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4 reasons your company, no matter how small, should hire a financial advisor

(FINANCE NEWS) Small business owners and self-employed professionals alike all too rarely take advantage of a resource tailor-made to avoid both Chapter 11 and being conquered by Persia: expert financial advisor help.

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Rollin’ in it

Money! That’s what I want.

Ever since Croesus of Lydia went wading in the Pactolus, we humans have been rolling with the root of all evil. And ever since he lost it all, got his country stomped out and died a cautionary tale, we’ve worried ourselves sick over same. Entrepreneurs and business owners above all live with the possibility of a single financial misstep ending their careers with a whimper.

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Why you need a financial advisor

Ain’t necessarily so. Small business owners and self-employed professionals alike all too rarely take advantage of a resource tailor-made to avoid both Chapter 11 and being conquered by Persia: expert financial help. A financial advisor may sound like a luxury for the super-rich, but in practice, having a team member tasked to manage the money and make it work is smart for the wealthy, but indispensable for the up-and-coming.

Here follow four ways a dedicated financial advisor can enhance the prospects of startups, small business owners, and even self-employed professionals like your humble narrator.

One

They know what they’re doing (and you may not).
Let’s be real: entrepreneurship takes ego. Nobody hats up and starts a business unless they believe they’re smarter, tougher, and more capable than their cube-comfortable peers. We know what we’re doing. We don’t like to admit there are things we can’t handle. But the plain fact is, when small businesses fail, and 4 out of 5 do, it’s usually about money management, or more accurately lack of same.

I guarantee that 4 out of 5 thought they knew what they were doing too, up to the exact moment they found out they didn’t. It’s not about lack of experience, either: per the Corporation For Enterprise Development 37 percent of experienced business owners fall short of expenses. Hiring a financial advisor means an extra expert eye on the thorniest, most treacherous aspect of small business ownership.

Two

They’ll plug you in.
Networking is everything. Everybody knows that. Running a business always comes down to how well you work with your fellow h. sapiens. But even if you’ve got your people skills on lock, how do you get past your threshold? You can be as pleasant and personable as the day is long, but unless you’re God – you’re not God; you’re probably aware of that, but I did mention entrepreneurs and ego – you don’t actually know everybody.

Financial advisors do. Like other consultants, financial advisors invariably have a phonebook’s worth of leads and contacts in their area of expertise. Want to expand the scope of your business? Knowing what everybody is doing at all times is literally a financial advisor’s job. They have an in with everybody. They have to. That knowledge alone is worth the money.

Three

They cross-pollinate.
“Cross-pollinate” is the term used by Barry Glassman of Forbes in his superb article on the value of advice to small business owners. The huge list of contacts maintained by financial advisors doesn’t just mean new business opportunities. It means new ideas from the whole scope of your industry, a chance at ground-floor involvement with… pretty much everything worth your time.

Four

You succeed, they succeed.
There are several compensation models for financial advisors in the United States, but they all have one thing in common: they get paid better when you get paid better. For fee-only advisors, that rule is absolute: they are compensated solely by the client, usually as a percentage of assets under management, and have a fiduciary duty to act only in the client’s best interest.

Fee-only is comparatively new: financial advisors have traditionally been compensated with commission on the sale of financial instruments. But commission-based advisors aren’t Snidely Whiplash twirling his mustache either. For one thing, they’re by definition cheaper: no fee, just commission on what you personally choose to buy. The lower price makes the commission model well suited to accounts that require comparatively little oversight, either because they’re not particularly active or because you have the financial expertise to handle most management tasks yourself (but refer to entry 1!). Dubious doings aren’t unknown, particularly the dread “churn“, but no more so than in other financial professions.

As with money itself, the question of advice comes down to poor old Croesus of Lydia. Remember him? King of Turkey, literally invented money, and he ended up set on fire and only extinguished because he screamed something interesting. Know how he got there?

Didn’t listen to the right advice.

No reason to fail

Expertise matters. Specialty matters. Having enough hours in the day to get the work done most definitely matters. Every one of those things gets better with the service of a reliable advisor. That’s how you conquer the world.

#FinancialAdvisor

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

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Tech News

A reusable, cloud synced notebook?? I’ll take 10!

