David Rovinski and Terry Misfeldt from Fluidity Business Planning Group are co-chairs of the De Pere Area Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee recently wrote this about positioning your company for success in 2012:
The first step is to be honest with yourself and develop a position statement for where your business is today – right now. You can do this yourself by taking a few hours, finding a quiet place for some reflection, and thinking about the status of your company through the end of 2011.
Consider your sales figures. Are they where they should be or is there room for improvement? Is your sales force capable of meeting, or exceeding, expectations on a consistent basis?
Think about your advertising. Has it produced the results you expected when you invested in it? Were you able to track new business that came in? How did that new volume compare to what you spent?
Look at your finances overall. How far out are your receivables? What’s your cash flow situation look like? Have your margins remained the same? For how long? Is your business growing every year?
The second step in positioning your company for success is digesting the information you’ve accumulated from your evaluation and coming up with solutions to change the less than favorable situations. In most cases, when you take the time to think things through and realize something is problematic, you have taken a huge step toward solving that problem merely because you’ve identified what it is. You will find, though, that there are times when you are unable to see the problem and may need outside help to take a look at where you are. Often, that’s because you’re smack dab in the middle of it all. What might not be obvious to you could be crystal clear to an independent, third party observer (I3PO). You obviously want to capitalize on the positive trends and enhance them as much as you can.
The third step is laying out the plans to move forward. It may be in the same direction but with new goals and objectives, or in a totally different direction with more of a focus on the consumer. After all, every business should be focused on the customer. We often lose sight of that rudimentary philosophy when we become embroiled in the daily toil of the work environment.
The key is to have an action plan, and then act on that plan. The first quarter of 2012 is gone, so acting now could mean the difference between a mediocre year and a sensational year for your business.
Preserving Tax Deductions for Business Travel
If a taxpayer’s trip is undertaken solely for business reasons, reasonable and necessary travel expenses, including travel fares, lodging, meals, and incidental expenses in getting to and from the destination are generally deductible on federal tax returns (subject to the 50% disallowance for meals and entertainment). Transportation, lodging, meals, and incidental expenses incurred while at the destination should also qualify as federal tax deductions. However, if the taxpayer’s trip involves both business and personal activities, a portion of the travel expenses may actually be nondeductible personal expenses rather than deductible business expenses.
If a taxpayer travels on business in the United States and while at the business destination extends his or her stay for a vacation, makes a nonbusiness side trip, or has other nonbusiness activities, the proper treatment of the taxpayer’s travel expenses depends on how much of the trip was business-related. The following guidelines generally apply:
a. If the trip was primarily for business, the deductible travel expenses include the costs of getting to and from the business destination and any business-related expenses while at the business destination. Personal (vacation) costs incurred while at the destination are not tax-deductible.
b. If the trip was primarily for personal reasons, such as a vacation, the costs of getting to and from the destination are personal (nondeductible) travel costs. Personal costs incurred while at the destination are also nondeductible. However, any business costs incurred while at the destination are tax-deductible expenses.
Whether a trip is primarily business or personal depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. The amount of time spent on business activities compared to the time spent on personal activities is an important factor. It is essential to note that time spent is only one factor to consider and may not be the dominant factor given the facts and circumstances. If the taxpayer would not have taken the trip except to achieve the business purpose, a strong argument can be made that the trip was primarily for business.
The proper allocation of travel expenses between business and nonbusiness categories is often difficult to determine. Please contact us to discuss specific travel expense allocation issues or any other tax planning or compliance matter.
More great info brought to you by our friends at Hawkins, Ash, Baptie, Co. – thanks so much!!
I have holiday shopping and then cooking/baking to do. So today, I’m going to use as my post a great column in today’s Green Bay Press Gazette by Steve Van Remortel then get to my tasks list. Enjoy!!
A few weeks ago I posted Of strategic plans and fear discussing the importance of strategic planning and a new way of doing that. Planning is critical, but if you only plan and don’t marry it to action, you will not succeed. Today Steve’s column is about Tactical Planning which is about putting that strategy into action.
You’ve taken time to put together a business plan. You’ve set your strategy. Now what? How do you make the strategy a reality in your everyday business life?
What makes the difference between a highly successful company and one that is just an average performer? I believe that tactical planning is the key. In my consulting work, I emphasize to companies the importance of taking strategy to tactics. Tactical planning takes strategy to action.
