Leadership: The Best 11 Steps to Become a Leader


Editor’s note: This article is dedicated to my friends — the hardworking faculty and students in the post graduate studies in Education and Business Management at Southern Mindanao Colleges at Pagadian City in the Philippines. 



Whether you aspire to become a leader or want to get better at leading people, it’s certainly a huge job.

A good friend of mine, widely acclaimed consultant Joey Tamer, says there are 10 characteristics of a successful CEO:

  1. Domain expertise (technology or other)
  2. Leadership & personal power
  3. Financial savvy
  4. Ability to pitch and close
  5. Honor
  6. Realism
  7. Perseverance
  8. Patience
  9. Perspective on the larger scheme of things
  10. Courage to move forward, or stop, and to know when to do either one.

Whew, she’s right. Leading an organization in an ethically, effective way is tough.

But you can do this. How?

Firstly, understand you have to be mindful of The Peter Principle. The Peter Principle is a widely accepted management theory advanced by Laurence Peter.

In 1969, the educator theorized many people are appointed to a higher position based solely on their performance — not their potential qualities to succeed in their new role.

Such people don’t understand the big picture and aren’t effective in solving the issues confronting their organization and industry.

Therefore, they rise to their level of incompetence, which means they ultimately fail.

To avoid the stigma of The Peter Principle and to be competent at a higher level, you have to lay a personal foundation of values for professional growth.

Building a foundation enables you to stand tall with confidence before you seek a leadership job. It will give you the necessary underpinning as a leader.

You’ll also be confident in your decisions so you won’t engage in self-doubt after making your decisions.

Here are 11 steps:

1. Learn what you don’t know

— Learn the Principle of Contrary Action. Many people make the mistake of thinking they’re open-minded. But they’re limited by their limited experience and their biases – they unknowingly have biases, which lead to poor decisions.

Learn how to have an open mind, by practicing the Principle of Contrary Action.

The Principle of Contrary Action entails keeping a mental or written record of all your daily activities, and then try to plan and do things differently each time you do them.

Take for example, when you go grocery shopping. As much as possible, each time take a different route, park your car in a different parking spot, enter a different door and walk down a different aisle each time you enter a store. Over time, your creativity will soar.

— Thoroughly study your organization, your marketplace and your industry. Effective bosses have antennas to alert them over looming challenges.

It’s important to develop an antenna – to be alert to challenges before they worsen. When you’re in front of problems, you’ll avoid unnecessary deadlines, which are a huge waste of time and a drain on your energy.

Also, learn how to motivate employees when your organization is facing adversity.

— Learn how to think like an entrepreneur. Leaders think and act like entrepreneurs because they’re independent-minded and fearless.

You must stay on an even keel emotionally, despite all the negative surprises. Develop habits that make certain your attitude is contagious – an attitude worth catching — to prepare for daily success.

Winning entrepreneurs have five morning habits.

— Get a great mentor. With a mentor so you won’t be alone in making career decisions to guide you. Ask questions and get continuous feedback to accelerate your career.

— Read voraciously. Read relevant journals, and autobiographies and biographies of successful people, especially learn why they’re successful and the lessons they learned.

Note: Focus on concepts and principles. Even if you’re reading about someone in a different profession than you, you’ll learn principles that are applicable and transferable to your situation.

— Learn about management of people. Start with strategies to succeed as a new nanager, management theories and the prerequisites needed to succeed in managing people. That ranges from avoiding legal problems and motivating employees to retaining your talented workers.

— Learn about effective delegation of employees. Delegation is a fundamental driver of organizational growth. Managers who are effective in delegation show leadership.

Save yourself time and develop your staff for the welfare of your organization. Use best practices in employee delegation.

— Study how to manage money. Learn finance. To lead an organization, you must understand the numbers and what they mean for you personally and for the organization.

— Make technology a priority. In particular, you’ll need to know how to guard against cyber threats and to prevent and recover from ransomware.

Overall, there are four important strategies every boss should know.

— Study marketing and sales. To lead, you must know about marketing and sales, and negotiating tactics. Even nonprofit leaders have to know these concepts.

Become a great communicator. Leaders write and speak well so they can be informative and persuasive. There are many benefits if you become a great public speaker.

— Do a personal inventory. Now that you have an overview of what’s needed in leadership, perform a comprehensive self-study of your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses.

That includes evaluating your soft skills and listening skills – your ability for relating to others. So, make certain you have emotional intelligence (EI) to evaluate, understand and control your emotions. Learn how grow your EI for leadership success.

If you tend to procrastinate or lack courage when facing adversity, learn what you need to know about being courageous, a critical characteristic of effective managers. It’s a learned behavior.

As Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said: “Courage doesn’t come by doing what everybody else says.”

Note: These are important steps before you even think about marketing and selling yourself to a leadership position. Hopefully, you’re developing a vision of what you must do for yourself.

2. Write a strategic plan for yourself 

A personal strategic plan is an investment in you. Decide what you must do to achieve your objective.

Write it as an action plan – list the steps you plan to take and when you will take them. You can do this on a single page.

3. Stay fit in every way possible

Closely monitor and journal your personal and company’s finances and cut unnecessary expenses.

Focus on fitness – physically, mentally and emotionally. This helps you with the acumen and energy that are needed to succeed.

Take the time to recharge. Stay close to your family.

Read to stay current, continually develop your intellect and spirituality. Make it a habit to learn something new each day. The famous Michelangelo once revealed his personal lifetime motto, “I am still learning.”

4. Prioritize your relationships and engagement with others

It can’t be understated – soft skills and communication with stakeholders are all of paramount importance in leading people.

In your speech and writings, don’t lead with the pronoun I. Avoid using the word, mine. Use our, we and us. Remember to write or say thank you and please whenever possible.

5. Demonstrate maturity

Leaders are poised and mindful of the success of others. They don’t resent it. They congratulate others when they’re successful. They continue to do it after they get into the corner office.

6. Master your craft

Know your responsibilities and technical-skill requirements. Ask questions if you don’t. Perform every task at the highest-possible performance.

By excelling in your duties above expectations, you’ll demonstrate leadership potential after going above and beyond your boss’s expectation of you.

7. Be proactive and become the go-to person

Be alert to opportunities to solve problems. Bring solutions to problems.

Take on extra tasks outside your responsibilities.

Help others. Not only is it the right thing to do, it demonstrates you’re able to do your own work and are management material.