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) The future of note taking is here with Rocketbook Wave, a microwavable, reusable notebook that stores all of your musings on the cloud.

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Not just any notebook

Some folks just can’t go paperless. Try as we might, the satisfaction inherent in the pen-and-paper medium is firmly engrained.

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Everyday we are bombarded by reminders that paper is increasingly unsustainable—which is why Rocketbook’s reusable notebook, the Wave, is a potential life-saver.

Smile and Wave

The premise behind the Rocketbook Wave is simple, yet elegant: you write in the notebook like you normally would—up to 80 pages’ worth—and then snap a photo of each page using the accompanying smartphone app. The photos are scanned to enhance their image quality, then they’re delivered into a cloud account.

You can even cross off a symbol at the bottom of the page to scan the note into a specific, customized location, and each page has its own QR code for later reference.

Note Game So Cold, Had to Defrost

That’s all fine and dandy, but how do you wipe the Rocketbook Wave to reuse it? Well, you put the book in a machine that you use to eliminate stuff (e.g., nutritional value) every day…

You put it in the microwave.

Counterintuitive as it may be, a few minutes in the microwave with a mug of water and minimal attentiveness will result in a clean notebook, making it ready for another round of note-taking, doodling, or what have you.

With Paperless, You’ll Pay for Less

The obvious benefits of the Rocketbook Wave are twofold. Firstly, you won’t have to worry about running out of paper, and you’ll have a backup in case Mitch from chemistry lab sets your belongings on fire (again).

Equally as important, though, is the sustainability factor: if you’re even remotely worried about the environment, $27 gets you a notebook that won’t quit.

Fine Print

As with anything, there are a couple of caveats that accompany the rush of using the Rocketbook Wave. For one, you can’t erase a single page at a time—it’s all or nothing. This is a non-issue if you don’t mind scanning everything into the cloud as a matter of practice, but it’s something to be aware of.

More importantly, however, is the type of ink you have to use. If you don’t write with a Pilot FriXion utensil, the ink will remain on the pages and no amount of microwaving will wash it away.

These aren’t likely to be deal-breakers, of course. If you’re interested in picking up a Rocketbook Wave for yourself, they’re for sale now starting at $27 on Rocketbook’s official site.

#RocketbookWave

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Tech News

Taskiness is the note taking app for those who ditched the last one

(TECH NEWS) We all love trying new note-taking apps but for some of us we just end up reverting to to old habits. Taskiness is here to change your habits and keep it that way.

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In the great realm of to-do apps, there are lots to choose from: heck, I’ve even made a hobby to write about them – but what makes them so popular is that people have a hard time adapting to a system. With so many solutions, there are so many to try!

Startup, Taskiness, hopes to solve that by being the first note taking system that uses natural language processing – where you take notes and it then it pulls tasks out.

Over 1300 people have already signed up, and Taskiness hopes to keep all those people off the to-do list app rotation and give them a more permanent solution. Feature wise, Tackiness is fundamentally made of two components:

Notes – the “place for the thoughts” where you take notations and comments.

Taskiness boasts four key benefits to this functionality, which basically looks like a standard notepad:

– You can organize the notes how you want (much like you can on a pad of paper) rather than being forced to work in the confines of the app.
– Easy input – as easy as writing into old school MS notepad – so no field form entry, no awkward forms/templates
– “Natural language” – basically, this is the largest feature of the app, it recognizes how you write to pull tasks from notes and to better utilize your note taking. This is especially important as it helps with the natural feel of the app.
– Synchronization across all platforms – which is a must feature and you should never use an app that doesn’t have cloud functionality – this isn’t 2004.

Tasks – the place for “action” where your to-do list is extracted from your notes. Most of us some kind of to-do list, and Taskiness hopes to keep you hooked by emphasizing:

– Focus – where it highlights tasks that are relevant to you immediately (as to avoid getting bogged down by the list).
– Snooze – where you can use those alarm clock skills you’ve been developing since junior high to snooze tasks and avoid your to-do list from becoming an inventory list of things never to be finished.
– Rich text – that uses that natural language to pull deadlines and priorities and “much more” – this is perhaps the advantage of the app. This keeps you from having to spend time organizing your to-do list so it becomes more of a passive partner than just another thing to do.

