Apr
01

Negotiate the Best Deal

By Michelle

negotiateWhether you are planning a business luncheon or a 3-day conference, there are certain guidelines that will help you find the perfect venue and negotiate the best deal possible. After all, getting the best deal is a win-win situation. You service your client to the best of your ability and make future allies for your own business!

Here are a few helpful hints when locating the best venue and negotiating with them for the best deal:

  • Be flexible with dates, location, and space. Consider off-peak times.
  • Consider venues other than downtown hotels, such as conference centers or airport or suburban facilities.
  • Increase your meeting’s value by guaranteeing multiple meetings with one property chain.
  •  Keep a record of all your small meetings so that you can easily demonstrate the value your meetings bring to the property.
  • Let two or three hotels compete with one another.
  • Never accept the first offer.
  • If you want something, ask for it. Remember, almost everything, including food and beverage pricing, is negotiable.
  • Never give up anything without getting something in return.
  • If cost reductions are not possible, negotiate for upgrades.
  • Retain the ability to walk away from an offer; keep your options open.

If you need more information, or if you’re planning a meeting or conference and need help, just contact us. We’d love to help guarantee the success of your next event.

Feb
20

Tax Time Approaches!

By Michelle

tax-calendar-300x299Did you know that the IRS recently amended residence-based business deductions to add an easy-to-calculate safe harbor method? Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Filers can now determine their allowable deduction by multiplying the square footage of the portion of their residence allocated for business purposes by $5.00 up to a maximum 300 square feet ($1,500) for the taxable year starting January 1, 2013. “Allocated for business purposes” is defined as: a portion of a owned, rented, or leased dwelling that is used exclusively for business purposes, a place to meet with patients, clients, customers in the normal course of business, a separate structure used in connection of trade or business, or space used on a regular basis for the storage of inventory or product samples used for your business.
  2. You can still use the old $280 method for calculating your allowable deduction. You can switch back and forth between methods from taxable year to taxable year as you see fit. This doesn’t apply to you if your business pays you advances, allowances, or reimbursements for your home office.
  3. You can’t declare a deduction for an amount larger than the gross income of the business associated with your home office makes for the taxable year.
  4. Spouses, roommates, or partners are each eligible for their own deduction for a home office up to 300 square feet. If the allotted space for your business-associated allotment fluctuates from month to month, provide your average for the year. For example, if you have a home office for the first six months of the year that’s 200 square feet, your calculation should look like this: (200 + 200 + 200 + 200 + 200 + 200 + 0 + 0+ 0+ 0+ 0+ 0)/12 months) x $5.00 = $500.

2013Welcome to 2013! We hope you all had a wonderful celebration ringing in the new year. Now it’s time to take a deep breath and begin putting your new business plan into motion. Before you can do that, however, you have to actually have a plan.

According to Bill McBean, entrepreneur and author, ”The problem with businesses is that we really don’t have a break. One of the most crucial aspects of improving profitability or getting a business back on course is taking the time to evaluate it. Even in sports — as competitive a field as it gets — teams get downtime.” So “watch the game reel” so to speak and honestly evaluate what worked…and what didn’t.

The first set of questions to ask yourself are the following:

  • Did you have a successful year?
  • Where did your business succeed the most?
  • What held it back?

It isn’t easy to be brutally honest in your analysis of your business but the truth is that the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the small business owner to guide the implementation of any improvements that need to happen.

Now take a look at your company’s systems and procedures. Here is the next set of questions to ask yourself:

  • Have they kept up with the times?
  • Are they efficient?
  • Are any employees gumming up the works?

As small business owners we often fall into a pattern and end up stuck with inefficient business processes or, even worse, bad employees.  As McBean so bluntly put it, “if you’re not controlling your procedures and processes, you don’t really ‘own’ your business.” Take stock and be prepared to make the hard decisions and changes necessary.

While you are assessing your business, be sure to thank your best customers/clients. The question is, how do you decide which ones are “the best”?  You may find that it’s not the customers who spent the most but the ones that sent more business your way. However you decide, the bottom line is that you have to keep your customers. Showing your appreciation is one way to accomplish that.

Finally, don’t let all of the talk of economic uncertainty turn your outlook to one of doom and gloom. While it’s important to protect your business, you don’t want to run the risk of letting negativity become self-fulfilling prophesy. If you take the time to fix what may be wrong, nurture what is right and be open to new opportunities you should look forward to a successful new year!

Contact us to discuss how we can help your business move forward in 2013.

small-business-expoThe 2013 schedule from Small Business Expo begins with a bang in the form of the New York expo, which is scheduled to take place at Pier 92 in Manhattan on May 16. Approximately a month later, Small Business Expo will host a show in Dallas, set to be located at the Dallas Convention Center, which small businesses are invited to attend June 20. On October 17, Small Business Expo will revisit the East Coast, with its event at the Hynes Convention Center, located at 900 Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts. For those on the West Coast, there will be an event on November 7 at California Market Center, at 110 East 9th Street in Los Angeles, California. And to close out the year, Small Business Expo will host a tradeshow in Miami Beach at the Miami Beach Convention Center, located at 1901 Convection Center Drive on December 19.

Business networking events from Small Business Expo are attended by management, staff members, and owners of companies from almost every industry. The tradeshows offer a unique opportunity for businesses looking to size up the competition, learn new tricks of the trade, or create new professional connections.

If you are interested in attending, check out the details at:

http://www.thesmallbusinessexpo.com/

Let us know if you’re planning to attend one of these events, or if you’ve been to one in the past. We’d like to hear feedback of how helpful they are and if you make this an annual event on your business calendar.

Dec
13

Quick Tips to Avoid Hacking

By Michelle

hackersAs we near the end of the year, it’s a good time to think about changing/updating your passwords for added security. It seems that there are more and more reports of hacking in the news, and we figure, why make it easier for them. According to Mat Honan, senior writer for “Wired”, here are a few do’s and don’ts to help:

 

DON’T

  • Reuse passwords. If you do, a hacker who gets just one of your accounts will own them all.
  • Use a dictionary word as your password. If you must, then string several together into a pass phrase.
  • Use standard number substitutions. Think “P455w0rd” is a good password? N0p3! Cracking tools now have those built in.
  • Use a short password—no matter how weird. Today’s processing speeds mean that even passwords like “h6!r$q” are quickly crackable. Your best defense is the longest possible password.

DO

  • Enable two-factor authentication when offered. When you log in from a strange location, a system like this will send you a text message with a code to confirm. Yes, that can be cracked, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Give bogus answers to security questions. Think of them as a secondary password. Just keep your answers memorable. My first car? Why, it was a “Camper Van Beethoven Freaking Rules.”
  • Scrub your online presence. One of the easiest ways to hack into an account is through your email and billing address information. Sites like Spokeo and WhitePages.com offer opt-out mechanisms to get your information removed from their databases.
  • Use a unique, secure email address for password recoveries. If a hacker knows where your password reset goes, that’s a line of attack. So create a special account you never use for communications. And make sure to choose a username that isn’t tied to your name—like m****n@wired.com—so it can’t be easily guessed.

If you’d like some advice on how to remember the more complicated and unique passwords, contact us. It wouldn’t be prudent to share that online, would it?

Contact Us

333 Chelsea Road
Fairless Hills, PA 19030

(215) 310-9793