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The Benefits of Social Media for Real Estate Agents

You should never underestimate the importance of social media in the modern era. Real estate agents can use social media to their advantage in many ways. Take a look at the benefits of social media for real estate agents by reading the information below. You’ll see that it can be a handy tool and will understand how to use it better. 

It Makes Networking Easier

Networking is going to be substantially easier when you make use of social media. Social media will allow you to easily connect with people who are looking to buy or sell homes. It’ll also be a convenient way to stay connected with other agents who might be able to help you out professionally. You should leverage social media platforms to improve your networking capabilities as soon as you can. 

Social Media Enhances Your Brand Visibility

Enhanced brand visibility is another excellent reason why you should be using social media as a real estate agent. You want people to be able to recognize your brand, and bringing new people into the fold will be helpful. This will get more eyes on your real estate, and it makes it easy for others to share what you’re doing. You can build a much stronger brand by using social media outlets as part of your strategy. 

It Gives You More Marketing Options

You’re also going to have more marketing options when you start using social media. Marketing your services on popular social media platforms will help you to connect with people. You can also use social media platforms as a way to get video content in front of the eyes of potential home buyers. It’s a great way to market homes that you are trying to sell, and you should be using social media as much as possible. 

Social Media Can Increase Your Website Traffic

Of course, social media is going to be able to drive traffic to your website as well. It’s going to help you to get more website views, and all of your website content will benefit from a healthy social media presence. Share your blog posts and other articles on your social media profiles. It’ll help to improve your website traffic substantially, and you’ll be glad that you started using social media more seriously. 

from Moss Sidell | Real Estate Attorney http://mosssidell.com/the-benefits-of-social-media-for-real-estate-agents/
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How to Effortlessly Connect a Team of Remote Workers

Today’s world is growing increasingly remote, which means that if your office can’t handle a remote worker, it may already be out of date. And with the rise and spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), individuals and companies around the world are rapidly beginning to question the way they conduct their business — especially during an outbreak. And this doesn’t just pertain to large businesses. Even small companies of just a few people need to be set up for success or risk major disruptions in productivity.

 Consider:

  • More people are working remotely. According to an Economist Intelligence Unit study, only 28% of those surveyed hadn’t worked remotely in the previous 12 months — meaning 72% had.
  • The technology is here. Video conferencing, Slack integration, remote diagnostics, file transfers—most of the tools you are already using are cloud based, meaning you can do them from anywhere. There’s no reason to hesitate anymore.
  • More people are going to want to work remotely. Even if some of the population hasn’t worked remotely yet, the work-at-home crowd continues to build momentum, increasing some 140% since 2005. And by 2025, about 75% of the global workforce will be millennials—a group that will come to expect more remote working opportunities in the future. While issues like the Coronavirus may be accelerating the remote working trend, it’s a trend that we believe is here to stay.

Why does this matter? With increased expectations of remote work availability, modern digital offices have to be able to facilitate today’s employee needs — especially as they pertain to health. Many companies that never believed their office required remote working options are now second guessing this belief. And not only because of the spread of disease, but to allow workers flexibility and the ability to compete for top talent.

Even if you don’t currently have a structure in place, here are some tips to help you build a remote team for the first time:

Step One: Build a Common Culture

The technology is easier than you think — especially with companies like LogMeIn who offer a full range of remote tools. It’s the company culture that can sometimes get in your way.

That means that your human resources team needs to be on board with a remote working policy that makes sense for remote workers as well as your company. Here’s what you’ll need to think about to build a culture that includes remote working:

  • Develop a policy for working from home. This should be a written policy to which any employee can refer. For example, you should have a policy for working from home on non-sick days for employees that request it. The key is to put something in writing, even if you still wish to maintain a flexible arrangement with most employees.
  • Create a basic flow for meetings with remote workers. If you have remote workers that never come in to the office, you’ll need to check in with them every so often. You may want to put in the structure—backed up by regular reminders with your project management software of choice—to make sure these employees never feel out of the loop.
  • Set goals for each remote meeting. Remote working won’t always be done via meetings, but you’ll accomplish a lot more with remote work if you can keep meetings concise. Take the “controlled burn” approach from NASA: each meeting should have a precise aim and a limited duration. And after the controlled burn, you should be able to let workers manage much of their own work for a while.

