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- Sales and marketing strategies that lack focus.
- Too many “low-value” prospects (prospects unlikely to agree to an appointment, make a purchase, or renew) clogging up the funnel.
- Limited referral opportunities due to lack of clarity about who you’re selling to.
- What common challenges do my clients and prospects face?
- What objectives do they share?
- What other industries or companies might have these same challenges/objectives?
- What’s missing? What industries/companies do I want to sell to that aren’t represented on my client list?
- Why do I want to sell to these companies? Do they really represent my ideal prospect?
- Every month, roughly one million job seekers enter the job market. In response, the central government is pushing a “Make in India” initiative to spur manufacturing and job creation.
- More than 300 million Indians live with no or little electricity, especially in rural areas. While there is a big push to build new energy capacity, utilities are consistently hampered with a lack of capital and abundant red tape.
- About 500 million Indians have no indoor toilets, which has serious sanitation and public health ramifications.
- India ranks 130 out of 189 in the World Bank’s annual “Ease of Doing Business” ranking. Although the business-friendly Prime Minister Modi wants to improve India’s ranking, it is difficult to combat the webs of bureaucracy and corruption that have contributed to this low ranking.
- It is estimated that India needs $2 trillion to spend on infrastructure improvements—roads, bridges, ports, and more. But national and state budgets cannot come close to these figures, causing the government to explore public-private partnerships and look for ways to attract long-term investment.
- Tourism: In 2015, the U.S. consular sections processed a record-setting one million visa applications for visitors from India. And the number of visitors from India to the United States has increased by 20 percent in the last year.
- Education: More than 130,000 Indians are currently studying at universities across the United States, a 30 percent increase since 2014 and its highest rate ever.
- Investment: At nearly $11 billion, India is the fifth fastest-growing source of business investment into the United States. Indian firms in the U.S. have created nearly 44,000 jobs and export nearly $2 billion from the United States. Sven Gertzer of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce recently visited India to scout for more investment leads.
- Searching for a job this year? If so, then LinkedIn’s Job Seeker premium account may be right for you. This premium version presents you as a featured applicant when you apply for a job through LinkedIn. You are able to see salary data when searching for positions and have the ability to send 15 Inmails per month to recruiters or individuals inside organizations you are interested in.
- Power up your sales efforts with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This version allows you to receive targeted leads and makes prospecting much simpler. It is possible to integrate Salesforce to create a seamless and more efficient experience.
- Seeking to grow your workforce in 2016? Find the right talent on LinkedIn with Recruiter Lite or Recruiter Corporate premium versions. Track candidate activity with smart notifications and automatic organization.
- Enhance your overall LinkedIn experience with Business Plus or Executive. This version includes additional advanced search filters as well as more saved search alerts. Your profile is displayed more prominently with a larger profile photo and background image.
- Retain control?
- Engage the next generation?
- Continue the business?
- Appreciation anticipated?
- Stability and good cash flow?
- Type of entity?
- Children active and non-active?
- Equal distribution among family members?
- Concern for employees?
- Key employees that are non-
- Commitment to the community?
- Transfer or sell? To whom, when, how much, future appreciation
- Require income?
- Need liquidity?
- Charitable intentions?
- Prefer tax minimization?
- Simple or complex?
- Risk averse?
THE TARGET MARKET PARADOX:
Narrow Focus Fills Pipeline with Better Leads
D id you ever think you might be trying to sell to too many people? I know it sounds odd—as a sales pro, you’re programmed to sell your product to as many people as possible. It’s a fundamental tenet of business growth.
But the fact is, when you try to sell to too many people, you end up with fewer sales and fewer long-term clients.
It’s called the Target Market Paradox—and it’s one of the most common (and most crippling) mistakes in lead generation.
More Prospects Don’t Always Equal More Sales
As a business database and prospecting tools provider, we know a thing or two about the importance of a defined target market.
Because a database can contain tens of thousands of listings, users are immediately challenged by which prospects to target.
Rather than letting loose to sell to every prospect in the database, it is usually best to work with a narrowly defined target market of only the best prospects.
You might ask: Why encourage such a limited approach? The answer is that, far from limiting the client’s business development efforts, a defined target market creates a direct path to more appointments and sales.
To understand why, consider the consequences of casting too wide a net:
Here are a few steps to help you create an ideal target market allowing you to pursue leads that are likely to reward you with years of sales.
Look at Your Existing Client Base
To shape your target market, start by looking at the clients you already have.
Are all of your client relationships equally rewarding? What are the demographics and psychographics of your most profitable clients?
Some customers, often the large and unprofitable ones, may be more trouble than they are worth. Others with a respected brand may give you instant credibility.
Use your existing client list as a blueprint—it’s the first step in the process of separating high-value opportunities from low-value time-wasters.
Define Your Ideal Client
Your current client list provides a road map, but you need to dig a little deeper to find your ideal target market.
After all, you’re not looking to sell to your current clients—you already did that. You’re looking for “hidden” prospects, many of whom may not know about you or what you offer.
Once you’ve analyzed your current client demographics, ask yourself the following questions, then use the answers to define your highest-value prospects.
