ASSESSING THE HEALTH OF YOUR BUSINESS

In today’s business climate, it may be more important than ever for companies to operate at maximum efficiency and with a keen awareness of the potential impact of changes in their industry and the economy. Using a SWOT analysis to take a closer look at your company’s internal operations, as well as its position in the marketplace, may help you avoid costly mistakes, improve your management practices, and refine your long-term strategic goals.

The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool designed to assist an organization in identifying the internal and external factors likely to affect its ability to achieve its objectives. It can also be used to help management formulate ways to enhance processes and prepare for potential challenges. While some businesses regularly conduct these assessments, a SWOT analysis can be especially helpful prior to making a major strategic decision.

To conduct a SWOT analysis, start by evaluating where your company currently stands in each of the four categories. Under the heading “strengths,” list the areas where your business currently performs exceptionally well or possesses certain competitive advantages. Your company may, for example, have experienced and committed employees, a long history in the community, or products and services that have been shown to be effective. Under the heading “weaknesses,” make a list of areas where your company could show improvement. These weaknesses may include, for example, cash flow problems, high levels of debt, a key employee who is about to retire, or inefficient and aging IT systems.

If you have trouble developing an objective assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, imagine that you are viewing your business from a variety of perspectives, such as that of a client, a vendor, a staff member, or an investor. The comments you have received from others about your business can help you to determine more accurately the areas in which your group excels, as well as those in which improvement is needed.

Next, take stock of the external environment by evaluating potential opportunities and threats. When compiling a list of “opportunities,” think about the possibilities, both large and small, for expanding your offerings or creating new funding streams. These may include, for example, partnering with another business, adding new products, or intensifying marketing efforts in a new target demographic. Under the heading “threats,” list all of the outside influences that could prove detrimental, such as downturns in the economy, shifts in client demand, changes in the legal or political landscape, or natural disasters.

After compiling your own SWOT list, convene a meeting of members of your management team, professional advisors, and a representative group of employees. When discussing strengths and weaknesses, focus especially on where your company stands in each of these areas relative to competitors, the company’s capacity to grow and to take on new challenges, and how your company’s strengths and weaknesses make it more vulnerable—or more resilient—in the face of outside threats.

Once you and your team have compiled a thorough SWOT list, this information can be used by the company to streamline practices and formulate new strategies. A SWOT analysis can help your company build upon its current strengths, make plans to improve areas of weakness, and prepare to avert or cope with potential problems.

Besides helping you hone your strategy and strengthen your position in the marketplace, a SWOT analysis can be useful when approaching investors and in improving your relations with board members, employees, and other stakeholders. A thoughtfully prepared inventory of your assets and liabilities, coupled with a strategic plan to act on those findings, can serve as tangible evidence of your management skills and willingness to take the action necessary to ensure that your business continues to develop or work towards its goals.

 

Important Disclosures

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or business owner.

This article was prepared by Liberty Publishing, Inc.

LPL Tracking #1-05257820

 

 

 

 

 

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6 TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS TO PROMOTE WORKPLACE WELLNESS

Work is stressful at times, and anxiety and stress among your employees may lead to performance issues and an overall lower productivity rate. By promoting wellness in the workplace, you may reduce employee burnout and make the work environment more pleasant and productive. Below are a few simple tips to follow to help promote wellness in your small business.

1. Give Them the Tools to Be Prepared

Preparation and organization may help to manage stress loads. Provide your employees with what they need to stay organized and prepared for their workday. A proper office space and supplies may be one part of this. Create team meetings that help to improve communications, so everyone in a project is on the same page.1

2. Encourage Breaks

Getting the proper rest is a vital part of physical and mental health for many. Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night could be enough to help you feel rested. However, many people fail to get that much quality sleep each night. Encourage your employees to take their breaks and rest or power nap if needed to be more alert and ready to tackle the rest of the day.1

