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An Accountant Doing A Marketing Workshop? Why?

Several people have asked me, “Why is an accountant presenting a marketing workshop?”.   I thought about it, said to myself, “self, that’s a good question” and decided to give an answer.   So here we go…..

I’ve seen too many small businesses fail.

Many times failing not for accounting or tax issues but for lack of marketing efforts or sales training.

Many times relying way too much on “word of mouth”.  Failure then happens when people either stop talking about you or begin to say “not so good” things about you.  In other words, you can’t rely on just one method of marketing.

Most of my accounting career has been working for or with small businesses. The majority of my current clients are small business owners.  I’ve worked with every level from the Owner to the janitor and I’ve seen how many of them prosper or fail.

Having a great vision, product or service is fine but it fails if there is no marketing or sales skills to move your vision, product or service from your hands to the marketplace.

Here are several reasons I’ve seen for business failure –

  • Trying to be everything to everybody as opposed to finding a target market.
  • No real system for tracking your outstanding sales opportunities.
  • No consistent marketing effort.
  • Always looking for new clients to the exclusion of offering more to existing clients.
  • Owner must do everything as opposed to delegating to employees, partners or interns
  • An accounting system does not exist (“I must be okay…I’ve got a little money in the bank.”
  • Lack of capital or other financial resources
  • Lack of a follow up system

Being a small business owner myself, I personally know and understand the effort it takes to keep a business running.   I’m always looking for a way to be more efficient, effective and profitable.

Over the last 19 years, I’ve studied more maketing and sales books (Zig Ziglar, Jay Abraham, Dan Kennedy, Chet Holmes, Loral Langemeier, etc.)  than my wife cares to think about and taken several sales courses as well.  (The Sandler Sales System is highly recommended.)  For any small business owner, business development officer, sales or marketing manager (they may all be you), I believe this type of study is a must or you will be left behind.

The Visions into Action Marketing Workshop is my way of giving back to my clients and potential clients.  For selfish reasons, I want to see you succeed (if you make a lot of money, you’re going to need me even more).

Furthermore, if the US Economy is to be changed for the better, its going to be on the backs of small business owners.   Small business owners drive innovations, sales, capital and employment and I want to help that effort.

So there you have it.  This is why an accountant is presenting a marketing workshop.   If you haven’t registered yet, CLICK HERE, and do so as soon as possible.  We only have room for 30 people and we are filling up quickly.  (Also you need time to do the homework I’m going to send you – remember this is a workshop!)

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday, July 7, 2012.

Feel free to comment and share.

If you’d like to contact me regarding this or other tax planning or business ideas, please give me a call at  240-356-5050 .

To Your Financial Health.

 

You Need RICE to Build Your Business or Ministry!

From Wikipedia:

Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice). As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in Asia and the West Indies. It is the grain with the second-highest worldwide production, after maize (corn), according to data for 2010.[1]

Since a large portion of maize crops are grown for purposes other than human consumption, rice is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by the human species.[2]

There are many varieties of rice and culinary preferences tend to vary regionally. For example in India, there is a saying that “grains of rice should be like two brothers, close but not stuck together”[citation needed], while in the Far East there is a preference for softer, stickier varieties. Because of its importance as a staple food, rice has considerable cultural importance. For example, rice is first mentioned in the Yajur Veda and then is frequently referred to in Sanskrit texts.[citation needed] Rice is often directly associated with prosperity and fertility, therefore there is the custom of throwing rice at weddings.[3]

Okay, you ask, what does this have to do with my business or ministry?  Fair question.  The key phrase is the excerpt is “associated with prosperity and fertility.”

All businesses and ministries want to be prosperous and fertile.  In order to fulfill your vision and mission, you must have both finances and resources and these will only come through how well you interact with your marketplace.

Assuming you have a  product or service that is needed and wanted by your marketplace, here is how RICE can help you:

R is for Relationships – you must plant, cultivate, maintain and harvest as many influential relationships as possible.  Everything you want or desire will come through relationships with other people.  You must reach out, travel out into your marketplace to build these relationships.   You may first have to go to them before they will come to you.