The Problem with Everyone
Even if you think you sell to “everyone,” defining your ideal target market is still important.
Imagine you are asked for a referral and told, “I can work with everyone who needs my product.” Who comes to mind? Chances are you’d struggle to come up with anything promising.
What if instead you were asked for “serial entrepreneurs in the technology arena located in your city.” Your mental picture becomes clearer.
And that’s the fundamental point—your target market isn’t just a list of companies. It’s a living template that you use to generate leads and qualify prospects in real time, and that you continuously refine based on what’s working and what isn’t.
It is important to make sure that your business database and prospecting tools provider assist you in defining your target market appropriately and offer the resources that will enable you to identify your high-value local prospects.
Follow these pointers and you’ll see why a narrowly focused target market increases your potential for better leads, more appointments, and rewarding client relationships.
Content contributed by Business Wise, Inc., helping businesses navigate every phase of the new business development process by combining trustworthy business and local contact databases with powerful prospecting tools for the Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas-Fort Worth areas. To get a snapshot of how many high-value local prospects you may have, visit www.businesswise.com/resources and start the “Target Market Planner.” For more information, contact Vicky Ray Pace, Area Manager—Charlotte Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-554-4112 or visit www.BusinessWise.com.
LINKEDIN ACCESSIBILITY SOARS
With New Mobile App
We live in a world where total access to information is at our fingertips via our smartphones. Smartphone sales have gone from 62.6 million units in 2010 to a projected 236.8 million in 2019 (Source: Statista 2016). As a result, social media communication has been transformed by our desire to share our experiences in real time, in the moment.
Most think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest when social media mobile use is discussed and statistics support this. LinkedIn is different than other social media. It has typically been accessed via a desktop or laptop computer. Where the other social media options are hybrid in nature, appealing to consumers and businesses, LinkedIn is dedicated to business-to-business.
Fact: Currently more than 50 percent of LinkedIn users access the platform with their mobile app. The result is a brand new, totally redesigned master LinkedIn app. We love the new mobile app because it is similar to the desktop version, which has superior navigation and enhanced capabilities.
The new app is organized into five distinct sections: Home, Me, Messaging, My Network and Search.
From Home, you can now see a stream of news sent your way. This section includes content that has been shared or published by your network. You are given the opportunity to respond to the postings by liking, commenting and sharing what you see. By simply scrolling through the posts you are able to see information based on your interests, connections and groups.
Me includes two areas. First you’ll see the number of people who have viewed your profile as well as who’s viewed the content you have shared. This is similar to the notifications tab of the desktop version of LinkedIn. When you share content, you’ll see who has liked, commented or shared it along with an update of who’s following you.
This is a great method to stay on top of individuals who are interested in your posted content for the purpose of furthering your business relationship. You can follow up with those who have responded to your post and further the discussion about the content.
The second area of Me now allows for editing your profile instead of having to wait until you get back to your desktop. It exhibits how your profile is seen by mobile users and provides insight into how to structure it based on how it is rendered within the mobile environment.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this section is just glorified texting between you and your connections. This has been transformed into your total communication center on LinkedIn. It mirrors the new message center on the desktop version and is where all past and present communication is housed.
Within My Network are the updates to your connections profiles that reflect their position or job change, work anniversary, and birthdays. This is similar to what is found on your desktop Home page. You may congratulate your connections with a personal note (and if local, suggest a celebratory lunch or coffee break). It’s a great way to stay on top of the changes being made by your network.
In addition, LinkedIn will suggest People You May Know based on your current connections and profile keywords. A word of warning—by clicking on the icon to the right that allows you to request a connection, you are not permitted to customize your message. We always recommend customizing connection request messages.
You’re now able to “search for people, jobs and more…” as written on the tool bar. For those of you who have used the search tool bar at the top of your desktop version, this will be very familiar. Prior to going into a business meeting with someone, check them out on LinkedIn to find out more about them. This makes it simple to access their profile.
You can do the same type of research when meeting with a company. Searching for the company name results in seeing their company page, including the latest news and possible jobs available.
Finally, when connecting with a person using the new app, you are now able to customize your connection request by clicking on the three horizontal dots at the top right of their mobile profile. There you will be able to personalize your invite, send them a private message and share the person’s profile with another individual.
Why do we love the new LinkedIn mobile app? Finally, there is integration between the desktop and mobile versions. Both now allow for simpler communication and research. LinkedIn recognizes the importance of mobile for communication purposes and now it is possible.
Content contributed by Ira and Linda Bass of Connect To Success, specializing in LinkedIn individual and group training for corporations, associations and networking groups along with communication coaching. For more information, please contact Ira Bass at IraBass@ConnectToSuccess.biz or 704-989-3790. Learn more at www.ConnectToSuccess.biz.
Key Employee Incentives—Perhaps a Phantom Approach?
Many private business owners find it desirable to issue or transfer some type of equity to a top manager or other valuable employee in order to retain such individual’s services. Not surprisingly, these types of non-cash equity transfers tend to be more frequent in expanding economic climates as key employees have more options available to them in an expanding job market—a phenomenon the Economist has described as the “pay and perks arms race.”
