With the empty bottles of bubbly placed safely in the recycling bin and the confetti swept off the floor, it’s time to get back to the grind. The beginning of the year can be a busy time for business owners … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on How business owners and execs can stay connected with staff
What’s the right device policy for your company?
Device policies pertaining to smartphones and other technology tools continue to frustrate business owners as they try to balance their needs for security and functionality against employees’ rights to privacy and … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on What’s the right device policy for your company?
Business owners are urged to create succession plans for the good of their families and their employees. But there’s someone else who holds a key interest in the longevity of your company: Your lender.
If you want to maintain a clear … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on What lenders look for in a succession plan
“Company culture” is a buzzword that’s been around for a while, but your culture may never have mattered as much as it does in today’s transparency-driven business arena. Customers, potential partners and investors, and job candidates are paying … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Look in the mirror and identify your company culture
Take a mental snapshot of your sales staff. Do only a few of its members consistently bring in high volumes of good margin sales? An old rule of thumb says that about 20% of salespeople will make 80% of sales; … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 3 key traits of every successful salesperson
Cloud computing — storing data and accessing apps via the Internet — has been widely adopted by businesses across industry and size. Like many technological advances, though, new derivatives continue to emerge — including so-called multi-cloud computing.
Under this approach, companies … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Is multi-cloud computing right for your business?
In many industries, market conditions move fast. Businesses that don’t have their ears to the ground can quickly get left behind. That’s just one reason why some of today’s savviest companies are establishing so-called “shadow” (or “mirror”) boards composed of … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on A shadow board could shed light on your company’s best future
Every new company should launch with a business plan and keep it updated. Generally, such a plan will comprise six sections: executive summary, business description, industry and marketing analysis, management team description, implementation plan, and financials.
Now, ideally, you would comprehensively … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on At the very least, update the financials in your business plan
Merging with, or acquiring, another company is one of the best ways to grow rapidly. You might be able to significantly boost revenue, literally overnight, by acquiring another business. In contrast, achieving a comparable rate of growth organically — by … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Deciding whether a merger or acquisition is the right move
“Love and marriage,” goes the old song: “…You can’t have one without the other.” This also holds true for sales and marketing. Even the best of sales staffs will struggle if not supported by a well-researched and carefully executed marketing … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 6 ways to ensure your marketing plan drives sales
You’d be hard pressed to find a business today that doesn’t have laptop computers listed among its assets. Large companies have hundreds of them; midsize ones issue them to managers to facilitate mobility; and many small businesses rely on them … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Laptop battery safety is no laughing matter
Autumn brings falling leaves and … the gridiron. Football teams — from high school to pro — are trying to put as many wins on the board as possible to make this season a special one.
For business owners, sports can … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Does your team know the profitability game plan?
Extending credit to business customers can be an effective way to build goodwill and nurture long-term buyers. But if you extend customer credit, it also brings sizable financial risk to your business, as cash flow could grind to a halt … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on How to research a business customer’s creditworthiness
Time flies when you’re having fun — and running a business. Although it’s probably too early to start chilling a bottle of bubbly for New Year’s Eve, it’s certainly not too early for business owners to start doing some strategic … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on For best results, start your strategic planning early
Everyone needs to plan for retirement. But as a business owner, you face a distinctive challenge in that you must save for your golden years while also creating, updating and eventually executing a succession plan. This is no easy task, … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Putting together the succession planning and retirement planning puzzle
Many companies now offer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) in conjunction with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). HRAs offer some advantages over the perhaps better-known HDHP companion account, the Health Savings Account (HSA). If you’re considering adding an HRA, you might assume … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Some business owners can’t participate in their own companies’ HRAs
Among the fastest ways for a business to fail is because of mismanagement or malfeasance by ownership. On the other hand, among the slowest ways is an ineffective or dysfunctional sales department.
Companies suffering from this malady may maintain just enough … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 4 tough questions to ask about your sales department
Many business owners reach a point where managing the financial side of the enterprise becomes overwhelming. Usually, this is a good thing — the company has grown to a point where simple bookkeeping and basic financial reporting just don’t cut … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Is it time to hire a CFO or controller?
