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About a year ago I wrote a post regarding an initiative in Oregon to raise corporate taxes. The marketing for the ballot measure told grass roots voters (i.e. mostly non-business owners) that corporations were paying only $10 a year in corporate taxes and that it was time to make the greedy “corporations” pay their fair share. Of course the bill passed and unemployment went up in Oregon. As a matter of fact, Oregon still has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the United States. So, it was great to read this morning that the tide appears to be changing on the topic of corporate taxes, at least on the federal level. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Pres. Obama and the new Republican House of Representatives are coming together to find ways to reduce taxation on businesses. They are acknowledging how the federal tax system is killing our competitiveness around the globe and claim to be committed to fixing that.

Government players now need to put aside their constant bickering and actually find a way to bring tax relief to employers. If they can do so then promise of significant economic growth beginning this year has got some horsepower behind it.

The fact is that when you put money back into the hands of business owners they plow the money back into building their business. A recent Bloomberg poll showed that there were 297,000 new jobs created last month. 270,000 were created by companies with less than 500 employees. Of that group, over 117,000 were created by companies with less than 50 employees. This is further evidence that small business really is the engine driving America.

To read the WSJ article on lowering taxes visithttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703675904576064052401692010.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

To see the Bloomberg poll go to http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aEh4eGZyAt1Y&pos=1

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On the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, I have taken time, as I’m sure many of us have to reflect on the details of that tragic day 9 years ago.

 I can vividly recall that on the morning of September 11, 2001 I was getting ready to head to the Portland International Airport. The activity of our young children getting ready to leave for school had my wife and I hurriedly trying to get all the loose ends tied up in time for the kids to get on the bus and me to get to the airport. As usual the Today Show was on in the background. All attention was pulled away from our morning routine as we saw the pictures of the first World Trade Center tower on fire caused by a plane crash and then watched in disbelief as a plane hit the second tower. We stood holding each other around the TV as we watched the horrifying pictures coming from “Ground Zero”.

I was scheduled to fly to Northern Nevada that morning in anticipation of a Laughlin Associates 3-day workshop due to begin the next morning. Of course all air traffic was halted. There would be no flight that morning. Also, in light of the unprecedented tragedy, the question was raised by some of whether or not we should hold the event at all. We had over 100 business owners scheduled to attend and many of them were already enjoying some late summer time at Lake Tahoe where the event would be held. I decided that we would proceed with the workshop and quickly called the 6 speakers that were supposed to present. They were from all over the Western United States and all had families to be concerned about. Without exception each one confirmed that they would get in the car and head for Nevada.

The drive from Portland, Oregon to Lake Tahoe takes about 11 hours. I was having issues with my car’s audio system and so had no radio with which to keep track of the details unfolding on the East Coast. Rather, what I saw spoke volumes about the resilience of small business owners. Throughout my long day’s drive I saw people working in their stores, cooking burgers in the restaurants, working on road crews, and driving 18 wheelers. As much as it had seemed on television that the world had stopped, it had, in fact, not.

When I arrived at the resort at Lake Tahoe, I was impressed to find that virtually every person who had registered for the 3-day event had shown up. Despite the ongoing tragedy perpetrated by individuals wanting to shut down America, these 100+ business owners were determined to not let anything keep them from building their companies, taking care of their families, and ensuring that “no terrorist was going to shut them down.”

One of the most humbling moments of my life was standing before that group to open the first session. I can still feel the swelling pride in my chest that I felt for these people, most of whom were strangers to me. Nevertheless, in that moment I felt connected to them in a deep and poignant way. I knew right there that no matter what might come at us in the future, the small business people of America would continue to take steps of faith into the darkness. I knew that despite the challenges the world threw at them, their resilience would not be slackened. This is as true today as it was 9 years ago. We face big challenges and we see that government and huge companies are all looking toward the small businesses to keep the economic ball rolling, without bailouts and without much top down help at all.

As we go into this weekend, let’s make sure that we never forget what makes this country great. It is its people. Let’s never forget what makes our economy work. It is small business. And let us not forget the source of the blessings we each enjoy in this great land.

Thoughtfully,

Aaron S. Young, CEO

Laughlin Associates, Inc.

 

I just got back from a great trip to California. While I was there I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in San Diego with an exciting group of people including:

Troy Hazard, a radio and television personality from Australia recently transplanted to the USA, who brought us all together to talk about what we could do to help small business owners thrive in today’s turbulent economy.

