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8 Easy Steps for Winning at Small Business Mobile SEO
Small business owners have a lot to manage when it comes to owning and operating a business. These days, understanding the role the Internet plays in how customers search, find, and buy products and services is an absolute necessity for survival. As part of that equation, embracing the power of online marketing and understanding how mobile search can drive business growth is critical as well.
Let’s back up. Google’s algorithm update, dubbed “Mobilegeddon,” rolled out in the summer of 2015 and prioritized mobile-friendly websites in searches. This was brought about by the fact that local search queries occur more frequently on mobile devices, with those searches typically leading to a sale or impromptu visit more quickly than others.
How do you learn if your site is mobile friendly? Start with Google’s Webmaster Tools – they provide a simple test to see how your website shows up in search results.
Once you’ve done the test, follow these eight simple steps to ensure your website (aka, your business) is mobile SEO ready:
This should get your mobile website moving in the right direction. If you are unsure how to tackle mobile search optimization on your own, the team at YP℠ will be happy to help.
Changing Careers: How to Successfully Navigate a Career Pivot at Any Age
In part because employers and human resources professionals tend to box you into the last position you held – and question why you want to make such a large leap in job titles – making a big career change is rarely easy.
As a former teacher, I want to shake these HR professionals up a bit and say “What exactly do you think it takes to be a successful teacher? I AM a leader, project manager, mentor… I’ve shown extreme flexibility, the ability to multi-task and emotional intelligence… I’m everything you’re looking for!”
“The job description should read: Have you ever been a teacher? Well, then you are awesome and can do anything. You’re hired!”
But they don’t… and we career changers remain frustrated.
Why do People Change Careers?
Changing careers can be traumatic, so why upset the apple cart? Why put yourself back at the starting line?
For me the why was multi-faceted. I found little job satisfaction in working retail, administrative and hospitality jobs. I wasn’t paid well enough to leave my young children in daycare all day. My unique thoughts and ideas weren’t heard or valued. There was really no upward trajectory. I then taught for several years and that felt different; it was very satisfying but extremely difficult to work with children all day and come home to my two as well.
For many reasons, I needed a change. And I think many young careerists, despite different circumstances, feel the same way.
What Do I Want to Do? And Who Needs What I Do Well?
I thought long and hard in regard to my career options.
For me, it was fairly easy to decide where I belonged: I know my mind needs something that moves fast, is ever-changing, creative both visually and mentally, incorporates storytelling, building relationships and is collaborative by nature. Plus, I like math. I like analyzing things. I like seeing tangible results for hard work.
So I asked myself: What type of opportunities, or companies, consider all those skills a high priority? Who needs me?
And those are the questions you must ask yourself: What do you do really well that also makes you happy? And who needs exactly what you do well?
Do You Have the Right Pedigree?
Once I decided what I wanted to do. I looked into the ‘How’. How do I make this happen? How do I learn the skills I need to be successful at delivering brilliant marketing strategy from creation through execution?
I looked at online marketing programs. The program that fit me the best was New Media and Internet Marketing with the University of Denver. My first course was Web Analytics 2.0. BINGO- I loved it! Originally, I was only going after a certificate, but the classes were so well done with professors who worked in the field; and the University of Denver was seamless, extremely efficient in their process that I continued onto the Master’s program and enjoyed every minute.
No matter what you think you want to do, or how good you are at your chosen profession, employers will still look at your pedigree. On paper, do you have the right skills? The right education? The right experience and contacts? Figure out which holes you have in your career profile… and fill them.
The Case for Entrepreneurial Spirit
The world no longer revolves around a traditional 9-to-5 job. And many career changers have not only accepted this fact; they’ve embraced it as a way to launch their new career.
Having a bit of entrepreneurial blood running through me, I immediately translated the skills I learned in class into a business. I started a boutique agency. I serviced many small businesses providing website creation, social media strategy, content creation, website analytics and SEO – a buffet of `a la carte digital marketing services for the small business owner.
Now, when you start out you may have to wrangle your mechanic, hair dresser and pet sitter into becoming clients. You may need to barter for free and discounted services in exchange for your expertise, but it is a starting point and a “resume builder;” soon you will be on your way to paying clients, all while amassing experience.
