Tag Archives: business owners

Deloitte Report Reveals Mid-Market Companies Expect U.S. Economic Growth

Arizona business owners optimistic for 2015

BMO Harris Bank released a study that found that business owners and executives in Arizona were optimistic about the prospects for the state’s economy in the coming year.

Eighty-six percent of respondents feel Arizona’s economy will grow or stay at the same level in 2015 (39 percent say it will improve, 47 percent think it will remain the same). That outpaces their optimism in the national economy, where only 63 percent feel the U.S. economy will improve or stay the same next year. More than one-third (37 percent) of the respondents believe the U.S. economy will worsen in 2015. Arizona business owners’ local confidence is reflected in their positive attitude regarding growth in their own business, with more than half believing their business will grow next year.

“While there are some causes for concern, both internationally and domestically, business owners and executives continue to exude confidence in their ability to grow their business in today’s economic environment“, said Tim Bruckner, Arizona Head, Commercial Banking, BMO Harris Bank. “That continued confidence is vital to the business-led economic recovery that has taken place over the past five years.”

The survey asked Arizona business owners/executives if they believe the U.S. economy will improve, stay at the same level or worsen in 2015.
·         41 percent expect the economy to improve
·         22 percent expect the economy to remain at the same level
·         37 percent expect the economy to worsen

The survey also asked the same respondents if they believe their business will grow, stay at the same level, or shrink in 2015.
·         51 percent predicted growth in 2015 for their business
·         32 percent expect their business to remain at the same level
·         17 percent believe their business will shrink in 2015, an 11 percent increase from last year’s results

BMO Harris Bank conducted the same survey one year earlier, and the Arizona results this year were similar compared to 12 months ago with a few exceptions: In 2014, one-fourth of business owners expected the U.S. economy to worsen. That number this year increased to 37 percent. A year ago, 38 percent felt the state’s economy would stay the same. In the most recent survey, 47 percent of respondents expect Arizona’s to remain the same..

“The coming year is being heralded by positive momentum in consumer spending, which is music to businesses’ ears,” said Michael Gregory, Head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. “Spending is finding support from strong job growth, lower energy costs and an appreciating U.S. dollar. In reaction to continued sturdy consumer spending, we look for more businesses to expand their production, lifting both capital expenditures and hiring. This job-led, domestic demand should propel economic growth 3% in 2015, the best result in a decade.”

The survey was conducted by Pollara with an online sample of 781 American business owners between September 8 and 18, 2014. A probability sample of this size would be accurate to +/- 3.5 percent, 19 times out of 20.

smartphone

Arizona Executives Don’t Vacation Without Smartphone

BMO Harris Bank released a study today that found that most business owners and executives in Arizona do not truly “get away from it all” when it comes to vacationing. Seventy-three percent of the respondents admit to checking their work emails during their time off; albeit 11 percent lower than the national average.

“Gadgets such as smartphones have been instrumental in making it easier to stay in touch, contributing to increased business productivity,” said Tim Bruckner, Managing Director, Commercial Banking – Arizona, BMO Harris Bank. “The flip side is that same instant access fuels our need to stay connected at all times.”

Nearly half (42 percent) of those surveyed regularly work more than 40 hours each week. That “always on the clock” mentality translates into long hours focused on work. While 61 percent of the Arizona respondents describe themselves as workaholics, only a small percentage of them (six percent) cite their workaholic tendencies as the primary reason for their success.

Deal, WEB

Free Workshop for Business Leaders

Business owners interested in selling their business is the April topic at Enterprise University’s educational learning program on Thursday, April 10 at the Phoenix Country Club.

Enterprise University, a free program offered by Enterprise Bank & Trust, will feature partner James D. Colyer of True North Companies to discuss “Options for Selling a Business and How Private Equity Can Help.”

The morning workshop includes continental breakfast and will review the various exit strategies, the best way to prepare for a sale and explore how private equity can be a catalyst to ensuring a successful transition.

Enterprise University provides free educational seminars on a variety of relevant topics for business owners and their leadership taught by experts in a variety of fields including advertising, marketing, business continuity, financial planning and more.

WHAT: Free course for business leaders on “Options for Selling a Business and How Private Equity Can Help”

WHERE: Phoenix Country Club, 2901 N. 7th St. Phoenix, Ariz. 85014

WHEN: Thursday, April 10, 2014
7:30 a.m. – 8 a.m.: Registration/Continental Breakfast/Networking
8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.: Workshop

COST: Free to business leaders. Registration is required.

RSVP: Visit www.enterprisebank.com/eu to register

SPEAKER: James D. Colyer is a partner at True North Companies and is responsible for deal origination, underwriting, deal execution and portfolio management activities. He has been a professional investor for more than 13 years and has worked on the buying and selling sides of deals involving aerospace and defense, consumer products and other industries.

For questions on Enterprise University, call Kay Erb at 800-396-8141, ext.13203.

asu skysong collaborates with Taiwan's ITRI

Enterprise Univ. examines Social Media, Personnel

Enterprise Bank & Trust, focused on the financial needs of privately-held businesses, their owner families, executives and professionals, announces its spring 2014 Enterprise University course schedule providing free educational seminars on a variety of relevant topics for business owners and their leadership.

