Posts By Andre Fisher

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Exit Strategy

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Business Exit Strategy

Having an exit strategy when you start a business makes it that much easier to execute rational and informed decisions when you want to get out. But the UBS (NYSE: UBS) Q1 Investor Watch Report, “Who’s the boss?” reveals 48 percent of business owners don’t have a formal exit strategy.

This is the 22-second edition of the quarterly survey, and this time around it is looking at how investors feel about business ownership. The survey also explores the exit strategy of business owners, including selling their company and leaving it to their heirs.

In the report, UBS points out the majority of business owners don’t have a full understanding of what takes place in the selling of a business. It identifies a knowledge gap for the 75 percent of owners who believe they can sell their business in a year or less. This is on top of the 58 percent who have never had their business formally appraised, and the 48 percent without exit strategies.

Stewart Kesmodel, Head of Global Family Office, Americas for UBS Global Wealth Management, explained the challenge of selling a business this way in the press release. He said, “Selling a business successfully requires a great deal of planning, which owners often underestimate. Before pursuing a sale, it is important for business owners to not only have a view on the value of their business to potential buyers, but also an understanding of how that price applies to their personal needs post-transaction.”

In the survey, 1,085 of the 2,245 high net worth investor were identified as business owners (770 current/315 former). Their business had at least one employee and $250k in annual revenue.

Key Business Exit Strategy Findings

Selling the business is the preferred strategy of 52 percent of the respondents, which 41 percent plan to do within five years. Another 20 percent said they plan to leave it to family, 18 percent are going to close the business, and 10 percent don’t know.

As to the reason for leaving the business, 65 percent said it was a good time to sell and they are ready to retire, while 49 percent indicated they are looking to find a work-life balance.

So how do the heirs feel about inheriting a business?

More than 4 in 5 or 82 percent rather have the money from the sale of the business, and only 18 percent said they wanted the business. This is probably why 89 percent of owners said they won’t pass their business on because family members are not interested. Lack of qualification and wanting a family member to take another career path was sated by 21 and 9 percent of the respondents respectively.

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Business Exit Strategy

Takeaway from the UBS Survey

Plan early with different exit strategies in mind. This will allow you the flexibility you need to get the most out of your business, whether you sell it, pass it on to your family, or have someone else manage it for you.

You can take a look at the rest of the data here and the partial infographic below.

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Business Exit Strategy

Images: UBS

This article, “48% Who Want to Sell Have No Exit Strategy” was first published on Small Business Trends

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5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchise Businesses

5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchises

The recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could have a major impact on franchise businesses. The tax reform will likely lead to changes ranging from increased deductions to a more financially stable customer base.

Ways Tax Reform Is Helping Franchises

Here are a few of the specific ways this new legislation could help franchises.

Increased Cash Flow

Because of the lower corporate tax rates and larger deductions for pass-through business structures, the new tax bill is expected to help businesses of all sizes save money on tax payments. According to President of Franchise Marketing Systems Christopher Conner, who has worked with franchise businesses ranging from Blimpie to UPS, this increase in cash flow and the ability to keep and reinvest that money into growth opportunities is the number one potential benefit of the new bill.

He said in an email to Small Business Trends, “Franchisors and Franchisees now have more cash flow and capital to put towards hiring, growth and investment into the people who support their business’ operations.”

Ability to Invest in Employees

Because of that potential increase in funds, franchise businesses should have more money available to hire new employees, invest in training and provide more competitive wages for existing employees to keep them happy. This can help you retain those team members for longer, decreasing turnover costs and strengthening your company culture, things that can have long-term benefits for your business.

Better Options for Structuring Your Business

One of the tax reform changes that’s most pertinent to the small business community is the new 20 percent deduction for pass-through entities. This is any type of business where the income passes through to the owner’s individual tax returns, including sole proprietorships, partnerships and S-Corps. For some franchise businesses, this could offer some opportunity to reap even more financial benefits by adjusting the structure of the business, though the actual impact will vary for each individual business.

Conner says, “We always recommend speaking to a CPA, but it has been recommended by several to transition your business to an S-Corp. The new tax regulations offer a larger degree of benefits to corporations than other business entity structures.”