The moral of this story: don’t focus on just finding another job… instead, find a way to produce income that leverages your skills and niche. And know: your entrepreneurial spirit may be the way to get where you want to go.
After several years, I can honestly say that I love what I do. I have a very flexible schedule (perfect for the working mom.) Each client is special and unique and I am living the American dream running my own business. And I can say with all the self-awareness possible: I am one old dog that did learn new tricks… and my career change has been a huge success.
I wish you the same success on your journey to find fulfilling work – and a great career!
The 4 G’s of Exceptional Leadership
I recently started working here at Switch & Shift, and I find myself surrounded by a League of Extraordinary Thinkers and speakers on change leadership, rebellious thought, and Career Wealth. I challenge myself to “Awaken the Leader in Me”, inspired by the leadership book by Mitesh Khatri.
I know many other people must be in the same boat as me if the topic warranted a book to be written. Working closely with the posts on Switch & Shift, I can’t help but be influenced by the words and thoughts of our great social leaders.
It has forced me to ask myself: ”What does it take to be an outstanding leader? And what characteristics in particular do I think I possess, and what do I need to work on?”
Qualities of a Remarkable Leader
I recently ran across two posts about Grit; one here on Switch & Shift – The Modern Abuse of Grit – and another on INC. – The 7 Habits of People with Remarkable Mental Toughness – by Jeff Haden.
I am intrigued by the concept of grit. It is a seldom used word, but a quality many leaders, past and present, have in spades. In my mind, grit equates to fortitude, resilience, and gumption (ah, another G!) and the ability to take risks and recover from them if need be; the ability to get back on your feet no matter what you’re fighting.
Grit is not the only quality of a remarkable leader. Grace, in some ways the opposite of how we picture grit, is also a quality of remarkable leaders. Grace seems feminine and delicate in the face of grit. Grit conjures up images of Clint Eastwood in his Mexican poncho, chewing on a cigarillo in the classic film, The Good, Bad and the Ugly.
In stark contrast to grit, grace makes one think of an angel. Grace is not only fluid movements in body, but in mind. Knowing what to say, and when, is an essential trait of a leader. Grace is sure-footedness in mind and spirit, confidence without cockiness. An ability to see the whole picture without prejudice. It is fair-mindedness, coupled with an open mind and an open heart. Can you think of a better quality for today’s leaders?
Growth is a most necessary component of phenomenal leadership. No one was born being a leader. I agree that some children, even as babies, seem to exhibit initial leadership qualities. And there are individuals who inherently possess an uncanny ability to get people to listen, admire and follow them. Not every great leader was born this way however. The best leaders experience tremendous growth throughout their lives, personally and in their careers. In turn, these leaders know through their own growth, how important it is to give their employees or followers the opportunity to evolve and strive to reach their potential as well.
Gratitude rounds out my 4 G’s of Exceptional Leadership. If you have grit, you earned it through working hard to achieve your goals despite life’s obstacles. Along the way, you differentiate yourself from others by developing grace; an ability to know what to do and say with kindness and clarity. These characteristics are acquired through personal and professional growth. And if you have traveled this road you most likely have much gratitude for where you are and the path that brought you here.
Great leaders show this gratitude in many ways; through mentoring and giving back. Thought leaders share their wisdom and act as mentors to those who find knowledge and comfort in their words and actions. Highly successful innovators are aware that they got some lucky breaks along the way and, in fact, they alone are not responsible for their prosperity. Further, they acknowledge that being on top today does not define you, nor does it mean you will stay there. Be thankful for the moment and all the small steps that got you there along the way.
In assessing my own leadership path, I give myself high marks in two of the four Gs, with an average on a third and low on the fourth. Which Gs you ask? Well, I’m not telling; we are all a work in progress and my goal is to improve every day. Some days the change seems incremental, while on others noticeable strides are made.
We all get where we are going in our own way and in our own time. I hope to see you on the road!
Simply put, a W-2 is a tax form your employer sends you, known as a Wage and Tax Statement. Sounds simple, then why are there so many boxes and codes? Familiarizing yourself with the most important parts of this form can help you understand the income you made, taxes you paid, and prepare you for filing your tax return.