After insurance policies expire, many businesses just throw away the paper copies and delete the digital files. But you may need to produce evidence of certain kinds of insurance even after the coverage period has expired. For this reason, it’s … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Taking a long-term approach to certain insurance documentation
Many businesses struggle to turn abstract strategic-planning ideas into concrete, actionable plans. One reason why is simple: ineffective meetings. The ideas are there, lurking in the minds of management and key employees, but the process for hashing them out just … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Run your strategic-planning meetings like they really matter
Does your business market its products or services to other companies? Or might it start doing so in the future? If so, it’s critical to recognize the key differences between marketing to the public — or even certain segments of … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on The 1-2-3 of B2B marketing
Accounting software typically sells itself as much more than simple spreadsheet or ledger. The products tend to pride themselves on being comprehensive accounting information systems — depending on the price point, of course.
So, is your accounting software living up to … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Is your accounting software living up to the hype?
Imagine giving your company’s retirement plan a report card. Would it earn straight A’s in preparing your participants for their golden years? Or is it more of a C student who could really use some extra help after school? Benchmarking … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Grading the performance of your company’s retirement plan
We’ve reached the middle of the calendar year. So how are things going for your business? Conversationally you might say, “Pretty good.” But, analytically, can you put a number on how well you’re doing — or several numbers for that … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Put a number on your midyear performance with the right KPIs
Can your business become more profitable without venturing out of its comfort zone? Of course! However, adding new products or services may not be the best way for your business — or any company — to boost profits. Bottom-line potential … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Could you unearth hidden profits in your company?
Like most businesses, yours probably has a variety of physical assets, such as production equipment, office furnishings and a plethora of technological devices. But the largest physical asset in your portfolio may be your real estate holdings — that is, … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Your succession plan may benefit from a separation of business and real estate
Companies tend to spend considerable time and resources training and upskilling their sales staff on how to handle existing customers. And this is, no doubt, a critical task. But don’t overlook the vast pool of individuals or entities that want … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Targeting and converting your company’s sales prospects
Few businesses today can afford to let potential buyers slip through the cracks. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you build long-term relationships with those most likely to buy your products or services. But to maximize your return on … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Build long-term relationships with CRM software
There are many ways for employers to conduct annual performance reviews. So many, in fact, that owners of small to midsize businesses may find the prospect of implementing a state-of-the-art review process overwhelming.
The simple truth is that smaller companies may … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on The simple truth about annual performance reviews
Life presents us with many choices: paper or plastic, chocolate or vanilla, regular or decaf. For businesses, a common conundrum is buy or lease. You’ve probably faced this decision when considering office space or a location for your … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Buy vs. lease: Business equipment edition
The pace of health care cost inflation has remained moderate over the past year or so, and employers are trying to keep it that way. In response, many businesses aren’t seeking immediate cost-cutting measures or asking employees to shoulder more … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Should your health care plan be more future-focused?
Many businesses have a life cycle that, as life cycles tend to do, concludes with a period of decline and failure. Often, the demise of a company is driven by internal factors — such as weak financial oversight, lack of … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Prepare for the worst with a business turnaround strategy
As companies increase their investments in social media marketing, many are seeking ways to make it simpler and more cost-effective. Here are some ways to take a measured approach.
Pick your battles
Many marketers have realized that their companies don’t need to … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Effective social media marketing calls for a measured approach
It’s every business owner’s nightmare. Should hackers gain access to your customers’ or employees’ sensitive data, the very reputation of your company could be compromised. And lawsuits might soon follow.
No business owner wants to think about … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Responding to the nightmare of a data breach
Absenteeism has typically been a thorn in the side of many companies. But there’s a flip side to employees failing to show up to work: “presenteeism.” This is when employees come in to work unwell or put in … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Present yet unaccounted for: The problem of presenteeism
As an individual, you’ve no doubt been urged to regularly check your credit score. Most people nowadays know that, with a subpar personal credit score, they’ll have trouble buying a home or car, or just getting a reasonable-rate credit card.
But … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Be vigilant about your business credit score
In the broadest sense, strategic planning comprises two primary tasks: establishing goals and achieving them. Many business owners would probably say the first part, coming up with objectives, is relatively easy. It’s that second part — accomplishing those goals — … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on An implementation plan is key to making strategic goals a reality
“I could sell water to a whale.”
Indeed, most salespeople possess an abundance of confidence. One could say it’s a prerequisite for the job. Because of their remarkable self-assurance, sales staffers might appear to be largely autonomous. Hand them something to … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 5 ways to give your sales staff the support they really need
For many businesses, offering employees a 401(k) plan is no longer an option — it’s a competitive necessity. But employees often grow so accustomed to having a 401(k) that they don’t pay much attention to it.