More Write-Off Opportunities

Owning a franchise business requires some investment in equipment and supplies, some of which you can write off as deductions on your tax returns. And the new bill raises the limit on how much of those expenses you can deduct, potentially making it more financially beneficial for you to grow your business by making those investments.

Conner says, “The write off for capital investments has increased substantially where businesses are incentivized to now invest in equipment, real estate and other capital investments where with the new tax reform, business owners can write off up to $1 million in asset investments in the first year of ownership which is incredible and extremely advantageous for business owners.”

Potential for Economic Growth

Of course, the most general goal of tax reform is to support a healthy economy. Since many franchise businesses, like fast casual restaurants and automotive service providers, tend to target middle class consumers, a tax bill that puts more money in the pockets of those customers is likely to be a benefit for franchise owners as well.

The new tax bill adjusts the some of the tax rates for middle class families, lowering rates by a few percentage points in many cases. There’s also a larger standard deduction and child tax credit that could lead to more deductions for average families. These benefits might not have direct applications to franchise businesses right away. But over time if they have the desired effects on the economy as a whole, it could lead to a customer base with more money to spend.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchise Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Small Business Resources at RCPL

Small Business Resources at RCPL
An overview of the small business online resources available at the Richland County Public Library in Columbia, SC. For more information, visit www.

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How to Use Technology to Take Charge of Your Business Meetings

Using Technology to Improve Meetings

Meetings pose an ongoing challenge for business leaders. The goal is to lead meetings more efficiently. However, that’s easier said then done.

Although they’re a necessary part of effective communication and collaboration, meetings can easily become a drudgery for attendees. For years, interoffice meetings meant handing out a paper-based agenda. Participants would take notes on pads of paper. Once the meeting was over, leaders found it difficult to gauge how things had gone. This made it difficult to get the information they needed to improve.

Once technology entered the workplace, meetings naturally evolved. Instead of relying on flat verbal presentations, PowerPoint made it easy to convey concepts.

Using Technology to Improve Meetings

Now, meeting leaders are so busy, they may not realize that there are now many tools that can take their gatherings to the next level. Here are a few top ways technology is providing ways to lead meetings more efficiently.

Idea Capture

One of the biggest failures in business meetings is that participants are expected to serve as little more than audience members. Tools like GoWall are changing that, giving attendees the resources they need to contribute to a meeting without being disruptive. As concepts are communicated, participants can add their own thoughts to an “idea wall” in real time. Since others can see these notes, they’ll naturally feel inspired to contribute.

The result is a more engaged audience. There is also valuable documentation that leaders can use to move forward and lead meetings more efficiently. Employees feel like contributors in this situation. Therefore, they get excited about future meetings. This technology can be used for on-site get-togethers and meetings with remote staff.

Attendee Feedback

When you think of meeting feedback, you likely think of the “How was our presentation?” surveys found at many conferences and seminars. However, solutions like ParticiPoll bring a poll tool to meetings of all sizes This includes standard staff meetings. The poll can be incorporated into aPowerPoint presentation. That way, you can invite attendees to rate each presentation and provide feedback at its conclusion. You can also include polls within the presentation, having participants rate various things in real time.

This type of tool is perfect for businesses that regularly host presentations for remote participants. You’ll be able to gather votes from your entire team and use that information after the meeting concludes. Not only will you see the results of your polls live, but you’ll also be able to access all of your polls after the fact. This will allow you to identify trends so you can lead meetings more efficiently.

Meeting Intelligence

Popular solutions like Google Hangouts have revolutionized videoconferencing, making it easy to launch virtual meetings where everyone participates. Google’s tool has itself evolved over the years, adapting to the always-changing demands of the businesses that use it. Like similar collaboration tools, Google Hangouts let employees move from text-based chat to file-sharing to video chat with ease.

Among the many benefits of Google’s tool is that many people already have an account, which means they can join without signing up. They’ll also be able to access other tools within the platform, including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. This makes it easy to initiate calls not only with your existing employees, but with outside sources such as clients and contract workers. Cisco’s WebEx has also expanded its offerings over the years to help participants move easily between chatting, making phone calls, and video chatting.