Step Two: Integrate the Technology for Better Remote Work

Many employers complain that remote work doesn’t have the same in-person connection of the office. That’s true. But with the right technology in place, you can simulate that feeling as much as possible.

The question isn’t whether the technology is here. It’s about what you should expect from your remote working technology. Here are a few features to consider as you weigh the options:

  • Easy logging in. The first step in the structure is to incorporate someone’s home computer with their work computer, especially for those who work part-time in a physical office. Can they log in with a simple browser entry and get to work as if they were at the office?
  • Workflow integration. If you already use a service like Slack, you’ll want to make sure that the technology you’re working with seamlessly integrates. Otherwise, you face the potential of back-and-forth emails as you try to figure out where every remote worker’s progress is regarding their latest project.

Step Three: Create Teamwork Even in the Absence of a Physical Team

It’s tempting to view a remote working operation as exclusively digital. But no matter how we work together, we’re all still flesh and blood. We want to feel like a part of something. When that’s accomplished, telecommuters can report lower stress levels.

But the benefits of telecommuting don’t outweigh the potential downsides if you don’t create a sense of teamwork or basic productivity. That means you’ll have to go beyond building a common culture and focus on what it takes to make people feel like a team.

The first step is creating a culture of reaching out. One study demonstrated that employees who had a chance to socialize for even as little as 15 minutes tended to have higher productivity than those who didn’t. In a remote work situation, that can be as simple as a phone call or a quick face-to-face chat.

The second step is to incorporate your team into major decisions. There’s not going to be much of a “team” if people don’t feel like they get a say. That means including them as you write your remote working policy, for example, or holding meetings about the best way to handle some projects going forward.

The third step is to create some things that employees can have in common and share with each other. That doesn’t have to be an employee newsletter. It can be something as simple as an email you share with a distributed team or a common set of guidelines to which they can all refer.

Changing Technology Means Changing Habits

So while updated technology is critical, you can’t introduce new technology without also helping employees change their current work habits. Pave the way for remote work by building a common culture and creating a policy for remote meetings and communication, integrating technologies commonly used, and creating teamwork in the absence of a physical team.

 

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/How to Effortlessly Connect a Team of Remote Workers/
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Important Tax Deadlines to Keep in Mind for 2020

It’s a new year, which means a lot of exciting things for your business. New chances. New resolutions. New goals. Opportunities to make this a defining year for your company.

But before you get ahead of yourself, it’s probably best that you remember that a new year means new tax deadlines, too.

Your Quarterly Estimated Taxes

For some people, the yearly tax return is the end-all, be-all of taxes. But for freelancers, the self employed, and other businesspeople, they’re used to the idea of filing quarterly estimated taxes. 2020 is going to be no different.

Paying your income tax by the quarter will start with finishing the previous tax season with the deadline for filing estimated taxes by January 15, 2020. Here are some of the other important dates you’re going to have to keep in mind for estimated taxes this year:

  • April 15th (same as the deadline for tax returns)—first quarter estimated taxes
  • June 15th—second quarter estimated taxes
  • September 15th—third quarter estimated taxes
  • January 15th, 2021—fourth quarter estimated taxes

January 31, 2020: Sending Out W-2s

When you’re a business who has to think about the taxes of its employees—not only its own taxes—it comes with specific responsibilities and deadlines. One of the most important: the end of January, when you’ll have to send out W-2s for any employees. Keep in mind that 1099 workers don’t fall under this category.

February 28, 2020: 1099 Reports

If you hired an individual contractor for your business activity in 2019 and paid them over the minimum amount, you’ll have to send in your 1099 reports—along with copies to the appropriate parties. This paperwork notifies the IRS about transactions, making sure that the people who collect income via 1099 are honest about their own income and that they pay all proper taxes.

