December 5, 2014

Target Leverages Big Data to Predict Customer Pregnancies

 

Leveraging buying trends into dynamic strategies is nothing new to the retail industry, though some companies have turned it up a notch in recent years.  Target, for example, has found a way to data-mine your purchases to figure out whether you have a baby on the way long before you are stocking up on diapers So let’s take a closer look at Target’s usage of “Big Data”—and what you can learn from this impressive feat.

With copious amounts of highly detailed data on shoppers’ behaviors and preferences, Target’s marketing specialists saw an opportunity to take the information a step further and developed a specific profile that took note of how women’s shopping habits evolved when they first learned they were pregnant. Identifying 25 new indicator products purchased within a defined period, Target is able to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score and can estimate a due date with a high level of accuracy.

With this information, a mail-out campaign of coupons and discounts is disbursed with each specific stage of pregnancy.  Perhaps a bit unsettling to some, but it’s hard to argue with success.

The important element/lesson of this strategy, applicable to most businesses large or small, is seen in how Target converted “Big Data” into proactive data.

By the same token, accounting reporting systems reveal how a business is operating and deserve the owner’s attention.  How are you looking at them:  as a collection of numbers on a spreadsheet—or are you analyzing trends and how they impact your business?  You may find a few surprises with a closer look.

“If you can measure it, you can manage it.”

Being able to construct an accurate and flexible system that can adapt as new market forces, trends and opportunities arise in real-time, versus waiting until month’s end may mean the difference between achieving your revenue forecast or moving beyond it at a time when cash flow is critical.

Until just recently only large corporations had both the time and resources available to dedicate toward leveraging Big Data into producing meaningful results…Today the entrepreneur utilizes Big Data solutions to help level the playing field.  Several factors, including recent technological advancements and the affordability of both cloud computing and outsourced business solutions keep new businesses competing well enough.    Entrepreneurs can click on their Smart Phone, iPad or laptop anywhere in the world and access this information at will, particularly if owner and accountant have set up various protocol profiles in the form of customized data.

Now, more than ever, the small business owner has the ability to develop the same Big Data analysis as larger corporations—an important step in achieving a competitive position.

Talley & Company and its affiliate, Group 11 Advisors, keep clients on track with how to properly leverage technology to meet the needs of their growing businesses.  From outsourced accounting solutions to management information, analysis and reporting, we are the premier business consulting practice to entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses.

For more information on how to leverage your business’ data technology, contact Talley & Company today to explore your opportunities.  

 

November 21, 2014

Resolve to Get These 3 Things Done in 2015

Yes, you have it right: It’s not quite time for turkey yet and we’re pressuring you about resolutions already—but for good reason. With just a handful of weeks left before the official end of 2014, outlining your new year’s resolutions now, with ample time to establish a definitive game plan, can set you up for success. Waiting for Jan. 1 to tackle projects that have been on your to-do list for as long as you can remember won’t. It’s time for all of us to take action, whether we resolve to eat better and get more exercise or develop concrete growth tactics for our businesses.

Here are three things you’ll want to be sure are on your list, along with the easiest ways to get moving on them.

  1. Organize Your Taxes – We’re not just talking about keeping all your papers together so they’re handy come tax time later, although that’s a great start. We’re talking about creating a real strategy for both your household and business that takes a holistic view of your assets, income, revenues and expenses. A 360 view will give you the best options for creating tax savings in full accordance with IRS rules. Want to see a few examples of how this works? Call us and we’ll show you.

  2. Optimize Your Bookkeeping and Accounting – If you haven’t automated these tasks, doing so can free up time and energy for you to conquer more strategic jobs in 2015. If you’re already utilizing software or outsourcing to a professional, make sure you’re accessing data from your financials. Already got that done? Then you’re ready to translate as much of that data as possible into real-world decision-making. If you’re using your statements to create a business plan for the months and years ahead but aren’t sure you’re properly interpreting everything your financials are telling you, consult with a Talley & Company advisor to increase your knowledge base.

  3. Establish a Will and Build an Estate Plan – If you haven’t secured your family’s future yet, spending the holidays surrounded by your loved ones might be the extra reminder you need to finally accomplish this task. If you’ve already created an estate plan, well done, but when was the last time you reviewed it? Be sure your plans suit your family’s present needs.