It’s in your best interest … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Are your employees ignoring their 401(k)s?
Today’s business technology is both powerful and restive. No matter how “feature rich” a software solution or hardware asset may be, there’s always another upgrade around the corner. In other words, it’s just a matter of time before your company’s … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Don’t let scope creep ruin your next IT project
Many companies, especially those that operate in areas prone to natural disasters, should consider business interruption insurance. Unlike a commercial property policy, which may cover certain repairs of damaged property, this coverage generally provides the cash flow to cover revenues … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Best practices when filing a business interruption claim
Ask many entrepreneurs and small business owners to show you their financial statements and they’ll likely open a laptop and show you their bookkeeping software. Although tracking financial transactions is critical, spreadsheets aren’t financial statements.
In short, financial statements are detailed … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Financial statements tell your business’s story, inside and out
With the year underway, your business probably has a strategic plan in place for the months ahead. Or maybe you’ve created a general outline but haven’t quite put the finishing touches on it yet. In either case, there’s a time-tested … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Refine your strategic plan with SWOT
A good marketing plan should be like a network of well-paved, clearly marked roads shooting out into the world and leading back to your company. But, all too easily, a business can get stuck in the mud while trying to … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Is your business stuck in the mud with its marketing plan?
Nowadays, data drives everything — including the very buildings in which companies operate. If your business is considering upgrading its current facility, or moving to or constructing a new one, it’s important to be aware of “smart” buildings.
A smart building … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Getting wise to the rise of “smart” buildings
One thing in plentiful supply in today’s business world is help. Orbiting every industry are providers, consultancies and independent contractors offering a wide array of support services. Simply put, it’s never been easier to outsource certain business functions so you … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 4 business functions you could outsource right now
A business can suffer economic damages arising from a variety of illegal conduct. Common examples include breach of contract, patent infringement and commercial negligence. If your company finds itself headed to court looking to recover lost profits, diminished business value … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Economic damages: Recovering what was lost
The promise of the new year lies ahead. One way to help ensure it’s a profitable one is to re-evaluate your company’s pricing strategy. You need to devise an approach that considers more than just what it cost you to … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Make sure the price is right with market research
A technician at a mobility equipment supplier was servicing the motorized wheelchair of a long-time customer and noticed it was a brand-new model. “Where did you buy the chair?” he asked the customer. “At the health care supply store on … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Do your long-term customers know everything about you?
Turn on your computer or mobile device, scroll through Facebook or Twitter, or skim a business-oriented website, and you’ll likely come across the term “emerging technologies.” It has become so ubiquitous that you might be tempted to ignore it and … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Getting ahead of the curve on emerging technologies
Those who run family-owned businesses often underestimate the need for a succession plan. After all, they say, we’re a family business — there will always be a family member here to keep the company going and no one will stand … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Family businesses need succession plans, too
Many factors go into the success of a company. You’ve got to offer high-quality products or services, provide outstanding customer service, and manage your inventory or supply chain. But there’s at least one other success factor that many business owners … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Devote some time to internal leadership development
As the year winds down, business owners can be thankful for the gift of perspective (among other things, we hope). Assuming you created a budget for the calendar year, you should now be able to accurately assess that budget by … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Estimates vs. actuals: Was your 2018 budget reasonable?
A strong economy leads some company owners to cut back on marketing. Why spend the money if business is so good? Others see it differently — a robust economy means more sales opportunities, so pouring dollars into marketing is the … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 3 ways to get more from your marketing dollars
For several years now, cloud computing has been touted as the perfect way for companies large and small to meet their software and data storage needs. But, when it comes to choosing and deploying a solution, one size doesn’t fit … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Taking the hybrid approach to cloud computing
Business owners are constantly bombarded with terminology and buzzwords. Although you probably feel a need to keep up with the latest trends, you also may find that many of these ideas induce more anxiety than relief. One example is change … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Change management doesn’t have to be scary
Protecting your company through the purchase of various forms of insurance is a risk-management necessity. But just because you must buy coverage doesn’t mean you can’t manage the cost of doing so.