W-2, WAGES AND WITHHOLDING
Most taxpayers are considered employees and will receive a W-2 from their employer(s) by February 2, 2015. In addition to the wages, salaries and tips you made, the W-2 reports the amount of federal, state, and other taxes withheld from your paycheck. If you are not considered an employee, then your income will be reported on a different form. Independent contractors typically receive a 1099-MISC.
WHY IS YOUR TAX WITHHOLDING IMPORTANT?
Your employer withholds money from your paycheck for federal income taxes. When you prepare your tax return, you compare the amount withheld to the amount of tax you owe. If too much was withheld, you get a tax refund. If too little was withheld, you owe additional taxes.
WHAT ARE ALL THOSE BOXES AND CODES ON THE W-2 FORM?
This is the best part of using TaxAct – they deal with all of this for you. Our easy to use software helps you enter this data in the right place and we do all the calculations for you. If you’re the curious type, here’s what the most frequently used boxes mean.
There are several other boxes on your W-2 that may have information in them, but boxes 1 – 6 are the most common. If you have data in those other boxes, enter them into Common Form and we’ll deal with them appropriately.
ATTACHING YOUR W-2
When you finish your tax return and get ready to file it, remember that a copy of your W-2 must be attached. If you e-file using tax software then your W-2 information is sent along with your tax return. However, if you are filing by mail then you need to include a copy of your W-2 in the envelope.
Recently, some folks here at Common Form began a virtual journey across the U.S. to find the Top Accounting Schools in each region of the country. As a follow up to our two previous rankings, The Top 10 Accounting Schools in the West and The Top 10 Accounting Schools on the East Coast, we braved tornados and the Wicked Witch of the East to find the top schools in the Midwest. While we didn’t find Oz, we did find accounting gold spun out of straw.
The criteria used to evaluate these schools include:
We present to you the very best that the Midwest has to offer in accounting education,The Top 10 Accounting Schools in the Midwest.
Starting our list off in fine form with a ranking of #10 is Northern Illinois University, College of Business. This mighty Illinois business school beat out two well-known alternates to secure its rank in our top 10 list. “Finish the Fight!” Well done Huskies! What sets this university apart is the offering of a Master of Accounting Science in Leadership. A rare degree taught by their notable faculty. This program provides students with leadership skills and the ability to effectively make important business decisions. Having the distinction of being ranked #1 in Illinois by Businessweek for providing the greatest return on investment (calculated by salary earned per annual tuition dollar spent). A degree from NIU is money well spent. Students from NIU are expected to make a mid-career salary of $ 120,000 with 94% being offered employment upon graduation.
Next in the line-up with a solid #9 is University of Missouri, Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business and they MIZ BIZ! 2014 was a memorable year for the university, marking the 100 year anniversary of the school’s existence. This birthday hasn’t slowed down the University of Missouri a bit, even if it is a centenarian, as they recently launched their Entrepreneurial Scholars and Interns Program. This is a highly selective entrepreneurial program for students including a 10 week paid summer internship. University of Missouri didn’t stop there. The year was also notable for faculty member Elaine Mauldin, as her research on audit fees was published by the Wallstreet Journal. All this bodes well for students with an advanced degree from Trulaske, as they can expect an average mid-career salary of $125,000,with 96% of students finding employment soon after graduation.
Michigan State University, Eli Broad College of Business pulls in an honorable #8 in our ranking. The Master of Science in Accounting program boasts that it “readies students to become leaders in the accounting industry.” The Eli Broad College of Business ranked #13 in the Accounting Degree Review 2014 Best Accounting School Super Ranking. This ranking combines Businessweek, Public Accounting Report, and U.S. News & World Report and that is why it is super! Research plays a role in deciding those rankings and Michigan State College of business takes it quite seriously with 6 research centers total. Two of which include the Center for Venture Capital, Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance (CVCPEEF) and the Demmer Center for Business Transformation. The school is also known for the Ernst & Young Communication Center which offers students career preparation, so it comes as no surprise that 99% of Eli Broad graduates find themselves quickly employed with an average mid-career salary rounding out the $92,000 a year range.
