At the beginning of each year, many businesses make plans for what the next twelve months will look like. In fact, sometimes a whole year’s budget, calendar, and strategy are decided in the first few weeks of January. This is a great time to review what worked and what didn’t in the previous year and serves as a transition period in which many decisions, small and large, are being made. Planning is essential for mapping out the direction you will take in order to move your business forward in 2014, and it doesn’t have to be a difficult process if you know who is best to consult and partner with in order to produce the best end result. After all, planning is crucial but implementation is just as important.
Bland & Associates, PC provides a broad range of services that meet businesses (and their owners) exactly where they are in their lifecycle; whether just starting out, planning for solid growth…even succession. Jeremy Vokt, CPA and Shareholder with Bland & Associates, PC, emphasizes that professional accounting services are absolutely necessary for businesses who are planning for the future. “A multitude of factors such as the economy, healthcare reform, and new tax laws just to name a few, affect a business’ growth strategy and profitability in any given year. As experts in these areas, we guide business owners to make good decisions on all aspects of the management and growth of a successful business: tax planning, budgeting, forecasting, expansion, financing options, hiring employees, and equipment and capital expenditures. In our experience, business owners turn to Bland for ideas, advice and effort which always includes providing a comprehensive look at opportunities to act on, as well as the pitfalls to avoid throughout the year and how each impacts their company goals. We then work with them to develop a strategy–a set of objectives and measurable milestones–that help mark progress and provide indications of any needed course corrections. When external factors happen, such as a drastic drop in the economy or a new tax law, if we already have a strategy in place for our clients we can more efficiently minimize any negative impact.” He adds, “Business planning is critical to success. Anyone can have a few “lucky” wins. Planning allows business owners to sleep better at night knowing that they aren’t leaving their success up to chance, but to proactive effort and investment in the future success of their companies.”
Minimizing risk is one of the most important, and subsequently rewarding, aspects of business planning. Shane Myers’ Farm Bureau Financial Services (FBFS) Agency offers many lines of commercial insurance, life insurance plans in a wide variety of types and purposes, employee benefits, retirement planning, mutual funds, disability insurance and income protection, long term care insurance, and the ever changing health insurance coverage plans. Agency owner Shane Myers states, “As a small business owner myself, I understand the different reasons and needs for any and all of these products. All businesses will need some sort of commercial insurance. Most business owners will need some type of life insurance, especially when there are multiple owners in the company. Mutual funds have many different functions from retirement to investing. Disability insurance protects owners’ incomes as well as business overhead expenses. Health insurance will continue to change over the next few years and we stay up to date on all those changes. Long term care can help protect many assets from being spent on assisted living and in-home care. As we continue to grow our business, I am continually staying on top of different ways to manage risk and plan for our future. I take pride in helping other business owners to do the exact same thing. We also take pride in offering extraordinary service to any company, whether it is a startup company or a 30 million dollar company. I continue to further my knowledge about all of the different products and concepts to ensure that my clients are getting the best service and recommendations available.” He adds, “The most helpful piece of advice that I can give to another business owner is to reach out for counsel in the areas that they need help with. I can help when you are seeking expertise in the areas of insurance and financial planning, as well as risk tolerance. In fact, I continue to seek growth myself from other financial professionals who are well respected and have a history of success. In my experience, when evaluating myself and observing my peers, business owners sometimes try to invent every idea even though many have paved successful roads ahead of them. I highly recommend learning from those people and incorporating their ideas to work for you. I also can’t stress the importance of setting goals enough. If you do not set goals, you do not have the ability to plan things out for success. I have learned over the years that a good formula for planning, whether in business or otherwise, is to set goals that are important to you and your family, create a plan to reach those goals, and to hold yourself accountable for accomplishing them.”
