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How to Win Big in Today’s Economy
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5 Ways to Bring Creativity Back to Your Culture
By Marc Barros
Entrepreneurs often handicap themselves by building organizations that limit the kind of creative thinking they need to be successful. Marc Barros offers ways to infuse creativity into your company’s culture. Above all, he says, spontaneously offer opinions and suggestions, even criticism. You’ll push the team’s limits, and that’s what a creative culture is all about.
6 Social Media Tips That Will Improve Your Marketing
By Belle Beth Cooper
Cooper’s social media tips will make a difference. One shows that starting a tweet with a user name will significantly limit its recipients. For those of us who were asleep in Social Media 101, here are all the tips in one place: Schedule your tweets strategically, monitor mentions of your username, and watch out for Facebook rule changes.
What Machines Can’t do
By David Brooks
The New York Times
Computers may be able to do some cognitive jobs, but certain human skills are still rewarded. Brooks explains that it’s the emotive traits that we now find useful now, including the ability to know instinctively what people will find interesting and memorable. He says, “A computer can calculate a zillion options, but (only) a human can provide an overall sense of direction and a conceptual frame.”
LINKS YOU CAN USE
This Month: Gathering Customer Information
It may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but gathering customer information is made easier for solopreneurs and smaller businesses through business intelligence tools and innovative marketing approaches.
Business intelligence begins with good old-fashioned sales leads that deliver hard-to-mine, target-demographic data that is particularly vital for business-to-business entrepreneurs. Request a free trial.
Social Media Monitoring
Intelligence gathering can also be data-mined from social media.
CRM Software Comparisons
Manage customer profiles and filter new data through a customer relationship management (CRM) solution suited to your needs.
The “cultural anthropology” approach steps away from polls, surveys and cold calls in favor of real conversations.
Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.
Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.
A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.
Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.
Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Once something is a passion, the motivation is there.
||FINANCEHow Not to Make These Common Cash Flow ErrorsWhen you start a business, you’re expecting a long journey, but many enterprises end prematurely because they lack cash in the bank. The ultimate source of power for a small business is cash. So it’s crucial to manage cash flow effectively to avert a possible calamity.Too many businesses underestimate their cash needs. A cash budget is like a map to your destination. Follow its projections to accomplish the results you want; deviate from it, and you may not have sufficient cash available to reach your objectives. Time your expenditures to correspond with your budget so you don’t spend more than needed.
Watch rent costs
Rent and payroll costs are common budget-busters. Pay just the right amount of rent for just the right amount of space. This gives you a cash cushion that grows so that it’s ready and waiting for a bigger and better location down the line.
Similarly, when you hire people before they’re needed, you’re spending money without the tangible results to show for it. Only after training does a newly hired person deliver value for the employer. Add staff slowly and only after you have clearly defined roles for them.
Failing to seek out bargains is another error. For example, finding used equipment and furniture at a discount will save on unnecessarily high startup or expansion costs.
Lastly, cash management is all about a worst-case forecast. Every entrepreneur needs a disaster exit strategy – even if it means liquidating assets or laying off employees before things get worse.
Are We There Yet? Startups Take up the Challenge
Richard Branson, the irrepressible founder of the Virgin Group, has named 2014 The Year of the Entrepreneur. “Technology is helping every business, large and small, to move forward,” says Branson. “Now, entrepreneurs can build companies at a fraction of the cost in the past.”
Entrepreneurs do face some new hurdles; on TNW (The Next Web) Paul Jozefak, co-founder of Liquid Labs, writes that “one of the biggest threats will be the difficulty first-timers may have in gaining attention from investors.”
However, he also agrees startup costs are dropping: “Considering the general picture for 2014, the good news for the tech sector is that the cost of building startups is likely to continue to drop.”
The economy has been cooperative so far. Maite Baron, head of The Corporate Escape, notes in her blog that: “Recovery is happening far faster than many thought possible, and that’s an economic wave you need to be riding.”
There are encouraging signs everywhere, according to writer Elaine Pofeldt, who sums it up nicely in an article for Forbes entitled, “Why Now is a Great Time to be an Entrepreneur.” She writes, “This year will be the best one to run a business that we’ve seen in a long time. It’s also a very good time to start one.”
Has it worked so far? In some areas. In a recent article, Forbes contributor Geri Stengel lists 11 reasons why 2014 is a breakout year for female entrepreneurs, particularly in the technology field. Stengel believes women now have the money, the skills and the temperament: “Women have become the power-users of technologies, such as the Internet, mobile, and social media,” she points out.
It falls to entrepreneurs everywhere to fulfill Branson’s prophecy.
Smartphone Users Are Changing the Face of Marketing
In 2014, an estimated 1 billion smartphones will ship globally, with 85 percent of users favoring mobile over Web. These facts, sourced from Gartner and Compuware respectively, define the modern consumer who relies on a smartphone.
