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Should Your Company Use a PEO?

Small business owners may be new to the world of PEOs, or professional employer organizations, but these companies have been around now for several years and changing the face of human resources management.

A PEO provides comprehensive outsourcing for all tasks and functions typically performed by an in-house human resources department. This may include employee job descriptions, benefits, payroll, insurance, and regulatory requirements.

PEOs act as a ‘co-employer’ with your company so that they share contractual obligations with your employees. Management decisions, however, remain with your company. You continue to guide the daily job duties and responsibilities of your employees while the PEO manages their benefits administration and related tasks.

According to the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), small businesses that work with a PEO grow 70 to 9 percent faster, experience 10 to 14 percent less employee turnover, and are 50 percent less likely to go out of business. Although these sounds like terrific benefits for any small business owner, there are also some drawbacks to working with a PEO. Here, we discuss both the pros and cons of working with a PEO so that as a small business owner, you can make an informed choice before taking the next step and contacting PEOs.

The Benefits of Working with a PEO

There are many benefits of working with a PEO for a small business.

  • Saving Time:  Working with a PEO can save you considerable time. SCORE reports that 25 to 35% of a small business owner’s time is spent handling HR-related tasks, with 7 to 25% of that time alone spent on paperwork.  A business owner’s time is precious and the more time that can be spent on tasks to grow a business and increase revenues, the better. Every minute spent on paperwork decreases the amount of time you can spend growing and running your business.
  • Avoid penalties and fines: Tax laws continue to evolve into complex tangles that can be difficult for the average business owner to unravel. Missing deadlines or paperwork can lead to penalties and fines from the IRS, state or federal agencies. A PEO is skilled at handling all types of HR paperwork and takes the responsibility from your shoulders of managing deadlines, filing periods, and paperwork. It becomes their responsibility so you will not incur fines if problems arise.
  • Improved employee retention: Because the PEO handles questions regarding benefits, there’s always someone available to help your team understand their benefits and work through any questions or problems. Additionally, a PEO can find better employee benefits and draw upon their industry contacts and resources to improve the benefits package you can offer to your employees. This tends to increase job satisfaction and makes your company more appealing to work with, leading to better employee retention rates.

Drawbacks of Working with a PEO

There are also some drawbacks to working with a PEO that you should be aware of before embarking on a co-employment relationship. These drawbacks include:

  • Lack of control: The PEO manages all aspects of the HR department include health insurance coverage and other important benefits. They can, at their discretion, offer new policies or coverage to your employees. Sometimes this works out for the best since they can tap into their resources and can often gain better coverage than you can on your own. But this lack of control can be disturbing to a business owner used to retaining total control over all aspects of his business.
  • Impersonal service: All questions about HR and benefits are now handled by the PEO. Employees must call a hotline or 800-number instead of stopping by the HR department in your company. This may feel distant and unfriendly to some used to the former method of getting help for their questions. It does add a layer to your organization that may not be comfortable working through at first
  • Monetary risk:  Most PEO contracts require that their fees are paid in advance before work begins. If the PEO goes out of business or is sold to another company and you are unhappy about the new company, you may be out of luck and unable to break the contract. Choosing a stable, well-known PEO with a history of successful work helps mitigate this risk.

Is a PEO Right for Your Company?

A PEO arrangement can offer significant benefits to a small business, but they aren’t for everyone. Companies with less than five employees may not be able to find a PEO willing to work with them; the average contract size with a PEO is for five or more employees.  

Working with a PEO will cost your organization anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per employee. You may be able to handle your employee benefits administration and other HR tasks at a more cost-effective rate internally than by working with a PEO.

As the world of HR and benefits grows increasingly complex, small business owners may continue to turn to PEOs for help. But if you’re just looking for help with payroll or taxes, there are self-service options such as payroll software that may be a better option.

If you’d like to start looking for a PEO, consider this comparison of several services that offers insight into costs and features. And you may also want to file the link away for future reference, since as your business grows, so too will the number of employees needing benefits and other HR support. If a PEO isn’t right for you now, we hope you grow so big that you’ll need one someday!

By | March 22nd, 2017|Business Operations, Business Tools, Other|0 Comments

How to Scale Your Business in 2017

There is so much 2017 can offer to your business. We are a couple of months in, and if you are still doing business as you did previous years – you may be missing out on some major growth opportunity!

