How you can stay fresh, relevant, and in business

The journey is the destination, but *awards and recognition provide nice scenic overlooks along the way. We’ve learned a thing or two over the past 19 years, and thought we’d share some of what’s worked for us and led to our recent success. (We’ll save our mistakes and missteps for another post.)

The saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s pure malarkey. Businesses and entrepreneurs of any age and experience must keep learning new tricks in order to stay fresh, relevant, and frankly, in business.

Put simply, our forward-thinking culture, ability to strategically gather and implement client feedback, and embrace change have been key to our success.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Having a team willing to dress up and ham it up in front of a camera (pictured), leadership willing to take a few steps off the beaten path, and partners who were able to transform our website from stale to edgy led to an *award from The Business Marketing Association of Colorado. It’s not just about how people see our website. It’s about how we see ourselves.

We see ourselves as fun and edgy, but our website didn’t reflect it. We see ourselves as cutting edge, but our website – in many cases the first impression people get of our company – was standard. Cohn Marketing  was able to communicate who we are and convey our message in an engaging and creative way that demonstrates our forward-thinking culture–and win a BMA in the process.

Listen

Colorado Companies to Watch selects winners based on revenue growth, exceptional entrepreneurial spirit, unique use of technology, and a highly-sustainable competitive advantage. We could talk about each of those points, but we’ll focus on one piece that contributed to all the rest: We listened.

Three years ago, we took a calculated risk and built PayReel OnLine. Before we invested in the site, we invested in getting feedback from key clients. We knew that we didn’t have all the answers, and wanted to know everything that was and wasn’t working for our customers as well as what would make our system their dream come true (yes, we’re still talking about payroll).

We didn’t settle for a site that just worked well enough. We knew that an investment in PayReel Online was an investment in our existing clients, our target markets, and our company, and that we had to keep an open mind throughout the process.

This unique use of technology paid off. It made for highly-satisfied clients and contributed to the competitive advantage that enabled a significant spike in revenue, leading to our recognition as one of Colorado’s Top 50 Companies to Watch.

Our 19th year in business has been an exciting one. We’re very proud to have expanded and earned awards that showcase our talented, innovative team. Looking forward to what our third decade in the business has in store!

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*BMA Awards: The Business Marketing Association of Colorado presented  Cohn Marketing with a gold award for their work on our website. The theme was “Your Own Special Ops Team.”

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PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it. Relax we got it. 

Making goals & headlines (business lessons from the world cup)

Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., the Brazilian fútbol wonder boy, scored his 100th professional goal on his 20th birthday in 2012. Now 22 and still in his formative years, Neymar has led his team to the World Cup quarterfinals.

But in the days following Brazil’s decisive 4-1 win over Cameroon, the news that reached further than Neymar’s obvious contributions to the victory was the fact that he was under investigation for displaying a line of clothing not sanctioned by the World Cup. While fans know him for his impossible goals and tricks and for his showmanship, the casual observer may remember Neymar most for his non-regulation underwear. Also facing potential fines, Neymar has more than his reputation at stake.

Not unlike the state and federal regulations for businesses, FIFA’s World Cup rules are extensive, complicated, and easy to break. At PayReel, we know the guidelines inside and out so that our clients can spend money on (and get in the news for) the things they want to, rather than for preventable errors.’

Business is a team sport. Together, we can win. GOOOOOOAAAALLLL!

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it, so they can get back to doing what they do best.

The [Entrepreneurial] Journey is the Destination

Twenty-five years in business makes for one heckuva journey—complete with more than a few dead ends and accidentally-delightful wrong turns. It has even included some awards (such as being named one of the top 50 Colorado Companies to Watch in 2014). That’s pretty fun. But you know what’s even more fun? Getting there.

Our favorite part of the judges’ selection criteria for our latest recognition was “exceptional entrepreneurial spirit.” That’s what sent Heidi McLean (company founder and president) on this path in the first place.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating PayReel’s journey from a basement office to the mountaintop (Golden pun intended) by following our upcoming series for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and anyone with a dream and a sense of adventure.

