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Strategic Tax Partner http://gladstonemoaccountant.com Wed, 05 Sep 2018 14:50:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 What Are Your Sales Prospects In Gladstone Looking For? http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/what-are-your-sales-prospects-in-gladstone-looking-for/ Wed, 05 Sep 2018 14:50:43 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/what-are-your-sales-prospects-in-gladstone-looking-for/

With fall right around the corner (you know it’s close when Starbucks rolls out those Pumpkin Spice thingies, as they did this Tuesday), here at Team Strategic Tax Partner, we’ve been already working with our Gladstone clients on adjusting to the new tax law, the 20% pass-through deduction, entity analysis, and more.

Even more than our specific client work, we’re also taking a look at our operations to make sure we are as smoothly-functioning as possible.

I hope it’s obvious that it is very important to us that we serve our clients well. We’re reviewing our processes to make them more client-friendly, and putting in place new systems for which I know you’re going to be grateful.

Part of what helps me, is feedback from YOU. Would you take a moment right now to jot me a note about your experience with my firm? Specifically, could you answer one or all of the following questions…

  1. Why did you choose to work with us?
  2. What has been the BEST part about working with us?
  3. What has been aspect which most needs improvement about your experience with us?

Your answers will help a great deal. THANK YOU!

(And you can find us on Google Maps or Yelp too)

What Are Your Sales Prospects In Gladstone Looking For?

“I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches.” – Alice Roosevelt Longworth

If you are in the business of having to make sales via a conversation or specific process (as we are here), here’s a simple exercise for you: put yourself in the shoes of your sales prospects.

When you do so, you’ll remember that nobody is ever looking forward to having an adversarial discussion with you about whether they’re going to “buy something” or not.

Sure, 100 years ago, face-to-face selling was often the only way to find out about a new product or service. But that’s not the case right now.

What do people do when they’re interested in real estate? They hop online and look up information on the internet. For many, it’s just a lot easier and safer than inviting a real estate agent over for tea and crumpets.

But the issue is NOT that real estate agents are obsolete.

The issue is: Does he add legitimate value to what the customer can already get from the internet? Is he positioning himself such that customers who are ready to do something see him as a valuable resource and call when it’s time to act? Or is he just a friendly face who really just wants their listing?

You see, he must clearly position himself as someone who dramatically speeds the buying or selling process and makes it much easier for the buyer or seller to get what they want. And the same principle holds true for sales people and business owners in ANY industry.

So how do you demonstrate that you (as a person who sells) can make your customers’ life easier — that the time spent with you is time well spent?

Well, in your marketing, you focus on *their* problems, not *your* solution. You focus on the itch, not the scratch.

This might sound simplistic — but hardly anybody really does this. If you doubt me, just pick up any magazine and flip through it.

Ask yourself this question as you look at every ad: ‘Is this ad about my problem, or is it about somebody’s product?’

The vast majority of the time it’s about their ‘cool’ product. And nobody really cares. The only thing people care about is their problem.

So here’s a major shift: Instead of being a sales person who’s trying to get in front of people in Gladstone, become a problem-solving Information Source. (Usually it’s written information first, not a phone call.)

You’ll find that your lead processes become much, much simpler. And more fruitful.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Gladstone business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown

(816) 436-0316

Strategic Tax Partner

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Execution Is Everything When It Comes To The Success Of An Idea For Gladstone Small Businesses http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/execution-is-everything-when-it-comes-to-the-success-of-an-idea-for-gladstone-small-businesses/ Wed, 22 Aug 2018 14:45:42 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/execution-is-everything-when-it-comes-to-the-success-of-an-idea-for-gladstone-small-businesses/

We’re digging into the new guidance from the IRS re: the 20% deduction for Qualified Business Income (section 199A), and we’re excited to begin planning around these rules on behalf of our Gladstone business owner clients.

What the IRS has done is offer more meat to the bones of these provisions, which can be summed up as follows:

Essentially, owners of sole proprietorships, S corporations, or partnerships can deduct up to 20% of the income earned by the business. Note that this is NOT restricted to LLC’s, as I have seen some insist. Sole proprietorships also qualify for this deduction.

However, there are two big exceptions, and a slew of new, more technical guidances that I won’t bore you by getting extremely granular about:

 

  1. The “Qualified Trade or Business” may not be an entity whose sole purpose is to provide services for an employer, but don’t have any other business “clients” that your entity serves.

