Pricing, the Key to Your Business Success

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Profits are the key to any business success. Pricing is one of the major elements to determine your bottom line
profits.

The biggest challenge I see in this economy is the knee-jerk reaction to cut pricing to bring in more sales. That only works if you have a great upsell process or lifetime value of a new customer or client after the initial sale. For example, the well-known story with one of Jay Abraham’s clients. He was consulting with a coin dealer and they wanted to increase sales. Jay asked if they bring on a first-time new client to collecting coins, on average once they make their first purchase how many times do they come back in the year to make another purchase. The coin dealer, said, “about 8-9 times on average. Once they get started they are hooked!” Jay was incredibly excited.

His strategy was to focus on getting new customers with that incredible back end. Let’s offer each new customer an incredible deal they can not refuse. Let’s offer each new customer for a limited time a 50% equity position in the first coin they purchase. Meaning, you will lose 50% on each new coin, not break even, but lose money! If the coin was worth $100, offer them only $50 to give them a win early on. The business owner thought Jay was crazy of course. But Jay explained the math of having 1,000 new customers and if each one invested 8-9 more times at full price in a given year, what the impact would be, it was staggering.

These may not be the exact numbers, but the business went from about $3 million in sales to about $150,000 million in sales in about 3 years! That is a rare exception to cutting prices, and even losing money on the front end to bring in a new client or customer.

Most small business owner may not have a product like this where the consumer is so passionate and addicted to the product or service.

Let me point out one of the most important components of price:

If you or your staff only can sell by price, and your solution by you or your staff is to offer a discount to convert a new client or customer that means you do not have to develop sales or marketing skills. If your business cannot sell by anything else but the price, it is doomed to fail eventually (you might be thinking, WalMart® sales by low price only, that is not true, they have great systems advantages and others that you do not see).

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The Joint Venture Success Formula for Massive Lead Generation

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Does your business need more high quality leads at the lowest cost? We are not talking about facebook or Google ads, but leveraging other’s people’s resources. There are companies that have invested millions of dollars on their database to bring in clients and if you can add value to help them do even better, convert more leads, renew more clients at no cost to them; you will look like a hero! Yet, I find 95% of business owners skip this powerful form of marketing. Even at NCP when we have new employees and they are calling our database to find out who may now be ready to incorporate, they also spend time calling on joint ventures opportunities, it is required! I would recommend you finally implement this into your marketing calendar on a weekly and monthly basis.

Let’s cover a few basics then get right into your JV success formula for massive lead generation. The host-beneficiary relationship is made up of two components, the host (the one with the list of clients and is having a marketing message being sent through email, website, webinar or teleseminar are most popular. The beneficiary is the one benefiting from the back end to the marketing message being sent to the host’s list. You are asking one simple questions. Where do my clients or customers go before they need my product or service? Write that one down and put it on your computer. It should be in front of you all day! Now when you speak to clients, leads, vendors it will always be in your awareness. You will be asking yourself, does this client, lead, vendor market to my ideal clients or customers and how can I add the most value so they will be excited to want to send a marketing message to their list!

Recap, if you are looking for more leads and clients, it is very simple, you are the beneficiary. The company who will send the marketing message is the host. Do not wait for hosts to call you with beneficiary opportunities. At some point when you are a big star that may happen, but in the meantime, I would recommend you proactively go after it and make this part of your weekly marketing!

Now the important part, how you approach a host. This is what separates the men from the boys or the women from the girls. You must approach this in a way that it sounds like you are only interested in helping the host get better results. The minute it smells like you are looking only to promote your product or service, nothing happens.

 

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Doing Business in Multiple States -When Does Your Company have to Register? Part II

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Division of Tax Base
Now, that you understand nexus and the difference between soliciting business and promoting it, it is critical to understand the background of how the states divide up the tax base. The Commerce Clause requires that a state may tax only that part of a corporation’s income that is fairly attributable to its income-producing activities in the state. There are three general approaches in handling this division of tax base. There are:

  • Separate accounting
  • Specific allocation
  • Formulary apportionment

Separate accounting is based on the premise that it is both possible and practical to isolate the taxable income of portions of a business that a corporation carries on within a state. Based on practical and theoretical flaws, separate accounting is rarely used.

