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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Temper Your Media Diet: Waukesha County Businesses’ Guide to Thrive in 2015

Iran and nuclear weapons.

Greece, the deteriorating European Union, and signs of shakiness in Chinese markets.

Continued social upheaval at home, and on the border.

Presidential campaign silliness, and the political chaos to which we’re all about to be subjected for the next 15+ months.

And in the middle of it all, we’re all facing our own private fears, struggles and frustrations.

So … may I remind you of a few things?

Hammernik’s Key Reminder #1: What you choose to “ingest” over these weeks will greatly impact your state-of-mind. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say. And, of course, the opposite is true — when you surround yourself with excellence and clear-eyed determination, you find that your heart and mind carry much greater strength.

Temper your media diet this week, as most of those outlets are (quite literally) merchants of fear.

Hammernik’s Key Reminder #2: The financial markets are driven by emotions — and by complicated algorithms that react on a hair-trigger to economic disruptions. Truly, the only thing certain about the stock market is that it’s volatile. So those of you with many assets resting there, don’t make moves out of panic. Sit down to discuss a tax-advantaged strategy … not a knee-jerk fear response.

Hammernik’s Key Reminder #3: The only thing you can truly control is yourself.You can’t control the market, you can’t control our foreign affairs (unless, of course, Mr. Kerry or Obama are somehow reading this — perhaps you guys can!), and there’s a real sense in which you can’t even, really, control your salary and income.

So, with those key reminders in mind, here’s what I suggest:

Call my office this week: (414) 545-1890 (or click the button at the top of this page to email me) and request one of our limited Tax Planning Strategy Sessions. During this session, we will analyze your current situation and identify the most tax-advantaged, wisest and most effective plan for your business income, no matter what happens with the economy, or with other outside factors.

After all, you CAN control your business … and we can help. The implications of theACA are continuing to be felt by businesses everywhere, and there are a raft of tax law changes already implemented for 2015, as well as others coming down the pike in 2016 for which you’ll want to be prepared.

I’m personally dedicated to the success of your business–and to your finances! Can other accounting professionals say that?

Warmly,

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Hammernik & Associates

Hammernik on How to Grow Your Bottom Line in 2015

I have a question for you, one that I think you should think hard about:

Have you considered paying yourself more out of your business?

In some cases, it actually might make more sense to pay yourself less — but bring home more at the same time.

Well, if you’re not clear on how you could accomplish that, then reading this post right now will be very important.

Because, as you know, it is hard — and it is LONELY — to be a business owner in this environment. The media is bombarding your customers with messages of chaos and fear … and, of course, you can’t help but have some of those messages trickle into your own consciousness as well.

Which is why it’s so important for you to have a clear handle on the bottom line for your business — and on ALL of the tax implications you’ll be facing, and how to get ahead of them.

Look … I hope it’s no mystery to you why I often write about marketing and sales. Frankly, that’s the easiest way for you to grow your bottom line (add more to the top line).

But the second-best way to grow your bottom line is to avoid all of the unnecessary expenses and taxes which so many businesses end up paying, simply because they didn’t plan ahead of time.

When I meet with a biz owner, I often wear many hats — CFO, Marketing Advisor, COO, etc. — truly whatever fits the need of our client most precisely. Because business owners can make rash decisions in times of perceived crisis (like during “tax season”) — and they often have unforeseen complications down the road.

Which is why it’s critical that we take a look at how things are set up for you and your business for the rest of 2015. Here in the middle of summer (and BEFORE the fall rush) is the perfect time to take a clear-eyed look at things, and plan for the best outcome for your business, come January.

The implications of the ACA are continuing to be felt by businesses everywhere, and there are a raft of tax law changes already implemented for 2015, as well as others coming down the pike in 2016 that you’ll want to be prepared for.

And we’re going to make it easy for you. We’ll encourage you, give you good options … and point you into the best direction for your business’ long-term wealth preservation and growth.

Call us today to schedule an appointment: (414) 545-1890 (or send us an email by clicking the button at the top of this page).

I’m personally dedicated to the success of your business–and to your finances! Can other accounting professionals say that?

