/Running A Small Business

Be Your Own HR Department with These 5 Tools

Small business owners wear many hats when running daily operations – especially when they are just starting to build their company. Their tasks include administrative work, client servicing, finance requirements and more.

One of the most tedious tasks of running a business is taking care of HR requirements. Unfortunately, your HR responsibilities don’t end when an applicant signs the employment contract. This part of the business plays an important role in keeping the company running smoothly on a daily basis. However, small businesses don’t always have the luxury of hiring a dedicated team member to focus on these tasks.

Fortunately, there are a lot of available resources to help small business owners with these functions without having to hire an HR manager. Below are 5 tools that you can use to be your own HR department.

1. Online Recruitment Tools

Online recruitment software organize a company’s hiring process by providing end-to-end solutions to their recruitment needs.

Features of online recruitment tools include being able to post job listings on multiple job boards, search for applicants that fit the company’s job description, review and rank candidates, schedule interviews and organize them based on the stage of their application. It also helps a company build a talent pipeline should a need to fill in a new role arises. All of which helps prevent a hiring manager from overlooking pending and ongoing applications.

While this tool helps in organizing the whole recruitment process, it is also important to have proper documentation and formalities once you get your new team member on board. Remember to accomplish all the necessary employee forms to help make employment agreements headache-free.

2. Online Payroll System

Using online payroll or accounting software is an efficient way to manage your employees’ compensation package in a timely manner. These tools are designed to help calculate monthly wages, apply deductions as necessary, file taxes, manage your accounts, and pay employees via direct bank deposits.

Employees are asked to fill out forms initially but once everything is set up, the tool will do most of the work moving forward, relieving an individual from accomplishing monthly recurring compensation tasks.

3. Employee Performance Review Software

One of the most important functions of HR is looking after an employee’s career growth in line with the quality of his performance within the company. The most effective way to do this is to conduct regular performance reviews with each employee to check if they are on track with the goals set from their last evaluation.  

Small businesses can use performance review tools to help them keep track of their employees’ performance documents. It’s a helpful and efficient way to see agreed upon targets and career plans without having to dig through physical files that sometimes get lost in piles of other documents.

4. Time Tracking Tools

Time tracking tools help managers oversee the time being spent by employees and freelancers on each project, client or tasks so that it’s easier to calculate their time worked at the end of each month. This is particularly helpful in determining whether a particular client is profitable based on the numbers that an employee puts into the project when measured against the amount of money that the client brings into the company.

Other uses of time tracking tools include prioritizing and reprioritizing employee tasks based on current client requirements. It also gives managers great visibility when assigning new tasks and avoiding giving more work to employees who already have a lot on their plate as they can see the projects each team member is working on.

Time tracking tools can be used on the go and have mobile app versions making it easier for employees to record their hours anytime, anywhere.

5. Perks and Reward Tools

Particularly useful for output driven professions, an employee reward system works by scoring an individual’s performance, calculating “earned points” and rewarding them for their great work.

Employers can customize their rewards package and input prizes a team member is eligible to claim should they reach a specific number of points. While this tool is more of a nice-to-have instead of a must-have, it’s a unique tool companies can use when looking for ways to motivate and give back to their employees on a regular basis.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to motivate your employees for their great work, read this article about using rewards and incentives in the workplace.

Bottom Line

While double-hatting as an HR manager and juggling operational roles is a tedious task, taking advantage of available and easy-to-use HR tools online can significantly relieve an individual from juggling all of the different functions related to HR.

Most of these tools are designed to help individuals organize HR functions especially when handling recurring tasks. Once you are done with the initial stages of setting up these tools, they will do most of the work for you so you can focus on more important things such as scouting for new clients and bringing in more money to your business!

Can An Employer Ask About Your Age?

If a job candidate is googling this question after a job interview at your company, you may be headed for trouble.

At both the federal and state level, anti-discrimination laws exist to prevent businesses from hiring or not hiring based on personal characteristics that are not relevant to an individual’s ability to do the job. Age is one of them. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects people who are age 40 and older from being treated unfavorably because of their age during the hiring process—and when employed. In 2016, 20,857 age discrimination charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the government agency that enforces ADEA.