Making resolutions is a great way to stay focused on important goals. Creating a strategy for making good on those resolutions is much, much better. Small steps are often the best ones, since they keep us from feeling overwhelmed and procrastinating. So here’s your first step no matter where you stand in all three areas: make one phone call. This task is so small there’s no good reason to put it off. Set up a time to discuss your needs with a Talley & Company advisor and you’ll be better positioned to achieve all that you want to in 2015.

 

October 24, 2014

Why Being the “Chief Everything Officer” is Bad for Your Business

How many job titles do you really have, honestly? Do people often refer to you as the “Chief Everything Officer”? You may think single-handedly managing your books, administering your tax burden, and being your own IT professional is saving you money, but is it? If you’re spending more time tackling everyday tasks than you are growing your business, you’re probably spreading yourself too thin and not focusing on growing your company and meeting the needs of your customers.

 

Are your talents best used bringing in new business, serving and growing your top clientele and improving the quality of the product or service you provide? -Most likely so. Here are some key outsourcing opportunities you may want to consider outsourcing to save you time, money and opportunity cost.

 

Accounting. Here’s the bad news first: When it comes to ranking the best and worst states to be a tax payer, California ranks second to dead last, trailing only New York. Outsourcing your accounting not only saves you time, it can bring in valuable insights from specialists who’re dialed in to the latest practices, strategies and technologies in their fields.

 

Banking. Most small business owners are no stranger to the bank. In fact, more than 80% of small business owners use some sort of financing to help grow their business. Finding the right bank and obtaining all the financial reports necessary could prove challenging to a time-strapped entrepreneur. Partnering with the right CPA firm can increase your chances of successfully obtaining loans, grants, lines of credit and more by presenting your financial data in the most favorable way.

 

Social Media. Not every entrepreneur dreams of becoming the next big social media star to go viral, but the latest numbers don’t lie: 81% of small businesses employ a social media strategy to grow their business.  Keeping up with the latest and greatest social media strategies as well as posting, responding and article linking is a time consuming process probably best suited for someone who has the time and savvy to tackle this emerging marketing tool.

 

Leading-edge businesses are partnering with Talley & Company and its affiliates to take advantage of our wide range of services, such as bookkeeping, financial reporting, technology advising, tax planning, auditing and estate planning, all under one roof. Letting go can be hard at first, especially with our hearts and minds deeply invested in our businesses, but it can allow you to focus on what you do best and take back control of your business’ productivity and profitability.

 

For more information on how Talley & Company can help grow your business, give us a call today.

 

 

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/238185

October 17, 2014

Family Businesses Lead Success Rate

Here’s a not-so-surprising fact: Less than 30 percent of family businesses are able to carry on to the second generation. A mere 10 percent remain through the third.  Interestingly enough, in spite of these gloomy figures, family businesses still lead the success rate well beyond those of sole proprietorships, partnerships or other arrangements. However, when family businesses do fail (for non-economical reasons), the cause generally comes down to poor planning and a lack of on-going maintenance thereof.

Want to know how family-owned businesses can improve their success rate?  Here are several things to consider:

Plan to Succeed From the Get-Go. Emphasize the importance of first developing a business agreement between key stakeholders that focuses on clear expectations by assigning specific roles and duties to your team. Inspiration, aspirations and goals should be the topic of thorough-going conversations.  Following through with a well-defined agreement emerges to reflect the discussion and, of course a business plan that clearly supports the agreement.

Perform Routine Maintenance on Your Long Term Plan. Important to the success of the family business preparations is the way in which agreements are reached and the context in which they are discussed. Within the framework of long-term planning, subject to regular review, each member can track, maintain or adjust as conditions change.  Knowing who each other is, recognizing traits, tendencies and preferences with honesty and openness allows the agreement to be written in a way to take advantage of and accommodate individual contributions. This sets up an organizational process that continues to focus on leveraging the strengths of individuals and addresses any challenges or shortcomings posed by members.  Thus everyone is on the same page and realistic expectations are set and met.

Proper business planning is a complex and on-going effort, requiring expert counsel—a professional knowledge and experience, familiar with the challenges that characterize an entrepreneur’s business ventures. Talley & Company shares the same entrepreneurial spirit that has helped propel our clients to their current level of success. With over 25 years experience in management consulting, Talley & Company has the expertise required to assist entrepreneurs throughout their entire journey, from formation through succession.

October 10, 2014

Is an S-Corp Structure Right for Your Business?

