Seasonal business? Optimize your operating cycle

| Business Briefs

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 and minimize shortfalls. A high-growth example To illustrate: Consider a manufacturer and distributor of lawn-and-garden products such as topsoil, potting soil and ground cover. Its customers are lawn-and-garden retailers, hardware stores and mass Read more [...]

Why business owners should regularly upgrade their accounting software

| Business Briefs

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 speed. So yesterday’s cutting-edge system can quickly become today’s sluggishly performing albatross. And this isn’t the only reason to regularly upgrade your accounting software. Here are two more to consider. 1. Read more [...]

Business owners: Put your successor in a position to succeed

| Business Briefs

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 of what you want to accomplish before stepping down. Here are some tips on putting your successor in a position to succeed. Key information Find ways to continuously pass on your knowledge. Too often, vital business knowledge is lost when leadership or ownership Read more [...]

Could stronger governance benefit your business?

| Business Briefs

Every company has at least one owner. And, in many cases, there exists other leadership 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 company is directed and controlled. Strengthening it can help ensure productivity, reduce legal risks and, when the time comes, ease ownership transitions. Looking at business structure Good governance starts with the initial organization (or Read more [...]

Looking for concentration risks in your supply chain

| Business Briefs

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 region. If a key customer or supplier experiences turmoil, the repercussions travel up or down the supply chain and can quickly and negatively impact your business To protect yourself, it’s important to look for concentration risks as you monitor your financials and engage Read more [...]

Want younger board members: Consider a second board

| Business Briefs, Business Miscellaneous

By Chris Mennel & Natalie Hopkins     If you have been around nonprofits for very long, you have discovered that recruiting new board members is an ongoing challenge. Finding the best mix of talent to fill their needs (finance, development, etc) within the right age demographic can be a struggle. Add to this mix the search for younger board members so the nonprofits can effectively plan their futures, and the challenge grows. To overcome this obstacle, an increasing number of organizations Read more [...]

3 hot spots to look for your successor

| Business Briefs, News

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 notice. But many have a few viable candidates to consider — others have too few. When looking for a successor, for best results, keep an open mind. Don’t assume you have to pick any one person — look everywhere. Here are three hot spots to consider. 1.    Read more [...]

Look at your employees with cybersecurity in mind

| Business Briefs

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 in which to focus is your employees. Know the threats There are a variety of cybercrimes you need to guard against. For instance, thieves may steal proprietary or sensitive business data with the intention of selling Read more [...]

Consider key person insurance as a succession plan safeguard

| Business Briefs

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 employee. To safeguard against this risk, insurers offer key person insurance. Under a key person policy, a business buys life insurance covering the owner or employee, pays the premiums and names itself beneficiary. Should the key person die while the policy Read more [...]

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

| Business Briefs

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 document must comply with current laws — including setting a “reasonable” interest rate. Agency perspectives Neither the IRS nor DOL provides a set percentage for plan sponsors to use. Yet both require the rate to be “reasonable.” The IRS asks Read more [...]