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Have you claimed your Yelp business page?

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Have you claimed your Yelp business page?

58779259 - yelp website on a computer screen.Does your business have its own Yelp page? Yelp is a social review platform that has 83 million unique desktop visitors, 74 million unique mobile visitors and 28 million unique mobile app users each month. It’s growing in popularity by virtually any measure. Yet only about 1 million businesses nationwide have ‘claimed’ their Yelp business page. While a business may have a strong social media presence elsewhere, by disregarding Yelp, it could be missing out on a vital opportunity to demonstrate top-notch customer or client service and to address complaints.

Many business owners and executives think that Yelp doesn’t apply to their business. Yet the reality is that consumers are increasingly turning to Yelp not only for restaurant and retail reviews, but for information on a wide variety of other businesses, including those that provide professional services such as insurance, engineering and architecture. Yelp is for B2C and B2B companies.

Consider ‘claiming’ your business page on Yelp. A vast majority of business pages on Yelp are unclaimed, which unfortunately signals to Yelp users that customer/client satisfaction is not a top priority. While there’s no downside to happy customers or clients simply reporting a good experience with your business, unsatisfied customers publicly posting about their bad experiences can damage your brand’s reputation if you aren’t able to respond to them (which you can only do if you prove you own the business and claim it). Additionally, you could be missing out on a useful communication channel for inquiries about your businesses if Yelp users aren’t able to message you questions, comments, reservation requests, and other concerns.

Finally, don’t forget to have a sign somewhere in your business (and website) that encourages satisfied customers to leave reviews for your company on Yelp. Even this simple call-to-action could make a difference for your reviews count, and more Yelp reviews suggest greater popularity for a business, so you could score new customers through this valuable method as well.

The purposes and uses of a designated power of attorney

63663182_MPeople toss out the term ‘Power of Attorney’ freely these days, and it can be a simple document that lets someone else act on your behalf in all cases. But there are various uses for and kinds of POA documents.

Aging parents might want to give a medical power-of-attorney to a child. A wife might want to sign a temporary POA allowing her husband to sign for her on a real estate transaction because she’ll be out of the country. Young adults might give a roommate or friend POA for handling financial matters temporarily.

Simply put, a POA gives one person the power to act on another person’s behalf if he or she is unable to act for himself or herself. Two common types of POA documents are financial and medical POAs, and you don’t have to have to choose the same person for both. Maybe you have a family member with medical expertise who should be your medical POA. Maybe you have a friend who is better with finances than your own family members. The important thing is to choose a trustworthy person who would act on your behalf under these POAs.

Both financial and medical POAs can be as detailed or as general as you want them to be. A medical POA can include your preferences for life-sustaining treatments, as well as your wishes regarding facilities, medical staff, food and even personal care. The financial POA can allow your designated person to handle all your financial matters, or it can restrict his or her actions to bill-paying, access to accounts, doing your taxes, making investment decisions, managing your property or discussing public benefits with government agencies.

One common misunderstanding about POA documents is that they continue after death. At your death, the executor of your will takes over any financial decisions — and there are no more medical decisions to be made. Don’t forget that in order to sign a POA, you must be competent to make the decision. Don’t wait until your health declines to the point you are no longer competent.

Are you ready to talk further about establishing a POA for a specific or future need? We are easy to reach. Just call 248-613-0007.

Small business optimism skyrockets

31021187 - female owner of coffee shopSmall business owners are an increasingly upbeat group. In fact, U.S. small-business owners’ optimism has reached an 11-year high, just shy of the record confidence level recorded in 2006, according to Gallup research.

What’s behind all of that cheer? According to polling conducted at the start of the year, a majority of business owners (52 percent) report that their company’s revenues has increased over the past year. That’s a higher percentage than at any point since 2007. Additionally, 66 percent of business owners expect their revenues to increase in the next 12 months — the highest level in 15 years. Small business owners were even more optimistic about cash flow, with 77 percent expecting it to be very good or somewhat good in the next 12 months.