For private businesses, the ADEA only applies to those with 20 or more employees, but why put your business at risk? If you intend to grow your business, doesn’t it make sense to establish policies and procedures now to help ensure you don’t become a statistic and possibly face a costly lawsuit?

You need to pay attention to every aspect of employment:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Compensation
  • Work assignments and responsibilities
  • Opportunities for career advancement
  • Training
  • Fringe benefits
  • Layoffs
  • Firing

Any other terms or conditions of employment are also subject to age-related discrimination scrutiny.

While the ADEA doesn’t protect younger individuals from discrimination in the workplace, some state laws do. So, you could put yourself in a tricky situation if you in any way let the age of job applicants or employees affect how you treat people. Also, just because your business falls below the 20-employee minimum for ADEA to apply to you, you might be subject to your state’s age-related anti-discrimination laws. For example, individuals in Arkansas can file a claim against employers with a minimum of 9 employees under state law. And in Colorado, all employers, regardless of number of employees, must comply with the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

What can you do to help keep your business from violating the laws protecting against age discrimination?

Below are a few tips that can help:

  • In your employment ads, avoid language that could land you in trouble. (For example, “Looking for a young, energetic professional…”) Generally, ADEA deems it unlawful to mention age limitations, preferences, and outright specifications in job advertisements.
  • Be cautious when asking an applicant to disclose her age or date of birth. While it’s not explicitly prohibited, that type of inquiry will be closely scrutinized to ensure it wasn’t asked in an effort to deter older workers from applying for a position or otherwise discriminate against them based on age. According to the EEOC, “If the information is needed for a lawful purpose, it can be obtained after the employee is hired.”
  • Don’t establish company-wide policies or practices if they will adversely affect applicants or employees who are age 40 or older. [Note that liability might not apply if a policy or practice’s impact is due to a reasonable factor other than age (RFOA)].
  • Make sure your business’s managers and employees understand that age-related harassment is illegal when frequent or severe enough to cause a hostile work environment.

Realize we’ve merely glazed over the tip of the iceberg with the considerations above, so I encourage you to consult with a human resource professional and/or attorney for guidance and feedback on your hiring and employment efforts.

While avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit shouldn’t be a concern that keeps you up at night, it is something you need to be vigilant about through having sound standards, procedures, and staff training in place. I know you’ve worked hard to bring your business this far; don’t let sloppy employment practices stand in the way of your success.

So You Want To Start An Accounting Firm? Here’s What You Need To Know.

If you’re a CPA, making the transition from working for someone else to being your own boss has probably crossed your mind. Self-employment offers an opportunity to have more control over your own schedule, allowing you to better balance your professional endeavors and personal life. It also enables you to manage your firm the way you want to manage it. Indeed, there are some attractive perks to starting your own accounting firm. There are also a lot of things to consider and accomplish in the process.

Think It Through

Before you move forward with launching your own business, make sure self-employment is the right choice for you. It doesn’t suit everyone, and it’s best to discover that before you devote time and money to the cause. Ask yourself:

  • What is motivating you to be a business owner? 

Think carefully about what’s driving your decision. If your motivation comes from the inability to deal with your boss or your coworkers, you might want to reconsider. When you have your own business, you’ll need to find ways to work harmoniously with many different people. Not all of them will be easy to get along with. Realize that starting a business won’t enable you to avoid interpersonal challenges.

  • Are you OK with assuming some risk? 

Starting a business comes with initially forfeiting a steady paycheck and paid vacation time. And with no employer-paid health insurance, you need to seek and pay for that necessity on your own. If your business doesn’t succeed or doesn’t grow as quickly as you anticipate, you might face some financial hardships. Are you willing and able to accept that?

  • Do you have enough capital to get started?

Many new businesses fail in their first few years of operation because they don’t have enough initial capital. Be realistic about your financing. Generally, it’s best to have enough money available to support yourself for at least six months to a year as your business becomes established.

  • Are you self-disciplined and driven? 

One of the biggest changes you’ll experience in going from employee to self-employed is holding yourself accountable for your work. With no boss to give you assignments and check in about their status, you need to keep yourself on track. You’ll need to be self-motivated and organized—your business success will depend on that.

  • Are you prepared to handle all the aspects of running a business? 

