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Your 2016-2017 Tax Planning Guide

Once again, it's time to start thinking ahead to tax season. The final weeks of the year are a great time to make the most of your tax planning opportunities and to set the stage for minimizing your tax outlay in 2017. With many valuable tax provisions made permanent by last December's PATH Act while others were extended only temporarily, tax planning is more complicated, yet more important, than ever.  To save the most, you need to be sure you're taking advantage of every tax break to which you are entitled. That's what our tax planning guide is designed to do.  As...

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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 outlining how the company’s ownership will transition. Often, however, these two documents never cross paths, much less join toward a common goal. If this is the case with your business, and you’ve already identified your likely successor, mentoring can make your succession plan better by uniting it with your business plan. Establish trust One of the principles of mentoring is establishing a relationship...

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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 provider is truly providing. Basic questions A good provider should have demonstrable experience in your industry. Check to see whether your current provider (or a prospective one) has clients with plans similar to yours. Ask for references. Service and administration should be easy, and communications clear. Reports from your provider should be timely and accurate. You shouldn’t have problems contacting your service provider,...

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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 long-term strategic plan, you’ll likely continue to spin your wheels. Eyes on profits and value Public companies answer to investors who consider earnings per share and stock price to be key indicators of their return on investment. Maximizing earnings is a short-term goal, but building value requires a long-term focus. Many small to midsize businesses, however, have only their ownerships’ vision to motivate...

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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 lower IT costs, because you don’t have to deploy a lot of expensive hardware and software on-site and it’s scalable — in other words, you can easily expand or diminish your data storage capabilities as necessary. Most cloud services also feature automatic backups and updates. But these inherently great features don’t guarantee you’ll get a good return on investment....

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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. Invoice customers promptly — as soon as the product ships, if possible. Or, if your company provides services, track billable hours daily and bill monthly — or as often as permitted under the customer’s contract. Implementing an electronic payment system, or upgrading your existing one, may accelerate invoicing and enable faster receipt of receivables. 2. Reward early birds and penalize procrastinators....

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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 their companies. If you can relate to this statement, one effective way to reduce estate taxes is to limit the amount of appreciation in your estate — and your company may provide just the ticket for doing so. Why appreciation? You’ll save the most in estate taxes by giving away assets with the highest probability of future appreciation. Why? Because gifting these assets...

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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 both approaches. Innovating to grow Innovation is a broad term that encompasses many strategies — all of which are intended to help the company achieve goals such as boosting profits, improving cash flow, or diversifying products or services. Common strategies are: Research and development of new products, New market penetration via geographic expansion or enhanced product/service offerings, and Increased productivity resulting from internal improvements or...

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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 of this have to do with my business?” The answer is that truly engaged employees are motivated by needs other than just financial compensation. 5 tiers of needs As mentioned, Maslow theorized that humans have various needs to live a fulfilling life. The hierarchy, beginning with the most basic needs, comprises the following five tiers: Physiological needs, such as air, food, drink and...

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