Five Steps to a Strong Succession Plan

More than 90% of businesses in the United States are family-owned, but fewer than 30% make it to the second generation.  And less than 12% make it to the third generation.  The key reason cited for failure of businesses to transition to the next generation is simply because no business succession plan is in place. In fact, recent surveys show that only 30% of business owners have a succession plan.

Whether your business has been in the family for years or you are building it from the ground up, it is critical you develop a succession plan.  Most experts agree that succession planning should begin anywhere from 10 to 15 years before retirement. Even if you are one of those people who believe you never will retire, a succession plan is still needed in the event something unforeseen happens to you, such as a serious illness, disability or even death.

Here are the five key steps to succession planning:

Identify what

Where Did all The People Go?

 Vacations, Family Reunions, Graduations, Weddings, etc., etc.

But you are still trying to run a business! How do you maintain your momentum in business when you are running on a skeleton crew? By putting procedures in place that allow most anyone to help pick up the slack of those that are gone.

When your business finds it near impossible to run on a skeleton crew, it is time to look at implementing and documenting the efficiencies in each position in your company. (Actually, the time to do that is not now, but months before this to prevent a decrease in profits due to lack of help. We will talk about that more come later in the year.)

Creating processes and updating job tasks, not only helps keep your doors open and your phones answered when everyone seems to be gone but you, but it is also very time efficient, thus profit increasing for year round.

Start when everyone gets back into the swing of things, hopefully sooner rather than later. Request that all employees spend each day for one month, documenting their tasks that come across their desk. Then have them put together a position manual, down to the details of who is responsible for purchasing the office necessities and where the overflow gets stored. You might be surprised to find that not everyone knows those details! As soon as the position manuals are compiled, ask another co-worker to switch jobs with you for a few days. During that time, they will make notes of the tasks they struggled with while handling your desk. From there you perfect the manual and keep it updated as the position tasks change.

So next time it seems you could throw a bowling ball down the hall without hitting anyone, you won

Business Mileage Rate Goes to 55.5 Cents

The Internal Revenue Service recently announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rates for the final six months of 2011. Taxpayers may use the optional standard rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and other purposes.

The rate will increase to 55.5 cents a mile for all business miles driven from July 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2011. This is an increase of 4.5 cents from the 51 cent rate in effect for the first six months of 2011, as set forth in Revenue Procedure 2010-51.

In recognition of recent gasoline price increases, the IRS made this special adjustment for the final months of 2011.  The IRS normally updates the mileage rates once a year in the fall for the next calendar year.

The updated rates are as follows:


Rates 1/1 through 6/301/11

Rates 7/1 through 12/31/11










Kathi Koenig, CPA
Partner – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.

Get Your “Silent Salesman” Out of the Box


Mid-Year Tax Planning for Your Small Business – Time to Soak up the Savings

It’s June.  It’s sunny outside with flowers in full bloom and the Iowa Cubbies in full swing.  Most likely the last thing on your mind is your 2011 taxes.  In fact, those tax-related phrases like W2’s, 1040 forms and e-filing have been repressed so deeply in your mind, they barely register at all.

I totally understand.  But the reality is…a little tax planning for you and your business now, could save you money and be well worth the effort later.

Following are a few tips to help you with tax-saving tools for your business.

–  Review Estimated Tax Payments.

Assess what you have paid in taxes to date and adjust the remaining estimated tax payments for this year accordingly.  This way you will avoid both under-payment penalties and over payment installments…resulting in a tax free loan to the government.

–  Get Organized.

You need to keep close track of your deductible expenses throughout the year.  If a pile is starting to accumulate, take the time to sort through your receipts and file accordingly.  Organizing now will save you hours at tax time.

–  Make Retirement Plan Contributions.

Contributing to your retirement plans can provide you with a significant tax break.  If you haven’t started a retirement plan, you may want to consider doing this in 2011.  Timing is everything.

–  Take Advantage of Hiring Incentives.

If your business will require hiring an additional employee or two, the HIRE act passed in 2010 offers you a couple of incentives.

A tax break is extended to employers who hire full-time workers who were previously unemployed or working part-time.  For each worker who is hired and retained for one year, the government will extend a $1,000 credit for your 2011 taxes.

These are just a few of the items to assess during a mid-year business review.  There are more.  But taking the time to meet with your CPA and review the items listed above will ensure you have a good understanding of your company’s financial situation and information to minimize your tax liability…and give you more time to relax poolside and sip a fruity drink – complete with a paper umbrella!

Kathi Koenig, CPA
Partner – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.

Maintaining Momentum

It is summer time.  Your employees have worked very hard the first half of the year and now their kids are out of school and they are preparing to take vacations.  At the beginning of the year you set up the goals and expectations for the year and so far so good, they appear to be on path with those expectations.  You are concerned about whether or not they can maintain momentum taking into consideration the different challenges they will be facing during the summer months with vacations and managing the kids.