“We’ve received outstanding feedback from Enterprise University participants the last two years and are delighted to debut our new format and dynamic speakers this semester,” said Enterprise Bank & Trust Arizona Region Chairman Jack Barry. “We’re pleased to offer the Phoenix business community an opportunity to learn from leading Valley professionals and the chance to share ideas and network in this engaging and interactive setting.”

The spring 2014 course schedule entails:

o Emerging Social Media and Personnel Policy Risks for Employers, Tuesday, March 11 7:30-8 a.m. networking, 8-9:30 a.m. program (Instructor: Joseph T. Clees, Shareholder, Ogletree Deakins and New Guest Instructor: Brian E. Hayes, Shareholder, Ogletree Deakins and past member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
o Options for Selling a Business and How Private Equity Can Help, Thursday, April 10 7:30-8 a.m. networking, 8-9:30 a.m. program (Instructor: James D. Colyer, Partner, True North Companies)
o Leveraging Digital Marketing to Grow Your Business, Wednesday, May 14 7:30-8 a.m. networking, 8-9:30 a.m. program (Instructor: Stephen Heitz, Managing Director of Interactive Services, The Lavidge Company)

All courses are held at Phoenix Country Club located at 2901 N 7th St, in Phoenix. Classes are free, but registration is required. For additional information and to register visit www.enterprisebank.com/eu.

Tumbleweed Logo

Tumbleweed Center Relocates Phoenix Headquarters

Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development will expand and relocate its headquarters from Downtown Phoenix to Siete Square II, 3707 N. 7th St. in Midtown, according to Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc.

Tumbleweed was established in 1972 with a mission to provide a safe space for collaborating with youth and young adults in the community who are vulnerable or experiencing homelessness.  The organization serves more than 3,000 young people each year, ages 12 to 25 years.

“Tumbleweed made a very shrewd decision to expand and relocate its headquarters at this time, locking in to today’s historically low rates.  This allowed us to lower occupancy costs over the long term,” said Paul Andrews of Cushman & Wakefield.  “This strategy cut thousands of dollars in future rent expense that now can be redirected back into the organization’s much needed programs that serve Metro Phoenix’s teenage youth.”

The local non-profit has leased 13,047 square feet at the garden office complex and will locate from 1419 N. 3rd Street in fall of 2013.

Siete Square II is one of four buildings within the larger Siete Square garden office complex.  The Indiana Farm Bureau owns Siete Square II.  Paul Andrews of Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc. represented Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development in its lease negotiations.

Phil Breidenbach and Lindsey Carlson of Colliers serve as exclusive leasing agents for Siete Square II, representing the Indiana Farm Bureau.

WellsFargoLogo

Wells Fargo Plans 410,000 SF Expansion in Chandler

By Eric Jay Toll, Senior Correspondent for Arizona Builder’s Exchange |

Special to Arizona Commercial Real Estate magazine

 

Wells Fargo unveiled its 410,000-square-foot Chandler campus expansion to a neighborhood meeting in the East Valley September 16. Arizona Builder’s Exchange broke the story Monday night that the bank filed a rezoning application with the city to allow a pair of four-story buildings on the northwest corner of Price and Queen Creek roads in the Price Corridor.

More than 2,500 additional employees will work in the new Wells Fargo buildings, bringing campus employment to more than 5,000 workers.

The bank has selected an architect, but has not named the contractor for the project. A formal announcement with construction schedule is expected shortly. AZBEX reports sources saying the project could cost as much as $90 million.

The building shapes, design and materials are intended to mirror Phase I of the campus. The offices will rise to 64 feet. Three more buildings and parking garages are projected for future phases. The city has not set a hearing date for the zoning. Wells Fargo has not yet announced its construction schedule.

Read the original story here.

 

Eric Jay Toll is the senior correspondent for Arizona Builder’s Exchange. His freelance work appears in a number of regional and national publications, including upcoming stories in AZRE and AZ Business.

Attracting Investors

How Can You Make Your Business More Appealing To Potential Investors?

The reality is more and more companies are competing for a limited supply of funding, so much like in the dating scene you want to appear attractive and engaging. Whether your business is seeking financial support from a bank, a private investor or a venture capitalist group, it is crucial that you make the right impression from the onset. When you are approaching bankers for funding, this includes putting together all the necessary documentation for a loan package, but when you are seeking investors the approach is slightly different.

In addition to the financial documents you’ll need to gather, there are other things you can do to make your business more appealing to potential investors.

Update the business plan

The business plan provides detailed descriptions of the way your company works. By developing instructional materials and documenting information on the “how to” for the operation, investors can get a strong sense of the company and how it operates. The creation of a company manual should include everything from detailed major operation information and key vendors to an organizational chart of employees and the small day-to-day tasks.

Gather financial figures

Investors are called investors for a reason. They are looking to invest their money in a business, not just give it away. Business owners need to make sure all financial information is up-to-date and ready share. This includes current and projected sales figures as well as what the company expects to need for operating costs and marketing.

Understand your financials

Just having the financial information isn’t enough. Be prepared to justify and explain where every penny comes from and where it goes. Investors will want to know what their investment will be going toward.

Reasonable compensation

Make sure the owner’s salary and compensation is reasonable. If the salary is too low, the investor will be concerned that a replacement will cause a serious cash flow issue. If the salary is too high, the investor will feel they are funding the owner’s lifestyle. This also goes hand-in-hand with making sure that you have the most competitive price for goods and services you are buying. You don’t want to overpay for goods that can be negotiated for a lower price.