Specific allocation assigns certain types of income to particular states using nonformulary rules. It is generally applied to income not related to the operational or unitary business of the taxpayer.

Formulary apportionment divides a taxpayer’s business income among the states in which it does business. A formula is used to generate an apportionment percentage that is based on the relative amount of a taxpayer’s in-state activities.

So Which Approach do the States Use?
There is an act called the Uniform Division of Income for Tax Purposes Act (UDITPA). UDITPA is a state tax model for allocating and apportioning income among states. Nearly half of the states with a corporate income tax have adopted UDITPA.

UDITPA has created three tests for determining the allocation and apportionment of income among states. They are:

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Costly Mistakes Made with Your Business Entity

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Investing in a powerful tool and not using the tool properly does not make a lot of sense. I know when it comes to running a business it requires multiple hats to wear and very often you are off and running on 10 different projects, calls, appointments, presentations…and perhaps the very foundation of your business may be in jeopardy. Here are the top costly mistakes I have seen made over the past 20 years:

1. Not completing the transition from a sole proprietorship to a separate legal entity. If you started a business in your own name for a few months before you formed an entity odds are part of what you did you completed as an individual and you need to connect the dots to the new entity. If you filed a DBA (doing business as) with yourself as the applicant that needs to be cancelled and re-linked to the entity. That means your entity needs to be the applicant, not you! If you don’t do this you still are exposed to unlimited liability and filing a Schedule C with a
higher audit potential. Next point is to open a bank account in the name of the business, not just keep the account in your personal name. Use a business credit card in the name of the entity, not just your personal credit card and keep track of expenses. You will want to minimize the amount of debt that shows up in your personal name. Update all affiliate programs, vendors with your new entity information so any income is going to your business entity, not to your name personally. Update your websites, business cards, letterhead with the new name of your business. Another important tip make sure your website is in compliance, most are not, I would recommend www.autoweblaw.com simple software that has all the legal agreements you need on your website or blog.

2. Funding concerns. 95% of businesses fail within 5 years and undercapitalization is the #1 reason. The pattern I have seen is that small business owners are hoping for revenue to come in as the primary source of money to grow their business. What happens if your revenues are off or don’t come in at all? You may be working on that great new product and all your e-mails go out and no one converts. That is a real problem. The key is to model success. Almost all successful companies do not use only their own money to grow. I know you know the concept, “OPM”, other people’s money, yet are you doing that? Are you only self funding your business on your personal credit? Did you know that once the entity was filed the business credit bureaus will start creating a file. They scan the Secretary of State’s records to create a file with any new filings. They look for the name of the business, the start date, and name of the officers/managers the address…If you are not paying attention to how you fill out forms with the business address, business license, state forms you can create disconnects in the database. In one business credit bureau, NCP is spelled four different ways. The NCP part is the same, but one way has “Inc.”, one has “,Inc.” other has “, Inc” and the last one is “Inc”.

Did you notice the differences between the comma and period? That created four different files! Don’t make that same mistake. Unlike the personal credit bureaus, the business credit bureaus are very difficult to fix any mistakes. They have their own set of rules and are not set up for changes after mistakes happen. This creates a problem when it comes to developing credit for your entity because you basically have one shot at the apple to get it right the first time. Banks and vendors are very interested in your financial strength of your company. Now joint venture partners can check you out for free to determine who is stable in your operation. You may be losing business and not knowing it. It is really a must to be financially solid in your business and your developing business credit is a must for your long-term success.

3. Safe and risk assets. Mixing asset classes is a major risk to your wealth that is unnecessary. A risk asset is any asset that would cause liability to your entity. That may be a business, real estate, equipment, again, anything that may cause liability to an entity. A safe asset is one that does not cause liability to an entity, like cash, ownership of another company, investments…If your business falters and you need to reply upon your safe assets to recover short term, why unnecessarily put your safe assets at risk? It happens all the time. There are two reasons this may be happening to you, first, you have thought that your amount of safe assets are not large enough to protect. Imagine having $25K in a brokerage account in

