Earth Class Mail, an online service for accessing postal mail, today announced updated pricing to deliver more value to its customers and welcomed a new leadership team.
Over 50,000 individuals and businesses have used Earth Class Mail to reduce the burden of managing paper mail.
“Earth Class Mail has given us enhanced control and security of our postal mail,” said Jay Ackerman, President and CEO at Reveleer. “Being able to manage paper mail online has allowed us to scale and focus on driving innovation in our platform.”
During the COVID-19 crisis, the company has enabled its customers to adapt quickly to remote work.
“We are so glad that we decided to subscribe earlier this year,” said James Gadsby, COO of Desire Street Ministries. “We routed all of our new mail through Earth Class Mail ahead of an office move in July. We love this solution and are already telling others about it.”
New Pricing Gives Customers More
After listening to customer feedback, Earth Class Mail launched new pricing that provides an increased amount of service for its price point.
The company’s new MailBox plans are created for individuals and small businesses that need a reliable and straightforward virtual mailbox service. Its MailRoom plans are designed for businesses that receive a higher volume of postal mail or that receive mail for a large number of employees.
“Our customers want the freedom to manage and access their mail from anywhere. Earth Class Mail has been providing customers with online access to their postal mail for 15 years and we are excited to offer customers more value with our new pricing,” says Earth Class Mail’s new CEO, Fergus Burns.
New leadership dedicated to improving customer experience
To support its dedication to maximizing value for customers, Earth Class Mail has also made additions to its leadership team.
Fergus Burns, with over 25 years of experience developing customer-centric products at companies like Amazon, Criteo, and Microsoft, has joined as Chief Executive Officer. Mike Brown, a retired Air Force Colonel, and Fighter Pilot who’s led teams at companies like AtHoc (acquired by BlackBerry), BlackBerry, and Chargify, has joined as Chief Revenue Officer. Gwen Murray, a marketing leader with experience driving customer engagement at companies like L’Oreal, Amazon, and Shyft, joined as Vice President of Marketing. Frank Aguilar, a product experience leader who has worked for brands including Disney and Amazon, has joined as Director of Customer Experience. Andrew Luxem, a 12-year Amazon veteran, joined as Director of Product Marketing. Finally, Peter Frasco, an Army Veteran who also spent time at BlackBerry, has joined as Director of Software and Infrastructure.
Building on a track record of delivering industry-leading products and services, the organization’s new leaders are dedicated to improving the everyday lives of Earth Class Mail customers.
Note: This content was originally published on June 23, 2020 on PRWeb.com.
Remote work is rising, with recent estimates stating that at least 43% of all workers now work out of the office at least part of the time. These rates are likely to increase exponentially in the coming years as digital transformation advances pose a direct threat to the traditional workplace model. “Remote offices” or “remote workplaces” come with a unique set of challenges, including the need for increased digitization and a virtual environment that facilitates not only work, but culture and collaboration. Read about some of the top trends impacting remote work today in the Forbes article below.
Remote work is no longer a privilege. It’s become the standard operating mode for at least 50% of the U.S. population. Virtual retreats are no longer attributed solely to progressive startups. Traditional employers are finally on-board and ready to propose a flexible work arrangement higher up the pipeline.
2019 will further reinforce the current global shift towards “remote-friendly” workplaces and dictate a few more unique trends.
1. Employer expectations of digital skills are shifting from basic to advance
The demand for technology-savvy professionals now extends well beyond the software development space. According to fresh data from LinkedIn, general tech skills – web design, social media management and so on – are among the fastest growing in-demand skills. Whereas basic digital literacy – fluency with email software tools and word processing software – witnessed the fastest decline compared to other skill groups. Companies now expect employees to be more comfortable with all sorts of digital tools, even for entry-level positions and more so for remote employees. So if you are just considering the transition, make sure that your technical skill set is up-to-date and you know how to run a virtual office.
2. “In-the-office” days may become more popular
No, it’s not because more employers want to micromanage their remote teams. Quite on the contrary, employers are finally starting to address the mental health factor more seriously. The biggest reported struggle of remote work is lack of community – 21% of remote workers named “loneliness” as one of their main on-the-job issues.