Brainstorming is a great way to lead meetings more efficiently. It can call upon the expertise of an entire team, since one idea can easily feed another. But standing in front of a whiteboard with a dry-erase marker is not an option for many businesses, now that some workers and clients attend by phone. A whiteboarding app can resolve that, starting with the meeting leader’s ability to demonstrate concepts using a finger on a smart screen.

Today’s popular solutions include apps like Cisco Spark Board, which incorporates screen sharing to let multiple team members participate in whiteboarding. This can be essential for brainstorming with remote workers, as well as with clients who might want to talk through concepts. All information is saved for later, which means your team will be able to use the data to inform the project that was the topic of the meeting.

Lead Meetings More Efficiently

Whether you choose one of these tools or a combination of multiple solutions, it’s important to create an environment that helps you lead meetings more efficiently. Make sure that you’re regularly gaining the input you need to improve your future meetings. Eventually, you’ll find that employees are not only excited about upcoming business meetings, but they’re scheduling their own video chats with the easy-to-use suite of solutions you’ve put in place.

Image via

This article, “How to Use Technology to Take Charge of Your Business Meetings” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Small Business Checklist [MY RESOURCES]

Small Business Checklist [MY RESOURCES]
People are always asking me, “How do you have the time to do so much? You seem to be everywhere doing everything!”

I’m not going to lie. I am busy and I do have my hand in just about everything, but I have learned to make it easy on myself. How? With my small business checklist that is full of systems and automation.

To read all about what I use to keep my business running, read this:

My small business checklist, or my resources, include:

Now, let’s get social:

For Business:
For Fun:

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Facebook Giving Businesses the Ability to Post to Crisis Response

Facebook Community Help for Businesses Now Available in Crisis Response Center

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has announced businesses and organizations can now post on its Community Help feature, designed to make it easier to ask for and give help during a crisis.

Facebook Community Help for Businesses

By enabling businesses to post on Community Help will assist firms in providing critical information and services for people when they need it the most. Facebook has started to roll out the feature for certain organizations and plans to make it more widely available in forthcoming weeks.

In times of crisis, interactivity and connecting people is more important than ever. By posting on Facebook in response to a crisis, the Community Help feature will enable businesses and organizations to provide people with urgent help, such as food, shelter and transportation.

This will help businesses meet aims of providing help and assistance during times of crisis and ultimately shape stronger, more interactive communities.

As Asha Sharma, Head of Social Good at Facebook, commented in a statement on Facebook about the Community Help development:

“Our priority is to build tools that help keep people safe and provide them with ways to get the help they need to recover and rebuild after a crisis. We hope this update makes it even easier for people to get the help they need in times of crisis and will give businesses and organizations and opportunity to build stronger communities around them.”

Since it was launched in 2017, Community Help has seen people engage more than 750,000 times via posts, messages and comments. People have turned to the Community Help feature for information and assistance during more than 500 different crises around the world.

By allowing organizations and businesses to post vital information and messages will help people get the crucial assistance they need during times of crisis.

Image: Facebook

This article, “Facebook Giving Businesses the Ability to Post to Crisis Response” was first published on Small Business Trends

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2 out of 3 Service Contractors Won’t Get Hired if They’re Not Tech Savvy

Service Professionals Are Expected to Be Tech-Savvy: 2 of 3 Service Pros Won't Get Rehired if They're Not Tech Savvy

Being tech-savvy is fundamental to functioning in today’s highly connected world. A new survey commissioned by Verizon Telematics and carried out by KRC Research highlights the extent of this example as it reveals 2 out of 3 customers said they would not hire a service contractor who is not tech-savvy.

Service Professionals Are Expected to Be Tech-Savvy

The study surveyed service contractors and small businesses in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); construction; landscaping; plumbing and trucking/delivery. And in all cases being tech savvy did affect the bottom line across all the industries.

Service contractors are in most cases small businesses, whether they are a sole operator or part of a company that is slightly larger. For these organizations, technology is essential in optimizing operations and delivering the best possible service for their customers.