The good news, according to an InMobi survey, is that smartphone users are now quite comfortable with ads on their phones. And advertisers are taking full advantage of this fact; mobile marketing now affords them the opportunity to reach us directly where we’re at, 24/7, on our smartphones.
Email advertising is getting a boost, too: a U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report from Movable Ink revealed that 65 percent of all U.S. email alone is accessed on mobile devices (16% of that on smartphones). Says Venture Beat’s J. O’Dell, “email open rates for commercial email have surged since email-reading began shifting toward mobile devices.”
Consider the following:
- Mobile drives 23 percent of paid-search clicks, according to the Search Agency.
- It makes up 15 percent of the e-commerce pie, adds eMarketer.
- And 70 percent of mobile searches lead to conversion, with particular rewards for location-based marketing efforts among small businesses, points out iAcquire.
- Lastly, 52 percent of consumers use smartphones while shopping – researching products online before buying: A factoid from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
You, too, can benefit from this new marketplace. It doesn’t make sense not to.
Understanding Estimated Tax Payments
Business owners are only allowed a brief sense of relief once they’ve completed another year of income tax reporting. After paying last year’s tax, you need to turn your focus immediately to your expected tax liability for the current year.
In fact, you might already be late in getting started on this year’s tax payments. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) expects taxpayers to make payments throughout the year. While employees accomplish this via withholding on their wages, business owners typically resort to estimated tax payments.
Proprietors and partners owe taxes in the quarter income is earned. This is distinct from the salaries that owners of corporations pay to themselves. A salary is the owner’s income as an employee, from which taxes are withheld. Corporation profit is viewed as a shareholder’s taxable income.
Penalties are assessed if taxes aren’t paid by deadlines throughout the year. These payment dates don’t fall on equal calendar quarters; due dates are the 15th of April, June and September, and the January after year-end.
Even if you file your tax return on time and pay all your taxes when filing, you may incur penalties. Submitting your return on time with money due only avoids a late payment penalty. Failure to remit estimated tax payments throughout the year triggers a different underpayment penalty.
Self-employed Americans are required to submit payments for their regular income tax plus their contributions to Social Security and Medicare. Estimated tax payments are normally four equal amounts.
This requires making assumptions about annual income and dividing by four. Calculating the correct payment is challenging if your income fluctuates from year to year, or if you have a short business history.
Complex mathematics is required if you choose to determine the separate tax liability for each quarter. Only Social Security and Medicare are flat-rate taxes. Income tax, however, is assessed on a graduated scale. There is no such thing as a single tax rate on business profits alone; your overall tax impact is calculated by combining business profit with other types of income, then estimating your total personal income from all sources minus deductions and tax credits.
If you consult with your accountant on estimated tax, you’ll discover that you can use safe harbor calculation methods to avoid penalty. No underpayment penalty is assessed if your payments for the year are at least 90 percent of current-year tax. You’ll also avert penalties if you owe less than $1,000.
Typically, you won’t incur a penalty if your estimated tax payments this year equal 100 percent of the taxes you owed for last year. However, you’ll still benefit by planning for your actual expected tax liability in the current year.
Identifying a safe harbor quarterly tax payment establishes a floor amount to set in your monthly budget. When you’re near year-end, assess whether your income is higher or lower than the preceding year. If it’s less, reduce your final quarterly tax payment. If it’s more, plan to pay the extra penalty-free balance on your tax return.
Buying a Company: Ways to put a value on Goodwill
When a company is acquired, the difference between the purchase price and its book value is considered goodwill. The term goodwill reflects the fact that an ongoing business usually has intrinsic value beyond its net assets, such as its name, reputation, workforce and customer relationships.
Goodwill is treated as an intangible asset. The acquiring company must recognize goodwill in its financial statements and present it as a separate line item on the balance sheet. Goodwill can be negative if, at the time of an acquisition, the acquiree’s net assets exceed the cost of acquisition. Negative goodwill is recognized as a liability. Today there are four recognized methods of accounting for goodwill.
Write-off – Goodwill can be written off immediately against retained earnings. Advocates of this method point out that goodwill is not measurable and has no definitive future value.
Capitalization – Proponents of this approach argue that goodwill is an important asset that belongs on the balance sheet. The main problem with capitalization of goodwill is determining the appropriate amount.
Non-amortization – Capitalization of goodwill without amortization produces the most advantageous financial reporting figures. The company records an asset instead of a decrease in retained earnings, and net income is not reduced thereafter.
Amortization – Amortization enables a company to write down the cost of intangible assets over a period of time following acquisition. If the life of the goodwill asset is indeterminate, it is amortized over a maximum of 40 years.