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Top 5 practices for hiring programmers

(Entrepreneur News) Hiring programmers can be an overwhelming task if you don’t know what to look for, but we tap the experienced folk to find out how to avoid the pitfalls.

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hiring programmers

hiring programmers

Hiring programmers at your own company

Technology is rapidly changing and many brands are hiring in-house or consulting talent to develop applications for their employees and customers, creating websites, and innovating in other ways, but many don’t know where to start. There are endless horror stories out there of relationships with programmers, but it doesn’t have to be that way because the truth is that there are many extremely talented programmers out there. But how do you know if you’re picking a good one, and how do you communicate that effectively?

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Elizabeth Whited oversees Marketing and Operations a The Rent Rite Directory offers the top five best practices for hiring programmers, in her own words, noting that “If it hasn’t happened already, at some point you may find yourself working with a less than productive programmer. Making sure to look for specific and certain criteria can make all the difference in hiring the right one.”

1. Know exactly what you want from them

Part of this process involves being able to clearly speak about your company, and exactly where you expect the company to grow with the help of a new programmer. The person you designate to interview needs to have a very clear understanding of the schedule and timeline that needs to be followed by the new programmer with attainable and realistic deadlines. Also keep in mind, extra projects will unexpectedly pop up, and should be factored into your planning.

Make sure you’ve answered these questions below, and thought about how flexible you are with them:

  • Will they be full-time, or an independent contractor?
  • Will they work in house, or off site?
  • If they outsource some of their work (especially outside of the country), what hours will they be available?
  • If you hire an independent contractor, find out their other time commitments. How many other clients are you comfortable with them also working with?

2. Use coding tests or a competency task

Although there are some who don’t believe in using coding tests for potential candidates, this is a good option, especially if they do not already have a large portfolio. Some tests have their own bugs or issues in them that need to be fixed, some are tasks to be completed, and some are comprised of small problems to solve, each one harder than the one before it. In the end, you will want a programmer who loves solving problems, and can figure out different routes to take in order to solve them.

Of course, not only does the perfect candidate have to be able to complete these tasks for you, but they also need to be able to work well with your team. Since they will be responding to your employees, and directly responsible for your website implementations, and sometimes overall workflow, see how they interact with the staff. Are they happy to answer questions, do they always place the blame elsewhere, etc.

Some coding tests websites to check into:

3. Ask for references and perform due diligence

Asking for references on some of their biggest projects should be standard when looking for a qualified programmer. Some programmers will have their portfolio readily available online (and if not, make sure to ask to see it), so that you have an idea about what to discuss with their references. A good place to start is to ask what percentages of projects were completed on time.

What were the reasons for those not completed on time? These answers may differ when you ask the programmer during the interview. Just keep in mind, sometimes the clients themselves hold up the process.

4. Ask friends who are programmers

In case you aren’t interested in hiring your friend, or their task load is too demanding for the job you need done, ask them if they would be able to help you find the right fit. They can tell you exactly what to steer clear of, since they have you and your company’s best interest in mind. If they can fit it into their schedule, ask them to come along for the interview!

5. Use a vendor recruiting company

You might also want to ask for references from the recruiting company to see how successful they were with pairing applicants. If and when you decide to use a recruiter, make sure to give them plenty of feedback on the types of candidates they are sending your way.
Some programming recruiting companies:

  • Careers 2.0 from Stack Overview
  • Midcom
  • Hiring the right programmer can catapult your business, and help you achieve the goals you’ve envisioned for it. Be prepared, and find that perfect fit.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business Entrepreneur

PopCom designs smart vending machines to automate regulated products

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) PopCom raises $1.3 million in equity crowd funding to launch smart vending machines that will securely sell regulated products like cannabis and alcohol.

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vending machines

Dawn Dickson is upgrading the beloved vending machine to thrive in the era of COVID-19. Dickson is the Founder & CEO of PopCom, a black-owned retail technology company whose mission is to “equip entrepreneurs and brands with future-ready retail solutions that allow rapid retail expansion, incredible customer experiences, and powerful sales data.”

Dickson started her entrepreneurial career with Flat Out Heels, rollable flat shoes that fit in a purse. The business was an e-commerce hit, relying on online data analytics to drive sales and growth. She found there was a disconnect in leveraging that technology when she looked for traditional vending machines to sell her products in places with high foot traffic like airports. Like any good entrepreneur, she created her own solution to the problem.

PopCom vending machines use facial detection and machine learning to create an interactive and intelligent retail experience. In 2020, the Columbus, Ohio based company is rolling out secure pilots for automated vending of regulated products like alcohol and cannabis. The machines rely on biometric analysis to verify identity, and can even anonymously evaluate age, gender, and emotional sentiment while a customer is browsing to convert sales. Products can therefore be available on demand with minimal human interaction.

The growth of this technology is timely as COVID-19 continues to ravage retail in the United States. “Vending machines and convenience services are becoming more essential, and retailers are looking for more ways to deliver their products direct-to-customer with less human friction. We are excited about what is to come,” Dickson told BlackNews.com.

And what is to come is coming quickly. Dickson just completed a record-setting equity crowdfunding campaign on Start Engine, being the first female founder in history to raise $1.3 million in just 47 days! Previously, PopCom raised an initial $1.07 million from their first campaign. According to SEC regulations, companies can raise up to $1.07 million from regulation crowd funding sources in a 12-month period.

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Business Entrepreneur

How to choose the right software for your business

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) What are the best software options for your company? Well, we have a list of suggestions and questions to help you determine what is best for you.