The National Federation of Independent Business also reports growing optimism so far in 2018, building on record-setting optimism in 2017. The NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index reached an all-time high average monthly reading in 2017, beating the previous record set in 2004.

One of the biggest concerns of small businesses, however, remains the shortage of qualified workers, which is prompting many employers to increase pay and benefit offerings to better attract and retain qualified employees.

Millennials and entrepreneurship go hand in hand

66152853_SThey are called Millennials, but according to a new study, they may more aptly be called members of the ‘entrepreneurial generation.’ More than one-third of Millennials in a recent survey have worked for a startup company. And about 30 percent of these young adults have already started some kind of business (compared with 19 percent for Baby Boomers and 22 percent for members of Generation X).

According to the same survey, 61 percent of Millennials believe that the best job security comes from owning your own business rather than being employed by others, compared with 36 percent of Baby Boomers surveyed and 40 percent of members of Generation X. Furthermore, 59 percent of Millennials say with the right idea and resources, they would start a business in the next year.

The results are intriguing, especially given the fact that Millennials make up more than a third of the U.S. workforce and are projected to comprise half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. Not all Millennials who want to start their own businesses will do so, of course. But they certainly will be motivated to do so if their employers do not meet their needs.

More so than other generations, research shows that Millennials don’t necessarily need to start their own businesses, but they do want to work in an entrepreneurial atmosphere. They want to feel as if they are valued members of the companies they work for, that they have a voice in important business issues and that they have a degree of flexibility in how and where they do their work. Research shows that many Millennials are extremely loyal to employers who provide them with fulfilling and enjoyable work and pay attention to their personal needs. What does all this mean? Finding out what makes your company’s Millennial workers happy will be an increasingly important way in the coming years to keep your best and brightest.

Unequal distributions within estate planning

70380030 - unequal hand cut word split conceptAre you thinking of the best way to distribute your income to your heirs? You know you don’t have to distribute it equally, right? It’s OK to have unequal distributions in your estate planning.

Why would you use an unequal distribution?

You know your children or other heirs. Your estate planning should be based on your wishes for your heirs, which can take into consideration many factor, including their choices, their needs, the help you have given them, their future and your concerns.

Let’s look at some factors to consider:

  • What is their current financial situation?
  • How do they manage money?
  • Do they have any personal troubles that could be made worse through direct inheritance?
  • Should the funds be distributed in a way other than direct cash, such as a trust with certain stipulations related to age, employment, or any other specifics?
  • Are there medical needs or chronic health problems to take into consideration?
  • Is there a proven track record of bad decisions that can include failed marriages, finances or habits?
  • Does your estate plan need to stipulate any prenuptial agreements you would require?
  • Have you helped any of your heirs previously?
  • Are there any estrangements affecting your decisions?

Do any answers to these questions lead you to consider changing how you divide your estate? We would be happy to help you sort through the logistics of these decisions, as well as help you best explain to your heirs in person or through letters of your intent and reasoning.

Options for excluding someone from an estate plan

25872224_MEstate planning can be complicated when you want to exclude certain people from receiving a portion of your estate. Whatever your reason for wanting to exclude someone from your estate plan, you do need to be aware of the additional concerns exclusion can create and how you can work around that.

While excluding someone from your will is not a guarantee that the person won’t contest your will, it will make it more difficult.

While you can exclude someone by not naming them, one option is to directly acknowledge the exclusion within the estate plan. You don’t even need to list the reason why or you can have it documented that the reason is known between the parties involved. This makes it clear to all within the estate plan that it wasn’t an oversight, but a very intentional exclusion.

Another way to address this is to provide within your estate a small amount to the person you would rather exclude. While the person could still contest the amount, you can also specify that any failed contest would cost them that small amount as well. This may be enough to discourage any contest.

Do you know of someone you want to write into your estate plan this way? We are prepared to help you make sure your estate plan fully articulates your wishes, including preserving it for the those you want to benefit from your estate.

How well are you branding your business?

34577687_SBranding is one of the most important aspects of growing a successful business. It’s what sets you apart from the competition. It’s how people identify and connect with you. It’s what you stand for and what you strive to be.

