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BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP INFORMATION REPORTING CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY ACT SUMMARY One of the unique and often attractive features of a Limited Liability Company can be anonymity.  In most states, formation and registration of an LLC does not require disclosure of the owners or officers.  For various reasons, legitimate and not so legitimate, the owners of a business may not want to broadcast their ownership.  Whether there are genuine concerns regarding privacy and nefarious desires to avoid civil and/or criminal liability, people have availed themselves of this feature.  As such, it can be difficult to identify assets to enforce judgements or confirm net worth in the civil context.  Additionally, it can be difficult to trace financial and criminal wrongdoing to the actual bad actors. The Federal Government has decided to make things a little easier for itself by creating the Financial Crimes-Enforcement Network or FinCEN.  Try saying that five times fast!  In summary, the U.S. Treasury Department will require the vast majority of LLCs along with C and S corporations to report specific information about the business.  This will include information identifying the ownership of the company.  This is not necessarily a new thing for the shareholders of S and C corporations, but this will be a big change for the members of LLCs.   THE RUNDOWN Authority               United States Department of the Treasury Corporate Transparency Act (31 USC 5336(b)) Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Rule   Deadline                  January 1, 2024-January 1, 2025 for entities formed before January 1, 2024 Within 30 days of formation for  entities formed on or after January 1, 2024   Who Must Comply   Any entity that had to file a formation document with a state authority as part of its formation or registration as a foreign entity doing business in the United States.                    YES–Corporations (C, S, B[1] and P[2]), Limited Liability Companies, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships[3].                    NO—Sole Proprietors, General Partnerships. Exemptions                23 Categories of Exemptions and Exceptions to the rule, including inactive entities, nonprofits, entities that are already subject to federal reporting and regulations, financial institutions, and government entities. Corporate Information       Legal Name Trade Names or D/B/A Names Address Formation State TIN/EIN Ownership Information       Beneficial Owners. Owners with at least 25% ownership or who have substantial control the company directly or indirectly. Legal Name DOB Home Address Driver’s License, State ID, or Passport Number Picture of said ID   Duty to Update          Within 30 days of any change or need to correct information.   Failure to Comply     Civil liability $500/day Criminal penalty up to $10,000 and/or 2 years in jail   THE SOLUTION Resources              FinCEN

There is significant evidence that supply chains have “normalized.” Delivery times are fast and overall demand is low. Many companies are now looking at “longer-term” supply chain planning and changes. Some of these changes include multi-sourcing and digitizing supply chain operations. Geopolitical events and resulting tariffs/sanctions could quickly change the supply chain landscape, however, so it is more important than ever to be nimble with respect to strategic and tactical planning.

Do you dread networking for new business?  Here are some techniques to help you refine your approach so that networking becomes more enjoyable and productive. Several years ago I co-founded a networking group attended by experienced, successful professionals. What I didn’t anticipate was that many of these highly competent and engaging people struggled with networking. In off-line conversations they admitted to a host of challenges. Here are just a few of the things they shared with me: “I’m self-conscious in informal networking settings. I meet interesting people, but inside I’m so uncomfortable that I’m not fully there in the conversation.” “I know that I should be asking the other person thoughtful questions, but sometimes my mind just goes blank.” “My elevator speech isn’t effective.  No matter how many times I practice it and revise it, it feels like a speech instead of a conversation-starter.” “Networking conversations seem too forced and contrived to me; they just don’t feel natural.” These talented people were well informed about networking. They knew what to do, but putting it into practice was another matter entirely.  For most of these individuals it’s not that they didn’t know enough about networking. Rather, they didn’t know enough about themselves. They didn’t understand the psychological barrier that prevented them from using the networking skills they already possessed. Most networking experts are quick to point out that the process is not about you; it’s about getting to know others and determining how you can help them. The individuals in my networking group would readily and enthusiastically agree with that notion. They were sincerely interested in others and yet in networking situations they still found themselves feeling ill at ease, distracted by their own internal state instead of focusing on the people they’re meeting. Why does this happen? In some cases it’s because they get tripped up by their own expectations. They tend to remember past networking encounters that didn’t go well, forgetting about the ones that were uneventful or good. Because of their selective memory they anticipate that subsequent networking encounters will be uncomfortable. As a result, they’re primed in advance to notice any self-consciousness or anxiety – and they get distracted from connecting with the person in front of them. In other cases, it’s because they’ve prepared themselves on the outside but not on the inside. They rehearsed their elevator speech so that they would sound natural. They put business cards in their pocket and made sure their shoes were shined. If it was a virtual gathering, they double checked their background and lighting. They thought about topics for conversation. All of that is fine, but it has very little to do with getting to know others and trying to help them. There is a disconnect between what they’ve prepared for versus what they’re trying to accomplish. No wonder they’re uncomfortable! Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself before a networking event: Remind yourself that your goal is not simply to initiate LinkedIn connections, and that it is extraordinarily unlikely that you will meet someone who is a perfect match for your product or service. Your primary goal is to get to know people and to determine how you might help them. Look through your own list of contacts.  Identify at least a half-dozen people who you could envision attending the networking event with you. Now that they’re top of mind, you’ll be better prepared to connect them to new people you meet at the event. Give some thought to how you can get to know the people you’ll be meeting. Don’t want to get stuck in the same old tired dialogue? Then don’t ask the same old questions. I like to make sure that I have a clear understanding of the other person’s work so I often ask, “When I’m with my own clients, how would I know if they were a perfect fit for your product/service? Put more simply, what should I be listening for?” Encounters between even the most well-prepared and thoughtful networkers can occasionally falter. Sometimes the conversation just doesn’t flow, or it stalls out despite your best efforts. And just because you’re trying to get to know someone doesn’t mean that you’ll click with him or her. I know a businesswoman who used to shy away from networking situations because she feared getting stuck in conversations that were going nowhere. She was concerned about appearing insincere or rude if she tried to extricate herself. I helped her rehearse a genuine yet gracious exit: “Thanks very much for telling me about your work; hopefully I’ll meet someone else here I can connect you with.” Networking can be enjoyable and profitable on many levels if you adopt the right mindset. A little bit of inner preparation can go a long way toward helping you focus outside of yourself, which is the best way to meet others. © Larry Gard, Ph.D.  2023

