For most of us—but business owners especially—time is scarce. There is always more to do than hours in the day. So what tech solutions are you leveraging to be more productive with the time you have? When time is money, tech solutions can bring in a lot more of both. See how these five options might enhance the day-to-day operations of your business.

Virtual Meeting Tools – Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting when it comes to cementing a business partnership or getting a deal done. But with the use of virtual communication tools like Skype and GoToMeeting, business leaders can spend finite resources on in-person meetings in ways that provide the greatest return. For example, web conferences can be used to present preliminary proposals and, based on initial feedback, be modified for a later in-person presentation to clients in refined form.

Bookkeeping Applications – With so many viable and cost-effective accounting applications for small businesses, no one should be manually tracking income and expenses across multiple tables, spreadsheets and systems. Software and cloud-based options allow business decision-makers to create and track professional invoices, see payments and outstanding balances at a glance, enter bills and print checks, and reconcile for tax purposes.

Online Timesheet and Payroll Services – Online time-tracking solutions make it easy for employees to submit timesheets (and managers to approve them) from anywhere and everywhere. To choose the right system for your business, think about the ways different employees would use it and where their data will need to go, from payroll to billing to reporting. If you have an existing accounting program like QuickBooks in place, a payroll solution that syncs data and issues paychecks to employees can be a great option.

Social Media Tools – It’s a full-time job creating a strategy for a business’s social media presence, selecting the channels that best suit outlined goals, and then implementing a plan of action. Programs like Buffer and HootSuite help connect accounts so businesses can plan, schedule and post to multiple outlets at one time. Leaders can set up a schedule for sharing content based on the best time for it to be released. Plus, you get the chance to see comparative analytics that can improve future planning.

Customer Service Support – With tech applications like Desk.com and Zendesk, a business can be small but still have a big customer service presence. Help desk solutions can increase the number of positive interactions customers have with you company, improve their opinions of your brand, and raise their intent to purchase from your business. Support staff can field inquiries from email, phone calls, live chat or social media using one main system, giving customers the chance to choose their preferred form of interaction.

If accounting, timesheet or payroll technologies are on your list of productivity tools to investigate, Group 11 Advisors can provide you with important points to consider when choosing the right tool for your business. Contact us and we’ll be glad to assist.

There’s a never-ending supply of new fitness devices and trackers available today, but most of the data they report is useless.  Yes, you are counting steps, flights of stairs climbed and hours of sleep, but are you honestly really doing anything with the data?  There’s even “smart” clothing on the horizon, which will read your vital signs, stress levels and even tell you to cut back on your Thanksgiving turkey. As our culture moves closer to measuring everything, it seems as if we are moving further away from tracking and measuring what we actually need to know.
For both the fitness buff and C-level executive, the argument for the usefulness of real-time data tracking is valid. It’s not an illogical leap to think any individual could potentially improve performance and adjust strategies on-the-fly by leveraging better KPIs and insightful metrics. For most though, taking that data and knowing how to utilize it is a tough barrier to overcome. We track our steps (and that’s great), but are we getting any healthier?
More data alone doesn’t make better decision makers. While having additional data equals more opportunity to make better decisions, the key to leveraging data and translating it into meaningful results is knowing what to focus on, how to interpret it, and how to utilize it in the decision-making process. Data is only valuable if it is actionable. Are you confident you are taking advantage of all the metrics available to your business?
With over 25 years’ experience consulting with industry-leading companies, Talley & Company and our affiliate Group 11 Advisors are committed to provide clear, knowledgeable and applicable financial data and analysis solutions, enabling management to intelligently track performance, progress and profits. To determine whether your business is taking advantage of all metrics available to make the most informed decisions for future success, schedule a time to talk with us today.

When many think of the millennial generation, the scourge of “selfies” and entitlement come to mind. –But regardless of your feelings towards them (good or bad), Millennials represent the next generation of managers and key personnel to many middle-aged entrepreneurs as they start to wind down and think of retirement.

Integrating Millennials into a Baby Boomer culture is a big challenge for business.  So how do we manage their expectations while maintaining high performing organizations?

Many entrepreneurs and executives will tell you their number-one mistake is hiring the wrong person for the job. This crippling error can be avoided if you’re in tune with the strengths and culture of your organization and how others can “plug into” the system already in place. As with any small organization or startup, it’s critical that every person is right for their job. So how do you ensure you’re hiring the right millennials?

A strengths assessment of your existing personnel is an ideal place to start. Think of it as a SWOT analysis on your most valuable resource — your people. It identifies key personality and behavioral traits and can help you understand how to best leverage the combination of those talents and how to add to them by finding the right people to hire.

