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Enjoy a Successful 2017 Thanks to These Four Resolutions
Your 2017 New Year's financial resolutions may be all about saving resources and improving revenue. Again. But consider the following to really help you achieve your financial goals.

The best move you can make is to improve your financial recordkeeping. This helps you prepare for contingencies and monitor your circumstances. If things are good, chances are you won't consider changing up your recordkeeping, but note: implementing high-quality financial practices now will create a climate for advancement later.

Here are four financial resolutions that will lead to financial success:

Separate personal finances from business records. Nothing creates more confusion than tracking personal expenditures and business transactions with the same system.

Reserve for taxes. Whether you base your effective tax rate on a projection for the current year, or the actual rate from last year, set aside this percentage of your monthly income for tax remittance.

Plan for major costs. Replacing, repairing, or adding equipment; adding more space; moving; or hiring all necessitate large upfront cash outlays. Know what these costs are and when you may need to make these investments. Set aside a little money each month; you'll be ahead of the game when the time arrives.

Use one bank account and one credit card. Avoid lost receipts and overlooked business expenditures resulting from using personal cash or credit: When the business needs more funds, move personal money to the business account and use it for all company transactions. Have a dedicated credit card strictly for use in business transactions. And have a prosperous new year!

Turn Happy Customers into Online Ambassadors in 2017
New Year's Reso
It's no longer enough to make customers happy, or even get them to praise your good service to your face. What you really need is for your customers to share their positive experiences with others, and to do so in online reviews.

Clearly, our internet-based society is relying more and more on sources like Google, Facebook, and Yelp to decide what companies we should trust with our business. According to research, a whopping 97% of consumers read reviews about local businesses, and 89% of consumers who visit review sites make a purchase within a week.

And while friends' opinions count, reviews from strangers still carry a lot of weight; in one Zendesk survey, 88% of customers say a review influenced a buying decision. So, since consumers are searching for positive reviews, make sure they're out there.

Interestingly, almost 75% of consumers say they don't write reviews; encourage your customers to share their good experiences online by incorporating this process into your business plan. Set up profiles on review sites that are relevant to your business, and provide links to reviews on all your online customer touch points. Most importantly, turn your customers' verbal kudos into reviews. If they're happy, ask them to write a review.

Finally, says Forbes contributor Nellie Akalp, you can offer a small incentive for writing a review. (Enter all monthly reviewers in a giveaway draw, she suggests.) But don't specify a "good" review, and don't buy it.

If your service is great, your customers should be more than happy to become your online ambassadors.

How to Make Your Case in a Room Full of Dissenters
Taking Stand
At some point in your career, you will almost certainly be called upon to express a point of view, take a position, or recommend an action that is counter to that held by the majority. Standing alone in the face of dissent requires the courage of your convictions. And, regardless of your gender, ethnicity, stature, or position in the organization, it takes strength and tact to present this position effectively and gracefully.

Here are some techniques to help you state your case with integrity, dignity, and self-confidence and encourage others to be more open to your perspective.
  • Active listening is a profoundly effective communication strategy. A sincere effort to listen and understand other points of view sends a positive message.
  • Don't make getting your point across the goal. Stay focused on the fact that there's a problem that needs to be solved. It's not about winning points or keeping score.
  • Don't push your position or your agenda too aggressively. The harder you push, the more entrenched others become and the harder they will push back.
  • When engaged in difficult discussions, look for points of agreement, and seek to provide information that adds value to the discussion.
  • Stay centered, positive, and focused on the issue, problem, or situation at hand.
Above all, don't blame, accuse, or put down others, either verbally or with gestures, facial expressions, or body language. Remain poised, respectful, engaged, and purposeful. Whenever possible, allow your opponents to look good and save face.

The ability to influence and persuade is not just for leaders. Getting people to listen to, accept, and implement your ideas is essential for career success as well as success in all other aspects of life.

Avoid Those Year-End Accounting Surprises
It's a true business maxim: When you understand your financial statements, you remove the obstacles that cloud your judgment, and you validate the success you believe is unfolding. And by scrutinizing financial details, you'll get truly rewarding insight into the status of your business. Not just a general impression.