To address this, companies are now encouraging remote members to come back to the office at least once per week. And this strategy gives results – Gallup poll estimated that the “visiting” employees tend to be more engaged and fulfilled when compared to their 100% remote or full-office counterparts. Such members are more likely to have friendships at work and state that their job includes opportunities to learn and grow.
3. Workplace cybersecurity will move upstream
This year, a lot of large companies have fallen prey to cybersecurity attacks and Internet giants (think Facebook) reported massive data breaches. While large corporations already have a good grip on security policies for remote employees, smaller employers have been leaving this area neglected. A new survey says that 38% of remote workers hired by SMEs do not have the technological support or expertise they need when working at home or in a public space. Interestingly enough, an additional 18% of respondents say that they would have been concerned as an employer about IT security. Rightfully so, as 72% of breaches actually occur at companies with under 100 employees.
In 2019, smaller companies should really catch up on their IT security. A good start is to develop unified security policies for both in-house and remote employees; restrict access to sensitive data to those who try to access it from public Wi-Fi networks and explore new-gen security tools, especially those powered by the blockchain technology.
4. Employers should start addressing the “trust issues”
E&Y survey revealed that less than half of global professionals trust their current employer, boss or team/colleagues. While the survey only included responses from in-house team members, the trust factor often gets more complicated for remote team members. Working solo, without regular access to company updates and the “water cooler” corporate chit-chat, can amplify the employee’s exclusion from the work process and make them question whether they are treated fairly or not.
The same survey indicated that unfair employee compensation, unequal opportunity for pay and promotion, lack of leadership, a work environment that does not promote collaboration are the key reasons for low trust. Promoting more transparency and collaboration between remote/in-house teams and management should become the new norm for 2019.
5. Having a specialization is a must
The era of generalists is over. Most employers are now after talent with specific skill sets: 78% of HR managers said that most skills will become even more niche in the next 10 years. Possessing those coveted skills means that you will remain in high-demand and have a lever during salary negotiations. Most employers are ready to pay the top dollar for hiring and retaining a remote candidate, whenever they cannot find certain expertise locally.
6. Legislature changes may lead to more remote work opportunities
FASB/IASB accounting changes are due to take effect on 1 January 2019 in the US, affecting every company that leases commercial real estate. A lot are now forced to seek alternative solutions for accommodating their offices. As a cost-optimization strategy, savvy businesses may choose to switch to telecommuting and hire new personnel on a remote basis. Gartner also estimates that “choose-your-own-work-style” decisions do not just lead to operational savings, but as well boost employee rates by more than 10%. So a lot of employers will likely diversify their work policies.
7. More training for remote staff
This year, employers have finally recognized the fact that the lack of meaningful learning and progression opportunities leads to high attrition rates. In 2019, this line of thinking also extends towards remote teams. Micro-learning and self-paced learning programs are bound to get more traction as more employers realize the incremental benefits of nurturing and re-engaging existing teams.
8. Get prepared for Gen Z competition
By 2020, Gen Z will comprise 36% of the global workforce. Being digital natives, who grew up in an internet-centric society, the members of this generation are likely to be more comfortable with newer technology and more inclined to seek remote or flexible working arrangements, rather than pursue traditional corporate roles. Account for the competition that’s coming.
9. Nomadic remote workers will find new bases
Co-working spaces became the usual habitat of the remote worker. In 2019, the travel-seeking remote employees may finally succeed in combining their need for a decent Wi-Fi with an affinity for some pool time. Selina a hotel chain, mashing up high-end suites with dormitory rooms in the same building, along with coworking spaces is expanding to the US and Europe. After successfully testing their operational model in Latin America markets, the company secured a new building in Miami and is now location-scouting in Portugal.
10. Remote work is expected to grow stronger in 2019
All signs indicate that we are nowhere close to hitting the plateau. Businesses across public and private sector increasingly recognize the benefits of hiring and retaining remote workers. Societal trends with millennials and Gen Z also push more businesses towards adopting more flexible working policies and allowing at least partial telecommute. If you are planning to transition to remote work, 2019 may be just the right time to do so.
Guest post by Courteney Reed, Financial Industry Analyst at Credit Card Insider
Successfully growing a business is no
small feat. It takes a great team, determination, and often a decent
helping of luck. With so many things to contemplate, it is often hard to
find a place to start seriously investing in your startup’s growth.