    This provision is designed to prevent employees from claiming the 20% deduction against what is essentially their wage income.

  2. The Qualified Trade or Business must NOT be “…any trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, or any trade or business where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or owners.”

    This provision is designed to target business OWNERS (rather than employees, as in the first provision), and to prevent the conversion of personal service income into “qualified business income”.

The good news is that when you get into the weeds, there are rules that we can take advantage of that might help you through these exceptions.

But we certainly can’t leverage on your behalf without some thought in advance.

So, if you have questions about this, set up a tax planning appointment with us, and we’d be glad to dig into your details. (816) 436-0316 (or shoot me back an email by clicking the email us button at the top of the page.)

Alright, now that I’ve had opportunity to wear my green shades for a little while in this strategy note, I’m going to finish it off with a short rant … hopefully you receive it in a spirit of encouragement.

Execution Is Everything When It Comes To The Success Of An Idea For Gladstone Small Businesses

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson

While I wasn’t in client tax work, I spent some time over the weekend looking at various academic articles about entrepreneurship (yes, I’m an egghead). 

And aside from the unrealistic reliance on the VC model for many small businesses, there was something else that continues to nag me about the undergirding assumption around starting new businesses in the research articles.

Essentially, it is the over-emphasis on the notion of the BIG IDEA, as the primary component to a successful entrepreneurial venture.

You see, the big idea isn’t the “holy grail”. No, the main ingredient of success is the execution. Trust me — I see behind the scenes of many Gladstone businesses.

But those who fall for the Big Idea Myth jump into idea after idea, full of excitement and ambition, only to fall flat. It’s a simple matter that they fail to realize that success comes from execution, *not* the idea.

On the other side are the entrepreneurs and budding business owners who are too afraid to act. They think, analyze and talk until they’re blue in the face, but they don’t take action. Their paralysis keeps them in their cushy corporate job or in the comfort zone of their modest small business. They’re paralyzed, and unable to jump in and act.

Yes, I’m a tax professional — and averse to unreasonable risk. But I believe that the key for successful entrepreneurship is to be in the middle of the spectrum: act on the idea (almost any idea will do), but realize that execution is everything.

A good person to follow for this kind of advice (though fair warning: he can be pretty foul-mouthed) is Gary Vaynerchuk. In particular, here’s a video he made a few months back that gets at this idea real well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bERmXc2NQ0I

Execution is everything, my friend.

So allow us to help you do it right.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Gladstone business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown

(816) 436-0316

Strategic Tax Partner

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An Effective Lead Generation Strategy From One Gladstone Business Owner To Another http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/an-effective-lead-generation-strategy-from-one-gladstone-business-owner-to-another/ Fri, 03 Aug 2018 18:59:27 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/?p=9488 You may have heard rumors that the tax code has changed in 2018.

This is ESPECIALLY the case for Gladstone small businesses, and as such, I have some questions that I would like you to consider — especially if you haven’t had us do anything else for you but prepare a tax return.

While we are still waiting on specific guidance from the IRS on a few subtleties of the new tax law, there is a lot that we do know. Your answers to these questions might make a difference.

How many “Yeses” can you answer? 

1) I have a financial statement for my business that is no more than 30 days old.

2) I reviewed my financial statement with my bookkeeper or accountant within the last month to pinpoint the potential trouble spots and identify pockets of easy cash.

3) I know exactly which products, departments and services give me the highest ROI (return on investment).

4) I have a year-end tax strategy based on my figures to date.

5) I know how much cash I have and how much I will need next week.

6) I can sleep at night, knowing that my recordkeeping will support my deductions if the IRS audits me.

If any of these are concerns for you, especially with the tax and regulatory situation continuing to evolve, let’s discuss ways that we can fix it for you: (816) 436-0316

Moving on, I wanted to follow up on last week’s note about making a clear offering to your marketplace with some further thoughts as it relates to small business marketing.

And, so you know (and as I’ve clarified before), the reason I do write about marketing so much is NOT to set myself up as some sort of marketing guru — I’m not. But it’s one of the primary (if not *the* primary) factors in your revenue column. I can help you with the planning and expense side … but YOU have to manage the revenue side.

So, I put together ideas I see from my best clients — and I distill them into advice for you. This stuff works.

And this week is about another big myth which is sometimes making ad reps rich … small businesses, not so much.