Status check: By monitoring your financial statements at least monthly, you can see why you're profitable. Or not. Sometimes, for example, robust sales don't really increase profits. In many instances, rising revenue may trigger greater costs. Inspecting the trends in profit margin in crucial: If variable costs increase faster than sales, the profit margin suffers. Your business's opportunity for growth is stunted until you address the environment for expansion.

Remember that accrual basis financial statements best reflect current conditions. Under this system, revenue is counted when earned, regardless of when it's collected. Expenses are recorded as they're incurred, not when they're paid. Consequently, accrual basis tends to match the timing of expenses to the periods in which they produce revenue.

Many astute entrepreneurs use accrual financial statements for decision making and cash basis financials for income tax reporting. Accounting software commonly produces reports for either method.

Cash flow statement: Businesses run on cash, so you'll need a cash flow statement. This report compensates for accrued revenue not yet collected and accrued expenses not yet paid. However, if customers usually pay invoices immediately, and you remit payment of your bills promptly after receipt, cash basis financial statements are usually adequate; they'll deliver the same general figures as accrual basis reporting and eliminate the need for a cash flow statement.

Cash flow is also impacted by money that flows to categories such as loan repayment and equipment purchases. Evaluation of the business balance sheet reveals the extent of these changing balances. Moreover, the balance sheet shows compensation to you as the owner or shareholder of your company. Make sure you're not drawing too much. Your take comes after you meet priorities that keep the business prospering.

Waiting until year-end to examine financial results inevitably leads to false interpretation. No matter what the size of your business, insist on accurate monthly bookkeeping. If you do maintain your own accounting system, get regular professional assistance to correct errors and omissions and help interpret the financial status of the business.

The accrual method eliminates wide swings in profitability rendered by the cash basis. Note that you likely will need professional bookkeeping help, if, for example, you experience substantial time lags awaiting customer payments or expenses that vary with revenue.

Contract projects: Businesses that handle contract projects for customers should know the profitability of each individual job. In job profitability accounting, your bookkeeper needs sufficient information to properly record events. For example, a bulk purchase for multiple jobs must be allocated among various projects.

Happy 2017: With timely and accurate financial statements - and by following an optimal methodology - you avert year-end surprises, identify profitable opportunities and are able to immediately implement improvements. What better way to go into a new year...
Michele Ball
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Worth Reading
Twitter in Retweet
By Staff
The Economist
It's always interesting to read about the ups and downs of unicorns. Twitter, which has occupied a central place in users' lives for years, has been on a downturn, this article suggests. And many believe it's time for an overhaul. Are they right? Read this and decide.

This Company Has Built a Profile on Every American Adult
By David Gauvey Herbert

Bloomberg Businessweek

Using database subscription services, marketers, law enforcement, debt collectors, or private investigators can digitally peek into virtually every aspect of people's lives. A company's data sets can be used to predict behavior, locate missing persons, surveil people, and sell to us. Who fears this "creepiness" along with Herbert? So far, not many. But perhaps he has something here. Consider "Big Brother" and what happened in George Orwell's iconic novel, 1984.

Research: We Drop People Who Give Us Critical Feedback
By Francesca Gino

Harvard Business Review

Francesca Gino and her fellow researchers conducted studies showing that people often drop relationships with colleagues who provide "disconfirming" (negative) feedback. Dumb move: Their research also showed that being aware of weaknesses and shortcomings is critical to improvement. So bring on the colleagues who give tough feedback!

This Month: Successful Mentoring
What do 71% of Fortune 500 firms have in common? Successful companies have great leaders to train great leaders. It's a healthy cycle of cultivation that bears much fruit.

These links will take you to the hows and whys of workplace mentoring:

Companies implement mentoring programs to meet common business goals. See how:
4 Reasons to Support Workplace Mentoring

Millennials are revamping mentoring. Here's how:
Reverse Mentoring Target UnitedHealth

Workplace mentoring initiatives can offer these benefits to your business:
Four Key Benefits of Workplace Mentoring

Modern mentoring comes in many forms. Learn the basics in this overview:
Modern Mentoring Is The Key To Retaining Millennials

Is the concept of workplace mentoring new to your business? Get started here:
How to Start a Mentoring Program
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.
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