Start with the “Why”. A lifelong career with work/life balance may have been a goal for previous generations but it is not as enticing to millennials. In order to capture their passions, start with why they should care.  Why does your company exist? How can they contribute? By articulating this and making sure they have a sense of purpose in your organization, you can ensure they find meaning in their work efforts and stay engaged.

Take note of Millennials’ affinity with the digital world. Millennials can’t imagine a world without constant social media updates and 24/7 WiFi. This generation is 100% plugged in and expects instant access to information and the world around them. This extends into their worklife: They want to be able to work from wherever they happen to be at the time. Many companies are starting to see the value of this and are transitioning to cloud-based platforms, allow employees to set up shop and work wherever they may find themselves.

Hiring is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges companies face, and, at the same time one of the most rewarding opportunities. Executing it well the first time will help you avoid costly & time-consuming repercussions and have a positive impact on your existing team. Group 11 Advisors and its affiliates offer staff assessment & educational tools that provide business owners a complete picture of what skills and expertise their administrative personnel have and what they need to succeed. To find out more about how Group 11 Advisors can help your business grow, contact us today.

You’ve worked hard to create opportunities for your loved ones, and you want to make sure they enjoy the benefits as part of your legacy. So, how do you decide what amount to leave them? A Merrill Lynch survey of high-net-worth individuals says that they believe for every $100 million, $26 million is too little for one child, but $63 million is too much. Estate planning isn’t only about how to mitigate your estate tax burden or the quantity to bequeath, but in what form to leave it, in what increments, and how to prepare benefactors to make the most of their futures with it.

These are tough, emotionally charged questions every affluent family is faced with at some point, whether they have $100 million or $10 million to bequeath to one or more children, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren. Leave too much and it’s possible to create a sense of entitlement; leave too little and you could spark resentment. The right number is decidedly a personal one, both from a philosophical standpoint and in regards to each family’s tax profile.

As we noted in an earlier post, in the U.S. alone, $6.04 billion will be transferred to the next generation over the coming 30 years. These assets could be subject to as much as 40 percent of their value in inheritance taxes, with state taxes ranging between zero and 16 percent. The individuals surveyed in  Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit all had a minimum of $5 million in investible assets, very close to the threshold at which the estate tax is triggered.

What’s right for the next family isn’t necessarily the best course of action for yours. One might have a business to sell or to designate a successor for, another may have real estate investment property across multiple state lines. These situations require different courses of action in order to retain as much value for benefactors instead of the IRS. In some cases, beginning the distribution process during one’s lifetime via gifts and other vehicles may be the best choice after considering all parties’ interests.

Money figures aside, affluent families are tasked with ensuring heirs are properly educated on the full scope of management responsibilities for the types of assets inherited, and that they have time to recover from natural missteps that come with the territory. Structuring an inheritance in stair-step fashion based on factors such as age is one approach some families take in hopes of protecting heirs against permanent losses.

The only real way to arrive at the right number, structure and tax strategy for you and your benefactors is by discussing your options with the help of estate planning professionals. Whether your children are 5, 15, or 25, it’s not too early or too late to get started. The more time you build into the process, the longer you have to prepare everyone involved, including yourself.

Accounting software is a must-have for managing day-to-day bookkeeping, but it makes up just one part of the total package for effective financial decision-making. A CPA-trained business consultant can give you deeper insight into key decisions made on a regular basis, such as buying or renting office space, hiring independent contractors or full-time employees, renting or leasing equipment, and much more. Here are three questions from dozens you might ask to help you get the most out of your relationship.

What’s the Best Way for Me to Track, Monitor and Improve Cash Flow? Whether you’re running a startup or an established business, properly projecting your cash flow is essential to maintaining its health and navigating out of challenging periods. An accountant can help you develop an effective cash flow model to improve receivables, manage payables, and work through shortfalls. Experienced business advisory teams also alert leaders to damaging missteps and profit maximization opportunities that may not be immediately apparent.

Am I Taking Advantage of Opportunities Unique to My Industry? Advisors like those at Talley and Company have decades of experience working with a number of different industries, from retail to construction to high tech, and can spotlight opportunities that apply to specific businesses. For example, companies in the tech industry can take advantage of certain R&D, facilities and manufacturing tax credits or exemptions. Working with your advisor can ensure you’re following industry best practices and managing your business competitively.

What Are My Options for Securing Capital for Growth? There are more financing options today than ever before, from equity vs. debt financing, loans, grants, venture capital, angel investing, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, and of course friends, family and colleagues. Depending on the intended use for the capital, the urgency of the need, the state of your industry, the strength of your management team, and many other factors, experienced advisors can help you assess your financial situation and discover whether one option might suit your needs better than another. The right team can also help you prepare your business to be considered favorably by banks, lenders and investors when outlining your plan for the next five years and showing what your revenue stream will look like.