An Effective Lead Generation Strategy From One Gladstone Business Owner To Another
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Advertising is obviously a crucial ingredient of any effective business plan, yet it actually works against many businesses — especially small businesses. You see, most small businesses mimic what they see the “big boys” doing (I mean, big mammoth corporations or large, well-established ecommerce stores that have gone viral), and that’s like a thoroughbred horse jockey trying to imitate an elephant trainer.

You have an entirely different agenda as a small business owner in Gladstone than does a larger business. Many large corporations are engaged more with “marketing” than they are with direct advertising (which is what I addressed last week).

You see, to run a successful ad for a small business, it must do one of two things — and do these ONLY:

1)  Generate Sales, or
2)  Generate Sales Leads.

Even better — do it in a measurable, quantifiable way.

The best part — when you do this right, then you have no problem “getting your name out there” … but you’ll also make money in the process.

Unfortunately, most businesses simply attempt to “get their name out there,” and it’s very likely that they won’t generate sales OR sales leads with such advertising.

People don’t expect nearly enough from their advertising, and they don’t hold it accountable for results. So they waste thousands of dollars, and then they start pounding their sales people for orders on the 26th of every month.

So … what about when you’re trying to generate leads? Well, don’t try to accomplish overmuch at that stage.

You must remember that all you’re really trying to do for lead generation is to get people to “raise their hands” and identify themselves as someone who has a problem — and tell you who they are.

Anything more than that, will actually reduce your response. The purpose of pure lead generation advertising is NOT for you to tell them all about yourself — not in the first step anyway.

The only purpose is for them to tell you who they are.

When you do this correctly, it’s simple and effective.  And most importantly, nobody feels like you’re chasing them.

And THAT’S a power position you want.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Gladstone business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown
(816) 436-0316
Strategic Tax Partner

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Dear Gladstone Business Owner, Let’s Talk Before Tax Season http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/dear-gladstone-business-owner-lets-talk-before-tax-season/ Fri, 13 Jul 2018 18:56:58 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/?p=9484 In light of the festivities last week surrounding the 4th of July, I asked you a simple question:

Are you achieving the independence you want in your Gladstone business?

But there’s another side to this question that you should consider, and it is this:

Have you considered paying yourself more out of your business? 

In some cases, it actually might make more sense to pay yourself less — but bring home more at the same time. It all comes down to having the right plan in place.

If you’re not clear on how you could accomplish that, then reading this note right now could be very important.

We spoke last week about the entity question, but that’s just one aspect of a proper plan for growing the tax-profitability of your business.

When I meet with a current Gladstone business owner, I often wear many hats — CFO, Marketing Advisor, COO, etc. — truly whatever fits the need of our client most precisely. Because business owners can make rash decisions in times of perceived crisis (like during “tax season”) — and they often have unforeseen complications down the road.

Which is why it’s critical that we take a look at how things are set up for you and your business for the rest of 2018. Here in the middle of summer (and BEFORE the fall rush) is the perfect time to take a clear-eyed look at things, and plan for the best outcome for your business, come January.

The new tax code legislation has opened up new opportunities for businesses to save on their bottom line, as it relates to tax, and other aspects of your financial picture.

Frankly, we’d like to avoid all of the unnecessary expenses and taxes which so many businesses end up paying, simply because they didn’t plan ahead of time. Saving on expenses is another powerful method for paying yourself MORE … which, as I mentioned, could be just what you need this year.

Or, it could mean that we want you to pay yourself less.

But we won’t know, until we talk.
Let’s get ahead of the process for you.

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown
(816) 436-0316
Strategic Tax Partner

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Is a C-Corp or S-Corp Right for Your Gladstone Business? http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/is-a-c-corp-or-s-corp-right-for-your-gladstone-business/ Tue, 10 Jul 2018 21:33:14 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/?p=9481 With our nation celebrating its 242nd birthday, and all of this talk about “independence” flying around, I have a question for you — one that I think you should think hard about:

Are you achieving the independence you wanted in your Gladstone business?

As you know, it is hard — and it is LONELY — to be a Gladstone business owner in this environment. The media is bombarding your customers with messages of chaos and fear … and, of course, you can’t help but have some of those messages trickle into your own consciousness as well.

Which is why it’s so important for you to have a clear handle on the bottom line for your business — and on ALL of the tax implications you’ll be facing under the new tax code, and how to get ahead of them.

