Topic: Tax Planning
Monday, October 14, 2013 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
LSBDC at Southeastern Louisiana University
East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce
Tax Incentive Programs are offered in Louisiana for new and existing companies that are expanding and creating job opportunities. The incentives are typically in the form of sales and use tax rebates, tax credits, and tax exemptions. This event will provide a detailed overview that will include program rules and application processes for: Enterprise Zone, Industrial Tax Exemption, Restoration Tax Abatement, Small Business Loan Guaranty, Quality Jobs, Modernization Tax Program, EDAP Program/Training Grants and Performance Based Grants.
An update from the 2013 Legislative session will also be provided. This will include information on the Louisiana Amnesty Program, giving taxpayers the opportunity to officially apply for a reprieve and submit payment for all tax periods that are outstanding. We will review the important effective dates to enroll in the Amnesty Program and important items to consider before applying for Amnesty will be reviewed. The Louisiana Amnesty Program issued by the Regular Louisiana Legislative Session 2013 under House Bill No. 456, could save you all of the penalty and half of the interest on taxes due.
This class is open to small business owners, certified public accountants, bankers and potential business owners interested in learning how to take advantage of financial incentives provided through the state.
Speaker(s): Didier Consultants
Co-Sponsor(s): East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce
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Forecasting for Growth
Maintaining your momentum means looking forward even as you focus on the present. Forecasting and planning are critical to your continued success.
Forecasting for Growth: Strategic Thinking
To be effective as a leader, you must develop skills in strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is a process whereby you learn how to make your business vision a reality by developing your abilities in teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking. It is also a tool to help you confront change, plan for and make transitions, and envision new possibilities and opportunities.
Strategic thinking requires you to envision what you want your ideal outcome to be for your business, then work backwards by focusing on the story of how you will be able to reach your vision.
As you develop a strategic vision for your business, there are five different criteria that you should focus on. These five criteria will help you define your ideal outcome. In addition, they will help you set up and develop the steps necessary to make your business vision come true.
The organization of your business involves your employees, the organizational structure of your business and the resources necessary to make it all work. What will your organization look like? What type of structure will support your vision? How will you combine people, resources and structure together to achieve your ideal outcome?
When you are looking down at the world from an airplane, you can see much more than when you are on the ground. Strategic thinking is much the same in that it allows you to see things from “higher up.” By increasing your powers of observation, you will begin to become more aware of what motivates people, how to solve problems more effectively and how to distinguish between alternatives.
Views are simply different ways of thinking about something. In strategic thinking, there are four viewpoints to take into consideration when forming your business strategy: the environmental view, the marketplace view, the project view, and the measurement view. Views can be used as tools to help you think about outcomes, identify critical elements and adjust your actions to achieve your ideal position.
What are the driving forces that will make your ideal outcome happen? What is your company’s vision and mission? Driving forces usually lay the foundation for what you want people to focus on in your business (such as what you will use to motivate others to perform). Examples of driving forces might include: individual and organizational incentives; empowerment and alignment; qualitative factors such as a defined vision, values and goals; productive factors like a mission or function; quantitative factors such as results or experience; and others such as commitment, coherent action, effectiveness, productivity and value.
After working through the first four phases of the strategic thinking process, you should be able to define your ideal position. Your ideal position outline should include: the conditions you have found to be necessary if your business is to be productive; the niche in the marketplace that your business will fill; any opportunities that may exist either currently or in the future for your business; the core competencies or skills required in your business; and the strategies and tactics you will use to pull it all together.
Article courtesy of SBA.gov
Being a Leader
Over the past several years, one of the most important contributions psychology has made to the field of business has been in determining the key traits of acknowledged leaders. Psychological tests have been used to determine what characteristics are most commonly noted among successful leaders. This list of characteristics can be used for developmental purposes to help managers gain insight and develop their leadership skills.
The increasing rate of change in the business environment is a major factor in this new emphasis on leadership; whereas in the past, managers were expected to maintain the status quo in order to move ahead, new forces in the marketplace have made it necessary to expand this narrow focus. The new leaders of tomorrow are visionary. They are both learners and teachers. Not only do they foresee paradigm changes in society, but they also have a strong sense of ethics and work to build integrity in their organizations.