These are only some of the areas in which Group 11 Advisors can offer business and tax advice throughout the year. Meet with us to learn more about how we can offer specialized information pertaining to your business and industry, save you money, and help you budget for periods of growth and constriction.

15 years ago, 21-year old Floyd Mayweather was already being termed by many as the “best boxer in the world.” With an Olympic medal around his neck and a professional fight record of 24-0, Mayweather showed great promise to live up to that title.

Recognizing Mayweather’s potential both as a boxer and revenue generator, HBO offered him a six-fight, $12.5 million contract extension, an eye-whopping amount for the young boxer that many critics thought would be foolish to turn down. So what happened? Mayweather had bigger plans for himself and his personal brand.

Mayweather was willing to say “no” to a great opportunity. His promoter at the time, Top Rank, wanted to mold Mayweather into becoming the next De La Hoya or Sugar Ray Leonard and take the HBO deal. Mayweather saw it differently, recognizing that he was destined to rise far above boxers in his midst and that his potential value far exceeded HBO’s $12.5 million offer. He soon parted ways with Top Rank and signed on with a promoter & advisory team that shared his “bigger, better” vision of himself and executed upon his goal to build upon his dominance in the world of boxing. The results speak for themselves: 15 years later, Mayweather is undefeated (47-0) as a professional, a five-division world champion, the world’s highest-paid athlete, and is predicted to make a record-breaking $200 million on his upcoming bout with Pacquiao.

Surround yourself with the right advisory team. “There’s a lot of smart businessmen around me. You can’t do it by yourself,” Mayweather says. Having a trusted team of advisors you can turn to can make the difference between spinning your wheels and making decisions that allow you — and your business — to grow and thrive.

At Group 11 Advisors, we understand the challenges facing both professional athletes and entrepreneurs when it comes to generating and protecting income earned in the ring, on the field or in the boardroom. Whether you’re looking to improve your tax position, build your brand through a business transaction, or wish to guarantee a legacy for your family, Talley & Company is uniquely equipped to provide the technical and managerial expertise to help you plan, negotiate, structure and execute upon your goals.

Many business leaders resolved to build something new this year—whether a business in itself or a product, culture, team or process within one. To keep moving forward on your plans, icons like Elon Musk and others who’ve been through the entrepreneurial journey can offer valuable insight on making the most of each step. Here are some of their ideas to think about as you continue to turn your vision into reality.

  1. Spend more time looking forward, not back.
    The “look forward” approach to business was initiated at MGM Resorts International by founder Kirk Kerkorian. Later, chairman/CEO Jim Murren, who oversaw the $8.5 billion CityCenter development, worked from this same mantra, the idea being that past successes (or failures) provide little more than context for future business choices.
    According to Murren, “Creating teams that have an understanding of not only what they are doing but, most important, why they are doing it, is critical.”

  2. Hire resilient people.
    Real estate mogul
    Barbara Corcoran built a $6 billion business, The Corcoran Group, using $1,000 she borrowed from a boyfriend and unconventional wisdom she gleaned from her homemaker mom. Early on, Corcoran learned who would make a great salesperson in her real estate team based on one key trait: resilience. The superstars most likely to succeed in an industry with big successes tamed by hard losses, she discovered, were the ones that after taking a hit, “didn’t take a long time to get back up.”

  3. Focus on investing, not spending.
    Sales influential Grant Cardone became a self-made multimillionaire founding three companies. His mission now is helping others apply the wealth-building principles he learned. Among other nuggets of advice,
    he says, “The rich don’t spend money; they invest. They know the U.S. tax laws favor investing over spending. You buy a house and can’t write it off. The rich, in contrast, buy an apartment building that producescash flow, appreciates and offers write-offs year after year. You buy cars for comfort and style. The rich buy cars for their company that are deductible because they are used to produce revenue.”

  4. Establish a feedback loop.
    The founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk doesn’t just think outside the box; he ventures outside the universe. The consummate disrupter
    says, “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

  5. Be persistent but flexible.
    After PayPal and other ventures, Reid Hoffman went on to create the social tech company he’s best known for now: LinkedIn. He tells entrepreneurs to “Be persistent, and hang on to your vision. And at the same time, be flexible.” Because these two simultaneous mantras can at times be diametrically opposed,
    Hoffman recommends leaders build a network of trusted advisers to talk to at different decision-points. He says, “The most successful entrepreneurs bring in advisors, investors, collaborators, and early customer relationships.”

When it comes to building your network or structuring tax-favorable investments as suggested by some of these leaders, we hope you’ll consider Talley & Company and Group 11’s advisors part of your team. Our expertise in tax, legal, and business financial planning can help you fulfill your goals for this year and beyond.

