abcIt’s no secret that hiring independent contractors has its pluses: You don’t have to shell out money for payroll taxes and you can skip the insurance benefits paperwork. But beware: If you directly hire someone as an independent contractor–whether it’s a freelance graphic artist to design your business brochures or a technology consultant to help you set up your Web site–your legal responsibilities aren’t completely lifted. You may be surprised to learn that hiring independent contractors can create liabilities for you.

Liability Loopholes

Sure, business owners who use independent contractors aren’t as liable for worker negligence as when they hire full-time employees. Let’s say you hire Eddie, a full-time employee who makes pickups and deliveries for your publishing business. One day, while Eddie is driving work to the printer, he hits a pedestrian who sues both of you. If Eddie …

isdnLike a growing cadre of industry experts, Connie Henry knows what it takes to get integrated services digital network (ISDN) hooked up in an office. Henry coordinates telephone companies’ installation of digital phone line service for Jetstream Communications’s customers. ISDN has become the high- speed Internet access of choice for business owners fed up with waiting hours to download graphics- heavy Web pages. It also allows products such as Jetstream’s Front Desk to provide the same top-quality telephone-handling features that you thought were only available to big business.

But getting an ISDN line up and running is not as easy as adding a second telephone line. The horror stories you’ve read and heard about the service are true. ISDN-speak includes an entirely new vocabulary, from switch type and version to NI-1 signaling and D-channel packets. You call to place an …

aholtThis is the story of a story that’s been rewritten so often, I should’ve used disappearing ink. In an effort to capture the online investment juggernaut on paper, the editors of this magazine gave me $70,000 (virtual money, of course) and told me to have fun. That was almost two years ago, and the original assignment involved comparing the investment options available on AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe. But halfway through the project, my research became outdated when Internet investing took off. Then, when the online services changed their offerings and pricings, my work was rendered further irrelevant. Months later, I was sent back to square one again as new companies launched and old ones merged or moved their offerings. This brings me to a key caveat: The online investing world changes really fast.

Lesson 1: Know what you