Create a marketing plan

More often than not, simply opening the doors to your business does not drive traffic. A marketing plan will show how you plan on increasing awareness and traffic to your business. For the marketing plan, you’ll need to describe what you’re doing and the results, as well as the return on investment.

Develop a strong team

Most investors will want to meet with the key players at any organization. They will be looking to see that the management and key employees are professional, qualified and the right person for the job. This is also the time when the potential investor will get a real feel for the company, the flow of communication and the chemistry between the potential investor and the employees.

Beware of online profiles and posts

Investors will do a thorough due diligence of the owners and the key players. With the technology available, that also means researching the company on social media sites. Make sure that your company Facebook and Twitter pages are active and engaging toward the individual audiences. It is equally as important to look at the personal profiles of owners and employees. This may mean deleting inappropriate posts and comments or adjusting the privacy settings.

Go into the transaction with a realistic value of the company

If you undervalue, you will give up too much of the company for nothing. If you over value the company it can kill the deal. Hire an expert to get a real valuation — it will be worth the money spent.

Partnering with investors can be a great way to give your company the financial boost it needs. For many small companies, it may also be the best alternative to helping the business develop and succeed. Like any relationship, finding the right investor for your company can be challenging, but the better prepared you are, the greater chance for finding the best match.

For more information on how to make your business more appealing to potential investors, visit fswfunding.com.

Franchise Owners

Seven Tips For Franchise Owners: Leveraging Your Name

Running a franchise is easy if all franchise owners manage under a common brand, a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and everything else the contract commits them to follow. So how can individual franchise owners become a team and bring their individual businesses ahead by one name and one USP?

All owners and managers are driven by different personalities, needs, numbers, time off, egos, etc. Like any relationship, business owners should start by respecting the other franchise owners in their area and be sure to remind themselves that looks can be deceiving — especially when it appears another franchisee is trying to hurt your business, working outside of their designated area or not performing as the brand promises.

I joined Benjamin Franklin, The Punctual Plumber franchise more than five years ago now, and I’ve learned if I work together with the other franchise owners in my market, we achieve greater success than working as individuals.

For all you franchise owners, I’ve found seven areas to be especially helpful:

Build Relationships

Take the necessary time to communicate with one another. As a franchise owner, you share the same business name, brand and take on the reputation of other owners. It would serve others owners well to play nice in the sandbox. Remember the competition should not be within the brand. Make getting to know the other franchise owners a priority. Build a positive working relationship, like any relationship; it’s important to keep a healthy balance of work and play.

Set Goals

Know each other’s individual goals and then establish common goals; work together to achieve them. Knowing the other franchise owners will allow you to learn from their successes as well as their failures. It will also allow you to understand their strengths and respect weaknesses.

Be Aware

List the needs of each owner or office. Have a written game plan, with a list of dos and don’ts. For example, knowing up front that everyone agrees if they hear another office is not following the aforementioned rules, they have permission to bring it up and discuss the best actions for correcting the matter. Institute consequences if something doesn’t happen the way it’s supposed to. Let’s say one of the offices doesn’t make it to your monthly meeting; at the next monthly meeting, they have to buy lunch for the group, give the marketing tip, etc. — something that hurts a little while continuing to build on the existing relationship.

Work Together

Establish a give and take attitude, don’t assume you know what another owner has going on based solely on what seems to be happening. Be sure you know all of the facts before you make any judgments or complaints. Go straight to the source and ask specific questions with respect.

Think Economically

When working as one name, decide how the business can save money through purchasing power, by sharing consultants, overhead expenses, employee time, employee training, etc.

Be Open

Open your office, your business and your experience to the other owners for training, employee issues, marketing material review, new equipment, etc. This will allow both offices to become better. It can be challenging to see the forest through the trees when you’re in the business trenches. Opening your doors and asking the owners for their opinion on business decisions will provide a fresh perspective.

Review Other Franchises

Each year, review three other offices outside of your market that are performing well. The same rules that apply to sports, apply to business here. Practicing with someone bigger or better than you will offer growth opportunities to you and your staff.

I know that by working with fellow franchisees throughout the nation I have seen great things come about both personally and professionally. My company has grown at a much faster rate, as I have been able to learn quickly from other’s experience. Additionally, I have grown personally by increasing my business knowledge and leadership skills.

 

Photo by Flickr, okalkavan

Mobile Applications Can Help Business Sustainability

Smartphones have become a communication necessity in business. They can do just about anything, from tracking packages to depositing a check into the bank. Business owners and entrepreneurs are embracing smart phones because they are better, faster and have applications that focus to specific business needs.

Now these phones are helping companies go green. With applications such as Greenpeace Tissue Guide, which allows a consumer to make better green-buying decisions on toilet paper, paper towels, tissue and paper napkins is available on the iPhone and Android. Greenpeace Tissue Guide is an organization that focuses on the use of recycled paper products.

The smartphone application features 100 brands of paper products to choose from, ability to search for brands or browse by product category, ratings based on expert analysis and brand recommendations.

If business owners are worried about gas prices they can download an app called Avego. This application is a real-time, ridesharing app. It allows drivers to be matched in real time as they travel, so ridesharing can be done whenever and wherever you are. It also helps to operate and manage fleet operations with web-based instructions with no additional IT help.

