A CPA-trained business consultant can give you deeper insight into key decisions made on a regular basis, such as buying or renting office space, hiring independent contractors or full-time employees, renting or leasing equipment, and much more. Here are three questions you might ask to help you get the most out of your relationship.

What’s the Best Way for Me to Track, Monitor and Improve Cash Flow? Whether you’re running a startup or an established business, properly projecting your cash flow is essential to maintaining its health and navigating out of challenging periods. An accountant can help you develop an effective cash flow model to improve receivables, manage payables, and work through shortfalls. Experienced business advisory teams also alert leaders to damaging missteps and profit maximization opportunities that may not be immediately apparent.

Am I Taking Advantage of Opportunities Unique to My Industry? Advisors like those at Talley and Company have decades of experience working with a number of different industries, from retail to construction to high tech, and can spotlight opportunities that apply to specific businesses. For example, companies in the tech industry can take advantage of certain R&D, facilities and manufacturing tax credits or exemptions. Working with your advisor can ensure you’re following industry best practices and managing your business competitively.

What Are My Options for Securing Capital for Growth? There are more financing options today than ever before, from equity vs. debt financing, loans, grants, venture capital, angel investing, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, and of course friends, family, and colleagues. Depending on the intended use for the capital, the urgency of the need, the state of your industry, the strength of your management team, and many other factors, experienced advisors can help you assess your financial situation and discover whether one option might suit your needs better than another. The right team can also help you prepare your business to be considered favorably by banks, lenders, and investors when outlining your plan for the next five years and showing what your revenue stream will look like.

These are only some of the areas in which Talley LLP advisors can offer business and tax advice throughout the year. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you become more profitable.

As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), there have been changes to the treatment of certain business-related expenses, including travel, business meals, and entertainment. On Wednesday, the IRS released guidance on the business expense deduction for meals and entertainment in the wake of the TCJA, which was supposed to eliminate deductions for expenses pertaining to activities generally considered entertainment, amusement or recreation.

The TCJA did not change the definition of entertainment. Where things get murky, though, is whether providing food and beverages might be considered entertainment, especially if food and beverages are tied to an activity considered to be entertainment.

Under prior law, the rule was that you could deduct up to 50% of entertainment expenses directly related to the active conduct of a trade or business or, amusement, or recreation expenses directly related to your trade or business. That changed, however, with the passage of the tax code overhaul last December.

The IRS said taxpayers can still deduct 50 percent of the cost of business meals if the taxpayer (or an employee of the business) is present at the meal, and the food or beverages aren’t considered to be “lavish or extravagant.” The meals can involve a current or potential business customer, client, consultant or a similar business contact. Food and beverages provided during entertainment events won’t be considered entertainment if they’re bought separately from the event.

The Treasury Department and the IRS plan to publish proposed regulations that will make clear when business meal expenses are deductible and what constitutes entertainment. Until those proposed regulations take effect, taxpayers can rely on guidance in Notice 2018-76, which the IRS issued Wednesday in conjunction with the announcement.

Whether you are considering the new tax treatment of M&E expenses for 2018 or evaluating how tax reform will affect your overall tax situation, consult with the tax experts at Talley LLP today.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, successful entrepreneurs are utilizing technology to gain a competitive edge against stiff competition. Just take a look at this home-building robot that could potentially put human construction crews out of business. It is undeniable that innovation in technology is having a critical driving impact not only in the success of tech giants accustomed to introducing disruptive technology but throughout the business world as a whole.

What Can Technology Do for the Entrepreneur?

Today’s business environment demands that an entrepreneur focuses on his or her strengths to grow the business, maintain profitability and achieve those objectives the entrepreneur set forth in forming the company. It is unreasonable for an entrepreneur to expect that he or she could keep up with the latest innovations and best practices in their industry. The proper utilization of technology allows a business owner to maintain a profitable operation while simultaneously operating in an efficient and productive infrastructure. Leading-edge businesses are partnering with Talley & Company to take advantage of this opportunity and outperforming their competitors who remain wedded to the traditional structure and antiquated technology.

Talley LLP and its affiliate, Group 11 Advisors, keep clients on track with how to properly leverage technology to meet the needs of their growing businesses.  From outsourced accounting solutions to management information, analysis and reporting, we are the premier business consulting practice to entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses.

