IT consultants are many things — experts in their field, champions of the workaround and, generally, the “people persons” of the tech field. But they’re not magicians who, with the wave of a smartphone, can solve any dilemma you throw … Read More »
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As a business grows, one of many challenges it faces is identifying a competitive yet manageable compensation structure. After all, offer too little and you likely won’t have much success in hiring. Offer too much and you may compromise cash … Read More »
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In an increasingly global economy, keeping a close eye on your supply chain is imperative. Even if your company operates only locally or nationally, your suppliers could be affected by wider economic conditions and developments. So, make sure you’re regularly … Read More »
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Strategic planning is key to ensuring every company’s long-term viability, and goal setting is an indispensable step toward fulfilling those plans. Unfortunately, businesses often don’t accomplish their overall strategic plans because they’re unable to fully reach the various goals necessary … Read More »
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When business use of websites began, getting noticed was the name of the game. Remember pop-up ads? Text scrolling up the screen? How about those mesmerizing rotating banners? Yes, there were — and remain — a variety of comical and … Read More »
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Technology is tricky. Much of today’s software is engineered so well that it will perform adequately for years. But new and better features are being created all the time. And if you’re not getting as much out of your financial … Read More »
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On one level, every company’s inventory is a carefully curated collection of inanimate objects ready for sale. But, on another, it can be a confounding, slippery and unpredictable creature that can shrink too small or grow too big — despite … Read More »
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By and large, today’s employees expect employers to offer a tax-advantaged retirement plan. A 401(k) is an obvious choice to consider, but you may not be aware that there are a variety of types to choose from. Let’s check out … Read More »
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Funny thing about customers: They can keep you in business — but they can also put you out of it. The latter circumstance often arises when a company overly relies on a few customers that abuse their credit to the … Read More »
Every year is a journey for a business. You begin with a set of objectives for the months ahead, probably encounter a few bumps along the way and, hopefully, reach your destination with some success and a few lessons learned.
The … Read More »
Some business owners — particularly those who founded their companies — may find it hard to give up control to a successor. Maybe you just can’t identify the right person internally to fill your shoes. While retirement isn’t in your … Read More »
Do bad sales months often take you by surprise? If so, don’t forget the power of flash reports — that is, snapshots of critical data for quick, timely viewing every day or week.
One specific way to use them is to … Read More »
Most businesses approach technology as an evolving challenge. You don’t want to overspend on bells and whistles you’ll never fully use, but you also don’t want to get left behind as competitors use the latest tech tools to operate more … Read More »
When business people speak of innovation, the focus is usually on a pioneering product or state-of-the-art service that will “revolutionize the industry.” But innovation can apply to any aspect of your company — including customer service.
Many business owners perceive customer … Read More »
Every business owner launches his or her company wanting to be successful. But once you get out there, it usually becomes apparent that you’re not alone. To reach any level of success, you’ve got to be competitive with other similar … Read More »
Many companies offer health care benefits to help ensure employee wellness and compete for better job candidates. And the Affordable Care Act has been using both carrots and sticks (depending on employer size) to encourage businesses to offer health coverage.
If … Read More »
With such intense focus on digital marketing these days, business owners can overlook the fact that there are actual, physical places to interact with the buying public. Now that spring is here and summer is on the way, it’s a … Read More »
“Blockchain” may sound like something that goes on a vehicle’s tires in icy weather or that perhaps is part of that vehicle’s engine. Indeed it is a type of technology that may help drive business worldwide at some point soon … Read More »
The attitudes and behaviors of your people managers play a critical role in your company’s success. When your managers are putting forth their best effort, the more likely it is that you’ll, in turn, get the best performances out of … Read More »
We live and work in an era of big data. Banks are active participants, keeping a keen eye on metrics that help them accurately estimate risk of default.
As you look for a loan, try to find out how each bank … Read More »
When a business decides to hold a retreat for its employees, the first question to be answered usually isn’t “What’s our agenda?” or “Whom should we invite as a guest speaker?” Rather, the first item on the table is, “Where … Read More »
An old business adage says, “Sales is a numbers game.” In other words, the more potential buyers you face, the better your chances of making sales. This isn’t completely true, of course; success also depends on execution.
