Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Performance reviews don't have to be awful

By Kate Ashford
from Monster

It’s the start of a new year—time to evaluate how you’re doing and set goals for the future. For many companies, it’s also performance review time. If the thought makes you want to hide in your coat closet, there’s good news: Evaluations don’t have to be painful.

You can structure the review process a variety of ways, but the key to making everything easier is to treat it like a rolling conversation. "Companies are moving away from an annual performance review, [going] to regular check-ins and ongoing feedback conversations throughout the year," says Todd Cherches, CEO and co-founder of executive coaching firm BigBlueGumball.

Above all, employees need to understand what you want from them. "Throughout the time that I’m working for you, I need to be totally aware of two things: the expectations and whether I’m meeting them," says Laura MacLeod, an HR expert and consultant with From The Inside Out Project, an employee-morale company.

Monday, January 14, 2019

These bad habits & traits will stop you from reaching your financial goals

Written by Marguerita Cheng

 Article from CNBC

While people start out with good intentions and set their sights on meeting various financial goals, many never achieve them and instead fail miserably.

 Here are nine bad habits that will hinder investors from reaching their financial success.

 Everyone wants to be successful, but only a few are ready to take meaningful action. These habits will help you discover what has been preventing you from achieving your financial goals.

Identify your limitations and formulate strategies to address them and it will be easier to establish a plan, practice self-discipline, make sound decisions, have security and maintain assertiveness.

Friday, January 11, 2019

New 20% tax deduction for small businesses that pass through income to owners

From the Internal Revenue Service

Section 199A of the Internal Revenue Code provides many taxpayers a deduction for qualified business income from a qualified trade or business operated directly or through a pass-through entity. The deduction has two components.

Eligible taxpayers may be entitled to a deduction of up to 20 percent of qualified business income (QBI) from a domestic business operated as a sole proprietorship or through a partnership, S corporation, trust or estate.

For taxpayers with taxable income that exceeds $315,000 for a married couple filing a joint return, or $157,500 for all other taxpayers, the deduction is subject to limitations such as the type of trade or business, the taxpayer’s taxable income, the amount of W-2 wages paid by the qualified trade or business and the unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition (UBIA) of qualified property held by the trade or business. Income earned through a C corporation or by providing services as an employee is not eligible for the deduction.

Eligible taxpayers may also be entitled to a deduction of up to 20 percent of their combined qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership (PTP) income. This component of the section 199A deduction is not limited by W-2 wages or the UBIA of qualified property.

The sum of these two amounts is referred to as the combined qualified business income amount. Generally, this deduction is the lesser of the combined qualified business income amount and an amount equal to 20 percent of the taxable income minus the taxpayer’s net capital gain.

The deduction is available for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017. Most eligible taxpayers will be able to claim it for the first time when they file their 2018 federal income tax return in 2019. The deduction is available, regardless of whether an individual itemizes their deductions on Schedule A or takes the standard deduction.

Q. Who may take the section 199A deduction?

A. Individuals, trusts and estates with qualified business income, qualified REIT dividends or qualified PTP income may qualify for the deduction. In some cases, patrons of horticultural or agricultural cooperatives may be required to reduce their deduction. The IRS will be issuing separate guidance for co-ops.

Q. What is qualified business income (QBI)?

A. QBI is the net amount of qualified items of income, gain, deduction and loss from any qualified trade or business. Only items included in taxable income are counted. In addition, the items must be effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business. Items such as capital gains and losses, certain dividends and interest income are excluded.

Q. What is a qualified trade or business?

A. A qualified trade or business is any trade or business, with two exceptions:

Specified service trade or business (SSTB), which includes a trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, investing and investment management, trading, dealing in certain assets or any trade or business where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees. This exception only applies if a taxpayer’s taxable income exceeds $315,000 for a married couple filing a joint return, or $157,500 for all other taxpayers

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

What Amazon Really Means for Small Businesses

By Max Gulker
From the American Institute for Economic Research
Who doesn’t love small businesses? They embody two classic American archetypes: the little guy and the hard worker. People treat them less as individual businesses, and more as barometer of what they find good and fair in our market-driven economy. There are few more effective ways to drum up public support for or opposition to a policy than arguing that it’s good or bad for small business.

Lost in this narrative are the businesses themselves — a diverse array of individual actors rather than a monolithic symbol of economic virtue. Asking whether something is good or bad for small business limits our understanding of how firms and markets evolve.

Nothing better embodies the array of ways revolutionary technological change reverberates through the business landscape than the impact of internet retail giant Amazon on small businesses. Thinking carefully about that impact requires us to unpack the many kinds of firms we lump under the term “small business,” as well as the different functions Amazon serves in the market. Rather than a simple cause-and-effect story, we see a reshaping over time of what it means to be a small retailer.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Crafting the Right Content for Your Next Product Launch

Provided by Rae Steinbach

A strong product launch requires a strong marketing campaign. From ensuring you’re using a verified email list to developing dynamic imagery for your new product, you need to ensure you’ll be putting your best foot forward when your product launches. If you’re trying to generate buzz for a new product, you need to determine what type of content to focus on in your strategy.

Your two main options are evergreen content and one-off content. Neither one is “better” than the other for a product launch. To determine which is best for your needs, you need to first understand the unique benefits each type of content offers.