Advisors often suggest a variety of equity-linked alternatives such as restricted shares, non-qualified stock options, incentive stock options, LLC profits interests, and/or options to purchase LLC profits interests. These alternatives should be considered in conjunction with an analysis of the related form of business entity tax treatment, securities law compliance, vesting schedules, and administrative costs (for example, stock options may require annual independent valuations in order to comply with Section 409A under the IRC).
It is important, however, to first determine the key employee’s concerns and/or goals with respect to the company and the employee’s assessment of a fair return for the employee’s services. Many key employee situations may be resolved with something other than equity ownership in the company and still be a mutually agreeable solution.
Additionally, under North Carolina law, employees that hold an ownership interest in the employer may assert, in a termination of employment situation, an additional layer of protection under the Meiselman line of cases in North Carolina. Relief under this approach is normally based on a claim by the minority shareholder that his or her “reasonable expectations”—here, continued employment—have been frustrated by the majority owner. Accordingly, such interest may bring about undesirable employment issues.
A majority owner faced with the termination of an underperforming employee owner will likely face greater obstacles to proceeding with such termination due to the employee’s shareholder status unless very clear and enforceable documents are put in place covering the employee’s termination, including the repurchase of the former employee’s equity interest for an agreed upon consideration following termination.
Let’s return to the key employee/owner dialogue scenario. A key employee informs the owner that the relative contributions to the company between the owner and employee have, over time, become inconsistent with the returns provided to each of them. Perhaps the employee believes that if the current owner holds 100 percent of the company, surely out of general fairness such owner could part with an “insignificant portion” (say, 10 percent) of the company and simply “gift” such shares to the deserving employee.
In such cases, the owner should point out to the employee the tax issues generated with an equity transfer. Equity simply “given” to the employee by the employer results in the IRS treating such transfer as part of a compensatory arrangement with the employee needing to come up with funds to pay the tax bill relating to such value unless the employer is willing to “gross up” the employee’s cash compensation to assist the employee with his or her newly acquired tax obligation. Another distinct possibility is that the owner has personally guaranteed existing bank debt needed for operational cash flow and expects all owners to do the same. The employee may become less eager to jump into the ownership ranks if he or she would also be required to take on a portion of such contingent liabilities.
After a meaningful discussion with the key manager, the business owner may find out, for example, that the manager is satisfied overall with current compensation and annual bonus arrangements but is greatly concerned with what would happen upon a company sale or other change of control. In such case, the business owner might structure a simple phantom stock or stock appreciation rights (SARs) plan. These plans are quite simple to implement and involve granting an employee a set number of phantom stock units or SARs.
No tax is paid on the grant date; taxation occurs when the amounts vest. So at the time of a change of control, the employee would receive a payment taxed at ordinary income tax rates and the company would get a deduction. Such plans normally remain in place for the employee only so long as he or she continues to provide services to the company and can be structured to generate a cash payment solely upon the sale/change of control event, thus providing the key manager incentive to stay on with greater certainty as to the economic effects of any such sale/change of control. The key employee would not obtain capital gain treatment but may nevertheless regard the phantom units or SARs as a valuable “success” type of reward for staying with the company while allowing the owner to avoid shared ownership issues.
Bottom line—business owners willing to engage in active listening with key employees may just learn they have more options (pun intended) than actually issuing ownership rights.
Content contributed Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, a full service law firm founded in 1925 with more than 240 attorneys practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Sarasota, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Toledo, Ohio. Content written by Philip S. Chubb, Partner, Corporate Practice Co-administrator, whose principal areas of practice include corporate transactional and M&A projects. For more information, contact him at 704-945-2165 or email@example.com or visit www.slk-law.com.
Today, more and more of the 10,000 aby boomers—those born from 1946 to 1964—reaching retirement age are exiting their businesses and listing their companies in the business-for-sale marketplace. The number of small businesses listed for sale nationwide is at a six-year high according to data compiled by BizBuySell.com, and analysts expect that number to reach unprecedented levels.
The vast majority of these owners will be looking to exit their businesses through a sale to outsiders (a third party) or a sale or transfer to insiders (co-owners, key employees or family members). This movement is predicted to soon result in a glut of companies for sale, driving down valuation and creating a buyer’s market.
In over 25 years of assisting closely-held businesses and their owners in the exit planning area, I have never seen more business owners who are beginning to understand how critically important it is for them to create a successful exit plan in order to reach their personal and financial objectives by maximizing the value of their business upon their exit.
Let’s assume you are currently a 65-year-old founder and sole owner of a successful business. You have worked hard all of your life but are experiencing the first signs of losing some of the “fire in your belly” for driving your business’ continued growth and would like to soon be able to take some “chips off the table” and create a liquidity event which will allow you and your spouse to travel and do all of the other things you have always talked about while you are still young and healthy.
As you understand it, your business will probably sell for at least $8 million which constitutes approximately 80 percent of your personal net worth.
You would like to retire in the next three to five years and realize you can’t do your exit plan alone. However, you’re wondering who, exactly, are the professional advisors that have the qualities, expertise, experience, and training to help you plan in order to make your transition successful?