INTRODUCTION Effective sales strategies are crucial for success in the dynamic landscape of modern business. Business owners recognize the pivotal role that sales teams play in revenue generation and customer acquisition. As a result, they must invest in training programs to enhance the skills and capabilities of their sales force. Two complementary approaches are “Sales Skills Training” and “Sales Training Platforms.” The first half of this article focuses on the distinction between “Sales Skills Training” and “Sales Training Platforms,” the second half focuses on which types of Sales Training Platforms and Sales Skills Training align better with certain types of businesses. I’ll also leave you with a table listing the various sales-related business attributes (relationship vs. transactional, long sales cycle vs. short, etc.) to illustrate which types of sales training platforms align best with your business. Sales Skills Training: Fostering Personal Mastery Sales Skills Training programs, often illustrated by the offerings of Dale Carnegie, Franklin Covey, Huthwaite’s SPIN Sales Training, and many of the Sandler Sales Training programs, typically focus on honing an individual sales representative’s skills and capabilities. These programs often focus on developing interpersonal skills, communication techniques, and emotional intelligence. While some emphasize developing a relationship and becoming a “trusted advisor,” most promote more direct sales techniques to motivate a customer to sign. The core premise of most sales skills training is to equip sales professionals with the training, tools, and finesse to navigate diverse customer personalities and tailor their approach to identify and quickly develop solutions that meet specific customer needs. Dale Carnegie’s program, known for its enduring legacy, emphasizes relationship-building as a cornerstone of successful sales. It teaches participants how to establish rapport, handle objections gracefully, and foster genuine connections with prospects. Sandler Sales Training takes a more direct approach, emphasizing the importance of customer pain points while probing and quantifying the impact of inaction while trying to persuade the customer to take quick action. Both are effective given specific circumstances but are not interchangeable because they rely on different approaches. Each is most effective when aligned with the type of sale you’re executing. For example: Is it transactional- or relationship-based? Is it an indirect sale with a standard contract or a complex deal with a highly engineered solution, customized agreement, and multiple decision makers/influencers? Sales Training Platforms: Systematic and Comprehensive Approach Contrasting with, and yet supplementing, the individual-centric Sales Skills Training described above, Sales Training Platforms like Miller Heiman’s “Strategic Selling,” Holden International’s “Power Base Selling,” and Wilson Learning’s “The Counselor Salesperson” all provide a more systematic and comprehensive approach to sales training. These platforms offer structured methodologies and frameworks that guide sales teams through various stages of a more complex, relationship-based sales process. Individual Growth vs. Team Alignment One of the primary distinctions between Sales Skills Training and Sales Training Platforms lies in their focus on individual growth versus team alignment. Sales Skills Training programs prioritize enhancing personal skills, allowing sales representatives to refine their ability to engage and persuade clients effectively. These programs are particularly beneficial for developing rapport and trust one-on-one. In contrast, Sales Training Platforms emphasize a collective approach. They provide a unified framework that ensures sales teams operate cohesively, following a structured process that aligns with organizational goals. This team-oriented approach is especially relevant when dealing with complex, multi-stakeholder sales scenarios where coordinated efforts can make or break a deal. Adaptability vs. Systematic Consistency Another key difference revolves around adaptability versus systematic consistency. Sales Skills Training programs often equip sales representatives with a toolkit of interpersonal skills, allowing them to adapt to various customer personalities and situations. These programs empower sales professionals to think on their feet and adjust their approach as needed, fostering flexibility. Conversely, Sales Training Platforms offer a consistent methodology that guides sales teams through standardized steps. While this approach may appear rigid, it can be highly effective in maintaining quality control, especially in organizations with a large and diverse sales force. It provides a common language and process that everyone follows, ensuring a streamlined and predictable sales process. Conclusion One of the most critical aspects of developing an effective sales training program for your business starts with understanding the distinction between Sales Skills Training and Sales Training Platforms. While Sales Skills Training focuses on enhancing individual sales representatives’ interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, Sales Training Platforms offer systematic methodologies that guide teams through the sales process with consistent and coordinated efforts. Both approaches have their merits, and the choice between them should be based on an organization’s specific needs, go-to-market strategy, and the complexity of the deals they pursue. Ultimately, whether through the personal mastery cultivated by Sales Skills Training or the systematic consistency of Sales Training Platforms, the goal remains the same: to empower sales teams to achieve unparalleled success in a competitive business landscape. If your business needs a comprehensive, customized sales training program to elevate your Sales Team’s performance, let’s