3. Promote an Active Lifestyle

Exercise is another essential component of physical and mental health. Many employees have sedentary jobs, which give them little physical activity during the day. Consider offering gym memberships or membership reimbursements up to a certain amount. This practice lets employees know you’re concerned about their wellness and supports them to get the exercise they need to stay healthy.1

4. Encourage Ideas

Part of mental wellness is being involved in the goings-on in your company. When employees feel like they are a part of the decisions, they are more likely to feel invested in the company goals, appreciated, and happy in their workplace. Try to include employees in meetings and encourage them to voice their opinions. Even something as simple as a suggestion box may help employees feel heard and bring some good ideas to the company.2

5. Review Your Health Insurance

While health insurance is sometimes expensive for small businesses, it is a vital component of your employees’ well-being. Review your policy on an annual basis to check the coverage, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses. If deductibles or copays are too high, employees may be less likely to address their health. Find ways to make healthcare affordable for your employees, whether that is through a lower deductible or a higher percentage of coverage. Remember, better employee health may mean fewer sick days and heightened productivity.2

6. Have Some Fun

Even if you’re the boss, it is okay to have fun with your employees. Sponsor company activities and events where employees are able to socialize. Create a more relaxed environment while fostering a team mentality.2

Healthy employees are more happy and productive in most cases. Follow the tips above to help promote workplace wellness and create an environment that is healthy and happy for all.

Footnotes

110 Quick Ways to Promote Workplace Wellness, Glassdoor, https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/10-quick-ways-employers-promote-workplace-wellness/

210 small business wellness tips, NH Business Review, https://www.nhbr.com/10-small-business-wellness-tips/

 

Important Disclosures

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or business owner.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by WriterAccess.

LPL Tracking #1-05267162

12 THINGS INVESTORS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SECURE ACT 2.0

In late 2019, SECURE Act was passed as a way to help Americans save more for their retirement. In March 2022, the SECURE Act 2.0 has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and aims to improve the goals of the original SECURE Act. The Senate proposed a similar bill in May 2021, and as the House’s version moves forward, the two bills will likely combine before the final Senate vote. Here are what investors should know if the SECURE Act 2.0 passes as proposed:

#1- Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) age will increase from age 72 to age 75 with this RMD schedule:

  • Age 73 starting in 2023 (for individuals who reach age 72 after Dec. 31, 2022, and age 73 before Jan. 1, 2030).
  • Age 74 starting in 2030 (for individuals who reach age 73 after Dec. 31, 2029, and age 74 before Jan. 1, 2033).
  • Age 75 starting in 2033 (for individuals who reach age 74 after Dec. 31, 2032).

#2- RMD penalties would decrease. Currently, for investors who forget to take their total RMD, there is a 50% penalty on the RMD amount missed. The SECURE Act 2.0 would decrease the liability to 25%, and if the mistake is promptly corrected, it drops to 15%.

#3- Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) would be enhanced. People aged 70½ and older can transfer up to $100,000 tax-free each year from their traditional IRAs directly to the charity. The SECURE Act 2.0 would index the cap each year for inflation. It would also allow a one-time transfer of $50,000 through a charitable remainder trust or charitable annuity.

#4- Catch up provisions for 401(k) and 403(b) plan participants ages 62, 63, or 64 would increase by an extra $10,000 per year. Participants over age 50 enrolled in these retirement plans can currently contribute $6500 more for 2022. The SECURE Act 2.0 would provide an even more significant boost of $10,000 in catch-up contributions to investors in their 60’s.

#5- Catch-up contributions must be made into a Roth IRA instead of the employer-sponsored pre-tax retirement savings accounts starting in 2023 (in the house version). Currently, the employee can decide which account they want their catch-up contributions to go toward, either the Roth IRA or the 401(k) or 403(b).

#6- Catch up limits for IRA and Roth IRA owners ages 50 and older would be indexed for inflation. Since 2006, the $1000 extra hasn’t increased, regardless of inflation.