8. Demonstrate resourcefulness

You’ll demonstrate your cleverness if perform your own tasks, but also take the initiative in developing or improving processes that benefit your business.

9. Volunteer for leadership roles

As situations arise, seize the initiative and volunteer. Volunteering helps cement your case that you’re ready for more responsibilities.

10. Take ownership of your work

If you continually perform well and demonstrate pride in your work, you’ll demonstrate you’re on track for a greater role in your organization.

11. Take responsibility

You’ll earn respect, if you take responsibility for the performance of your team, and your decisions and actions.

If you make a mistake, apologize to the appropriate people. Use best practices to make apologies.

Conclusion

OK, so that’s the overview in understanding what’s truly needed for leadership. These strategies will enable you to stand tall on your new foundation.

It will enable you as a leader to be confident in your decisions, and you will not engage in self-doubt after making decisions.

Strive for high performance and demonstrate that you have skills needed for success. 

Continue to hone your skills. Demonstrate that you have those skills.

And when you’re ready, boost your career with self-promotion so that higher-ups become aware that you’re ready for upward mobility. Do these things, and you’ll be successful.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related leadership strategies:

Habits of Leaders Who Have Positive Workplace Cultures — The Digital Age and global economy are demanding. Texting and emails are the norm. Face-to-face communication is minimal. This can hurt workplace cultures. Here’s what leaders do about it.

To Become a Leader, Develop Strategic-Planning Skills in 5 Steps — A salient characteristic of leadership is strategic thinking. If you’re ambitious, the ability to be a strategic planner is critical for your success. Here are five ways to achieve your goal.

10 Execution Values to Guarantee Your Strategic Plan Works — Many companies devote resources to devise a great strategic plan. But they fail in their objectives because they don’t link their strategy to execution. So, here’s how.

Leadership: 4 Strategies Dealing with Incompetent People — Yes, incompetent employees – whether they have difficult personalities or they simply under-perform – can be aggravating. But they don’t have to be.

5 Top Leadership Philosophies in Business Management — Top managers show leadership by coaching their teams to success. They accomplish goals with five habitual philosophies.

Leadership: How Leaders Employ 11 Strengths to Grow Businesses — Ascension to the C-suite doesn’t automatically qualify an executive as a leader. Leaders have 11 strengths that enable them to manage their companies for greater effectiveness and elasticity despite a fast-changing marketplace.

“Live, learn, and always do right.”

-Charles Talley


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Hoping to Sell Your Company? Best Strategies Involve Your Web Site



Why work years building your business only to sell it without fully profiting from your efforts?

For maximum profit – whether you want to sell your company to raise funds for a new venture or to simply retire – plan well to create value. Negotiate with multiple buyers to get competing offers.

Yes, business owners should plan a profitable exit strategy. That includes strategic planning to sell the digital asset, too.

Here are exit strategies:

Understand buyer motives

You should anticipate the motivation of buyers with an attractive business model. That means taking steps for a high valuation of your business and online presentation to prospective buyers.

For starters in piquing the interest of prospects, candidly it’s best if your site has the appearance of a potential for long-term passive income.

Naturally, new owners desire four basics:

  1. Great content.
  2. Excellent traffic.
  3. A turn-key, low-operational involvement with the site.
  4. Reassurance that a new owner would not lose customers and that growth is likely.

Trust

Trust is paramount. A buyer wants to be able to trust you – it’s always an emotional decision. Outsource valuation of your company.

No matter what your business model is, your site must include a trustworthy ‘About Us Page’. Of course, the rest of your site should have attributes conveying trust.

However, trust is a two-way street. Require a breakup fee if the deal falls through.

NOTE: A confidentiality agreement is insufficient. You can discuss generic results — but until you have a qualified buyer and negotiate a written offer with the right terms — do not reveal proprietary information such as your processes, client list and trade secrets.

Search-engine rankings

Your site should have great traffic to inspire confidence in a buyer. That includes your use of search-engine optimization techniques.

A buyer will want top search-engine rankings and to be confident about growth – the potential in attracting new customers and how to sustain it.

So, stay on top of SEO Trends.

Marketing

A smart buyer wants a site with short-term and long-term sustainability. You must get a big bang for your buck in promotion and be aware of trends in digital marketing.

By the way, for successful promotion, your Google search ads should be cost-effective.

But again, you can discuss results but not how you accomplished it until the time is right.

Competition

Marketplace competition will be on the mind of any buyer:

  1. Whether the niche has long-term potential.
  2. The level of market penetration and whether there are obstacles to growth.
  3. The potential threats from competition.

Customers

Your customer base must be strong as possible, and you should launch the initiatives needed to retain customers for life-time value and to attract new customers.

Mobile site

It’s increasingly important to have an easy-to-use mobile site.

With the skyrocketing sales of smartphones and tablets, comes a warning from Google. If you don’t have a mobile site, you should.

Make sure it has what Google calls “mobile friendliness.” Implement Google’s seven precautions for a top Google ranking.

Advertising vis-à-vis affiliate marketing

Unless, you’re selling your own products or services, decide on a passive-income marketing site – such as an advertising or affiliate marketing model.

Certainly, the two models have similarities in promoting a third-party partner.

In the advertising model, the goal is to entice the maximum number of site visitors to click on the advertisements.

Unless you sell ads, your option is to sign up with a pay-for-click service such as Google AdSense. With a service, you’d have control over the types of advertisers.

The problem is that you have to generate a lot of traffic as you’ll only get a very small amount of money from each click. Also, be aware that countless other sites will publish the same ads.

In affiliate marketing, the approach is to garner a percentage of a sale or a fixed amount when a visitor clicks on an ad in a certain way.

For instance, affiliate marketers might want you to refer followers for their newsletters. When visitors subscribe to newsletters of affiliate marketers, you as the publisher would be  paid.

Affiliate marketing requires more due diligence than for advertising, for example:

You will lose potential income if there’s an affiliate hacking, which means you will not earn credit for referring visitors.

Unfortunately, many affiliate marketers have bad reputations in terms of credibility – either in not paying, poor products, customer service or in other business practices.

And there’s a lot of competition for you as countless other sites are likely to be using the same affiliate marketers.

E-Commerce

With e-commerce, you’ll have more control over finances by selling products and services to visitors who pay you online.

E-commerce has made it possible for entrepreneurs to run their online businesses for higher profit.