INTRODUCTION To maximize performance, it is essential that sales leaders provide comprehensive ongoing training and coaching to their sales team to become a high-performance sales organization. In this article, we will explore the 8 types of sales training high-performance sales leaders deploy to ensure their teams have the knowledge and skills necessary to excel. These training types include Company, Industry/Competition, Products, Systems, Sales Processes, Sales Skills, Sales Management, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 1. COMPANY TRAINING Comprehensive knowledge of the company’s vision, mission, values, and culture is essential for sales professionals. Company training familiarizes sales teams with the company’s unique history and story, the organization’s goals, unique value proposition, target markets, and overall business strategy. This training helps salespeople align their efforts with the company’s objectives, effectively communicate the value of their offerings, and build trust with customers. By understanding the company inside-out, sales professionals can better represent its brand and deliver a compelling sales pitch. 2. INDUSTRY/COMPETITION TRAINING Understanding the industry landscape and competitive landscape is vital for sales professionals. Industry/competition training equips sales teams with knowledge about market trends, customer preferences, and the competitive landscape. This training allows salespeople to position their products or services effectively, address customer pain points, and differentiate themselves from competitors. By staying up-to-date with industry trends, sales teams can adapt their strategies and remain ahead of the competition. 3. PRODUCT TRAINING Product knowledge is the foundation of successful sales. Product training ensures that sales teams have a deep understanding of the features, benefits, and applications of the products or services they are selling. This training equips sales professionals to effectively communicate product value to customers, address specific customer needs, and handle objections. By being well-versed in product knowledge and high-impact use cases, sales teams can build credibility, instill confidence in customers, and close deals more effectively. 4. SYSTEMS TRAINING In today’s digital age, sales teams rely on various systems and tools to manage customer relationships, track sales activities, host video meetings, conduct webinars, query databases, generate pricing requests, and efficiently navigate sales processes. Systems training provides sales professionals with the necessary skills to leverage these tools effectively. Whether it is a customer relationship management (CRM) system, ERP system, order entry system, sales automation software, sales analytics, or a mobile platform, understanding how to navigate and utilize these systems optimally enables sales teams to work efficiently, enhance collaboration, and make data-driven decisions. 5. SALES PROCESS TRAINING A structured and standardized sales process is essential for consistent sales performance. Sales process training guides sales teams through the steps involved in a typical sales cycle, from lead generation to deal closure and post-sales support. This training helps sales professionals understand the importance of each stage, develop effective sales strategies, and improve conversion rates. By following a defined sales process, sales teams can identify bottlenecks, optimize workflows, and deliver a seamless customer experience. 6. SALES SKILLS TRAINING Sales skills training focuses on enhancing core selling skills such as communication, negotiation, objection handling, relationship building, and closing techniques. These skills are fundamental to establishing rapport with customers, understanding their needs, and influencing their buying decisions. Sales skills training provides sales teams with practical techniques, role-playing exercises, and real-world scenarios to improve their ability to engage customers, overcome objections, negotiate, and close deals. Continuous development of sales skills is essential for long-term success and adapting to changing customer expectations. 7. SALES MANAGEMENT TRAINING A well-structured and comprehensive training program equips sales managers with essential skills and knowledge to lead their teams effectively, resulting in improved sales outcomes and business success. Organizations can create a culture of excellence that fosters collaboration and consistency by providing managers with strategic planning, motivation, and performance management tools. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review (2018), companies that invest in sales management training experience a substantial increase in revenue and profit margins. Therefore, investing in sales management training is a wise and proven approach to elevating sales performance. Sales Xceleration offers an outstanding sales management training program called the Certified Sales Leader (CSL). It covers the foundations of successful sales leadership, including Sales Strategy, Business Planning, Hiring, Onboarding, Managing a Team, Motivating & Getting the Best from your Sales Team, Creating an Environment of Sales Success, Coaching & Sales Culture, Improving Poor Performance, Sales Meetings, Ride-a-longs, Roleplays, Understanding Customers, Forecasting, CRM, Compensation, and Mentoring. In addition to a certification exam, the CSL program includes practical tools, documents, and templates to improve all aspects of sales leadership. 8. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) TRAINING As technology continues to advance, sales teams need to harness the power of AI to gain a competitive edge. AI training equips sales professionals with knowledge about AI-driven tools and applications that can enhance their sales effectiveness. This training helps sales teams understand how AI can automate routine tasks, provide insights, and enable predictive analytics to improve customer targeting, lead generation, and sales forecasting. AI can be especially beneficial when developing templates, refining sales scripts, and improving marketing automation flows. By leveraging AI effectively, sales teams can optimize their workflows, identify new opportunities, and drive revenue growth. CONCLUSION To maximize your sales team’s performance, sales leaders and business owners must deploy a comprehensive range of training programs. Company, Industry/Competition, Products, Systems, Sales Processes, Sales Skills, Sales Management, and AI training are crucial elements that ensure sales professionals are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in their roles. By investing in these training types, business owners can empower their sales teams to stay ahead of the competition, effectively communicate value, and drive revenue growth in an ever-evolving sales landscape. If your business needs a comprehensive, customized sales training program to elevate your Sales Team’s performance, let’s

Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) are looking at numerous ways to help companies save money and improve processes in an inflationary environment. One of ERA’s most successful verticals in assisting companies with their freight costs. Need: Business leaders are looking at unique ways to combat inflation and reduce freight costs. Solution: ERA’s freight specialists put forward 10 unique ideas to combat rising freight costs as a catalyst to initiate a conversation with decision-makers and promote our expertise. Value: Decision makers who utilize ERA’s group of experts will save more than with their internal teams alone. Please take a look a the attached PDF. Reach out if you have any questions or if I can be of help.

If your business performance is lackluster, take a closer look at how it’s operating. And if you’re a business owner already running your company on EOS® – the Entrepreneurial Operating System — congratulations! You’ve already taken an essential first step toward gaining clarity around your goals and organizing the milestones for how you and your team will achieve them. But where and when does marketing fit into the equation? EOS® plugs marketing strategy into a two-day Vision Building™ Agenda and seven other important topics. That’s a great start, but it only scratches the surface. A comprehensive EOS Model® provides a visual illustration of a six-piece pie chart comprised of the components it deems essential to any business, including: Vision People Data Issues Process Traction Vision Powered by Marketing Strategy & Planning Arguably the foundation for success, and the focus of this article, a company’s vision typically encompasses its core values, purpose, passion, niche, and unique value. It is designed to inspire and motivate employees to work toward a common goal. So…what happens when there’s no clarity around the vision? No focused goal and zero hopes of achieving it. EOS® corrects this by getting everyone in the organization crystal clear about where they’re going and how they’ll get there. But here’s the thing — if you only consider yourselves in this vision, you’re leaving out an essential piece of the picture — your customers. Marketing plays a crucial role in clarifying a company’s vision. Effective marketing is about understanding your target audience and communicating your company’s purpose and values to them in a way that resonates. In other words, your vision needs to align with the needs and desires of your customers. By conducting Positioning Workshop, SWOT analysis, and competitive and industry research, you will unearth existing brand perceptions, gain vital insight to determine if those perceptions will help or hinder your value proposition, and allow you to adjust your vision accordingly. What if, for example, Patagonia’s vision to “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” lacked a sizeable enough target market that cared enough about Mother Earth to pay $299 for a jacket? It would be a company without any customers and any profit. Luckily for Patagonia, the company’s vision seems to resonate with the strategic marketing plan to your operating system, and you’ll get the insight you need to realize your vision. And stay tuned for our upcoming contact Incite Creative. We have over 23 years of marketing expertise and have worked with businesses running on EOS® and welcome the opportunity to partner with EOS Implementers®. outsourced CMO services. In short, we become your company’s chief marketing officer and do so virtually and efficiently — saving you time and money. Since 1999 we’ve had the pleasure of building and boosting brands for a core set of industries. Our thoughtful process, experienced team, and vested interest in our client’s success have positioned us as one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most sought-after marketing partners for those looking to grow their brand awareness and bottom line. Stop paying for digital and traditional services you may not need. Our retainer, no markup model means our recommendations don’t come with any catch or commission. Our advice aligns with what you need and what fits within your budget. For more information, contact us at 410-366-9479 or info@incitecmo.com. 