Nonetheless, when a company … Read More »
For some business owners, succession planning is a complex and delicate matter involving family members and a long, gradual transition out of the company. Others simply sell the business and move on. There are many variations in between, of course, … Read More »
Employees tend not to fully appreciate or use their retirement benefits unless their employer communicates with them about the plan clearly and regularly. But workers may miss or ignore your messaging if it all looks and “sounds” the same. That’s … Read More »
Social media can be an inexpensive, but effective, way to market a company’s products or services. Like most businesses today, you’ve probably at least dipped your toe into its waters. Or perhaps you have a full-blown, ongoing social media strategy … Read More »
You may keep a wary eye on your competitors, but sometimes it helps to look just a little bit deeper. Even if you’re a big fish in your pond, someone a little bigger may be swimming up just beneath you. … Read More »
Many businesses train employees how to do their jobs and only their jobs. But amazing things can happen when you also teach staff members to actively involve themselves in a profitability process — that is, an ongoing, idea-generating system aimed … Read More »
Natural disasters and other calamities can affect any company at any time. Depending on the type of business and its financial stability, a few weeks or months of lost income can leave it struggling to turn a profit indefinitely — … Read More »
Every company, big or small, should have a mission statement. Why? When carefully conceived and well written, a mission statement can serve as a beacon to the world — letting everyone know what the business stands for and where it’s … Read More »
You’ve probably heard or read the term “big data” at least once in the past few years. Maybe your response was a sarcastic “big deal!” under the assumption that this high-tech concept applies only to large corporations. But this isn’t … Read More »
For many years, owners of small and midsize businesses looked at outsourcing much like some homeowners viewed hiring a cleaning person. That is, they saw it as a luxury. But no more — in today’s increasingly specialized economy, outsourcing has … Read More »
For many companies, there comes a time when owners must decide whether to renew a lease, move on to a different one or buy new (or pre-existing) space. In some cases, it’s a relatively easy decision. Maybe you’re happy where … Read More »
As a business owner, you know that it’s easy to spend nearly every working hour on the multitude of day-to-day tasks and crises that never seem to end. It’s essential to your company’s survival, however, to find time for strategic … Read More »
There’s an old saying regarding family-owned businesses: “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” It means the first-generation owner started in shirtsleeves and built the company up from nothing but, by the third generation, the would-be owner is back in shirtsleeves … Read More »
Many people scoff at New Year’s resolutions. It’s no mystery why — these self-directed promises to visit the gym regularly or read a book a month tend to quickly fade once the unavoidable busyness of life sets in.
But, for business … Read More »
The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution isn’t coming — it’s here. While AI’s potential for your company might not seem immediately obvious, this technology is capable of helping businesses of all shapes and sizes “get smart.”
AI generally refers to the use … Read More »
Year end can’t get here soon enough for some business owners — especially those whose companies have exceeded their annual budgets. If you find yourself in this unenviable position, you can still cut costs to either improve this year’s financial … Read More »
It’s that time of year, business owners — a time when you’re not only trying to wind down the calendar in profitable fashion, but also preparing year-end financials and contemplating next year’s budget.
And amidst all this, you likely have a … Read More »
Business owners have to make tough choices when it comes to providing benefits to their employees. Many companies, especially newer or smaller ones, may understandably prioritize flexibility. No one wants to get locked into a benefits offering that’s cumbersome to … Read More »
No business owner wants to send out spam. Even the term “email blast,” the practice of launching a flurry of targeted messages at customers and prospects, has mixed connotations these days.
Yet email remains a viable and even necessary communications channel. … Read More »
Hundreds of years ago, prosperous towns managed the various risks of foreign invaders, thieves and wild animals by fortifying their entire communities with walls and towers. Today’s business owners can take a similar approach with enterprise risk management (ERM).