Call Talley LLP today to see how technology can be an asset to your business and not just an expense.

Celebrities and their reps consider many angles when structuring compensation for a project. If you’re considering the sale or acquisition of a company, you should do the same. Why? Because it is not only what but how you present your assets to the other party, along with the terms for which you negotiate a transaction, that can make all the difference. See what these stars did that worked.
Sylvester Stallone Insisted on More Than Money – Stallone wrote Rocky but allegedly refused to sell the script until he was allowed to star in the film. As an unknown actor at the time this was pretty risky, but it all came down to what he ultimately wanted from the deal. Instead of achieving success as a storyteller alone, he built a longstanding career as a blockbuster action star. Deal Tip: Consider what you want to get out of a deal, financially and otherwise. Are you looking to retire with a comfortable nest egg? Expand your service line? Know your real motivations.
Sandra Bullock Leveraged Her Market Success – Coming off her Oscar win and box-office success from the Blind Side (an actor’s EBITDA equivalent), Bullock allegedly negotiated a deal that included $20 million first and then an additional 15 percent of first-dollar gross for Gravity. The film took in an estimated $723 million in world box office sales, that potentially netted the star another $70 million. Deal Tip: When coming to the table, consider tangibles and intangibles such as brand power, client lists, in-house talent, market share, industry trends, proprietary processes and more.
Cameron Diaz Took Less Up Front for a Bigger Payout Later – For her role in the little-remembered but profitable film Bad Teacher, Cameron Diaz agreed to accept much less than she would normally command. She took $1 million up front in return for a percentage of box office sales, which ended up bringing her $42 million. Deal Tip: Factor in your needs and tax situation before structuring a lump sum payment, distribution over time, partial ownership or other option.
Van Halen Put the Devil in the Details -Legend has it that should Van Halen have found even one brown M&M backstage in a bowl required by contract, he could legally cancel a scheduled appearance. As the rockstar explains here, the line-item stipulation (no brown M&Ms) was inserted deep into contracts to ensure promoters were reading them closely and therefore clear about the extensive physical requirements and safety measures needed for such a colossal show. Deal Tip: Go over “details” such as the future roles of company staff and other points that could make a smoother transition.
Celebrities wouldn’t think of going it alone in the complex deal process, and you don’t have to, either. Experts like those at Talley LLP who’ve negotiated hundreds of M&A transactions can help you make the most of a transaction based on your goals and priorities. 

There’s a never-ending supply of new fitness devices available today, but most of the data they report is useless.  Yes, you are counting steps, flights of stairs climbed, and hours of sleep, but are you honestly doing anything with that data?  There’s even “smart” clothing on the horizon, which will read your vital signs, stress levels, and even tell you to cut back on the amount of Thanksgiving turkey you’re eating. As our culture moves closer to measuring everything, it seems as though we are moving further away from tracking and measuring information that we actually need to know.

The argument for the usefulness of real-time data tracking is valid. It’s not an illogical leap to think any individual could potentially improve their overall fitness and health on the fly by leveraging better KPIs and insightful metrics. For most people, however, effectively utilizing that data it is a challenging task. We track our steps every day(and that’s great), but do we have an actionable plan? Are we getting any healthier?

More data does not make better decision makers by itself. While having additional data equals more opportunities to make better decisions, the key to leveraging data and translating it into meaningful results is knowing what to focus on, how to interpret it, and how to utilize it during the decision-making process. Data is only valuable if it is actionable. Are you confident that you are taking advantage of all the metrics available to your business?

With over 25 years of experience consulting with industry-leading companies, Talley LLP and our affiliate, Group 11 Advisors, provide clear, knowledgeable, and applicable financial data and analysis solutions, thereby enabling management to intelligently track performance, progress, and profits. To determine whether or not your business is taking advantage of all its available metrics to make the most informed decisions for future success, schedule a time to talk with us today.

Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly a brilliant singer, songwriter, and pianist, but she made giant estate planning mistakes that you’ll want to take heed of. Franklin, who was divorced, reportedly died without a will or a trust despite having four grown children, one of whom has special needs.

Many Americans don’t have a will or a living trust. A 2017 survey by Caring.com found that only 4 in 10 adults do. 64% of Gen Xers and 42% of boomers don’t have a will, the study noted. According to the survey’s respondents, the top reason for not establishing an estate plan was that they simply “hadn’t gotten around to it.”