Amilya Antonetti, a fixture on national television, contributing correspondent to Fox News and author of a new book, “The Recipe”.

Anthony Tesoriero, self-made millionaire, serial entrepreneur and founding member of The Lucky Napkin Group.

Joan Koerber-Walker, CEO of AMA Enterprises.

Last, but not least we were joined by author/speaker/marketing and sales training legend, Brian Tracy, who will also be speaking at Laughlin’s November 3-5 seminar in the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

We gathered at the offices of Brian Tracy International and spent our time discussing case studies of our various customers and trying to pinpoint what help entrepreneurs seem to need right now. It was an exciting discussion and there are some cool things that will come from it. We will have a short assessment tool coming online by mid-August called the “Smart Biz Quiz,” which will help identify what small business owners feel they need most right now. Using the results the group will attempt to find help and solutions based on our collective business connections.

As soon as the quiz is up and running, I will post a link. In the mean time please take time to read about the people mentioned above .

Comment  here and at www.laughlinusa.com/blog and let me know what issues are most important to the success and growth of your business!

 

Hello Everyone,

Last week I was invited on as a guest of the Big Biz Show, heard on both the Fox Business Network and CBS Business Network. Currently this program is heard on approximately 150 stations around the country. They have a listenership of more than 1.4 million people with an obvious leaning toward small business owners and investors.

The hosts, Sully and Rusty, were hilarious and a little tough to keep up with, but I did my best and had a lot of fun. Take a minute and please check out  Aaron Young on the Big Biz Show!    

Summary: Roni Deutch Tax Centers have exclusively added Laughlin Associates’ entity formation and corporate record book keeping services to their in store product line. The Laughlin team recently attended the company’s Annual Meeting to strategize with executives and franchisees.  Both companies offer tax and business solutions to small business owners.

Laughlin Associates’ (LAI) executive team recently joined Ms. Roni Deutch and more than 200 Roni Deutch Tax Center (RDTC) executives, franchisees and partners at the organization’s 3rd annual convention in Reno, Nevada. The LAI team was invited to attend the 3-day event to educate RDTC franchisees on the Laughlin product line; entity formation and record book management.  RDTC has chosen to add the Laughlin line of products, in an exclusive deal, to its cadre of small business services.

Roni Deutch Tax Center, Founder and President, Roni Deutch offers, “The mission of Roni Deutch Tax Centers is to become the number one tax, business and financial services provider to the small business person in the U.S., and provide a varied range of business tools.  We plan to be a hub for small business owners within their local community.  Laughlin’s products are the perfect addition because of their industry knowledge, professionalism and superior service.”  Roni Deutch Tax Center is ranked #4 on Franchise Times list of “the Fast 55,” a listing of the fastest growing franchises less than 5 years old.

Laughlin Associates, Inc. (LAI) has been the leader in the incorporation and record book keeping business for nearly 40 years and offers a portfolio of services and education to its business-owner clients. They combine “high-touch” with decades of experience, top advisors and educators along with high-tech communications.

LAI CEO Aaron Young, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Meghan Cole and Director of Business Development Troy Parker met with Ms. Deutch on strategies to educate and meet the needs of small business owners.  Scott Burnett, LAI Director of Education gave a presentation on the need for small business owners to focus on their corporate record books and remain in compliance with IRS statutes. “As entrepreneurs, it’s imperative to your survival to protect the corporate veil.  Your personal assets and bottom line depend on it”, states Burnett.

Aaron Young concludes, “It was exciting to meet these entrepreneurial-minded professionals who were enthusiastic to embrace additional services beyond tax preparation.  Both RDTC and Laughlin’s focus is on the small business owners’ needs.  We look forward to attending many more RDTC meetings in the coming years.”

Contacts:

Laughlin Associates

888-273-8152

Meghan Cole, Vice President of Marketing & Sales

www.laughlinusa.com

Roni Deutch Tax Centers

(800) 230-1083

http://www.rdtc.com/

We, at Laughlin Associates, enjoy wonderful partnerships with some of America’s most influential thought leaders. No one fills the bill as a motivational thought leading pioneer better than our partner and friend Brian Tracy.
In this era of bailouts and increasing dependence by many on the “welfare state”, small business owners stand out as beacons of hope, courage and tenacity. Still, many business owners that I talk to have been getting discouraged lately and, I thought, could use a little pep talk. To that end, I offer the following from Brian Tracy. I hope that you come away from reading this as inspired by his message as I was. – AY

“The starting point of maturity is the realization that “No one is coming to the rescue.” Everything you are or ever will be is entirely up to you.