In short, how to achieve actual independence.

For instance, we have the business entity question.

Is a C-Corp or S-Corp Right for Your Gladstone Business?

We used to use S-Corps because it avoided the double tax issue of a C-Corp. Double tax of corporate profits of course refers to the fact that corporate profits are taxed when earned and then again when you take the cash out, in the form of a dividend, which is taxable to the person. And, conversely, S-corps only pay the single tax.

Right now, the highest individual rate is 37%. The corporate rate is 21% and the dividend rate is 20%. This means that having an S-Corp or other pass thru pays a net 4% lower tax than the double tax of the C-Corp.

Plus, there are the possibilities with the 20% “pass through” deduction.

But sometimes a C-Corp can still make sense. Because one advantage to the C-Corp is the timing — you don’t have to pay the 20% dividend rate up front. This means that you have use of that money during a time period — and the earnings on that chunk of money might end up being more than 4% of the initial profit, putting you in a scenario with a greater net worth at the end.

These are the kinds of analyses that we can make for you. An S-corp might be the best vehicle for your business, or it could be something entirely different.

Look … I often write to you about marketing and sales. That’s because growing the “top line” (revenue) is still the easiest way for you to grow your bottom line.

But the second-best way to grow your bottom line is to avoid all of the unnecessary expenses and taxes which so many businesses end up paying, simply because they didn’t plan ahead of time.

So, I’d like to make it easy on you to do both.
When I meet with a business owner, I often wear many hats — CFO, Marketing Advisor, COO, etc. — truly whatever fits the need of my client most precisely. Because business owners can make rash decisions in times of perceived crisis (like during “tax season”) — and they often have unforeseen complications down the road.

Let’s get ahead of the process.

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown
(816) 436-0316
Strategic Tax Partner

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IRS Audit Process – What Gladstone Businesses Should Know http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/irs-audit-process-what-gladstone-businesses-should-know/ Fri, 29 Jun 2018 17:45:52 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/?p=9476 If you sell goods online, you are probably aware of the “sales tax earthquake” that rumbled forth from the highest court last week in Washington.

In South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc., the court ruled that states and municipalities could now require online retailers to charge customers sales tax, no matter where that retailer was itself domiciled.

It is yet to be seen exactly what ripple effects of this decision we will see, but it is generally seen as a “win” for traditional Gladstone brick and mortar retailers (who were competing against “tax-free” online options), a loss for internet e-commerce businesses … and a HUGE win for sales tax compliance software makers.

Essentially, the Court ruled that in the 20+ years since the existing legal precedent was established (allowing online sellers to usually avoid charging sales tax), the world has shifted enough that new standards should be applied.

Now, my view — as with almost all things political and regulatory — is “wait and see”. Again, the ripple effects are unclear, and until actual guidance is established by various states and municipalities, and enforcement measures made clear, the merits and drawbacks of this decision are not yet definitive.

That said, if you sell goods online, it is probably a good idea to ensure that you begin investigating a good sales tax compliance solution. Each state and municipality will establish their own revenue “threshold” for when purchases from within their bounds will incur sales tax, and each will be scrambling to do so in the next few months.

But this much is clear: your Gladstone business WILL get into hot water if you sell online and don’t begin to plan for sales tax collection. Fortunately, there will be (and already are) effective, relatively-inexpensive softwares to make this easier for you.

And we’ll see what kind of guidance comes forth.

As always, we are on your side.

I do wonder if this decision will create a much larger population of businesses who might be subjected to enforcement audits. Sales tax issues are just one of many “juicy” problems that the IRS Enforcement Division likes to take a good hard look at.

So I thought I’d explain today, what really happens in the audit process…

IRS Audit Process – What Gladstone Businesses Should Know
Any man can win when things go his way, it’s the man who overcomes adversity that is the true champion. – Jock Ewing

Before the IRS can finalize an audit, they are required by law to give you rights to dispute it in federal Tax Court and with an IRS appeals officer.

Before any audit becomes final, the IRS must notify you of your rights to dispute it. This letter is called a “Notice of Deficiency”. This notice gives you the right to take the IRS audit to Tax Court and have an independent judge review it. You will have 90 days to file a petition to Tax Court after the IRS sends you the notice of deficiency.

And even if those 90 days have already expired, you may still qualify for “audit reconsideration” instead.