In … Read More »
Your business financials — where they stand currently and where they might be going next year — are incredibly important. Obviously, sales and expenses play enormous roles in the strength of your position. But a fundamental and often-overlooked way of … Read More »
Any business owner developing a succession plan should rightfully assume that regular business valuations are a must. When envisioning the valuation process, you’re likely to focus on its end result: a reasonable, defensible value estimate of your business as of … Read More »
With so much data flying around these days, it’s easy for a company of any size to get overwhelmed. If something important falls through the cracks, say a contract renewal or outstanding bill, your financial standing and reputation could suffer. … Read More »
As we head toward year end, your company may be reviewing its business strategy for 2017 or devising plans for 2018. As you do so, be sure to give some attention to the prices you’re asking for your existing products … Read More »
In their efforts to grow and succeed, many companies eventually reach the edge of a precipice. Across the divide lies a big step forward — perhaps the acquisition of a competitor or the purchase of a new property — but, … Read More »
Are you the founder of your company? If so, congratulations — you’ve created something truly amazing! And it’s more than understandable that you’d want to protect your legacy: the company you created.
But, as time goes on, it becomes increasingly important … Read More »
“We love our customers!” Every business owner says it. But all customers aren’t created equal, and it’s in your strategic interest to know which customers are really strengthening your bottom line and by how much.
Sorting out the data
If your business … Read More »
You’ve probably heard the term and wondered whether it could happen to your company. Maybe it already has. We’re referring to “digital disruption” — when new technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services.
Perhaps the … Read More »
From the baseball field to the boardroom, statistical analysis has changed various industries nationwide. With proper preparation and guidance, business owners can have at their fingertips a wealth of stats-based insight into how their companies are performing — far beyond … Read More »
August is back-to-school time across the country. Whether the school buses are already rumbling down your block, or will be soon, the start of the school year brings marketing opportunities for savvy business owners. Here are some examples of ways … Read More »
Many business owners and executives would like to save more money for retirement than they’re allowed to sock away in their 401(k) plan. For 2017, the annual elective deferral contribution limit for a 401(k) is just $18,000, or $24,000 if … Read More »
Is business going so well that you’re thinking about adding another location? If this is the case, congratulations! But before you start planning the ribbon-cutting ceremony, take a step back and ask yourself some tough questions about whether a new … Read More »
“Sorry, we don’t carry that item.” Or perhaps, “No, that’s not part of our service package.” How many times a year do your salespeople utter these words or ones like them? The specific number is critical because, if you don’t … Read More »
From the time a business opens its doors, the owner is told “cash is king.” It may seem to follow that having a very large amount of cash could never be a bad thing. But, the truth is, a company … Read More »
What could stop your company from operating for a day, a month or a year? A flood or fire? Perhaps a key supplier shuts down temporarily or permanently. Or maybe a hacker or technical problem crashes your website or you … Read More »
As a business evolves, so must its compensation strategy. Hopefully, your company is growing — perhaps adding employees or promoting staff members who are key to your success. But other things can spur the need to fine-tune your compensation strategy … Read More »
Many business owners buy accounting software and, even if the installation goes well, eventually grow frustrated when they don’t get the return on investment they’d expected. There’s a simple reason for this: Stuff changes.
Technological improvements are occurring at a breakneck … Read More »
Every business has some degree of ups and downs during the year. But cash flow fluctuations are much more intense for seasonal businesses. So, if your company defines itself as such, it’s important to optimize your operating cycle to anticipate … Read More »
Adequate insurance coverage is, in many cases, a legal requirement for a business. Even if it’s not for your company, proper coverage remains a risk management imperative. But that doesn’t mean you have to take high insurance costs sitting down.
There … Read More »
When it comes time to transition your role as business owner to someone else, you’ll face many changes. One of them is becoming a mentor. As such, you’ll have to communicate clearly, show some patience and have a clear conception … Read More »
You’d be hard pressed to find a company not looking to generate more leads, boost sales and improve its profit margins. Fortunately, you can take advantage of the sales and marketing opportunities offered by today’s digital technologies to do so. … Read More »
Every company has at least one owner. And, in many cases, there exists leadership down through the organizational chart. But not every business has strong governance.