This life is not a rehearsal for anything else. This is the real thing. The game is on. Time is passing quickly, and all of your decisions and indecisions, your actions and inactions, have added up to create the life you’re living at this very minute. If you want things to be different in the future, you’ll have to make things different in the present. You’ll have to take complete charge of yourself and your life and make things change, because they won’t change by themselves… “

You can read the full article here.


One of my greatest blessings in life is to be surrounded by smart, creative and driven people. No one exemplifies these qualities more than my colleague at Laughlin Associates, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Meghan Cole. For over 10 years Meghan has overseen all of the elements used by Laughlin to reach out to our clients and to the world at large. She has visited with hundreds, if not thousands, of business owners and come to understand the issues that affect them. She is a pleasure to work with and learn from. To that end, I share with you a message from my friend, Meghan Cole. – AY

“To avoid failure, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” – Unknown

Did you know that May 23-29, 2010 is Small Business Week? This is your special week and you should take a moment to reflect and congratulate yourself on what you’ve accomplished. Many people have the dream but it takes a certain individual to turn that dream into a reality.

So what does a week dedicated to Small Business Owners mean to you?  Probably not much in the big scheme of things.  You don’t get to take the week off, nobody’ going to throw you a parade  and  your employees aren’t going to thank you for their jobs.   But that’s ok, you wouldn’t be in business for yourself if you relied on other peoples accolades.

At Laughlin Associates, we understand the hard work and dedication it takes to start and grow a business. In 1972 we were founded by one person who saw an opportunity, took the risk and put his entrepreneurial spirit to the test. Since that time we’ve had the great pleasure to assist over 79,000 small businesses feel the same joy and excitement that comes launching a new venture.

Well, we just couldn’t let this important week go by without saying congratulations and giving you a special gift. Click on the link and receive a complimentary copy of “Eat That Frog,” authored by Brian Tracy.  Brian Tracy is a world-renowned expert on time management. He has delivered time management seminars to more than 250,000 people.  His audio program on time management, How to Master Your Time is the bestselling program of its kind in the world, in multiple languages.

This accessible book contains a series of practical, proven, effective techniques that every person can use to focus on their most important tasks, stop procrastinating and get more things done faster than ever before, everything a business owner needs.

Thank you to all the small business owners who are driving the economy. Thank you to all those entrepreneurs who took the leap and continue to strive for greater success. You truly are the backbone of America. – Meghan Cole

One of the most exciting things that we do at Laughlin is to partner with great companies. The goal of these partnerships is typically to introduce each partner’s client base to the other’s in such a way that significant numbers of new leads are being driven to one another. This kind of arrangement helps the clients gain exposure to products from vetted providers and lets each partner gain access to new prospects (hopefully at a lower cost per contact).

Laughlin Associates has recently engaged in affinity partnerships with Roni Deutch Tax Centers and with sales and motivational legend, Brian Tracy. In both cases there have been appropriate efforts made to begin building bridges between our unique client bases and in trying to promote one another’s product lines. In every partnership we enter in to there is apparent synergy. Surprisingly, in many cases, there are also significant challenges to get the ball rolling. This is an interesting phenomenon.

At Laughlin, we have a large, qualified and loyal customer base. These individuals have, for the most part, been with us for years and, we think, have a high level of trust in us. We have been approached many times by organizations anxious to get a few minutes in front of this valuable group of business owners. When that chance has been afforded, however, my wonderful and intelligent clients sometimes exhibit a lack-luster response.

Recently, with the success of our business development efforts, we have found ourselves in front of new, business owner prospects. When we get the chance to talk about what we do, there can be the same slow-moving reaction to our message as we have seen from our clients towards our partners. To be fair, we have had some wonderful experiences with partners where experience exceeded expectations. But many times, getting to those results is a protracted process. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Give it time – a new group of prospective clients will take time to understand your message and to trust your products. There’s a confidence curve.
  2. Educate – remember that you are new to this group.  Give them the education they need to make a decision.
  3. Keep cross-promoting – If your partner’s product will truly help your client base, then your efforts will not only be rewarded by a more satisfied customer, but your partnership will become stronger; hopefully resulting in increased leads and sales.