Jay Jaffin, chief marketing officer at Verizon Telematics, pointed out the importance of being technologically proficient across the entire workforce of a business. In a press release announcing the survey, he said, “In an age where nearly everyone has a smartphone, customers expect that mobility, connectivity and tech savviness will extend to the home service vendors they choose to work with,” said. “By simply connecting their vehicles and technicians, businesses can anticipate changes to schedules, handle more last-minute jobs, send a different technician to the next job if one is running late and most importantly, drive huge gains in customer satisfaction.”

The data was collected using an online survey with 506 participating service contractors working in the five service industries. It was carried out by KRC Research from Sept. 28 to Oct. 9, 2017, with a minimum of 100 professionals from each industry taking part. After the conclusion, the consumer side of the survey was completed seperately. A total of 1,026 individuals 18 years of age and older took part in the study online between Nov. 2 and Nov. 6, 2017.

Some of the Results Of the Survey

Another important data point from the consumer side of the survey was, 79 percent of U.S. consumers expect tech-savvy home service contractors.

On the service provider side, 70 percent of contractors have recognized ensuring future business success will require adopting new technologies. And contractors who have started using work applications on their mobile, tablet or laptops have noticed higher rates of customer satisfaction.

Mobile technology is especially important for this group as they are always on the move. The productivity levels of HVAC workers increased by 92 percent because of mobile technology. And 63 percent of construction workers experienced increased customer satisfaction, while another 53 percent said they saw higher sales.

The infographic below has additional information about the survey.

Service Professionals Are Expected to Be Tech-Savvy: 2 of 3 Service Pros Won't Get Rehired if They're Not Tech Savvy

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “2 out of 3 Service Contractors Won’t Get Hired if They’re Not Tech Savvy” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Want to Step Up to Your Biggest Small Business Challenge? Read This First

Small Business Revolution-Main Street: Ty Pennington Says This is the Biggest Challenge Facing a Small Business -- And How to Overcome It

As a philanthropist and award winning television host of shows like “Trading Spaces and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” Ty Pennington has a proven track record of motivating people. That’s why Small Business Trends was happy to interview him and learn what he thought was the biggest challenge facing a small business.

“People who have small businesses are focused on what their passion is. They don’t always know what it’s like to try and market or the best way to accomplish that goal with their brand,” he said. Pennington will be co hosting the third season of the web series Small Business Revolution — Main Street.  He says finding a team that can focus on branding for you can revolutionize the way you look at your business and help to revitalize a small town that’s struggling at the same time.

Small Business Revolution-Main Street

Business Services

“Small Business Revolution — Main Street” is sponsored by Deluxe, a company that offers a variety of small business services. The show brings small town community leaders, experts and business professionals together to help small towns and smaller enterprises there. Over the first two seasons, small businesses in Indiana and Pennsylvania got help with business and marketing advice as well as physical improvements totaling $500,000.

Voting for the third season’s winner in underway here

Amanda Brinkman stars in “Small Business Revolution — Main Street” and she’s also the executive producer of the show. She told Small Business Trends she’s seen a few areas that challenge small businesses’ success.

 Know Your Numbers

“We’ve seen two things. First is their finances. Knowing their numbers and what their numbers are telling them is important,” she says adding the second big challenge is staying on top of and understanding the technology curves that help small business owners get the most from digital innovations.

“A lot of people didn’t start a business because they couldn’t wait to build a website or use email marketing to stay in front of their customers,” she says.

As well as working on the upcoming season of “Small Business Revolution — Main Street,” Pennington’s flagship show, Trading Spaces, is set to come back on air on the TLC network in April.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Want to Step Up to Your Biggest Small Business Challenge? Read This First” was first published on Small Business Trends

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7 Ways A Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

Sponsored Post

Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Benefits

Did you know that more than half of Americans want their own personal AI assistant, and why not? Having a cloud-based virtual assistant to hand your tasks off to is like a dream; your own guy or girl Friday that can handle everything from scheduling to research, project management, and even sales.

Happily, with the rise of cloud based virtual assistants, this dream is coming true. And, for entrepreneurs, there are many benefits to using one.

What is a Cloud Based Virtual Assistant?

Before we jump into the benefits however, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page as to what a cloud based virtual assistant is.

A cloud based virtual assistant is an app that understands “natural” language text or voice commands and can complete tasks on your behalf. In other words, you can talk to the app using real, everyday words. In addition, the app can live online or on a device like your smartphone.