In a nutshell, governance is the set of rules, practices and processes by which a … Read More »
Many companies take an ad hoc approach to technology. If you’re among them, it’s understandable; you probably had to automate some tasks before others, your tech needs have likely evolved over time, and technology itself is always changing.
Unfortunately, all of … Read More »
Concentration risks are a threat to your supply chain. These occur when a company relies on a customer or supplier for 10% or more of its revenue or materials, or on several customers or suppliers located in the same geographic … Read More »
Picking someone to lead your company after you step down is probably among the hardest aspects of retiring (or otherwise moving on). Sure, there are some business owners who have a ready-made successor waiting in the wings at a moment’s … Read More »
Providing a strong package of benefits is a competitive imperative in today’s business world. Like many employers, you’ve probably worked hard to put together a solid menu of offerings to your staff. Unfortunately, many employees don’t perceive the full value … Read More »
Just about every business intends to provide world-class customer service. And though many claim their customer service is exceptional, very few can back up that assertion. After all, once a company has established a baseline level of success in interacting … Read More »
Today’s businesses operate in an era of hyper-connectedness and, unfortunately, a burgeoning global cybercrime industry. You can’t afford to hope you’ll luck out and avoid a cyberattack. It’s essential to establish policies and procedures to minimize risk. One specific area … Read More »
It’s easy to think of lenders as doing your company a favor. But business financing relationships are just that: relationships. Yes, a lender has the working capital you need to grow. But a stable, successful business represents an enormously beneficial … Read More »
In business, and in life, among the most important ways to manage risk is through insurance. For certain types of companies — particularly start-ups and small businesses — one major threat is the sudden loss of an owner or hard-to-replace … Read More »
Like many businesses, yours may allow retirement plan participants to take out loans from their accounts. Such loans are governed by many IRS and Department of Labor (DOL) rules and regulations. So if your company offers plan loans, your plan … Read More »
Company retreats can cost enormous amounts of time and money. Are they worth it? Sometimes. Large-scale get-togethers can involve considerable out-of-pocket costs. And if the retreat is poorly planned or executed, participants’ wasted time is the biggest expense.
But a properly … Read More »
Many business owners are accustomed to running the whole show. But as your company grows, you’ll likely be better off sharing responsibility for major decisions. Whether you’ve recruited experienced managers or developed “home grown” talent, you can empower these employees … Read More »
Some business owners make major decisions by relying on gut instinct. But investments made on a “hunch” often fall short of management’s expectations.
In the broadest sense, you’re really trying to answer a simple question: If my company buys a given … Read More »
Most business owners spend a lifetime building their business. And when it comes to succession, they face the difficult decision of whether to sell, dissolve or transfer the business to family members (or a nonfamily successor).
Many complicated issues are involved, … Read More »
A good basketball team is at its best when its top players are on the floor. Similarly, a company is the most productive, efficient and innovative when its best employees are in the right positions, doing great work.
Unfortunately, it’s not … Read More »
Many companies reach a point in their development where they could benefit from an advisory board. It’s all too easy in today’s complex business world to get caught up in an “echo chamber” of ideas and perspectives that only originate … Read More »
“I’m taking a sick day!” This familiar refrain usually is uttered with just cause, but not always. What if there were no sick days? No, we’re not suggesting employees be forced to work when they’re under the weather. Rather, many … Read More »
At the beginning of the year, many people decide they’re going to get in the best shape of their lives. Similarly, many business owners declare that they intend to cut costs and operate at peak efficiency going forward.
But, like keeping … Read More »
As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever — and that goes for most companies. Then again, with the right succession plan in place, you can do your part to ensure your business continues down a path of success for at … Read More »
A successful family business can provide long-term financial security for you as its owner, as well as for your loved ones. To improve the chances that your company will continue to benefit your heirs after you’re gone, take steps now … Read More »
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Could your company’s benefits package use a bit of an upgrade? If so, one idea to consider is adding an option for employees to convert their regular 401(k)s to Roth 401(k)s.