Many relatively new macroeconomic and socioeconomic factors have changed how companies recruit, engage, and retain top talent. Factors include: Highly competitive labor market Wage inflation The Remote Workforce The Gig Economy The Great Resignation Has your recruiting process kept current with the changing business landscape? What does your strategic sales recruiting process look like, and how has it performed recently? When was it last updated? Is it time to reassess the effectiveness of your strategic sales recruiting process? I recently spoke to a sales leader struggling to find a new sales manager after his last sales manager left to join a competitor. He was frustrated because he had been unable to fill the position for over six months and had no qualified candidates in the funnel. To his credit, his sales team turnover was low, but it also revealed that because they hadn’t needed to use their recruiting process in years, they were unprepared when they needed to find this critical replacement. The market changed while they weren’t looking. They needed to update their entire strategic sales recruiting process – from where they looked for candidates, how to engage candidates, and the compensation plan they were offering. We discussed several options he hadn’t considered, including: Benchmarking his Sales Compensation Plan (see Amplify Article). Hiring outside his industry (“14 Techniques For Onboarding New Remote Employees”

Yea, a headache that’s a good example. A headache is a symptom, but the problem could be from lack of sleep or food or a myriad of other things. So what do most people do? Grab a couple of Motrin to try to help alleviate the symptom instead of using their brain and asking, “When was the last time I ate. Oh, it was eight hours ago. I betcha, that’s why I have a headache. Maybe I should eat something.” So is ChatGPT a good thing or a bad thing? As you can see, we had some fun writing this article. As for ChatGPT, we think it’s a good thing, but the jury is still out on how much it will help or hinder certain human behaviors, how much reliance people put into it using it as a crutch instead of tapping into their own creativity, how it will be regulated for authenticity, and if it will just push us all further into our devices instead of bringing us closer together. If, however, it’s used to help us be more creative and more productive together without losing everything that makes us human (sense of humor, diverse perspectives, truly, etc.), and our brands stand for something truly unique, I’m all for it. So go. Explore 

Effective branding includes everything that influences the opinions of consumers about you, your product, or your service. The ability to be authentic and humanize your brand provides a critical connection to your customers—one that engenders loyalty and increases sales. Your brand is your most important asset. Fact: Everyone has an existing brand, whether intentional or not. The key is to be proactive about your personal brand. Whether you are a budding entrepreneur, a mid-level executive looking to move up in your organization, a business owner, or a professional services specialist, paying careful attention to your personal brand is essential for long-term success. This article explores the importance of managing your personal brand. YOU HAVE A BRAND, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT One word: Google If you don’t take ownership of your brand, the Internet will do it for you. Have you ever Googled yourself? Go ahead. What are the results? Are you surprised? Is it the lack of information or some surprising uncomfortable results? It’s time to embrace your personal brand. If you have neglected your brand presence, it’s not too late. As with any endeavor, focus and consistency will generate positive results. Add search engine optimization (SEO) to the mix, and you will find that your brand will advance and opportunities will increase.

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I once had the thrill of interviewing Jerry West on management. He was “The Logo” for the NBA, although back then they didn’t advertise him as such. Only the Laker followers knew for sure. In 1989 the “Showtime” Lakers were coming off back-to-back championships.  Pat Riley was a year away from his first of three Coach of the Year awards. 