Saas (Software as a Service)

This is on-demand software, and is increasingly popular as a model because it provides cloud access for customers to software applications on a subscription basis.

Basically, such software applications are accessed through the user’s browser as they’re centrally hosted.

While SaaS helps to cut IT costs and responsibilities, it means giving up control of your site. There are often issues in identity and access-management, and staying in compliance with government regulations on storing customers’ data remotely.

Whether you need a site for lead generation or need to maintain ownership of content, keep in mind self-hosting gives you better control.

Operations

A buyer will want to know about how the site is operated:

  1. The minimum level required in technical expertise.
  2. The quality and documentation of standard operating procedures.
  3. Management of employees and contractors.

Cementing the deal

Whatever your site’s model, you must provide justification for your selling price. Valuation drivers play a role here, such as dominance in your industry and niche.

Ask questions. Get to know the person’s concerns and be prepared to give added value like providing post-sale consultation for a year to cinch the deal.

To get a top selling price and to put savvy buyers at-ease, it’s best have your representations verified by a recognized authority.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related strategies:

SEO Tips to Rank No.1 on Bing and Google — Study — There are striking similarities with Bing and Google — Web sites for top brands rank the highest and No. 1 sites are dominant because they have quality content, as well as strong social media signals and backlinks.

21 Mistakes to Avoid in SEO (Infographic with Valuable Tips) — For online success it’s vital for your site to place high on the search engines. It’s possible if you use best practices in SEO. Here are 21 mistakes to avoid.

For More Sales, 8 Vital Mobile Marketing Tips — Put your brand where prospects and customers are likely to see it. That means leveraging mobile marketing.

Marketing Tips via Mobile Devices, Reviews, Coupons — Digital marketing opportunities keep growing and growing. For instance, 70 percent of consumers research product reviews while they shop in stores. Ninety percent are relying on their mobile devices as they make in-store buying decisions.

Selling Your Mid to Large-Size Business? Beware of the Obstacles — With plenty of angst and working long hours, you’ve spent a lifetime building your company. Now, you’re dreaming about an exit strategy – selling out before your retirement for easy living. Perhaps you’ve exhausted so much time and energy growing your company you haven’t given any thought to the business-selling process. Here are recommended strategies.

“The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone.”

-Karen Salmansohn


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Earnings Are Important, But Psychology and Reforms Matter


Updated March 30, 2018 –

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old,” Peter Drucker once admonished us.

At the author of 39 books, the late Dr. Drucker, of course, was the world’s premier business philosopher.

But not every Republican and business have heeded his simple advice.

Firstly, let’s consider business. With the long decline of former market stalwarts General Electric, General Motors and Proctor & Gamble, you might think the companies would have been quick to change.

For instance, during the Digital Age we’ve been seeing the emergence of artificial intelligence and robotics.

You might also think GE and GM would have been leaders in both. But no, they haven’t.

Meantime, the companies have fallen further behind the market capitalization of many other companies.

Indeed, stocks have jumped significantly after the election of Donald Trump.

Certainly, the psychology of his policies on pro-growth tax reform, eliminating onerous business regulations and rebuilding the infrastructure along with strong earnings have motivated investors.

So much has been written about the growth of the stock market and U.S. economy during the era of Trumponomics. Three percent growth has returned in the gross domestic product.

The economy seems poised to achieve the high levels we haven’t enjoyed since President Reagan’s tenure in the 1980s.

Profits growth has propelled stock market gains. The S&P 500 continues to trade at around 25 times earnings.

Positive forecasts

The U.S. economic forecasts are mostly positive. Ditto for the global economies.

So many analysts believe corporate earnings will continue to grow in double-digit percentages for the near future.

Of course, this means the aggregate price to earnings ratio will be around 18. Concurrently, investors will likely continue to be bullish on stocks. It’ll be a fait accompli after tax reform and a corporate-tax cut.

Inflation has been almost unbelievably low but is increasing. The Federal Reserve will hike interest rates and contract its balance sheet.

So, as technology has greatly impacted business, intellectual property has become increasingly important.

Bricks and mortar are less important in the Digital Age. Amazon has become a dominant factor in B2C and B2B sales. Online banking is prevalent. Car dealer showrooms are affected by the Internet.

All of this means lower operational costs, which is why big businesses are making bigger profits.

Economic red flag

But despite the improvements brought by Trumponomics, there is an economic red flag. The GOP-dominated U.S. Senate and House of Representatives seem unaware of Dr. Drucker’s common-sense warning.

Literally, with the exception of tax reform they’ve accomplished very little.

Republicans must deliver on their mandate for other reforms in healthcare, business regulations and federal spending.

If not, the nation’s electorate might vote for the return of President Obama’s socialistic policies and culture of entitlements.

Already, entitlements – food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing subsidies for physically fit adults without small children as well as Social Security disability benefits – consume nearly 60 percent of federal revenue.

Unless there’s a new cultural approach, it will only get worse.

Federal debt

With such recipients eligible to vote, the federal debt is unsustainable. It is more than $21 trillion.

For the time-being, the nation’s economy must grow to offset such problems. President Trump’s economic leadership will prove to be effective long-term, if Republicans stop blinking on the important issues.

Short of that and sans the psychology of Trumponomics, voters will react predictably. Then, everybody will lose. The nation’s culture must change.

So, Republicans remember: “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

From the Coach’s Corner, related articles:

To Become Relevant, What GOP Majority Must Do For SMEs — The U.S. economy is blossoming, despite the inept Congress. Small and medium-sized enterprises haven’t received their deserved nourishing fertilizer. Here’s what the Republican majority must do or face consequences.

On 9/11, America’s Economic Preparedness Worse than Ever — Unfortunately, today is the 16th anniversary of that tragic day, and hurricanes have devastated America. But America’s fiscal ability to deal with such crises is worse than ever. Here’s what Congress must do.

Flag Day Irony: Hateful Political Rhetoric Threatens America — A tragic event obliterated an historic day in America – Flag Day on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. It had to do with hateful politics.

Why President Trump’s Growth Budget, Reforms Matter — Deficit-spending and the resulting massive debt severely damages America’s economic prospects and hurts each American. But a disciplined approach will make America great again — by shrinking the national debt and implementing other needed reforms.