Here’s our first tip: Sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss a single tip from Heidi’s 25 years’ experience.

About PayReel

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it, so they can get back to doing what they do best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PayReel Named one of Colorado’s Top 50 Companies to Watch!

Pop some bubbly and indulge us while we share some great news with you. PayReel has been named one of the top 50 Colorado Companies to Watch in 2014!

Winners are selected by a panel of judges based on revenue growth, unique use of technology, exceptional entrepreneurial spirit and a highly sustainable competitive advantage.

PayReel rose to the top based on our recent growth, which was fueled by a flexible, client-first attitude and a constant focus on making the client-freelancer relationship better and more productive for everyone.

Of course, we would be nothing without our great clients and partners. So if you’re one of them, raise a glass to yourself as well. If you’re not and you’d like to bask in this victory with us, simply click on the link below to get the conversation started.

Cheers,

The PayReel Team

About PayReel:

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it, so they can get back to doing what they do best.

About Colorado Companies to Watch:

Colorado Companies to Watch is a unique statewide awards program recognizing growing companies that fuel the economic fire of the state.  Colorado Companies to Watch honors companies that develop valuable products and services, create quality jobs, enrich communities and create new industries throughout Colorado.  The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade launched the program in 2009 in conjunction with the Edward Lowe Foundation and valuable community partners from across Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Reasons Payroll Is Like Parenting (Happy Mother’s Day)

They keep endless details running smoothly, money moving to all the right places, and reports changing hands with the precision of Olympic relay racers. They’re the payroll team. And just like parents:

1. They have a ridiculous amount of responsibility.

Assigning tiny human beings with the monikers they will carry with them from birth to the grave is a big responsibility. And naming them is just the beginning! Babies expect to be fed and kept alive to boot. From there, parents are tasked with ensuring children’s development into functioning members of society. It’s basically impossible.

A company’s payroll provider is equally important. What other group puts food on employees’ tables, keeps contractors happy and productive, and manages the details of the 401ks that silently grow into workers’ future security?

Where there’s a high level of responsibility, the stakes are high, too. So when something goes wrong, it seems to go really wrong. Which brings us to the fact that…

2. They only get attention when something goes wrong.

Whether a parent or a payroll employee, lack of appreciation is part of the gig. You’re unlikely to get a call from your child’s teacher congratulating you on managing to keep her fed, bathed, and functioning, but you’re sure to get one when she kicks her classmate during recess.

Likewise, the payroll department doesn’t get flooded with thank-you notes every time yet another round of checks arrives on time. But when a payment is late or the IRS comes knocking, the calls and emails are frequent and unforgiving (even if the mistake is tiny and the payroll team has single-handedly kept every contractor and employee paid for the last 11.5 months).

3. They make it all look effortless.

Seasoned parents can maneuver a toddler from a stroller into a car seat while simultaneously feeding two other kids, folding the stroller and packing it (along with 16 bags of groceries) into the trunk. They make it all seem like child’s play. But put the single auntie in charge and you’re lucky if the kids get fed and make it home with all of the pieces of clothing they had on when they left.

Likewise, payroll requires serious multitasking, and behind the quiet number crunching is some intense organizational talent. Timesheets aren’t especially flashy, but with highly customizable features, they are especially useful (unless you put someone inexperienced at the helm). That’s when you’re suddenly grateful for all the ways they make life better.

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On this Mother’s Day, hug a mom. And a Payroll employee. They do more than you realize.

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About PayReel:

When it comes to the administrative tasks associated with contractors and freelancers, PayReel sweats the small stuff so you don’t have to. And that is a very big deal. From worker classification to timely paperwork to IRS and DoL compliance issues, we’ll take care of ALL of it. Thanks to our deep expertise in contractor management, even though we’re handling a million details in our world—nothing happens in yours. Work gets done, relationships flourish, people get paid…and it’s all perfectly seamless. Learn about the Benefits of working with us—and how we can make your work-world a lot easier. Or, take a look at our video, which also provides a great overview of who we are.