My experience has been that the most successful exits have occurred when the business owner has assembled an advisor team, usually including at a minimum a CPA, attorney, financial planner, and insurance professional, to help him/her create and orchestrate a successful exit.
Why an advisor team? Why not just one advisor who can assist in creating an exit plan?
The answer is simple: No single profession or professional possesses all of the necessary skills, expertise and experience to single-handedly lead an owner through all steps of the ownership-transition process. Also, some professionals are not comfortable cooperating closely with professionals from other disciplines for the benefit of their common clients. As a result, the process can stall before it really gets started.
Your current advisors, whether CPAs, attorneys, financial or insurance professionals, may or may not be familiar with some of the important issues which you should address in any well-designed exit planning process.
Instead, they may be more focused on compliance-type activities (general business matters, contracts, employee matters, tax returns, financial statements, etc.), which simply are not planning-oriented. In addition, financial and insurance professionals often focus on a subset of overall planning—investment planning or life-insurance planning—in order to help meet income needs or estate-tax costs.
Having said that, there are of course many advisors who are exceptions to these generalizations. You should certainly discuss these issues first with your current advisors as they may be well-qualified to help you accomplish your exit planning objectives.
At least one member of your advisor team should be trained and possess the knowledge to act as a facilitator of your exit planning process. This facilitator should use a written, detailed and systematic process which covers all the important issues which need to be addressed for a particular owner’s exit.
This facilitator must also be able to work with you and your advisors to create and agree upon a written exit plan and action item checklist for you and for each member of your advisor team. This will shorten the process and reduce considerably the time you should have to spend creating the plan.
A written exit plan is based upon your goals and objectives so it provides a road map that can be understood and followed by you and all members of your advisor team. In most cases, once you have chosen your facilitator, many (or all) of your other current advisors will likely be suitable members of your advisor team, unless they tell you otherwise.
Now that the stage has been set, our next installment will discuss in detail the eight prerequisites for creating and implementing a successful exit plan.
Content contributed Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, a full service law firm founded in 1925 with more than 240 attorneys practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Sarasota, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Toledo, Ohio. Content written by Robert Norris, Partner and co-chair of the firm’s Emerging and Middle-Market Practice Group. For more information, contact him at 704-945-2926 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.slk-law.com.
In early August 2014, on the first Sunday of my new life as a commercial diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, I struggled out of a four-seat taxi with my wife and four children in the heat of the summer in the bustling neighborhood of Vasant Vihar.
There were no sidewalks, and horns seemed to honk from all directions as we cautiously crossed the street among the cows and street vendors that glanced at us. In the coming weeks, we would learn to drive ourselves through those streets, notwithstanding the cows, lack of sidewalks, and chaotic traffic patterns that always make for an interesting ride.
Our experience was perhaps emblematic of India today—overwhelming and bewildering at first, but dynamic and full of potential for those that adapt and form lasting relationships in this huge, fascinating country.
Although I had always been interested in international affairs, I had never anticipated moving to India. After earning a master’s degree at the University of California San Diego, I spent a few years in Washington, D.C., where I worked at Georgetown University, and afterwards, the Export-Import Bank.
In 2007, we moved to Charlotte where I was in commercial lending and international trade finance at BB&T and Bank of America until 2014, when I joined the Foreign Commercial Service and was assigned to serve in India.
U.S. Commercial Service in India
Presently, I work as one of 10 American Commercial Officers in India within the U.S. Commercial Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.
The U.S. Commercial Service employs more than 260 Foreign Service Officers in 75 markets around the world, including seven offices throughout India. Our primary purposes are to promote the export of U.S. goods and services to India; advocate on behalf of U.S. business interests with government entities; and recruit investment from India into the United States.
Opportunities and Challenges in India
The last 16 months have been a terrific time to be at the Embassy in New Delhi. The United States and India are strengthening their commercial partnership as never before. President Obama is the only U.S. President to visit India twice while in office, including attending India’s Republic Day celebrations in January 2015.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Obama have also met twice in Washington D.C., most recently during the two countries’ first-ever Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. President Obama said in January, “India and the United States are not just natural partners—I believe that America can be India’s best partner.”
With more than 1.2 billion people, India is the most populous democracy in the world. The country is governed under a parliamentary system comprising 29 states and seven union territories, and has more than 22 official languages. Since gaining its independence in 1947, India has passed through many struggles with a strong desire for sovereignty and independence that leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru fought so hard to achieve.
India is currently experiencing some of the world’s fastest economic growth rates and is attracting impressive amounts of investment, but it also has its challenges, considering:
Positive Trends in India
Given these challenges, what does India offer U.S. companies? There are many positive trends and tremendous potential.
First, U.S.-India bilateral trade has increased fivefold since 2000 to $103 billion today, with a projection to increase to $500 billion by 2025.
A look at North and South Carolina’s export figures to the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) indicates there is room for U.S.-India trade to grow, especially compared to our trade with China. Although the populations of India and China are nearly the same, North Carolina’s exports to China are more than six times higher than India, and South Carolina’s exports to China are 11 times higher than India.