You don’t have to make a tax payment at this time; this is simply a reporting filing that lets the IRS know if a transaction has taken place. For more information, see the IRS’s details on the 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC.

March 16, 2020: Specific Company Tax Dates

Partnerships and S Corporations, pay attention: this is the deadline for your tax returns. Partnerships using Form 1065 and S Corporations using Form 1102-S both have to use this same deadline, but there is a six month tax extension application available if you run too close to the deadline and aren’t sure you’ll be able to update it with completely accurate information without that extension.

April 15, 2020: Deadline for Filing Your Tax Return

Everyone knows April 15—unless that day falls on the weekend or a holiday—is going to be one of the most important days of the year. This is the ultimate deadline for your tax return, unless you filed an extension. And it’s also important to remember that this is the deadline for corporations to file their Form 1120.

In other words, you’re going to want most of your tax return finished well ahead of this deadline. In fact, it’s usually better that it’s finished weeks ahead, depending on the other deadlines and the paperwork you might be waiting on.

Keep in mind that you might be waiting on a tax refund for some time after this, so when you put together your financial calendar for the year, you won’t necessarily want to assume that you’re going to have your refund coming in by the tax filing due date.

There are also a few other deadlines here that are worth noting:

  • This is the last day to make a 2019 IRA contribution if you haven’t already funded your account fully in 2019.
  • Remember that your first quarter estimated tax payment is also due on this date.
  • This is also the deadline to fund your HAS for the previous tax year of 2019.

October 15, 2020: Extended Individual Tax Returns Due

If you filed an extension on the 2019 tax return, it needs to be mailed out by this due date. Make sure that it’s completed and fully finished well ahead of this date, as there are minimal deadlines immediately preceding this date on the tax calendar, which should give you plenty of time to have everything ready by the due date.

How to Make Sure You Hit Every Tax Deadline

It isn’t long after the end of the year that the need to take action on your upcoming taxes becomes apparent. Not only do you have to think about estimated taxes, but the filing deadline for filing your tax return is coming up faster than you might imagine. Now’s the time to track your expenses and file  the relevant reports for your 1099s, and then the tax return at the appropriate time, and before you know it, April 15th has already come and past.

The question is, how do you make sure you hit every deadline effortlessly? Are there any tax tips that will help?

There are a few options here.

You can utilize tax software that helps make the entire process easier. Turbo Tax, for example, makes it easy for you to file your tax return and enter in any and all relevant information that the IRS will want to gather. It also offers free filing if you mail the taxes in yourself.

You should also think about the tools you use to gather information throughout the year. You don’t want to scramble come March and find out that you did a horrible job of tracking expenses and income. Tools like QuickBooks and Freshbooks will help ensure that you have everything you need when it’s time to sit down with your accountant and get everything done.

It also helps to create a schedule that you can manage throughout the year. Don’t wait until April 1st to start gathering everything. The time to prepare your taxes is now—even if it’s just a small first step like trying out new tax software for the first time. That will help ensure you meet the tax deadlines, beat the tax deadlines, and get everything as accurately as possible.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/Important Tax Deadlines to Keep in Mind for 2020/
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How to Increase Property Value as a Real Estate Investor

As a real estate investor, you want to be able to increase the property value of your properties as much as you can. If you make use of specific methods, you should be able to get the most out of your investment. Read on to explore how you can increase your property value as a real estate investor. These methods won’t be too hard to implement, and they should really pay off in the end. 

Clean the Property Thoroughly

Cleaning the property thoroughly is the first thing that you should do when you’re looking to make improvements. Clean the home on the outside and the inside to make sure that it looks great. Some investment properties might have issues that will need to be addressed. Make sure that you take the time to clean things up before you start thinking of selling it or renting it out. 

Paint

A little bit of paint can transform a home into something more beautiful. If you want your property to increase in value, then you should always try to make it as presentable as possible. Take the time to paint the home so that it looks the best that it can. This will help you to get more out of the property when it comes time to sell it off. 