Warmly,

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Hammernik & Associates

Dale Hammernik On Why Managers SHOULD Sweat the Small Stuff

I’m going to deliver a bit of a rant today, and I hope you’ll forgive me in advance.

I suppose the subject would be consistent with the traits which make for success in my chosen profession, how I like to run my business, and my particular tendencies. However, that doesn’t mean this is any less true.

There’s a disturbing trend for small business owners these days. I don’t know if it’s because of the skyrocketing demands on our attention or exactly what is the possible explanation for it, but it’s a surefire way to allow your business to fail (notice my word choice there– ‘allow’).

Enough introduction, read on for what I hope is a shot in the arm of inspiration and, perhaps, a healthy challenge…

Dale Hammernik On Why Managers SHOULD Sweat the Small Stuff
“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.” – John Lennon

Perhaps it’s not at all surprising that today’s manager is pulled in so many directions — and often does such a poor job.

It’s the irony of the digital age — we have so many tools at our disposal to “virtually” connect with one another, that the real work of connecting in person is becoming a lost art. Posting status updates, sending emails, blogging (yes, I get the irony), texting — we’ve forgotten how to work without the digital assistance.

And, ultimately, being a business manager is about actual interpersonal influence and leadership. When you’re used to leading virtually, it’s harder to lead in person.

Even worse, perhaps because of all of these distractions (or, perhaps because of a modern, misplaced desire to be liked) managers learn to ignore the “small things”, because there are just so many to keep track of that it seems “uptight” to track them.But when you start relaxing standards in the small tasks of your business, your bottom line will eventually be the real victim.

I was watching a speech from a corporate training expert, Stephen Paskoff, and he told an illustrative story.

Starting his first “real” job as a part-time salesperson at a shoe store, he was told by his boss to show up for his first day wearing a dark suit and a white shirt. But since Paskoff owned only a heavy gray suit of wool, and when the day dawned hot and muggy, he decided to avoid sweating all day by wearing a dark-blue blazer and matching slacks.

He walked into the store and was immediately greeted by his boss with, “Where’s your suit?” Paskoff replied, “It’s hot, and this is just like a suit.”

The boss told him, “I said a suit, not ‘just like a suit.’ Go home and come back in a suit if you have one. If not, forget it.”

Paskoff went home, changed, and spent his first month of work at the shoe store sweating until he could afford a lighter-weight suit.

What’s your response to that story? Do you think this is over the top? Perhaps you do — but you’d also be missing the part where this boss got results. Do you think that Paskoff was inclined to slack off on other managerial expectations after such a response? No, much like the “Broken Window Theory” often cited by economists, when we actually sweat the small stuff — and do it with the social grace of a caring leader — everything changes.

Feel very free to share this article with a Waukesha County business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Hammernik & Associates

4 Common Accounting Mistakes Waukesha County Businesses Make

I trust you had a great, looong Independence weekend? Where did you take in the fireworks this year, if at all? (And did you see that Women’s World Cup final?? What fun.)

Moving on, this mid-year point is a great time to do a financial review.

However, for some small businesses, this can still create a big fat mess — made either by another accountant, a part-time bookkeeper in over their head, or [shudder] the business owner themselves!

After seeing too many business owner friends and NON-clients operate from a jerry-rigged accounting system, I thought it was a good idea to give you some perspective on what this could (and should) look like…

4 Common Accounting Mistakes Waukesha County Businesses Make
“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

These accounting mistakes are common enough that most experienced accountants could fix many of them in their sleep (well, that’s not *exactly* true). And, sadly, they’re usually created by either inexperience on the part of the bookkeeper involved, OR by lack of communication from the business owner.

If you’re facing financial or accounting issues, rather than blaming your bookkeeper, perhaps the source of the problem is in fact YOU!

Either way, here are common accounting mistakes, all of which, we can help you clean up.

1. Tracking Expenses Wrongly
Many Waukesha County business owners pay for expenses out of their own personal funds. And it’s no surprise that they often don’t keep accurate records of these expenses. Change that! Here’s why: The IRS frowns at the co-mingling of business and personal funds, and the best way to protect yourself in the event of an IRS audit is to avoid doing it in the first place.

