Contributed by Lucy Gotell, Marketing Officer
At the beginning of 2014 we decided to try something new. Our social media efforts were heating up and the MRSB Marketing Committee wanted to find a way to encourage the entire team to get involved. That is, we knew the potential power of having individual staff members talk up our brand online, and we wanted to make sure we provided the support and incentives needed to make this happen.
So, in January we announced our very first Brand Ambassador Contest. The prize categories would be fun and fairly easy to pursue:
The Unbeatable Brand Ambassador would be the person whose social media presence was consistent, included more than one platform (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook were eligible) and would engage and inform his or her audience. Overall, this person would be revved up about social media and the company, adding value to MRSB's own efforts.
Second prize would go to our Best Resident Tweeter - someone who understands the power of Twitter and knows how to use it to gain positive attention for the business, as well as how to build an engaging persona on the platform.
Our Social Butterfly prize would go to someone whose content was consistently picked up and shared by others. They would have a natural knack for engaging friends and strangers alike, creating buzz around his or her topics of choice.
Sounds fun, right? We thought so, and just this month we awarded not three but FOUR prizes (two staff were equally deserving in the Social Butterfly category) to the excitement of the recipients. First prize was an iPad Mini and went to bookkeeper Linda Hicken, second was a $150 gift card for Futureshop and went to accounting technician Darlene Eldershaw, and the third was a $100 gift card to a popular local restaurant. Business development officer Stacey Evans and accounting technician Bev MacLaren were our third prize winners.
Because our contest went so well, and because we figure there might be others out there who want to know the best way of bolstering social media involvement within their own organization, we've created a handy infographic that provides some quick tips. We hope your efforts are rewarded as well as ours have been.
If you would like more information about this initiative feel free to email MRSB's marketing officer.
One of our annual highlights at MRSB Group is our staff retreat, which allots a full day of idea sharing, team building and initial planning for next year's business plan. This year was no exception as the team descended on Holland College (in the 'MRSB' room no less!) bright and early last Wednesday.
The day's professional activities were rounded out with a stellar guest speech by CBC personality Bruce Rainnie and some fantastic prizes. Here are a few of our favourite photos from the 2014 Staff Retreat:
Maggie and Jaclyn share a laugh over breakfast
Bruce was kind enough to bring a few copies of his book as door prizes for staff
After lunch it was time to join our breakout groups and get the brainstorming started!
Each group had some great ideas for what to include in next year's business plan
Darlene was one of four winners in our first-ever MRSB Brand Ambassador Contest, which rewarded staff for spreading the word about MRSB Group via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
We ended the day with a fun elimination draw for some great prizes, including a trip for two to Montreal! Rob won third prize, then drew the final name...
Val was second prize winner - a night's stay at the Holman Grand Hotel and a gift card to Redwater Rustic Grille - meaning Matt won the trip for two!
It does take some time and effort, but implementing a staff retreat is one of the best ways of engaging your entire team, hearing each staff member's direct feedback and motivating everyone to set personal and professional goals for the coming year. We highly recommend it!
Contact HR Manager Kathryn Mills for best practices in implementing a successful staff retreat
Part 2: Cash Flow & Tax Minimization
In our second installment, Tax Advisor Mary Ann Donahoe covers the ins-and-outs of maximizing disposable income and minimizing taxes in your golden years.
In our first installment of this series we discussed one of the most important, and often difficult, aspects of retirement planning as a business owner: deciding who will take over your business and how the transition process will play out. Assuming you’ve put some thought into this area, another question that most small business owners have leading up to retirement is, ‘Will I have enough cash flow to maintain my current lifestyle?’ Well, planning is the key to ensuring the answer to this is a resounding ‘Yes’.
The first part of the retirement cash flow planning process is figuring out how much after-tax cash you will require to maintain your current lifestyle or your ideal retirement lifestyle. The second step is to determine how best to access the various sources of funds you have accumulated over your lifetime.
There are a number of possibilities in terms of retirement cash flow funds that you may have accumulated, including Canada Pension, Old Age Security, company pensions, RRSP’s, investment portfolios, real estate, savings or GIC’s, retirement insurance plans, or a holding company that holds your excess business funds.
Each situation is unique when reviewing your estate plan and determining the best options, depending on the mix of taxable and non-taxable investments, how liquid they are (how quickly you can get the cash), the timing of withdrawals and current and future tax implications to name a few. What we aim for at MRSB in meeting clients’ cash flow needs is an optimal mix of taxable and non-taxable investments, keeping in mind tax minimization and estate planning.
To give you an example, below is a plan for a fictional couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Mr. Jones is 55 and Mrs. Jones is 53. They plan to retire in nine years but will start their Canada Pension when they each turn 60. Upon retiring they will sell their business for $400,000, will have a holding company worth about $350,000 and will also have a shareholder loan of $300,000. As you can see by examining the various columns below, this plan allows for a comfortable retirement income of about $100,000 per year after tax.