#7- Employees would automatically enroll in their employer’s retirement savings plan. Employees will automatically be enrolled at a 3% contribution rate but can opt-out or save less or save more up to their IRS contribution limit each year.

#8- Employee retirement savings plan contributions would automatically increase each year by 1% up to a maximum of 10%.

#9- Employers can contribute their match into the employee’s Roth IRA or pre-tax retirement savings account. Currently, all employer matching dollars deposit into the pre-tax account.

#10- The Savers tax credit would simplify in one 50% credit. Under the SECURE Act 2.0, the saver’s credit would phase out at AGIs over $24,000 for single filers, $36,000 for head-of-household filers, and $48,000 for joint filers. If 2.0 passes, retirement savers with the lowest incomes will get more significant tax benefits, while others would no longer qualify.

#11- Employers can contribute their match and their employee’s contribution while the employee pays on their student loans.

#12- Part-time workers’ 401(k) plan participation eligibility moves from three to two years. The SECURE Act will shorten the timeline for part-time workers that want to participate in their employer’s retirement savings plan.

While the SECURE Act 2.0 hasn’t become law, it will impact investors differently depending on their situation. Keep in touch with your financial professional as the bill moves into the Senate or if you have questions about the act.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.kiplinger.com/retirement/retirement-plans/602821/secure-act-2

https://www.investopedia.com/house-passes-secure-act-2-0-5224312

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2954/text

 

 

Important Disclosures

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by Fresh Finance.

LPL Tracking #1-05269778

5 WAYS A FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL COULD BE A SMALL-BUSINESS OWNER’S BEST FRIEND

As a business owner, you may assume you do not need professional financial advice until you hit certain milestones such as $1 million in sales, having ten employees, or some other tangible measure. However, financial professionals may benefit small-business owners no matter what the stage of their business. The earlier you seek financial advice, the more this advice might help your business as it grows. Here are five ways a financial professional could be your ally as a small-business owner.

Saving You Time and Energy

Having a financial professional to help you plan the economic future of your business might allow you to concentrate on more immediate needs. It may be tough to make long-term projections when just trying to get through each day. Delegating these tasks to a financial professional might help you lower stress. You are able to spend your time managing your operations while your financial professional works on items such as tax-saving strategies, expansion, cash flow projections, and anything else your business may need to manage finances.

Saving You Money

It might be tough to get a comprehensive overview of your business as an owner. Your financial professional might find ways to save you money by taking such a view, tracking your budget expenditures, and seeing where you might be overspending. Cutting out this extra spending might free up capital that you may use to hire more employees, do more marketing, stock more products, or provide your workers with raises.

Evaluating Market Trends

Many small businesses operate in competitive markets, so having a finger on the pulse of relevant trends may be the difference between a booming business and a struggling one. Some financial professionals offer marketing assistance, which may include evaluating market trends. Such an evaluation helps decide how to advertise your business in ways that make sense for your area.

Helping With Investment and Retirement Planning

Every business owner’s investment and retirement needs are different. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to saving for retirement. Your financial professional may run through the available options, such as a simple individual retirement account (Simple IRA), a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA, a traditional or Roth IRA, or even a business 401 (k) plan. Having savings outside your business should be considered part of any business owner’s retirement plan.

As your business expands and begins earning more income, your financial professional may help you determine some ways to invest this extra cash flow to keep your business running well.

Helping With Succession Planning

Finally, a financial professional could help you create a succession plan for your business. A succession plan determines what happens to your business when you are not available to run it. Thinking about this plan may not be a pleasant thing to do; however, it might be crucial to maintaining the value of your business. With your financial professional’s assistance, you could draft a succession plan that provides clear instructions on keeping your business thriving even in your absence.

 

Important Disclosures

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or business owner, nor is it intended to provide a recommendation for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial professional prior to investing.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

This article was prepared by WriterAccess.