As a business owner, you’ll do more than just accounting work for your clients. You’ll wear many hats as you manage your business. Marketing your company, qualifying leads, negotiating contracts, dealing with IT issues…it all falls on you—at least in the beginning stages of your business.

If after that exercise you decide you want to pursue starting your own accounting firm, I expect you’re wondering, “Where do I go from here?”

To legitimately launch your business, here’s an overview of the seven legal steps to get there:

1. Select a business name

Think about whether you want to market your business using your own name (e.g., “Jane Smith, Accountant”) or create a business name (e.g., “Accounting You Can Count On”). As a solopreneur accountant, you might opt to use your own name because you and your brand are one in the same. On the other hand, choosing a business name might help you be perceived as well-established and experienced.

If you go with a business name, make sure it is available to use before you start printing it on business cards and other marketing materials. Check to see if the name is available in the state where you’re planning to operate your business by checking with your state’s secretary of state office. We have a free business name search tool here at CorpNet that can help, as well.

Also check to see if the domain name for your business is available (e.g., accountingyoucancounton.com). Sites like GoDaddy.com will let you instantly find out if there’s a suitable domain, and they will offer suggestions for alternate names if the one you want is already taken.

No one in your state is using the name you want? Excellent! Next, you’ll want to search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see if anyone has a pending request for or has successfully registered a trademark for the name. Don’t skip this step because you’ll land in legal hot water if you infringe on another company’s trademark.

2. Choose a legal structure and register your business.

The business structure you choose will affect your business from both legal and tax standpoints. Solo accountants and small firms often choose to register as an LLC (Limited Liability Company), PLLC (Professional Limited Liability Company), or PC (Professional Corporation). As state constructs, these business entities are subject to different rules in different states. You can find the specific rules for accountants in your state via the CorpNet website or you can call the Secretary of State’s office in your state to get the details you need.

3. Obtain the licenses and permits you’ll need.

Regardless of which state you’re operating your business in, you’ll need some form of licensing to provide public accounting services. You will need to hold a CPA license and your firm may need a public accountancy license. To determine the requirements in your state, check with your State Board of Accountancy.

Besides CPA accreditation you may also need other state and local municipality permits, as well. They might include a general business operation license, a signage permit, and possibly a home occupation permit (if you’re operating your business from home. CorpNet can help you determine the license and permit requirements applicable to you, or you can check with your local government office.

4. Apply for a Tax ID Number

Also called a Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number), this allows the IRS to track your business’s transactions. LLCs and corporations are required to have an EIN and many banks will require that you have one before they’ll allow you to open a business bank account.

5. Open a bank account exclusively for your business.

It’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate—for both legal and tax purposes. In fact, that separation is mandatory for LLCs and corporations. After you’ve registered your business with the state and have your Tax ID number, you will have the information you need to open a business bank account.

6. Get insurance to protect your business.

Even though officially forming an LLC or incorporating your business will help to lower your personal liability related to business debt and lawsuits against associates, it will not protect your personal assets if action is brought against you due to your own actions. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider getting an insurance policy for peace of mind. Talk with a knowledgeable and trustworthy insurance agent who understands the needs of accountants and other businesses in the financial services industry. A reliable agent can guide you to the type of coverage that will best protect you, such as a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP), Professional Liability, Insurance, Data Breach Coverage, or others.

7. Know your business compliance responsibilities.

Registering your business is just the beginning. LLCs and corporations have ongoing requirements to keep their businesses in good standing. For example, most states require LLCs and PLLCs to file an annual report each year and show proof of a valid certification. Corporations have more corporate compliance responsibilities. Besides annual reports, they must conduct annual meetings, prepare meeting minutes, and meet other compliance requirements.

I know it can be tough to keep up with everything that’s required and when it’s due, so I recommend using the CorpNet B.I.Z. (Business Information Zone) compliance tool. It’s a free monitoring tool that can help you stay on top of your state filings and fees due throughout the year.

The steps to starting an accounting business aren’t overly complex. To make sure you launch your business on solid legal ground, you’ll want to make sure you do it right. Consider talking with a legal professional who can guide you and look to CorpNet to ensure your business forms and filings are done accurately and on time.