I is for Information – you must get the information out.  Don’t hide your light under a basket.   You may be the very best at what you do but if no one knows, no one benefits. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you do and how you can help.  Always have a card and a brief “elevator pitch” ready.   You never know when someone will need what you offer.

C is for Communications – you must communicate your message over and over again.  You can’t tell your marketplace just once and expect them to remember you.   McDonald’s is recognized all over the world and yet they still are the “egg mcmuffin” of marketing.  Tell your story and how you can help again and again in different ways and means and in different places.

E is for Education – you must educate your market on why your service or product is different or better and how they will benefit from its use.    We all learn differently.  You must educate through sight, sound, touch, taste and smell in order to reach as many people as possible to tell your story.   Education is an ongoing process and you must become a great teacher.

So to keep your own “rice bowl” full, give RICE to your marketplace and they and you will both be  prosperous and fertile.

Hopefully, you find this helpful and useful.  Feel free to comment and share.

If you’d like to contact me regarding this or other tax planning or business ideas, please give me a call at 240-356-5050.

To Your Financial Health.

How High is High?

Building Your Business – How High is High?

Your Business is doing well, right?

You’re making a profit and taking care of home, yes?

Yet there’s a nagging feeling you could be doing better.  Here’s a question – How high is high?

What I mean is..have you settled into a pocket..a groove and gotten comfortable?  Have you thought about what you can do better for your customers, prospects, employees and family?  What can you do that will impact their bottom lines and yours?  Are you being both efficient and effective?

Try this exercise – Walk into your office or your room where you work.  Look at it as if you had never seen it before.  What is your impression of your work space, your office arrangement, how your files are “filed”?

Here’s another exercise – Pretend you’re a customer.   What do you think about your customer service or your business process?  Are you happy with it?

Last one – Can you clearly write out your marketing or sales process? Could you teach it easily to a new salesperson?

These 3 exercises may have opened your eyes to the fact that you could be doing more for and with your business.   If so, take a new and excited look at your offerings and begin to see how much higher is high.

Hopefully, you’ve found this helpful.  Feel free to comment.

If you’d like to contact me regarding this or other tax planning or business ideas, please give me a call at 240-356-5050.

To Your Financial Health!

Fear of Success?

Thought I should share this quick story. I’ll write a longer post on this soon.

Met a man yesterday who had had some challenges but had begun to overcome them. He almost had everything in place to really become successful. I asked him what was holding him back. He said “fear of success” – really a fear of what other people would think if he were successful.

I told him that it sounds like he needs to change his definition of success and may change the people around him. Old saying – “How can soar like an eagle when I work with a bunch of turkeys?

Any relevant thoughts and comments are welcome.

Give Yourself A Raise!

Try this exercise – multiply $15 x 5, then multiple that answer by 50.   Your total should be $3,750.00.

This is non-taxable money that can be put back into your family budget just by making a different decision.   How’d you like to have that much back in your budget?

George and Vanessa (not their real names) recently came to see me regarding their finances.  They were not happy.   It seems that in goiing over their finances, they should have more money saved  than they do.

In reviewing their budget, it seem that, yes, they should have more  money available to save.  So I decided to play “detective” and question them on their daily habits.  Guess what I found out!

George and Vanessa were spending money on groceries and then also buying breakfast and lunch while at work. On average they were each spending almost $15 day.  That’s $150 a week!  Even if they took a two week vacation, the additional spending would amount to $7,500.  That’s $7,500 that could be invested, be used to pay off or down debts, create a college fund, you name it!

As you can imagine, they were both shocked.  In fact they had thought it insignificant and had not even considered it as part of their budgeting.  They had a decision to make – stay the course or change their habits.

George and Vanessa decided to cut back extremely on their breakfast and lunch spending and begin to buy groceries that they could take for breakfast and lunch or took take “left-overs” from the previous night’s dinner.  This will probably save them $7,000 a year.  It’s like getting a raise without getting a raise.

