Want to See Your Business Grow?

Become a thought leader. A successful business is made up, not only of the brand of the company, but the brand and reputation of the people that run it.

Investing time and energy in establishing your personal brand builds credibility and enhances the reputation of not just yourself but your company, too. The most commonly accepted practice to do that today is to establish yourself as a thought leader.

Here are a few tips on generating positive results without a huge time commitment:

Identify your area of expertise. A thought leader is defined as the go-to expert in a particular space. Many entrepreneurs and executives choose to concentrate on areas they have had a lot of past experience in.

Beef up your LinkedIn profile. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Does my LinkedIn profile sell me and my company?” If your profile looks like a resume, you missed the point; your profile needs to look like an SEO landing page for you and your brand.

Follow other thought leaders in your space. We are now in a world where advocate marketing is becoming the most effective form of marketing. A customer or client will believe their friends and recognized experts more than a website and significantly more than a salesperson.

Create, curate and share content. You must share content. You must share good compelling content. A good rule of thumb is to use the 80/20 rule. Create 20 percent original content and curate the remaining 80 percent.

Follow through. When customers call, call back. When customers send you an email, respond. When customers, influencers, advocates and others connect to you on social media, you need to respond. Favorite their tweets, retweet their comments, comment on their posts and say thank you when you receive nice messages.

To read the entire article, please visit www.entrepreneur.com.

6 Awesome Entrepreneurial Traits

Though not everybody is cut out to run their own business, some are more adept than others at being at the helm of a successful entrepreneurial enterprise.

Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires both a great business idea and certain specific traits.

Jenny Ta, founder and CEO of Sqeeqee.com, a social commerce platform that gives individuals, businesses, celebrities, politicians, and nonprofit organizations the ability to monetize their profiles, said that, for years, people have tried to identify what qualities make successful entrepreneurs, especially serial entrepreneurs, different from everyone else.

Based on her experience, Ta said there are six common traits found in entrepreneurs:

Confidence: Belief in oneself is a universal characteristic of serial entrepreneurs. You must believe in yourself and believe in your vision.

Self-motivation: Simply sitting around believing in yourself won’t allow you to get much done. You must be motivated to work toward the realization of your vision and that motivation should come from within.

Tenacity: Successful entrepreneurs do not lie down in the face of adversity. If the first real challenge you face takes the wind out of your sails, how can you hope to overcome the numerous and difficult obstacles that almost always pave the way to success?

An understanding of your limitations: A good entrepreneur is a good leader and a good leader knows when to listen to others.

A healthy disrespect for the rules: People with an entrepreneurial spirit know that rules and common knowledge exist to be defied.

Willingness to fail: An entrepreneur has to be able to objectively weigh risk and reward and take the risk when it makes sense.

To read the entire article, please visit www.businessnewsdaily.com.

Could You Maintain Business Continuity During a Disaster?

Planning for a disaster can sometimes elicit feelings of discomfort, but it’s a vital tool for businesses. Though it may be easier to adopt the “It won’t happen to us” view, sticking your head in the sand won’t allow you to maintain business continuity or keep your employees safe, should disaster strike.

Whether it is natural occurrences, such as earthquakes, hurricanes or fires; human-caused, such as transportation strikes, riots or acts of terrorism; or technology-related, such as computer viruses or a shutdown of the power grid, sometimes one event can quickly snowball and cause more damage, as was the case in Japan in 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown of nuclear reactors.

Disasters are often unexpected and how well a company deals with post-disaster recovery is pivotal to its survival. According to estimates by theInsurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, 25 percent of companies are unable to resume operations after a major disaster.

The type and severity of the disaster deeply influences what your business needs to do to maintain its continuity. Optimally, you would like to cause little disruption or inconvenience to clients and customers. Business Continuity Plans (BCP) explain in detail how employees will communicate with one another and keep doing their jobs in the event of a disaster or emergency.

Your business’s continuity and disaster recovery plan needs to inform employees of the proper evacuation routes and emergency phone numbers, as well as what to do and where to go in case of an emergency. After you have drawn up a solid plan, it is important to review it with everyone involved on a regular basis and to update it as necessary.

It’s also a good idea to assemble a Disaster Survival Kit. For ideas, read this helpful Disaster Kit Supply Checklist.

Allen Baler of Food4Patriots sums it up when he says, “With incidents of extreme weather increasing each year, our country’s deteriorating electrical infrastructure showing its vulnerability, and with the threats of sabotage and terrorism, it has become more and more obvious to many people that they need to be prepared for a very uncertain future. The disaster prep industry is important because it responds to the legitimate concerns of people who want to survive emergency situations.”

To read the entire article, please visit www.experts.allbusiness.com.

Summer Hiring Tips

Summer brings warm weather, sunny days and summer hires. Students out of school for a few months are eager to work and businesses are eager to have them.

Be prepared for the rush of additional customers with an increased short-term workforce and be sure to follow these tips to ensure you’re covered from all angles:

  • Decide if you need an employee or a contractor
  • Recruit with social media
  • Don’t forget about insurance coverage
  • Treat them like your regular employees

Worker classification is an incredibly important part of taking on any hired help. Depending on the type of business you run, you may have a choice between bringing in a regular employee or an independent contractor.

