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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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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 run their companies. The good news is there’s a solution. With the right software and some help from our firm, you can regularly receive dashboard reports that provide a one- or two-page summary of key business performance metrics in a concise, visual format. Good looking info Similar to a car’s control panel, dashboard reports provide business owners and managers with timely, relevant input...

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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. So, as the saying goes, parting will be such sweet sorrow. Yet, when it comes to creating and executing a succession plan, decisive action is critical. You’ve got to respect the importance of timeliness — not only for you and your family, but also for your successor and employees. So here are two key questions to answer. 1. When’s your target...

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Should you offer spousal health care coverage?

When looking to manage benefits costs, employers have many ideas to consider. One in particular is whether and how to offer health care insurance to their employees’ spouses. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t require spousal coverage. It only requires coverage for dependent children. But many employees may frown on seeing spousal coverage suddenly become expensive or vanish entirely. So this is a question warranting careful forethought. 2 established ways Essentially, there are two established ways of saving money on spousal coverage: 1) rationalizing the expense through a cost-sharing surcharge, or 2) eliminating coverage altogether through a “spousal carve-out” policy. Few employers appear willing to lower the...

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Streamline your sales staff’s workflow

Do you know how much time your sales people 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 keep them better focused on selling, your profitability may benefit.   Emphasize strengths To get started, take a hard look at precisely what your sales people are doing during their workdays. When appropriate, reassign nonessential tasks to others. For instance, delivery problems can be handled by someone in shipping. Account disputes can be solved by the credit manager. Also, reports may be...

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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 to borrow funds or, in a worst-case scenario, sell the business in order to pay the tax. For some business owners, Internal Revenue Code Section 6166 provides welcome relief. It permits qualifying estates to make an election to defer a portion of their estate tax liability for up to 14 years. Generally, during the first four years of the deferment period,...

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