4. Not clear on who does what? A partner can help you grow a business quickly and destroy it even faster if you are not on the same page. Very similar to being married. I have been married for 21 years with three girls and it is a lot of work and requires meetings, and discussions to do the best to be on the same page. Business like marriage can be very exciting at first and you really need to be able to communicate well as to what you are looking to accomplish. The fun part of the business is discussing how you will bring in revenue and all the possibilities that can happen with profits. The part that isn’t fun is the expense side of the ledger. First, you must agree upon what is actually considered an expense, does that include things like cell phones, travel, meals…? What happens if revenues are way off and there is not enough money to pay each partner and you need more capital from each partner to keep it going? This can be a very uncomfortable problem. It is best to presuppose the challenges ahead of time and see if you can calmly discuss them and come up with solutions that make sense. If you can’t get to first base on the uncomfortable parts before you get started that is a bad sign and perhaps you should NOT be a partner. In fact, odds are the business is doomed to fail if you can’t get through some of these basic uncomfortable discussions from the start. Now, that does not mean your partner is telling their spouse the same story. That can and often does create more issues. Having as much in writing from the start and a business plan in place makes the most sense. Almost ALL, not all, but close, partnerships that refuse to take the time to put things in writing fail. It is like clockwork. If anyone wants to start a business with you and they refuse to put things in writing, run! Most of the time the only one that makes money in that situation is the attorney’s after the partners sue each other! Take the time to be clear and put it in writing!

 

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Doing Business in Multiple States-When Does Your Company Have to Register?

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Establishing a separate legal entity is step one in separating your and business assets. The next step is to make sure you are in compliance, which can mean many things including compliance from a Secretary of State level, to compliance from a business credit level to compliance at a state taxation level (and federal). All areas are very important. Let’s discuss an area that is not often discussed until it is too late and that considers the multistate taxation rules which will help determine which states your entity will need to register to do business.

In our industry, where Nevada and Wyoming corporations are promoted this is the reason why benefits such as saving state corporate income taxes or privacy rarely comes into play because if you live and do business in another state, the Nevada entity will need to foreign register to do business in that state. At your state level, there may be state taxes and your name and information is probably going to be more exposed. Two important points, first if you are operating as an LLC taxed as an S corporation for example, it is a flow-through entity with no federal taxes paid and in many states, no state taxes. An informational return is required to be filed at the federal and state level (in most cases) and the tax is paid at the owner’s level. This comes into play when someone says, “I live in Arizona and I want a Nevada LLC taxed as an S corporation to save state corporate taxes here in Arizona.” There is not any state taxes on LLCs taxed as an S corporation in Arizona anyway. This is typically promoted in relation to a C corporation which has state corporate taxes in most states but usually is the wrong entity for the small business owner (because of double taxation and the goals of the small business owner, especially a home-based business owner is to have low overhead and high-profit margins). The second point is that privacy is many times overrated because I find there is a common pattern to strive for so much privacy and the basic asset protection is missing. Most do not think it through with capitalization, issuing ownership interest…

Back to the subject at hand, when does your company have to foreign register or qualify to do business in another state? There are two ways to look at this, what does the state say about this at the Secretary of State level and more specifically what does the multi-state taxation rules say about it?

Each state has some basic rules that may help in determining what is considered doing business in their state and therefore state taxes may be due. Let’s take a look at California and Texas. California is one of the highest taxed states in the country. They have an annual $800 minimal franchise tax fee that applies to all entities (there is an exception in year one for corporations). California has a state tax rate for all entities and that is why they spend more time on the California Franchise Tax Board website to let you know what is considered doing business. On this site, https://www.ftb.ca.gov/businesses/faq/734.shtml, the California Franchise Tax Board defines doing business in California as ‘doing business’ means actively engaging in any transaction for the purpose of financial gain. That is a very wide interpretation of what is considered doing business.

Texas does not have a state corporate income tax but they have a franchise tax. The franchise tax is a privilege tax imposed on corporations, including banking corporations and limited liability companies that are chartered in Texas. The tax is also imposed on non-Texas corporations that do business in Texas. The Texas Franchise Tax fee is just a fancy name for state income taxes. But from a marketing point of view if the state can promote it has no personal income taxes and hit the businesses harder that may help them from a political point of view. If you are doing business in Texas, like owning real estate by itself will trigger the Texas Franchise tax fee which Corporations pay the greater of the tax on net taxable capital or net taxable earned surplus. There are two approaches, one is the taxable capital of a corporation’s stated capital (capital stock) plus surplus. Taxable capital for an annual report is based on the end of the corporation’s last accounting period in the calendar year prior to the calendar year in which the report is due. The tax rate on taxable capital is 0.25 percent per year of privilege period. Earned surplus for an annual report should be reported beginning with the day after the ending date on the previous franchise tax report and ending with the end of the corporation’s last federal accounting period in the calendar year prior to the calendar year in which the report is due. The tax rate on earned surplus is 4.5 percent.