Can you Offer Too Many SKUs to Your Customers? The short answer is YES! A SKU, or Stock Keeping Unit, defines each different product version that you sell and keep inventory of.  There may be different SKUs of the same overall item based on size, color, capacity (think computer or cellphone memory), features, and many other parameters.  For build to forecast businesses, that number of variations can quickly explode and become difficult to manage. Your customers are busy and want ordering simplified. Of course, they may need (or want) more than one variation of a product. That is reasonable and a common aspect of business – one size does not fit all! But there is a point where too offering too many SKUs is not value added either for your customer or your business.  In his April 30, 2013 article “Successful Retailers Learn That Fewer Choices Trigger More Sales” in Forbes, Carmine Gallo discusses his experience and a study about “choice overload” by other authors. He writes about a retailer that “has discovered that giving a customer more than three choices at one time actually overwhelms customers and makes them frustrated…when the customer is faced with too many choices at once, it leaves the customer confused and less likely to buy from any of the choices!” Choice overload is well-documented in consumer studies but can apply in B2B as well. While customer satisfaction is important, another key concern is the often-hidden costs associated with a business offering and managing a large number of SKUs for a given product type. These costs include holding inventory, S&OP (Sales and Operations Planning) team time, small production runs, and scrapping inventory. Holding inventory takes up space, which may come with a cost or utilize racks that could be used for other products. Scheduled inventory counts take up employee time and may result in blackout periods when the warehouse is not shipping product.  The more SKUs there are, including extra SKUS, the greater the potential impact. The Sales team’s forecasting and the Operations team’s purchasing reviews that are part of the S&OP process can occupy more of their valuable time if they need to consider these times. If small orders or forecasts require a new production run, this could be costly and create excess inventory. Whether from this new production or past builds, eventually it will make sense to write off and scrap old inventory, another cost impact to the company. How do you know which SKUs to focus on if you wish to look at reducing your total number of SKUs? Start by examining SKUs that have: Low historic sales over a period of time Small variations between SKUs that customers do not value Older technology or model when newer option SKUs are available This requires a true partnership between Sales and Operations. It starts with educating both teams on the costs involved – neither group may be aware of the money and time impact to the company. Periodic (such as quarterly) reviews of SKUs that meet the above descriptions should become a fixed part of the calendar. A review of the data and other available for sale options should result in the identification of SKUs which may not be needed. At that point, it is helpful to have a customer friendly EOL (End of Life) Notice process by which you inform customers of last time buy requirements for this SKU and alternates available. It is usually best to provide some time for the last time buy in the interest of customer satisfaction, although that may not always be necessary. At a company that designed and sold electronics, a robust SKU rationalization process was implemented to help address these issues. A representative from the Operations team analyzed SKUs that met a version of the above criteria and suggested candidates for the EOL process. Next, a member of the Sales team reviewed them and, where appropriate, issued product change or EOL notices to customers, providing them time for last time buy orders when needed. These steps helped reduce the work involved in maintaining these SKUs while not leading to any customer complaints. A final note – sometimes it makes sense to continue offering low selling SKUs – to support customers buying other items (hopefully in larger quantities). It may be worthwhile to encourage them to keep coming back to you for all of their product needs and this may be a way to accomplish that. But it helps to understand that this is truly the case and not assume that this customer would not be equally happy with another, more popular, SKU.   Steven Lustig is founder and CEO of Lustig Global Consulting and an experienced Supply Chain Executive.  He is a recognized thought leader in supply chain and risk mitigation, and serves on the Boards of Directors for Loh Medical and Atlanta Technology Angels.

When it comes to careers, business owners are a minority of the population. In conversations this week, I mentioned the statistics several times, and each owner I was discussing it with was surprised that they had so few peers. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are over 33,000,000 businesses in the US. Let’s discount those with zero employees. Many are shell companies or real estate holding entities. Also, those with fewer than 5 employees, true “Mom and Pop” businesses, are hard to distinguish from a job. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Association, lists businesses with 5 to 99 employees at about 3,300,000, and 123,000 have 100 to 500 employees (the SBA’s largest “small business” classification.) Overall, that means about 1% of the country are private employers. Owners are a small minority, a very small minority, of the population. Even if we only count working adults (161,000,000) business owners represent only a little more than 2% of that population. So What? Where am I going with this, and how does it relate to our recent discussions of purpose in business exit planning? It’s an important issue to consider when discussing an owner’s identity after transition. Whether or not individual owners know the statistics of their “rare species” status in society, they instinctively understand that they are different. They are identified with their owner status in every aspect of their business and personal life. At a social event, when asked “What do you do?” they will often respond “I own a business.” It’s an immediate differentiator from describing a job. “I am a carpenter.” or “I work in systems engineering,” describes a function. “I am a business owner” describes a life role. When asked for further information, the owner frequently replies in the Imperial first person plural. “We build multi-family housing,” is never mistaken for a personal role in the company. No one takes that answer to mean that the speaker swings a hammer all day. Owners are a Minority We process much of our information subconsciously. If a man enters a business gathering, for example, and the others in the room are 75% female, he will know instinctively, without consciously counting, that this business meeting or organization is different from others he attends. Similarly, business owners accept their minority status without thinking about it. They expect that the vast majority of the people they meet socially, who attend their church, or who have kids that play sports with theirs, work for someone else. There are places where owners congregate, but otherwise, they don’t expect to meet many other owners in the normal course of daily activity. This can be an issue after they exit the business. You see, telling people “I’m retired” has no distinction. Roughly 98% of the other people who say that never built an organization. They didn’t take the same risks. Others didn’t deal with the same broad variety of issues and challenges. Most didn’t have to personally live with the impact of every daily decision they made, or watch others suffer the consequences of their bad calls. That is why so many former owners suffer from a lack of identity after they leave. Subconsciously, they expect to stand out from the other 98%. “I’m retired” carries no such distinction.       This article was originally published by John F. Dini, CBEC, CExP, CEPA on