This app helps business save on route issues and gas. Allowing employees to sign up for ridesharing also helps the economy to focus on working together for a greener environment.

Mobile Applications Can Help Business Sustainabliltiy

If your company requires employees to be on the road, try an app called GreenDrive, that helps heavy-footed drivers put their driving in perspective by suggesting the most economical driving method. When you are going too slow or fast it will let you know how much more speed to increase or decrease in order to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. This app is said to save you an average of 15 – 25 percent on fuel costs.

No matter what type of business you have, smartphones are advancing the way you service your customer base, invest your time and money. Communicate with employees on a new level. Mobile applications will continue to be a driving force in everyday business ventures, including green initiatives.

By 2014, green mobile applications could exceed 400 million according to a report issued by Juniper Research.

Mobile technology can help business sustainability initiatives and create a reliable form of green standards for employees, owners and consumers to follow. Don’t loose money when you don’t have to. Make sure your company is allowing your smart phone to work for you.

Old Fashioned Marketing, relationship building

New Year, New Business Ideas!

While working away on planning your New Year’s resolutions, perhaps a consideration for your personal goals is to reach out professionally for new, fresh ideas that make your business work better. We have witnessed the biggest recession in decades, borderline depression, with failing businesses, jobs lost, and homes given back to the bank. Yet, I personally have seen a major shift in spending.

What is working for businesses, for those who have survived, and why?

In years past, many categories of business grew complacent as new clients seemed to just ‘flood’ in without having to reach out to grab them. We witnessed a lack of networking and heavy reliance that the money would never go away.

What is different today? We are going back to the good old days of having to build relationships, networking, and grass-roots marketing. Sure, the influx of the Web, social media, and digital connect is imperative today… however, it does not replace the power of face to face interaction and a “good ‘ole hand shake” to seal the deal.

People want to do business with someone they are familiar with. We all got so caught up in “cyber-space” that it truly put a big fat wedge between us and the potential client! It also cannot offer a reliable way to advertise… by itself. The World Wide Web is a beautiful tool, but on its own, without traditional advertising means to drive people to it, it won’t work properly.

The business owners that are combining a healthy dose of personal touch and face to face time, are those who are winning. So, back to the New Year’s resolution…most business is a means to your end to live your life the way you want to. Do yourself a favor, look at your business and make some personal adjustments. Combine the ways of yesteryear along with the technologies of today to create a win-win that will last a lifetime. You never know… you just may enjoy your business again.

Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Sterling Award.

Scottsdale Area Chamber Of Commerce Gives Out Its Annual Sterling Awards

Four Scottsdale businesses received the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Sterling Award.  The 25th annual Sterling Awards were handed out yesterday, Nov. 16, to a packed house at the Scottsdale Resort and Convention Center.


The Sterling Award is presented to companies that make Scottsdale a great place to live, work and play. Four teams of judges narrowed the field from 12 and selected one winner in each of the following four categories–micro, small and big business, and nonprofit.

Celebration of Fine Art was awarded the Sterling Award in the micro business category, which is awarded to businesses with fewer than seven employees that exhibit success through innovation, creativity and collaboration. Celebration of Fine Art champions art in all forms, from furniture and jewelry to watercolor and pastels, and gives visitors the opportunity to converse with the artists as they work.

Human Capital Strategies won the Sterling Award in the small business category, which is awarded to businesses with seven to 99 employees that demonstrates innovation, quality, professionalism and commitment to community. Jason Knight started Human Capital Strategies in 2007 to “do what small business owners and office managers don’t like to do, don’t know how to do and, often times, don’t even know they are supposed to do.®”

Scottsdale Fashion Square was awarded the Sterling Award in the big business category, which goes to businesses with more than 100 employees that significantly impacts the community’s economic fabric. Scottsdale Fashion Square is one of the Valley’s premier tourist destinations, but also gives back in many ways, including partnerships with nonprofit organizations and employee volunteerism.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance received the Sterling Award in the nonprofit category, which is awarded to a charitable organization that contributes to the social, cultural and educational well-being of those it serves. As the world’s first food bank, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance is committed to improving the quality of life in Arizona and serves 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties.

Other businesses were recognized in the four categories. Reliable Background Screening, Sonoran Studios, Payroll Experts, Hot Air Expeditions, DMB Associates, Mayo Clinic, Gabriel’s Angels and Every Kid Counts, Inc. were all recognized at the ceremony, which was emceed by Good Morning Arizona anchor and host Tara Hitchcock.

www.celebrateart.com
www.hcscando.com

www.fashionsquare.com

www.firstfoodbank.org

www.scottsdalechamber.com

The idea of starting your own business can be frightening with the recession - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

6 Tips To Launching Your Own Business In A Down Economy

The idea of starting your own business can be frightening, particularly with the recession stubbornly choking the Arizona economy. However, by following a few tips for getting started, launching your own company doesn’t need to be scary.

In fact, there are a few advantages to launching a business during an economic downturn. Commercial space is available at extraordinarily good prices. Talented professionals are looking for work. Goods and services can be found at discounted prices. And, depending on your industry, competition may be scarce.