Watch Our Video

Freelancer or Employee? The $14M Question.

Each year, federal and state governments increase their efforts to sniff-out companies that improperly classify workers as independent contractors.  It looks like the trend continues.

About a week ago, the President released his 2015 fiscal year budget, which explicitly states that his Administration plans to “detect and deter” the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. Specifically, the budget reads:

“When employees are misclassified as independent contractors, they are deprived of the benefits and protections to which they are legally entitled, such as minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and anti-dis­crimination protections… The Budget includes nearly $14 million to combat misclassification, in­cluding $10 million for grants to States to identify misclassification and recover unpaid taxes and $4 million for personnel at WHD (Wage & Hour Division) to investigate misclassification.”

On top of that, Departments of Labor in 15 states now have memorandums of understanding in place with the US Labor Department to “coordinate investigations and other enforcement activities” and exchange information to reduce misclassification of employees as independent contractors.  Those states include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Utah, and Washington.

So what’s your organization’s best practice for compliance? Unfortunately, to our knowledge, “this is how we’ve always done it” hasn’t yet been added to the government’s list of acceptable answers. So what is an employer to do?

You could read through the tons upon tons of material published on this subject.  Warning: it’s not as cut-and-dry as you’d think.  This option could also be repurposed as a non-addictive sleep aid.

Or, you could seek help on navigating this confusing subject.  Explore online tools from reputable firms, such as PayReel’s Self Audit, to help gauge whether or not you should be concerned with your company’s practices.

If the results of your research aren’t ideal, consider engaging a qualified partner who has extensive experience classifying workers in your specific industry.

Because the classification process focuses heavily on the relationship between client/employer and worker, it is important that your provider understands the nuances of your work to make the best recommendation for both parties.

This issue is certainly not going away, and it’s in everyone’s best interest for companies to engage the right resources and proceed according to the law.

Besides, think of all the other good things Uncle Sam could do with that $14M.

Online Staffing for Media Production – Is eye contact a thing of the past?

Last month, Staffing Industry Analysts reported that by 2020, online staffing could become a $46 billion per year niche. That’s right, $46 billion.

 

If SIA’s crystal ball is right, the use of online staffing platforms, where the buyer and worker navigate the entire recruiting process while never meeting in person, will grow more than 4,000 percent from 2012 to 2020.

 

Tools such as elance, oDesk or freelancer.com can make life easier for those seeking help with anything from customer service to copywriting.  But in the media production world, does the opportunity to fill a staffing need without ever having to pick up the phone outweigh the assurance we get from connecting with potential hires over a face-to-face conversation?

 

Can you find the best production talent without ever making eye contact and truly getting to know the candidate?

 

The answer depends on what is needed for the project.  Are you looking for someone to add their perspective, or simply to get the job done?  In our experience, the level of engagement you’ll need the worker to have in the overall project, regardless of title or job function, dictates whether or not to invest your limited time in the recruiting process.

 

But the beautiful thing is, you can have it both ways.  For straightforward needs where talent is readily available, click away.  If you plan to leverage the candidate’s creativity, are skeptical of online profiles, or are simply unsure as to what you’re looking for, consider enlisting the help of an industry-specific staffing firm who will add expertise and take much of the heavy lifting off of your plate.

 

Just remember, when it’s time to reveal your finished product, be confident and look ‘em in the eye.

Freelancers take action: Simple steps for navigating the Affordable Care Act

We’ve got news for you… the Affordable Care Act is real and it’s here. Now. Healthcare marketplaces are up and running. So, if you’re a freelancer you’ve got a federal mandate, but you also have options. Here’s what you need to know.

First, the mandate.