How Bad Policy and Journalists Hinder Economic Prosperity — The nation’s economy will strongly improve if we capitalize on lessons in common-sense economic-growth policies from two late presidents.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

-Peter Drucker


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Employee Records: Which Ones to Save and for How Long



Nov. 15, 2017 –

Yes, our litigious society might be forcing you to be paranoid about employee records. This means your human resources is probably burdened in recordkeeping. The paperwork can be overwhelming.

You don’t want to keep unnecessary employee records. Nor do you want to make a rash decision on whether to destroy records. As in all business decision-making – when in doubt – don’t.

If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price. In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee.

Therefore, use best practices with HR records to guard against legal risks.

Including the duration for each, here are the types of records to keep:

1. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Under FLSA, there are compliance issues:

For a minimum of two years, you must retain all records pertaining to basic employment.

That includes all payment and deduction details and timecards; billing and shipping records for customers, and wage-rate tables.

For at least three years, you must keep all agreements, certificates, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, notices, payroll records, and sales and purchase records.

2. Equal Pay Act (EPA) 

Under the EPA, you must retain several documents for two years: Why different wages are paid to different sexes. That includes collective bargaining agreements, job evaluations, wage rates, and seniority and merit systems.

3. Discrimination – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

For at least one year, to avoid unnecessary problems associated with the various types of discrimination  and the EEOC, you must kept all employee-termination records.

For at least one year, you must retain records pertaining to benefit plans.

For six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines, see How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits.

4. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

If you have fewer than 50 employees, your business is not subject to FMLA. However, you might be subject to your state’s family and medical leave laws.

If you’re subject to FMLA, for three years you must keep the following:

  • Payroll records
  • All FMLA-employee data; even for leaves lasting for less than 8 hours or a day’s work
  • Copies of FMLA notices distributed to employees
  • Paperwork regarding benefits, and policies and practices for both paid and unpaid leave
  • Employee benefit payment records
  • Documents from disputes
  • Keep separate from personnel files all medical history documents pertaining to medical certifications and re=certifications

5. I-9 records

Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), you must retain an employee’s I-9 Employee Eligibility Verification form for three years after the person is hired.

Should the employee stay with your company for three years, IRCA dictates you must keep the person’s form for at least one year after the person departs from your business.

6. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

For five years under OSHA, you must keep all documents of employment-related illnesses and injuries.

Note: For 30 years, you must keep records for problems such as for toxic exposure.

7. Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

For six years, you must keep records of benefit plans under ERISA. That, of course, means summary descriptions and annual reports.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources of information:

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

Employer Tips: How to Deal with a Visit from ICE — A visit from ICE – the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement – is a cause for concern. Your response sets the stage for communication, either effectively defending your company or possible negotiations and a settlement with ICE.

“Care and diligence bring luck.”

-Thomas Fuller

 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

 

12 Best Financial-Planning Tips for Entrepreneurs



Typically, there are critical mistakes made by entrepreneurs. In essence, they’re so busy putting out fires, they leave their financial security in doubt.

Yes, they need to put out their fires.

However, they also need to budget time to focus on important functions of business: Marketing/sales, human resources, cash flow and making astute financial plans.

By focusing on these matters, entrepreneurs also are in a better position to prevent catastrophes, if they’ve planned well financially.

Points to consider:

Envision your financial future.

Automate savings and investment strategies. Minimize expenses and spending.

Do all necessary due-diligence, and get financial planning expertise — before you do anything.

Given the importance of financial planning for your security, here are 12 tips:

1. Grow your retirement savings

Set up automatic monthly withdrawals to pay off your mortgage.

Pick the best tax-advantage retirement strategy for you such as a 401 (k) or a Roth IRA and add to it every month (see tip No. 10). And very importantly, don’t tap into your retirement fund for any reason.

2. Plan for premature death

It might seem inconceivable, but your comprehensive financial planning must allow for emergencies including premature death.

To be sure, you need to set aside enough money for six months if you lose your revenue streams. But if you have a family, you need to have enough assets to take care of your death expenses and to provide funds for your loved ones.

The funds have to be liquid in personal savings and life insurance. Plus, remember the how and what you do are important for beneficiary designations and proceeds.

3. Invest for the long-term

Prepare for the future like a world-class marathon runner.

As legendary investor Warren Buffett is wont to do – only invest in what you know really well, hold it indefinitely, focus on quality and value, and only follow the advice of successful people you know and trust.

As you age near retirement, remember a conservative approach in investing is best.

4. Focus the right way on capital ownership

Remember it’s important to focus on how you’ll get paid, not how much.

If you’re the owner of capital, you’ll never be taxed on appreciation until you want to be taxed. Such appreciation is subject to preferred long-term capital gains tax rates.

You’ll also benefit in preferential taxation from the returns of long-term capital gains and capital-qualified dividends. You’ll benefit more long-term, if you can afford to be compensated in stock vis-à-vis ordinary income.

5. Stay out of debt

Invest in your business, but manage your money to stay out of debt. This means paying off your most-expensive debt first such as credit cards or loans, student loans and mortgage debt.

Avoid future debt and cut back your spending. That includes unnecessary small expenditures.

For instance, if you’re an expresso coffee aficionado, make your own coffee instead of patronizing Starbucks every day. You’ll save as much as $100 a month or more.

6. Discuss money issues with your partner and family

Whether it’s a business partner or personal partner, discuss financial goals. If you have children, teach them about money management.

7. Evaluate and update insurance policies

As you grow and evolve in your business, make certain your insurance policies provide the right types and amounts of coverage.

That goes for business insurance, car insurance, disability insurance, health insurance, homeowner insurance and life insurance. Don’t ignore your beneficiary designations and coverage amounts should you die.

8. Remember your children

Do something for your offspring. Whatever is applicable: Fund a 529 account for college, if they’re disabled fund 529 ABLE accounts, or establish a small investment account or a trust.

But do your homework about all plans. Not all are advantageous.

9. Re-finance loans

Whether you’ve got business loans, you’re still paying off your own student loans or are concerned about your children’s future, consider consolidating or refinancing your loans.

10. Invest in a Roth IRA

To begin paying a lower rate of taxes and not paying taxes on withdrawals, consider converting your traditional IRA or 401 (k) to a Roth IRA.

Just make certain to keep your marginal tax bracket in check before you make any switches. If you make a change before December 31, you make change back if you get second thoughts for any reason.