1. Practice Due Diligence
It’s critical to objectively evaluate your proposed venture. Asking yourself some hard questions may discourage you from pursuing your first venture, but that is not a negative or pessimistic approach. It’s a useful tool for evaluating your business. Start with these questions: Is there a genuine need for the product or service you are offering? Is that need already being met by established companies? If so, what improvement or unique feature are you bringing to the table? Do you have the necessary skills and resources to start your business? If not, are you prepared to bring in the people with the skills and capital that are needed, and possibly give up some ownership?

2. Prepare a Business Plan
Too often, entrepreneurs articulate a great idea and foresee success, but gloss over the hard work. That hard part is thinking through the idea for your business and writing it into a plan, including the steps you’ll need to take to implement your idea. Start with an outline and consult a book or online guide about writing business plans. It’s important that your end result is a completed plan that includes a budget for your business.

3. Determine Capital Requirements
Most small businesses are funded with the business owner’s own money and funds from family and friends. A venture capitalist or angel investor may provide the necessary capital in exchange for part ownership of your business. It’s critical to focus on the amount of money you will need to start and operate your business, including at each stage of the company’s development.

4. Create a Board of Advisers
Creating a network of advisers can be a tremendous asset to a start-up business. It’s helpful if that board consists of advisers with a diverse array of professional backgrounds. That diversity will ensure you receive insights from a wide range of perspectives. Good choices for advisers may include your attorney, accountant, suppliers, customers, bankers and realtors.

5. Tap Into Available Resources
There are myriad advisers, consultants and nonprofit agencies that will assist you in developing your business — marketing it, creating websites and raising capital — who work for free or a nominal fee. The Small Business Administration (SBA), for instance, is a valuable and cost-effective resource. Moreover, SCORE: Counselors to America’s Small Business, provides free advice and mentoring for small business owners. If you pay for a similar service, be sure to get recommendations from a trusted adviser. Then, check that company’s references.

6. Listen
The more you listen — the more you truly hear an adviser’s ideas — the more advice you will be able to translate into actionable plans for your company.

Still, while these recessionary times may present a good opportunity for entrepreneurs, there are several considerations to keep in mind.

Select an industry that is doing well, despite the recession. The health care industry, senior care and information technologies are financially better off than many other industries.

Choose a business sector with a bright future — Businesses that tap into growing consumer demand for green or sustainable products may be an avenue worth pursuing. There was a 41 percent increase in consumer purchases of green products and services from 2004 to 2009, according to the research firm Mintel. Moreover, there may be federal or state subsidies or tax credits available for green companies.

Select a company with low capital requirements. Home-based businesses with low start-up costs may be good choices, notably because the ongoing credit crunch will likely make it tough to get a loan to cover these expenses.

If you are considering starting your own business, you will be in good company. More than half the companies listed on the Fortune 500 in 2009 were launched during a recession, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Moreover, in 2009, an average of 558,000 new businesses were launched each month in the United States.

The trick to joining these ranks is to get started. There’s no better time than now, recession or not.

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something,” Nolan Bushnell, founder of both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, once said. “It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Groupon success with business owners and consumers

Bargains Fuel Groupon’s Success With Business Owners And Consumers

Since its launch in Nov. 2008, Groupon.com has grown to become a phenomenon – both in the business world and among people searching for a steal.

Groupon.com uses the power of a group to get products and services at a 50- to 90-percent discount for its users. The discounts can be on anything from salon and photography services to deals at restaurants.

In order to be valid, the Groupon discount must reach a tipping point. The tipping point is the amount of people that must buy the Groupon in order for the retailer to make the discount valid. The tipping point is different for each discount.

Groupon offers Phoenix deals, and a separate venue for Scottsdale deals is on its way.

Groupon expanded rapidly. In less than two years the company has gone from seven employees at their headquarters in Chicago to 2,600 employees worldwide. Although Groupon has grown steadily since its inception, the company hit its stride in 2010, says Julie Mossler, Groupon spokesperson. In August, Forbes Magazine named Groupon the fastest growing company ever, Mossler says.

Harnessing Groupon’s power for your business is easy, Mossler says. The company started GrouponWork.com to help businesses learn how to work with Groupon. The site provides case studies on Groupon’s success and tips on how to successfully structure deals.

Dolce Salon & Spa is one Phoenix-area business that has taken advantage of the new marketing potential behind Groupon’s deals.

Dolce has offered two deals through Groupon.com and has seen a big return from it, says Dynelle Rodriguez, spokesperson for Dolce Salon & Spa.

Rodriguez said Groupon called them and suggested they strike a deal. The opportunity to market the salon and spa in a unique way intrigued her, she said.

Each day Dolce has a customer using a Groupon discount, Rodriguez says. Although the result has been greater than the company expected, Dolce isn’t looking to do another Groupon discount in the near future because of the long expiration dates on the company’s Groupons, she says. However, Rodriguez says she recommends Groupon to all businesses she deals with.

If you want to use Groupon for personal use, Mossler offers a few tips.

1. Let the excitement die down and wait a week before using the Groupon.
2. Tip on the full amount of the Groupon to thank the business for offering such a great discount.
3. If there are any problems, even if the merchant is the problem, give Groupon a call.
4. Connect with Groupon’s individual cities on Facebook or Twitter. Example: @GrouponPhoenix and facebook.com/grouponphoenix

In the future, Groupon is hoping to customize its bargain offerings even more than the gender- and location-specific deals the company currently offers.