Now, before the IRS goes to trial, they typically send your case to an IRS Appeals Officer for settlement. The IRS Appeals Officer’s job is to settle the case based on how a judge might rule, not on how an auditor might rule. As a result, these IRS Appeals Officers have flexibility not always shown by auditors. Most IRS examination cases settle this way, with results not available when only going through the typical audit channels.

You see, Tax Court judges and IRS Appeals Officers perceive cases differently from IRS auditors. If you feel that you are being unnecessarily or over-aggressively audited (and have evidence or can make effective testimony thereof), you can summarize to the Appeals Officer what you will tell the judge. If the Appeals Officer — in preparation for trial — can see that their auditor was being unreasonable, they can often make different kinds of attempts to settle the case in anticipation of how an independent judge might rule.

The auditor often has a small view of your case and does not consider how outsiders would decide it; that changes when the final decision is not in the hands of the IRS, but in that of the Tax Court.

The tax law specifically places the burden of proof on you to back up what is on your tax return.

Proving the correctness to an auditor is not easy. The IRS wins over 80% of all audits, often because people are not able to properly verify data on their tax returns. Recordkeeping is the downfall of most audit victims.

That said, here is what an IRS Auditor CAN do…

Congress gives the IRS broad, but not unlimited powers, in auditing. The IRS, in the course of an audit, may:

1. Inspect your business premises,
2. View your home office,
3. Scrutinize your records, and
4. Summon records held by others.

Auditors look for personal expenses disguised as business deductions. With small businesses, the IRS Auditor is ever on the lookout for people who bury personal expenses in their business records. Cars, travel and entertainment are often targets. In these areas particularly, it quite literally pays to keep good records.

In all of this, and other instances … well, it’s helpful to have a pro on your side.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Gladstone business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Gladstone families and business owners.

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown
(816) 436-0316
Strategic Tax Partner

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Solving Problems in Gladstone Businesses with Effective Solutions http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/solving-problems-in-gladstone-businesses-with-effective-solutions/ Mon, 18 Jun 2018 18:31:57 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/?p=9472 There’s this idea out there among many wannabe Gladstone business owners that they have to come up with the next completely fresh idea in order to have a great business.

Shows like Shark Tank (which I love) go towards creating this kind of mindset — although the sharks do a very nice job of bursting the bubbles of anyone who thinks that business success is merely about having that great idea.

But I ran across this story about a company that was founded in the ’70s, and whose product you have very likely seen (especially if you have ever owned a dog).

It *is*, in fact, about the idea. But the idea was found within the cast-offs of an existing vocational work, and there might be something in there that sparks an idea for you.

Because I still think there is something to be said for us “small fry” Gladstone entrepreneurs — the service business owners, the independent retailers, the salespeople, the franchisee, etc. — who look at the stories of those who have succeeded rather dramatically, and to see what it is they did.

Whether it’s a new product or service line within your existing business, or something brand new, sometimes we need to just open our eyes to identify and begin solving problems in an effective way.

Solving Problems in Gladstone Businesses with Effective Solutions
“Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Joe Markham had a problem.

The three-year-old German Shepherd he’d adopted, Fritz, loved to chew rocks. So much, in fact, that his teeth were one-third their normal size.

In every other way, Fritz was a wonderful and loving companion. But Markham knew the dog’s one bad habit was endangering his health. So Markham, a partner in a motorcycle shop, encouraged Fritz to try softer substitutes: radiator hoses and motorcycle tires (customers often saw Fritz flying through the shop with a whole bike tire sticking out of his mouth).

But the dog didn’t favor either of these items enough for it to become a rock replacement.

When winter came, the bike shop kept busy by working on cars and snowmobiles. One day, Fritz stretched under a workbench, pulled out a part from a car, and trotted over to Markham, where the dog dropped the part on Markham’s foot. This rubber-knobbed gizmo was a prize — and it was love at first bite. Fritz forgot his beloved rocks. His new obsession had customers asking what kind of toy was making the dog so joyful.

That’s when Markham speculated that if his dog loved this type of rubber so much, other dogs would too.

And so began a long journey of prototypes, rejections, manufacturing woes, ridicule, and late-night commercial slots. But Markham persevered because he knew his real customers — the furry, four-legged ones — would prove him right.