What we’re not talking about here is a human virtual assistant. While those folks can provide many benefits of their own, they’re not part of this conversation.

Whether online or on a device, one critical feature of a cloud based virtual assistant is its ability to connect to multiple systems and sources of data. For this reason, they are “cloud-based” because they can reach into the cloud to access what they need. As you’ll see below, this is how they get work done for you.

Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Benefits

Cloud based virtual assistants help you be a better entrepreneur by taking on the tasks that can fill your time so you can focus on higher-value work like delighting your customers and finding more of them.

Here’s a look at some of the ways you can use a virtual assistant.

Onboarding Sales Leads

You can waste a lot of time with tire-kickers, folks who download your sales materials but aren’t really interested in buying anything.

Tools like Conversica help you discover your most promising sales leads by starting a conversation that eventually leads to contact with a human. Once you’ve got them on the phone, the business is yours to win.

Meeting Scheduler

One of the most time-consuming tasks is setting up a meeting. You send the invite, they say they can’t make it and off you go with that lovely game we call “let’s see if we can find a time and place to meet in under 10 emails.”

Wouldn’t it be great to hand off that whole process to someone else? Well, thanks to the rise of virtual assistants like, you can. This tool handles all the back and forth to set up meetings and all you have to do is provide some basic input at the beginning.

Now you can spend more time actually meeting rather than trying to set the meeting up.

Meeting Facilitator

Once your meeting is set up, a virtual assistant can help you make the most of your time together. This technology is still evolving, but we get an interesting peek into the future of virtual meeting assistants in the infographic below from Cisco; a future that is starting to arrive today. The future looks pretty sweet from here.

Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Benefits

Project Management Assistant

Project management is a key element of a well run business. Using project management helps assure that work gets done and delivered on time and as promised.

However, finding out what’s going on at any one moment can mean a lot of time spent running down updates and statuses.

Now you can get around that problem by using a virtual assistant like the one created by integrating Redbooth and Cisco Spark. This “virtual project management assistant” can run down questions like, “Where’s everyone with their tasks,” “How much time is left before this part of the project is done?”, and “How many hours should I bill my client this month?”

It’s nice to be able to spend your time working in your business rather than on your business, right?

On-Demand Info

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to get critical information on the fly just by asking a question? That’s exactly what Dickey’s Barbecue is starting to roll-out to their chain of franchise restaurants.

Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of the Dallas-based company, says franchisees can use an Amazon Echo to ask Alexa for “up-to-date data on daily sales, inventory levels, scheduled deliveries by suppliers, customer ratings, and even optimal smoking times.” And that’s all without leaving the kitchen.

Outside of the work area, folks can still access visual data as well.

Personal Assistant

Aside from scheduling, cloud based virtual assistants can make it feel like secretaries have come back in style. Some examples include:

  • Providing reminders so you never miss a meeting,.
  • Adding items to your to-do list,
  • Reading your email to you and even replying,
  • Making conference calls for you so you don’t have to remember to bring the number,
  • Finding flights, lodging and restaurants for you locally or when you travel,
  • Finding out the weather forecast and reporting news you’re interested in hearing.


After a hard day at work, wouldn’t it be nice to come back to a comfortable home? Using cloud based connections with smart devices, a virtual assistant can make sure that the lights are on, soothing music is playing and the temperature is just right.

A well-rested and relaxed entrepreneur is an effective entrepreneur and a cloud based virtual assistant can help you enjoy your time out of the office.

Additional Resources

The links below lead to handy posts that can help you learn more and get started with a cloud based personal assistant today.

  • 12 Voice Assistants Available Today to Help Organize Your Business
  • 24 Ways Amazon Alexa Skills Can Help Your Small Business Today
  • Onboarding Microsoft’s Cortana to Your Small Business Team

For more on how to offer AI virtual assistance as part of a larger cloud based business service, contact Meylah today.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “7 Ways A Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Marcus Tartt shares resources available to small businesses in various districts of San Francisco

Marcus Tartt shares resources available to small businesses in various districts of San Francisco
This is the San Francisco Small Business Week interview with Marcus Tartt, Center Director for the Bayview Center

Discover a variety of resources & new members of your community at our event May 12-17, 2014

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