Raymond Cattell, a pioneer in the field of personality assessment, developed the Leadership Potential equation in 1954. This equation, which was based on a study of military leaders, is used today to determine the traits which characterize an effective leader. The traits of an effective leader include the following:
Emotional stability: Good leaders must be able to tolerate frustration and stress. Overall, they must be well-adjusted and have the psychological maturity to deal with anything they are required to face.
Dominance: Leaders are often competitive, decisive and usually enjoy overcoming obstacles. Overall, they are assertive in their thinking style as well as their attitude in dealing with others.
Enthusiasm: Leaders are usually seen as active, expressive and energetic. They are often very optimistic and open to change. Overall, they are generally quick and alert and tend to be uninhibited.
Conscientiousness: Leaders are often dominated by a sense of duty and tend to be very exacting in character. They usually have a very high standard of excellence and an inward desire to do their best. They also have a need for order and tend to be very self-disciplined.
Social boldness: Leaders tend to be spontaneous risk-takers. They are usually socially aggressive and generally thick-skinned. Overall, they are responsive to others and tend to be high in emotional stamina.
Self-assurance: Self-confidence and resiliency are common traits among leaders. They tend to be free of guilt and have little or no need for approval. They are generally unaffected by prior mistakes or failures.
Compulsiveness: Leaders are controlled and very precise in their social interactions. Overall, they are very protective of their integrity and reputation and consequently tended to be socially aware and careful, abundant in foresight, and very careful when making decisions or determining specific actions.
Intuitiveness: Rapid changes in the world today, combined with information overload result in an inability to know everything. In other words, reasoning and logic will not get you through all situations. In fact, more and more leaders are learning the value of using their intuition and trusting their gut when making decisions.
Empathy: Being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes is a key trait of leaders today. Without empathy, you can’t build trust; without trust, you will never be able to get the best effort from your employees.
Charisma: People usually perceive leaders as larger than life. Charisma plays a large part in this perception. Leaders who have charisma are able to arouse strong emotions in their employees by defining a vision which unites and captivates them. Using this vision, leaders motivate employees to reach toward a future goal by tying the goal to substantial personal rewards and values.
Leaders are rarely (if ever) born. Circumstances and persistence are major components in the developmental process of any leader, so if your goal is to become a leader, work on developing those areas of your personality that you feel are not up to par. For instance, if you have all of the basic traits but do not consider yourself very much of a people person, try taking classes or reading books on empathy. On the other end, if relating to others has always come naturally to you, but you have trouble making logical decisions, try learning about tough-mindedness and how to develop more psychological resistance. Just remember, anyone can do anything they set their mind to.
Read more here: Being a Leader | SBA.gov.
NFIB identifies trends, technology and areas of growth that are ideal for promoting your business.
It’s a new year, and that means new—or new to you—trends that could potentially redefine your current business or shape the one you’re planning to launch.
In 2013, an untold number of trends, technologies and tactics will change the way your run your business. Here are three you should you pay attention to—and leverage.
It’s no secret that our mobile devices are changing the way we relax, work and generate a profit. But they could also be an area of growth for your business, or provide the market space in which to launch. Over the next 4 years, mobile commerce is expected to grow four-fold, with mobile retail expected to be a $25 billion enterprise by 2017, according to Forrester Research.
“The mobile technology industry is one of the fastest-growing fields and offers independent wireless dealers tremendous potential,” says David Glickman, CEO of Ultra Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator. At the same time, he says, “the mobile wallet is on the horizon and will enable wireless phone users to send money abroad, pay bills, make purchases online or in person—all with their cell phones. Being able to provide customers with advice and services in the mobile world is…the field for 2013.”
2. Inbound/Content Marketing
Earning a potential customer’s trust online is more important than ever. Mary Ellen Slayter, the managing director of a content marketing agency in Baton Rouge, La., says that trend has led to a vacuum for content that companies like her fast-growing Reputation Capital Media have been able to leverage.
“Technology has made it easier than ever for businesses to communicate directly and authentically with their clients,” she says. “Companies that have made this shift are finding that they can save a great deal of money on marketing while also driving improvements in customer service and innovation.”
It’s not the latest and greatest technology—it’s been around at least since the rise of the mp3 player, after all—but it’s growing, and could be a way to help your business build trust with potential customers, at a lower cost to you than more conventional types of advertising and marketing.
“Podcasts are uniquely positioned to dominate the landscape in 2013,” says John Dumas, who hosts his own podcast, EntreprenueronFire.com
“The reason for this upcoming explosion is the mass use of smartphones, tablets and Wifi,” he says. “People crave on-demand targeted content on the go, and that is exactly what Podcasts provide in every area and industry.”