Here are three suggestions:
Separate your business and personal finances
As a business owner, you need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) via the IRS website.
This allows your business to build a credit profile and maintain a
record of business transactions. Until you file your business as a
separate legal entity, you could be held personally liable for all
The sooner you establish your credit
profile the sooner your business begins to build credit. Opening a
business credit card and using it responsibly can help you track your expenses and profits, build your credit scores, and simplify tax filings.
Conversely, mixing business and personal expenses on a personal credit
card can quickly eat up your credit limit, causing a drop in credit
scores and making it harder to apply for personal credit, such as car
loans or mortgages.
Rewards like cash back, miles, points, and warranties
Potential to increase business credit scores for better business loan terms and high-tier business credit card rewards
Better cash flow management, allowing 20-30 days to pay business costs without interest
Finance To Fit Your Needs
Successful businesses often use
outside funding to plan ahead for their business needs. Here are three
tried and true options worth considering:
Small Business Loans
Small business loans provide access
to capital before revenue streams begin flowing. Plus, by successfully
managing a business loan, you’re increasing the potential of securing
bigger business financing when it’s time to expand your company. Finding
the right business loan may take time but you’ll have working capital
you need to get off the ground.
Venture Capital Funding
Financing investors provide funding
to startup companies that are believed to have long-term growth
potential. This type of funding usually comes from wealthy investors,
investment banks, and other investment companies, and ownership of a
business is divided between the investors and the proprietors of the
business. There are different platforms that provide a database of different investors
looking to invest in new companies or promising business ideas, making
it easier to find investors interested in your market niche.
Alternative business funding is
capital offered to small business owners by “non-bank” providers.
Alternative lenders are particularly attractive to small business owners
who don’t have an established business credit profile.
Most lenders have their applications
available online, making the approval a quick process. Their interest
rates are typically higher, but if you need money in a timely manner,
alternative lending might be the way to go. Typically lenders extend
loan repayments from 6 months to a year, but depending on the type of
loan you choose, you may not have to pay the money back until you
actually draw from the provided funds.
Leverage Software to Increase Efficiency and Reduce Costs
After getting approved for more
financing, you’ll need to stay on top of all the financial details. The
right software can help streamline multiple tasks and increase your
team’s performance and overall efficiency. Here are three tools for
keeping your finances in order:
Payroll management is often a burdensome task, especially as your business grows in manpower. Effortless HR
is an HR tool that enables employees to self-manage their payroll
preferences, time off, and access any other necessary information
without the assistance of an HR employee.
Quickbooks for Finances
Quickbooks is simple to use and helps you keep track of all basic business transactions. Plus, they regularly roll out updates to their online platform for flexible financial management.
A cloud storage solution is a must-have for organizing and sharing important files. Depending on your specific needs, Dropbox contains tools that benefit secure record keeping and flexible collaboration.
The path to growing a successful business is not a concrete one. However, these three tips can begin to increase your financial literacy and day to day expense management in a simpler and more productive way. Seriously considering these recommendations will give your business a better chance of success and expansion in the future.
Doug Breaker here, CEO of EarthClassMail.com. Writing billing code is hard. Really hard. If you’re wrong by a penny, you’re all wrong.
I used to write billing code as a young developer. I once made a mistake that cost a client $1,200,000! Oops, not my best day.
Any business not in the business of writing billing code should not write billing code. Outsource it instead.
I guarantee it will save you time, make your other development faster, and save your sanity. Spend time building your competitive advantage, not wasting it writing billing code.
At Earth Class Mail, we use Chargify(Full disclosure: Scaleworks owns both Chargify and Earth Class Mail. We used Chargify well before Scaleworks bought them).
When I ran HomeFinder, we used Recurly and liked it. Stripe’s subscription functionality offers a ton of time savings and robust tool set. Check them all out, all offer immense developer time savings vs. developing your own billing system.
Repeat after me ten times, “we will not have developers spend time on billing code!”
CRITICAL TIP: before you choose, ask yourself, “will we ever want to charge for something like ‘get 20 widgets for free on our $99 plan, and 40 widgets for free on our $149 plan and charge for widgets over those amounts?'”
If you answer “yes”, then keep reading for a MASSIVE difference between Chargify/Stripe/Recurly. This one tip can save you months of developer time, make you more money, and launch your products faster.