Today Markham’s toy, the Kong, has surpassed sales of 50 million products — almost one for every dog in America. And my take is that while perseverance played a role in his success, the real secret was that he stayed focused on finding a fun, effective solution to a common problem.

So I ask you, Gladstone business owners…

Where can YOU find these hidden answers to common problems faced by your own customers? It doesn’t have to involve some witty, new invention — it can simply be serving a felt need effectively and well.

But those problems ARE out there. And the answer might very well be sitting in your cast-offs.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Gladstone business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners. 

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown
(816) 436-0316
Strategic Tax Partner

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Sales Positioning For Gladstone Freelancers And Small Businesses http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/sales-positioning-for-gladstone-freelancers-and-small-businesses/ Fri, 08 Jun 2018 19:48:55 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/?p=9468 Have you ever heard of Mary Meeker?

Perhaps not.

But for those who follow securities analysts, she’s a little bit like Michael Jordan. She’s been issuing an “internet trends” report since the ’90s — and she’s usually right. Which, I suppose, is rare for securities forecasters.

For instance, in 2004, she predicted that online advertising was poised to explode (compared to print), and that data-driven, user-targeted ads would expand. She was right about that — 14 years ago. This, among many other predictions.

Her most recent annual report talk offers a ton of interesting tidbits. (And to give you a flavor of her efficiency, she delivered a 294-slide talk in 30 minutes.)

One notable point: your job won’t be stolen by robots. Instead, a normal progression is taking place in the economy. Farm jobs became retail jobs … and now freelance jobs will replace factory jobs. Freelance is growing at 3X the normal speed.

And, if my Gladstone client list is any indicator, she’s exactly right.

But starting out as a freelancer can be a precarious step. Because it’s not just the “delivery of the work” that you become responsible for, it’s EVERYTHING else: sales, bookkeeping, taxes, insurance, infrastructure, etc.

We can certainly help you with the tax and bookkeeping part of these things, but I’ve noticed that “sales” is something that trips up many Gladstone freelancers, especially those on the “craftsman” side of the spectrum.

So, I’ve put some basic positioning thoughts for freelancers together. And these really apply to anyone in a sales capacity (including established Gladstone business owners).

Listen, I’m not a “sales guru”, but I’ve seen enough of my successful clients do this right, that I know what good positioning looks like…

Sales Positioning For Gladstone Freelancers And Small Businesses
“Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.” – Tecumseh

Some say that you must “prove to your client that you’re willing to work harder, drive more miles, and bend over further than everyone else to earn his business.”

And, at first glance it seems like foolishness to say that anything less than fantastic customer service is going to cut it in today’s marketplace, especially when it comes to freelancing.

But here’s the problem: Most Gladstone businesses or freelancers try to communicate this way too soon, in the process being way too eager to win the client’s business.

So you end up chasing the prospect, saying “Call me anytime, day or night, text me, in fact here’s my home phone number. Shoot, I’ll jump out of bed and come and see you in the middle of the night, because man, lemme tell ya, I’m eager to win your business!”

Of course, prospects know that after the contract has been agreed upon, they still likely will end up dealing with poor communication at times, and that their work will STILL probably be late anyway — regardless of how eager the presentation.

That’s why your enthusiasm doesn’t help you.

So here are two ideas you can use to fix this problem:

Stop acting so eager
You ARE busy (and/or your client service people are if you’re in a more established business setting), and nobody has the time to hold the hands of problem customers. Don’t be afraid to tell your prospects that they have to *qualify* to do business with you.

It’s counter-intuitive, but especially in certain kinds of industries, when the client finds out that you’re not drooling all over yourself to get his business, he’s going to respect you more.

*Guarantee* results to the client — and put something behind it 
You can guarantee on-time delivery, specific levels of performance, with negative consequences for YOUR business if it doesn’t deliver the level of accuracy or quality you promised.

But you do not have to promise people the moon!

You just have to keep the promises you DO make.

If you’re a freelancer, this takes guts, but it pays off.

And if you’re more established, this requires support from YOU, the business owner on down. And most businesses don’t like to guarantee anything. (But when push comes to shove, you still have to deliver results anyway, right? Giving a guarantee often just means clearly stating what’s already true.)

If you aren’t willing to guarantee anything, why not? Why should your clients take all the risk after they’ve heard a bunch of empty promises?

Even a modest guarantee can enormously empower your sales message. Define what you can and can’t deliver, go to the mat to keep your promises, and draw the line right there. Clients will be far more responsive and you won’t appear desperate.