If you want more detail about launching your accounting business, join me on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 11 a.m. Pacific Time for CPAacademy.org’s upcoming webinar, “Steps to Start Your Accounting Firm.” Registration is required, so sign up today!

Best Practices For Interviewing Job Candidates

Hiring the right people requires a sure-fire interviewing process. To effectively interview prospective employees, you need more than a little dedicated time and a list of questions; you need an understanding of how you can draw out the information you need about an individual’s knowledge and capabilities. You also need to tune into character nuances that might indicate how well a candidate will work with your team. And, of course, you need to do all of that without breaking any anti-discrimination laws.

Interviewing can be intimidating for not only prospective employees, but also for employers! By following some best practices for interviewing applicants, you can better ensure your interview process does the job well, allowing you to home in on that one individual who will be an exceptional fit for the position.

Get The Job Done Right: 6 Best Practices For Interviewing Job Candidates

  • Prepare.

Whether you alone will interview the job candidate or you decide to have multiple interviewers, everyone involved should prepare in advance.

Interviewers should know what experience, capabilities, and professional characteristics are critical to the job (it helps to rank them in order of most important to least important), so everyone is on the same page when assessing job candidates. Also, each interviewer needs to understand her role in the interview and have questions prepared that will draw out relevant information about the job candidate’s knowledge, skills, and experience. To do this, you all need to be intimately familiar with the job position’s requirements and the information a job candidate provided thus far (job application, resume, phone interview, etc.) that has awarded her an in-person interview.

  • Make It As Less Stressful As Possible.

To get things off to the best start, be on time. Making an on-time candidate wait around for you and other interviewers to finish up phone calls or run for coffee at the last minute will send the wrong impression and add to any nervousness she’s already feeling. Begin the interview on a friendly note with some casual small talk to make the job candidate feel comfortable and at ease. When excessively nervous, even an individual who is fully capable and competent will lose the ability to put her best foot forward in an interview. I would never want to count anyone out simply because of interview jitters. I’ve always found that breaking the ice with some light-hearted, easy-going conversation helps everyone relax and sets the stage for a productive exchange of information.

Also, set aside enough time for the interview so you aren’t rushing through it. If you’re constantly checking the clock, you won’t be concentrating as fully as you should be on the interview. Your applicant will sense that and may not answer questions in adequate detail because she doesn’t want to impose on your time.

  • Comply With The Law 

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws exist to protect applicants from biases of age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, genetics, or disabilities. Everyone involved in the interviewing and hiring process should understand which job interview questions are acceptable to ask and the job interview questions that are illegal. Use questions that are focused on drawing out information about your interviewee’s skills, knowledge, and experience relevant to the job. That will help you avoid inquiring about personal situations and lifestyle preferences, which could raise suspicions of discrimination if a candidate isn’t hired.

  • Ask Questions That Allow The Job Candidate To Do The Talking.

The best way to learn more about a prospective employee’s capabilities, attitude, and professional style is to let her have the floor. Consider asking open-ended questions that solicit a more detailed answer than just “yes” or “no.” Also consider including questions that ask applicants to share about some past on-the-job experiences and hypothetical situations. These can help shed light on how well a candidate might deal with certain circumstances and challenges on the job.

Some examples of questions that might draw out meaningful responses include:

  • What interests you most about working for our company?
  • What did you like most about your most recent position with your former employer?
  • Describe a time when you had to share unwelcome but necessary news with a customer.
  • Tell us about when your presentation skills helped change someone’s preconceived ideas about something. How did you prepare for the challenge?
  • Suppose you were recently hired as a manager at a local restaurant. Every week, a certain customer comes in for lunch. And every week, that customer asks to talk to you to complain about the wait time, the server, or the food. How would you deal with this customer?

These types of open questions can help you gauge a job candidate’s communication abilities, problem solving skills, and professionalism. They will also help you get a sense for how an applicant may react under certain circumstances and how well she might adapt to your company’s culture.

  • Listen Well And Take Good Notes.

Minimize distractions so your attention doesn’t wander to other things while you’re conducting an interview. As your applicant is answering your questions, be fully present mentally when listening. And take notes. You may think your memory is good, but it’s probably not going to live up to your expectations! You’ll want to capture what you liked and didn’t like about how the job candidate responded to you. After interviewing multiple candidates, you’ll have your notes to refer back to as you assess each individual and decide whom you want to ask back to attend subsequent interviews.