One of Franklin’s lawyers, Don Wilson, said he tried to get her to create a will or trust to keep her estate private and out of probate. She never followed through.

Now not everyone will have assets worth close to Franklin’s reported $80 million estate, but the actual dollar value of your assets isn’t the point. It’s about making sure your loved ones receive what you want the way you want.

And if you have a special needs child, you might consider working with an estate lawyer to set up a special needs trust. A special needs trust, which is not subject to probate court, lets you contribute funds for your child’s benefit while enabling him or her to continue getting benefits, such as Medicaid and Security Supplemental Income, which require recipients to have no more than $2,000 in assets and limit their income.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

With the nonstop demands of running a business, even the most energetic of leaders can get worn down. Here are a few ways to keep things in check so you can consistently show up at your best.
Take a 10,000-foot view. With the daily influx of emails, message pings and phone calls, it’s easy to see productivity as a measure of how fast we clear our inboxes and how many items we tick off our to-do lists. These lists are certainly helpful for keeping tasks on track, but the real value CEOs bring to the table doesn’t always fit in a series of checkboxes. To fully comprehend crises, challenges and opportunities within a business, CEOs do well to take a 10,000-foot perspective, not just a close-up. Read on to discover a few ways to do just that.
Make time for discovery. It may seem counter-intuitive to productivity, but being an effective leader isn’t just about getting things done. Twitter CEO Dick Costello told Inc. magazine that he reserves anywhere from 60 to 90 unscheduled minutes at the beginning and end of each day. In the afternoons, he uses this time for “unplanned encounters” with staff around the office. These conversations are used to make sure information conveyed in meetings aligns with down-in-the-trenches realities.
Don’t be a micro-manager, no matter what Elon Musk says. The surest way to stifle innovation and decrease your own productivity as well as that of your staff and partners—is to micro-manage every task. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s unapologetic identification of himself as a “nano-manager doesn’t make this a good idea.
Yes, it’s absolutely essential for leaders to be keenly aware of the goings-on, processes and results in their companies, providing guidance and support where needed. But is it really necessary to be entering every invoice yourself? Making every social media post? Scheduling every vendor meeting? Instead, find team members and service partners who can help you focus on what you do best: growing your business.
Leading-edge businesses are partnering with Talley LLP and its affiliates to take advantage of our wide range of services, such as bookkeeping, financial reporting, tax planning, auditing and estate planning, all under one roof. 
For more information on how Talley can help grow your business, give us a call today.

Great leadership touches every space and process of a growing business, from employee engagement to brand value, operational productivity, and ultimately—profitability. Here are three ways to refine your leadership strategy with perspectives from Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs and Larry Page.

Empower others.
Successful leaders provide vision, focus and direction for their teams, but they also give their people a voice. Retired Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said it this way, “People want guidance, not rhetoric. They need to know what the plan of action is, and how it will be implemented.” And, “They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and authority to act on it.”

While management and leadership are two inextricably linked jobs, it’s been said that the manager relies on control, while the leader inspires trust. By helping people within a company unlock their own talents, leaders can fully benefit from the ideas and abilities of their staff.

Maintain focus as a leader and as a company.
Rather than create an army of mediocre offerings, Steve Jobs made sure Apple was known for creating a few iconic products. He once said, “Focusing is about saying no.” That’s because fixed resources and time dictate that leaders identify and develop areas with the greatest potential for their companies.

Without the right information in front of you, it’s much harder to accurately identify what those areas are for your business. This data is all around you, from profit/loss statements to month-over-month sales trends, changes in the cost of goods sold, changes in your social media following, and much more. Tap into this data to define, reinforce or shift your focus while keeping your company’s core values in mind.

Balance short-term solutions with long-term opportunity.
Google/Alphabet’s Larry Page once said, “Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.” External forces like shifting consumer trends and new technological developments can render a company irrelevant in the marketplace if company leaders don’t pivot in time. Internal forces, can too, based on decision-making. For example, an equipment sale one year might actually increase a company’s tax liabilities over the long haul if not considered together.

No CEO goes it alone; you can be sure these didn’t. Regardless if your company is large or modest, draw on a network of knowledgeable advisors by partnering with the Talley team. We can help you gain more insight into your key performance indicators and consider how seemingly unrelated decisions might have tax, legal and profitability implications you might not have considered.

