Marketing – Employee vs. Independent Contractor

Dear M & M:

When it comes to marketing my business it never seems to work. What am I doing wrong?

–Jackson

Dear Jackson:

One business owner who knew the value of investing in marketing expertise was Steve Jobs. Apple incorporated on January 3rd, 1977, and within the year was running ads created by an outside agency. Great, creative marketing has been a driving force behind Apple’s success ever since.  Currently, Apple is valued as the world’s most valuable company in the world comparing the price of their stock and the number of outstanding shares. Apple in the last 12 months has surpassed the $100 Billion dollar mark.  Yes, it’s true that many marketing firms are beyond the financial reach of many small businesses. Check locally, you might be surprised.  However, if you truly believe in the benefits of smart marketing there areprofessional resources that your small business can afford. You just may have to invest the time to find and qualify them. And, the better you’re able to qualify them, the more you’ll be able to trust them. In today’s marketing environment many of the companies that sell advertising have staff that is highly trained in marketing skills not only to sell their products but to give advice on how your company can best use their services to your benefit. Remember if it’s TV, Newspaper, Radio or your own web site these different types of media are just a way to deliver your message to a particular audience. You must decide what message you want to deliver. Do you want to generate traffic?  Do you want to increase sales? Are you looking to sell a product? Each one of these mediums (TV, Radio, Print, Internet, flyers, business cards, door hangers, refrigerator magnets, etc.) target different audiences and deliver messages in their own unique ways.  YouTube, TV, Billboards, and Newsprint can all deliver visual messages in their own unique ways.  Just as a great jingle can bring brand recognition to your product through the Radio a coupon in print media can make a call to action to get you out of your chair to enter the business to make a purchase because they offered a free appetizer if you purchase a meal.  This is too important and there are too many variables to not have a marketing plan.   It’s a simple single sheet of paper that outlines the basic marketing components or categories like your Mission/Objectives, Target Market, Offering, Pricing, Distribution, and Communication— you know, those 4 Ps we love so much in marketing. But the good news is that that’s really all there is to it. Cochise College SBDC is one place where you can go for assistance in developing a marketing plan.

 – M&M

Dear M & M:

I am just starting a company and I don’t fully understand the difference between an employee and an independent contractor. I know that employees are subject to payroll taxes, workman’s comp, and other labor laws; whereas independent contractors are responsible for their own payroll taxes, workman’s comp, and other labor laws.  Can I just make everyone an independent contractor and have them be responsible for their own payroll taxes?

–Owen

Dear Owen:

An easy answer to your question on the criteria for deciding who is an employee and who is an independent contractor is dependent on the amount of control you have over the worker. If you are controlling when, where, and how much they work more likely they will be classified as an employee. “Facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories: 1). Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job? 2). Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (These include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.) 3). Type of relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business”? –IRS Common Law Rules- It is important to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination. If you still are still unsure contact your accountant or IRS to get further assistance.

  – M&M

To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email  hollism@svedf.org

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