even the most common business & personal expenses takes time. So, if you’re part of the on-demand society, you’ll have to carefully calculate your business expenses when tax season is just around the corner. You’ll write these off on your Schedule C and it’s crucial that you do it correctly. As an independent contractor, properly calculating your business expenses can greatly reduce your tax liability and save you money.


The difficult part is actually calculating these expenses. When you’re self-employed, many of your business expenses are mixed in with personal expenses so it takes some work on your part to figure out only the business portion. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the three most common business and personal expenses.

Keep in mind – when deciding between business and personal expenses, the IRS requires that business expenses be ‘ordinary and necessary’. Use your judgement when making this decision.

Cell Phones

If you use your cell phone for work purposes, you most likely use it for personal reasons as well. With cell phones, you have a little more room for judgement when deciding on how much is used for business. Typically, you have to calculate how much of your cell phone bill is used for business, including voice and data.

For example, if you make a lot of calls for business purposes and you have to switch your plan for one with more minutes, you can probably write-off the difference between the two plans.

Cars

A car is another common expense that freelancers use for both personal and business reasons. There are two ways to calculate this business expense:

  • Standard mileage rate: The standard mileage rate is the easiest way to calculate your car’s business expense. To use this method, you would calculate your business mileage by the IRS approved rate. The rate for 2015 was 57.5 cents. This rate includes gas, maintenance, lease payments, and insurance.
  • Actual costs method: Alternatively, you can use the actual costs method. In this method, you need to calculate the actual costs of your car expenses for business use. This method is a bit more complicated compared to the standard mileage rate. If you choose to use this method, make sure you keep careful records of all your car expenses.
  • Home Office: If you’re part of the on-demand economy, chances are you work from home at least part of the time and have a home office. You can write-off a portion of this expense. To the IRS, your home office is anywhere in your home your primarily meet with clients, do work, or store business inventory. Using the home office simplified method, you can multiply the square footage of your home office by the IRS approved rate, which is around $5 per square foot. The maximum allowed square footage is 300 square feet.

Calculating your business expenses can be overwhelming but it’s important that you do it carefully and correctly. In the event of an audit, you want to be able to back up why you wrote off the amount you did.

Finding Jobs, Freelancers, Marketing Yourself, Politics, Your rights: Presidential Election, Laws, etc.

HR, Training and the ‘Gig’ Economy

Click here to view original web page at blog.hreonline.com

 

New survey data finds few organizations are investing in their employees’ training and development these days, and I’m beginning to think the “gig economy” may have something to do with it.

Saba, a global provider of talent management solutions, just released additional findings from its spring Global Leadership Survey, in which it found that a mere 13 percent of companies worldwide invest in talent-management programs to further employees’ growth and career path.

For those companies that are providing training, only 35 percent are offering career development opportunities online. And, according Saba, the majority of employees (57 percent) are simply getting their training from “on the job” experience.

“Understandably, companies are focused on bottom line growth and results,” said Emily He, Chief Marketing Officer at Saba. “Unfortunately, many organizations don’t consider the career development of their employees a part of that growth equation — but they should. ”

However, a piece in today’s New York Times titled “Rising Economic Insecurity Tied to Decades-Long Trend in Employment Practices,” shows how the rise of the “gig economy” (think Uber or Lyft, for examples) is changing all sorts of expectations — including compensation and training — on both the employers’ and workers’ sides.

According to the NYT piece, tens of millions of Americans are now involved in some form of freelancing, contracting, temping or outsourcing work:

The number for the category of jobs mostly performed by part-time freelancers or part-time independent contractors, according to Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a labor market analytics firm, grew to 32 million from just over 20 million between 2001 and 2014, rising to almost 18 percent of all jobs. Surveys, including one by the advisory firm Staffing Industry Analysts of nearly 200 large companies, point to similar changes.

So perhaps it’s no wonder that companies are devoting less time to training programs when they only expect to use such workers for short-term projects:

Since the early 1990s, as technology has made it far easier for companies to outsource work, that trend has evolved beyond what anyone imagined: Companies began to see themselves as thin, Uber-like slivers standing between customers on one side and their work forces on the other.

The piece also includes David Weil’s — who runs the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Labor Department — description from his recent book, The Fissured Workplace, of how investors and management gurus began insisting that companies pare down and focus on what came to be known as their “core competencies,” such as developing new goods and services and marketing them.