Increasingly, companies are using social media to find the best and brightest full-time talent; it can also be a great recruiting tool for employers who need seasonal help.

Carefully consider what insurance coverage you need and don’t need, with advice from your insurance agent.

“Bringing someone new on is about training them and making sure they understand what’s involved in the job” said Scott Humphrey, director of technical services at Travelers’ risk control department. “Summer hires are usually college kids who are somewhat new to the workforce. They’re eager to do a good job and get something done as quickly as possible, but as an employer, you want them to take their time and do it right. Supervise them and give them feedback about what to do and not do — the same way you would treat any employee.”

Making seasonal employees feel like part of the team may also help you get them back for the following summer, thereby adding overall efficiency, with decreased training time the next year.

To read the entire article, please visit www.smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com.

An Ounce of Prevention

Don’t sweat the small stuff – but be sure to plan for it.

Oftentimes, businesses focus on a few selected risks rather than planning for all types of security threats. Visualizing several worst case scenarios, keeping the focus on the big picture and a healthy amount of planning will keep everybody on the same page and avoid confusion, should disaster strike (large or small).

Use this list as a guide to look past the tip of your nose to see what dangers may be lurking and plan for them:

1. Make sure all security and continuity plans are adaptable.

2. Consider the human component and work it in to the plan.

3. Cover all basics and implement regular updates.

4. Don’t get sucker punched. Consider a variety of threats (from cyber sources to natural sources), not just a few, and the various ways your organization can respond and resolve.

5. Be aware. Figure out backup locations for your business to function should you be forced to displace.

6. Prepare your staff: maintain and distribute a current contact list.

7. Communicate. Design an emergency communications protocol for employees, vendors and customers, etc., for the days post-disaster.

8. Keep your data backup tools in excellent condition.

9. Keep your inventory of assets up to date.

10. Safely and efficiently store documents. Duplicates of all crucial documents should be kept off-site.

11. Routinely make data backups, ideally both locally and with a cloud service.

12. Determine succession of management in case key players can no longer function.

13. Know the signs of a dying computer.

14. Set up your backups.

15. Consider replacing your computer every two or three years.

With a little advance planning and written protocols, everyone in your organization will be better equipped to handle the inconvenience of a workflow interruption.

To read the entire article, please visit www.entrepreneur.com.

Cut the Fat from Next Year’s Tax Bill Now

With your 2013 tax return just fading from the rearview mirror, your last thought is likely about your 2014 return. Mid-year planning is particularly important for high-income taxpayers and anyone with substantial investment income.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • A tax law that took effect last year imposes a new 39.6% marginal rate on taxable income over $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples)
  • Phase-outs for itemized deductions and personal exemptions included in last year’s law have increased effective marginal rates for taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $250,000 or more ($300,000 for married couples)
  • Under a provision in the Affordable Care Act, taxpayers with modified AGI of $200,000 or more ($250,000 for married couples) now face a 3.8% surtax on investment income

Protect your portfolio. With the surtax looming, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye toward the IRS when managing your investments.

Beef up tax-deferred accounts. Maxing out on contributions to your tax-deferred retirement plans is one of the most effective ways to lower both your taxable income and your AGI (to minimize the effects of phase-outs of deductions and personal exemptions).

Postpone IRA withdrawals. Congress is expected to resurrect a popular provision that allows seniors age 70½ and older to transfer up to $100,000 from their traditional IRAs directly to charity.

Prepare for Obamacare. Under the Affordable Care Act, taxpayers who don’t have health insurance in 2014 will have to pay a penalty and the IRS is responsible for collecting it.

Taking proactive steps now can help save you time, effort and money later on.

To read the entire article, please visit www.kiplinger.com.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or tax related matter.

Commitment, Accountability, Performance & Vision

Have you ever considered the role your mindset plays in how you approach your leadership? Mindset can be defined as the attitudes, beliefs and expectations you hold that act as the foundation of who you are, how you lead and the ways in which you interact with your team.

Your mindset:

  • Determines how you think about and interpret situations
  • Governs the decisions you make
  • Directs the actions you take
  • Impacts the quality of your relationships
  • Affects the interactions you have
  • Moderates the way you lead
  • Sets the tone for your organization
  • Dictates the kind of experiences your people have in their work lives
  • Has a big effect on your company’s bottom line

Here are four important mindsets to have, in order to be the most effective leader you can be:

Commitment – The foundation of leadership is a determined and unwavering commitment to lead, perform, and succeed. The amount of commitment that you bring to your role sends a powerful message of commitment to those with whom you work.

Accountability – What degree ofaccountability are willing to assume in your role in your company? As an owner, you take the lead in all aspects of your company’s (or your team’s within the company) functioning and performance.

Performance – It is almost a cliché, but also a truism that great leaders must not only “talk the talk,” but also “walk the walk” when it comes to their job responsibilities. If you want your team to perform at its highest level, you must first do so.

Vision – If you get so busy in the day-to-day machinations of corporate life, you forget to look ahead to see what might be coming up. If you’re not looking toward the horizon, the future will become the present without your being ready for it.

Take stock of your mindset and make the necessary tweaks to become the best leader you can be.

To read the entire article, please visit www.huffingtonpost.com.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or tax related matter.