11. Consider the right retirement risk-management strategy

Study cost-effective options for your retirement income now. You’ll need to allow for market volatility and your long-term healthcare as a retiree.

12. Find a professional to advise you

You’re best advised to find a great financial-planning professional. Look for credentials such as the CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CFA® or RICP®.

From the Coach’s Corner, related sources of information:

6 Best Practices to Capitalize on a Business Loan — Whether it’s a business loan, a cash advance against your credit-card income, equipment lease or purchase or commercial mortgage loan, don’t have stars in your eyes. Be pragmatic.

11 Tips to Negotiate Your Commercial Real Estate Lease — Depending on your locale, commercial real estate is either readily available or hard to find. Either way, it requires due diligence and skills to negotiate the best commercial real-estate lease.

Business Insurance Tips to Keep Money from Walking Away — As an entrepreneur you’ve worked long hours, scrimping, saving and planning in your fight for survival. But do you regularly take time to financially protect yourself and business?

Best Practices to Protect Yourself in a Business Partnership — Business partnerships often end in catastrophes because they’re not based on solid legal foundations. Here are five best practices in due diligence for your protection.

Applying for Bank Loan? Here’s How to Shorten the Process — Business owners generally have two concerns when trying to get a bank loan or line of credit. Either they can’t qualify or they face scrutiny beyond belief. Wouldn’t it be great to save time and shorten the process?

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

-Alan Lakein


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




HR: Is it Time to Rethink Your Marijuana-Testing Policy?



For HR departments, it was once-unthinkable: Deleting marijuana from the list of drugs in workplace drug-testing programs.

Not only is it a public-safety issue in vehicle traffic, it’s a quandary for workplace safety.

To circumvent lawmakers in state legislatures, a majority of states have legalized pot use via ballot initiatives from grassroots petitions.

Such states have either legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana or they have decriminalized the possession and use of pot.

Colorado case study

Starting in 2014, Colorado has been a leader in legalizing the use of pot.

However, a report by the Colorado Department of Transportation indicated traffic fatalities increased 24 percent in the ensuing three years after legalizing pot.

Strangely, the report did not cite marijuana as a cause, but it did indicate that Colorado had an increase in population.

The report also said: “The rise in fatalities is part of a national trend. Fatalities are up nationally by about 8 percent.”

So let’s connect the dots. Since legalizing pot, Colorado’s dramatic increase in traffic fatalities is 300 percent higher than the nation as a whole.

Handbook policies

Hmm. So what should be the handbook policies of companies given the public’s acceptance and the growing legalization of pot use vis-à-vis public safety issues?

While it’s a good idea to revisit workplace policies, you probably don’t have to make changes as you can still tell employees they cannot use pot on the job, can’t bring it to work, and they cannot be impaired while working.

As for testing, marijuana stays in a person’s system for a long time because it’s metabolized differently than alcohol. Even if a worker smokes the drug off-duty over the weekend, the person will test positively days later at work.

Already, many companies have stopped testing for pot use. Why?

They’ve repeatedly had to terminate good-performing workers because they failed drug tests.

However, the employers had great difficulty in replacing the employees because applicants kept failing the tests, as well.

So such companies that stopped testing for marijuana have enjoyed a recruiting advantage. Countless workers now know they can smoke pot without hurting their chances for a job.

It’s reasonable to assume that the number of states legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use is likely to increase.

Conflict with federal law

However, possessing or using marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, pot is deemed a Schedule I drug along other drugs such as ecstasy, heroin and LSD. This means it’s considered to have a probability for abuse.

For jobs that necessitate full safety behavior such as operating equipment or driving, the law requires companies to terminate workers who test positive for marijuana.

For companies that contract with the federal government, drug-free workplaces are required.

Indeed, just like alcohol – even in states where pot use is legal – companies are able to test workers for drug use, prohibit them from using marijuana or being high on the job.

Medical use

The medical use of marijuana complicates the situation and creates more challenges for companies.

Federal law prohibits doctors from prescribing marijuana. Furthermore, marijuana cardholders mistakenly believe they’re immune from employers’ zero-tolerance policies.

So company policies might indicate the necessity to start a dialogue with medical-use employees for an accommodation.

Perhaps an alternative can be prescribed. Or an employer might consider allowing an employee to go on leave.

However, what’s an employer to do with other employees who subsequently ask for medical leave over their marijuana use?

It depends on the company’s willingness to accept risk.

Some companies will want to keep their zero-tolerance policy to stay in compliance with federal law. On this, they’re on solid legal ground.

Other companies will want to adhere to their local and state marijuana laws, especially for certain high-performing employees. But it’d be a fairness issue – they’d have to do it for all other workers, too.

Screening alternatives

There are alternatives to screening for marijuana use, including the training of your managers to spot certain behaviors and factors such as bloodshot eyes.

For a lot of employers, it might come down to the types of duties that are dangerous when workers are impaired. For truck drivers or forklift operators, marijuana use could be a safety issue.

All of this prompts a consideration: Whether you should review your marijuana policy.

Impairment is an issue for safety-sensitive industries. If that’s the case your handbook should explain marijuana use is prohibited in your workplace and for employees who are on the clock.

Personally, after a CPA gave my firm a dysfunctional performance I once had to terminate a him whom I also suspected was a marijuana user.

Furthermore, I would not want a marijuana-using employee handling my finances or IT affairs.

However, on a case-by-case situation, you can consider whether to impose a zero-tolerance and firing policy.

But in this litigious society, clear and effective communication of your policies is paramount.

If you want to keep a zero-tolerance policy, you should be proactive with your policy.

You can acknowledge marijuana use is legal and state you nonetheless have a zero-tolerance policy, but you must explain what it means for your employees.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related HR issues:

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

Best Practices with HR Records to Guard against Legal Risks — If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price. In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

“So many writers make dope glamorous; a form of romantic transgression, or world-weariness, or poetic sensitivity, or hipness. Mainly it’s the stuff of ritualistic communion among inarticulate bores.” 

-Leonard Michaels


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Best Practices with HR Records to Guard against Legal Risks



Surely, you’ve heard it all — document … document … document, and paper trail … paper trail … paper trail.

Do it now because if you’re sued, you’ll have to be ready to arm your defense lawyers so you can immediately respond to legal issues in human resources.

Regulators and courts look favorably at companies that are proficient in due diligence.

It must begin before you hire. Plus, continued due diligence is vital long after an employee exits your business.