That being said, there’s more to branding than flashy logos and catchy headlines. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating a comprehensive branding plan for your company:

Define your company and its mission. What is your business all about? How do you want customers to perceive your company? Sure, you provide quality products and services and strive for 100% customer satisfaction. Dig a little deeper. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and really think about the things that you want them to see in your business. Spend some time crafting a strong mission statement for your company and refer to it frequently to make sure you’re staying true to your vision.

Find your voice. Choosing an appropriate voice for your business (and sticking to it) will give your brand a strong identity. Do you want your company’s messages to be conversational, or do you want your brand to have a more professional tone? Do you want to sound formal or informal? Your voice should reflect your mission and purpose, and it needs to really resonate with your audience across all of your marketing channels, including social media.

Set brand standards. Does your business have a unified logo and color scheme? Everything from your company’s website to advertising to social channels and printed marketing materials needs to have the same look and feel. Even the photography needs to fit the brand’s identity, so make sure you have standards in place before moving forward with any marketing or advertising.

Consistency is key. The most important part of branding is staying consistent. Straying from your standards is the fastest way to lose your brand’s identity, as well as your audience. You can certainly make small changes every now and then, but you ultimately need to stay true to your brand.

Soliciting reviews is a big no-no on Yelp

85301287_MWith more than 412 million reviews, Yelp is the most popular review site on the Internet. Positive reviews on Yelp can help any business owner or professional. But the company recently began cracking down on those who solicit positive reviews.

As a general rule, you don’t want to ask for reviews, offer to pay for reviews or offer discounts or freebies in exchange for a review. You also want to avoid asking your employees, family members, customers or potential customers to review your company. You’ll also want to avoid hiring a reputation management or review solicitation company to solicit positive Yelp reviews on your behalf.

What can you do? You are permitted to let your customers and clients know you’re listed on Yelp. You can request a ‘Find us on Yelp’ sticker to place visibly inside or outside your business or use a Yelp logo in your marketing efforts. You also can respond to any Yelp reviews about you and your business, both positive and negative, in a constructive way. Additionally, you can share positive reviews on social media. For more information about Yelp, go to this link.

Your collection and your estate plan

74773425 - train retro toned modelHave you thought about the collections you have spent years piecing together? They are valuable to you, but what becomes of them when you are gone?

As you think about your assets when you do your estate planning, don’t neglect these collections. Whether they are valuable or not, they are still an important part of your life and your estate.

Collections often matter most to the person doing the collecting — not to the heirs who must sort through the possessions once the collector is gone. To ensure the collection is properly handled, make sure you identify the pieces with values and photographs as well as notations of any insurance and directions on how they should be handled. Don’t forget to include any appraisals that have been conducted.

If you don’t have a family member or friend who would treasure your collection, you might consider gifting it to a museum or historical society. Or perhaps you can leave instructions for the sale of the collection, with proceeds to be distributed among your heirs.

Do you have a collection you neglected to put in your estate plan? We can certainly help you make an amendment. We are ready to help ensure these aspects of your life are properly included in your estate plan!

Does your company have a mission?

43263046 - hand writing mission on virtual screenHere’s a surprising statistic from a recent Gallup poll. Only 41 percent of U.S. employees say they definitely know what their company stands for — its mission, or why it’s in business, and how it’s different from competing companies.

While most business leaders can clearly describe their company or organization’s mission, most employees can’t, Gallup research shows. Another surprising fact: Only four in 10 U.S. employees strongly believe that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important.

Gallup’s findings are especially troubling, given the fact that a wide range of research shows a clear link between how well employees understand their company’s mission and purpose and how well a company performs. According to Gallup, just a 10 percent improvement in a workforce’s connection with their company’s mission or purpose would likely result in an 8.1 percent decrease in employee turnover and a 4.4 percent increase in profitability.

What does this mean to you and your company? First, if your company or organization doesn’t have a formal mission, it needs one. If it has one, everyone should understand what it is and how their work ties into and is important to this purpose. It’s a two-step task that isn’t always easy to accomplish, but an important step in the success of any company or organization.

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