Endurance International Group Holdings, Inc ., the owner of BlueHost, HostGator and a variety of other brands marketing hosting and other cloud services, is preparing a public offering. The company says it is planning to sell 13 million shares of public stock at $14.50 per share. A release issued by the company says 3 million shares of this stock are being sold to raise approximately $41.3 million for company use. Another 10 million shares are being sold by existing stockholders of the company with certain stockholders granting underwriters a 30-day option on another 1,950,000 shares. In these last two deals, Endurance will not receive any of the proceeds from the sales, the company says. Endurance says it will use the money it does receive for general corporate purposes including repayment and refinancing of debt, working capital and capital expenditures. However, in the announcement, the company also did not rule out the possibility of expansion or future acquisition. The announcement explains : “In addition, Endurance believes that opportunities may exist from time to time to expand its current business through acquisitions of or investments in complementary companies, businesses, products or technologies. While Endurance has no current agreements, commitments or understandings for any specific acquisitions or investments at this time, Endurance may use a portion of the net proceeds for these purposes.” The public offering is expected to close Nov. 26. The company owns a variety of cloud-based service brands including Bluehost, HostGator, iPage, Domain.com, A Small Orange, and ResellerClub. Endurance serves an estimated 3.8 million subscribers and employs a staff of more than 2,400 in its Burlington, Mass. headquarters and across the Americas and Asia. But the company may be facing competition from other services which are increasingly moving into the market. Endurance considers small to medium sized businesses the major customers for its online services. Meanwhile, companies like GoDaddy, another major domain registrar and hosting service, and Wix, which offers freemium Web building tools, have both been moving into that space. Most recently, GoDaddy introduced its GoDaddy Pro service specifically targeting the six million Web designers and developers  who manage about 60 percent of small business sites. In its latest move, Wix introduced a deal with Bigstock to offer high quality professional photos and other images to small business websites at a reduced cost. Image: Video Still The post BlueHost, HostGator Owner Prepares Sale of 13 Million Shares appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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If you haven’t done it before and you want to start, you have only one option – to start. Much as there’s a huge difference between lightning and lightning bug, there’s a world of difference between starting and talking about starting. Continue reading →

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Business consultants have long advocated outsourcing non-core functions. A non-core function is one that is not a profit center (meaning, you don’t charge customers for it). A non-core function may be essential, but doesn’t differentiate your business strategically from competitors. In most businesses, administrative and back-office activities such as payroll are non-core functions. As such, they are potential candidates for outsourcing. But the question business owners and managers want to answer is:  what do you actually gain from outsourcing payroll? Is it worth all the time and effort just to investigate and identify appropriate outsourced service providers? Then there’s a lot of work to transition the function outside to the third party service — do the benefits of outsourcing outweigh that effort? CPA firm Clayton & McKervey noted  several long-term advantages to be gained from outsourcing payroll: “… a company had one person performing all of the payroll processing functions. The company is now outsourcing the functions as a result thinking ahead. They chose to outsource the functions to reduce the risk of the payroll not being processed, to manage growth by anticipating the increased payroll responsibilities that will be required as the firm grows and hires more employees, and to keep up with technology, such as pay cards and direct deposit.” Ideally, outsourcing achieves three main goals: It frees up time and resources to focus more on your core business. It gives you access to more technology and expertise to perform payroll well. It reduces costs and risks. Let’s examine each of these benefits in more detail, and what they mean. 1. Focus Better on Your Core Business Payroll is one of those critical functions that may not directly increase sales.  But carried out poorly, it can put your business in a world of hurt. And most of all, it can sap internal time and attention away from core activities. Businesses have to comply with a wide range of laws when it comes to employees — from federal, to state and local. It takes considerable time and attention to detail to deal with them. There are the obvious legal requirements, such as tax reporting and remittance.  There are requirements around withholding taxes from the employee’s pay, and also the employer’s portion of taxes.  In some cases there are electronic filing requirements, and you need to also know when to file — at the federal, state and local levels. Taxes, though, are just the start. “As an employer, you also need to understand wage and hour laws. For example, you need to know when you are required to pay overtime,” said Andy Childs, a vice president of Paychex, in a recent interview with Small Business Trends.  Paychex is one of the nation’s largest payroll services, serving nearly 600,000 small and midsize businesses.  