Businesses are updating their processes faster than ever these days. From adding new ways of automating or discovering new apps that will make their lives easier, it all adds up to having every first quarter of the year different than before.

In order to avoid falling behind and to keep up with customers fast-forward demands, here are some ways your business can catch up with the times and blossom this year.

Go for customer success, rather than customer satisfaction

Whether you have just acquired a new customer, or have an almost year-long partner relationship with a client, bear in mind what is important – your customers’ success.

Their success dictates your success.

Every year thousands of new software apps, startups and services emerge and seek out to improve your client’s success ratio – so you cannot still be left paddling behind.

Your customers are getting technologically more enhanced than ever, which means it is vital for you to keep up.

To be able to follow through with all your customers’ demands, it is crucial you implement a CRM system, such as Infusionsoft. This one will help you also automate many of your sales and marketing processes, so the investment will definitely be worth it.

Build a high-performance team

It will be very hard to find a small business vasting away their valuable HR (and financial!) resources on a team that is falling short. A team that doesn’t pursue its employer’s best interests the best they can.

You need A-players, adventure seekers that will go out of their ways growing your company and building your competitive advantage.

If you’ re worried you can’t afford them, then you may consider remote hiring for your small business. This is your ticket to finding well-educated and business oriented workforce at fair rates from other parts of the world. There are tons of options for remote employees , even hiring in Eastern Europe. Explore your options to find what’s best for you!

Ask for Help

As a business owner, you may think you already know everything. But that’s just not the case! Yes you have built your business from the ground up so you know it best – but when you hit a speed bump, it’s vital you ask for help!

 

To prevent getting too far off track, reach out and find group meetings or mastermind sessions around you. Other business owners may have been in your situation and can be your greatest learning source.

Although we are almost at the end of Q1 in 2017 already, there is no better time than now to start making these changes! Remember that you want to scale your business forward and keeping up with the latest technology and resources will help you reach your goals!

 

By | March 15th, 2017|Business Operations, Running A Small Business|6 Comments

Annual Reports – FAQs

Happy March! This month, we’re discussing Annual Reports and why they are pertinent to your business.

Q: What is an Annual Report?
A: Also known as a Statement of Information, the Annual Report essentially keeps the state up to date with your company’s vital information. For example, you may be asked to submit information about directors and officers, and the registered agent and office address of the company, especially if any of this has changed in the last year. In most states, there’s also a small filing fee associated with the report.

Q: Do I need to file an annual report for an LLC?
A: While an LLC involves significantly less formal administration than a corporation, LLCs are still required to file an Annual Report in most states. Not every state requires an Annual Report – and each state has its own rules on how often and when the report must be paid. The first thing to do is to understand the requirements for your state; you can either contact your secretary of state office or sign up for CorpNet’s free B.I.Z. service. B.I.Z. is free to any small business (whether you incorporated through CorpNet or not) and sends you alerts for any upcoming deadlines.

Q: What are the consequences for failing to file an annual report when required?
A: Missing an Annual Report deadline can result in late penalties and fees, and who wants to pay money unnecessarily? In the worst case scenario, your company can be suspended or dissolved.

Do you need help filing an annual report or have questions regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

S Corporation Election Deadline Is Almost Here: What Startups And Existing Businesses Need To Know

If you’ve legally established your business as a C Corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) that has elected to be viewed as a corporation for tax purposes, you have the option of filing IRS Form 2553 to get S Corporation tax treatment.

Why would you want to do so, you ask? Because it could make a big impact on your business’s bottom line.

The Potential Advantage for LLCs

LLC owners who find themselves with a high self-employment tax burden might benefit from choosing the S Corp election. LLCs are normally taxed like sole proprietorships—with all business profits subject to self-employment taxes. With S Corp tax treatment, self-employment taxes are only applied to wages and salaries rather than on all business profits.

The Potential Advantage for C Corporations

C Corporations can benefit from S Corp election because it avoids the costly double taxation C Corps normally face.

As a completely separate entity from its owners, a C Corp essentially pays taxes twice on its income:

1) When the corporation makes money, it files a tax return and pays taxes on those profits, and

2) If the corporation distributes profits to shareholders, those distributions get taxed again on the shareholders’ personal tax returns.