Give the Property More Curb Appeal

You want your property to stand out in a positive way from the road. Taking the time to increase the curb appeal of your property will make a difference. Plant some flowers and plants to add a bit of charm to your property. You can also consider how the shutters look, whether the deck is presentable, and other options that can help to increase the curb appeal. 

Update Flooring

If your property has older flooring at the moment, then you might want to make some changes. Get rid of the old carpeting and buy something new that will look visually appealing. You could also consider buying hardwood flooring or some other type of flooring. Improving the flooring situation in the home will increase property value, and it’ll make it easier to get buyers interested in the house when you’re looking to sell. 

Get New Siding

Getting new siding can be very helpful as well. If you want the value of your property to increase, then new siding will help you to accomplish just that. The house will look a lot nicer with new siding, and it’ll add a lot to the value of the home. This will cost you a bit of money, but it should be worthwhile since it adds value to the house while making it something that will appeal more to the buyers. 

from Moss Sidell | Real Estate Attorney http://mosssidell.com/how-to-increase-property-value-as-a-real-estate-investor/
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Increasing Your Productivity as an Entrepreneur

Moss Sidell Attorney Productivty

Every entrepreneur wants to be able to stay as productive as possible. The problem is that many entrepreneurs struggle with productivity for various reasons. If you are hoping to increase your productivity, then there are certain things that you should be doing. Keep reading to examine methods for becoming a more productive entrepreneur. 

Use Your Time Intelligently

Using your time intelligently is going to be the best way to increase your productivity. Some entrepreneurs get too wrapped up doing several small things that they don’t get the most important tasks completed. Try to prioritize the things that need to be finished right away and then focus on little tasks once you are done. It might be a good idea to create a list of tasks that you need to prioritize and then work your way through them in order. 

Eliminate Distractions

Many entrepreneurs have a difficult time and become too distracted. You’re the boss and this means that you have a lot going on. You also might be distracted by everyday life stuff just like anyone else would be. Keep your personal phone turned off during work hours, if possible, and eliminate distracting elements from your office that will keep you from getting work done. 

Maintain Your Health

If you aren’t maintaining your health properly, then you’re going to encounter many productivity issues. People who don’t eat right won’t have the energy that they need later on in the workday. Also, it can be helpful to exercise regularly so that you have the stamina to handle the long hours you’ll need to put in as an active entrepreneur. Try to focus on your fitness and diet so that you will have the necessary tools to get the job done. 

Stop Being a Perfectionist

Being a perfectionist can actually hurt your overall productivity. If you get so wrapped up in little details that you can’t finish things on time, then you’re going to fall behind in your set schedule. It’s essential to do good work, but you can’t be so meticulous that you aren’t able to wrap things up. Understand that nothing will ever be completely perfect so that you can be a more productive entrepreneur. 

from Moss Sidell on Business http://mosssidell.org/increasing-your-productivity-as-an-entrepreneur/
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How to Build a Modern Digital Office Space That You Will Love

There was a time when a new worker required a desk, a computer, an expensive phone, and four walls. That time is gone. Whether you hire contracted freelancers or host remote workers at your company, today’s digital environment makes it possible to eschew the usual trappings of office life for a far more digital, remote experience. With the right structure in place, you don’t have to give up the collaboration or personal touch of a traditional office. Here are some of the tools that can help you build that office:

Cloud Storage and Office Management

It starts with your digital infrastructure. How will you store the key documents and files that you share with your co-workers and employees? How can you collaborate on these same documents to ensure that work gets done on time? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Google Drive and Google Docs. Whether comparing notes on content for your blog or building group projects for business presentations, you’ll have just about everything you need for remote word processing and more with free Google accounts. Google Calendar syncs neatly with plenty of apps these days so you can automatically schedule meetings and tasks without having to take on additional steps.
  • Dropbox. Many business owners today choose to supplement their cloud storage with at least one Dropbox account—just to have a backup. Dropbox’s free account currently offers enough storage for most people to handle the demands of a modern business, but there’s also a Dropbox Business account for more robust team needs.
  • Microsoft OneDrive. People who use PCs often find that OneDrive fits in neatly with the infrastructure they already have in place. OneDrive’s easy offline access features also make it possible to handle a variety of business needs even when the Internet’s down—though if you have remote workers, this isn’t usually a concern.
  • Use Zapier to automate your most common processes; for example, you can use new tasks on Trello to automatically create Google Calendar reminders for new project assignments.