Under a Roth 401(k), participants make after-tax contributions to a … Read More »
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For many of today’s companies, going global seems like a quick and trouble-free growth strategy. Technological advances and expansive supply chains make doing so easier than ever. But business owners who make this move impetuously may soon find themselves on … Read More »
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Many companies, especially smaller ones, minimize in-house training to cut costs. But the current business environment — with its hard-to-predict changes, external threats and regulatory demands — is causing some owners to rethink this strategy. A strong training program can … Read More »
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As the year winds down, business owners have a lot to think about. One item that you should keep top of mind is next year’s budget. A well-conceived budget can go a long way toward keeping expenses in line and … Read More »
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The owners of many companies launch their enterprises with a business plan — a written document outlining the company’s strategic objectives and practical means of accomplishing them. Likewise, many owners leave their businesses via a succession plan, a written document … Read More »
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Many retirement plan sponsors consider converting to new providers starting with the new plan year. For calendar year plans, that means January 1. If this is the case for your company, now is a good time to ensure your service … Read More »
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Nearly every business owner wants to grow his or her company. But with growth comes risk, and that can keep you from taking the steps necessary to move forward. Yet if you don’t think big and come up with a … Read More »
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Like many companies, yours probably stores at least some of its business files, documents and information in “the cloud.” This is the widely used term referring to the seemingly infinite data storage capacity of the Internet.
Using the cloud generally means … Read More »
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Turning receivables into cash is among the most important things a business must do. Of course, it’s easier said than done. Here are five ways to speed up collections:
1. Streamline the billing process. You can’t collect what you don’t bill. … Read More »
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Everyone needs a solid estate plan to distribute assets according to their wishes and benefit their heirs. But this necessity is especially keen for business owners, many of whom have spent years working hard to build up the values of … Read More »
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Employers who offer retirement savings plans are already helping their workforces. But not all employees take advantage of these plans. And many who do still don’t contribute enough to retire comfortably. As a business owner, you can help your employees … Read More »
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Many companies reach a point in their development where they have to make an important decision: Innovate themselves or acquire a competitor? Of course, it isn’t always an either/or decision. Nonetheless, business owners should consider the pluses and minuses of … Read More »
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In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow set out his “hierarchy of needs.” This theory suggested that human behavior is a response to a variety of needs ranging from physical survival to self-actualization.
At this point, you may be wondering, “What does any … Read More »
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Would you drive a car without a functional dashboard? Perhaps once a month someone could tell you how fast you were going and how much fuel you had left. Sound good? Probably not. Yet this is how many business owners … Read More »
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The prospect of leaving your company in the hands of someone else likely brings mixed emotions. You’ve no doubt spent a substantial amount of time and a great degree of effort in getting your enterprise to where it is today. … Read More »
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Many businesses start life small and simple. But with growth comes the need for a stronger company infrastructure and increased operational sophistication. As you pursue a more robust business, focus on these four pillars:
1. Organizational management
Implement a formalized system for … Read More »
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What keeps business owners up at night? Many would say sluggish productivity or escalating expenses. An employee coming to work every day usually doesn’t make the list. But a staff member who never takes a day off can cause problems … Read More »
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Ask employees whether padding expense account reports is wrong and just about everyone will say “yes.” Yet inflated expenses continue to cost businesses thousands of dollars annually. For this reason, every company must establish the right policies to stop it.