Brent Coonrod, Creative Director of LimeLight Expressions, agrees that businesses need to establish well-defined goals with measurable results when planning a market strategy. LimeLight Expressions specializes in helping businesses reach these goals by improving perceptions of target customers through brand promotion. Coonrood explains, “Corporate branding starts with fresh and creative ideas and continues with consistent branding campaigns. LimeLight Expressions is dedicated to boosting your company’s market presence and appeal in 2014. Even though a business has a market strategy, they must be willing to adapt to market changes. It is imperative to know the target market and consistently survey how your organization’s products, services, and image are being perceived. LimeLight Expressions can partner with you to ensure that your vision is staying on track while navigating a changing market. LimeLight Expressions is an award-winning event planning, photography and design firm catering to every aspect of building a business image and brand. The brand is the face of the company. Businesses must focus on strengthening their reputation through events, marketing materials, and social media, while emphasizing their brand. The tone of the brand must be consistently promoted and well established. LimeLight Expressions is ready to build your corporate brand in the coming year. We can establish your company’s online presence through website design, website development, SEO boosting, and social media campaigns. Our design and photography services can establish your professional image or revitalize your brand. Whether corporate logos, all types of printed materials, user interfaces, television commercials, corporate training materials, or creative imagery; LimeLight Expressions’ design team has fresh ideas for any business model.” He adds, “Businesses have a name, reputation, and brand to uphold. Events must have a common theme and brand to promote. Business planning and event planning become interchangeable at LimeLight Expressions, as we creatively orchestrate events for businesses, which showcase and affirm the business’s goals. Through business planning, we strategize with corporations to establish the target market and key business objectives. Event planning is similar. We strive to exceed customer’s expectations by coordinating and promoting the event’s theme to reach the desired outcome.”
When you present yourself to a potential client or business partner, it is important that the professional image that you are showcasing that aligns with your brand, mission, values, and essentially who you are as a business in addition to creating awareness. This not only includes how you present yourself personally, but the materials you are introducing that showcase what you are all about and what you have to offer. Image branding is not just something to consider, it is a critical element of your business as a whole and a direct representation and extension of yourself. Utilizing print materials not only supplements your presentation, it acts as your ambassador whether you are present or not. A good example of this is printed tradeshow items in addition to brochures and business cards. These items introduce people to your business as well as creating top of mind awareness as your name is on something that they are likely to utilize more than once in the future, or even pass on to others. PrintOvations assists companies with their brand awareness and marketing campaigns through the use of printed and promotional products. Though they certainly offer printing services, they are not just a printer. They often work with their clients’ marketing personnel to help them achieve their goals for the New Year by developing creative and targeted promotions that communicate value or service to their customers. Daryl Decker, owner of PrintOvations, says, “Effective marketing is what separates rapidly growing companies from slow-growing or stalled companies. Marketing is a multi-prong approach and Top of Mind Awareness is crucial for all companies. Keeping your companies name and brand in front of your customers and prospects on a consistent bases reinforces their image of you. As marketers, we work as advisors for our clients to help them understand how promotions and printed communications can be an effective part of their campaign. We start by evaluating our customer’s end-users. Who are they and what are their demographics and preferences? We also look at where our customer’s end-users are when they are thinking about the company or contemplating a purchase. For example, is the customer’s end-user in their car, at home or at work when considering a purchase? What are they probably doing while considering and thinking about a purchase? As we narrow down that customers end-user profile, we can then develop creative, focused and attention getting promotions based on where the customers end-users are at, what they’re doing and what their preferences are. A company’s brand campaign should include embroidered or screen printed work shirts, vehicle decals, signs and banners along with some targeted promotional products. These support staples such as professionally printed presentation folders, brochures and business cards which round out an excellent brand campaign. The quality of those images, promotions and printed materials give the first impression of your company many times, so quality products are paramount. Your customers and prospects will have a much better impression of you if you hand them a quality business card and brochure as opposed to a flimsy business card and photocopied brochure. Customers and prospects will make a direct correlation between the quality of your marketing materials and the quality of the products and services you offer.”
Decker adds, “At this time of year, we are also assisting our customers with budgeting and tradeshow planning and scheduling. Custom imprinted pens and other writing instruments are an excellent way to get and keep your brand in front of customers, but these are not a one size fits all solution. One needs to consider if these will be going to hundreds or thousands of prospects or a fewer subset of customers. For example, a quality, but economical pen is best for tradeshows and for getting your name out to prospects; but a high quality, heavy weight pen would be a better option for customers that are signing documents, agreements and contracts with you. You want to ensure your customers feel confident that they are signing with a quality organization and a high quality pen reinforces that.” Decker also emphasizes that business planning needs to be an ongoing and flexible process that can adjust to the changes in the business climate throughout the year. He advises that a quarterly review of your marketing campaign and the results of those campaigns allows for adjustments and ever evolving improvement to those campaigns, and welcomes anyone interested in their services to contact him at (402) 493-3010 or to visit www.printovations.com.