People are cynical, and they’ll only believe what you can prove. Put something on the line … and they’ll trust you MORE.

I truly hope this helps. Positioning matters.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Gladstone business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Gladstone families and business owners. 

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown
(816) 436-0316
Strategic Tax Partner

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Financial Behaviors For Gladstone Business Owners (Part 2) http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/financial-behaviors-for-gladstone-business-owners-part-2/ Thu, 07 Jun 2018 18:03:06 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/?p=9464 For many Gladstone business owners, the Memorial Day weekend is sometimes one that can feel a little lonely.

While many of those around you are floating on a boat with a fishing pole in the water, or firing up the backyard grill, there you are in the office or in the store, moving things forward while others play.

Yes, this is the life for many business owners. While owning your own business certainly comes with many rewards, these “holiday” weekends can sometimes feel like you’re swimming against the stream.

My advice is to embrace the reality of your difference. While others look to someone else to provide for the needs of their family (whether through salary or other means), you are one of those who has chosen the path of self-determination.

Taking time off, and setting clear boundaries, are an important aspect of any good work life — but often those times can be even MORE sweet when they are taken while others are in their regular work rhythm.

And that can be a much sweeter kind of “loneliness” … the kind that gives you the freedom to do what others can’t.

But sometimes we embrace too many freedoms as business owners. And it can lead to our downfall if we’re not careful.

That’s why last week I started to write about the financial behaviors of Gladstone business owners who might be headed towards a fall. I thought I’d round out my thoughts this week.

Financial Behaviors For Gladstone Business Owners (Part 2)
“It is better to be alone than in bad company.” – George Washington

As I mentioned last week, through the course of our work with many successful clients, I’ve made an unintentional — but close — study, over the years, of how money “works”, and just what it is that propels certain businesses into seasons of great plenty … and also what brings them down.

I hate to see small businesses who come into more resources go on to squander them, simply because they fell prey to wrong thinking.

Watch out for it in your own business, and in your key employees — and avoid these behaviors of financially-strapped businesses in Gladstone…

Using credit habitually for purchases that don’t drive revenue.
Delayed gratification isn’t something they’ve heard of, and if they want something for their business, they just put it on credit. After all — it’s at a 0% interest rate for the first three months! 

One purchase leads to another, and before they know it they’re buried in revolving debt. Debt loads in larger businesses can look different, but the principles remain the same. Avoid leverage these days; keep your powder dry. Making your business “look successful” (and not driving more revenue) isn’t worth expensive interest.

Always paying more than you have to.
Often businesses that have failed have gotten there because they don’t know how to negotiate, or look for better vendors. You can negotiate just about anything — from software to employee healthcare. Never pay more than you have to.

Why is it that some business owners take perverse pride in paying full rack rates? It goes before the fall, as they say … so don’t become penny-wise/pound-foolish — but neither should you eschew effective negotiation in multiple categories.

Falling prey to lifestyle inflation and “keeping up with the Joneses”.
This is a biggie for more established businesses. Even businesses with bigger cash flows can have problems staying in the black if they pay too much attention to certain kinds of “competition”. Instead of banking and retaining earnings, they raise their standard of living — buying a bigger, better office, a new car (because of the write-off) and fancy equipment for their staff. They feel like they have to keep up appearances with everyone in their marketplace.

Take a good hard look at what motivates your purchasing, and clean out the dust bunnies of comparison, lest they fill your brain with poverty-thinking.

Forfeiting future gains for celebrations today. 
These businesses dwell on small, immediate victories, and don’t make an actual financial plan for longevity. They don’t realize how saving towards future initiatives or capital improvements can make a difference in their long-term growth and success.

Don’t sacrifice your retirement (or your business) on the altar of small victories.

Obviously, I’d like to help you move past these behaviors, if any apply. You may not carry every one of these traits, but just one or two can get you or your business into financial hot water.

So if this sparked something in your thinking, shoot me back an email to this strategy note through the ’email us’ button at the top of the page. Let’s make a real plan for long-term financial health for your business.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Gladstone business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Gladstone families and business owners.?

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown
(816) 436-0316
Strategic Tax Partner

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How Money Works For Gladstone Business Owners (Part 1) http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/how-money-works-for-gladstone-business-owners-part-1/ Mon, 28 May 2018 18:48:43 +0000 http://gladstonemoaccountant.com/?p=9460 Sometimes it feels like all we face is turmoil. And this feeling is not restricted to those Gladstone businesses who survive “month-to-month”.