Second, the demographics of the BRICS indicate the growth potential for trade with India.
India’s population and national savings rates are second only to China’s among the BRICS, and its population is forecast to surpass China’s by 2025. Although India’s GDP per capita is the lowest among the BRICS, its middle class is rapidly expanding.
Third, despite India’s diversity of cultures and languages, English is commonly spoken throughout the country, making business activity easier for Americans. Also, there is broad familiarity with and affinity for the United States throughout India. Roughly three out of every 100 Americans is of Indian origin, which has formed a powerful commercial and familial network.
The sectors in which I specialize are indicators that the future is bright for U.S.-Indian trade:
A recent investment by an Indian firm in North Carolina is worth highlighting.
In 2014, a company from southern India named SG Mills invested $40 million to open a yarn spinning facility in Eden, North Carolina. This investment initially started when one of my colleagues in Chennai, India, referred SG Mills to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA office, which promotes foreign direct investment into the United States.
SG Mills is a third-generation, family-owned business. It is the largest spinner in India with a total installed capacity of 1.1 million spindles and a workforce of 30,000 employees. SelectUSA, through the U.S. Commercial Service post in Chennai, India, worked closely with the team members at SG Mills as they considered their approach to the U.S. market.
SelectUSA introduced SG Mills to several economic development organizations in a variety of U.S. states. Ultimately, Governor Pat McCrory’s office persuaded SG Mills to establish their U.S. operations in Eden, resulting in the company’s investment of more than $40 million and the creation of more than 80 new jobs.
Finding Opportunities in India
How can Charlotte companies find opportunities in India?
We often share the following advice:
Remember the Three P’s: Persistence, Patience and Partners. India has its challenges, but the right partners combined with a long-term commitment often leads to success. The U.S. Commercial Service offers matchmaking and partner-selection services for a small fee to American firms in any of our 100+ Export Assistance Centers throughout the United States, including one in Charlotte.
Because India is so vast and diverse, it is wise to consider a regional strategy. Our seven offices located throughout India can advise Americans on ways to develop such strategies. Companies should not overlook ‘Tier 2’ cities that are each home to millions of people and often have abundant trade opportunities.
Be prepared to offer customization and after-sales services in order to maintain and grow relationships.
These are just a few areas in which the U.S.-India commercial relationship is growing and deepening. For Charlotte-based companies, India offers much in cultural and commercial opportunity.
Content contributed by Paul Frost, a Foreign Commercial Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. The Foreign Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. The role of a Foreign Commercial Service Officer is to promote the export of U.S. goods and services, attract foreign investment into the United States, and defend U.S. commercial interests abroad. Frost can be reached at email@example.com. For more information, visit www.export.gov/india and www.buyusa.gov/india.
Content contributed Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, a full service law firm founded in 1925 with more than 240 attorneys practicing in Toledo and Columbus, Ohio; Tampa and Sarasota, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Our Charlotte office is sharing in the fast-paced development of the Carolinas by providing representation on corporate, securities, real estate, tax, litigation, immigration, employment, creditors’ rights, international business transactions and litigation, financial transactions, health and all other business specialty areas. For more information, contact Scott M. Stevenson, the Charlotte Managing Partner, at 704-945-2180 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.slk-law.com.
Make 2016 the year where you keep an important business resolution. We suggest you focus your efforts on LinkedIn, for it’s a pretty safe bet that your prospects and clients are already there.
Whether you are seeking a new position or looking to grow your business, there are several simple steps to take to reach these goals.
Freshen Up Your LinkedIn Profile
Get a new professional headshot that makes a great first impression. Use a solid, or preferably white background. Too many people have unflattering or inappropriate photos on LinkedIn.
Enhance your personal brand with a background image. This really makes your profile stand out from the crowd.
Update your contact information. It is really frustrating to call or email a connection to find that the phone number is incorrect and the email has bounced back.
Add media of all different types. For example, add photos, videos, presentations, certifications, audio clips, etc. This makes your profile more searchable and offers the reader a greater understanding of you and your organization.
Add optional sections to your profile such as Honors and Awards, Organizations you support, Publications, Projects, etc. These sections round out your profile by exhibiting to the reader who you are beyond your title and job description.
Monitor Your LinkedIn Homepage for Hidden Opportunities
Regularly check to see who has viewed your profile. These are potential new clients who might be checking you out.
Keep in touch with your network by congratulating your connections on milestones in their life and career.
Share an update on a regular basis to keep you top-of-mind with your network.
Become a Thought Leader in Your Industry
Publish insightful posts about your industry that your connections would find of interest.
Contribute thoughts and comments within your strategic LinkedIn groups on a regular basis.
Prospect for New Connections
Set a goal of connecting with a certain number of prospects on a regular basis to expand your network and to develop valuable relationships.
Advanced search is an area where you can set the parameters to search for people, jobs, articles, companies, and universities. If you are seeking to connect with CEOs in your region you can set the search to do so and come up with hundreds of results based on the size of your network. Save the searches you create to get notified of any new results on a regular basis.
Follow Companies That You Want to Do Business With
Keep up to date on the latest developments within targeted companies with little effort by following them on LinkedIn.