Indiana University – Bloomington, Kelley School of Business is Breaking Away from the pack as these Indiana Hoosiers earn the highly coveted lucky #7. The accounting program has also been recognized by U.S. News and World Report and TaxTalent as a top 10 graduate accounting program. The curriculum at Kelley School of Business “mirrors real-world situations.” Students are expected to participate in consulting projects in cooperation with top corporations. Kelley accounting faculty is unrivaled by other larger institutions. Patrick Hopkins was honored by the American Accounting Association for his research uncovering companies that hid poor accounting practices to make their bottom line look better than it really was. With remarkable faculty like Patrick, students are well prepared to take on a career in accounting and are highly sought after for a close to 100% employment rate and an average mid-career salary of $103,000.
The University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business is located in Northern Indiana and while there is no hunchback lurking in the school bell tower, legend has it that you can still hear echoes of “Rudy, Rudy” being chanted through the stadium corridors. These “fighting Irish” do business as well as they do football, earning a respectable #6 on our list. The Accounting department is recognized for its Center for Accounting Research and Education (CARE), whose objective is to “strengthen the bridges between accounting research, accounting education, and accounting practice.” According to Public Accounting Report and TaxTalent Mendoza College placed 4th in the nation and is a highly favored institution among tax hiring authorities. It makes perfect sense, that 99% of Mendoza College graduates had an immediate job offer and enjoy an average mid-career salary of $119,000 a year.
University of Iowa, Tippie College of Business comes in at #5 and that is no Field of Dreams! UI is located in the small percentage of the state that is not dominated by farmland. The Tippie Master of Accountancy program puts the power in the hands of the students with four concentrations from which to choose. Offerings are in Financial/Auditing, Management Information Systems, Managerial Accounting, or Tax. The Accounting department faculty is top in their field. Many have been recognized for their pace-setting curriculum. Ramji Balakrishnan is a bit of a Tippie celebrity on campus with many acclaimed published works in the accounting field, including “The Influence of Institutional Constraints on Outsourcing,” published in the Journal of Accounting Research, 2010. 48(4): 767-791. Due to the stellar preparation, Tippie students who took the CPA exam for the first time had an excellent CPA pass rate of around 75%. Graduates of UI often earn an average mid-career salary of $86,000 annually. 93% of students are employed upon graduation.
Don’t be confused by the name, you won’t see any farmer’s tans at the Miami University (Ohio), Farmer School of Business. This business school is nestled in the Ohio Valley just miles from Cincinnati and has earned the #4 spot on our list of 10. Farmer School of Business is no novice to this type of recognition. The graduate accounting program routinely falls in the top 20 of Public Accounting Report’s list of top programs. Farmer is extremely competitive only accepting 20-25 students each year. They are well-known for their Experimental Learning including the Center for Business Excellence (CBE), which serves as a bridge that connects faculty, their students and external stakeholders. Another Farmer innovation in education is the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Case Competition, which prepares students by requiring them to work in teams to solve hypothetical problems relating to taxes and tax code. It is no wonder that graduate employment rate is 98% with active recruitment by “The Big Four accounting firms.” Their average mid-career salary runs around $81,000.
Winning the bronze medal is DePaul University. This school is the highest ranked Chicago business college according to Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 national rankings of undergraduate business programs. The graduate school was named for Charles H. Kellstadt, the former CEO and chairman of Sears. Roebuck & Co, in 1992. The Accountancy program is credited with three programs ranked in the top 10 according to corporate tax hiring authorities surveyed by TaxTalent.com. The college’s Master of Science in Taxation program was ranked No. 2, Master of Science in Accountancy program was ranked No. 3, and the undergraduate accounting program placed No. 6 nationally. Graduates of this fine institution become part of a close-knit alumni network in the accounting field. It follows that an impressive 90% of graduates find themselves gainfully employed within 6 months of graduation and on average earn a mid-career salary of $120,000.
Second place is The Ohio State University, Max M. Fisher College of Business. Earning Fisher this distinction is its unprecedented student-faculty ratio of 3-to-1. This individual attention helps students excel and exceed even their own expectations. Fisher College of Business does not only set the pace for learning, their research centers are impeccable.Charles A. Dice Center for Financial Economics is just one of 10 extraordinary research centers setting the standard for innovation and best practices. The College of Business enjoys a ranking of 11th and 12th in U.S News & World Report and Public Accounting Report, respectively. Another aspect of the program that sets the Buckeye’s apart is its flexibility. 78% of the coursework is made up of electives. Students can pick and choose from: financial reporting, managerial decision making, finance, taxation, and auditing. The school has a strong job placement assistance program FisherConnect. Graduates can expect calls from top firms such as: Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, Limited Brands, and Chase, putting the post-graduate employment rate at 92% with an average mid-career salary of $96,000 a year.