For most of us—but business owners especially—time is scarce. There is always more to do than hours in the day. So what tech solutions are you leveraging to be more productive with the time you have? When time is money, tech solutions can bring in a lot more of both. See how these five options might enhance the day-to-day operations of your business.

Virtual Meeting Tools – Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting when it comes to cementing a business partnership or getting a deal done. But with the use of virtual communication tools like Skype and GoToMeeting, business leaders can spend finite resources on in-person meetings in ways that provide the greatest return. For example, web conferences can be used to present preliminary proposals and, based on initial feedback, be modified for a later in-person presentation to clients in refined form.

Bookkeeping Applications – With so many viable and cost-effective accounting applications for small businesses, no one should be manually tracking income and expenses across multiple tables, spreadsheets and systems. Software and cloud-based options allow business decision-makers to create and track professional invoices, see payments and outstanding balances at a glance, enter bills and print checks, and reconcile for tax purposes.

Online Timesheet and Payroll Services – Online time-tracking solutions make it easy for employees to submit timesheets (and managers to approve them) from anywhere and everywhere. To choose the right system for your business, think about the ways different employees would use it and where their data will need to go, from payroll to billing to reporting. If you have an existing accounting program like QuickBooks in place, a payroll solution that syncs data and issues paychecks to employees can be a great option.

Social Media Tools – It’s a full-time job creating a strategy for a business’s social media presence, selecting the channels that best suit outlined goals, and then implementing a plan of action. Programs like Buffer and HootSuite help connect accounts so businesses can plan, schedule and post to multiple outlets at one time. Leaders can set up a schedule for sharing content based on the best time for it to be released. Plus, you get the chance to see comparative analytics that can improve future planning.

Customer Service Support – With tech applications like Desk.com and Zendesk, a business can be small but still have a big customer service presence. Help desk solutions can increase the number of positive interactions customers have with you company, improve their opinions of your brand, and raise their intent to purchase from your business. Support staff can field inquiries from email, phone calls, live chat or social media using one main system, giving customers the chance to choose their preferred form of interaction.

If accounting, timesheet or payroll technologies are on your list of productivity tools to investigate, Talley can provide you with important points to consider when choosing the right tool for your business. Contact us and we’ll be glad to assist.

While the definition of success will vary depending on who you ask, everyone strives to be successful in their personal and professional lives. Much has been written about how entrepreneurs and executives should “hope for the best and prepare for the worst”…But what happens once your business experiences initial success or substantial growth? What do you do now?

We here at Talley LLP believe that success is something that is continually created, not acquired. It is created by aspiring individuals who have no limits in terms of how they approach and execute creativity, intelligence, ingenuity, talent, persistence and determination. We’ve worked with countless inspirational athletes and entrepreneurs over the years and picked up some pointers along the way.  Here are a few that we’d like to share with you as you chase down your own personal version of success. 

Keep a positive attitude. Many entrepreneurs and executives face unexpected negative consequences after experiencing initial success, such as anxiety over being able to maintain their “winning streak”, fearing that they are being set up to fail, and experiencing the envy others feel towards their accomplishments. While some stress may be a good thing, when stress turns into anxiety, it can be detrimental both to your mental health and to the health of your business.

Set bigger goals and work “backwards”. Once you’ve achieved initial success, map out your next long-term goal or objective and work backwards to figure out what it will take to accomplish it.  But why start at the end?  Many times, the end-result seems so far away and impossible to reach.  Through backward planning, one can mentally prepare him or herself for specific challenges and milestones that need to be achieved to reach an important goal.

Don’t be afraid of letting go of the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. You are bound to run into unforeseen challenges as you achieve success and grow your business. For an example of this, see our business lesson write-up on Pablo Escobar.  A business in growth or scale mode faces a whole new set of different challenges and opportunities that may require a change in attitude and approach. Your ability to recognize this can mean the difference between spinning your wheels and achieving your next milestone.

Talley LLP understands the challenges facing entrepreneurs with generating and protecting income. Whether you’re looking to improve your profitability, build your brand through a business transaction, or wish to guarantee your legacy through estate planning, Talley is the consulting and financial services firm dedicated to strategic business solutions that deliver meaningful results.


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