3 Tips for Evaluating What Your Business Is Worth

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-02

(BPT) - Financial and business education is a critical pathway for the future of America’s small business community.

To start with, business owners should ask themselves: “What is the true value of my business?” It’s an important question because the value of your business will have a big impact on both the professional and personal aspects of your life, including the well-being of your family, employees and possibly even the community in which your business in located.

The 2015 Business Owner Perspectives study commissioned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) revealed about half of business owners say they’ve had their businesses valued in the past three years, yet one out of three says they’ve done the valuations themselves. When business owners value the business themselves, they can significantly over or under value their business.

Knowing your business’ true value gives you a more realistic perspective and allows you to put effective strategies into place for future growth, business continuation, succession planning, and retirement planning.

Here are three tips for evaluating what your business is worth.

  1. Times to know the value of your business. Because of constant change in the economic, competitive and regulatory landscape in which so many businesses exist today, it’s a good idea to review the value of your business on a regular basis. Doing this will allow you to have a firm grasp on the business’s current value and track its growth over an extended period of time. With this knowledge, you could consider adjusting your business plans to focus more on the drivers of value, or simply be in a better position to take advantage of opportunities. In addition to measuring business health and preparing it for sale at some immediate or future date, there are other considerations in knowing what your business is worth, including funding a buy-sell agreement, retirement income planning and estate tax planning.

  2. Turn to a credentialed valuation expert. A proper business valuation is not a “rule of thumb” or a figure agreed to with a handshake; it’s thoughtfully crafted by a credentialed appraiser after thorough research and is documented in writing. Credentials to look for include: Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA) or Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV).

  3. Fund any potential "value gaps." Once you know the value of your business, it’s common for there to be a discrepancy between what you thought the business was worth and what you need the business to be worth. The good news is proper planning can help reduce potential “value gaps” created by an owner’s over- or under-estimation of the business’s value. For example, having assets outside the business, such as qualified plans and other investments, can help reduce the value gap in your retirement plan. In addition, insurance products, such as life insurance and disability income insurance, can help address the value gap created if a business goes into forced liquidation following the death or disability of an owner.

Take the next step. Talk to a qualified financial professional about where your business is now and where you'd like it to be in the future, and to find financial solutions that can help you reach your goals.

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Search for Benefits Packages That Go Above and Beyond the Usual

NewsUSA  |  2016-01-21

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News - As health care costs continue to shift to consumers, it’s important to consider benefits packages that provide more holistic support outside the usual health, dental and vision policies. Consumers should be aware that there are plans available today that will aid in their overall well-being, which includes physical, mental and financial health.

Luckily, many employers see the need for robust benefits offerings, with some incorporating new solutions to meet increased employee demand for more from their benefits provider. In fact, 34 percent of employers surveyed in a Towers Watson study indicated they already offer more customization with voluntary benefits. Companies like Aflac are expanding services, ranging from credit monitoring to supplemental accident benefits to helping provide employees and their families with financial protection.

As consumers select benefits options provided by their employer, here are three additional services to look for that go above and beyond a typical benefits offering:

  • Fraud protection: According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, by the middle of 2015, there were a total of 424 data breaches, compromising millions of consumers’ personal and financial information. It’s no secret that the move toward mobile technology and digital transactions has left consumers vulnerable, so benefits that include services to help protect employees’ personal and ?nancial information should be viewed as a must-have option in employer-sponsored packages.

  • Telemedicine: A Towers Watson survey showed that almost half of employers offer telemedicine, and by 2018 that number is expected to rise to 90 percent. Companies are starting to connect consumers to highly qualified health care professionals who can evaluate common conditions and provide personalized treatment remotely, offering a low-cost and convenient option, as opposed to a hospital visit.

  • Benefits management support: According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), medical debts account for 52 percent of debt collection actions that appear on consumer credit reports. Not to mention, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 1 in 3 Americans struggle to pay medical bills. Companies are beginning to offer administrative support to help negotiate employees’ unpaid medical bills. Consumers who are concerned about being able to pay for their medical expenses should investigate these options further, as it could help them protect their financial future.

With more health care responsibility falling on consumers, now is the perfect time to search for and demand more from employer benefits packages. For more about the value-added services Aflac is offering, visit: aflac.com/aflac-business-solutions.