In a recent research study by The Value Builder System™, they analyzed data from 20,000 business owners who completed a Value Builder assessment of their business and discovered that owners who have businesses dependent on them, known as Hub & Spoke owners are facing a 35% discount on the value of their businesses and part of the problem may be the degree of customization they offer. For the purposes of the study, a Hub & Spoke owner is someone who answered the question “Which of the following best describes your personal relationship with your company’s customers?” with the response, “I know each of my customers by first name and they expect that I personally get involved when they buy from my company.”  One reason customers want the owner to personally attend to their project is the degree of customization Hub & Spoke owners offer.  In fact, the study shows that Hub & Spoke owners are more than twice as likely to say they offer a complete custom solution for each customer.  Since the owner is usually the person with the most subject matter expertise inside their company, it’s not surprising customers want the owner’s full attention on their job. The secret to making a business less reliant on its owner is to stop offering a custom solution for every customer.   How Ned MacPherson Built More Value By Doing Less   Ned MacPherson is a digital marketing guru, so it’s not surprising that when he first started offering his time, it was in demand.   In the early days as a consultant, he offered all sorts of growth hacking services. But when demand outstripped his supply of time, Ned had a decision to make. He could either turn away prospective clients or build a team of consultants underneath him.  As a growth guy, the idea of treading water didn’t appeal to Ned, so he opted to build a team. However, to ensure his team could execute without him, Ned decided to focus on one service offering: post-click analysis. Rather than help optimize a website for the entire customer journey, Ned’s company would become one of the world’s leading firms on optimizing a customer’s journey after they opted in to a website.   Most digital marketing consultants offer a wide range of services, but Ned knew it would be impossible to remove himself if they offered help in too many areas. By specializing in post-click analysis, Ned and his team were able to streamline their offering. Demand for Ned’s time started to diminish as his employees became some of the world’s leading experts in a narrow slice of the analytics market.   Within seven years of starting Endrock Growth & Analytics, Ned had 70 employees, more than $2 million a year in EBITDA, and multiple acquisition offers.   

