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Transform Small Donors into Major Donors

Your not-for-profit organization is making a profound difference in the lives of those served. You are busy, your staff is busy, your staff is busy, and it’s time to put the pedal to the floor and launch a Major Gifts campaign.

The organization has a strong fan base, and there are those who would like to really leave a legacy. But not everyone may be in a position to part with legacy-level dollars…

…while they are alive.

The answer: Life insurance.

Here’s how it works: A person can make a small or medium-sized donation to the charity of their choice. That charity uses those funds to purchase a life insurance policy on that donor, with the charity as the beneficiary. (The charity also creates a budget line item for the premiums in case the donations to cover the premium stop coming for whatever reason.) Upon the eventual passing of the donor, the benefit that the charity receives will be many times the sum donated over the years.

If it’s so straightforward, why aren’t I hearing about this all over the place? I hear you ask.

  • Certain institutions do this all the time, notably charities that promote medical research, United Way, and Jewish Federations. It’s also a common practice in estate planning. The word is spreading.
  • Life insurance is, plainly put, an underutilized way to help people leave a legacy.

A cautionary note: It is better for the not-for-profit to own the policy so that after years of paying premiums, the beneficiary doesn’t get changed by the policy owner. Make sure to run it past a lawyer because it has to be done in a certain way, to the benefit of everyone.

So help someone to hit the Good Deed button, they can make a difference in the lives of the people who will benefit from your organization!

We thank Steven Kobrin for his co-authoriship of this blog. Steve is a life insurance expert with over 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners, as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to Investopedia; view his profile here.

Our Accounting Services Can Help You Choose the Right Accounting Programs for Your Small Business

Running a small business probably requires more paperwork than you ever expected, but this kind of documentation of your wages, income, and transactions is essential to your business. Making sure your accounting is done properly is not only important to your success, it can help save you thousands of dollars in taxes, penalties, and fees later on. There are hundreds of software programs available to small business owners that promise to make accounting and record keeping a breeze, but how do you know which one is right for your business? Our accounting services can help you find the right software package for your business.

We start by getting to know you, your business, and your accounting needs. Our team looks for a software package that not only handles general accounting, but also reporting, payroll, and inventory so you aren’t jumping between multiple platforms to get the information you need. Our goal is to make your accounting process as efficient as possible so you can focus your energy on other areas of your business… because we bet you didn’t start your own business because you wanted to be working on accounting tasks all day long.

Tier One Services doesn’t stop at finding you the right software package. Our team will also install the software and give you ongoing support on its use. We’ll set it up, help you get records transferred over from old software and spreadsheets, and even train you on the use of the new software. We’re experienced with a variety of accounting software programs so we can get you and your team up-to-date on everything you need to know to make your accounting process a breeze. Want to learn more about what we can do to make your accounting process easier and more efficient for your small business? Get in touch with us today for your free consultation!

Why You Should Be Paying More Attention to Business Modeling

As a part of your business strategy, you’ll spend time on business modeling. This is the process of deciding how your business is going to create your product or deliver your service in order to increase profit. Some businesses skips this all-too-important step, and find themselves flailing later on down the road when they need answers to process questions. This can bring productivity to a halt, and forethought during the business modeling process could have not only saved time and money, it could have also increased output so the business would be moving forward instead of grinding to a halt.

Business modeling is important for large corporation and the smallest start ups. Setting up the process now will help answer “what if” questions and help you smoothly navigate unexpected bumps in the road along the way. Nothing goes entirely as planned when it comes to the business world, but a good model will point you in the right direction. If your business is badly in need of this kind of guidance but you aren’t sure how to get started, it can be beneficial to bring in an outside consultant to help you think through the process and create a model that will guide your business for years to come.

Tier One Services provides businesses with business modeling consultations. We can help you make sure you have thought through the what if questions and implement the modeling that will drive your business towards success. Want to get a model locked into place for your business? We’re ready to get started. Contact us through our website today and let’s start a dialogue about how we can help create a business model for your company.

 

CFO Services That Can Help You Plan Your Business Expansion

If you are a business owner, one of the scariest prospects you face is expanding your business. You know it could result in more business and a bigger bottom line, but if it isn’t done in a fiscally sustainable way, you could be facing a disaster. As a small business owner, you might think you don’t have the same access to resources that big businesses have that could help you make responsible expansion plans. But with our CFO services, you have all the help you need.

Our services are designed to meet the needs of small businesses. Now you’ll have an expert CFO on hand to help you make important business decisions, including a plan to expand your business in a way that’s sustainable and fiscally responsible. You’ll know what you need to do and what kind of money you’ll need to spend to get your business to the place you want it to be. Whether it is an expansion of your current business model or location or if you are ready to take your business nationwide, our CFO services will help you create a plan that gets you there.