LPL Tracking #1-05269108

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO INVESTING AFTER RETIREMENT

You may be retired and considering investing some of your retirement nest egg. Depending on your situation, it is crucial that investing in the stock market, bond market, or other investments does not jeopardize your retirement savings. For this reason, investments that preserve your initial contribution but still provide growth opportunity is essential. Here, we will start with the basics for beginners interested in investing after retirement:

Review your financial plan- again.

Investors often think that financial planning is for the accumulation phase, but financial planning is also for the spending down phase. With the pandemic and recent market volatility, meet with your financial professional to work towards aligning your retirement portfolio allocations with your investment strategy. Also, consider if investing will negatively impact your retirement income or not.

Account for Risk

Investing in a down market can allow for the purchase of more shares. However, retirees need to be aware of the investment’s risk score since they will hold the investment for a shorter duration due to withdrawing each month. Their investment may need to liquidate during a period of low valuation, causing a loss on their initial investment. For this reason, a retiree’s investments should correlate with a lower risk score.

Watch inflation

Inflation can cause a portfolio to liquate faster than expected due to inflation risk. But positioning it by increasing positions such as gas and energy and consumer staples may produce a higher return than the inflation rate. However, once inflation is on the decline, it is time to reposition to investments that are not interest-rate sensitive.

Consider guaranteed income investments.

Often retirees view bonds as ‘safe investments,’ but that is not necessarily true today as bond rates are below the inflation rate, resulting in negative performance.

Another investment to consider is a Fixed-indexed annuity. Fixed-indexed annuities produce returns based on an index, such as the S&P 500, and your initial investment is protected. Fixed-indexed annuities are a contract with an insurance company that provides you with guaranteed income in retirement.

Explore Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

REITs invest in commercial properties or mortgages and, by regulation, must distribute 90% of their taxable income in the form of dividends to investors. REITs develop and improve their properties to produce returns, eventually sell them, and reinvest in other properties, making a positive return for investors.

Work with a financial professional

If you are retired and considering investing, now is a great time to meet with a financial professional to determine a strategy aligned with your goals and investment horizon.

 

 

Important Disclosures

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial professional prior to investing.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

Inflation risk is the risk that unexpected changes in consumer prices will penalize an investor’s real return from holding an investment. Because investments from gold to bonds and stock are priced to include expected inflation rates, it is the unexpected changes that produce this risk. Fixed income securities, such as bonds and preferred stock, subject investors to the greatest amount of purchasing power risk since their payments are set at the time of issue and remain unchanged regardless of the inflation rate.

Alternative investments may not be suitable for all investors and should be considered as an investment for the risk capital portion of the investor’s portfolio. The strategies employed in the management of alternative investments may accelerate the velocity of potential losses.

Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIA) are not suitable for all investors. FIAs permit investors to participate in only a stated percentage of an increase in an index (participation rate) and may impose a maximum annual account value percentage increase. FIAs typically do not allow for participation in dividends accumulated on the securities represented by the index. Annuities are long-term, tax-deferred investment vehicles designed for retirement purposes. Withdrawals prior to 59 ½ may result in an IRS penalty, and surrender charges may apply. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

S&P 500 Index: The Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index tracks the performance of 500 widely held, large-capitalization US stocks.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by Fresh Finance.

LPL Tracking # 1-05259889

4 KEY INVESTMENTS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER AS A SMALL-BUSINESS OWNER

As a small-business owner, you may be looking for the next big thing—an investment that might double your profits within the next year or allow you to maintain your income while working just a few hours a week. However, business success may depend on many incremental investments you make along the way.

By including investments that fall outside the financial realm, you may better position your business and yourself to take advantage of future opportunities. Here are four key investments that may help your business thrive.

Invest in Your Health

Starting a company is all-consuming. You may find yourself relying on too many fast-food meals and getting too little exercise as you put in the long hours needed to get your business going. Nevertheless, business success may be anticlimactic if you are not healthy enough to enjoy it.

Invest in yourself by taking time for self-care, exercise, time with family, and healthy meals. Realize that your business may only be as healthy as you are.