When you think of the setting of a business meeting, often times you think of a sterile or windowless conference room. These areas do not provide the necessary get-away essential for focused and inspired team building and cohesiveness—they don’t get you out of your normal environment, which is optimal to get you thinking outside of the box and with a clearer focus. Often times when planning for business retreats or meetings, the destination gets chosen as a byproduct of the need for a space to gather and little focus is placed on why that particular place or venue is optimal to host your gathering. However, planning for these types of events should require careful consideration of the place and surroundings as well as the ground you need to cover or the mission of your meeting. White Deer Retreat is a perfect solution, as it is located in the heart of wooded nature but yet only 15 minutes north of downtown Omaha. White Deer Retreat is a wonderful venue for day retreats and business meetings if you need to accommodate less than 10 people. The best part is that it provides a very intimate and relaxing environment, which allows for optimal concentration on the task at hand without being uncomfortable or including other stressors, interruptions or distractions. The large windows overlooking a scenic valley view inspire team building and focus. A dining room, open area with a large WiFi and HDMI connected TV, living room, and break-out areas are available to you if you need them. Delicious meals and snacks can be provided or the kitchen is available for visitor use or for catered meals, and beverages are complimentary. Debra Cook, the proprietor of White Deer Retreat, has degrees in counseling and group guidance with a particular interest in holistic health and well-being, and can help you plan wellness activities for your retreat or meeting. She can also arrange for the services of other wellness professionals such as massage and Reiki practitioners for chair therapy. An outdoor seating area and nearby hiking trails are very conducive for nature inspired serenity in the warmer months, and White Deer Retreat is also a wonderful place to host out-of-town guests if that is necessary. They offer two beautiful and quiet bedroom suites with five beds (king, queen, double, and two twin beds) that can accommodate overnight or weekend retreats of 5-8 people depending on your comfort level. For evening events, they even provide a professional house pianist or guitarist!
Eakes Office Plus is another excellent asset to utilize when conducting business planning for the upcoming year. They offer a variety of products and services that are beneficial for businesses to incorporate, and here are some that are the most popular with their wide variety of clients. First, Content or Document Management helps you to efficiently and securely store your business information in an online destination, making it more convenient to access when and where you need it. The great part about this is you can use your PC, smart phone, tablet, MFP or scanning device to capture and send a mix of paper and electronic files. This service allows you to effectively:
•Streamline workflows and make collaboration more convenient and productive with sharing and notification tools.
• Gain greater access to documents when you need them by storing
them in the cloud.
• Safeguard sensitive business information
Secondly, Eakes Office Plus’ Managed Print Services can help businesses uncover direct cost savings of 13 – 40% year over year and significant indirect cost savings by implementing a managed imaging and output environment. Print Management consists of the following three different areas – Strategy Development, Balanced Deployment and Optimized Management. They provide a full comprehensive print assessment at no cost in order to provide recommendations that will help reduce costs and allow businesses to regain control of their entire print and imaging infrastructure.
Finally, with the ability to provide all major brands of Office Supplies, Eakes offers on-site consulting to allow businesses to better manage their office supply needs. Eakes works closely with their clients to insure they are getting the exact type and amount of products they need. In addition, Eakes offers Cabinet Inventory Management to help companies streamline their office product needs, which also reduces waste and time. They also offer a customized online approval process so businesses can manage office supply orders for approval before they are submitted. This creates efficiencies and reduces waste thus saving companies hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Furthermore, Eakes Office Plus is an authorized dealer representing dozens of quality Office Furniture brands, so they can provide solutions such as consultation, interior design, space planning, reconfiguration and installation. Jeff Byrnes of Eakes Office Plus states “We are a Nebraska based company founded in 1945 with twelve locations across the state. Eakes Office Plus has provided customer-focused solutions and quality products for 68 years and we are driven to continue to provide solutions to meet the needs of today’s businesses. Any of our specialists, whether it’s a Digital Imaging Specialist, Office Supply Specialist, or Office Furniture Specialist, provide a consultative approach in order to understand a businesses’ needs so we can offer the best possible solution. Our job is to uncover that weakness or broken process and apply the appropriate solution to help our customers achieve a business goal or strategic initiative. Please feel free to contact Eakes Office Plus at www.eakes.com or call our Omaha location at (402) 898-3017 so we can help you make your 2014 a successful one.”