This same thing is true for someone who may have started an exercise routine a few months ago for the first time ever of consistently exercising, or someone who started new eating habits that has lost weight up to a certain point, or someone who has been working on a relationship and learning new skills to use for communication and has improved though it doesn

Do You Consider ‘Fit’ When Making Hiring Decisions?

I was asked to speak to a local networking group of professionals and they wanted a title for my talk for promotional purposes.  Who would have thought the title would be one of the more challenging aspects of the talk.  The beauty of a challenge is that it requires you to search.   Ultimately the search led me to what I enjoy so much about the field of human resources.  I call it the right

Marketing Fitness – Baby Steps to Simple Success

If you are behind on your marketing strategies…no worries. Here are a few simple economical steps to improve your customer connections that you can try today.

1. Refine your print marketing to be Emarketing
No, don’t send potential leads your print version pdf of your latest brochure. Have your brochure tweaked to view professionally as a stand alone electronic piece as well. 
Here are few suggestions:
  • Brochures or flyers can have hyperlinks added to your website, ordering page and email address for easy information gathering and inquiry questions. Now you’ve just made it one step easier for your customer to do business with you.
  • Have your business card saved as a web-safe jpg and use it in your email signature.
  • Reformat the outside of your company brochure to view nicely as one page. Sometimes it is a simple as moving the cover panel to the left and shifting everything else to the right so the page reads from left to right. Here’s an example:

2. Check your branding
When is the last time you sat down and spread out all your visual marketing in one place and reviewed what your company looks like. I have done this with a couple clients and we are always surprised at the inconsistencies we find. Does your website look like the same company as your brochure? Do you use a template for your sales flyers? Keep simplicity in mind and refine each piece that your potential customers see. Have them updated to look and speak a unified message. 
3. Ask for the business
Where and do you ask for the business? This most basic strategy is easily overlooked. Here are a few “ask for the business” techniques:
  • Add a question at the end of every sale, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
  • Sending a survey to your top clients and ask for leads.
  • Send a thank you and state that you are ready to work with them again.
  • Ask to set up the next appointment at the end of your meeting.
  • Stop by and pay a friendly visit to your top clients. Sometimes some face time is the best branding a business has.
If you look at all the places where you come in contact with your customers and have those areas include inquiries for a lead or another project you will find yourself recession proof in no time. 
Simple tweeks can add a lot of value to your bottom line. What simple strategies have you used to polish your business? I’d love to hear them.
Author: Lucinda Sperry,

Do I Need Someone To Handle My Books?

 Well, short answer, yes. Long answer, is actually a question; what do you expect to get out of your well-polished, finely- tuned set of books, your company financials in a spreadsheet? If you are looking to have all your numbers nicely organized for your tax preparer to whip out your taxes, well that is one good reason to have a bookkeeper . But if you want to know exactly what your company financial status is, it might be better off to hire someone to teach you about how to handle your bookkeeping. 

I had a client who couldn’t figure out how to go to the next level. She suggested setting a budget. I started asking some questions and quickly discovered, she has worked very hard to make her business run, but never spent a lot of time on her bookkeeper . We were very far from being able to determine what she spent in order to figure out what we could budget. 

If you need assistance  with your bookkeeping, find someone who will not just do the work, but will work with you to educate and inform you of your financial situation. Then you can make a more informed decision on your spending, budgeting, and strategies to increase your revenues.

Article by: Tammy Stifel,

Warrior Spotlight: Lucinda Sperry,

Here is a little info about Business Warrior contributor Lucinda Sperry, owner of

If you are looking for a creative design and marketing business that provides professional marketing design and ideas without the agency price tag…you’ll want to get to know Lucinda Sperry is the creative drive behind the business with 20 years experience in the graphic design, publishing and marketing industries. has provided designs for logos, brochures, newsletters, newspaper/magazine ads, high-impact business cards, website design and more for over 11 years. Clients also receive print pricing services to get the absolute best price and quality for design projects.
Get to know by visiting my website  or check out the portfolio .

Lucinda Sperry
Graphic Design & Creative Marketing

Warrior Spotlight: Janis Robinson, The Robinson Equation

About Janis Robinson

Janis Robinson, business consultant and international inspirational speaker/teacher, grew up, in the USA, in Missouri in an entrepreneurial family.  She had the unique experience of attending parochial schools where she was considered too outspoken, uncontrollable and was expelled in 8th grade as a result of questioning authority too much.  Janis realized from this experience she had a skilled gift of public speaking, questions the status quo and teaching.   Janis has a BS in Nursing(Union College- Lincoln, NE) and an MBA from (University of Nebraska-Lincoln).  While pursuing her MBA she became aware of how much she enjoyed personal development and analysis of human behavior, systems, & business strategies.   Janis then began her quest to study from over 30 proclaimed experts in business, personal development, systems management and human behavior.  Janis continues to research and study in these areas to ensure she is sharing the best of the best information.  
One of Janis