Invest in Your Education

Education is more accessible than ever, including pay-per-credit-hour classes at local community colleges and online courses from some of the country’s most reputable universities. Small-business owners may take advantage of these educational opportunities to expand their knowledge on any number of subjects.

Perhaps you want a greater understanding of grants or loan opportunities that may be available. You might desire to learn about a new marketing strategy. Investing in your education may give you a knowledge base to support you throughout your entrepreneurial efforts.

Invest in Financial Professionals

If you try to run your business while also doing your taxes and keeping your books, you may find that there are not enough hours in the day to do everything. It is challenging to stay abreast of legal, tax, and regulatory changes that impact your business. Under such circumstances, financial professionals can be beneficial.

Having a financial professional handle your taxes and help you work towards making your business more tax-efficient may positively affect net income even with the existing revenues from sales. For example, you might change the way your company operates or the state in which your business is located to improve the tax efficiency for your business.

Invest in Your Business

When your business starts, it may be tempting to run it as lean as possible to boost profits and increase your attractiveness to lenders. But at some point, running your business too sparingly may create a problem. You might not capture the opportunities to make your business more efficient.

Whether upgrading equipment or purchasing new software, investing in your business may yield a higher return on investment if it frees up valuable employee time to help expand your customer base. Be sure to consider investments in technology and assets that might help your business perform better.

 

Important Disclosures

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

This article was prepared by WriterAccess.

LPL Tracking #1-05255895

 

MARKET VOLATILITY AND THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING THE COURSE AT DIFFERENT AGES

When you invest in the stock market, you want to see growth, but unfortunately, in most cases, investments do not grow all the time. Inevitably, the market goes up and down, and to safeguard your potential for long-term growth, you need to understand the importance of staying the course through market volatility. However, you also need to adjust your approach to investing at different ages.

Staying the course through market volatility has different implications at ages 20, 30, 40, 50, and into retirement. Check out these tips.

20s to 30s

At these ages, you should be actively saving for retirement. By investing early, you have the opportunity to amass more wealth than you do if you wait until you are older. When choosing your investments, keep your personal risk tolerance in mind, but don’t necessarily sell funds that drop in value. At these ages, you don’t need the funds for another 30 to 40 years, and as a result, you have the ability to ride through market volatility. Typically, at these ages, the best course of action when investments drop is to just do nothing.

40s to 50s

At these ages, retirement is looming on the horizon, and ideally, you should be investing as much as you can. Even at these ages if your investments drop in value, you shouldn’t necessarily sell. But you should consult with a financial professional and make slight changes as needed.

Keep in mind that while the market grows at an average of 7.2% per year, research indicates that the average investor only sees 5.3% growth per year — analysts speculate that this discrepancy may be due to investors selling or cashing out when the market drops.

60s to 70s

At this point, you should reach out to your portfolio advisor and make sure that you are ready to make the leap to retirement. As a general course of action, your investments need to be lower risk during these decades of your life, and your cash reserves should be higher. As a general rule of thumb, you should have at least two years of cash reserves in place. This gives you the flexibility to ride out drops in the market. Typically, when the market drops, it takes about two years to correct.

Retirement 

Now you need an investment strategy that helps you maintain your retirement funds. To deal with market volatility and to outlast downturns in the market, you should have five to 10 years of cash reserves or liquid investments in place. Depending on your financial objectives, you may want to replace high-risk investments with stable and predictable investments such as CDs.

Best Practices for All Ages

Regardless of your age, you should keep these tips in mind during times of market volatility:

  • Strengthen your portfolio with high-dividend and value stocks
  • When investing during a bear market, don’t rush. Ideally, you want to wait until the market bottoms out.
  • Increase your cash position to help you weather volatility.
  • Actively monitor financials.

 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial professional prior to investing.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

LPL Tracking # 1-949921

 

Source

20% every 3.5 years and 7.2% growth vs 5.3%:https://www.capitalgroup.com/individual/planning/market-fluctuations/staying-the-course.html