The sale of a business marks a major life event. It’s emotional, stressful, and exciting all at the same time. And unfortunately, it’s often a lot of work. Most business owners will only experience the process of selling a business once in their life. This is both good and bad news. On the bright side, you only need to get through it once. But many business owners aren’t ready for the process and risk leaving money on the table as a result. With many sellers relying on the sale to fund their retirement and lifelong financial goals, getting it right from the start is critical. Here are tips from sell-side business advisors on what to do (and not do) when selling a business. What to do (and not do) when selling a business Start thinking about selling your business early — really early One of the top mistakes sellers make when selling their business is not starting the process early enough. There are many reasons starting last minute can really hurt your bottom line. It’s not uncommon for business owners to assume they’ll never retire at some point during their life. But as often happens, life changes. Perhaps health concerns for you or a spouse make continuing to run your business difficult. Or maybe you eventually lose the excitement when getting up every day and want a change of pace. Sudden sales or immediate retirements Unfortunately, when business owners want to sell with a tight timeline (or fire sale), they may have fewer options to exit. It’s not uncommon for some buyers to want the owner and/or members of the management team to stay on for a period to help with the transition. If there’s an earn-out, it’ll usually require the seller to stick with the company for different milestones (time, financial, or otherwise) to earn the full purchase price. Earn-outs aren’t ideal for sellers, but if you’re unwilling or unable to consider deals with any continuation component, it could impact the sale price, timeline to find a buyer, or both. Make your business more sellable later by getting advice now Business brokers often recommend getting a valuation done years before expecting to sell the company. Sarah Grossman, Principal of BayState Business Brokers in Needham, MA, says this helps sellers “shape their timeline and any financial planning that needs to be completed prior to a sale.” Understanding the fair market value of the company is critical to setting expectations for the seller, but understanding the drivers of the valuation can help increase the sale price over time. Grossman says, “a [business] broker can advise them on things they can do in their business over the next few years to make it more saleable when it does go on the market.” How to maximize your cash at closing Aaron Naisbitt, Managing Director at Dunn Rush & Co, an investment bank focused on sell-side M&A in Boston, MA, emphasizes the importance of going to market and knowing what your business is worth. He says, “the biggest mistake many businesses owners make is not running a competitive process when the business is capable of attracting interest from a broad number of buyers. This mistake most often occurs when the owner has already made the second biggest mistake – not taking the time to educate themselves and prepare adequately for the process.” Not every business will be able to run a competitive process. But those that can, and don’t, “Will leave money and terms on the table if they do not do so” he adds. Getting professional help is key here as trying to negotiate a sale directly with a buyer might be short-sighted. Grossman says it’s not uncommon for sellers to be approached directly by competitors. She cautions sellers considering working with buyers directly as “They could be leaving significant money on the table without a clear understanding of the valuation of their company. Sellers also need to work with a broker and their advisors to understand a typical deal structure so that they can maximize their cash at closing.” The importance of understanding the terms of the deal cannot be overstated. This is where money is made or lost. Naisbitt cautions that sometimes terms can sound really good, but aren’t always common sense. He adds that without an advisor, sellers “Don’t know where to argue.” During negotiations, you have to consider “What is it that’s important to you and what are you willing to give up” he says. Exit planning is not time to DIY — assemble your team of advisors When selling a company, gathering your team of advisors early on is key to getting a successful outcome. Again, odds are you haven’t sold a business before and probably won’t again. We don’t know what we don’t know…and you only have one shot to get this right. Your team of business and personal advisors will be instrumental in getting the deal over the finish line. Your business advisory team may consist of: a business broker or M&A advisor, accounting and tax advisors, and transaction/M&A attorney. On the personal side, your sudden wealth advisor who focuses on helping individuals experiencing a transformative liquidity event. Be sure to involve your wealth advisor in discussions around deal terms too. For example, when considering deal structure, it’s important to ensure alignment with your objectives or financial needs. What are your income needs after the sale or do you have plans for a big purchase? Your advisor can help determine how much cash you need at closing and whether to consider the pros and cons of arrangements like an installment sale. And at closing, a financial advisor can help you determine Section 1202, realizing the gain over time with an installment sale, asset versus stock purchase, or state tax implications such as the charitable goals, legacy objectives for heirs, or estate tax planning strategies. Brokers explain what sellers are most unprepared for during the process Selling a business is a lot of work. In addition to running the company in the usual course of business, sellers also need to comply with a host of due diligence requests from the buyer’s team and the lender financing the transaction. The magnitude of this process is by far the most 

In March 2022, Florida enacted the politically charged Individual Freedom Act, informally known as the STOP WOKE (Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) Act. Less than two years later, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Eleventh Circuit blocked the enforcement of the Act on the grounds it violates employers’ right to free speech. This decision directly impacts employers in the Eleventh Circuit and will have a ripple effect on employers nationally.   How did the Individual Freedom Act (Stop WOKE Act) affect employers? The Act attempted to prevent employers from mandating training or meetings for employees which “promote” a “certain set of beliefs” the state “found offensive” and discriminatory. There are eight prohibited beliefs each relating to race, color, sex, and national origin. According to the Act, employers must not teach the following: Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex, or national origin. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. An individual’s moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin. Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect due to race, color, sex, or national origin. An individual, based on his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin. An individual, based on his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the individual played no part, and were committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin. Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin to oppress members of another race, color, sex, or national origin. Employers still had the ability to mandate employees attend sessions that either refute these concepts or present them in an “objective manner without endorsement.” This dictates how an employer deals with its employees and is particularly limiting in how employers address discrimination training. Employers who failed to adhere to the law were liable for “serious financial penalties—back pay, compensatory damages, and up to $100,000 in punitive damages, plus attorney’s fees—on top of injunctive relief.”   The Ruling – Honeyfund.com Inc. v. Governor [2024] In March 2024, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Eleventh Circuit served an injunction preventing enforcement of the Act. Despite the state insisting the Act banned conduct rather than speech, the court ruled the Act unlawfully violated the First Amendment’s right of free speech by barring speech based on its content and penalizing certain viewpoints. While certain categories of speech such as “obscenity, fighting words, incitement, and the like” are traditionally unprotected, the court pointed out that “new categories of unprotected speech may not be added to the list by a legislature that concludes certain speech is too harmful to be tolerated.” Florida is keen to appeal against the decision.   What does this mean for employers? Regardless of one’s opinions on the matter, this can be viewed positively from an employer’s standpoint. Employers in the private sector can control speech in the workplace, and this ruling confirms their autonomy will continue. Whether or not the rest of the country will follow suit remains to be seen. This case, in tandem with the US Supreme Court’s ruling to ban race based affirmative action, signals today’s intense political climate is likely to continue to impact how employer diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are approached. Employers should continue to review their DEI initiatives, ensuring they are in line with the latest precedents. Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest local, state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560      

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