The wage and hour rules, said Childs, can be highly technical. Then there may be new hire reporting requirements, and state requirements around unemployment compensation and workers compensation insurance. Childs emphasized that the time required of a business is not just about the regular weekly activities. An even bigger issue is the unexpected time obligations. “You may have set aside a certain amount of time each week to run payroll. Then you get an unexpected surprise in the form of a notice from the IRS. But it’s not just that the IRS is notifying you that you owe a fine. Now you have to go through your records and investigate to determine if you actually committed the infraction.  All of a sudden you are involved in a dispute resolution,” Childs said. And it never happens at a convenient time for a small business owner, he added. 2. Get Access to Expertise and Technology Another reason to outsource is to get access to expertise and technology. Employers have to deal with almost 10,000 federal, state and local taxing jurisdictions across the United States.  While most small businesses won’t have to comply with each of those jurisdictions, still it points to the complexity of the laws.  And every year hundreds of new laws and regulations are enacted. For small businesses on the larger side (50 full-time employees and up), the Affordable Care Act alone imposes considerable reporting and compliance requirements.  When asked for an example, Childs pointed to  IRS Forms 1094-C and 1095-C , which are in draft form right now. These forms will require employers to certify whether they offered full-time employees the opportunity to enroll in insurance that provides minimum essential coverage. “These will not be simple forms to complete,” Childs added.  (Paychex has set up an  online resource center for healthcare reform obligations due to the complexity of the laws.) Just as important as expertise is new technology. Employers today rely on technology to operate more efficiently.  As a business grows, employers have more employee records to keep and also need more reporting.  The lack of technology becomes a hindrance to scaling for growth of the business. Employees also expect technology.  Employees today want options like direct deposit and self-service access to their payroll information online. Employers that aren’t able to provide such options may be at a competitive disadvantage to those that do provide such conveniences. On top of that, the explosion of mobile device usage is ushering in a new level of technology expectation.  Mobile use is still nascent when it comes to payroll, but it’s “growing at a rapid rate at Paychex,” said Childs. Employers are using mobile devices to look at certain reports and look up information, such as how much money they need to have in the bank on payroll dates, he noted.  Employees also are beginning to use mobile apps to check their own records. Childs expects payroll mobile usage to continue to grow, because it frees up business owners and managers to leave the office. “With Paychex’s mobile payroll apps, you could do almost anything from the beach — if you wanted to,” added Childs. 3. Reduce Costs and Risks Outsourcing payroll can also assist with cutting costs and limiting risks. On average, said Childs, businesses are overpaying employees by about 4 percent because of differences between the employee’s time and an accurate time record. “Just having a more accurate time and attendance record keeping solution can save money,” he added.  (Paychex has a cost savings calculator here .) Then you have the potential penalties for violating reporting and other requirements. According to IRS figures, 40 percent of small businesses pay an average penalty of $845 per year for late or incorrect filings. Tips for Choosing an Outsourced Payroll Provider If you’re considering outsourcing payroll, look at the typical three points with any kind of provider: price, service and reputation. When it comes to payroll, there are other points to consider too: 1. Security and reliability of the provider You’re giving your payroll provider the names, addresses, social security numbers, and bank account numbers of your employees. You’re giving a power of attorney to make filings on your behalf.  Go with a provider that is financially strong with good controls in place. Otherwise, you could find your company in a bind , like some South Carolina firms recently after a small family-run payroll provider was charged with stealing $11 million from clients. Now those clients are facing IRS action, because ultimately the employer is responsible even if the payroll provider steals from them. (The IRS has tips to protect your company if you outsource payroll.) 2. Track record serving businesses like yours Does the payroll provider have a strong track record of serving businesses your size? Are they experienced in your industry? 3. Other service offerings Consider the broader services you may need as your business grows, such as benefits and HR services.  Will the payroll company be able to provide those? 4. Regulatory compliance capabilities Does the payroll provider have the resources to keep up with the burgeoning laws and regulations around employment, healthcare and taxes? 5. Technology Evaluate the payroll company’s technology, including its mobile readiness. Is the payroll company investing in new technology? Can they keep up with technology as demand for it on the employer and employee side grows? 6. Accountant interfaces Can your accountant get easy access to your payroll and related records for purposes of reconciliations and tax filings? Remember, today there are solutions for businesses as small as one employee. Solutions are affordable (starting at less than $50 a month per person, depending on needs). A good payroll provider offers capabilities that go beyond what you can do on your own.  