If a C Corporation opts to be treated as an S Corp for tax purposes, however, the business itself doesn’t file its own taxes. Instead, shareholders report their individual shares of the business’s profits and losses on their own personal tax returns.

For instance, if you’re an S Corporation shareholder with 50 percent ownership of the business, you would pay taxes on 50 percent of the profits. That income would be taxed as a profit distribution, and you might get a favorable tax rate. Note that you would also pay taxes on any income you received as wages and salaries (and that portion of your income would be subject to self-employment taxes).

Ultimately, the advantage of filing for S Corporation tax treatment comes from the fact that the corporation doesn’t pay taxes on its profits—all profits flow through to the individual shareholders’ tax returns.

Heads Up: The S Corporation Election Deadline Is Approaching

To make the S Corp election, you need to file Form 2553. If you want the election to be effective in the next tax year, you can file at any time during the tax year prior. If you’re filing in the year you want it to be effective, you must do so no more than two months and 15 days after the beginning of the tax year. According to the IRS, the “2-month period begins on the day of the month the tax year begins and ends with the close of the day before the numerically corresponding day of the second calendar month following that month. If there is no corresponding day, use the close of the last day of the calendar month.”

For existing C Corporations and LLCs, you have until March 21 to take the S Corp election for 2017.

New companies have 75 days from the date of their incorporation to file Form 2553. If they meet that deadline, they’ll receive S Corp tax treatment starting in their first tax year.

IRS Form 2553 provides additional detail about the filing deadlines and other important information, including S Corporation election eligibility restrictions.

Time Is Of The Essence For 2017

If you’re considering the S Corporation election for 2017, I recommend talking with a tax advisor to determine the potential impact it will have on your businesses tax obligations. If you find it is a great fit for your business, contact CorpNet as soon as possible to take care of filing your Form 2553 so you have the peace of mind it’s completed accurately. There’s still time (but not much!) to get it done before the deadline.

By | March 2nd, 2017|Other|0 Comments

Nellie in the News: February 2017

What a start to 2017! January and now February have flown by and we’re looking forward to a spring filled with lots of sunshine after these rainy past few months.

We have been busy in the office on the phones daily helping you incorporate a business, form an LLC, file a DBA and more across all 50 states!

Our CEO Nellie Akalp has been busy as always sharing her expertise and knowledge across the blogosphere. Check out her articles and press mentions from February below.

Want Nellie to speak at your next event or share her tips on your podcast? Contact her today

Interviews & press Mentions

Couple Money Podcast – How to Launch Your Business as a Couple http://bit.ly/2kCRINQ

Lead Genius – 10 Entrepreneurs & Inspiring Stories of Startup Success http://bit.ly/2lGPAsf

Susan Solovie – This Week in Small Business http://bit.ly/2m91Ceo

Entrepreneur – How to Legally Deduct Your Next Business Trip http://bit.ly/2lvmSJW

Small Business Trends – 10 Important Business Tips You Shouldn’t Overlook http://bit.ly/2lgVmfB

 

Expert Contributed Posts

SCORE – Top Three Considerations When Choosing Your Startup’s Business Structure http://bit.ly/2ksucFY

GoDaddy – 5 Signs Your Business has Outgrown It’s Legal Structure http://bit.ly/2kr8iDv

Freshbooks – Time to Hire: Make Sure Your Off-The-Cuff Interview Questions are Legal http://bit.ly/2l0D0Qu

Huffington Post – Five Signs your Business Would Be Better Off as an S Corporation http://huff.to/2lowsPC

Secret Entourage – How to Pick a Business Name for your Business http://bit.ly/2lh8m8S

Entrepreneur – 5 Tips for Growing as an Entrepreneur http://bit.ly/2m4BEok

UPS Store – Three Tips for Making your Small Business New Years Resolutions Last http://bit.ly/2kHjHuR

Small Business Trends – How to Avoid Double Taxation with an S Corporation http://bit.ly/2l58w47

By | February 28th, 2017|Other|0 Comments

Partners and W3 – Choose Your Partners Wisely

I’ve written about partnering a lot in my life. I have not felt great about all the partners I’ve chosen. I’ve made some bad choices in personal relationships and in business. But today, I have the greatest partner I’ve ever had. I asked her to marry me last week. She said yes.