If you think Groupon is going to save you tons of money, meet Josh Stevens, the Groupawn. He is living solely off of Groupon’s coupons for one year – and he applied for this job. He has to barter to pay for tax and tip and he must rely on strangers for transportation and lodging.

If Stevens is successful he will receive $100,000 at the end of his year. Stevens is about halfway through his journey and has yet to visit Arizona.

Mossler says Stevens’ plan was to venture West when freezing temperatures set in back East.

Keep your fingers crossed that Stevens sticks to his plan and hopefully we’ll see the Groupawn in Phoenix soon. It appears as if it’s getting cold in those northeastern states.

www.liveoffgroupon.com | www.facebook.com/liveoffgroupon | @groupawned

Green Job Opportunities for Women

Green Job Opportunities For Women

Recently, I attended the “Women & the Green Job Movement” panel hosted by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and Zion & Zion.

Our very own Tina Robinson, exhibit director for the Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference, was asked to be part of the panel and speak on various aspects of women employment in the sustainability field. The roundtable was comprised of individuals from various organizations, cities and schools with a vested interest in women and their future in green jobs.

Jenny L. Erwin, regional administrator for the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, opened the roundtable discussion. Some of the main points covered were:

  • Ensuring green jobs are “good jobs” with benefits and livable wages and career paths.
  • Definitions of green jobs and other common terms that are understandable to a broad range of working women.
  • Information on how women in community-based organizations focusing on women, women business owners, labor unions and others can access funds for green jobs.
  • Best practices related to women.
  • Green jobs that are in demand, new career paths and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The roundtable began with the reason we were all gathered at the event — where do women fit in the green industry? Though the number of green jobs is on the rise, there is indeed a disparity in the quality and quantity of jobs available to men and women. This spurred discussion on why this paradox exists.

One of the main issues women must face as we try to alter this uneven landscape is changing the perception that women can’t hold jobs in male-dominated industries. The math and science-related fields are typically over-represented by men, and changing this will be the first step in encouraging women to enter the green industry.

I left the roundtable discussion with a bright outlook. Green industry jobs vary; some are more technical than others; and there is always room for those who need to market the technology and spread the message to others. Bottom line — there is a huge opportunity for women to capitalize on the amazing benefits the green movement offers. So let’s get to it ladies!

www.chandlerchamber.com
www.builditgreenexpo.com
www.dol.gov/wb/

world currency

Companies Need To Start Thinking About Converting To International Financial Reporting Standards

More than 100 countries have already adopted or base their own accounting standards on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Last August, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved for public comment its long-awaited proposed roadmap for the eventual use of IFRS by U.S. companies.

The proposal foresees that early adoption of IFRS could happen as soon as this year for very large companies. For others, mandatory reporting under IFRS could begin in 2014, 2015 or 2016, depending on the size of the company.

Why think about it now?
With the global financial crisis, business owners may backburner IFRS in favor of more immediate issues. That’s understandable, but it may not be the right approach. If you are contemplating new finance systems or software purchases, for example, the systems you implement today will likely require modifications to ensure that the accounting, tax planning and compliance processes continue to operate effectively and efficiently under IFRS.

While CPAs regularly adjust to evolving accounting rules and standards, my experience with some of the largest companies in Arizona has shown that focusing on longer-term issues such as the implementation of IFRS can have a positive impact on the bottom line. Learning to “speak IFRS” may be challenging, but it will lead to increased transparency and investor confidence, and when that happens, everyone wins.

As a general rule, IFRS standards are broader than those of U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (US GAAP), and there are fewer bright lines and less interpretive guidance. In addition, IFRS has far-reaching effects beyond the accounting differences, and will involve every area of the company, beginning with the way data is gathered and processed to how debt covenants are written to the metrics against which executives and employees are measured. Conversion will take focus, planning, time and resources. Getting comfortable with IFRS now will make the transition easier for the entire company.

Timely training will be one key to a successful transition — and not just for staff. Investors and analysts will need to be educated about the effect IFRS will have on financial statements. Audit committee members will need to become familiar with IFRS to function effectively in their oversight roles and to understand management’s strategies. These activities should not wait until the new reporting standards are actually in use.

IFRS 101
The first step in any conversion is a gap analysis, or diagnostic, that compares reporting under US GAAP to reporting under IFRS. In addition to the reporting differences, the diagnostic will identify the main business effects of conversion, any tax ramifications and hurdles to conversion that may occur in the present finance structure, and will discover if the company has the resources to carry out the conversion in-house.

The diagnostic will also provide a timeline on who should be trained, when they should be trained and in what they should be trained. In designing a training program, your primary question should be, “What do we need to do to be ready on time?” As with all decisions, it’s important to be strategic. Educating the accounting and finance organizations is a given, as well as the information technology team. But it’s also important to involve other departments affected by the conversion early on in the process (e.g., investor relations, HR, sales and marketing) to make sure conversion is embedded in your business.

Human resources will need to understand how key performance criteria for incentive compensation may be affected by the conversion. In addition, accounting for stock-based compensation is significantly different under IFRS than under US GAAP. Tax professionals will require training on the conversion methodology, as well as on new IFRS accounting principles, to ensure appropriate tax planning and reporting of the tax provision, balance sheet accounts and tax return information. The legal team will need to examine debt, equity and lease financing arrangements; long-term customer contracts and long-term sourcing agreements, among others. The internal auditor’s enterprise-wide purview positions it well toprovide consistency, oversight and control to all areas throughout the conversion process.