Learn who is inside that company of interest who might be a lead for you or introduce you to a specific individual.
Stay updated about jobs that may be of interest to you.
Educate Yourself About LinkedIn Premium
LinkedIn offers several options to upgrade to a premium account. This can result in a more targeted experience depending on your specific goals. Free LinkedIn users may test drive premium accounts for one month. Here are the four versions:
Make it a great year! Take 15 to 30 minutes each day to check your inbox, make connections, review connection requests, join and monitor groups and search for prospects or jobs. If you stay motivated and are consistent, you will see results.
“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle
you arrive in.” ~ Bill Bradley
Content contributed by Ira and Linda Bass of Connect To Success, specializing in LinkedIn individual and group training for corporations, associations and networking groups along with communication coaching. For more information, please contact Ira Bass at IraBass@ConnectToSuccess.biz or 704-989-3790. Learn more at www.ConnectToSuccess.biz.
Family business owners face both emotional and financial challenges when preparing to exit their business—and many do not have a formal succession plan. Key aspects to consider include understanding goals and objectives; analyzing options for gifting, selling and/or donating; and developing a plan that is appropriate for both the family and the business.
According to the Baker Tilly International Succession Reset: Family Business Succession in the 21st Century (2014) report, four out of five U.S. family business owners are not succession-ready.
Key challenges faced by family business owners include being ready for transition or market sale, and ensuring that the business has the financial capacity to support both retirement and the next generation.
The study points out that succession today is just as much about the transfer of knowledge and skills as it is about the transfer of wealth, because the level of skills required to effectively run a business in today’s environment is far greater than it was in previous generations.
According to the PWC Global Family Business Survey (2014) report, only 16% of family firms have a succession plan that has been discussed and documented.
The terms of the plans were varied: 40% would pass both management and ownership to the next generation; 32% would pass only ownership; 18% would sell to another company including a private equity (PE) firm; 5% would complete an initial public offering (IPO); 4% would sell to their management team; and the remaining 9% didn’t know or had other plans.
Developing a Plan
The first step in succession planning is identifying your goals and objectives. The next step is developing a plan that achieves your goals and objectives without doing harm to the family or the business. Fundamental considerations include those listed here.
Gifting, Selling and/or Donating
Options for keeping the business in the family include transfers as outright gifts, gifts in trust, private annuity, Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT), Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT), and Beneficiary Defective Inheritor’s Trust (BDIT).
It may be appropriate to examine a spin-off with each child being given a separate business or division. It may also be appropriate to perform a simple tax-free recapitalization of the business so that voting stock (control) could be retained while nonvoting stock could be transferred.
Keep in mind that valuation discounts may come into play, both minority and marketability discounts. The IRS may soon publish regulations limiting use of these discounts for transfers involving family-controlled entities; therefore, for those transfers currently being planned, it may be advantageous to finalize such transfers sooner rather than later.
Options for selling the business include outright sale, partial sale, installment sale, Self-Cancelling Installment Note (SCIN), redemption, and Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). A family business owner may prefer a sale for reasons including: no leadership or entrepreneurial talent, irreconcilable conflicts among family and management, some family not in the business, liquidity needs, or lack of confidence in future of the business.
Irrespective of to whom, when, and how it is to be sold, there are steps to get the business ready to sell, including maximizing the value of the business, maintaining good business records, obtaining non-compete and confidentiality agreements from key employees, and designing and implementing incentive structures. Consider including vesting and forfeiture provisions and linking the benefit to “x” years of service, the sale of the company, or some other performance variable.
Options for transfer by charitable contribution include a Donor- Advised Fund (DAF) and split-interest vehicles such as a Charitable Lead Trust (CLT) and a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT). While CLTs help cut estate and gift taxes, CRTs are primarily income tax planning vehicles.
In summary, the succession process will guide you in gifting, selling and/or donating your business. Based on your goals and objectives, you will be able to develop a robust plan that is appropriate for both your family and your business.
Content contributed by GreerWalker LLP, a Charlotte-based accounting and business advisory firm offering assurance, accounting, tax, and consulting services primarily to privately held middle-market companies, their owners, and their executive management teams, as well as a range of consulting services directed to publicly traded companies. Content written by Sandi Thorman, CPA, Partner and leader of the firm’s Estate, Gift & Trust Planning Services. For more information, contact Sandi at email@example.com or 704-377-0239 or visit www.GreerWalker.com.
For some, networking events stand for opportunity, relationship and business development and referrals. For others, just the thought of attending networking events is overwhelming; it seems impossible to target who they need to meet.
LinkedIn has come to your rescue! There are over 3 million groups on LinkedIn. Essentially, groups are virtual networking events that are available 24/7. They may be local, regional, national and international in scope. Their subject matter covers almost every conceivable industry in existence. Best of all, you can attend, contribute to, and participate in these virtual networking events from the comfort of your home or office at any time.
LinkedIn allows you to join up to 100 groups. We suggest you balance out your 100 to include a variety of groups such as: industry, local, regional, national, international, alumni and personal interest groups. At any time you may decide to leave one and join another. Some require the approval or invitation by the group manager before you are accepted into the group to make sure you meet their membership criteria.