The blue ribbon goes to the third Illinois business school in the line-up, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, College of Business. University of Illinois, the second centenarian on our list has been running a remarkable accounting program for 100 years. The university is in the news not only for putting their controversial mascot Chief Illiniwek to rest, the business school ranked in the top 3 in both U.S. News & World Reportand Public Accounting Report. Maybe their next mascot should be King ROI, as they were ranked #5 in a national survey for educational return on investment. Additionally, University of Illinois is leader in research. Two highly regarded research programs on campus include KPMG & UIUC Business Measurement Research Program which supports research on new measurement, reporting and assurance concepts. The V. K. Zimmerman Center was originally known as the Center for International Education and Research in Accounting (CIERA). It remains a leader in the nation conducting research on the study and teaching of international topics as they relate to the field of accounting. 98% of graduates quickly find themselves employed and enjoy a highly successful career in the business world, earning an average mid-career salary of $100,000. Bravo University of Illinois!
If you enjoyed The Top Accounting Schools of the Midwest, stay tuned for our next journey through the southern part of the country to find the Top 10 Accounting Schools of the South. It is not all BBQ and Big Hair, many of the country’s finest business institutions call the South home.
Get Fit to Lead: 8 Leadership Development Goals [Infographic]
It’s that time again; we’ll be ringing in the New Year, making resolutions and promising to get in better shape. Here at Switch & Shift we challenge you to get your Leadership Skills in shape. We can support you along the way with our blog chock full of tips and leadership ideation.
Let’s get this year started with this infographic, courtesy of the folks at Michigan State University; if their Professors are any example of their development training, we are indeed in good hands!
Highlighted in this infographic are the Habits of Successful Leaders. It is always a good tactic to lead by example. Find a mentor. 64 percent of corporations are speeding up leadership development and 44 percent are increasing spend on executive education, signifying that now is the time to take action and sharpen our thought-leadership.
8 Leadership Development Goals
Preparation, Character, Principles, Personality, Performance, Experience, Expression, and Influence create a line up as powerful as the Big 10 Champion Spartan Football Team.
Follow the Steps to Action and you are on your way, and check back with us for your daily dose of Leadership Mental Wealth.
Infographic by Michigan State University, earn your Strategic Leadership & Management Certificate
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Reach out to Jeff and schedule your FREE Telecommunication solution consultation.
We do the research for you. We handle the bid process and present your team with all the options available in order to make an informed decision that best fits your business needs.
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Five reasons to replace phone, fax, etc. with unified communications
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Summer is Fast Approaching!
The school year is drawing to a close and it is time to start thinking Summer Vacation!
As soon as you book your summer vacation, you think about your dog, cat, hamster or fish that has to stay home and miss out on the fun. Poor Fifi! But with Amy’s Pet Butler, they will have a summer camp of their own!
Hugs, scritches, walks and activities make Amy’s Pet Butler the most requested pet sitters in Lakeway and Cedar Park.
Book Now! Our calendar get filled up fast.
Your Friends are Our Friends!
With our Refer a Friend Program, anyone you refer, who uses us for 3 or more visits will earn you 10% off of your entire scheduled pet service.
It doesn’t get better than that!
Professional Pet Sitting
Amy: (512) 797-6764
Stacy: (512) 560-6087
The summer in Texas sizzles! Here are few tips to bare in mind to keep your favorite, furry friends comfortable and safe this summer.
1. Don’t leave your pet in the car unattended.
That quick stop to pick up dry cleaning can turn into 30 minutes when you run into your best friend Sally. It only takes a few minutes for your pet’s temperature to elevate to an unsafe level.
2. Make sure your pets that stay outside in the yard have plenty of shade and fresh water at all times.
You pet needs some form of shade to take respite from the Texas heat. Dogs can only cool down by panting and through their paws, so keep a supply of water on hand for the entire day. Perhaps even hose them down at some point.
3. Summer is Mosquito Time! Mosquitos can be a carrier for Heart Worm, which when not caught in time can be lethal to your pooch.
Your vet will tell you more, but many flea preventions are combined with Heart Worm protection.