Meetings and Online Conferencing

What defines a modern digital office is that it’s not limited to the four walls around your computer. But to keep tabs on a remote team, you’ll have to be able to check I from time to time. That means online meetings and conferencing:

  • GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting is one of the most popular solutions for handling remote workers, with some 18 million users per month across the globe. They offer easy screen sharing, high-quality video/audio, and great features like commuter mode, voice commands and cloud recording.
  • join.me. This easy-to-use meeting tool allows for one-click screen sharing, personalized URLs, and the everyday features you rely on such as audio, recording, scheduling and remote control.
  • Calendly is a nice tool for avoiding the game of email tag that usually happens when you’re trying to match schedules with someone else.

Phone Calls and Voicemail Systems

You no longer need a landline in the modern digital office. But that doesn’t mean a smartphone alone will suffice, either. We recommend that you split up your personal and business calls with a phone system that easily delineates between the two, giving you a separate business phone number.

Grasshopper’s solutions include a separate toll free number for your business, a voicemail system, multiple extensions, call forwarding, and even business texting through your usual phone.

Strategies for Remote Working

A modern digital “office” means you’re not always tethered to one specific location. As long as you have the software and infrastructure in place to handle it, you can simply use an Internet connection to get most of the work done. Zapier has highlighted a wide range of different home offices where many people can get by with a simple Internet connection and a laptop.

But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan effectively. Here are some tips for keeping work going while you’re handling business from the home or on the road:

  • Get off of paper as much as possible. Even if you have a business presence that requires a lot of paperwork, there are still some ways to reduce paper usage, including software that tracks printer usage and arranging for as many paperless statements as possible. It’s also a good idea to digitize essential documents to have electronic backups in the case of emergencies.
  • Set clear rules and guidelines for remote workers. If you hire a remote worker, make sure that you work with them early on in the process so they understand the expectations of a remote office. How much work will you expect them to do? What are your policies on sick days? Vacations? One rule of thumb is to keep your business running like a traditional business, even if many of your workers now handle their job from a remote location.
  • Find co-working spaces when you can. If you work in a digital office from home, you might find it beneficial to find co-working spaces when you can, such as working out of coffee shops with free WiFi or seeking out a co-working space in your area.
  • Use an “upside-down pyramid” schedule. In other words, start with the foundation of your work as soon as you can. Begin with the most important task of your day. If you work out of a mostly digital office, it’s possible for your work day to run into all sorts of non-office issues that can derail your productivity. That freedom can be a great thing. But it also means you’re responsible for getting things done without the traditional 9-5 structure. Get the most important work out of the way first to ensure that even if your day gets disrupted by mid-afternoon, you can still recover the next day.

Building a Flexible Digital Office

There is enough technology out there that you can handle most work with a laptop and an Internet connection. But if you want to maintain the standards and function of a larger office, it helps to supplement these basic tools with the infrastructure to maintain the appearance of a full corporate presence—without all the expense.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/How to Build a Modern Digital Office Space That You Will Love/
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No More Lost Leads: How to Capture and Keep Potential Leads

How many leads did you lose last month?

Trick question. It’s hard to tell the opportunity cost when those leads never went your way to begin with.

But there is a type of lead that companies too often ignore: the potential leads that for some never became full-blown leads for your company. This can happen for a few reasons:

  • Leads might jump into an order form and fill up a “shopping cart” only to abandon the cart and close out the window.
  • Some leads may come to the cusp of signing up for a newsletter, only to decide at the last minute that they’d rather keep surfing the web.
  • Other leads might bookmark your lead page for later—only to never return.