Far-flung business units were sold off. Many other activities — beginning with human resources and then spreading to customer service and information technology — could be outsourced. The corporate headquarters would coordinate among the outsourced workers and monitor their performance.

“In the past, firms overstaffed and offered workers stable hours,” said Susan N. Houseman, a labor economist at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. “All of these new staffing models mean shifting risk onto workers, making work less secure.”

The NYT piece notes that, while only representing a limited corner of the nation’s approximately $17.5 trillion economy, other types of workers are watching with trepidation how organizations are moving toward the “gig economy” model.

Indeed:

…[E]ven many full-time employees share an underlying anxiety that is a result, according to the sociologist Arne L. Kalleberg, author of Good Jobs, Bad Jobs, of the severing of the “psychological contract between employers and employees in which stability and security were exchanged for loyalty and hard work.”

While outsourcing and “gigging” jobs may cut organizations’ short-term costs in some areas (such as training and development efforts) Saba’s He nonetheless emphasizes the need for companies to invest in training their workforce if they expect to succeed in the long run:

“Not only is talent management and training an integral part of workforce development, it’s proven to be a driving factor in the long-term growth and success of an organization.”

 

The ‘gig economy’ is coming. What will it mean for work?
Being Freelancer, Freelancers, Marketing Yourself, On Your Own

The ‘gig economy’ is coming. What will it mean for work?

Click here to view original web page at www.theguardian.com

Not so long ago, the only people who looked for “gigs” were musicians. For the rest of us, once we outgrew our school dreams of rock stardom, we found “real” jobs that paid us a fixed salary every month, allowed us to take paid holidays and formed the basis for planning a stable future.

Today, more and more of us choose, instead, to make our living working gigs rather than full time. To the optimists, it promises a future of empowered entrepreneurs and boundless innovation. To the naysayers, it portends a dystopian future of disenfranchised workers hunting for their next wedge of piecework.

 The ‘gig economy’ is coming. What will it mean for work?In the US, the “gig economy” is now so salient that the phrase and issues have entered the early exchanges of the presidential race. Earlier this month, as one frontrunner, Jeb Bush, took a well-publicised Uber ride to signal solidarity with the company, another, Hillary Clinton, was more cautious in her support. In a speech laying out her economic plan, she said: “This on-demand, or so-called gig, economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation. But it is also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”

Today’s digitally enabled gig economy was preceded by marketplaces such as ELance and oDesk, through which computer programmers and designers could make a living competing for short-term work assignments. But the gig economy isn’t just creating a new digital channel for freelance work. It is spawning a host of new economic activity. More than a million “makers” sell jewellery, clothing and accessories through the online marketplace Etsy. The short-term accommodation platforms Airbnb, Love Home Swap and onefinestay collectively have close to a million “hosts”.

This explosion of small-scale entrepreneurship might make one wonder whether we are returning to the economy of the 18th century, described by the economist Adam Smith in his book An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. The economy Smith described was a genuine market economy of individuals engaging in commerce with one another.

This explosion of small-scale entrepreneurship might make one wonder whether we are returning to the economy of the 18th century, described by the economist Adam Smith in his book An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. The economy Smith described was a genuine market economy of individuals engaging in commerce with one another.

Over the following two centuries, however, the emergence of mass production and distribution yielded modern corporations. The entrepreneurs of Smith’s time gave way to the salaried employees of the 20th century.

A different technological revolution – the digital revolution – is partially responsible for the recent return to peer-to-peer exchange. Most of the new on-demand services rely on a population equipped with computers or GPS-enabled smartphones. Furthermore, the social capital we’ve digitised on Facebook and LinkedIn makes it easier to trust that semi-anonymous peer.

Does this suggest a shift towards a textbook market economy? Granted, Uber, Airbnb, Etsy and TaskRabbit are quite different from organisations such as Apple, BP or Sainsbury’s. Because you aren’t actually renting a space from Airbnb, taking a ride in a car owned by Uber or buying a product made by Etsy. The platform simply connects you with a provider of space, a driver of a vehicle or a seller who runs a virtual shop.

But these platforms are by no means merely the purveyors of Smith’s invisible hand. Rather, the hand they play in facilitating exchange is decidedly visible. Uber, not individual drivers, sets prices. Airbnb trains its hosts to be better providers of hospitality. Etsy facilitates seller community building. All of them provide user-generated feedback systems, creating a high-quality consumer experience. Much like an organisation building a brand might.