Let me explain with two real world examples, one using Recurly, and one using Chargify.
Consumers can even get a free pizza on their move day if they find a mover through the site. Who doesn’t love pizza on their move day?
(Quick backstory: Before I took over as CEO of Earth Class Mail, I was CEO of HomeFinder. While at HomeFinder, we launched MovingCompanyReviews.com as an internal startup. After I left, Placester bought HomeFinder about 6 months later. Placester didn’t want MovingCompanyReviews.com, so we bought it from them.)
We offer a product to moving companies called “Review Advantage“. For that product we email prior customers of moving companies and collect reviews on behalf of the moving companies.
We offer the first bunch of customers to write a review per month a free Starbucks coffee. The product used to be manual, but we just launched an automated version. We set out to offer different plans with different number of free coffees:
$19 per month includes 3 free customer coffees
$99 per month includes 15 free customer coffees
$299 per month includes 50 free customer coffees
After we hit the free coffee limit, we wanted to charge the moving company a certain amount per coffee. Here’s how it looks to our movers:
Here’s how we set that up on Recurly:
Set up a “Measured Unit” for free coffees
Set up the pricing plans, including a billable add-on for the extra coffees. Here’s the $19 plan.
Write a bunch of custom billing code to do the following:
Keep track of how many free coffees we’ve given in a billing period
Report any coffees over that the free limit to Recurly
Reset the counter when a customer’s billing period renews
That’s not easy code to write! We did it, but it took our developer about three weeks of hardcore coding time to get it correct, get automated tests in place, and get fully confident that it worked.
Recurly gives us a ton of benefit, and we enjoy using it. Unfortunately their metered component functionality still required us to write complex billing code in order to give away a different number of free coffees by plan price point.
We made the investment because it was worth it. However, we’d much rather spend our coding time helping consumers find great moving companies.
Example 2: Offering Free Usage on Chargify
Here at Earth Class mail, we just launched a killer new check deposit/lockbox product on Earth Class Mail called CheckStream.
If you’re a business that gets checks, it can revolutionize the way you deposit them and record payments in Xero or QuickBooks Online.
You can deposit any sized check into any bank in the US without going through any application process, or worrying about per check credit limits.
Once you deposit the check, you can record payments to customers & invoices right from our app into Xero & Quickbooks online.
We launched with three pricing plans, each with a different number of checks included.
$99 per month includes 30 check deposits
$249 per month includes 125 check deposits
$499 per month includes 265 check deposits
If customers pass those limits, we charge $2 per check deposit on the first two plans, and $1.90 per check on the $499 plan.
Check out how easy Chargify made it to set this up:
Set up our 3 plans, here’s the $99 plan.
Set up our metered “check deposit” component, with the three different price points.
Configure each price point to include the correct number of free check deposits, see screenshot below.
When someone signs up for a plan, set the correct price point on their subscription (we do this in our ordering code, but you can do it via the user interface as well).
Ship it! That’s it! Since our app already tracks which plan a customer is on and reports check deposits to Chargify, we didn’t have to do anything else.
Notice the step we didn’t have to do? Write complex billing code! Magic!
Chargify saved us weeks or months of development & testing time. Instead of spending weeks or months coding & testing, we launched the new plans in days.
So do you and your company a favor, don’t write billing code! After having hands-on experience with various billing solutions, Chargify has been the clear winner for Earth Class Mail’s needs, but I encourage you to check out all the options before committing to a provider.
Going with any will save you development time and future tears when your custom billing code breaks.
However, make sure you bump your current and future billing scenarios against each provider to make sure you don’t get sucked back into the swampy quagmire of billing code development.
Lastly, if you’re a business that gets check in the mail, check out our new check deposit service, it’ll save you bunch of time, get money in your bank account faster, and save you from keying in payments in Xero and Quickbooks Online.
We’re really excited to announce CheckStream, a new service that makes depositing checks super simple.
So many of our customers get checks in the mail, literally millions of dollars worth each month.
In many senses it’s the most important mail you can get, and yet there was no great way to deal with them before.
Until now. Unlike traditional solutions, CheckStream is designed to work for any business – if you have a bank account, then you qualify.