LinkedIn Group Classifications
In an effort to keep the groups free of spam and allow for easier navigation, LinkedIn recently changed the classifications to Unlisted and Standard.
• Unlisted Groups will not show up in search results,
• Only the group’s owner and manager can invite members to the group.
• Standard Groups will show up in search results;
• Any member can invite any of their 1st degree connections to join.
How to Find Groups
LinkedIn has made finding groups easy. You may do so by searching for groups from the Groups You May Like page or the Search field at the top of your homepage. Here’s how:
In the search box at the top of any page, select Groups from the dropdown list on the left. Then type in your keywords or group name to search. Once you receive your search results, you may refine your search using the checkboxes on the left; or
Move your cursor over Interests at the top of your homepage and select Groups. Select the Find a group link on the right side of the page. Type in your keywords or group name to Search.
Is A Group Right For You?
Find out by clicking on a group’s About tab. Here you’ll find group rules, a description written by the group’s owner, and the group owner’s name with a link to their profile and when it started. You will also see which of your 1st level connections are members.
The Two Ways to Join a Group
1. Click “Join” on the group Discussions page or anywhere you see the button.
2. Respond to an invitation from a group member or manager.
Strategy for Joining a Group
It is important to join and participate in groups where your target audience can be found. Too many people only join groups within their industry and their peers. For example, a career coach could join a peer group such as the International Coach Federation (61,000 members), a job seekers group such as Job Posting Group (318,000 members), a local business group such as the Greater Charlotte Biz group (665 members), and an Alumni group such as Duke University Alumni Network (29,000 members).
By strategically selecting your 100 groups, you now have the ability to search through the group members to find valuable prospects. This is accomplished using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search tool available to all members.
Participation in Groups
• Monitor the conversation and interject and contribute to the discussion.
• Post news and content that is relevant to the group.
• Message members of the group without even being directly connected to them.
• Never sell. Educate, communicate and connect instead. This is the essence of social selling.
LinkedIn groups has the potential to expose your profile to hundreds of thousands of people within a short time. This would never be possible by attending networking groups. Join 100 today.
Content contributed by Linda and Ira Bass of IB Media LLC, an advertising media planning and placement firm built using the strategic power of LinkedIn to serve agencies and marketers with a targeted approach to reaching their customers. For more information, please contact Ira Bass at IraBass@IBMedia.biz or 704-989-3790. Learn more at www.IBMedia.biz or www.LinkedIn.com/company/IB-Media-LLC.
Globalization increasingly links people through business, trade, communication and common global challenges, impacting every aspect of our lives. Global education and increased interaction with the rest of the world provide exposure to diverse cultures, religions and ethnicities, making us more aware of the need to find collaborative solutions.
While most American schools over the last decade have promoted global education in some form to help students understand the world’s cultures and global issues, Providence Day School in Charlotte has been at the forefront of global education initiatives. Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs Derrick Willard notes, “In the 21st century we are called on to coach the skills and dispositions that will help our students to create and govern peaceful, thriving and sustainable local and global communities.”
Beginning in 2005, Providence Day created the first Global Studies Diploma (GSD) program in the country for upper school students. Students in the program take a series of global courses that integrate knowledge, skills and character dispositions to examine and create solutions to key global issues. In the process, students gain perspectives and skills like problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking and empathy.
Senior year students take a global leadership course that encapsulates their global education development. Travel abroad, hosting international students, and global speakers round out their experiential requirements. On graduation day, GSD students proudly receive both a Providence Day diploma and a GSD diploma. A number of independent schools across the country have adopted the global studies diploma model in some form.
At Providence Day, global learning is emphasized in every division and right from the start. Early on in Transitional Kindergarten(TK) TKers learn about China, Germany and Kenya through a month-long passport program. World language courses starting in TK help students develop cultural competency and language proficiency.
Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, Allen Goodman and Sir Cyril Taylor in their book, A Student Guide To Study Abroad, argue that globalization requires our students to have cross-cultural communication skills, deeper cultural understanding, enhanced world language learning, and an experience that gets students out of their cultural comfort zone to help them develop cultural literacy and the ability to interact with non-Americans. Traveling abroad can help make that happen.
Providence Day offers student travel opportunities to nearly every continent. Several trips involve exchanges with “sister” schools in China, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, and Peru. Providence Day students live, study and interact with sister school students and their families. Reciprocally, sister school students visit Providence Day for one to two weeks.
2015-2016 Travel Opportunities
• Belize Outdoor Adventure and Service Learning
• French Exchange
• South Africa: History, Culture and Human Rights
• Israel Exchange
• Argentina—Spanish Immersion
• South Africa—Red Hill Service Learning
• Understanding Culture and Improving Education in China
• The Environmental History of Australia
• Italy: Art and Architecture
Social responsibility is a central tenet of the Providence Day mission. Some trips involve major service learning like the ones to Belize and South Africa. Others emphasize world language enhancement such as the trip to Argentina. Five trips earn students credit toward their graduation requirements. Also, Providence Day is now a member of Roundsquare International which provides rich opportunities for students in the network to actively engage with students from around the world addressing global issues.