But to guard against adverse litigation, what records should you keep on a continual basis?

Obviously, you should retain all pertinent information in the event you face a lawsuit.

If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price. In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee.

You’ll be asked to provide hard copies and stored evidence in the discovery phase of a lawsuit process. You might be surprised what records will be needed for your defense.

It can be far-reaching: business records, employee information, financial data, and plans for projects.

So keep all relevant records.

Here’s a precautionary checklist:

  1. Know and identify your employees who are the most well-informed and proficient with your information technology and record-keeping.
  2. Be fully aware of your data practices, retaining policies, and programs.
  3. Ascertain and evaluate your storage practices.
  4. Define what reports and any documents are in jeopardy of being changed, damaged or shredded. Know how you can safeguard them. Note: Be particularly aware of records that an undesirable or potentially discharged employee can access and alter.
  5. Ascertain any plans to upgrade or replace any software, IT systems, files or documents, and when it will take place.
  6. Be very cognizant of all actions are already taking place or in the works to spring clean or save IT records and hard-copies. This also means knowing what regulators require.
  7. In countless data breaches, companies point fingers at their vendors. Control whether your vendors and all third parties have data that conceivably needs to be safely saved. Don’t let them become your weakest point.
  8. Know any of your records that might necessitate require forensic retrieval or protection.
  9. Ascertain any potentially relevant It system data that can help you reclaim and classify records. You should protect and produce metadata – a set of data that gives information about your other data.
  10. Be very careful with your outdated software and hardware that contain data – they require special care.
  11. Pinpoint all your voice mails, instant messaging and text messages. Save all applications and be able to show how you take precautions to preserve such information.
  12. Assemble all current and past emails, email practices and policies.
  13. Your employees often send and receive personal emails on your computer system. Distinguish and update all policies and practices that relate to your employees’ personal email accounts with which your IT systems may interrelate.
  14. List all software you have used and are using now.
  15. Name your digital structures you use, oversee and on which you keep information.
  16. Distinguish any current and former databases that might be relevant for any possible lawsuits.
  17. Be prepared to explain how you use keyword and any additional search methods and technology to access information.
  18. Decide how you’ll provide information to your attorneys and opposing lawyers. That includes any file formats such as CDs, DVDs, external thumb drives and FTP (file transfer protocol).
  19. Find out if you can provide digital-document images as opposed to hard copies.
  20. Know what you can and need to separate to prevent disclosure of competitive secrets or privileged information. Be sure to segregate such information, such as for any understandable hardships reasons. Be prepared to explain your legal rights in doing so.
  21. Ascertain if you have any information that might be prone to governing embargoes on revelations, export controls or overseas privacy laws.

From the Coach’s Corner, relevant editor’s picks:

HR: Is it Time to Rethink Your Marijuana-Testing Policy? — For HR departments, it was once-unthinkable: Deleting Marijuana from the list of drugs in workplace drug-testing programs. But should you? And what should you do about your handbook policies?

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

Employer Tips: How to Deal with a Visit from ICE — A visit from ICE – the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement – is a cause for concern. Your response sets the stage for communication, either effectively defending your company or possible negotiations and a settlement with ICE.

Management – How to Improve Accountability in Your Company — If business and tepid growth have affected your outlook, take a look at your human resources and consider a couple of questions. If you don’t like your answer, here are eight solutions.

“Lawsuit: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.”

-Ambrose Bierce


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




To Become Relevant, What GOP Majority Must Do For SMEs



Sept. 16, 2017-


The U.S. economy is blossoming, despite the inept Congress.

Why?

To use another gardening metaphor, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) haven’t received their deserved nourishing fertilizer from public policy.

With a few exceptions, members of Congress resemble Abbott and Costello in their famous “Who’s on First” routine.

Ironically, the Small Business Administration reports 99 percent of all employers are small businesses.

They employ almost 50 percent of private-sector employees, and create 75 percent of new jobs.

But these are not wealthy people. Instead of benefiting by paying corporate tax rates, 90 percent or more file tax returns as individuals.

So despite what Democrats claim, they’re not in the same category as the top 1 percent of income earners.

Data – published by a government agency and a leading small-business association – U.S. Treasury and the National Federation of Independent Business, respectively – indicates that just 2.4 percent of small businesses earn revenue higher than $250,000.

Seventy-one percent have an adjusted income under $100,000 annually.

Unfortunately, such small business owners have to pay the individual tax rate, the self-employment tax and the net investment tax. That’s why Tax Foundation data indicates that the most-successful small businesses are saddled with a marginal federal tax rate of 44.6 percent.

And don’t forget, none of this includes state-income tax rates. So by paying close to cumulative 50-percent tax rates little wonder such business owners have grievances.

Economic trends

True, consumer confidence is up.

Investors love proposed Trump Administration policies. The stock market has skyrocketed.

This also means average Americans are enjoying massive growth in their 401(k) retirement accounts.

Unemployment is low and jobs are coming back from overseas.

Concurrently, this year’s Q2 gross domestic product (GDP) is 3 percent. That’s 300 percent higher than in recent years and the eight-year average under President Obama.

Forecasts of leading economic indicators provide more hope.

So it’s no coincidence that a majority of Americans is pleased, according to a legendary polling company.

Gallup poll

Despite what the mainstream media would lead us to believe, a Gallup Poll reported that 51 percent of respondents approve of President Trump’s handling of the economy.

This is particularly noteworthy because it’s been rare for presidents over the last four decades to receive such high economic-approval ratings during their first year in office.

That’s right. With one exception, no other Republican or Democrat has been as successful.

President Trump’s economic approval rating is higher than his predecessors such as President Obama, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

The exception: In his first year in office, 2001, George Bush had a 72 percent rating.

Out-of-sync Congress

But here’s the conundrum:

In comparison to the Trump Administration’s economic leadership – despite a majority, no doubt about it – Republicans in Congress look inept on the economy. Indeed, no one in Congress has significant economic-approval ratings.

There are two ramifications:

Firstly, to guarantee the Trump Administration hits its 4 percent GDP objective, Republican lawmakers have to get their act together for the majority of employers – small and medium-sized businesses.

If they don’t, this means the economy won’t be firing on all cylinders for growth and job creation.

Secondly, Republicans continue to look and behave like Abbott and Costello in their “Who’s on First”, which was only an act.