Obviously, the safer your workplace, the less likely you’ll … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Reduce insurance costs by encouraging employee wellness
When a business is launched, its owners typically welcome every customer through the door with a sigh of relief. But after the company has established itself, those same owners might start looking at their buying constituency a little more critically.
If … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Following the ABCs of customer assessment
Is your sales process getting off-balance? Sometimes it can be hard to tell. Fluctuations in the economy, changes in customer interest and dips in demand may cause slowdowns that are beyond your control. But if the numbers keep dropping and … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 4 pillars of a solid sales process
It’s easy to understand why more and more businesses are taking a “bring your own device” (BYOD) approach to the smartphones, tablets and laptops many employees rely on to do their jobs. BYOD can boost employee efficiency and satisfaction, often … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on A strong BYOD policy combines convenience with security
Like many business owners, you probably created a business plan when you launched your company. But, as is also often the case, you may not have looked at it much since then. Now that fall has arrived and year end … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Dig out your business plan to prepare for the year ahead
You’ve no doubt heard the old business cliché “cash is king.” And it’s true: A company in a strong cash position stands a much better chance of obtaining the financing it needs, attracting outside investors or simply executing its own … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Keeping a king in the castle with a well-maintained cash reserve
Most business owners want to grow their companies. And one surefire sign of growth is when ownership believes the company can expand its operations to a second location.
If your business has reached this point, or is nearing it, both congratulations … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Are you ready to expand to a second location?
Every business with more than one owner needs a buy-sell agreement to handle both expected and unexpected ownership changes. When creating or updating yours, be sure you’re prepared for the valuation issues that will come into play.
Issues, what issues?
Emotions … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Prepare for valuation issues in your buy-sell agreement
If you’ve done any research into employee benefits for your business recently, you may have come across a bit of alphabet soup in the form of “HSA + HDHP.” Although perhaps initially confusing, this formula represents an increasingly popular model for … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on HSA + HDHP can be a winning health benefits formula
Late summer and early fall, when so many families have members returning to educational facilities of all shapes and sizes, is also a good time for businesses to creatively step up their business development efforts, whether it’s launching new marketing … Read More »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Business tips for back-to-school time
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Six ways to get more value from an IT consultant
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Contemplating compensation increases and pay for performance
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Is there a weak link in your supply chain?
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Get SMART when it comes to setting strategic goals
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Trust is an essential building block of today’s websites
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 3 keys to a successful accounting system upgrade
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Is your inventory getting the better of you?
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Finding a 401(k) that’s right for your business
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Keeping your family business in the family
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Roth 401(k) conversions may suit your Millennial employees
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Setting sail into the global marketplace
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Are your employees trained to guard against risk?
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 3 ways to get started on next year’s budget
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Mentoring can make your succession plan better
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Ensure your retirement benefits provider is truly providing
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Thinking big is the first step toward growing your business
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on How can your business make the most of the cloud?
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 5 ways to speed up collections
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Business owners, help your estate by gifting company stock
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Proper education can drive retirement plan participation
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Innovate or acquire? That’s the strategic question
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Climbing the “hierarchy of needs” to find employee engagement
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Speed up business decisions with dashboard reports
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on An effective succession plan calls for decisive action
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 4 pillars of robust business growth
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Please go home: The problem businesses face with presenteeism
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Prevent expense account padding with the right policies
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on HSA + HDHP = Your ideal benefits strategy?
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Streamline your sales staff’s workflow
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Outsourcing an IT function? Ensure the dollars make sense
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 3 keys to strong business financials
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Today’s asset purchase could turn into tomorrow’s tax break
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Business owners: Put your successor to work before you set sail
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Cultivating your company’s strategic plan
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on How to retain your best employees to keep profitability strong
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Streamline your inventory management to boost cash flow
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Need a silver lining? Try the NOL deduction
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Choosing a funding method for your buy-sell agreement
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Why it’s a good idea for employers to encourage 401(k) rollovers
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Contemplate your company’s compensation philosophy
“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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Would gamification play at your company?
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Making your case for a business loan
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 4 facts about the Section 199 tax deduction
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Who’s helping you with your succession plan?
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Yes, a benefits plan audit could happen to you
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Take a shot at a SWOT analysis
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Your accounting software should be a many-splendored thing
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on 5 ways to cut costs and improve cash flow
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on Is it time to get accountable with your employees’ expenses?
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 »
Business Briefs. Comments Off on The tragic tale of a troubled business succession