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Forget Your Dream Job - 3 Reasons to Work for a Dream Company in 2016

Brandpoint  |  2016-01-19

(BPT) - A workplace renaissance is positioned to gain steam in 2016. Professionals are shattering the stereotype that the ultimate career goal is to work in a dream job and instead are seeking out employment at dream companies.

"While satisfying work is key to professional fulfillment, working for a highly desirable company with elevated benefits is even more important to employee satisfaction, retention and engagement," says Lucy English, Ph.D., managing director of institutional research at Horizons Workforce Consulting. "People are no longer prioritizing a dream job, but rather a dream company."

So what sets a dream company apart from the status-quo? Employees feel these organizations genuinely care about their well-being, promote work-life balance and provide ample opportunities for career growth. "Depending on organization size and industry, offerings can vary, but should embody these principles," says English.

According to research from Horizons Workforce Consulting, employees who work for dream companies are 11 times more likely to stay at their company than those in dream jobs, have 41 percent more job satisfaction, and are 3.5 times more likely to say that their job inspires them.

Dream companies are built on a positive culture of caring and support as well as benefits that go beyond health care and 401(k)s. According to English, employees in dream companies report having access to an average of nine such benefits, including flexible work arrangements, child care, elder care, paid parental leave, educational advising services and wellness resources.

Still not convinced working for a dream company trumps a dream job? Consider this: People who are not working for a dream company are nearly 45 percent more likely to report having high levels of stress than people working in dream companies, according to the "Business Benefits of Being a Dream Company" report by Horizons Workforce Consulting. Likewise, those in dream companies are 62 percent less likely to report being burned out by work, and health satisfaction improves for people in dream companies compared to those working in dream jobs at less than ideal companies (62 vs. 54 percent).

For individuals seeking a new job, statistics like this are helpful in determining which benefits to look for in a new company. But what about people who want to inspire change at their current place of employment?

"Employees looking to transform their current company into a 'dream company' can start by setting up a meeting with human resources or creating an employee advisory group to brainstorm new benefits that meet the three 'dream company' criteria," says English.

For traditional companies, these small changes can create a turning point for both employee happiness and company loyalty. According to the Bright Horizons 2015 Modern Family Index, 76 percent of working parents feel their company doesn't have their best interest at heart, and 62 percent say their employers do not care about them.

"Employees are taking charge of their careers with considerations beyond the day-to-day responsibilities," says English. "Employers who adopt qualities of dream companies will be able to find and retain top talent."

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Your Four-Step Plan to Changing Careers and Becoming a Teacher

Brandpoint  |  2016-01-19

(BPT) - What's your goal for 2016? Do you want to lose weight, learn a new skill or quit smoking? Perhaps you've decided to set goals around your career instead. Earning more money or getting promoted are common pursuits, but what if your goal is bigger than just moving up in your current career? What if your goal is to change tracks entirely? What if 2016 were the year you decided to follow your ambition and become a teacher? It's possible, and now's the perfect time to pursue the role you've always wanted. If you're sick of heading to work feeling uninspired and you're ready to embrace the challenges and rewards of teaching, these four steps can help you make a successful career transition into teaching today.

Change your priorities

Many people want to change jobs, but that desire is often overshadowed by concerns about how much money they'll earn, how they'll be seen by family and friends or their fears of trying something new. To change your career, you need to change your priorities. Make pursuing your passion your number one objective and everything else will fall into place.

Seek expert knowledge

If you're going to make a career change, you want to do it right, and that means learning from the best in the business. For example, if you want to teach, the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked Western Governors University's (WGU) secondary teacher prep program as the top program in the nation in terms of quality from a list of 2,400 programs. The school is the top producer of STEM teachers in the nation, making it an ideal destination for STEM professionals interested in inspiring the next generation in these important fields. To be your best you need to learn from the best so focus on what you want to do and start researching who does it better than anyone else.

Smart networking

Knowledge is essential and the right connections will make sure it doesn't go to waste. Connect with existing friends in your desired field or reach out and make new contacts through social media or conferences and join clubs that cater to what you want to do. For aspiring teachers that can include networking with principals and current teachers. Often these connections open up doors for student teaching opportunities which can lead to full-time employment following graduation. Above all, make sure you listen to those you meet instead of pushing your own agenda. Take in more business cards than you give out and you'll build contacts that will help you grow in your new profession.