Choosing the right legal structure for your business involves careful consideration to find the best balance between liability protection, tax savings and the level of paperwork required by the IRS. This decision can be one of the most important ones made for a startup and may change as a business grows to accommodate different needs. The best way to evaluate all options, whether that includes a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or Corporation, is to get comprehensive advisement from knowledgeable legal advisors. For a quick look at the S-Corporation popular with entrepreneurs, here are some of the basic up-sides and down-sides.

Tax-Saving Benefits
The S-Corp allows owners to pass corporate profits, losses, deductions and credits to shareholders’ personal tax returns. This makes it possible to avoid double taxation (at the corporate and personal level), one of the major differentiators from a C-Corp.

While members of an LLC are subject to employment tax on the entire net income of the business, only the wages of S-Corp shareholders who are employees are subject to employment tax. The remainder is provided to the owner as a “distribution,” which is either taxed at a lower rate or not at all. But before lowering your salary to zero and classifying all earnings as a distribution to slash your tax bill, know that this comes with a caveat. Shareholders who work for the company must receive “reasonable compensation,” or the IRS may reclassify additional corporate earnings as wages. In some cases, the tax benefits of an S-Corp can also be combined with the legal advantages of an LLC.

At the state level, S-Corps are taxed in a variety of ways. Some states follow the federal government’s lead by taxing shareholders accordingly, some tax on profits over a certain threshold, and still others refuse to recognize the S-Corp structure altogether, taxing it like they would a C-Corp. instead.

Opportunity for Liability Protection
S-Corporations are “considered by law to be a unique entity, separate and apart from those who own it.” This separation limits the financial liabilities of owners and shareholders. It also makes it easy for the S-Corp to continue doing business without much disruption if a shareholder decides to leave the company or sell their shares.

A Longer Paper Trail
One of the significant downsides to the S-Corp is more rigid processes and paperwork. The IRS’ requirements include scheduled shareholder meetings, documentation from those meetings, and heavier records maintenance.

To see if your business qualifies as an S-Corp and whether it would benefit from this or another more favorable legal structure, consult with us today. Talley & Company has over 25 years of experience helping entrepreneurs successfully start and grow their businesses. From start-up to succession we maintain a proactive, tax efficient approach to our client’s business planning needs.

If Only There Was Fitness Tech for Your Business. But Wait—There IS.

These days, we’re tracking everything from our steps taken to our sleep patterns thanks to a proliferating number of wristband devices like the FitBit, Jawbone UP24, and Life Tracker 1. New technologies for monitoring our day-to-day health are making it simpler and easier to catalog and retrieve voluminous amounts of data so that we can better understand how our bodies run and make adjustments to improve our fitness. So the question is: Are you doing this for your business?

 

If you’re keeping track of income and expenses, you may be doing just enough to avoid financial disaster. But it’s nearly impossible for a business to thrive without the additional data required to make more strategic decisions.

 

By collecting, monitoring and analyzing our personal health data, we can identify opportunities for improvement and track our progress in a continuous feedback loop. Affordable bookkeeping software and processes work much the same way for a business, helping to automate what would otherwise be a tedious task so we can access timely data on business profitability.

 

An accountant or financial advisor can not only set up this software but also establish a streamlined process that makes it work for your business. This process includes effective recordkeeping for all expense and income types, properly entering this information into the bookkeeping software, and lastly, generating financial reports. Business owners that attempt to DIY the first two steps often get so bogged down they never get to the last one. This can be a costly mistake.

 

With up-to-date information in your bookkeeping system, you can track account balances and create sophisticated financial reports, putting vital financial information in easy reach. Everything from profit/loss statements and cash-flow projections help you detect patterns to different aspects of your business’s financial health. You can evaluate whether your goods or services are priced competitively, determine if certain expenses should be cut back or outsourced, and identify profitable revenue lines to pursue further.

 

In essence, professionally managed statements can help you make data-based decisions for your company more regularly and reliably, taking operations from good to great. The best part is, a good financial advisor that sets up the reporting system for your business can also give you valuable guidance on how to transform data into real-world decisions.

 

If you’re interested in identifying key numbers, tracking changes and reading trends to reveal tremendous insights on your company’s financial fitness, Talley & Company and its affiliate Group 11 Advisors can help guide you through the essential steps. Schedule a consultation with us to learn more.