Giving Out Year-End Bonuses? My Tips to Keep in Mind

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"New Year's Day is every man's birthday."  -Charles Lamb

Chances are, if you're just now thinking about bonuses, it might be too late. (But with Amazon, I guess there is still hope). Yet with 2020 on the horizon, you can begin with 2020's holiday gifts in mind. It really is important to factor year-end bonuses at the beginning of the year so that you can budget and plan accordingly. In addition, you'll want to consider questions such as:

  • Who on your team will receive bonuses?
  • Will the bonuses be the same across-the-board or differ based on merit?
  • How will you present the bonuses to your employees?

If you don't have a solid system for year-end bonuses, your budget might take a hit.

Budget Accordingly

When you think of budgeting the bonus, don't just think in terms of cash bonuses. Read More...


An Easy Fix - Raise Your Prices

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"You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success - or are they holding you back?" - W. Clement Stone

I take a look around the small business world sometimes, and I get a little sad.

Because it's heartbreaking to watch so many small businesses go out of business or not bring home enough bacon simply because they get trapped into thinking about their pricing in the wrong way.

When you differentiate yourself based on price, you simply cannot provide value. You end up competing on the wrong playing field.

Sure -- while price competitors have been in operation since the beginning of time, it's important to understand that if YOU want to build a sustainable, scalable and one day SALE-able business, a core foundational piece of that puzzle is that you must be charging enough for your services.

You see, most business people under-price their products and services. It's my experience that price either isn't or doesn't have to be a very important factor in a consumer's decision or the success of a business. Read More...


Potential Tax Problems For Small Businesses To Fix Before Year-End

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"No man was ever wise by chance." -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Sometimes there are things you can fix, and sometimes there are the business problems that you just have to take on the chin.

But golly ... the worst are those that are self-imposed and done in ignorance.

Which is what we're here to help you fix, before it's too late.

Year-end is a great time, simply because of the impending deadline of 12/31 to do something that will serve to fix things for 2019.

Here are a couple examples of the sort of things we should fix, if they apply to you, specifically if your business is set up as an S Corp (or is an LLC operating as such).

An S Corp is a pass-through entity. That means the income and losses of the company pass through to your personal return. The entity itself files a tax return but doesn't actually pay tax (except a state tax in a couple of states) Read More...


How Can We Be Thankful

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Right in the middle of the bloody depths of civil war, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving which should take place every year.

His entire Thanksgiving proclamation (written by his Secretary of State, William Seward) is worth taking in, or even reading aloud, but the opening is particularly powerful:

"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added ..."

I believe Lincoln understood a fundamental truth in the human soul: how we choose to see our circumstances often dictates the state of our hearts -- and, thereby, our future circumstances. After all, if a war-torn nation can turn its eyes upward -- so can you, your employees, and your family.

You should sit in my office with me sometime, watch the procession of "wealthy" and "poor" clients -- Some businesses with 7-8 figures in the *bank*, and those going underwater. You would see what I get reminded of regularly: Sometimes my "wealthiest" clients are the most impoverished ... and those without many zeroes in their accounts are flat-out rich. Read More...


Selling Psychology: How Lemonade (or a Cookie) Can Increase Your Business' Sales

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"You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential." -Steve Garvey

Consider the following story...

Alison, a young girl running a lemonade stand,  last summer, in Bountiful, Utah. Pretty typical, right? But this ten-year-old girl was exceptionally bright. She had been watching other ten-year-olds run their lemonade stands with one qualm: they let customers slip away without a sell.

Determined, the girl enacted a new selling strategy. Instead of asking customers, "Would you like any lemonade?" like the other kids did, this girl decided to ask, "Would you like lemonade or a cookie?"

From that point on, customers rarely walked away from her stand without AT LEAST lemonade or a cookie to consume. Read More...


Janet Behm's Keys For Empowering Your Employees For Advancement

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"My job as a leader is to make sure that everybody in the company has great opportunities and they feel they are having meaningful impact to the good of society." -Larry Page

If you do nothing to help your employees grow, complacency can become the norm. They might be "good" at their job but they may never become "great". And for those employees who are striving, regardless of their given opportunities, it's vital you recognize them in their good work. Is a promotion at hand? Possibly. Consider the following three questions before promoting your people.

Are they prepared?

Hard work and stellar performance does not mean they are automatically ready for the next step. Consider the highest award in college football: the Heisman Trophy. Those who win the award do not always excel at the next level. Some trophy winners leave college early when they should have prepared another year for the NFL. Your employees might need another six months or year to prepare for promotion. In that time-frame, give them educational goals that will prepare them to succeed at the next level. Read More...


Evaluating Your Company's Marketing ROI

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"The sweetest two words are 'next time.' The sourest word is 'if.'" -Chi Chi Rodriguez

One of the big problems with "branded" style advertising, is that you simply cannot know whether your marketing is really working or not. After all... if you're "getting your name out" (as the ad reps tell you), how do you know if your "name" is pulling in new clients?

It's a classic strategy by which ad reps get you to purchase more advertising from them: "We just need to go a few more months, so you can get your name out more." For most small businesses, this is a waste of money.

Well, when I've worked with advertising agencies, we enjoyed the power position with our ad reps. Why? Because we knew our numbers.

We could attach dollars and cents to the ROI from our specific ads, and we used that info to make marketing decisions every season. And it's a MAJOR missed step for many local businesses. Read More...


The "Profit First" Framework for Real Estate Businesses

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"Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant." -P.T. Barnum

Life is all about prioritization. Businesses are no different.

Where does profit fall in your list of priorities? Obviously, in the realm of cash flow, you are sparsing out revenue to various functions within your business: COGS (Cost Of Goods Sold), payroll, etc.

But the profit first mentality says to do just that -- prioritize profit as the number one item on your list. AND THEN move onto other areas of your business that need cash flow. This is the "pay yourself first" perspective -- many utilize this tactic to propel their personal finances in a favorable direction. But in a business sense, this concept requires a few shifts.

  1. The Bank Accounts

Setting up your bank accounts accordingly is crucial for profit first to succeed. The order is as follows: Read More...


The Wisdom of the Crowd

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"To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions." -Stephen R. Covey

Mindlessly conforming to conventional wisdom about how to thrive in your calling is something I think we should all avoid. But with every (bad) magazine and social media post tossing around conventional wisdom left and right, allow me to question some of it...

"Just do your job"
Your job description is a bare minimum. Fulfilling it means you'll probably keep your job, or that client contract, but you won't stand out when buyers are re-upping contracts or managers are deciding whom to promote. Push the envelope a little so your contact sees that you're committed to helping the organization, not just safeguarding your position or contract.

"Never say 'No'"
You can't do everything, know everything, or even attempt everything your boss or contractor asks. Be willing to admit when you don't have the answer, or that you don't have time for every assignment. Then work with your contact to solve the problem, and accommodate his or her needs. Read More...




Email Marketing Strategies That Businesses Should Avoid

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To build a long-term, successful enterprise, when you don't close a sale, open a relationship." -Patricia Fripp

I know that there are businesses who are doing extremely sophisticated, enterprise-level things with their email marketing. And they are most definitely worth studying.

But I prefer to live in the land of what is actually possible for a small business owner. And if you're like me, you like things simple.

So, I suggest you start by cutting out two bad habits, rooted in some mythology about the email medium:

1) Branded headers and clean graphics make your emails look more "professional".

So I ask you: how do you want your emails to be received? As a "professional" email -- with similar content that can be otherwise found through a simple internet search? Read More...