But what’s happening in Congress is nightmarish reality and they Republicans will lose their governing majority in Congress. Why?

They’re not governing. Americans, especially, SMEs overwhelmingly voted for positive change. They’re still getting the same dysfunction from Congress.

Obstacles/solutions

Business owners know they deserve a serious tax cut so they can grow, invest in equipment and develop products – these measures will create jobs.

In turn, this will accelerate a middle-class revival.

In addition, with no incentives passed by Congress and no ObamaCare reform, healthcare remains one of the typical business owner’s biggest expenses.

But insurance companies have abandoned health-care exchanges in virtually every state leaving countless Americans without choices or even coverage.

Self-employed business owners who are forced to buy individual policies are sick and tired of double-digit ObamaCare increases in premiums and deductibles.

Others who have small workforces have been forced to cut their employees’ hours under the onerous ObamaCare mandates. That’s a salient reason why the average American workweek is only 34 hours.

But Republicans failed on ObamaCare reform because they didn’t have a unified strategy for success in opposing the Democrats’ government-dependency philosophy.

Time is running out if Republicans hope to avert misfortune in the 2018 mid-term elections.

What is needed is a unified economic-growth mindset and strategy.

The next step should be an immediate easy-to-understand tax-cut bill for the nation’s 99-percent of employers.

From the Coach’s Corner, relevant editor’s picks:

7 Capitalism Principles for Economic Growth, Prosperity — Employers are discouraged from hiring largely because of uncertainty created by public policies. That includes uncertainty – created by ObamaCare – in costs and taxes.

On 9/11, America’s Economic Preparedness Worse than Ever — Unfortunately, today is the 16th anniversary of that tragic day, and hurricanes have devastated America. But America’s fiscal ability to deal with such crises is worse than ever. Here’s what Congress must do.

Solution to Cure Worker Skills Gaps, Underemployment — An innovative solution has been unveiled to solve a big economic conundrum. The solution is designed to create 25 million new jobs and help grow the economy by 4 percent.

Why President Trump’s Growth Budget, Reforms Matter — Deficit-spending and the resulting massive debt severely damages America’s economic prospects and hurts each American. But a disciplined approach will make America great again — by shrinking the national debt and implementing other needed reforms.

Analysis: Trump’s Vision to Fix Trade Deficit, Create Jobs — Donald Trump acts positively: Americans are tired of the reign of politically correct terror, the movement for income redistribution, and the massive loss of good-paying jobs.

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

Plato


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Habits of Leaders Who Have Positive Workplace Cultures



True, the Digital Age and global economy are demanding. Texting and emails are the norm in communication. Face-to-face conversation is minimal.

Everything seems impersonal. People feel isolated.

What are the results?

Decision-making is harried. Creativity slows. Employees are stressed. Common courtesies disappear. The lack of teamwork and civility hurt production and customer service.

Instead of team members saying “thank you” and “please” to one another and to customers, they say “Have a nice day.” Ugh.

At any rate and like it or not, if you’re not hitting your profit targets look no further than at your workplace culture.

Sure, your marketing might need to be re-tooled. Perhaps your messaging isn’t working or you’re using the wrong channels.

But great marketing will never produce your desired return on investment if your culture isn’t warm and positive.

Business profits are minimal or nonexistent because workplaces are mired in disrespect — from rudeness to bullying.

This, of course, means operations are weak and customers aren’t being treated well.

Moreover, here’s a memo that’s hard to swallow: If you have workplace dysfunction, it’s time to look at yourself.

Actions and choice of words matter.

Ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • “Is there a gap in how my employees see me and how I see myself?”
  • “Am I known for saying please and thank you, or am I too hard on my staff?”

Compare your habits with leaders of positive workplace cultures:

1. Assess your culture

Look for signs of backstabbing, rudeness and selfishness.

Walk the floor and ask your key employees to do the same, and look for positive interactions. Check to see if it’s the norm.

2. Self-reflect

Very importantly, self-evaluate your behavior, especially to check your empathetic quotient.

Some sample questions to consider:

  • Are you approachable?
  • How often do you put things aside when employees approach you?
  • How often do you approach employees to ask how they’re doing?
  • Do you give credit to employees?
  • How often do you smile?
  • What makes you smile?
  • How often do you say please and thank you?

3. Regulate how you use your power

In this fast-paced environment in the rush for profitability, it’s very common for leaders to forget how to motivate others.

There’s a tendency to think they’re above the common-sense rules for positive communication.

They fail to leave the office to personally engage their staffs. They restrict constructive criticism and discourage candid feedback.

4. Be cognizant of the risks to communication

Chances are you’re often on overload. Often it’s self-inflicted.

You also have too many meetings and distractions. You forget to be nice.

Instead, you’re busy checking emails and responding. You’re heavily relying on your smartphone.

True, emails and smartphones are important. But they are a common cause for limited face-to-face communication with your human capital.

When you make a mistake, apologize well.

So acknowledge your mistake. Take responsibility. Don’t delegate an apology to others. Don’t expect them to manage the consequences. Change your behavior so your staff members don’t view you as an empty suit.

5. Visualize the future

Consider how and what you’re doing to insure you won’t have any regrets. Imagine what you need to do to stop appearing to be insensitive, reactionary or pompous.

To be sure you must remain a critical thinker and good negotiator but it also means being a good listener, empathetic, being fair-minded, a better partner and showing positive leadership.

Consider what the headline would read if a critical news article was published about you.

Take steps so that you’re proud of your behavior and performance.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks on leadership:

How to Rewire Your Brain to Get Confidence for Leadership — As prime minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill provided lessons in enthusiasm for leadership. To take your business to the highest level, you must be at the top of your game to maximize your confidence as a leader.

Trending – the 7 Biggest Challenges for Management — In our complex Digital-Age economy with Millennials replacing baby boomers, we can draw some conclusions about developing trends. Management typically faces seven workforce challenges.

5 Top Leadership Philosophies in Business Management — From Seattle to Singapore, top managers show leadership by coaching their teams to success. They accomplish goals with five habitual philosophies.

21st Century Leadership Requires Authenticity — Here’s how — It’s one thing to be promoted into a management role, but it’s entirely another to be regarded as a leader to inspire a company’s culture. What really matters is knowing how you impact others.

For Strong Profits, 5 Tips to Develop Employees as Leaders — Strong leaders will help your business grow and enjoy excellent profits. That’s because, as role models, they’re instrumental in helping you develop a performance culture.