IFRS conversion most likely will be the largest, single change of accounting policies and procedures ever undertaken by U.S. companies. It is also an interesting challenge for businesses and provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to review and synchronize the processes and procedures that touch the entire organization. Ultimately, the business “owns” the conversion, and the more fluently it “speaks IFRS,” the better off it will be.

Bob McGee Southwestern Business Financing Corporation

Bob McGee – President And CEO, Southwestern Business Financing Corporation

Fourth generation banker Bob McGee, president and CEO of Southwestern Business Financing Corporation, sees a rough year ahead for small businesses in Arizona. When McGee says rough, he means rough compared to Arizona’s customary booming economy.

“We may only have 2 to 3 percent growth in the state, but as long as we have water and electricity to run air conditioners, people are going to keep moving here from Chicago and Minnesota,” he says. “Yes, businesses are going to have a tough time, but I still do not think it will be anywhere near as bad as the past couple of bad times we’ve been through.”

McGee, whose firm is a nonprofit Certified Development Company approved by the Small Business Administration to make low-risk 504 loans for fixed-asset projects, says the downturn has hit home. Southwestern loaned $90 million for projects in 2007, but SBA approvals are down 40 percent, while the actual loans he funded are off by 10 percent.

Surprisingly, McGee sees small businesses becoming more attractive in today’s economy.

“When times get tough, that’s when people start thinking about owning their own business,” McGee says.

Businesses with fewer than 20 employees comprise more than 90 percent of Arizona’s economic landscape, but they provide more than jobs.

“It’s the way people achieve a dream,” McGee says, “because many people are happy in their job, but their real dream is to own their own business and be their own boss.”

During his career with Southwestern, McGee has helped create more than 7,000 jobs through the funding of SBA 504 loans. Since its founding in 1981, the company has funded the purchase or construction of more than $1.4 billion of buildings for businesses. Most of his deals involve construction, which today is funded by a commercial bank.

“I don’t fund until the building is finished,” McGee says.

McGee cites three factors for current market conditions. One is a complete lack of secondary financing, as potential investors poured $4 trillionintomoney markets.

“That puts a crimp in my kind of lending, and more important, the banks I work with,” McGee says.

A second factor is that banks are reluctant to make any loans, and the third reason, he says, is that a large percentage of business owners considering the purchase of a building are “terrified” by what they see on the evening news and are waiting for the market to hit bottom.

“You can’t out-time the market,” McGee says. “The way I know when it bottoms is I look back a year later and say, ‘Oh, that’s where it was.’ ”

www.swbfc.com

The "B" Word 2008

The “B” Word-Bankruptcy isn’t always a bad thing

The word “bankruptcy” sends chills down the spines of many business owners and executives as they envision certain financial demise.

b_word 2008

But bankruptcy is no longer the frightening phenomenon it once may have been, particularly in the business realm. Chapter 11 bankruptcy has become an extremely useful business tool for a company to reorganize its operations, accomplish a sale of assets, obtain new financing or achieve a capital restructure.

The following are examples of challenges a business often faces:

  • A new business has not quite met revenue expectations.
  • The equity structure is outdated or unworkable.
  • The business owns excess real property it wants to sell or the business wants to acquire additional property.
  • The business has been threatened with litigation.
  • The business wants to refinance, but the lender has expressed concern about financial or other issues.
  • The owners of the business want to merge with another entity.

The most common use of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process is one designed to restructure the company’s balance sheet. A company that wants to extend or refinance onerous debt, eliminate burdensome contracts or leases, and/or bring in new capital can generally accomplish these goals by a Chapter 11 filing that provides these opportunities and a temporary safe haven.

But Chapter 11 isn’t just for severely financially distressed entities. There are myriad other business reasons for filing a bankruptcy. For example, bankruptcy may be a good alternative for a client who owns some troubled properties and other healthy ones. Structuring a “roll up” and then using the bankruptcy process to propose a long-term solution can provide the necessary and ultimate protection for the distressed properties. Other common business transactions such as sales, mergers and acquisitions may be accomplished in a more beneficial fashion for all parties under the protective umbrella of Chapter 11.

A general knowledge of bankruptcy and the benefits it can provide will arm business owners, management and their advisors with a repertoire of creative solutions to meet business challenges and attain the companies’ ultimate goals.

An overview
The purpose of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy is to reorganize. It may include restructuring debt, altering operations, eliminating equity, selling assets or any combination of these things. The reorganization is accomplished through a document called a “plan of reorganization” in which the debtor describes how it intends to pay creditors or treat equity interests. Creditors and equity interests have the opportunity to vote in favor of or against the plan. The aim is to have the plan confirmed by the bankruptcy court, at which time it becomes a binding contract on all affected parties.

A Chapter 11 proceeding is commenced quite easily by filing a simple two-page “petition” with the bankruptcy court. At the time of the filing, an “estate” is created and all assets owned by the debtor prior to the filing are considered to be property of that estate. The debtor is referred to as the “debtor in possession” (DIP). Filing of the case triggers an immediate imposition of an injunction called an “automatic stay.” The stay prevents creditors from proceeding with any action against the DIP, and entitles the DIP some “breathing room” while assets are marshaled or while a reorganization is being developed.