Even the best-capitalized among us can get trapped by the ever-increasing cycle of impending doom.

This is especially true if we follow all the Facebook rabbit trails, or shiny object “gurus” — it seems like much of the media is perversely incentivized to keep us discontent.

I have spoken of this before.

But it’s not just the media.

You see, I sit down every week with Gladstone business owners across a wide spectrum of success, and sometimes I notice something interesting, even from those with great resources: “poor” thinking.

With all of the seeming turmoil, it might be a temptation for my wealthy business owner clients and friends to succumb to this kind of wrong thinking — the kind of thinking which they successfully avoided in order to attain the level of success they’ve achieved.

So I thought it appropriate to put together a small series on “right thinking”, when it comes to your resources, and your business. It may be a bit controversial, but I do hope you receive it in the spirit with which I write…

(And, as usual, I’d love your thoughts.)

How Money Works For Gladstone Business Owners (Part 1)
“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

In my line of work, I get to have deep and meaningful conversations with business owners about the things which they most care about. I LOVE those conversations, and I believe that understanding these deeper passions is “the only way to fly” when it comes to financial work of any kind (be it tax, or otherwise).

Now, as I do so, I also run into people’s attitudes about their wealth.

I’ve made an unintentional — but close — study, over the years, of how money works, and just what it is exactly that propels certain business owners into greater and greater quantities of resources … and also what brings them down.

You see, sometimes the very successful in business begin to act like they’re poor.

It’s the beginning of a bad problem.

You may have resources NOW, but are you …

… spending money on things you really don’t need?  
I’m sure we’ve all got one of those friends who just loves to spend money, and buys things just to say they have them. The newest software arrived on the marketplace, and it might save their team 30 minutes? They buy it, even though they already have a perfectly acceptable solution. A new piece of equipment came out with more features than their current one? They buy one so they can say they have the newest and latest technology.

That may be fine for a certain amount of time, but there is something deeper happening in the heart there, which, if left unchecked, can signal a decline in motivation or focus. Because it starts with the software … but where does it end?

… ignorant about where your money is going? 
Far too often, people who are broke find themselves short because they’ve tracked their monthly cash flow when things were small … but now that they’ve grown a little, their small expenses are adding up to consume everything they bring in. They really need to get a better system for cash controls, and signaling to themselves (and/or their employees) when they should slow down the spending.

But the newly-successful business owners sometimes begin to believe that they’re immune to such proletarian concerns, and allow the same bad habit to encroach into their accounts.

Of course, the opposite can also be the case. (E.g., are you checking your accounts every day? That’s also a problem.)

… blaming your problems on outside forces?  
People don’t like to see themselves as the source of their problems. And as a group, business owners can often be very smart about this — at least in the beginning.

Taking that “first entrepreneurial step” feels like a big deal, and it is. But a few years down the road, and far too often they will ever-so-subtly begin to shift blame when they should be looking at themselves. They blame their employees, customers and the government. They believe that “the little guy just can’t get ahead”.

Are you doing the same thing? “It’s the market’s fault!”, “My financial advisor screwed me over!”, etc., etc. Again, these are signals of a deeper problem.

… more interested in having others think you are successful, than actually being successful? 
Business owners in Gladstone who are always broke like to be seen as wealthy and successful, even if looking that way to others means that they’re actually forfeiting the possibility of being profitable and successful in reality.

Are you pumping your resources into an image? Are you “investing” in items which, really, are more about how people will see you and your business than how they will help your business’ bottom line?

… not planning ahead? 
For the always-strapped business owners, money is short because they haven’t set up an actual business budget, and a retained earnings and spending plan. When they set up a monthly cash flow forecast, and know exactly what they’re going to spend in what categories — they’ll do much better.

If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail, right?

Again, many resources can lead to laziness in this area. Don’t let up with it.

I will have more to say on this and other topics next week.

But if this sparked something in your thinking, shoot me back an email to this strategy note through the ‘email us’ button at the top of the page. Let’s make a real plan for long-term financial health for your business.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Gladstone business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Gladstone families and business owners. 

Warmly,

Rebecca Brown
(816) 436-0316

Strategic Tax Partner

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