Have faith in yourself

Changing careers can be nerve-wracking, but it's also exciting. This is your chance to do what you've always wanted to do so don't listen to those who tell you that you can't do it. Have faith in yourself, your research, your education and your decision and you won't regret your decision for a single moment once you're finally in the career you've always wanted.

To learn more about the programs available through WGU, visit WGU.edu.

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Is Self-Care a Key to Increasing Workplace Productivity?

Brandpoint  |  2016-01-14

(BPT) - Today’s employment marketplace is both complex and competitive. Workers have access to the benefits and job opportunities of a global economy, and to the modern technologies and resources that make workplace flexibility easier than ever before. In today’s workplace, there’s seemingly unlimited room for personal growth, mobility and productivity - but employees can’t achieve any of these things without their health.

Worker health affects everything, everywhere

Economists and business leaders both recognize the role of health in workforce productivity and competitiveness. When workers aren’t healthy, they can’t perform at their best and their companies become less efficient and competitive.

A survey of 35 large employers with at least 1.2 million workers, conducted by the Institute for Health and Productivity Management, found that common self-treatable conditions such as allergies, joint pain and excess stomach acid affect many workers every work day of the year. One global corporation determined that common ailments like these cost it $3.25 million annually in lost productivity. Individuals who have ever suffered from any of these ailments understand how difficult it is to remain productive and excel at their work when not feeling well.

More companies are understanding these challenges and realizing their impact on employees’ functionality and productivity. Many businesses now are empowering their workforce with simple solutions - offering preventive health and wellness programs to reduce the impact of common ailments on workplace productivity. This includes acknowledging the contribution of over-the-counter medicines (OTCs) to keeping employees healthy and productive.

Self-care and OTCs put power in the hands of consumers by providing safe and accessible relief options for many common health issues. This enables individuals to take an active role in their own health and wellness, to remain at work or return there more quickly, and to enjoy a better quality of life.

Benefits to the healthcare system as a whole

At a time when employers and society in general are working to control healthcare spending, OTCs are a critical component of ensuring that healthcare resources are used cost effectively. An independent study by Booz and Company estimates a total economic savings of $125-148 billion from avoided physician office visits ($77 billion), fewer costlier prescriptions ($25 billion) and less time away from work for doctor’s visits ($23-46 billion). Another study estimates that every $1 spent on OTCs saves the system $6 to $7.

For consumers, these findings just reconfirm what many already know - that engaging in good self-care and health habits means fewer sick days, increased productivity and a better quality of life. The medical cost savings also can lead to more affordable health plan options because of reduced medical costs incurred by their employers.

An ounce of prevention

For companies and their workers alike, the old Virgil adage still holds true, “the greatest wealth is health.” Today’s wellness resources and OTC options are empowering workers to prevent themselves from losing their functionality and productivity to muscle and joint pain and other common ailments.

For consumers, the accessibility of OTCs and self-care options provides a chance to take a more active role in their health, giving them an advantage in today’s competitive job marketplace.

To learn more about how OTCs can help and other disabling symptoms of self-treatable illness, speak with your pharmacist today.

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This Year, Resolve to Make the Most of Your Employee Benefits

Brandpoint  |  2016-01-05

(BPT) - Many Americans start the New Year by resolving to improve their lives by exercising more, losing weight or making other changes. Based on research findings, one in five should resolve to put their financial house in order.

Research by MassMutual shows that many Americans struggle with their personal finances, especially when it comes to making the most of their employee benefits:

  • 22 percent of Americans admit they don’t understand their personal finances;
  • 22 percent don’t know which employee benefits such as healthcare coverage, life or disability insurance or retirement savings should be a priority;
  • 42 percent say they don’t know if they are on track to retire comfortably; and
  • 64 percent don’t know the details of their life insurance.

“Many people muddle through personal financial decisions and simply hope for the best,” said Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president, MassMutual Retirement Services and Worksite Insurance. “Unfortunately, all too often people make the wrong choices and risk leaving themselves unprepared for life’s financial realities. Making the right choices can lead to greater peace of mind.”