  • Give The Job Candidate An Opportunity To Ask Questions

Remember, the interview process is also to help qualified candidates learn whether a position might be right for them. Be sure to provide ample opportunity for them to ask questions about the job responsibilities, your company’s policies, and the working environment at your company.

Interviewing, when done effectively, will reveal a lot about an applicant’s skills, experience, knowledge, and interpersonal skills. With proper planning and attention to the best practices I’ve shared here, your interviews can help ensure you hire the most suitable person for the job. For further guidance and to make sure you comply with all the legal requirements (thus avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit), consider enlisting the help of a human resources expert and/or attorney.  Doing it right from the start can save you time, headaches, and employee turnover and training costs.

7 Small Business Expenses to Account for in Your Monthly Budget

Budgets are essential to manage your costs and keep your small business profitable throughout the year. Due to the dynamic nature of any small business, you can’t just set a budget in January and let it sit unchanged until the end of the year. Every month, take stock of your business’ performance and expenses and use that data from the prior month to update your budget.

Your monthly budget needs to provide you with enough detail so that you can identify potential cash crunches in the near future as well as opportunities to make the most out of extra cash. To get that level of detail, let’s review seven key small business expenses to account for in your monthly budget.

1. Vehicle Expenses

With the tax deadline rapidly approaching, you may now know that you’ll be able to deduct vehicle expenses for business purposes. Go beyond just the number of dollars spent for gas and include applicable vehicle registration fees, repairs, and insurance payments. Also, keep track of business miles driven because you can deduct 53.5 cents per mile in 2017. For more details, consult Topic 510 from the IRS.

2. Advertising Expenses

Depending on your marketing budget and number of promotion projects that you have going on, you could be eating up your ad budget too fast (or even, too slow). Reconciling your monthly payments to advertisers allows you to fine tune your promotion efforts so that you have enough left for those peak periods, such as the summer or December holidays.

3. Tax Payments

Dude, where’s the budget for April? Your tax liability might have taken a big bite out of it, hurting your available cash on hand to pay suppliers and (gasp!) employees that month. Including all outgoing cash flows is a key part of building a budget for your small business, and tax payments are no exception.

4. Wages

As your small business grows, you’ll find yourself wishing that you could hire an extra help of hands to handle the extra work. But is it worth to have full-time staff throughout the entire year? By keeping track of wages every month, you’ll be able to determine if you could be better served by part-time, seasonal, or contract workers on specific months. Plus, it helps you to be ready for Form 941 every quarter and its equivalent at the state level, if applicable.

5. Expenses Related to Accounts Receivable

Your budget may have a category tracking one-time (or unusual) expenses. From that list, single out any charges for collecting money for sales made on credit, or write-offs from money that’s never recovered. Such charges will tell you the whole story about your sales numbers and whether or not you need to make changes to your policies for sales made on credit.

6. Cash Outflows from Operating Activities

When doing a cash flow analysis, you want to break down cash inflows and outflows into operating, financing, and investment activities. Get in the habit of reconciling your cash flow balance by adding and subtracting applicable inflows, such as depreciation and decrease in inventory, and outflows from operating activities, such as increase in accounts receivable and decrease in accounts payable, and you’ll have an indicator of potential cash crunches or opportunities for investment.

A number that’s too low for many months would indicate that you should start looking into forms of business financing and one that’s too high for many months would point out that your small business could afford to invest in a new piece of equipment, hire a new employee, or spend a bit more in promotion.

7. Loan Advances

If you have an existing term loan or line of working capital, write down how much you have used on the previous month. This allows you to evaluate your existing form of financing: Are you tapping into your line of credit only during certain months? Do you have adequate reserves for an emergency? Do you need to increase your limit?
As you can see, monitoring your business expenses is a great financial habit that allows you to make more informed decisions and reach your business goals. Depending on the size of your small business, hiring a bookkeeper to maintain your monthly budget and other financial documents, such as income statement and balance sheet, will free up your time and enable you to focus on the core activities of your operation.

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|4 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

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.

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