In each case, you’re capturing potential leads, but for some reason or another you’re not keeping them as genuine leads for your business. Here’s a guide for rectifying that situation:

Evaluating Your Current Lead Strategy

The first step is to better understand what your current lead strategy is—and how well it might be working out for you. Here are a few tools to help in that process:

  • Use a tool like Website Grader to get a sense of how you’re currently doing with potential leads. This will yield you insights like your page size, page speed, and mobile responsiveness to ensure that you’re not turning away leads before they ever happen.
  • Supplement your Google Analytics with tools like Leadfeeder or Ahrefs. Leadfeeder gives you more insight about who’s visiting your website, which helps you craft a strategy for capturing these leads more specifically. With Ahrefs, you’ll get more insights as to the strategies your competition is using to capture more data-driven leads.
  • Integrate A/B testing into your lead strategy. If you have multiple ways of capturing leads, it only makes sense that you’ll want to test which ones need optimization and which ones are delivering the kind of performance you need. For example, you might start with multiple versions of a “contact us” page to see which one tends to yield more results. The key to testing effectively is that you’ll identify the “invisible” leads you could have captured with a better lead form, but never knew because you never tested alternative pages.

Optimizing Your Website to Point Your Audience Toward Lead Conversion

Once you have a sense of where your opportunities may be lost, it’s time to create new strategies to capture the leads you’ve been missing. Here are a few to consider:

Create more landing pages.

According to HubSpot, companies with 30+ landing pages tended to generate about 7 times as many leads as companies with only 1 to 5 landing pages. This doesn’t mean that more is necessarily always better, but it does suggest that the companies that are actively creating landing pages and testing them for specific purposes are finding better results. If you only have one landing page that you never test, now’s your wakeup call.

Consider integrating live chat.

Live chat (42%) is beginning to outpace even email (23%) and social media (16%) as the “leading digital content method.” That means that it’s also expressing its potential to drive visitors to transform into leads. As visitors ask questions and explore the live chat feature, they can easily be swayed toward a landing page of the company’s choice—preferably one that’s already been optimized for someone asking those same questions.

Give your leads something to do.

Evaluate your site from the audience’s perspective. Live chat (see above) works because it gives customers something to do. But there are other ways to encourage people to move through your lead funnel, including:

  • Download incentives. One of the most popular lead capture tools in the world is to create a factsheet worth downloading and encourage people to trade their email address in exchange. Download incentives are popular for a reason: they work.
  • Create valuable content. Whether that valuable content comes in the form of an insightful blog post or an online tool visitors can use for free, it doesn’t matter. What’s key is that you create something that people will find worthwhile and use that content to drive their attention toward your lead generation funnel.

Add a personal touch.

With personalized calls-to-action converting some 42% more people than the basic CTA, one thing is clear: we like the sound of our own name. That’s one reason that personalized email headlines tend to do better, even if we already know as the recipients that it was an electronic form that enabled that level of personalization.

How to Retarget Leads that Never Became Leads

Sometimes, you’ll just lose out on leads. It happens. You may not have any explanation for it. Heck, even your leads may not be able to explain why they clicked away.

In that case, you can use a strategy of retargeting to influence how many of these leads you retain.

For example, Google Adwords Remarketing allows you to create advertising for very specific cases. You can create advertisements tailored to those who might have browsed your website but never fully made a decision one way or the other.

You can also use Custom Audiences on Facebook to reach out to highly specific customer segments. By implementing a Facebook pixel on your site, you can even create a custom audience of people who have already visited your website. As is the case with Google Adwords Remarketing, you can then construct advertisements specifically tailored to those who didn’t pull the trigger on an order.

Retaining More of the Leads You Worked Hard to Create

Before you go out and spend money on advertising or SEO, you should focus on making your site a better place for the people already visiting it. Retarget your customers, increase the personal touch, and begin testing your lead funnel solutions to ensure that you retain more of your visitors and turn more of them into leads. Then, the next time you spend a dollar on advertising, you’ll be confident that your site has what it takes to generate a worthy ROI.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/No More Lost Leads How to Capture and Keep Potential Leads/
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