Each Comprehensive Review & Tax Planning (CRTP) plan is highly tailored to the individual and we work with clients to first determine your goals, then develop the steps to achieve them. So plan ahead and get started now to develop your retirement plan. It's never too early, and your 65 year-old self will thank you!
Contributed by MRSB Consulting Services
Being your own boss can be tough. Especially in a competitive, 24-hours-a-day corporate world, having a set of standards to live by as an entrepreneur is critical to the success of both your business and yourself.
There are lots of ideas out there about what makes some companies flourish while others fail, and of course there is no foolproof formula to guarantee money in the bank and a smile on your face. That being said, having worked with owners who've wildly succeeded and those who are still reaching for success, we can confidently say that the following factors play a big role in how you and your business perform.
1. Believe in what you sell
For some, it’s hard to believe that anyone would start out selling a product or service that he or she didn’t believe would benefit customers. But as countless infomercials and expensive product add-ons have proven, this is fairly common practice. While there are some who make a fortune selling shoddy products or shady investments, luck tends to run out as soon as the masses catch onto the havoc these people play on our trust and our wallets.
The truly successful entrepreneur grows his trade over time, forgoing quick cash grabs for a devoted client base that is willing to shout your praises from the rooftops. This only comes when you as owner create a quality product or service via hard work and deeply-held beliefs about the benefits you offer consumers.
Read this article about Apple CEO Tim Cook for further thought on the importance of believing in what you sell.
2. Remain client-centric
Why do you own your own business? If your answer is, “Because I hate desk jobs” or, “Because I wanted to be financially free by age 45,” then you’re probably being honest. But your thinking isn’t necessarily in line with what actually drive success. It’s one of the most straightforward but oft-forgotten rules of business ownership: Your business exists for your customers, period.
The right answer to the question above is along the lines of, “I’m in business because I offer a service that my competitors don’t offer, and which my target market needs.” Simply listening to what customers have to say about what you’re selling can go a long way in ensuring you are giving people what they need. The best part is that most consumers will pay a little more for something they know is a cut above the rest.
So send out that survey, email your loyal clientele to get their input and at each stage of business development think, “What would my best customer think of this decision?”
3. Consistently take initiative
You probably heard it at least once during the course of your education, whether grade school or university: “Take more initiative!” It’s an important lesson for students, and just as critical for business owners.
To truly take initiative means to turn one’s ideas and intentions into action. It can be all too easy to sit on our heels or defer to someone else’s judgment, but as captain of your own ship it is imperative that you own your decisions, and make them before the chance – whatever it may be - passes you by.
The rewards of following this rule? Heightened awareness of opportunities, ability to confidently seize them and a sense of mastery over your fears. Enough said!
4. Maintain cash flow
As much as a good attitude and willingness to take risks matter in business, we still measure much of our success in terms of how much disposable income we bring in month to month.
You don’t need to be an accountant or financial advisor to attract cash and manage it properly. There are a few basic rules you can start with, such as keeping 10 to 20 percent of your monthly revenues on-hand for future reinvestment, understanding your profit margins, negotiating optimal payment terms with vendors and monitoring your inventory turnover levels. Each of these and other tactics will ensure you are doing all you can to optimize how cash flows into, and out of, your business.
5. Know when to delegate (and find the best ones)
Sometimes the best way to do something is to not do it at all. That is, find someone who is better equipped than you to complete important tasks. We know; you started this thing and you know your own business inside and out. But there are numerous reasons why delegation is often the best course of action.
Finding someone with expertise in areas like financial management or advertising can save you hours of unnecessary work. And if you think you have to pay someone for the 50 hours it would have taken you to complete a task outside your normal realm, consider the fact that an expert has been doing this type of work for far longer than you have and should be considerably more efficient at it.
Effective delegation also allows you to focus on areas of your business where your efforts and input truly make a difference – management hiring decisions and long-term strategy come to mind. The point is, you’re good at lots of things, so let someone else fill in the gaps.
6. Strategize and prioritize
We might be a tad biased on this topic, seeing as a large part of our business is made up of strategy related consulting engagements. It doesn’t erode the importance of putting your goals down on paper, however.
A business plan is the foundation on which all major decisions can be bounced against over the course of several years. By clearly outlining your goals, resources and mandate, and then sharing that with all stakeholders, you set yourself up for long-term success versus playing things by ear. A strategic plan takes things a step further, honing in on what it takes – in precise detail – to make sure a set of specific goals is reached within a certain timeframe.
Do yourself a favour and draft your business plan now. It will save you time and provide focus when you really need it.
So that’s our rundown of what makes for a successful, effective business owner. There are plenty of other traits that will make or break your success, and we’re sure that as an entrepreneur you’ve already got what it takes. For more information on any of the service areas provided by MRSB Consulting Services, feel free to visit our Team page and contact an advisor.