One-Off Content Builds Buzz

One-off content associates your new product with the season, a timely event, or anything else that’s immediately relevant to a potential customer. For example, if you were promoting a new app for purchasing concert tickets, your content might focus on an upcoming festival that would likely appeal to your customers. This strategy builds enthusiasm for your product.

That said, it’s not without its weaknesses. One-off content is only valuable for a short period of time. Once that festival is over, any blogs, social media posts, or videos relating to it will no longer be relevant.

Evergreen Content Offers Ongoing Value

Evergreen content is designed to remain as valuable to customers a year from now as it is today. For instance, if you’re launching a new kitchen product, a listicle showing off simple recipes someone could make with it will stay relevant for a long period of time. Evergreen content is also easier to backlink to than one-off content. Link building is an important element of an SEO strategy.

Unfortunately, evergreen content isn’t very effective at generating buzz for a new product. That’s not to say you should definitely focus on one-off content when planning a campaign. Keeping certain factors in mind makes choosing between the two easier.

How to Decide Which is Right

The best content marketing strategy for your product launch will essentially depend on your capabilities and goals. Specifically, you need to assess the following:

*The Work Involved - You need to work hard and efficiently to design and implement a relevant one-off campaign. That said, the amount of work available for your team will reduce substantially in a short period of time. This might be a better task for freelancers who won’t need additional tasks once the project is over. Evergreen campaigns, on the other hand, involve sustained work, which may require a dedicated marketing team.

*Financial Matters - You’re more likely to generate high sales in the early months following your product launch with one-off content. The problem is, sales will drop off in a big way in the near future. Evergreen content won’t yield as many sales in the early months, but will likely yield more overall sales in the long run. Consider the nature of your product when deciding which to include in your campaign. If you can’t honestly say your product will stay useful for a long period of time (this is common in consumer tech, for example), one-off content might be the better choice.

*Driving Momentum - One-off content is more effective than evergreen content at creating a sense of urgency for customers. This feeling has been shown to boost sales. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t identify ways to use urgency in your evergreen content. Promoting special deals and reminding customers they won’t last forever is still possible in a blog or email that’s otherwise evergreen.

Clearly, there are compelling reasons to choose either type of content. These points will help you make the right choice for your goals. Keep them in mind the next time you’re planning a product launch.
"Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course."

Twitter handle: @araesininthesun

Links do not constitute NY SBDC endorsements

Friday, January 04, 2019

Have Attitudes About Online Sales Tax Changed?

Written by Krista Garcia

Article from eMarketer

In June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that states could impose a sales tax on ecommerce goods, even if a retailer had no physical presence in a state. The South Dakota v. Wayfair case reversed an online retail practice that had been accepted as law since 1992.

 Over the past few months, more than half of states in the US have enacted an online sales tax or will do so in 2019.

 Local governments viewed online sales tax as a boon, brick-and-mortar retailers considered it leveling the playing field, while online retailers—many which already paid sales tax—predicted it would be detrimental.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

How to Find a Franchise That Fits

Written by FranchiseKing, Joel Libava

 Article from SBA

If you’re considering becoming the owner of a franchise business, it’s important to make sure you’re looking into franchises that are the right fit.

 But finding the right franchise opportunity for you is only part of the picture.

 Finding a Fit:

 Finding, researching, and potentially purchasing a franchise is a step-by-step process. One of those steps is conducting a self-assessment. This involves compiling a list of what you consider to be your top professional strengths and skills.

 Once you’ve done that, set it aside. You’ll want to refer back to it as you find franchise opportunities that interest you. The goal is to determine if your top skills and strengths can be used in an ownership role.

 Immediate Fit vs. Long-Term Fit:

 When it comes to finding the right fit, you need to look at short-term and long-term fit. Short-term fit involves matching your strengths and skills to a specific franchise opportunity. Once you find a franchise that’s a fit for your skills, it becomes one of your major reasons for signing on the dotted line.

 Conversely, long-term fit has to do with the things that you want franchise ownership to do for you, and how they’ll be a fit for the life you want to have.

 What Do You Want?

Here’s a list of things that clients told me they’ve wanted franchise ownership to provide them with, long-term.

 1. A better lifestyle Many clients have had jobs that required a lot of travel, which caused them to miss weekday family-oriented activities. Their jobs weren’t a good fit for what they felt were the important things in life — like being there for their children’s activities. That’s one of the reasons owning a business was appealing to them.

They felt that if they owned a business, they would have much more control over their schedules. If you want more control over your hours, make sure you choose a franchise that will eventually allow you to have the type of flexibility you want.

2. Equity Most of the people I work with don’t mind working hard. It’s just that they want to have something to show for it when it’s all said and done. While it’s true that most companies have retirement plans, and you could have a decent amount of money saved by the time you retire, it’s not the same as having equity.

 But if you own a successful franchise business, you’ll be able to sell that business for a profit. That money, combined with your retirement savings, could turn out to be a great fit for the kind of life you’ve always wanted to have — one with no financial worries.

 3. Philosophy Several clients have told me that they’re tired of working for companies that haven’t been a good fit for them, philosophically. I’ve actually experienced this myself. It can be draining to work for someone who looks at the world, and business, in a totally different way than you do. One solution: buy a franchise that fits your philosophy.

 There are more than 3,000 different franchise concepts. Odds are pretty good that there’s a franchise opportunity available that fits how you feel a business should run. But you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to find it.

 Remember that franchise fit involves two things:

 Matching yourself to a franchise that fits what you’re good at

 Making sure the franchise fits what you want, long-term