Original Article: Top Marketing Trends for 2013 | NFIB.
by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator, SBA.gov
Have you ever written a marketing plan for your business? Do you keep putting off the task?
Whether you are launching a new product or promoting your latest offer, a marketing plan is worth taking the time to complete. Why?
As a small business owner, it’s likely that you not only own the task of coming up with a strategic plan, but also the act of executing it (writing email copy, hosting events, etc.). If this is you, then a plan can help you direct your day-to-day activities, guide your approach, and ensure you are making the most of the available resources.
The good news is that a marketing plan needn’t be encyclopedic or overly time consuming to prepare. In fact, in my experience, the simpler the plan, the more effective it can be (bog yourself down in too many details and you’ll quickly lose focus). A simple plan also gives you the flexibility to quickly adjust your tactics if you need to.
Here are five tips for developing a basic marketing plan that can be applied to discrete activities such as a product launch or promotional campaigns.
1. Build a Precise Picture of Your Ideal Customer
Identifying your target market is the first step of any marketing plan and it’s essential that you are as precise as possible. If not, you run the risk of a scatter-gun approach that will dilute your message and drain your budget. Instead, think about your target market in terms of specifics – who in your current customer base is the right fit for your product or service? What have they purchased from you before? Do their purchasing patterns suggest they might be a good target? Are they the kind of customer you even enjoy doing business with? What about reaching new customers outside your customer base?
The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to craft the right message and tactics for reaching that audience. Read 5 Ways to Find the Right Niche and Target Market for your Small Business for more tips.
2. What do you Want to Accomplish?
Again, be specific. Stating that you want to increase brand awareness about your business/product isn’t really specific enough. Think about what actions you want them to take after they are made aware of your campaign or promotional activity. Do you want them to register for an event, take advantage of a special offer, upgrade an existing product, invest in training, or request a quote? There may be multiple actions that you want them to take. For example, a webinar could be positioned as a free training opportunity and your initial action goal would be to get your target market to register for the event. However, once the event is over, you may then want to circle back with attendees and see if they are interested in receiving more information (such as a one-on-one product demo or quote for a product or service).
These actions will drive your messaging and delivery methods.
3. How Can You Reach your Targets?
Now that you know who you want to reach and what actions you want them to take, you’ll need to identify the best ways to reach them and with what message. To do this, consider the following about your customers and prospects:
What associations do they belong to?
Are they active on social media?
Do they subscribe to your email marketing?
What print or online media do they read?
What are their pain points (how can you help address these)?
What types of messages or call to actions have they responded to in the past?
Why should they care about what you have to offer (what’s in it for them / in what ways will they benefit)?
4. Work Out Your Budget
When it comes to planning your budget, either start with a figure that you can afford, or determine your tactics, price them out (my preferred method) and prioritize where necessary. You can always adjust your budget as you go, so be flexible. For tips on calculating your marketing budget read: How to Set a Marketing Budget that Fits your Business Goals and Provides a High Return on Investment.
5. Plan Your Tactics
Your tactics are the actions you need to take to help you reach your target market and accomplish your goals. These include specifics such as direct mail, email marketing, print/radio/online advertising, blogs, social media, case studies, webinars, events, sponsorships and so on.
Never rely on one tactic alone. An integrated approach that delivers a consistent message across multiple, targeted platforms is the best way to ensure you reach your target market and get the most out of your budget. Refer back to who it is you are trying to reach, where they are, and what you want them to do.
Above all, be flexible. Track results and adjust your tactics and messaging as you go. I’ve seen many campaigns start out with one message and close out with a completely different one. Try out new email subject lines, test social media messages, and keep a close eye on what works and what doesn’t.
Don’t forget a call to action – whether it’s taking advantage of a coupon, downloading a white paper, or attending an event. Use a unique code for each medium so that you can track where your leads are coming from. This blog offers some tips: 8 Ways to Strengthen Your Email Marketing Offers and Calls to Action.
Lastly, don’t forget to include internal elements to our plan such as sales training or briefings about your campaign or new product offering.
Good luck! For more help, contact your local Small Business Development Center. They offer training, counseling and support for business owners in all areas of business planning and operation.
Additional Resources: For more marketing tips, check out SBA’s extensive archive of marketing-related blogs.