Ok, so this post isn’t about me and it’s not about falling in love. It’s about finding great partners. But if you can’t find a great life or love partner, how will you know the right business partner? I have learned so much by my mistakes. I now use my W3 concept. It’s really simple. The partnership must benefit you, your partner and your customers. If all 3, then it has a chance for success. Missing one of the 3, forget it and move on.

Every relationship requires benefits for all involved. In love, you both must feel loved and be truly happy. In business, it’s about money and delivering value. If you and your partner solve each other’s problems and make money, that’s good. But if the customers also see the value, that makes it great.

Don’t get me wrong, liking or even loving your partner isn’t always a bad idea. But it’s not the goal. It’s not what keeps the relationship together. There must be gain on both sides, and for the customers.

Let’s have a look at Costco and American Express. They had a long standing partnership because:

Costco wanted to provide its members with something special;
Costco wanted to ride on the AMEX brand;
Costco wanted a deal with AMEX and more than likely, information too;
AMEX wanted Costco’s customers;
AMEX also wanted information, buying habits;
Members wanted a deal;
Members wanted status;
Members wanted another way to pay beyond debit cards or cash.

So W3 works perfectly here. But why has this relationship ended after 16 years? Well, nothing lasts forever and quite frankly it came down to money, but more specifically it came down to money related to one of the 3 Ws – Costco wanted a better deal. So they found a new partner in Citigroup and VISA. AMEX either made a terrible error in judgment or they didn’t see one or more of the 3 Ws anymore, so they let it go.

I wrote this post for those that are considering partnering with companies like CorpNet. W3 works here, well. CorpNet gets sales without massive marketing spend. Partners get paid commissions, big ones. Customers of the partners now have an easy and awesome way to form their business structures and handle compliance through their trusted advisors. Get it now?

BTW, W stands for win. Look for win, win, win situations in partnering with CorpNet, and you’ll end up ahead of your competition and a little richer and happier. Good luck!

Four Ways Busy Entrepreneurs Can Show Their Loved Ones They Care

Although Valentine’s Day has passed, it doesn’t mean the time has expired for us busy business owners to show our family and friends we love them. Building and nurturing relationships never goes out of season. And now more than ever, with the divide among people getting wider as the political and social climate becomes ever more heated, I believe we all need to step up our efforts to show we care.

But when you’re an entrepreneur bogged down with countless tasks and multiple concerns on your mind, how can you mange all that AND show your people some love?

That’s challenging for all business owners—whether you’re starting a business or have been running one for years.

I’ve found the key is to plan ahead and make a conscious effort every day.

Some ideas for ways you can show your loved ones you care despite your hectic schedule include:

  • Break bread with them. Although it may be tempting to work through lunches and dinners, set time aside to dine with your significant other and/or family and reconnect. You will likely find you’re more productive and mentally alert after breaking away and spending time with them.
  • Listen to their concerns and challenges—even when you’re inundated with your own. They need you! And I always find it’s therapeutic to lend an ear and know you’ve made someone’s day better by just being there to hear what’s weighing them down.
  • Schedule one-on-one time. Whether a romantic rendezvous with your spouse, a shopping trip to the mall with your teen, or an hour at the local café with your best friend, schedule time to communicate one on one. When you’re dealing with daunting deadlines and a never-ending list of to-dos at the office, it may be the only way to ensure you and your loved ones have alone time together.
  • Embrace the power of “it’s the little things that matter.” Whether it’s stopping at the local convenience store on your way home to buy them their favorite ice cream or giving them a big hug “just because,” realize even the smallest gestures of caring can demonstrate your love in a big way. Best of all, this can literally require only seconds or minutes out of your jam-packed day.

The Difference It Makes

When you make the time and effort to give your loved ones the attention they deserve, everyone wins. They will feel needed and cared for, and you will feel better about yourself and less personally stressed because you’re not neglecting the people who matter. I find it also helps me maintain a positive attitude in my work. When your personal life has harmony, your mind has greater peace and can more fully focus on doing what it takes to make your business succeed.

Want more time to show your loved ones you care? Free up more time by using CorpNet.com to prepare and submit your business filings. Contact us today to save you time—and money!