January 9, 2015
While most of us were settling back into the office this week, Teresa Giudice from the infamous reality TV show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” was settling in to her new home at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury. She’ll be trading the opulent, Italian-style divans inside her NJ mansion for a shabby, not-so-chic cot in a jail cell for the next 15 months (if she actually serves her full sentence).
According to the New York Daily News, Teresa and husband Joe were convicted of mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud. They took out millions in falsified mortgage and construction loans to support their lavish lifestyle. Joe was also convicted of tax fraud, since he failed to file a return in 2004 and admitted he didn’t pay taxes on some $1 million in income between 2004 and 2008.
At sentencing, Judge Esther Salas was infuriated by the Giudice’s lack of transparency in their pre-sentencing disclosure documents. Among the omissions the judge seemed to think had dubious justifications were the estimates of the family’s furnishings and jewelry. The courts and the IRS have increasingly sophisticated tools for identifying discrepancies in stated earnings and assets, but in this case a simple paperwork trail proved enough.
That’s because when declaring bankruptcy in 2009, the Giudices listed $60,000 in furnishings, but only $25,000 on sentencing day. Other recreational vehicles, cars and construction equipment seemed also to be missing from the probation office report that managed to make it to the Feds. When asked why no jewelry assets were reported, the Giudice’s lawyer said Teresa wore only the costume type.
Judge Esther Salas gave Teresa 15 of the maximum 27 months but allowed her to spend the holidays with family. The judge also allowed Teresa’s husband to begin his sentence after hers expressly to maintain a parent in the household for their four children.
For Joe the sentence is 41 months, but even then he may not be altogether free. Although he has lived in New Jersey for most of his life, he never became a U.S. citizen and will likely face deportation.
Albeit this couple offers an egregious example of misconduct, it goes to show the seriousness with which the courts take tax and bankruptcy fraud. Particularly if, as some believe, the judge in this instance was being lenient, whether owing to the couple’s fame or other reasoning.
Should Teresa miss the spotlight facilitated by Bravo, she can take heart knowing she’s staying at the prison made famous by the Netflix original series “Orange is the New Black.” The reality of it all is that she’s likely to be back in the limelight fast, though maybe not at her NJ home since it was put up for sale. Once she’s free to go, she may very well pick up her hair extensions on the way out and get back to the celebrity life.
December 19,  2015
In a heated bidding war that ended last week, the Chicago Cubs scored big by signing left-handed pitcher Jon Lester with a $155 million deal for six years and a vesting option for a seventh. Lester’s annual $25.8 million earnings will put him in second place for the highest annual salary paid to a pitcher, behind only Clayton Kershaw with $30.7 million. To draw Lester to Wrigley Field, the Cubs raised their bid from $135 to $155 million in the final inning, and yet this wasn’t the highest offer Lester received.
The San Francisco Giants’ last bid gave him the largest potential contract: A seven-year deal for around $168 million. Lester’s pros and cons list with each team was sure to be a long one. On the money side, while the Giants offered the highest figure, California taxes would have put Lester in the 12.3 percent tax bracket and since his income is over the $1 million threshold, subject to an additional 1% tax due to the Mental Health Services Tax. With the Cubs, Lester will instead enjoy a rate less than half that, thanks to Illinois’ 5 percent flat state income tax.
So even with the $13 million premium the Giants were willing to pay, Lester’s take-home salary in Chicago will be at least $1 million more when factoring in state taxes. That’s more money he could give to his favorite charities. (Since Lester’s battle with lymphoma at 22, he has actively advocated for the pediatric cancer community.) As a free agent, Lester has been quoted saying, “I want to go to a place that appreciates what I do on the field and off the field, as far as with our charitable work, how we represent the team in the community.”
Lester may also have chosen the Cubs for the chance to reunite with two executives who drafted him back in the day for the Red Sox: now-Chicago president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.
The Boston Red Sox made a lower final offer of six years for $135 million after starting with a low-ball $70 million contract that led to his trade to Oakland this past summer. Still, the star pitcher might have had sentimental reasons to head back, since it was with the Red Sox that he took two World Series Championships. But even the Giants’ prestige of having won the World Series three times in the last five seasons wasn’t enough. Lester still chose the Cubs, who in striking contrast haven’t won a World Series in over 100 years.
It’s not likely Lester’s decision hinged entirely on taxes, nor should any major life decision we make. But that doesn’t mean Lester or any of us can afford NOT to know what the tax impact of a particular choice holds. Having this knowledge in hand, regardless of which way we choose to go with a major decision, can help us find other ways to mitigate tax liabilities and preserve income.
In the event of any upcoming life or business change, whether planned or unexpected, consult with an advisor from the Talley & Company team to understand how your tax profile might be affected.    

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.  

 


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