If the law remains in its current form (and so far this has been a pretty big “if”), every individual is required to obtain an ACA-compliant health insurance policy. This is known as the personal mandate. Failure to comply this year will result in a $95 fine. If you decide to make this a habit you should know in 2016 the fine will balloon to $700. Ouch.

Now, what are your options?

  • If you have Medicaid coverage, you’re all set. Enjoy the rest of your day.
  • If you have coverage through your spouse’s plan, see ya’ later.
  • If you’re getting healthcare insurance through an existing employer, you can either do nothing or go to healthcare.gov and see if your income qualifies you for a healthcare subsidy. This could lower your cost for coverage. There’s also a useful tool to assist you in estimating possible subsidies at kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/.
  • If none of the above applies to you, it’s time to go shopping. Head to healthcare.gov and follow the instructions. Plans come in four different levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Some freelancers report being pleasantly surprised by the prices they’ve found in the marketplace, while other folks have used some pretty colorful language to describe the experience. Rates vary by where you live and how much you make.

Whichever option you take, do it by March 31, 2014. That’s this year’s enrollment deadline.

If you’re an active PayReel employee, you’re in good hands. We’re working with some of the smartest people in the insurance business to determine which plans make the most sense for our employees and clients.

We’ve got some fundamental questions to answer before the employer mandate takes effect on 1/1/15. Such as:

  • Which of our employees will be considered full-time and eligible for coverage?
  • Who will we choose as our plan provider?
  • How much will it cost you?

We’ll begin aggressively communicating the specifics as soon as we have all of the answers we need. In the meantime, know that we’re working on it day and night, and that we’ll keep you informed.

Relax.  We got it.

The problem with ethics

If you had to choose, would you rather own and run a business with A) a partner who is hard-working, brilliant, innovative, and dishonest, or B) a struggling C-student that you’d trust with your life?

While you’re compiling your list of arguments in favor of the C-student, allow me to remind you that we’re talking about running a business here. I’m voting for the smart guy. Honest or not, we’re facing relentless competition and price pressure. Our customers expect a continuous flow of new products and improved service. Our shareholders were not amused with last quarter’s results.  And our kids just got into Yale.

You see, that’s the problem with ethics. They tend to get in the way. They make us stop and examine our motives. They’ve even caused us to turn down lucrative contracts that would have nailed our business plans for the year. Being all goody-two-shoes can wreak havoc on our short-term plans.

If only we had the luxury of focusing our attention on the long-term stability and reputation of our businesses. We could build development plans around our C-students and unleash the potential they bring to our enterprise.  We wouldn’t jump every time the phone rings after 6pm. Instead of getting in the way, our core values could actually light our way. Imagine this little business we’ve just started being around 50 years from now, thriving and holding fast to the ethics we chose to implant. And think of the money we’d save on private detectives!

I think I’d like to change my vote.

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it. Relax. We got it.

CrewConnection | PayReel Makes Controversial Announcement

News Release: April 1, 2013 – CrewConnection | PayReel Acquires Hostess Brands

“It’s all about extending our reach and, of course, the Twinkies!” commented CC|PR’s top executive. “We could no longer bear the thought of weekly staff meetings without those wonderful little attitude adjusters.”

CC|PR shares rose 1,200% on the news. In a rare consensus, industry analysts all agree the move signals a reversal in the company’s belt-tightening strategy. “This decision will certainly make them a much bigger player,” one analyst offered. When asked for an estimate of how soon the acquisition will impact company results, CC|PR’s CFO explained, “We look forward to digesting as many of the Hostess assets as quickly as possible.  We foresee only the anticipated shortage of milk as an obstacle to our explosive girth … er, growth.”

CrewConnection | PayReel employees expressed mixed reactions to the news. “When I said we had a bunch of Ding Dongs upstairs, this isn’t what I meant!” lamented one middle manager.

About CrewConnection | PayReel

We’re a group of dedicated professionals who have decided to wish our readers a Happy April Fool’s Day!

We’ll be back next time with some useful content … we promise.