If you haven’t considered an outsourced solution before, a new year is a good time to consider making a switch. Payroll Photo via Shutterstock The post Why Payroll Is One Function You Should Outsource appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Spot quiz: What’s wrong with this picture? An anonymous IT manager asked  this question on Quora : “I have a staff member who produces brilliant work but is consistently late every single day. I can’t fire him because it will take months to find someone to fill his position. What can I do?” In case you haven’t arrived in the 21st century yet, the correct answer to that question is: Count your blessings. Get a clue. Developing software is — or at least it can be, when done right — an art. The best developer is 10 times better than the second best. In this field, when a developer produces “brilliant work,” anybody who understands software and programming, and anyone who values productivity,  forgets the stupid work schedule and the 10 minutes late. In this case, however, after the initial question was answered by hundreds of people with essentially the same answer I wrote here (but more nicely, and in more detail than my suggested answer) the IT manager who asked the question added more to it, defensively responding, arguing that he has a valid complaint. Here are some excerpts: “I’m the manager of an IT Department in a small town. It’s taken me months and months to find this guy — his work quality is fantastic and he’s both a good colleague and a friend. However, he is late virtually every single day. This is despite multiple verbal warnings. In the last month he has been over 10 minutes late 15 times, and between 5 and 10 minutes late 12 times. It makes other members of the team feel they can turn up late as well … I’m at my desk at 9 a.m. waiting to ask him questions with no idea what time he’ll be there … There could be an issue that needs his immediate attention at 9 a.m. Unlikely, but there could be. … It’s really f***ing simple to leave the house 10 minutes earlier.” I find this very amusing. I’m amazed that the brilliant programmer is still there, after all that harassment. I know very well at least three different companies that would love to hire him. The manager here is living a few decades in the past. Welcome to the 21st century. There are three lessons here that are much more important than mere amusement: 1. Productivity Isn’t Butts in Chairs Anymore Look around you. Consider the expense of office space, the human time wasted in commuting, the explosion of new virtual connections, and rise of a generation raised with mobile phones and social media, and give up your old-world mentality. Businesses that measure and manage by physical presence are obsolete. Nowadays, we should all be figuring out what jobs and what tasks and what parts of work go better with people in the same spot together, and what parts are done just as well or better alone. Work life is a giant mosaic, mixing focus, concentration and alone time with communication, engagement and interaction. And every day less interaction is in the same physical space, more in shared space online. Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat is already seven years old. 2. Productivity in Code and Software was Never Butts in Chairs — Ever Coding is special. I’ve done professional coding and I’ve managed dozens of coders and, as I said earlier, I’ve learned that the best developer is 10 times more productive than the second best. It’s not a straight curve. Yes, some coding is boring busywork, but most is related to creativity and imagination. It does not do well when locked into a specific office at a specific time for a specific number of hours. If you like software, set the developers free. And — yikes — this isn’t even new to this century. The milestone book on this topic, The Mythical Man Month , was first published 28 years ago. Even its second edition is 19 years old. I’m not sure coding is the only pursuit that works like this. Maybe graphic design, maybe even good business-related writing, web copy and marketing messaging are like that too. But I am sure coding is like that. 3. There’s a New Best-Ever Kind of Accountability Emerging In the details of the Quora question above, the complaining manager cites the problem of precedent — what does he tell the other programmers who are on time — to justify his concerns. That’s also obsolete. When and if the others complain about your star coming late, challenge them: “When you can produce what he does, you can come late too.” Let people be accountable for the work product, not punctuality, and your business will be better off. Clock Photo via Shutterstock The post True Story of an IT Manager That Needs to Get a Clue appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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The second in a 10-part series on how to transform innovation success rates, from the pages of How to Kill a Unicorn (link), by Fahrenheit 212 founder Mark Payne (recently published by Crown Business). Continue reading →

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When was the last time you felt inspired and then fundamentally changed your view of the business world? In the hustle and thickness of every day, it is rare to have a transformational experience. Most small business owners see their days as a list of to-do’s they must check off. Typically this provides nothing more than a sigh of relief or a sense of frustration at the conclusion of every day. This is one reason why taking scheduled breaks to recharge from the daily routine is so important. It can thrust you into places where you can have new experiences and gain totally different perspectives. These are called thin places. Characteristics of a Thin Place According to Eric Weiner, cultural traveler and writer for the New York Times, thin places can be charming, enchanting, and awe-inspiring. They can be calming, yet stir feelings and emotions. Time passes pleasantly in these places, without feeling a need to track it. They are places where one can’t help but marvel at beauty, efficiency, and the power of everything. Thin places are where wisdom just sits. They prompt you to ponder rare and new thoughts. They help