Taskiness currently has a backlog for registration, and is most likely not going to be free – but it looks like a promising app. It was recognized by Betalist as one of the most popular startups of October – and both it and fellow Medium call out “Iris” look like a promising to do solution.

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Tech News

Five inexpensive VPNs to keep you all sorts of secure

(TECH NEWS) If you work on public internet or are just looking to beef up your internet security VPNs could be your answer. Here are five worth looking into.

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We must speak, as we so often do, of l33t h4x0rz.

Let’s get blunt. We have reached the point in the evolution of technology where access to your personal data is equivalent to access to everything you own. Data security breach, which involves fewer twentysomethings with improbable hair and more Russian state actors than 90s movies led me to believe, can be the end of a business, especially a small one.

Frustratingly, the mainstream market hasn’t really produced perfect solutions for that. At present, you really have two options.

Option one, you roll with AppleFacebookGoogleSoft. Different companies, same model: hand your data to a giant organization with an affirmative interest in keeping it confidential. That can work! It can also, y’know, not. A lot.

Option two, full infogeek. Pull together All The Information and put it behind tight security you control. We’re big fans of this. On the other hand, we’re geeks. Doing this successfully requires knowledge, specialty tools and changes in behavior that may not be practical for you.

Ain’t exactly optimal, those options. So for the love of the white hat, what’s to do? Where’s the middle ground between “put it in a big sack and hand it to HugeCorpCo” and “lock every 0 and 1 in a painstakingly handcrafted box?”

Meet your friend, the VPN. Virtual private networks aren’t just the irritating things you have to sign into before another constructive day on the cube farm. For any entrepreneur or freelancer who isn’t into a rad Linux solution, a VPN is a straight-up necessity. They’re how you Internet without people keeping logs (your ISP does), tracking your activity (everybody does), or carrying off your innocent data to the dark web or the Kremlin.

Better yet? There are lots of good ones that are inexpensive, reliable, and only a Google away. Here’s 5. Unranked, because every VPN is a beautiful snowflake.

IPVanish wins at efficiency. They own 100 percent of their resources, rather than outsourcing any work to third parties. That means high speed and optimal security, since their commitment to keeping zero information on their clients can’t be undercut by nosy contractors.

NordVPN has tech wizardry going for it, with double encryption and even an optional kill switch that automatically disconnects you from the Internet if anything goes amiss with the VPN. Nord also wins at most devices per subscription, and will happily wrap up to 6 of your robots in the warm embrace of infosec.

Private Internet Access, in addition to winning the Most Straightforwardly Named Product Ever award I just made up, is great for power users, with unlimited bandwidth and a subscription allowing up to 5 devices. It’s also super simple, designed to run in the background while you go about your digital day, so for folks who aren’t looking for bundled apps or a shiny interface, this is your guy.

PureVPN gets compatibility cred, since it’s usable across Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows and even provides proxy workarounds for Chrome and Firefox. It also has a frankly enormous server network, which is good news for speed freaks.

TunnelBear, in addition to being adorable, is extremely user friendly. It’s kind of the anti-PIA, with a rich interface and lots of shiny features. Those features include neat security tricks like Intellibear, allowing users to selectively VPN into particular sites, and Vigilant Mode, which makes like Nord and blocks Internet traffic in case of outages.

Snowflake jokes aside, the list really isn’t ranked, and for reason. Your VPN will be your gateway to the Internet. What works for you is totally contingent on what you do and what you need. There are only two definitive rules.

One, never free. A free trial is fine. “Free VPN” is online shorthand for “place all your information in this bucket, which I will then steal, seal and sell to the Internet’s many, many buyers of evil buckets of data.”

Two, it’s a numbers game. There are countless choices for VPNs on the market. The entries on our list offer substantially similar services to dozens of others. What makes our 5 special?

Twelve bucks. The maximum cost of each of the 5 VPNs above is less than twelve dollars per month. Most cost less: spring for a subscription and you can get the average cost down to 2 or 3 dollars monthly. But month to month, no obligation, even the most expensive entry on the list – that’s a tie between NordVPN and PureVPN – costs you less than twelve dollars a month.

Beat that for peace of mind.

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