Regarding office space, sometimes you just need more! If a move to a larger space is not in your near future, you could also consider planning to utilize a storage facility until that becomes feasible. Strong Box Storage is Omaha’s premier storage facility, offering a secure, state-of-the-art facility complete with extra amenities such as climate controlled unites, 24/7 digital surveillance, drive-up storage rooms, and there are also a U-Haul dealer so in addition to providing many sizes of moving vehicles they also offer a wide variety of moving supplies to help you tackle the project. Their on-site office is open six days a week and offers helpful, friendly staff. Thomas Friedman, owner of Strong Box Storage, says, “We have a lot of clients who store items from their businesses. Some businesses use our facility as overflow, some for seasonal storage, and some companies use our facility as their main point of storage. For example, we see a lot of construction companies store valuable equipment in our larger units. In fact, quite a few of our units are utilized by businesses, both short and long term. We offer a range of sizes from 5×5 to 10×40, and we always try to find the right size that fits the customer’s needs. We also provide unique keypad codes so our customers have access to their unit 365 days a year. While we can get walk-in clients right into a unit, often times we like to meet with people to show them a few different sizes and strategize as to which one will fit accommodate the space and features they require. We are glad to offer our time and expertise in this way, and I highly recommend briefly touring the facility when planning for offsite storage to see the full extent of options available at our facility.” He adds, “At Strong Box Storage, security and convenience for our clients is very important to us. We are set up to accommodate just about any requests you may have, and we also make it very easy to pay on time which helps businesses plan ahead to cover costs related to storage. You can pay whatever way you choose, including automatic withdrawal to eliminate fees associated with late payment, and you can also pay ahead for additional discounts. Whatever your needs or goals are, we can come up with a plan to make them happen.”
If you are planning to liquidate some or all of your business assets in the coming year, no matter what your timeline may be, Auction Solutions can make sure the job gets done right…and right away. Shayne Fili, President of Auction Solutions, states, “At Auction Solutions, we are committed to providing a solution for your specific situation. Our whole business model is designed to turn your assets into cash, and we are able to do this in a short period of time. We are also a full service liquidator, which means we can make you money on anything you may have to sell or no longer have a need for. Our expertise is finding the value in your business assets and getting the most for them. There are many factors that go into the decision to sell on our client’s end, and there are also many factors that go into how we sell them. A common misconception is that you can get more money by piecing out items and selling them individually. While this is certainly the best option for some clients, for others we can provide much better solutions. This even includes selling businesses that are still in operation in a complete package. We have done this successfully for many prominent and iconic Omaha businesses, and although we have made a name for ourselves as a landmark auction business by doing so we have also sold many wonderful small businesses in one complete transaction as well.” She adds, “The auction method of marketing is most often optimal because it creates competition and an instant need to purchase. You don’t have the ability to call back tomorrow after you’ve thought about it, and you can only buy what is offered instead of negotiating to only buy certain items. Auction Solutions allows a controlled environment that is arranged based upon what will get you the most money for your items with the least amount of hassle and time involved in the transaction. Also, in our experience the more you have to sell the wider the audience will be for the auction which drives higher prices and equates to better results. We have liquidated just about any kind of asset imaginable in our auctions over the years, including the real estate, equipment, existing inventory, décor—we really mean anything. We can also arrange for a live simulcast online auction, depending on what works best in each unique situation.” Auction Solutions combines cutting edge technology, professionalism, and a wide range of services to provide the best possible auction experience for both buyers and sellers. They are committed to helping you plan and execute the sale of your items, and their team of experts can do as much or as little as your situation requires and are happy to advise you when planning for the future of your business and its assets. Auction Solutions also is involved in benefit and fundraising auctions, and offers their ability to add value in order to increase the amount bid at auction during your event.
Proper planning is crucial to ensure the optimal functioning of any business or organization, and therefore directly contributes to their measurable success in the upcoming year. A plan, by definition, is a scheme, program or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective. And subsequently, planning is the formulation the means for reaching your objectives…and achieving your goals! So, it is very important to have your objectives clearly outlined and set in the beginning stages of your planning. Once you have your goals and objectives finalizes, it is incredibly beneficial for you to find experts in those areas that can provide you the means for the most direct path from where you are now to your desired end result. Think of it like putting together a puzzle. You can see what you want the end result to look like from the picture on the box. You work to piece the outline together first, and then fill it in afterwards by building upon the outline and referencing the photo of the finished product. We must constantly reference what we want our end result to be, and review our processes and work towards our goals to ensure we are effectively working towards them and making progress in the right direction every day. This requires a great deal of accountability, and when you have experts who specialize in their respective fields working to guide your planning and progress that also adds accountability for both yourself and those who you have hired for their expertise and products/services. Once you have plans in place to guide you to where you want to be, and the best people helping you along the way, success becomes far less difficult and even more exciting. So when you are planning for 2014, consider utilizing some quality, local professionals as outside resources to assist you and we assure you that you won’t regret it!