you make thought associations that have alluded you. In his article , Weiner explains that thin places are not necessarily tranquil, beautiful, or fun. They usually aren’t places like Disney World or an awards dinner. Thin places are where there is not agenda. They can be natural places like the Sonoran Desert or the ocean. They can be man-made parks or city squares. For some people, thin places can even be an airport or a local bookstore. Purpose of Thin Places Thin places give people new perspectives. They don’t necessarily provide “spiritual breakthroughs”, but they do change the way one sees the world. They disorient, confuse, and transform. People leave as different, yet perhaps more authentically themselves, after encountering a thin place. They see themselves and their business from a different place. How to Get to Thin Places Usually, thin places are just stumbled upon. In order to increase the likelihood of encountering thinness, you must start by having no preconceived notions. Thinking you will walk out with a brilliant idea or revelation will probably mean disappointment. There are no guidebooks to take you there since thin places are not the same for everyone. Each person must discover what thinness looks like to them. Whether you are traveling the world or a local neighborhood, be open to new places and experiences that don’t exist inside your office or your company. It’s not so much the place itself as it is how you feel in that place. You must find the places where you feel thin – where you feel really you. My thin place is at Wallace Desert Gardens in Scottsdale, AZ. Where are yours? Republished by permission. Original here . Image: Wallace Desert Gardens The post How to Find Thin Places Where New Perspectives Exist appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Wednesday, famed sportswriter Bill Simmons released a podcast where he interviewed Lorne Michaels, the man who created and still runs Saturday Night Live. In the interview, Michaels said something particularly interesting about the creative process… Continue reading →

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I’m gearing up to write a new book and app on organizational change to complement a powerful new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit that will be incredibly useful for use in change programs, project and portfolio management, and even innovation, and so I’m canvasing the organizational change literature space (including change leadership, change management, and business transformation) and looking to identify: Continue reading →

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This post is one of a series of conversations published on the Time website, authored by myself and Nicha Ratana, with transformational leaders who were storytellers at the BIF10 Collaborative Innovation Summit in Providence, RI, on Sept. 17-18. Irwin Kula is an eighth-generation rabbi known for his fearless attitude about change — a rare quality among religious leaders who tend to adhere closely to tradition. Don’t miss the video at the bottom… Continue reading →

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A device being touted as the “world’s first crowdfunded tablet” from Finnish company Jolla has surpassed its $380,000 goal in just over two hours. And the campaign for the tablet on Indiegogo has already raised more than $1 million. #JollaTablet has now raised over 1M USD in just 37 hours! We’re overwhelmed, thanks a million! #Jolla #PeoplePowered http://t.co/8BdZfketv8 — Jolla (@JollaHQ) November 20, 2014 More than 6,300 people funded the Jolla tablet campaign in just over a day. At this point, Jolla (pronounced YOLA) is offering a “special” discount on what would be the expected retail cost of the tablet, should it be available after the Indiegogo campaign expires on Dec. 9. Here’s a closer look at the device in a demonstration video from the company: Those who contribute $209 to the campaign to get the Jolla tablet to the market will be able to buy the device for that discount and be among the first to receive a tablet. The tablet  will run on the independent, Linux-based Sailfish operating system. Jolla introduced Sailfish 1.0 when it launched its first smartphone earlier this year. With its new tablet, the developer will also be introducing a second version of the Sailfish operating system . The company says there are native Sailfish apps available on its own marketplace but the tablet will also run Android apps. As part of the crowdfunded theme, Jolla also encourages anyone to contribute on new app designs and ideas for Sailfish. It hosts a community forum to gather these ideas. The tablet features an Intel 64-bit 1.8GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM and is stocked with 32GB of ROM, with room for a microSD expansion card. The company says the 2048×1536 pixel resolution on the new tablet rivals the iPad Mini 3. But the device’s 7.85-inch display is slightly bigger. There are no buttons on the front display. Instead, you can navigate back and through app menus using gesture controls. There’s a 5MP rear camera and 2MP front-facing camera. The one drawback to the Jolla tablet is that it’s currently only a WiFi tablet, so it’s mobility is slightly limited. The timing of this campaign is interesting when you consider that Jolla, based in Finland, was founded by former Nokia engineers. The team responsible for Jolla left Nokia when that company decided to focus on making devices that ran Windows mobile operating systems, according to a report from UK newspaper The Register. Microsoft recently introduced its very first “Nokia” smartphones since it acquired Nokia’s devices line last year. The Jolla tablet is set to be delivered to Indiegogo contributors in May 2015, according to the crowdfunding page. Image: Jolla The post Jolla Tablet Raises $380,000 in Just Over Two Hours appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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