Financial planning is a discipline built on a hierarchy of needs. Psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced the hierarchy in the form of a pyramid to explain human behavior, starting with basic needs such as food and shelter at the bottom or foundation. Other needs build from there, in order of priority, including safety, social connections, self-esteem and, at the top of the pyramid, growth.

According to Maslow’s theory, basic needs must be satisfied before higher needs can be addressed. Food, water and shelter take priority over other needs such as whether or not your car has heated seats or a sun roof.

The hierarchy of needs work well when establishing financial priorities and making financial decisions, according to Sarsynski. The layers of the pyramid can be matched to financial planning choices and even benefits selections:

  • Be Safe: The foundation of the pyramid is safety. Most people and their families need financial protection from dying prematurely, suffering a long-term or even a short-term disability, or becoming seriously ill. That means most people should prioritize signing up for healthcare coverage, life and disability insurance.

  • Build Savings: Once financial protection is in place, many of us should address shorter-term goals such as accumulating personal savings, building up cash for emergencies, and eliminating short-term debts such as credit card balances and car loans. Purchasing critical illness coverage can help protect savings, potentially avoid future debts, or provide a financial cushion in the event you or someone in your family suffers a serious illness or injury.

  • Plan for Retirement: Next, most of us need to plan for the future, which means building wealth and reducing debt over the long term. Saving for retirement through an employer’s 401(k) or other retirement savings program is a good long-term priority. Other long-term goals should be saving for college if you have children and eliminating mortgage debt.

  • Pursue Dreams: Those who accomplish those goals and who are fortunate enough to have additional financial resources can then consider their financial dreams that fall into the esteem and growth categories. Travel, pursuing expensive hobbies, purchasing a vacation home and other goals should be pursued only after other needs are met.

“We all have important financial needs, wants and dreams. The key is to understand the difference and to take care of your most basic protection needs first,” Sarsynski said. “Your employer’s benefit package should be a place to start.”

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5 Ways to Make Your First Impression a Lasting One

Brandpoint  |  2016-01-05

(BPT) - Within the first few seconds of meeting someone, an opinion is immediately formed that can last forever. This encounter often sets the tone for the relationship that follows. So how can you make your first impression a positive one?

Here are some tips to help you knock your first meeting out of the park:

Take pride in your presence

Physical appearance is the first thing people observe before an introduction. Always dress appropriately for the occasion, whether it’s a casual lunch or a formal business meeting. A go-to suggestion is to maintain a clean and crisp appearance for most events because you can’t go wrong - think business casual. This look can be trendy and professional and will position you in a positive light. Being mindful of your appearance will give you more confidence to help make a great first impression.

Share your best smile

A warm, genuine smile is your best tool in making a first impression unforgettable. “A self-assured and convincing smile starts with regular oral care practices to keep your teeth clean and your breath smelling fresh,” says Dr. Christopher Ramsey, DMD. An easy way to do this is by adding a mouthwash, like Crest Pro-Health Advanced Mouthwash with Extra Deep Clean to your daily routine. “These advanced mouthwash formulas strengthen teeth, kill germs and freshen breath, so you are guaranteed to have and maintain an impressive smile,” says Dr. Todd Snyder, DDS, AAACD.

Showcase your positive attitude

For people who get nervous when interacting with others, it is essential to sustain a calm attitude and optimistic outlook. Go into the meeting with an open mind and learn something new. Contribute to the conversation and maintain engagement. Showing attentiveness is often contagious, as the person you meet catches on and reciprocates.

Be conscious of your body language

Body language is a crucial element in daily human interaction. From the way you walk to a meeting, to the hand gestures used while you speak - body language is just as important as the words you say. Start by standing tall, making appropriate eye contact and giving a firm handshake. Demonstrate open body postures by keeping your head up and relaxing your shoulders. Crossed arms and legs make you appear closed off and unapproachable, so be mindful of how you might appear to others.

Be yourself

Being true to yourself is the best way to be presentable to others. Be comfortable with your personality. If nervousness kicks in, take a few deep breaths and remember to be calm and confident. A composed demeanor will put anyone at ease, sealing the deal on an excellent relationship as you move forward.

Making an everlasting first impression is simply about being at peace with who you are and being ready to meet others. Try some of these above tips at your next meeting, networking event or job interview.

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