(Of course, the food vendors will not be happy – you can’t please everybody.)

So take a look at your food and meals budgets and see if you can save, too.  Who would you rather have the money – your family or the food vendor?

To Your Financial Health,

If I can help you with your tax planning,  tax preparation, bookkeeping or marketing plans, give me a call.  I’d love to hear from you.

Need New Business Equipment Now? Let the Tax Laws Help!

Dr. Watson watched another potential client walk out of his music studio door.  It wasn’t that Dr. Watson was a poor music engineer.  In fact, he is great at his craft.  His problem was that his equipment is outdated and slow.  Dr. Watson knew he needed to update his systems but he didn’t have the cash available.  He called me for ideas.

During our consulting session, we discovered that Dr. Watson could “kill 2 birds with 1 stone”.  He could get the equipment he needed now and reduce his taxes at the same time, but he had to act fast!

Recent changes in the IRS tax laws would allow Dr. Watson to completely write-off his new equipment (up to as much as $500,000) this tax year (2011) if he entered into a purchase agreement and began using the new equipment before December 31, 2011.  (Normally, he would have to “depreciate” the cost of the equipment over its useful life which could be anywhere from 3 to 40 years.)

Using a credit card for a small down payment and the vendor’s line of credit, Dr. Watson purchased $10,000 in new equipment for his music studio.

So, What does this do for Dr. Watson?

  • As a sole proprietor falling into about the 20% tax bracket, his purchase will save him $2,000 in taxes when he files his tax return,
  • He’s now able to attract new business and offer his previous and current clients faster service on cutting edge technology,
  • He preserves his cash now and won’t have to make a payment on his equipment for 30 to 45 days.  (Just enough time to bring in a couple of new paying, clients!)

The IRS tax laws used by Dr. Watson also apply to the business use of computers, software, vehicles, furniture and fixtures, etc.  but these laws may change after December 31, 2011.

As usual with the tax laws, your situation may be different.  In some cases, if your business is going to report a loss before these equipment deductions, you won’t be able to use the write-off this year.   The write-off will carry forward to the next year.  This is why you will need to review your particular situation with your tax accountant (or me).

Hopefully, you’ve found this helpful.  Feel free to comment.

If you’d like to contact me regarding this or other tax planning or business ideas, please give me a call at 240-356-5050.

To Your Financial Health!

 

 

 

Non-Profits – Expanding Your Revenue Sources

What is the major overriding issue facing all non-profits?  Fundraising!  How do you raise the needed funds to meet the stated objectives of your organization?

A few months ago, I attended an event sponsored by The Center for Non-Profit Advancement.

One of the several excellent presentations was “Diversifying Your Funding Sources”. The main argument was that non-profits depend upon only 1 or 2 sources for the majority of their income and that other sources should be identified or created.

Below is a list of potential sources that were discussed:

  • Individuals – Have you identified key individuals who can support the organization annually?
  • Local Businesses – What businesses benefit or could benefit from the services that your organization provides?
  • Government (Federal, State, County, City) – Have you built a relationship with key officials and let them know how you can help their constituents?
  • Foundation Support – Have you identified Foundations that provide grants to organizations like yours?
  • Memberships – Have you or can you offer a monthly or annual membership to create on-going revenue for your organization?
  • Products/Publishing – Can your organization create and offer books, tapes, CD’s, DVD’s, workshops or courses to raise funds?
  • Licensing Fees – Does your organization have or can it create a product or service that can be licensed to other organization in exchange for a recurring fee.
  • Fees for Service – Does your organization have or can it create a seminar or workshop that can be sold to other organizations?
  • Special Events – Does your organization have a Calendar of Special Events to invite the community to and to raise funds with?
  • Grant Writer Services – Do you have a access to a Grant Writer or a grant writer on staff who can research and write grant responses?
  • Partnerships – Are there partnerships that you can develop with other non-profits to respond to larger grants that may be available?

Hopefully this information helps you and your organization develop new funding sources.

