Business Briefs

Business Briefs


Does your business have too much cash?

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 »


Make sure your company is prepared for any disaster

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 »


Fine-tuning your company’s compensation strategy

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 »


Why business owners should regularly upgrade their accounting software

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 »


Seasonal business? Optimize your operating cycle

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 »


You don’t have to take business insurance costs sitting down

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 »


Business owners: Put your successor in a position to succeed

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 »


Four digital marketing tips for every business

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 »


Could stronger governance benefit your business?

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 »


It may be time for your company to create a strategic IT plan

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 »


Looking for concentration risks in your supply chain

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 »


3 hot spots to look for your successor

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 »


Enhance benefits’ perceived value with strong communication

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 »


How can you take customer service to the next level?

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 »


Look at your employees with cybersecurity in mind

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 »


Matchmaker, matchmaker: Choosing the right lender

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 »


Consider key person insurance as a succession plan safeguard

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 »


Offer plan loans? Be sure to set a reasonable interest rate

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 »


Getting your money’s worth out of a company retreat

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 »


Listen and trust: The power of collaborative management

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 »


Don’t make hunches — crunch the numbers

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 »


What can a valuation expert do for your succession plan?

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 »

February 22nd

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An EAP can keep your top players on the floor

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 »

February 15th

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Envision your advisory board before you form it

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 »


PTO banks: A smart HR solution for many companies

“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 »


Is your business committed to its cost-control regimen?

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 »


Succession planning and estate planning must go hand in hand

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 »


Keeping your family business in the family

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 »

December 7th

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Roth 401(k) conversions may suit your Millennial employees

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 »

November 30th

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Setting sail into the global marketplace

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 »

November 23rd

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Are your employees trained to guard against risk?

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 »

November 16th

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3 ways to get started on next year’s budget

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 »

November 9th

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Mentoring can make your succession plan better

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 »

November 2nd

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Ensure your retirement benefits provider is truly providing

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 »

October 26th

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Thinking big is the first step toward growing your business

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 »

October 19th

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How can your business make the most of the cloud?

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 »

October 12th

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5 ways to speed up collections

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 »

October 5th

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Business owners, help your estate by gifting company stock

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 »

September 28th

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Proper education can drive retirement plan participation

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 »

September 21st

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Innovate or acquire? That’s the strategic question

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 »

September 14th

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Climbing the “hierarchy of needs” to find employee engagement

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 »

September 7th

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Speed up business decisions with dashboard reports

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 »

August 31st

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An effective succession plan calls for decisive action

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 »

August 24th

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4 pillars of robust business growth

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 »

August 10th

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Please go home: The problem businesses face with presenteeism

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 »

August 3rd

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Prevent expense account padding with the right policies

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 »

July 27th

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Estate tax deferral offers relief to some business owners

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 »

July 20th

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HSA + HDHP = Your ideal benefits strategy?

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 »

July 13th

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Streamline your sales staff’s workflow

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 »

July 6th

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Outsourcing an IT function? Ensure the dollars make sense

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 »

June 30th

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3 keys to strong business financials

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 »

June 22nd

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Today’s asset purchase could turn into tomorrow’s tax break

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 »

June 15th

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Business owners: Put your successor to work before you set sail

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 »

June 8th

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Cultivating your company’s strategic plan

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 »

May 25th

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How to retain your best employees to keep profitability strong

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 »

May 18th

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Streamline your inventory management to boost cash flow

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 »

May 11th

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Need a silver lining? Try the NOL deduction

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.

The rules
A net operating loss occurs when a business’s operating expenses and … Read More »

May 4th

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Choosing a funding method for your buy-sell agreement

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 »

April 27th

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Why it’s a good idea for employers to encourage 401(k) rollovers

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 »

April 20th

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Contemplate your company’s compensation philosophy

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 »

April 13th

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Would gamification play at your company?

“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 »

April 6th

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Making your case for a business loan

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 »

March 30th

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4 facts about the Section 199 tax deduction

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 »

March 23rd

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Who’s helping you with your succession plan?

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 »

March 16th

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Yes, a benefits plan audit could happen to you

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 »

March 9th

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Take a shot at a SWOT analysis

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 »

March 2nd

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Your accounting software should be a many-splendored thing

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 »

February 24th

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5 ways to cut costs and improve cash flow

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 »

February 17th

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Is it time to get accountable with your employees’ expenses?

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 »

February 10th

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The tragic tale of a troubled business succession

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 »

February 3rd

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