There’s no credit check, no deposit limits, and none of the typical restrictions you get with remote deposit or lockbox solutions from the banks.
The solutions on the market today are not flexible, place a lot of burden on employees, don’t natively integrate with cloud services, and often don’t support small and medium businesses. CheckStream fixes those problems. – Doug Breaker, CEO at Earth Class Mail
We set out to build something that would work across a broad spectrum of business needs, from high check volume businesses to low-volume and high-dollar transactions. Importantly, we didn’t want to stop at just the deposit, we wanted to make the entire transaction workflow better.
Native QuickBooks Online and Xero integrations make accounting reconciliation a breeze. Record transactions directly to your accounting software, so no more spreadsheets to track all the checks in your deposit.
Plus, CheckStream makes all the good things about receiving checks even better. Every deposit includes a complete content scan, so any attachments and payment coupons get retained.
CheckStream makes depositing checks easy … We used to let checks pile up, then walk them to our bank … It saves us hours every month and gets money in our account faster. – Nick Kocinski, CFO at YCharts.com
Digital copies can be stored forever in the Earth Class Mail cloud, or sync everything to your favorite cloud storage service.
CheckStream is better because it just works
NO Hardware – that means no scanner in the office, and no maintenance.
NO Contract – month-to-month billing, just like our business mail plans.
NO Credit Check – that’s right, if you have a bank account then you qualify.
NO Deposit Limits – any amount, any time.
NO Transaction Fees – each plan includes a number of deposits, after that it’s just $2/check. (included deposits vary, see plans; for CheckStream add-on and individual deposit pricing, see here)
This is a guest article by Hugo Lesser @ Bright!Tax
A lot of entrepreneurs choose to run their small business from abroad. For some it’s a way to get around work visa requirements, for others it may be a tax savings decision, and many are simply drawn to the expat lifestyle.
Unfortunately for you, the IRS still needs to get theirs. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you need file a federal tax return each year.
There are a few critical steps you can take to minimize your tax liability, and several important considerations that are unique to expat tax returns.
Use your expat status to reduce tax liability
You’re not going to escape the IRS, but to their credit they are accommodating toward expats.
There are some key exclusions that allow you to partially reduce or entirely eliminate your U.S. tax liability.
“You are considered to live abroad if you are a U.S. citizen whose tax home is in a foreign country and you have been present in a foreign country or countries for at least 330 days out of a consecutive 12-month period.”
Huh? Well, that means they don’t require separate corporate reporting, and any revenue or expenses can be included on the owner’s personal tax return.
There’s a catch though, you need to “elect” to be considered a disregarded entity by filing a special form, form #8832 (#8858 in subsequent years).
Doing that allows you to use the personal exclusions mentioned above against your corporate profits.
The IRS knows your bank account balance
You’re required to report any foreign bank or investment accounts if the total value of their combined balances is over $10,000.
Any bank account that you have control or signatory authority over qualifies, including small business accounts, even if the account isn’t in the your name.
For example: if you have a personal savings account and control over your small business account, and the two balances combined had a value of over $10,000 at any time during the tax year, you will need to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR).
Foreign banks report their U.S. clients’ account details to the U.S. government, so the IRS knows who should be filing. Penalties for not filing are substantial.
If you ignore this requirement, you will get penalized. From the IRS website,
“For willful violations, the inflation-adjusted penalty may be the greater of $124,588 or 50 percent of the balance in the account at the time of the violation, for each violation“.
If business is good, the IRS wants to know
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires expats to report their foreign assets (not including tangible assets such as property) if they are worth a total of at least $200,000 at any time during the tax year.
Qualifying assets include savings and investments, and small businesses.
If your investments and the value of your small business pass this threshold, you should report them.
You’re still going to pay for Social Security
Sole proprietorships and single owner LLCs registered in the U.S. are required to pay Social Security taxes.
If your business is registered abroad on the other hand, you aren’t.
Certain countries have Totalization agreements with the U.S. A totalization agreement means that you won’t be penalized with a requirement to contribute to two separate social security programs.
There are dozens of countries that qualify including, but not limited to: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Poland, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
If it all sounds a bit cliche, well…it is. It’s a story as old as the idea of free enterprise itself except that today entrepreneurs can do it without building a skyscraper, laying down a transcontinental railway, or putting a million cars on the road.