If I can help you with any of these ideas, give me a call at 240-356-5050.  I’d love to talk with you.

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To Your Financial Health!


Clergy Tax Facts – Housing Allowance

As a “qualified” minister, you are eligible to receive lodging from the church free of income tax liability. This is known as the Housing Allowance. A housing allowance may be provided for a minister living in employer-provided housing or in minister provided housing (owned or rented). This is a key component of your income tax preparation.

To be qualified and eligible, you must meet 5 IRS tests

  • Be licensed, ordained or commissioned by the church,
  • Administer sacrements – serving communion, baptizing, dedicating infants, performing marriages and funeral services,
  • Conduct religious worship,
  • Be considered a religious leader by your church or parent denomination, and
  • Have management responsibility in the control, conduct or maintenance of your local church or parent denomination.

Every qualified minister should have a portion of salary designated as a housing allowance. This provides an opportunity to exclude dollars from gross income and save on your income taxes.

Typically, the Housing Allowance cannot exceed the fair rental value of the housing including furnishings plus utilities. Any allowance in excess of these guidelines is considered taxable income.

Allowable Housing expenses include:

utilities,
principal and interest payments,
down payment on house purchase,
real estate ommission,
real property taxes,
homeowner’s insurance,
structural maintenance and repairs,
landscaping, gardening, pest control, home association or condo fees,
furnishings, decoration and local telephone expense.

The qualifying minister should submit a housing related expense estimate to the church for the coming year and the church should adopt a written designation for the housing allowance and include the designation in the church minutes or resolutions.

This is just an overview of the issues regarding the Housing Allowance.

Please discuss this in more detail with your board or your church accountant or feel free to give me a call at 240-356-5050

Cash Flow – How to Stop the Bleeding!

4 Areas and Questions to Improve Cash Flow

Cash Flow is the life blood of any and every business.  Cash is king and your business needs it to stay alive.  Below are 4 areas and questions to help you improve the cash flow of your business.

 Spending

  •  Do you have a system that helps you identify what needs to be paid, how much and when?
  •  How much does it cost you in fixed expenses to run your business each month?
  •  How do you make purchase decisions – Need, Want or Return on Investment?
  •  When did you last review your spending habits and determine if you could do better?
  •  Have you price or value shopped the services or products you currently use – telephone, cable, auto, life, health and liability insurances, supplies, etc.
  •  Are there products and services you can buy in bulk to reduce your costs?
  •  Have you tried to negotiate new payment terms – Net 30, Net 60, 2%-10 Days, Pre-Payment discounts – in order to conserve cash?
  •  Are there items where it would be better to own than to rent or rent than own – Car, trucks, furniture, buildings?
  •  Can you use independent contractors – legally, rather than employees?

Collections

  •  Do you bill clearly, accurately and on time?
  •  Do you or can you offer multiple payment methods?
  •  Do you have or can you enforce late payment fees?
  •  Are you in regular contact with your clients and their payables department?
  •  Can you legally discontinue services for non-payment?
  •  If billing is based on hours or items quantity, can you move to a fixed fee model?
  •  Can you bill prior to rendering service instead of after?
  •  Are your billing and payment terms easily understood and agreed upon?
  •  Can you arrange to only accept only cash, credit card or debit card?

Profits

  •  Do your sales prices cover all your business costs?
  •  Do you know what your costs are in order to properly set your sales prices?
  •  How can you raise the value of your products in order to raise your price?
  •  How can you lower your costs to maintain your sales prices and still increase your profits?

 Sales

  • Do you have a qualified prospect?
  • Deos the prospect have a real and verifiable need?
  • Does the prospect realize what the problem is costing them?
  • Does the prospect have the authority to make a purchase decision?
  • Are you focusing on the right market?
  • Are you offering the right product?
  •  Do you have a teachable and repeatable sales process?
  •  Are your  sales people properly trained?
  •  Have you educated your clients how to buy?

Give consideration to these questions and apply them to help your business.  If it would help, give us a call us at 240-356-5050 for a cash flow planning session and let’s stop the bleeding.