March Madness bracket pools are commonplace at businesses across the country when the NCAA Tournament rolls around every year. But chances are no contest comes close to the stakes at Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett’s contest prize will award $1 million a year for life to the extremely lucky worker who manages to correctly predict the Sweet Sixteen.

While picking a perfect Sweet 16 might not seem all that difficult, the odds certainly aren’t in employees favor — according to Variety, last year, of the 17.3 million brackets filled out on ESPN, not one person picked a perfect Sweet 16.

Even if your organization is not willing to wager $1 million a year, the tournament will still cost employers $2.1 billion per hour in time employees are engaged with the tournament at work for a total of $13.3 billion, according to one estimate by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Of course, the distractions do not end with filling out the bracket. Even more productivity is lost over the first two full days of tournament play (Thursday and Friday), when a dozen games are played during work hours.

Challenger’s estimate is based on the number of working Americans who are likely to be caught up in March Madness, the estimated time spent filling out brackets and streaming games, and average hourly earnings, which, in January, stood at $27.66, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Talley offers a broad spectrum of services to fulfill the needs of high net worth individuals, entrepreneurially driven companies and their owners. Whether you are considering an M&A transaction or experiencing a financial windfall event, the professionals at Talley can make the most of both your earnings and winnings.

What happens once your business experiences initial success or substantial growth? Having “real” money can bring about complex problems that your business had yet to encounter. With the help of professional advisors, there are a few ways to make sure you handle these issues effectively and ensure your successes only continue.

Be aware of burnouts. Burnouts are a big reason for business failure especially in the first year and taking that time to appreciate your accomplishments can help prevent this.  Part of avoiding burning out is ensuring that you maintain your personal and mental health. All the business and productivity advice in the world won’t help you if you’re already stressed out, sleep deprived, and running yourself into the ground before you take that first sip of coffee or tea in the morning.

Be mindful of taxes. While running your business, it’s easy to focus on the day to day operations, forgetting about important long-term details such as tax planning. Working with an experienced tax planning advisor can help you mitigate taxes and proactively plan for the future of your business.

Plan for your long-term future. There will always be more money to be made as an entrepreneur and reaching your first goal is only the beginning.  Although using your earnings to fund entertaining purchases is an earned right, investing your money in things that can appreciate will set you up for continued wealth. Having an expert counsel can help you make these decisions as they are familiar with the challenges that characterize an entrepreneur’s business ventures.

Form habits that create continued success. Specific motivators made you successful in the first place, so do not stop focusing on them. Running a business calls for ongoing work but managing your time effectively and forming useful business habits can help take the stress off of you. Always set new goals for you and your business to ensure you achieve continued growth and success.

Talley shares the same entrepreneurial spirit that has helped propel our clients to their current levels of success. With over 25 years of experience assisting high net worth individuals and business owners, Talley has the expertise necessary to help entrepreneurs throughout their entire journey, from formation to succession.

Whether written by hand or formalized in print, having an official prepared will is better than having none. In the case of a New Jersey man last year, a court even determined his codicil handwritten in his own blood to be valid. As technology infiltrates more and more industries, estate planning is getting its first taste of going digital with the emergence of electronic wills.

Almost identical to standard hand-prepared wills, an electronic or e-will documents’ main difference comes in the form of an E-signature. As of now, the legal validity of a signature online, whether from a Tablet/Stylus duo or a computer-generated mark, is being determined at the state level on a case by case basis. In response, a state law advisory board called the Uniform Law Commission has considered this new trend and is working to develop standards to make things clearer state to state.

The most significant cause of worry for estate planners comes in the potential for corruption and abuse. Many estate planning experts have stressed that there are legitimate reasons that the process is so formalized, stemming back to protecting their clients. The advantage of getting personalized face to face advice versus going the DIY route is immense, especially considering the sensitivity and long-term value of estate planning. An experienced estate planning advisor can provide custom tailored guidance, achieving your family’s goals with certainty. Each estate plan has unique complexities when accounting for different goals and types of assets, and an estate planning advisor should have the expertise to execute your documents correctly and update your estate plan as necessary.

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 2018 fresh in the rear-view mirror, many entrepreneurs and executives are taking time to reflect on what worked and what did not last year. While New Year’s Resolutions can act as a catalyst for change in both your personal and professional life, they usually reflect short-term thinking and fall short.

So why do resolutions not work? For starters, resolutions tend to be vague and lofty in nature. Some individuals simply don’t know where to start and give up immediately.  Others lack an executable plan of action to achieve their goals once they get going. And lastly, there are those who don’t know how to sustain their goals once they reach them (e.g. keeping the weight off after losing it initially).  Sounds familiar? These challenges to resolutions draw many parallels to several critical life cycle stages of a typical business model: Start-Up, Growth, and Stabilization. Each stage comes with its own set of challenges to overcome and opportunities to leverage.

Given their abysmal success rate, your company’s strategic plan for 2018 and beyond should not take on the flawed form of resolutions. Set goals and milestones instead and pick those that will impact you the most. Here are some pointers we’ve collected along the way.

Write your plan down. While it’s great to brainstorm goals, without writing down your mission, focus fades and continuity begins to decrease. Putting pen to paper forces you to identify and define the specific goals that you are working toward.