Tactical planning can also be called department planning. It is a plan developed annually by each department leader and his or her team. Three key components of a basic tactical plan include action plans, measurements and an education and training plan for department employees. Each action plan is developed to achieve an organizational goal, and must have an owner and a prioritized completion date. Because accountability is so important, all action plans should be reviewed at least monthly.
Why do I stress the importance of developing and executing tactical plans? There are several reasons:
Tactical or department planning drives the execution of the strategic plan through all levels of the organization. Tactical plans turn strategy into actions. Tactical plans increase the number of people working “on” the business versus “in” the business. If you are coming up with a new process, you are working “on” the business. If you are using that new process, you are working “in” the business. Most organizations spend about 90 percent to 95 percent of their time working “in” the business, and they could greatly improve the performance of their organization if they could find a better balance between the two. Tactical plans prioritize our activities and tie our daily work to our overall strategy. Tactical plans result in company-wide involvement, buy-in and accountability.As each department completes its action plans working “on” the business, the success of the organization accelerates. As that happens, we also increase the competitive advantage and differentiation over our competition. As we keep getting better and better at what we do, it drives increases in sales and profitability, despite the economic climate.Implementing the tactical planning process into an organization takes a lot of work and discipline. We have seen that the most successful and profitable companies we work with have become experts at tactical planning. Remember, those who plan — profit.
Okay, so John Steinbeck I’m not, but there is a correlation between the adage “often the best laid plans of mice and men for awry” and my adage, “not planning because you are afraid what might happen,” in that both speak to what has happened over the course of the last year and to where many still are today.
Last September’s collapse of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, the near-implosion of AIG, the bankruptcy of GM, the crisis at Chrysler, the FDIC take over of IndyMac, Freddie/Fannie bottoming all were the epitome of the phrase, “the best laid plans …” adage and unfortunately one of the biggest results was that even those of us who weren’t directly affected were all surrounded in an environment of fear because we had no idea what was going to happen.
Fear is a funny thing. It can drive you to action by activating the fight or flight mechanism or it can paralyze you into not doing anything. Sometimes in business and given what happened over the last 14 months, not matter which of the responses you chose, you were “dead” either way (metaphorically speaking in this case) but, I’d much rather die on-my-feet and trying to find a path to success than just stay frozen and die.
Last year at this time, the De Pere Area Chamber finalized the first year of what was designed to be a 3 year Plan of Action. It was bold, it was aggressive, in some ways, it was audacious. This morning, our Board of Directors approved year 2 of that plan. It is *still* bold, aggressive and audacious. Do I, as the C.E.O., have some fear? Some trepidation? Absolutely. But I also have optimism, enthusiasm and excitement for where we are going in the next 12 months and what those 12 months set up for the periods that follow. I’ll post a link to our new plan in the next day or so.
I heard today reference to something called the Rockefeller “One Page Strategic Plan.” I did some research and I’m very intrigued. I think it is a fascinating (and involved) process and one I think our staff and board will go through next year.
Do you have a strategic plan? Has the fear of not knowing what is going to happen with “this economy” stopped you from planning and thrown you into pure survival mode? I would submit that is a mistake of gargantuan proportions. The worst that can happen if you plan is that you have to change your plan. If you just hunker down, you will miss the opportunities present in crisis.
Here are the basics of the “One Page Strategic Plan”:
- You must have a VISION – A DREAM WITH A PLAN – Most people don’t have visions, they have dreams.
- You define 5 Core Values/Beliefs (either should’s or shouldn’ts)
- Define the Purpose of why your business exists
- Come up with one Big Hairy Audacious Goal – do NOT think or say “we never could do” – DREAM. And it should freak you out a little bit with “oh my God that’s big”
- Define 5 actions we can take in the next quarter to: a) Live your Core Values/Beliefs, b) and c) Reach toward Big Hairy Audacious Goal Achieve your purpose
- Define 5 – 3-5 year targets ( key thrusts/capabilities)
- Your 1 year goals
- Your quarterly goals (financials, critical numbers (goals or $$ based))
- Individual accountabilities towards these goals
I also heard and fell in love with these 3 questions that every business owner/C.E.O. should ask, answer and right down to have in front of you (perhaps on the back side of your One Page Strategic Plan).
This last year has not been just a financial shake-up, it has been a crisis of faith and confidence.
- Who are you?
- What do you believe?
- Why are you doing this?
I’d love to hear your answers and thoughts – let me know!