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It’s almost impossible to run a successful modern business without some kind of software to help you stay productive and operate efficiently. There are millions of companies and even more independent developers working hard to produce new software products and services for the businesses of the world, so to say that choosing the right software is intimidating is putting it lightly.

Fortunately, your decisions will become much easier with a handful of decision-making rubrics.

Determining Your Core Needs

First, you need to decide which types of software you really need. For most businesses, these are the most fundamental categories:

  • Proposal software. Customer acquisition starts and ends with effective proposals, which is why you need proposal software that helps you create, send, and track the status of your sales documents.
  • Lead generation and sales. You’ll also want the support of lead generation and sales software, including customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. These help you identify and track prospects throughout the sales process.
  • Marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising platforms help you plan and implement your campaigns, but even more importantly—they help you track your results.
  • Finance and accounting. With finance and accounting software, you’ll track accounts payable and receivable, and countless variables influencing the financial health of your company.
  • Supply chain and logistics. Certain types of businesses require support when it comes to supply chain management and logistics—and software can help.
  • Productivity and tracking. Some software products, including time trackers and project management platforms, focus on improving productivity and tracking employee actions.
  • Comprehensive analytics. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and other “big picture” software products attempt to provide you with comprehensive analytics related to your business’s performance.

Key Factors to Consider

From there, you’ll need to choose a software product in each necessary category—or try to find one that covers all categories simultaneously. When reviewing the thousands (if not millions) of viable options, keep these factors in mind:

    • Core features/functionality. Similar products in a given niche can have radically different sets of features. It’s tempting to go with the most robust product in all cases, but superfluous features and functionality can present their own kind of problem.
    • Integrations. If you use a number of different software products, you’ll need some way to get them to work together. Prioritize products that make it easy to integrate with others—especially ones you’re already using.
    • Intuitiveness/learnability. Software should be intuitive and easy to learn. Not only will this cut down on the amount of training and education you have to provide employees, but it will also reduce the possibilities of platform misuse in the future.
    • Customizability/flexibility. Out-of-the-box software products work well for many customers, but they may not suit your current or future needs precisely. Platforms with greater customizability and flexibility are favorable.
    • Security. If you’re handling sensitive data (and most businesses will be), it’s vital to have a software developed with security in mind. There should be multiple layers of security in place, and ample settings for you to tightly control accessibility.
    • Ongoing developer support. Your chosen software might be impressive today, but how is it going to look in three years? It’s ideal to choose a product that features ongoing developer support, with the potential for more features and better functionality in the near and distant future.
    • Customer support. If you have an issue with the app, will someone be available to help you? Good customer service can elevate the value of otherwise average apps.
    • Price. Finally, you’ll need to consider price. The best apps will often have a price that matches their quality; it’s up to you to decide whether the extra expense is worth it.

Read about each product as you conduct your research, and pay close attention to reviews and testimonials from past customers. Additionally, most software companies are happy to offer free demos and trials, so you can get some firsthand experience before finalizing your decision. Take them up on the offer.

Finding the Balance

It may seem like purchasing or subscribing to new software products will always improve your business fundamentals, but this isn’t always the case. If you become bogged down with too many apps and services, it’s going to make operations more confusing for your staff, decrease consistency, and drain your budget dry at the same time. Instead, try to keep your systems as simplified and straightforward as possible, while still getting all the services you need.

You won’t find or implement the perfect suite of software products for your business overnight. It’s going to take weeks, if not months of research, free trials, and in-house experiments. Remain patient, and don’t be afraid to cut your losses on products that aren’t working the way you originally intended.

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Business Entrepreneur

‘Small’ business was once a stigma, but is now a growing point of pride

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Small businesses make up the majority of companies, employers, and money makers of the American economy, that’s something to be proud of.

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American small business

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, all businesses were small businesses. Independent craftsmen served communities with vital services. Small merchants opened shops to provide the community with goods. Lawyers, doctors, and other professionals hung out a shingle to offer their services to neighbors. Small businesses were the norm. Some of the most beloved American companies started out local. John Deere, Harley Davidson, and King Arthur Flour, all got their start as small businesses.

Business changes led to a attitude change

It wasn’t until manufacturing allowed businesses to scale and produce more efficiently that the idea of big business became more important. Post-World War II, the idea of a small business became derogatory. It was the age of big government. Media was growing. Everyone wanted to be on top. Small businesses took a back seat as people moved from rural to urban communities. Small business growth plateaued for a number of years in the mid-20th century. Fortunately, the stigma of small business is fading.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy

According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, the “American business is overwhelmingly small business.” In 2016, 99.7% of firms in American had fewer than 500 workers. Firms with 20 workers or less accounted for 89.0% of the 5.6 million employer firms. The SBE also reports that “Small businesses accounted for 61.8% of net new jobs from the first quarter of 1993 until the third quarter of 2016.” Small businesses account for a huge portion of innovation and growth in today’s economy.

Modern consumers support small businesses

According to a Guidant Financial survey, the most common reason for opening a small business is to be your own boss. Small business owners are also dissatisfied with corporate America. Consumers also want to support small businesses. SCORE reports that 91% of Americans patronize a small business at least once a week. Almost half of Americans (47%) frequent small businesses 2 to 4 times a week.

Be proud of small business status

Small businesses are the innovators of tomorrow. Your neighbors want to support small businesses, knowing that their tax dollars stay in the community, and that they’re creating opportunities within their own city. Your small business status isn’t a slight. It’s a source of pride in today’s economy. Celebrate the fact that you’ve stepped out on your own in uncertain times. Celebrate the dirt under your fingernails, literally, or figuratively, that made you take a risk to do what mattered to you.

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