Leadership: 4 Strategies Dealing with Incompetent People — Yes, incompetent employees – whether they have difficult personalities or they simply under-perform – can be aggravating. But they don’t have to be.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

-James Humes


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 




Photo courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net 

Best Financial Strategies to Invest a Big Inheritance


Generally speaking, if you want to make the most of a big inheritance by investing, it’s important to take your time, understand your tax obligations, and to evaluate the likely return on your investments.

Whether you anticipate an inheritance or if you’re about to get one, bear in mind that getting an inheritance comes at an emotional time. Never make an important decision without due diligence until you’re able.

Inherited IRAs mean you must deal with complications. Inherited securities require deciding whether to trade them or keep them. And pardon the pun, you must keep your decide to spend any of the money in check.

So keep in mind these best strategies:

1. Be deliberate – go gently

Don’t make any major decisions right away. Not to be too graphic but you’re likely to be in an emotional quagmire or snake pit. What initially might seem important can wait until you have full peace-of-mind.

Be sure to only make practical decisions and be certain you can make determinations based facts not emotional feelings.

For instance, your deceased father might have loved owning stock from the company for which he worked for three decades. But you don’t have to be loyal to the company if you develop a plan for the assets that’s better for portfolio goals.

You can be comfortable in knowing that the person left the assets for you to use in your best interest.

2. Evaluate your inheritance and how it might be best used

You’ll need to fully understand the type of assets you’re inheriting. If you’re inheriting cash, then you should decide whether to wisely spend or invest it.

For another type of asset, you need to figure out if it’s best to keep or sell. Whether you inherit securities, stocks, or a mutual fund, you’ll want to evaluate whether to invest the money while especially considering the tax implications if you decide to sell your inherited assets.

With the cost basis determined by the death date, the amount taxes owed are contingent on the appreciation of the assets after the date of death.

Consider whether the inherited assets complement your financial plan. For example, depending on your portfolio goals, tax benefits from inherited securities aren’t necessarily advantageous.

3. Calculate the effect of taxes

Whether you’re inheriting assets in property or in money, use due diligence. An IRA or a 401 (k) can be transferred and not taxed if you stay with approved tax vehicles.

For a taxable or non-retirement account, note that the date of death is important to determine the tax on the value of the account.

You’ll have to pay capital gains tax on any appreciation of the asset’s value from the time of death to the time you sell.

To qualify for long-term capital gains consideration, ordinarily, assets must be kept for 12 months. But inheritances can qualify for it at even at a zero-percent tax rate whether waiting for a full year or for a shorter period.

Again, remember the valuation date is important to consider before calculating your taxes.

4. IRA accounts

IRA accounts can be complicated, so you probably want to see a tax advisor, and a lot can depend whether you’re a spouse or non-spouse.

Generally speaking:

In inheriting IRA accounts, you’ll have to pay taxes on any amounts that haven’t been previously taxed.

Beware: Traditional IRAs from investment earnings and tax-deductible contributions might be taxed on 100 percent of the accounts’ balances.

So, if you don’t need to spend the money in the short-term future, you’d be better off keeping the accounts as-is.

Spouses can move the money into their own IRAs. Children or non-spouses can move the money into an inherited IRA that they establish.

But consider seeing your tax advisor before you do anything.

5. 401(k)-type company retirement plans

Just as the situation with IRAs, the rules are contingent whether you’re a spouse or non-spouse.

If you’re a spouse, you can leave the funds as-is or transfer the money to your own IRA. It’s simplest long-term to leave the money be.

If you’re a non-spouse, you can move the money into an inherited IRA. You’ll have to make minimum distributions based on your life expectancy.

In either situation, you can expect to pay a big tax if you cash in the 401(k).

6. Re-visit your fantasy to spend vis-à-vis your long-term objectives

Don’t take your inheritance for granted. A windfall is not to be spent without caution.

Yes, perhaps you don’t have a lot of money and your car is falling apart. You might have a financial need to buy a car.

But do you really need to take a Hawaiian vacation or to build a swimming pool?

Probably not if the spending clash with your long-term financial objectives. You’re more like to need the money for your children’s college fund or for your retirement fund.

7. Determine your best return on investment (ROI)

Before you decide to invest the assets, select the best avenue that gives you the best ROI.

If you have large debts, such as a student loan or credit cards with big balances and/or with high interest rates, pay them off first. Debt is a killer, so get out of debt first.

In this way, you’ll get the best-possible immediate ROI. You’ll never find an investment opportunity that yields more money back to you than what you’d pay in interest for a student loan or credit cards.

Once that’s handled, if you’re relatively young, consider investing in equities; preferably a stock market. Choose wisely stay with it long-term like Warren Buffett would.

You can also get a tax breather by going with an IRA. Just don’t exceed the annual contribution limit.

If you’re older, it’s best to be more conservative than you would if you were younger.

8. Get expertise

Particularly, if you’re inheriting a lot of money or upscale assets, seek professional guidance. If you’re lacking knowledge about taxes, look for a good CPA.

For advice on taxes and investing, seek a proven financial planner.

It’s better to pay a fee for a financial planner than to sign up with a planner who gets a commission on products the person sells. You’ll get more objective counsel.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related strategies:

Finding the Right Financial Planner for Your Situation — If you decide you want a financial planner, always remember due diligence is necessary for your financial security. Here are four questions to ask yourself.

Stock Market — 5 Reasons to Invest … in a Financial Planner — For a highly sophisticated approach, it makes sense to pay for investment advice – but not pay for investment advice if the advisor will only periodically rebalance your portfolio.

Grow Your Business by Appearing Rich but Conserving Cash — You’ll find it easier to grow your firm if you appear to be wealthy. This will enable you to build relationships with successful entrepreneurs who will introduce you to key people and facilitate growth opportunities for you.

Tips for Strategic-Thinking in Finance: Your Staff, Individuals — Many companies want accountants and finance professionals who are strategic thinkers. But that’s not happening at most companies. Here are tips for managers and employees.

Business Insurance Tips to Keep Money from Walking Away — As an entrepreneur you’ve worked long hours, scrimping, saving and planning in your fight for survival. But do you regularly take time to financially protect yourself and business?

Inheritance taxes are so high that the happiest mourner at a rich man’s funeral is usually Uncle Sam.

-Olin Miller


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.