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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.

Tech News

Making Slack actionable makes you productive

(TECHNOLOGY) Slack is an amazing productivity tool, but of course can add more to your plate – this feature puts you back on track.

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You know when you’re using Slack and you’re having a conversation with your teammate about whether or not you should grab lunch or go to Soul Cycle, but before you can answer, your editor Slacks you about deadlines and your design partner messages you proofs and suddenly you snap back to reality and remember that you’ve been working on a blog post for an hour and your concentration is completely shattered? You know, the exact moment when your productivity is officially derailed?

Well, Slack now offers Actions to help make sure that doesn’t happen. Your day may get busy, but at least nothing will slip through the cracks, work-wise.

Integrated with project management tools like Asana, Zendesk, and Jira, Actions allows users to create and comment on tasks, tickets or issues within conversations. That means no clicking through tabs or apps until you can no longer remember why you started clicking in the first place. More importantly, Actions keeps track of the work you need to do and when you need to do it.

So, how do Actions work?

1. Need to create a deadline or set up an appointment? Anything you see in Slack that needs a follow-up can be turned into an action when you click the ••• icon and choose an “action.”

2. When you’ve completed an action, a message appears in your Slack channel and lets your team know you’ve flagged it for follow-up.

3. Whichever app you’ve integrated with will alert Slack at which point you and your team can determine the next steps.

Bottom-line, Actions help keep your workflow moving. While it may not stop the onslaught of Slack messages from breaking your concentration, at least you’ll know what you should to be concentrating on.

If you’re curious to know more about Actions, the company has ample info on their API pages for your perusal.

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Tech News

Freezetab streamlines how you save tabs in Chrome

(TECH NEWS) Freezetab is the newest chrome extension that allows you to organize saved tabs in a myriad of ways.

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Internet made easier

With the browser becoming more and more of a workspace than merely an application, the built in bookmarks tool may leave you a bit hungry for more.

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Chrome users who need better tools to organize and manage bookmarks may find the power they need in Freezetab.

Bookmark’s cooler, hotter younger brother

Freezetab seeks to answer the questions of “what if I could organize my bookmarks by website” or “I only want to save all but two of these tabs on zen office designs.” It seeks to give you more options beyond the “one or all” choices in chrome. Here is the lowdown:

  • The calendar feature remembers WHEN you saved a tab – so if you can’t remember the title you can just go back to the day.
  • Chrome either lets you save one or all tabs. Freezetab expands those options to include: all, current, everything but current, right of, left of, or pick and choose.
  • If you are sharing a collection of tabs with a workgroup or a partner, it exports as a nice textbox that is easy to share in integrated messaging, IM, or email. Or even social media!
  • Sorting is robust, and there is a solid search feature that searches as you type.
  • That quick save feature saves all the tabs and closes them – and you can adjust that quick save feature to meet your needs.
  • There is a handy little star feature to note important bookmarks (i.e. recipes and excel techniques).
  • Enhances your close tab capability to close everything to the left and specific tabs – this great if you work in chrome and have 75 tabs open that have one letter names.
  • It is easier to sort tabs after you save them – you can search for them and then sort into folders you create rather manually organizing them into folders.
  • As a bonus: for those who don’t want to have to sort bookmarks – unlike Chrome which requires you to pick a folder or risk turning your bookmarks to an unorganized mess, the extension automatically organizes it for you.

Freezetab findings

After spending a few moments with Freezetab, it does fit in nicely with a workflow. Solidly reviewed, the developer did solve an issue with “pinned” tabs in the 1.2 update. – so it doesn’t remove or add them. The features are nice and easy to use, and it doesn’t require more than five minutes of playing around.

One complaint – if you choose to the right or left of the current tab to close, it did close the active tab as well – which was a little funky. But once you get comfortable with the nuances, it’s easy to use.
The interface is function over form, but you won’t have any problem using or customizing this extension. Now Bookmark smart y’all!

#FreezeTab

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Tech News

We’ve all seen job listings for UX writers, but what exactly is UX writing?

(TECH NEWS) We seeing UX writer titles pop up and while UX writing is not technically new, there are new availabilities popping up.

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The work of a UX writer is something you come across everyday. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touchpoints through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints UX writers work on are interface copy, emails and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find a UX writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must have. Excellent communication skills is a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post.

But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater UX design team. In larger companies some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User centered design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

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