That aside, you need to maintain effective communication between your bookkeeper and the rest of your team, be it yourself, or other staff. Essentially, your bookkeeper needs to make sure that everything is coded properly, or you’ll be in some hot water.

2. Employee Misclassifications
Many businesses have a combination of independent contractors and employees. And this is an area in which the IRS has been increasingly ruthless, as they search about for sources of additional revenue (i.e. penalties and additional taxes!).

Here’s the relevant IRS guidance on it: http://1.usa.gov/1y77kx3

Use it! The IRS has recently been making significant noise about their cracking down on businesses in this area, especially because of the ACA requirements. Do NOT get caught unprepared.

3. No Internal Cash Controls
Your business should have a monetary “line in the sand” on a monthly basis, the crossing of which should set off little alarms. These can range from the sophisticated (multiple trigger points and consequences), to the very rudimentary act of simply budgeting for each month.

But the main point is that your ACCOUNTING system should show you the way on this, on a monthly basis.

4. Backdating Too Much
Sure, it’s painful to have to reconcile and keep every expense entered on a monthly basis — which is why so many business owners don’t keep up with it (even when they’ve “outsourced” the task to a part-timer). The problem with playing continual catch-up is that problems AND opportunities are spotted too late.

For example, say you think one of your service or product lines is the most profitable … but circumstances have changed (whether expenses or other cost factors), and now a different item is most profitable. Well, if you’ve been pushing for what you *thought* was most profitable for six months and only now realize that you should have been pursuing a different strategy, that’s a bunch of time and money wasted.

In short, get a professional to help you with this stuff. (Ahem.)

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Hammernik & Associates

Dale Hammernik on Making Effective Offers and Getting Your Prospects to Actually Respond

It’s been a momentous few weeks for the country, but as you and I both know … the real work of running and operating our businesses continues apace.

I believe that regardless of what happens on the national stage, and (perhaps more pertinent to business decisions) the international stage, with the continuing crisis in Greece, etc., it’s an important time for businesses to not give in to overly-positive or negative emotion, and to continue building their businesses with smart offerings and marketing.

Unfortunately, many businesses do a nice job with putting together sales pieces, etc., but when it comes to giving their prospect a reason to take action, they fall on their face.

You wouldn’t think an accountant would pay attention to this stuff, but it plays itself out in my firm as well. So here are some thoughts…

Dale Hammernik on Making Effective Offers and Getting Your Prospects to Actually Respond
“Live daringly, boldly, fearlessly. Taste the relish to be found in competition – in having put forth the best within you.” – Henry J Kaiser

Moving into and towards the end of summer, we’re about to see many different, creative excuses to reach out to customers or clients and cross-sell other services, or reach out to prospects and give them a reason to “get over the hump” so to speak, and make a purchasing decision.

However, one of the things I’ve noticed is that many small business owners or marketing directors write or deliver great sales messages … then when they get to the “offer” (the *reason* for the recipient to respond), the whole message falls apart.

The sale that was about to take place winds up in the trash.

So, here are some tips for making effective offers to match your powerful copy:

Don’t be ashamed of the price. Especially in this environment, too many companies try to skim past the offer, hoping their prospects won’t pay attention to the price. Guess what? They are going to pay attention! But, if you’ve written a good enough letter to sell them — then they’re sold. Don’t suddenly apologize for giving your product the price value it’s worth.

Give your prospects multiple options for purchasing. This one is close to my heart. Prospects need a variety of ways to pay for the product. Clearly present the payment methods you’re willing to accept (the more, the better!). Furthermore, give your prospect a variety of ways to order: phone, fax, mail, online. The more diverse you make it, the more orders you’ll receive.

Write the offer clearly. Be sure to include the price, exactly what the product or service is, and any additional bonuses you might be including.

Be sure to include your contact information! You wouldn’t believe how often this occurs to marketers and small businesses. Some really incredible marketing messages have been ruined by simply neglecting to give prospects a way to reach the company.

But most of all — plan ahead, and don’t miss the opportunities out there these next few months.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Hammernik & Associates

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