There’s no shame in being just a great entrepreneur or just a great player

I coach kids sports. I started when my oldest son was playing basketball at the YMCA. I didn’t know much about the game as a coach, but luckily I had another dad to help me and we figured it out. It was so new to me and I wanted to do a great job. They were only 6 years old, so we got by. As my son grew, more and more coaching opportunities arose. I always got involved, one way or another. Sometimes my company would sponsor, other times I would help coach. He loved basketball and I never really understood it enough to help him. So I did what I could. He became the top scorer for his club team and eventually a star in high school. I knew I wasn’t the right coach for him, so I let others do the job. It worked.

Later in life, I had another son. This time, it was very different. I coach baseball, soccer and I’m about to start coaching his flag football team. I think I can help him become a great soccer player, as that is my expertise and more importantly, my passion. But he’s a star in hockey, not my expertise, and he loves it more than any other sport. So I coach the sports I know and love, and let the dads that actually know the game handle hockey. Knowing your limitations in life, at least the ones that lead to your happiness, is important.

Coaching is a lot like being a business owner and an entrepreneur. I’ve learned many things at each, but the one thing I remember is a coach is respected most when they put as much into the game as the team. Same holds true in business. When the CEO gives it their all and works closely with their team, supporting them each step of the way, but also being the “boss” when necessary, teams have the best chance of success. Coach Lombardi said, “Leaders are made, they are not born…” and I believe this to be true. So if your desire exists, you can do anything. If your desire exists…

As a player, we learn the game. As an employee, we learn the business. Both grow. One might become coach. The other, the boss. Is it important to have played on the field before becoming a great coach? Can a business owner with no experience become a great CEO? Maybe, but that’s not the company I would want to work for. Remember what happened when Apple brought in the Pepsi guy. Then, when Jobs returned, the company exploded. Passion and on field experience returned.

Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have been in the trenches, on the field and have proven that they are great entrepreneurs and amazing CEOs. Like a player on the field, these guys started at the bottom and worked their way up. Their passion and dedication to doing something transformative, not always about money, was their driving force. Not all entrepreneurs can do this and not all should.

To sum this all up, some of us are entrepreneurs and maybe become a great CEO some day. Some of us are players and perhaps we can become a great coach. Desire, passion and commitment is what leads to these stages. If you are a great player, but have no passion to be a coach, stay off the field after retirement. Same goes for you entrepreneurs and CEOs. In the end, you will win the race you choose to run and more will likely benefit. There’s no shame in being just a great entrepreneur or just a great player.

By | February 16th, 2017|Business Operations, Entrepreneuring, Other|0 Comments

You Can’t Put Your Heart Into Your Business If You Don’t Show Yourself Some Love, Too.

With Valentine’s Day finally here, February is perfect for reflecting on and celebrating how committed you’ve been to your entrepreneurial endeavors. It’s also an ideal time to assess how well you’ve been taking care of yourself.

As a small business owner, you likely work long hours, eat many meals on the fly (if at all!), regularly forfeit a good night’s sleep, and pass on countless invitations to enjoy activities outside of work. While those sacrifices may seem as though they’ll make you more productive and your business more successful, ultimately they can have the opposite effect.

I urge you to realize YOU are the most important asset your business has. And if you run yourself ragged, ignoring the needs of your mind and body, your business will suffer. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually your entrepreneurial effectiveness will deteriorate due to your self-neglect.

As we celebrate the month of amore, how about showing yourself some love while you’re showing others affection?

To refresh your memory on how to do that, here are some ideas:

  • Get away.

Working non-stop can leave you frazzled and resentful. Even if for only a half-day, plan an escape from the grind. During your getaway, indulge in an activity you love whether it’s catching the latest blockbuster on the big screen or getting pampered at a spa.

  • Eat quality foods.

What you eat affects how you look and feel—which in turn impacts your self-confidence and energy level. I’m not saying you shouldn’t partake in some Valentine’s Day chocolates (I certainly intend to!), but don’t turn a holiday-inspired splurge into a chronic bad habit. Fuel your body and mind with healthful foods that offer the nutrition you need to perform at your peak.

  • Get moving.

Nothing can bust stress better than working out. Whether powerwalking on the treadmill, a Pilates session, or pumping iron is your thing, carve out time to treat your body right.