I wonder if anyone out there has stories of what has worked best for you to shorten what I believe is a confidence curve. Do you have ideas of what might help us all as we pursue partnerships in which we can leverage compatible databases in order to build new client relationships? Let me know and I will report back on any attempts we make to implement your ideas. Thanks in advance for your help. – AY

Springtime is weird. One minute it is blue skies, sunny and warm. The flowers bloom and colorful birds fill the landscape outside my window. The next thing I know the skies are filled with black clouds. The winds blow and the rain and hail pound against the same window that, only moments before, was so filled with light. It occurred to me this morning that this spring time weather mix is a good analogy for the current business climate.

Most of us were, in the not too distant past, enjoying a pleasant run of good luck. If you are like me you probably thought you were pretty smart to have gotten yourself into such a good position.  A lot of us made money because the real estate boom was driving the availability of liquid cash up. Everyone was buying, selling, and borrowing. It seemed real property prices knew no logical bounds (nor did most banks) and much of the nation reveled in blissful wealth. I’m not sure who decided to unveil the man behind the curtain, but he was revealed and the whole party came to a crashing halt.  That brought us to where we are now.

Today the media is reporting that the worst is over and that the economy is on the mend. This may be true, but where I live in Portland, Oregon (unemployment approx. 11%) things are still pretty bleak. At Laughlin, the storm has encouraged us to make some adjustments in the way we reach out to prospective customers to try to combat the obvious changes taking place all around us. The cool thing is that these adjustments have led us to innovation and new partnerships. Just as the spring always follows winter, these adjustments have begun to show signs of growth. May’s flowers are beginning to bloom and the field’s crops are beginning to show themselves. If it hadn’t been for the challenges we have been facing through the winter of “The Great Recession”, we might not have looked around at new ways of doing things and thus the potentially greater harvest that we are looking forward to now.

Yes, spring is weird, but it is also a time that makes us feel alive. The strangeness of pouring rain falling from what appears to be a clearing sky always is surprising but always fun to see and that is what seems to be happening right now as I look out my window.

I just attended a really great summit at the Flamingo Resort in Las Vegas. It was presented by eCommerce Merchants, the premier industry association for online retailers. In attendance were senior executives from the all over the web including eBay, Amazon, Overstock.com and hundreds of stand alone online shopping platforms.

I was there at the invitation of the eCommerce Merchants Board of Directors. A member of that board, David Hardin (he owns Shoetime, one of the biggest shoe sellers on the web) had attended the Laughlin Associates seminar last month in Las Vegas. At that time he told me that his industry desperately needed what Laughlin was teaching and asked me to come attend the summit. Boy, am I glad that I did. First let me say that I was blown away by the level of cooperation, support, and sharing of “secrets” that I observed among this group. They seemed to really want to help each other grow. They believe that brick and mortar is fading and that digital distribution will soon eclipse the old tried and true.  That the local mall is on its way out and that Amazon and its competitors are taking charge of the online capitalistic party. These folks make a pretty good argument and are willing to overlook their own competitiveness for a few days in order to help ensure that this dream of online, retail supremacy come to fruition.

I got the chance to visit with dozens of the key players at the event and the primary issue relayed to me from these industry leaders didn’t come as a surprise at all. They said that many e-commerce sellers had started out working from their kitchen table and that even the companies that had become super-successful sellers hadn’t ever done the foundational work to make their enterprise into a real business.

Four questions they (and all business owners) should ask themselves:

Without doing this work the owners of these companies would never be able to truly develop, protect, grow, and eventually sell or pass down the business that they had built.

These web entrepreneurs have fallen into a trap that many small business owners find themselves in. They are really good at doing some sort of job. They hang out their shingle and start doing that job for themselves instead of for an employer. They become successful. Everything is rosy until they are challenged. Maybe it’s an audit, maybe a lawsuit, maybe a partnership or marriage breaking up. Whatever the situation, the person who was doing great at doing what they did great was now in hot water. They might even lose everything they had built and all because they didn’t build the business on a solid foundation.

It doesn’t matter which industry you are in. In every case you, as a small business person, must do smart things to look out for your business. There is no outside Board of Directors looking over your shoulder. No attorney, CPA, or consultant that is going to push you to do the work that is required to survive. Don’t leave it to others to hold your hand through the boring but necessary issues that you must deal with in order to defend yourself if your business is ever challenged. I just met hundreds of smart people who are doing big sales in cyberspace. Most of them admit that they need to do better at building their foundation. So now, be honest; what kind of foundation is your house built upon?