In many countries, key slices of the social safety net are tied to full-time employment with a company or the government. Although the broader socioeconomic effects of the gig economy are as yet unclear, it is clear we must rethink the provision of our safety net, decoupling it from salaried jobs and making it more readily available to independent workers.

On the other hand, starting a new business has generally been an all-or-nothing proposition, requiring a significant appetite for risk. There are benefits to dipping your toes into the entrepreneurial waters by experimenting with a few gigs on the side. Perhaps this lowering of barriers to entrepreneurship will spur innovation across the economy.

Economist Thomas Piketty tells us that the main driver of sustained economic inequality over the past two centuries has been the concentration of wealth-producing “capital” in the hands of a few. This seems less likely if the economy is powered by millions of micro-entrepreneurs who own their businesses, rather than a small number of giant corporations.

But the latest generation of specialised labour platforms also raises the spectre of greater social inequality. We’ve now got apps through which providers will park your car (Luxe), buy and deliver your groceries (Instacart), and get you your drinks (Drizly). There’s a risk we might devolve into a society in which the on-demand many end up serving the privileged few.

Arun Sundararajan is professor at New York University’s School of Business. His new book about crowd-based capitalism will be published by the MIT Press in 2016

 

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Finding Jobs, Marketing Yourself

Why You Should Be Wary of the ‘Land Mine’ Gig Economy

Why You Should Be Wary of the ‘Land Mine’ Gig Economy

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The so-called gig economy sounds good on the surface: People can get connected to clients through marketplaces that let entrepreneurs unload some of the burden, like marketing, though review and rating systems and the bulk acquisition of potential customers.

Beyond Uber and Lyft, which have become poster children of the movement, there are systems where you can sell your services as a CPA, handyperson, pet sitter, or heaven knows what else. And for some, the marketplaces can make sense, when used judiciously.

But as much as enthusiasm, innovation, and taking chances may be part of what drives entrepreneurs, there also must be prudence and risk management. That’s exactly what many of the gig or sharing or task economy boosters miss — that and, perhaps, some clear recognition of what the markets can and will bear.

Less money than you might think

The so-called gig economy sounds good on the surface: People can get connected to clients through marketplaces that let entrepreneurs unload some of the burden, like marketing, though review and rating systems and the bulk acquisition of potential customers. Beyond Uber and Lyft, which have become poster children of […]

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Start with the opportunities. Someone with refined professional (and business, marketing, and sales) skills might be able to command good rates, but that is not the norm, according to the 2015 1099 Economy Workforce Report  (Costs $500) from the consultancy Requests For Startups.

Three-quarters see their work as a part-time exercise. No problem with that, of course. However, after a year, people are split about 50-50 whether to continue or not. The way people lean correlates strongly with how much money they make. Of those who walked away, 42.9 percent stated insufficient pay as one of the choices and a possibly overlapping 36.9 percent found they didn’t enjoy the work.

Median pay wasn’t impressive. It took six to 12 months of work for the median to reach $15 an hour. After three years, that climbed to only $35. I say only because, if you’ve been self-employed, at least full-time, you realize that with expenses, the need to provide benefits, and additional taxes, $35 an hour isn’t much. In some cases — Uber is a notable example — the marketplace company can set rates or insist on other restrictions or demands that can hamper how you control your business.

Median pay wasn’t impressive. It took six to 12 months of work for the median to reach $15 an hour. After three years, that climbed to only $35. I say only because, if you’ve been self-employed, at least full-time, you realize that with expenses, the need to provide benefits, and additional taxes, $35 an hour isn’t much. In some cases — Uber is a notable example — the marketplace company can set rates or insist on other restrictions or demands that can hamper how you control your business.

Now flip the picture for a moment. From the marketplace point of view, there is growing concern over the issue of contractor versus employee. A partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, a major law firm, called the legal implications a “land mine.” Silicon Valley may be enamored with the idea of treating everyone as contractors, because it means the marketplaces have low costs of doing business. But the law can be sticky given how often employers have tried to avoid payroll taxes, workers compensation insurance, and other expenses of a business by saying that employees were actually contractors. There are guidelines to when someone falls into one camp or the other, not hard rules.