Be realistic about your expectations. Whether it’s about weight-loss or company growth, setting unattainable goals doesn’t help your success, it hampers it. It’s better to establish a set of smaller goals that can be expanded upon than something you feel you’ll never actually reach. Think about the most important things that will impact your business, and with hard work and effort, you can actually achieve.

Establish milestones to track success. A year is a long time to stay focused. Here’s where effective planning comes into play. Think about what success looks like in both the short term and long term to keep yourself motivated. Be sure to set key performance indicators for each of the goals you set to make sure you are on track.

What are your goals for 2018?

Whether your goal for 2019 is improving the quality or timeliness of financial statements, growth through strategic acquisition, or developing a tax-efficient succession plan, the advisors at Talley are here to help you. Contact us today to see how we can assist you with your strategic goals in 2018.

Growing a business takes a certain level of both personal and professional investment to better the likelihood of success.  With the nonstop demands that come with running a business, even the most energetic of leaders can get worn down and many entrepreneurs have experienced firsthand how not letting go of the “CEO of Everything” mentality can lead to sub-par results. 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, 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.

Don’t micro-manage mundane tasks. 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. Eventually, as your business grows, the day-to-day administrative tasks of running an organization will take valuable time away from growing your business.  Smart business owners know when it’s time to hire help to scale their growth initiatives.

Systemize and automate as much as possible. Take a closer look at how your business process works, from your marketing process to your customer acquisition to purchase fulfillment and look for ways to make each step easier. Is there a part of your business that slows you down or frustrates you? Find a way to make challenging aspects work on autopilot (or as much as possible) and it will free you up to tackle other responsibilities and make your business run smoother.

It’s necessary for business leaders to be keenly aware of the goings-on, processes and results in their companies, providing guidance and support where needed. But is it necessary to enter every invoice yourself? Make every social media post? Schedule every vendor meeting? Instead, find team members and service partners who can help you focus what you do best: grow your business.

To learn more how Talley can help grow your business, give us a call today.

For the entrepreneur, there’s usually much more to personal finance than a W-2 employee content to passively funnel money into 401(k)s and IRAs full of mutual funds.

Here are three key questions to ask yourself when planning for future success.

Are you taking advantage of all the legally allowed tax savings? The IRS tax code is more than 5,700 pages long (over 75,000+ pages if you count supporting documents like court case rulings). That includes which deductions you can take and which strategies you can implement. Whether it’s forgetting to deduct the interest from business loans, paying business items on a personal credit card, not recording self-employed health insurance properly, or forgetting to write-off business transportation taxes, missed deductions add up fast.

Do you have the capital to take advantage of growth opportunities and to get through hard times? With enough liquidity in your “back pocket” you can greatly reward your business and even save it in the future. For example, if the right business opportunity comes along and it requires a capital investment, you’ll be able to act quickly. Additionally, if your business hits a rough patch, you won’t need to look at financing options to get through the tough times.

Do you have an estate plan in order? It seems morbid, but it’s a vital issue to address. What happens if you’re not around anymore? Do you have a succession plan for your business in the event of incapacity or death?

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 is a challenging affair. Start early.

Proper business planning is a complex and on-going effort. It requires expert counsel from a professional with knowledge and experience, one who’s familiar with the challenges that characterize an entrepreneur’s business ventures.

Talley shares the same entrepreneurial spirit that has helped propel our clients to their current levels of success. With over 25 years of experience helping high net worth individuals and business owners, Talley has the expertise necessary to assist entrepreneurs throughout their entire journey, from formation through succession.

Why is it so important to fail at something before we can succeed? Whether you simply drop the ball, or experience an epic fail, it is almost a necessity to see that failure is part of the process and to see it as a tool as opposed to a roadblock. For over 25 years, Talley LLP has had the pleasure of working with many successful entrepreneurs and world championship athletes. Here are a few of our favorite lessons on failure we’ve picked up along the way.
Success grows from failure. Bill Gates is one of the most recognizable figures in the tech industry, and is on Forbes’ list of wealthiest people on the planet. Many people attribute his success to having had a great idea at just the right time during the technology boom. But the reality is, Gates experienced a sizeable failure before he ever dreamed up Microsoft. Originally, Gates and his business partner Paul Allen created a product called Traf-O-Data, which analyzed data from traffic tapes. The device had some serious kinks and the company never took off, but it was seminal in preparing Gates to make Microsoft’s first product several years later.
Failure can simply mean a change in direction is required. Love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? You’re not alone. Here is a story of two gentlemen that completely reversed course in their lives yet managed to become admirably successful. Mr. Ben Cohen dropped out of college, while Mr. Jerry Greenfield failed to get into medical school, and both managed to become and remain wildly successful after attending an ice-cream making class and putting together a $12,000 investment.
Don’t give up. Despite now having dozens of financially successful and popularly titles in circulation, Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was nearly a failure. The novel was rejected 30 times before it was finally accepted and published, leading to King’s breakout career. King considered quitting, but his perseverance (or arguably his wife’s) kept him going.
At Talley, we understand the challenges facing both professional athletes and entrepreneurs when it comes to generating and protecting income earned in the ring, on the field or in the boardroom. Whether you’re looking to improve your tax position, build your brand through a business transaction, or wish to guarantee a legacy for your family, Talley & Company is uniquely equipped to provide the technical and managerial expertise to help you plan, negotiate, structure and execute upon your goals.
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. 

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.

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