There is an easy way that the California Franchise Tax Board will determine if you are doing business in California, they will subpoena your business credit card and look at where the transactions take place. If they are all in California for example, and you formed a Nevada LLC and did NOT register to do business in California you will be subject to the California franchise tax fee plus penalties and interest. From California’s point of view, if you were doing business in Nevada and lived in California, most of your expenses should be where you are doing business. This is a good rule of thumb for any state. Does this mean anytime you go into another state your LLC or Corporation will have to foreign register? No. But more times than not you may be doing business in another state and not be realizing it and be subject to state taxes. The best way to blow this is to hire employees in another state. If you do that the entity will need to foreign register and pay taxes in that state. You may be thinking is having independent contractors an exception? Yes, that does not constitute doing business in another state. Does that mean the solution is just to have independent contractors only work for your company outside your state? No. You must follow the IRS’s test for employees vs. independent contractors. Don’t wait until it is too late to find out you really have employees working for you! Here are the tests: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/understanding-employee-vs-contractor-designation

When I started NCP back in 1997, several times during the first two years went to speak to Deloitte, the big global tax firm and invested $400-$600 per hour to understand these basic concepts because no one in our industry was addressing these issues or concerns.

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How to Work Backwards to Solve Any Business Problem

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Short and long-term success in your business will be the result of your ability to solve business problems which may include everything from legal, tax, management, marketing, lead and client issues. Successful entrepreneurs make decisions quickly and are slow to change their mind and unsuccessful people are slow to make a decision and change their mind quickly and often.

The first step is to look at any problem as an opportunity. If you have a client who complains about a portion of your website that does not work, instead of getting frustrated at the client, look at that as a real opportunity to improve your website. When you think about it, you are not even paying these people to point out your flaws and areas you need to improve. You are receiving free advice on areas that need fixing! Reframing what the problem means is step 1. You are changing the meaning to be that of an opportunity to improve!

One of the main reasons business owners do not solve many problems and it feels and looks like their business is not moving forward, they immediately conclude that is not working so let’s do something else.

A common example if your business is looking for more lead generation and you put more time and energy into social media this past month and you notice you have very little results and you immediately stop that next month and focus on article writing. After that does not work you invest your time in video marketing. You are consistently jumping around from one lead generation strategy to the next vs. digging deeper into “what part” of the first strategy did not work to the level you were hoping it would.

Here is my formula to solve any business problem

1. Clearly, define the problem and avoid generalization. Example, my lead generation is not working vs. my Facebook ads are not working to the level I had estimated. I am only receiving 100 clicks per week but only 10 opt into my list.
2. State your goal specifically and a time frame. My goal is to receive 100 opt-ins to my list per week starting in three weeks.
3. Focus on what part you can change (or test three parts at one time) to determine if that will help solve your problem. If you do have a team or a group to mastermind, allow others to give input to solve the challenge. I would recommend you use the Disney approach and when you brainstorm solutions allow for those ideas to flow without evaluation in the moment. If you start to evaluate ideas while people are still offering solutions you will find that many will shut down because their idea may be “dumb” or of no value.
4. Implement the new ideas to solve your problem.
5. Measure if you are getting closer to solving your problem. Specific measurement is a must. If you have leads you are looking to manage you may want to measure the ratios between a call to approach, approach to presentation, and presentation to close. Measuring ratios will help you isolate what part of your presentation is not working for you and where you need to focus your improvements.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you solve at least a PART of the problem or the entire problem. Other tips for success:

  • Model someone else who has solved the problem already. Find out what they are doing differently than you.
  • Find a coach or mentor who has experience in the area where you have problems. For me I did not have any management experience so I hired mentors in the area of management.
  • Focus on making small improvements in your business!
  • Allow yourself to win the game!
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