Is your business committed to its cost-control regimen?

| Business Briefs

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 up an exercise routine, controlling costs takes an ongoing effort. You need to not only review expenses now, but also commit yourself to doing so regularly. Here are some key points to keep in mind. Choosing where to slim down A good cost-control plan Read more [...]

Identify all of your company’s retirement plan fiduciaries

| Business Briefs

Your company probably offers its employees a retirement plan. If so, can you identify all of your plan fiduciaries? From a risk management perspective, it’s critical for business owners to know who has fiduciary status — and the associated liability. Here are some common, though in some cases overlooked, plan fiduciaries: Named fiduciaries. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires a plan to have named fiduciaries. The plan document identifies the corporate entity or individual Read more [...]

4 principles of competitive intelligence

| Business Briefs

We live and work in the information age. The opportunity to gather knowledge about your company’s competitors and industry as a whole has never been easier. This practice — commonly known as “competitive intelligence” — can help you maintain responsiveness in the marketplace while avoid being left behind as innovation surges forward. Before you dive into competitive intelligence, however, it’s important to establish a formal policy governing your efforts. (If you’ve already gotten Read more [...]

Keeping your family business in the family

| Business Briefs

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 to keep it in the family. Staying in-house Careful estate planning can ensure that a business continues to benefit family members and that ownership of the business isn’t diluted — at least until the business is ready to accept outside investors. For Read more [...]

Build consensus before you buy business software

| Business Briefs

Business owners get to make executive decisions. It’s one of the perks of the job. But acting unilaterally when buying business software can be a risky move. Because new technology affects the entire team, the entire team (or at least key members) should have input on the choice. And while it may be impossible to please everyone, it’s possible to come close. Management feedback Certain kinds of new business software (or upgrades) may appear no-brainers. But you’d be surprised. Managers Read more [...]

Roth 401(k) conversions may suit your Millennial employees

| Business Briefs

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 qualified plan and receive tax-free distributions, provided the funds are in the plan for at least five years from the date of the initial Roth contribution. Thus, while participants pay a tax on the income that was the source of the contribution, the earnings Read more [...]

Mentoring can make your succession plan better

| Business Briefs

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 Read more [...]

Your company’s balance sheet makes great reading this time of year

| Business Briefs

Year end is just about here. You know what that means, right? It’s a great time to settle in by a roaring fire and catch up on reading … your company’s financial statements. One chapter worth a careful perusal is the balance sheet. Therein may lie some important lessons. 3 ratios to consider In a nutshell, a balance sheet summarizes a company’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a specific point in time. Its objective: To provide an accurate snapshot of the financial Read more [...]

Timing is Everything

| Business Briefs, Business Miscellaneous, Tax Briefs

By Lou Ann Taylor     You have probably heard the phrase many times, “timing is everything”.  Good timing is the difference between success and failure whether you are a salesman, chef, musician or business owner.   Everyone knows how costly bad timing can be with the stock market, but bad timing can also be costly at tax time, without prior planning. As the end of the year approaches, it is a good time to think of planning moves that will help lower your tax bill for this year and Read more [...]

3 ways to get started on next year’s budget

| Business Briefs

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 cash flow strong. The question is: Where to begin? Well, to answer this question, we don’t have just one suggestion — we have three: 1. Investigate your income statement - A good place to start on next year’s budget is with the numbers you put on paper for last year, as well as Read more [...]