Give us a call today and learn more about what Tier One Services can do for your business. We can help strengthen your business ecosystem and create a business model that fuels profits. Learn more about the services and benefits to working with our team by browsing through our website. Then get in touch with us by giving us a call or using the form on our website to contact us. We’re looking forward to working with you to expand your business and help you reach your goals!

Music and Business: Finding the Measure

While I was enjoying the networking portion of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Shutterfly’s new facility in Fort Mill, SC last week, I had an interesting conversation with someone. Her area of expertise includes bringing together professionals from the fields of education and business to create new possibilities and new opportunities for the students.

As we were discussing the similarities and differences in the two industries, she asked me what precisely was my instructional field prior to becoming a CPA.

“Music!” I replied.

She said regretfully, “Oh, well, that doesn’t have much to do with business…muzak, maybe.”

I said, “I’ve actually used a lot of my underlying musical knowledge in business, just without the music itself. There are small things that make a big difference.” She looked curious so I illustrated.

Picture yourself in a choir rehearsal. The conductor stops everyone and says, “Let’s go back and practice this section again. Please begin on measure 2, in the third system, on page 5.”

Now everyone has to hold these three pieces of information in their heads and employ additional processing to spit it back out in the reverse order. When you’re acting on the information, you have to find the page, then the system, then the measure. And by the time you get to looking for the measure, half the choir has forgotten it. The flow of the rehearsal is lost as pages are being flipped and re-flipped, the conductor is reduced to repeating the instructions instead of giving the downbeat, and choir members are asking each other , “What system?” “What measure?” instead of singing.

Why make the brain work so hard? Any good choral, band, or orchestral conductor will tell you that effective instructions are conveyed in the same order that they will be processed by brains of the listeners: “Page 5, system 3, measure 2.” Notice the use of “measure 2” over “second measure.” Same idea.

So how does this show up in a business context?

Take a quarterly meeting between a CPA and business owner who is new to the idea of reviewing the company financial statements.

CPA: “Look at that 25K.”
Business owner: [scans documents for 25K, feeling out of sorts and somewhat addled with all of these columns and columns of numbers] CPA: “Yeah, the 25K, in Office Expense, on the P&L.”
Business owner: [Holds information mentally, processes it to act on it in the reverse order…] “Which amount? Where?”

System_and_measure-300x190

The business owner should be leaving these meetings empowered and with clarity in what to do next. Instead his experience of himself is “schmuck,” his experience of financial statements is “inaccessible” and his experience of the CPA is “unrelatable.” He loses out on the valuable business intelligence contained within those financial statements and decides that he’s better off with the “gut” technique. Actually, instinct is the most effective when it is powered by actual facts.

Instead, how about:
CPA: “Let’s have a look at the P&L to see the results of operations this quarter.”
Business owner: [Turns to the P&L.] CPA: “In the Operating Expenses section, about halfway down, is Office Expense. Check out the third column – there’s a 25K increase over last quarter. Tell me the story.”
Business owner: “We created new marketing collateral for an upcoming expo. It’s classy and really shares the opportunity of working with us!”
CPA: Oh, the Chamber expo next month? Sounds exciting! Have your bookkeeper move these expenditures to Marketing Expense instead. Let’s talk about what you’d like to have in place to be able to measure your return on your investment in the expo.”

All because of the order in which information is presented.

“Wow,” said my networking partner. “Musical techniques apply more than I’d realized!”

In which other types business conversations do you imagine that this technique facilitate an amazing and profitable result? 

Why Your Small Business Should Invest in Financial Consulting

As a small business owner, you are juggling a lot of things on your own. You are probably your own sales team, marketing department, and head of customer service. One job you shouldn’t be handling on your own is the role of a CFO–at least, not without some guidance. The financial decisions you make for your business will impact it for years to come, and making sound decisions can help build a stronger business. Our financial consulting services for small businesses will help you reach business goals by providing you with an acting CFO for your company.

As an acting CFO, we can help with your accounting, acquisitions, tax preparations, and more. We can also offer you the financial consulting you need to make good decisions for the future of your business. With our education and experience, you can trust that you are getting the best advice possible and can rely on our expertise to help guide your financial decisions. This is the perfect solution for any small business that needs a Chief Financial Officer but cannot afford to hire one full time. Instead, with Tier One Services, LLC you’ll get the advice and services you need at a plan that fits into your budget.

Call us today and let’s discuss your business and how we can help you. We offer periodic financial consulting on an as-needed basis for your business so you can call on us for help when necessary. This can even make your business look more enticing to investors, because they’ll know you’ve taken steps to make sound financial decisions with your business. Get in touch with us through our website and get the financial consulting your small business really needs!

Yaks, Drachmas, and Orange Juice

Yak

 

Cattle, shells, coins, leather, paper, bits and bytes…we humans created money so I wouldn’t have to lug my yak over to your place to get a fabulous shoe shining. What if you didn’t even need a yak? There I am, stuck with scuffed shoes and a bunch of extra yaks.