How … Read More »
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If a substantial portion of your wealth is tied up in a family or closely held business, you may be concerned that your estate will lack sufficient liquid assets to pay estate taxes. In such cases, heirs may be forced … Read More »
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) were created as a tax-favored framework to provide health care benefits mainly for small to midsize businesses and the self-employed. So, assuming your company falls into one of these categories, have you considered the strategy of … Read More »
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Do you know how much time your salespeople spend actually selling? In many cases, sales reps spend too much time doing reporting, administrative tasks and other nonsales responsibilities assigned to them. If you can streamline your sales staff’s workflow to … Read More »
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Many of today’s businesses have taken to outsourcing various IT functions. The goal of doing so is usually to save money. But rushing into such an arrangement could mean losing money on the project itself while diminishing employee morale and … Read More »
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Businesses fail for many reasons — dysfunctional management, insufficient working capital, insurmountable competition. Why they succeed, on the other hand, is often easily explained. Regardless of size and sector, most healthy companies share the following three characteristics when it comes … Read More »
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Shopping, anyone? If your business is in need of office equipment, computer software or perhaps an HVAC system, the purchase you make today could provide you with a tax break tomorrow—or, more specifically, when you’re ready to file your 2016 … Read More »
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A hastily chosen or ill-prepared successor can lead a company astray or, in worst cases, mismanage it into bankruptcy. Before you set sail into retirement or perhaps on to your next great professional adventure, make absolutely sure that your chosen … Read More »
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Most companies start life as a business plan. Eventually, that plan should evolve into a formal strategic plan document that lays out key initiatives for the business over the next three to five years.
Unfortunately, even when said document is created, … Read More »
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Whether the job market is hot or cold, employers owe it to themselves to actively work at employee retention. Good workers can maintain operational stability and keep profitability strong. Plus, the cost of finding and hiring new employees remains steep. … Read More »
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Inefficient inventory management is one of the biggest cash drains on many businesses, depriving them of valuable working capital. Excess inventory is literally cash wasting away in your warehouse or on your shelves. So every company needs to do everything … Read More »
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The year’s not half over. But if your company is off to a rough start, know that a silver lining may exist in the net operating loss (NOL) deduction.
A net operating loss occurs when a business’s operating expenses and … Read More »
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Anyone who owns a closely held business with at least one other partner needs to take certain steps to guard against business disruption. If one partner departs suddenly, or becomes disabled or dies, serious confusion and conflicts can ensue. Among … Read More »
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Many people collect “orphan” 401(k) plan balances as they move from job to job. Why should employers care? Helping new employees roll over their accounts from former employers can be beneficial for both parties. The same is true of assisting … Read More »
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Without a good pay and benefits structure, you can’t attract and retain the best employees. But devising a compensation strategy is tougher than it looks—many factors go into paying competitively without breaking the bank. One such factor is your compensation … Read More »
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“Gamification”—it’s not the easiest word to say. But the concept is catching on with many businesses. In its most general sense, the term refers to integrating elements of game-playing into business-related tasks as a way to better engage the people … Read More »
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From afar, the commercial lending process may appear comical. On one side of the desk you have the lenders, who want to manage their risk by loaning money to only successful business owners. On the other side of the desk, … Read More »
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The Section 199 deduction is often overlooked by business owners, perhaps because they’re not sure what it is. You may see it referred to as “the domestic production deduction,” or the “domestic production activities deduction” or “the manufacturers’ deduction.” Here … Read More »
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Every business owner needs to spend some time planning how to either sell the company or pass it along to the next generation. Yet no one should try to create a succession plan alone. One idea to consider: Form a … Read More »
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Many business owners worry about an income tax audit. But, if you sponsor an employee benefits plan, the IRS could audit it as well. Here are some common questions that plan administrators and sponsors might ask about plan audits.
Where’s the … Read More »
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Many business owners have used strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analyses to frame their strategic planning. If you’re looking to map out your company’s next big move, now might be a good time to take a shot at it … Read More »
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You’ve probably heard the song, “Love is a many-splendored thing.” Well, your company’s accounting software should be, too. That is, you’ve got to make sure your system does all of the big and little things necessary to efficiently and accurately … Read More »
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When business owners start to feel the choking effect of a slow cash flow, they often blame their customers. “Why aren’t we getting paid on time?!” But it’s important to remember that cash flow is affected by a variety of … Read More »
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Many companies start out, and get pretty far down the road, using the “per diem” approach when reimbursing employees for lodging, meals and incidental expenses. Doing so involves the use of either IRS tables or a simplified high-low … Read More »
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It’s a tragic tale that plays out in many businesses across the country. The owner of the company believes he’s finally ready to trigger his succession plan and retire. So he names his daughter as his successor, enjoys his retirement … Read More »
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