In many respects, the general operations of a business continue in Chapter 11 as they did prior to the filing. The DIP can continue to buy inventory, produce products and sell merchandise as long as the transactions are in the ordinary course and scope of business. Nevertheless, certain actions such as the payment of pre-petition debt, the use of cash proceeds that may be subject to a lien, and the sale of major assets are prohibited unless the bankruptcy court approves them.

The plan of reorganization sets forth the means for payments to the company’s creditors. The general rule is that all claimants on the same level must be treated equally and must be paid in full before the next level can receive payment. Other provisions include financing arrangements or capital contributions and the composition of the company’s management.

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The final step is plan “confirmation” by the bankruptcy court. In order for the DIP to confirm a plan, it must obtainthe affirmative vote of all the classes of creditors it has proposed. However, the bankruptcy code permits the DIP to confirm a plan even if it doesn’t have all the needed votes, as long as the plan complies with certain specific sections of the code. Once the plan is confirmed, a bindingcontractbetween the debtor and its creditors is created and the debtor emerges from bankruptcy. All previous obligations to and claims by creditors are discharged and are replaced by therepayment orother obligations created by the plan. The “reorganized” debtor can have a fresh start.

Of course, there are many specifics and nuances to each bankruptcy case. For a comprehensive read on bankruptcy, you can download this guide at www.jsslaw.com/publications.aspx.

Carolyn Johnsen is a member of Jennings Strouss & Salmon. She can be reached at 602-262-5906 or cjohnsen@jsslaw.com

Bad business partners

What To Do When Bad Business Partners Happen To Good People

“He is robbing you blind.” Business owners are never emotionally prepared to hear these five words, but they should be poised for action to protect their own interests and those of their companies’ when business relationships turn hostile.

Recently in Arizona, the owner of a residential property rental company found this out the hard way when she was told by a former employee that the manager of her company’s 150 properties was stealing from the company. A widow nearing retirement, she had made a series of business mistakes, including giving the manager stock in the company without proper legal documentation, as both a reward for past service and to motivate and compensate him for future work. The once loyal employee began to take control of the owner’s $25 million investment under the guise of “handling the details” of the business. He took control of the accounting software program, the company credit cards and kept details from the owner by misinforming her of the time for meetings with the company accountant. She was dumbstruck when she received the phone call from the former employee, but, on reflection, it all made sense. Her business acumen for finding deals on distressed properties and turning them into rentals had not prepared her for the complexities of dealing with a business divorce. As a business owner you need to protect yourself. The following provides some tips you should keep in mind if you believe a business divorce is imminent.

Gain Control
When there is a shift in the business relationship, as owner your first step should be to get back your position of power. You will need to separate yourself immediately from the person causing the conflict in your business. In this case, the property owner fired the manager, changed the locks on the doors, cancelled credit cards and changed passwords to all the computer systems. You will need to take this even further to protect your intellectual property and files. Talk to your IT and file room staff about securing access and tracking of information and control of passwords.

If you are fortunate enough to have your company running well today, this is the perfect time to make sure confidentiality policies are in place and have a lawyer review your company documents. It makes more sense to manage risk and resolve conflicts before they start to touch your bottom line.

Stop Talking
It is tempting to unload your frustrations on your accountant, your tax advisor, other employees and even your next door neighbor. But the truth is those comments could come back to cost you money, leverage and possibly your business reputation. While there are some exceptions, as a general rule, conversations you have with someone, other than your lawyer, can be used in court. Make your attorney your sounding board, confidant, champion and warrior. What you tell your attorney is protected by attorney-client privilege. It is the bedrock of your right to have effective counsel; without it, lawyers could not effectively represent their clients.

Keep Original Documents
This property owner had a bad habit of giving away original documents. When it came time to organize her case, this made the task even more challenging for attorneys, expert witnesses and even business advisers. Making a copy of a document is fine, but make sure you keep the original. Be sure to maintain the integrity of original documents by keeping them free of extraneous handwritten notes. If you write on these documents, you may make your case more difficult. If you want to make a note about a business matter, grab a Post It note.

Hire a Lawyer
You may know your business, but your expertise is in the company, not the law. A good lawyer needs to be the captain of your ship as you navigate a business divorce. Your lawyer may recommend a business adviser to get your company back on track. While this is a “divorce” of sorts, it isn’t the job for a family law attorney; you need an experienced business attorney who has dealt with breakups in the business arena. Get referrals through people you know in the business community, professional organizations or your local bar association. Do not be afraid to ask a lawyer if he/she has ever done this type of work. In some cases, a team of lawyers may be necessary. You may need experience in several different areas to get the matter resolved.

Turning the Tide
How did the widowed property owner fare with her business on shaky ground and her future retirement threatened? Through a mediation process, she was able to regain control of her company and tocarve her co-owner out of the business. The woman is now back in a take-charge position, buying and managing properties. Most importantly, her future is in a more secure place.

Like a marital divorce, a business divorce is never easy but, once resolved, you’ll be able to run the company instead of letting bad employees or unsuitable business partners run you.

Leon Silver and Dan Garrison are shareholders at the law firm of Shughart Thomson & Kilroy. They lead the firm’s Business Divorce team. They can be reached at 602-650-2000.