Now flip the picture for a moment. From the marketplace point of view, there is growing concern over the issue of contractor versus employee. A partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, a major law firm, called the legal implications a “land mine.” Silicon Valley may be enamored with the idea of treating everyone as contractors, because it means the marketplaces have low costs of doing business. But the law can be sticky given how often employers have tried to avoid payroll taxes, workers compensation insurance, and other expenses of a business by saying that employees were actually contractors. There are guidelines to when someone falls into one camp or the other, not hard rules.

Who will be the target of investigation?

In addition, what happens if, as a business owner, you increasingly rely on contractors through a service? If the IRS or a state revenue service, or the Department of Labor or who knows what other agency, decides to start an enforcement action, there’s a chance that you could end up the target if you’re the one effectively employing someone and controlling their time and how they perform the work.

And then there are the ethical considerations. The dynamics of what people are actually making suggest that the marketplaces might be effectively collecting rents, like a financial service. They typically take a significant fee or percentage of the compensation for work, even though they’re contributing nothing to the actual process. The question is whether they are digging too deeply into the pockets of the so-called contractors, many of whom are inexperienced and don’t realize the true costs of running a business, and effectively getting a subsidy more than a reasonable fee for making the match. For example, you might think that 10 percent or 15 percent would be reasonable, but fees running from 20 percent to 30 percent or more aren’t unusual.

None of this means that being on either end of the gig economy is bad, or good. But if you want to run a smart business, you think long and hard about how you handle employee relations and what legal and ethical risks you might face.

Freelancers, Marketing Yourself

Number of Freelancers continues to grow

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The number of freelancers and independent contractors has been growing  rapidly in the United States and represent an interesting trend in the  American workforce. More and more people are venturing away from  traditional full-time, 9-to-5 jobs to work as a freelancer on a project basis.

Who exactly are these freelancers?

  • Freelancers or independent contractors are “individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, or project- or contract-based work”
  • There are approximately 53 million freelancers in the United States, which make up about 34 percent of the American workforce.
  • Freelancers add roughly about $715 Billion into the economy.
  • Freelancers make up 5 categories:
    • Independent Contractors – Most freelancers are also called independent contractors. Independent contract do not hold traditional, full-time employment. Instead, they do freelance or temporary work on a project-to-project basis.
    • Moonlighters – Moonlighters have the best of both worlds. They had a traditional, full-time job but also freelance on the side as well.
    • Diversified Workers – Diversified workers earn their income from multiple income streams, including part-time employment and freelance projects.
    • Temporary Workers – A temporary worker is someone who is working on a single project or for a single client at any given time. However, this position is only temporary.
    • Freelance Business Owners – A freelance business owner is someone who is a freelancer and a small business owner at the same time.

Why do people choose to freelance?

There are many reasons why more and more Americans are choosing to freelance over traditional. Here’s why:

  • The number one reason why people choose to freelance is income. Since they are not limited to how many projects they take on, they have the potential to earn more. Roughly 77% of freelances said they make the same or more money they did before they started freelancing.
  • Many people also freelance because of the flexibility. They are not tied to a office for any period of time. Instead, they can work from anywhere, whenever they want. This promotes work-life balance and generally, a happier workforce.
  • Freelancers also enjoy the freedom to do what they want. They have control over what kind of projects to take on, who to work on them with, and how much time to devote. They don’t report to anyone like they do at a traditional job. It allows for much more creative freedom.

Freelancing has it’s drawbacks too.

Of course, freelancing isn’t for everyone. Along with it’s many benefits, they are drawbacks to freelancing as well:

  • The biggest drawback to freelancing is unstable (unpredictable) income. With a full-time job, you get a paycheck every two weeks as long as you show up for with. With freelancing, you are only paid for the projects you complete. There may be months when there are less projects and therefore, less income.
  • It is difficult to consistently find work. As a freelancer, you are often looking for new projects.While the internet has made it easier and easier to find new jobs, it still takes a time to build a network and a portfolio.
  • You could be called into work at the last minute so you have to maintain a flexible schedule.
  • You do not get benefits from your employer as a freelancer. Benefits that full-time employees enjoy such as health and dental insurance come out-of-pocket expenses for freelancers. They are also substantially more expensive.

What is the future of freelancing?

Despite the challenges that freelancers face, they are here to stay. In fact, nearly 77% of freelancers says their best days are still ahead for the freelancer job market. There are more and more websites and applications that freelancers can use to help them connect with potential clients, such as Elance and oDesk.

Almost everyone I know is considering becoming a free agent and a freelancer. What about you?