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PET PLANET Offers Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

Posted By Kristen Cherry, Pet Planet, Monday, November 14, 2016

Keeping Our Pets Safe This Holiday Season

When planning your Holiday celebrations, here are two ideas to consider to keep your pets safe and healthy:

1.      Tinsel, ribbons, lights and shiny holiday items can cause severe stomach problems if swallowed by your pet.  Leave the lowest branches of your tree free of tempting things that may look like fun for your cat to play with or your dog to eat.

2.      Although brilliant for creating holiday spirit, Poinsettias, Holly, Mistletoe and Chocolate are hazards to our furry companions and can make them extremely sick. In your home, please keep those in safe, out-of-reach areas.

Holiday hustle-and-bustle can really stress your pets.  Be careful with decorations and food to help your pets live healthier, happier and longer lives!

Happy Holidays from PET PLANET . . . Your Pet’s Natural Grocer!

Tags:  arizona small business  career change  change  christmas  entrepreneur  family business  family-operated business  finding your passion  franchise  small business  Small Business Owners  starting a business  women owned small business  women-owned business 

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3 Ways To Keep Your Board From Getting Board

Posted By Jason Trujillo, Woodbury Financial, Tuesday, March 31, 2015

3 Ways To Keep Your Board From Getting Board

Article appeared on March 30, 2015 on

Click here to read original article.

I serve as a volunteer on the board of directors of a national non-profit with a multi-million dollar budget. When we get together, the stakes are high, and it’s important to our busy CEO that we make good use of our time.

While at our most recent quarterly board meeting, I watched our CEO gracefully maximizing the effectiveness of the group. This is an important time for our organization with a major strategic plan in the works. When the CEO presented ideas for programs to add, programs to keep and, most controversially, programs to scrap, some board members began a line-item discussion of each program.

Before we got far, the CEO calmly commented, “Today, I won’t waste your time going over each idea.”

His signal was clear, and the board noticed.

“What I hear our CEO telling us is that some tough decisions will need to be made soon,” one board member said. “He is asking for our buy-in and support as he navigates these decisions.”

Our CEO got the backing he sought.

A board of directors can be a boon or a bane for CEOs. Whether it’s a large corporation with outside directors or a small business with family members on the board, a CEO can easily be caught off guard by the actions of the board. Plans can be scuttled, compensation slashed and direction diverted. Because it’s as simple as an up or down vote on a proposal, the board of directors can destroy a year’s worth of work in a less than a day.

In most cases, CEOs prevent board meeting disasters from happening by practicing preventative planning. As long as the board remains informed during the year, and the board materials that are sent out for the meeting are clear, the meeting will typically run smoothly. Sometimes, however, events at the actual meeting can derail a carefully crafted presentation strategy.

In one horror story I read a while back, a dismissed staff member hacked into the CEO’s Powerpoint presentation to the board and projected the image of a naked woman on the 64-inch screen.

The meeting did not go well.

In less dramatic situations, the culprits for failed meetings are everyday issues such as bad travel arrangements or technology glitches.

In addition to advanced planning, there are steps a CEO can take on-site to assure that a board of directors meeting runs smoothly.

Get the technology right

Board members, especially if they are outside directors, view the CEO as their primary point of contact and the person who speaks for the company. If, at the meeting, your slide show won’t run, it’s more than a tech hiccup – its evidence that the company isn’t running smoothly. And a flawed presentation may lead to a “no” vote once the balloting starts.

What some CEOs do to avoid this scenario is make the physical part of the presentation – the room, the computer, the slides – an accountability for a trusted, on-site staff member. To assure success, I suggest the CEO perform a test run of the presentation on location.

Enforce the board’s mission

When I joined my first board, I was given a copy of the book, “POLICY vs. Paper clips.” The message from this book could not be any clearer. Board members are tasked to create the organization’s strategy. They are not supposed to direct its operations.

So, when last week the CEO told our board he didn’t want to “waste our time” by reviewing each continued or discontinued program, he was reminding us of our mission. It may seem intimidating to tell the board its business, especially since these are the people who decide your pay, but a CEO has to repeatedly remind board members that they need to stay on course. Focus on the policy and let the staff count the paper clips.

Invite disagreement

I’ve attended board meetings where the agenda is so tightly controlled that the gathering is just a series of presentations with pro-forma rubber stamping by the directors. This invites trouble.

Directors do not want to travel to a meeting simply to be well-fed and watch a slide show. Your board will just be bored. In creating and submitting the agenda, it’s important for the CEO to allow time for discussion and even disagreement. By doing so, the CEO gets buy-in from the board.

The 1,000-pound gorillas are dealt with, and the final vote converts dissonance and disagreement into acquiescence and solidarity. Think of it this way. If you’re unsure whether the board will buy into your ideas, maybe your ideas need a second look. If, instead, you believe your ideas are spot on, discussion at the board level will help solidify your position.

Make Robert’s Rules of Order your friend

Many formalities in the corporate world have gone the way of the typewriter. Perhaps there’s no longer a need for congratulatory plaques for retiring board members, and maybe a simple buffet will suffice over a formal dinner.