  • Take five.

If getting away from it all for an extended period isn’t entirely possible, at the very least squeeze in short breaks throughout the day. They will give you opportunities to refresh your mind, regain focus, and, if necessary, adjust your attitude.

  • Say No.

Many entrepreneurs have a difficult time with this—and it’s to their detriment. I know, because I’m one of them! When you have an innate desire to help others, saying “no” to taking on tasks and responsibilities doesn’t come naturally. But if you say “yes” to every request, you’ll shortchange your ability to fulfill your existing priorities. Avoid overextending yourself by mastering the art of saying “no.”

Don’t treat tending to your own physical and mental well-being an afterthought. Make a conscious effort to show yourself some love this month, and make it a priority every month and year going forward.

Should I Call My Employee an Associate or Representative?

Small business owners often struggle when coming up with a job title for their new employee or when listing an open position at their business. Although we’d all like to think that a job title doesn’t mean that much, it’s actually really important from both an employer and employee point of view.

What Job Titles Mean – and What They Can Do

According to Fast Company, 80% of companies they surveyed use job titles to demonstrate an employee’s position in the company hierarchy. And 92% use job titles to define an employee’s role within the company.

Perhaps even more importantly, job titles can be used as recruitment tools. Since small businesses often struggle to recruit and retain employees, using job titles to find and attract potential applicants is a great tactic. The same Fast Company survey found that only 37% of companies think of using job titles as a recruitment tool, so using this tactic can give small businesses a competitive edge.

Clearly, job titles are more important than one might think at first glance. If your business is growing to the point where titles are important, there are ways to structure your system for clarity, consistency, and communications that will help your business thrive.

Choosing the Best Job Titles for Employees

Job titles help maintain structure within an organization. They serve as a shorthand and communications tool to help employees understand where they fit into an organization and how others do, too. And because they don’t cost anything, they can be used as a recruitment and retention tool.

So how do you go about choosing the best job titles for your employees? Consider these seven points when discovering the best titles for your company.

  1. “C” titles stand at the top of the hierarchy: The “C-suite” is a designation for the highest level of the company and is a common way to show decision-making power and authority. Reserve “Chief” titles for those in charge of multiple people and/or departments and with corresponding levels of increasing responsibility.
  2. Give everyone who manages staff a similar title: A consistent naming structure where people who are responsible for the performance of others all share similar designations helps people within the company understand roles and responsibilities. Whether you call them Managers or Directors, anyone who directly manages the actions of others should share a common title.
  3. Associate or representative? It can be difficult to choose between these two titles. Usually “representatives” designates a slightly higher rank than an associate. People often view associates as a starting position. Representatives “represent” their companies and as such, usually reflect deeper company knowledge and a longer tenure with a company.
  4. Titles aren’t analogous among companies: Job titles vary considerably in the scope of work assigned to the title. Look beyond titles when hiring, and make sure you designate via a written job description exactly what each position and title is responsible for so that there is no confusion.
  5. Use titles as part of a candidate’s compensation package: Many good candidates will negotiate compensation and other perks of the job. One area where it’s easy for you to compromise without affecting salary and benefits is in their job title. Consider changing or adjusting job titles, if warranted, to attract and keep great candidates for a job.
  6. Avoid “title-less” organizations: There’s been a trend over the past few years of “flat” organizations. This means that the organization eschews job titles and prefers to view everyone as colleagues. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it can lead to confusion. Customers, clients, vendors and others are used to a system of titles and responsibilities and will still ask for the Director of IT, Operations, Marketing, and so on. Even if your work environment is highly collegial and collaborative, you still need job titles.
  7. Base titles on job descriptions: It’s helpful to begin with the job descriptions you’ve created for your company and decide on titles based on descriptions. At small businesses, employees often wear many hats, and the scope of their responsibilities is broader than at larger companies where people can specialize. Decide the appropriate category for a job title such as accounting, marketing, finance, operations, etc. Then think about the amount of responsibility someone has and what that might mean in terms of job title.

Love them or loathe them, job titles remain an important consideration for employees and employers alike. As you structure your small business, structure your title system for clarity, consistency, and accuracy. You’ll set up your organization for strong growth ahead.