Global learning requires global faculty. Providence Day was first in the nation to create the Global Educators Certificate (GEC) program. Teachers enroll d in the program travel to two different parts of the globe and bring their cultural experiences to their classrooms and the larger Providence Day community.
Moving forward, Providence Day has adopted a strategic TK-12 global education vision. As Head of School Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw emphasizes, “It’s vital for our schools to prioritize strategically planned opportunities for students to develop the ability to appreciate and value the differences among people in our school community as well as in the larger world that’s impacting them.”
Content sponsored by GreerWalker LLP, a Charlotte-based accounting and business advisory firm offering assurance, accounting, tax, and consulting services. Content contributed by Dr. Loren Fauchier, Director of Global Education at Providence Day School in Charlotte, and the Vice President of the Global Education Benchmark Group, a consortium of 150+ independent schools in the U.S., Canada, Britain and Turkey. For more information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-887-6000 or visit www.ProvidenceDay.org.
Adjusting to the “new reality,” many companies have focused on all aspects of their balance sheets to improve performance for stakeholders. Companies have realized that material extensions of credit terms regarding accounts payable result in dramatic improvement to cash flow and working capital. Changing terms from 30 days to 75 days, for example, not only frees up cash for working capital, it also reduces the need for bank-financed working capital, which is more expensive than “borrowing” from suppliers.
To make the extension of payment terms more appealing to suppliers, buyers have partnered with their lenders to offer a “supply chain finance” solution that allows suppliers to be paid timely if not early, despite the stated payment term extension, such that a supplier’s Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) is actually reduced.
The Trade Credit Association of the United States reported that in the U.S. approximately $20 trillion of annual sales are made on trade credit, resulting in $2.8 trillion of trade credit outstanding in the U.S. economy, which creates a substantial market opportunity for banks to generate interest and fee income.
Supply Chain Finance (SCF) is an opportunity for banks to generate interest and fee income, at a low cost and risk. Typically, SCF programs are provided to a bank’s existing and best customers who pose little credit risk. The advances by the bank can be folded into an existing credit facility, are short-term exposures, and are backed by an assignment or pledge of the customer’s obligation to pay its supplier.
Not only can the bank generate fee income from its borrower for providing the facility, the bank also makes a .5 percent or so spread on the invoice amount in 60 to 120 days, since the bank pays the supplier a discounted amount, and collects 100 percent from its borrower at invoice maturity.
From the Buyer’s perspective, the “new normal” economy has resulted in more expensive and less accessible capital, demand for goods is not as brisk as before, customers are paying more slowly, and capital is tied up longer in inventory and slower moving accounts receivable. Yet, companies remain under pressure from stakeholders to manage their balance sheets and cash to generate revenue.
For example, in April, 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that Proctor & Gamble would extend payment terms of suppliers from 45 to 60 days to 100 days. Given Proctor & Gamble’s procurement spend of $50 billion annually, that would improve Proctor & Gamble’s cash flow by $2 billion. By extending Days Payable Outstanding (DPO), a buyer not only improves cash, but reduces working capital costs and bank charges.
With low interest rates, the cost to the buyer for its bank to facilitate an early payment option for suppliers is low, especially if it is an add-on to an existing credit facility.
Buyers should understand the impact on its suppliers as extended payment terms can adversely impact the supplier’s revenue and perhaps overall financial health, heightened if interest rates increase. Prudent buyers should monitor their supply chain more closely to ensure a healthy supply chain to provide an uninterrupted flow of goods to the buyer.
A supplier wants to be paid for the goods it sells, on a timely basis. Prices charged by a supplier reflect the company’s cost structure, including the cost of extending credit to customers. A powerful customer’s unilateral extension of payment terms increases a supplier’s cost, which increase may or may not be passed on to the customer.
If not, there is a reduction of the supplier’s revenue, exacerbated by having its working capital tied up in slower paying accounts receivable, and an increase in DSO. Historically, a “good paying customer” was one who paid within invoice terms, often taking a 1-2 percent discount for paying within 10 days.
Suppliers tend to initially reject the extension of payment terms, which may depend on the parties’ relative bargaining position. If a supplier is part of a diverse supply chain that sells products readily obtainable from a competitor, a supplier may acquiesce to keep sales. On the other hand, if the supply chain is limited, such that there is little risk of a losing business, or if the goods sold are unique to that buyer and seller, the supplier may have leverage to “just say no.”
All participants in SCF programs should consider the potential advantages of SCF programs in foreign sales transactions, and the impact if interest rates increase materially.
Regardless of the varying perspectives of the participants in SCF, it appears to be a fast-growing part of domestic sales transactions and international trade. SCF programs will no doubt evolve to meet the changing dynamics of its participants, but appears to be poised to take a prominent role in facilitating global trade.
Content contributed Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, a full service law firm founded in 1925 with more than 240 attorneys practicing in Toledo and Columbus, Ohio; Tampa and Sarasota, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Content written by David H. Conaway, Partner, whose principal area of practice is bankruptcy. For more information, contact him at 704-945-2149 or email@example.com or visit www.slk-law.com..