One formality should, however, be preserved – adherence to the rules of order. The final arbiter of an organization’s strategy is the board of directors, and board meetings are where they conduct their business. A CEO needs someone in the room who is charged with maintaining the conduct and the process that drives an orderly meeting.

When all is going well, there is a natural tendency to let the rules slide. If everyone agrees, why bother with a motion, a second and then a vote? The problem is that things can go from good to bad with the mere change to a new agenda topic. A board culture where there is adherence to the rules of order is the CEO’s best way to maintain control and set the meeting up for success.

Before you attend your next board of directors meeting, take a page from other successful CEOs’ playbooks. Set the stage, sweat the details and keep the process running smoothly.


Tags:  board culture  board meeting  board of directors  buy-in  CEO  corporate world  family business  non-profit  POLICY vs Paper clips  Powerpoint  preventative planning  Principal Financial Group  Robert's Rules of Order  small business  Steve Parrish  strategic planning  technology 

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Don't Give Your Business Away, Sell It

Posted By Jason Trujillo, Woodbury Financial, Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Don't Give Your Business Away, Sell It by Steve Parrish

Article originally appeared on on March 2, 2015.

To read original article, click here.

I often address business groups, and many of the attendees own family-operated businesses. I challenge these individuals with this question: “Do you want your kids to be heirs or successor owners?”

Here’s the difference. A successor owner is one who takes the legacy of the business you built and moves it to the next level. An heir is a loafer who sits around waiting for you to die.

To encourage children to act like successors, you need to get them thinking like business owners sooner. And the best way to do that is to make them owners now – but for a price.

There simply has never been a better time to facilitate the transfer of some of the family business to the kids.

The primary economic driver for these positive conditions is incredibly low interest rates. This makes the transaction workable from a cash flow standpoint. Second, the tax environment is also favorable in that owners can still legitimately discount privately owned business interests for valuation purposes.

But both of these conditions can change. Interest rates are likely to increase, and tax law writers may ultimately succeed in limiting what discounts can be used in valuation of a family-owned business.

How a transfer works

Assume you own a family business, and your daughter wants to succeed you in ownership of the business. Rather than gifting her stock or, worse yet, having her wait for you to die to inherit the stock, sell her part of your business now.

Here’s the process:

  1. Value your business. You may know your business, but that doesn’t mean you know what an outside party – or the IRS – will attach for a value.
  2. If control is an issue for you, recapitalize or restructure your business. C or S Corporations can issue non-voting stock. A partnership can be changed to a limited partnership. An LLC can have members as well as managers. You don’t have to hand over the keys to your business in order to have your daughter become an owner.
  3. Sell a portion of your business to your daughter. She would buy an equity stake for a contractually agreed, IRS-defensible value. She can either sign a long-term installment note or an interest-only note with a balloon payment far into the future. Your daughter now owns a part of your business, has established a tax basis in her stake, and can start thinking like an owner.

Why now?

Your daughter is not wealthy. How can she possibly afford to buy into the business?

It’s all about the terms of the loan. The IRS is required to use tables known as the Applicable Federal Rate (AFR) to determine the minimum interest rate to charge so as to avoid the loan being treated as a gift.

The March 2015 annual, long-term AFR is an incredibly low 2.19 percent. Ten years ago it was 4.52 percent. Fifteen years ago it was 6.75 percent. Think of these current low AFR rates as a tax and cash flow gift to business owners.

You can set up a long-term agreement with your daughter to sell an interest in your business and be able to lock in a rate of only 2.19 percent. This rate will not increase during the period of the loan, even though interest rates are likely to increase in the future.

Consider how this could work. If you sell your daughter a stake in your business worth $1 million, the annual interest charge on that stake would be $21,900.

How can she afford the interest payment? The earnings she receives from her equity stake in the business can provide her with the working capital needed to pay you the interest on the loan and perhaps some of the principal. And this doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of cash flow for you. What you give up in earnings from the sold stock will be recovered in whole or in part by the loan payments your daughter makes to you.

For estate planning purposes, you’ll probably want your daughter to pay off the loan no later than the date when you die (hopefully a long way down the road). A common planning technique is to have her use some of the earnings from her equity share to purchase life insurance on your life. That way she’ll pay off the loan at your death. She’ll own her stake in the business free and clear, and your estate will have liquidity for other estate planning needs.

The benefit

The bottom line is that your daughter will now start thinking about your bottom line. She’ll think like an owner because she will be an owner.

For example, if your company makes additional profit because of her contribution to the business’s success, she will share in the financial rewards through her stock ownership. Conversely, she’ll feel the cash flow pinch when times are bad.

This will set her up for eventually taking over the legacy you’ve created and becoming a successor owner.

This favorable alignment of the stars will not last forever. Both interest rate and tax changes are looming. If you want your children to be your successor owners, now is the time to act.


Tags:  Applicable Federal Rate  business loan  business valuation  cash flow  equity stake  estate planning  family business  family-operated business  heir  installment note  interest rate  IRS  legacy  life insurance  Principal Financial Group  Steve Parrish  stock ownership  successor owner  tax basis 

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