For a currency to represent anything of value, enough people have to agree on that representation. The minute that Confederate notes, drachmas, or Pan Am frequent flyer miles are no longer accepted by enough people, they’re useless to me. And no one can convince me to accept gil for my consulting services because I don’t play Final Fantasy. Currency is about faith. I’ll give you a mouth-watering batch of fresh monkey bread and you’ll give me some bits of dirty paper? Are you kidding? I’ll only accept that if I have faith that I can then pass off that paper for something I want, like some decent anti-frizz serum that doesn’t have carcinogens in it.

There is no “true” value of money…it’s always shifting because it’s based on something so personal. Money represents only what I choose for it to represent to me. That includes emotions.<

Here’s the kicker: Once I get that I am responsible for how I relate to money and what it represents, I get that I am free to design that relationship. I get insights into areas in which money is limiting me, and I get to have breakthroughs in those areas.

One of my favorite money stories started with orange juice. I used to buy the cheap stuff – the kind that is sold in a plastic half-gallon jug – the store brand, of course. I really enjoyed it, plus I felt good about being economical. That’s what orange juice was. To me, there was nothing else on the shelf.

David, my husband, invited me to try the pricey stuff. With pulp, in the cardboard container marked “Not from concentrate.” At first I brushed off the invitation. I have no use for expensive OJ.

Then I tried some…and instantly realized that I would never again buy that Brightly Colored Liquid Substance Formerly Known as Orange Juice.

That phenomenon of not seeing the other choices on the shelf? This is known as a “blind spot.” Seeing them for the first time and having a new, finer experience of life as a result? A breakthrough.

My blind spot pertained to missing out on the full richness that life had to offer because I let cost stand in the way even though I had sufficient funds. Others’ blind spots include not realizing that it’s possible to enjoy a financially sustainable life without debt; thinking that one must choose between a healthy paycheck and a fulfilling job; believing that having a “rainy day” savings account would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Do you know someone with a financial blind spot? What do you wish that this person realizes and then achieves?

Pricing to Win

I was reading a white paper on activity-based pricing models and it got me thinking about a seasoned CPA who was delivering a tax seminar. He was so committed to the success of his fellow CPAs that he went off topic and started talking about the merits of a flat rate over hourly.

Entire industries shift the way they charge their customers. It’s about the ability of a business to keep making available its products and services…and about the way the pricing is perceived by customers, which is impermanent.

Be careful of a “grass is always greener” approach with pricing. It’s not better because it’s different. If it’s better, it’s because there’s a greater match for how the value is perceived by the customers and the model can sustain and grow the business.

CPAs usually charge an hourly fee for their services. However, a customer’s greatest concern is that costs will get out of control in order for a project to be completed. A client shared this concern with me recently as we discussed a suite of services, so we explored alternatives:

  • A fixed fee for the project

Upside for the client: Peace of mind
Upside for the vendor: Peace of mind is valuable, so the price can be set somewhat higher than an estimate based on an hourly rate.

  • An hourly rate with a cap

Upside for the client: Peace of mind and the possibility of paying lower than a fixed fee.
Upside for the vendor: Charge the full hourly rate with no discounts. If the project comes in lower than the cap, rate realization will be high.

  • Success fee

Upside for the client: Guaranteed to come out breakeven or ahead.
Upside for the vendor: Upon realization of the additional cash flows due to cost savings or greater opportunities capitalized upon, the project fee will be greater than either a fixed fee or an hourly rate.

  • Others: Success fee with a low guaranteed minimum; subscription; freemium; premium; hybrids of any of these.

Owners of product-based businesses and owners of service-based businesses have a lot to learn from each other.

I have welcomed aboard more than one good client by being creative with pricing, with no sacrifice to the health of my business.

What area of your business would you like to grow? Consider an alternative pricing model and monitor and measure the impact on your business.

 

Celebration of Business Growth

Dawn Johnson, a member of the Tier One Services business ecosystem, has been with State Farm since 1992 and opened her own agency in 2006. Here she celebrates the growth of her agency and shares her secrets for how she made it happen.

The Emotional Accountant

Accounting is is one of the most emotionally salient areas of business. It is coming face to face with “what’s so.”

The most visceral responses I’ve seen are fear and wonder.

The fear isn’t usually about not having enough. Most business owners know what they’ll figure it out with determination. The strongest fear is in taking responsibility, in shifting from possibility to reality. As long as we’re working smart and hard on our plans, we’re working in possibility. Baking those pies, posting those blogs, handing out business cards. Only when we look at the numbers do we dare face the results.

How many pies were purchased?
How many were scrapped?
Which distributors were the most profitable for us?
Did the ad campaign pay for itself?

Only then do we have an opening for action that’s going to get our business where we said we wanted to go.

And the wonder comes with achievement of something new, when we look at our successful results and hear the awakened inner three-year-old shouting,

“Look what I can do!!”

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