Making the Visible, Invisible

I love dining out. I love live theatre and for me, restaurants are theaters. Like theatre, restaurants create a show for us to experience, including director, actors, staging and lighting. A couple of weeks ago I had dinner at a local restaurant that is part of a restaurant group. It was an experience in innovation and leadership that I feel compelled to share. I have eaten at the original restaurant a couple of times and I described the experience as "dinner & a show".  It's a fine dining restaurant so one expects special, and they delivered. The "show" in this case is visible, it's in your face. The goal is to show the patron how creative they are. It is mostly about the way the food is prepared, e.g. molecular gastronomy, liquids that taste like solids, or foam that tastes like celery or the like, but it also is about the presentation (packaging) and the delivery. This newer restaurant in the group is casual. The menu...
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Taxes, trade and tariffs translate to trouble

One of the top five concerns noted in Vistage's recent report Decision Factors H2 2018, is taxes, trade and tariffs. The new tax law has created as much uncertainty as opportunity for SMBs. Certain changes — such as the revised Section 179 deduction and 20% pass-through income deduction — are expected to benefit many companies. However, other revisions to the tax law — such as limitations to net business loss deductions — may create new costs. At the same time, new trade policies and tariffs (e.g., steel and aluminum tariffs) are driving up material costs and heightening financial risks for businesses. Joe Gavin, Vistage chief research officer, offers these suggestions: • Hire a CPA you can trust - Your accountant should be willing to sit down with you and explain how they’re planning to calculate your income as a result of the tax law. For example, a great CPA will show you what your taxable income looks like under the old rules compared to the new...
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Cyberattacks are the Silent Killers of SMBs

One of the top five concerns noted in Vistage's recent report Decision Factors H2 2018, is cybersecurity. If you have employees, customers or financial data, you are a target for a cyberattack. Cyber criminals are aggressively targeting small and midsize businesses (SMBs), and cyberattacks are increasing in complexity, frequency and severity. For many SMBs, those attacks are leading to loss of data, cash, customer records, employee information, leadership credibility, and employee and customer trust. Yet many SMBs still haven’t taken the proper precautions to protect themselves. Cybersecurity is a silent killer, it can shut you down like nothing else, says Joe Gavin, Vistage chief research officer. Here are his suggested actions to protect your business: Assess the strength of your cybersecurity - To gauge the strength of your cybersecurity, use a reputable tool — such as the Cybersecurity Framework offered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Create a layered defense - A comprehensive cybersecurity plan has three core components: people, process and technology. Call on a...
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Talent shortage goes critical

One of the top 5 concerns noted in Vistage's recent report Decision Factors H2 2018, is talent shortages. The unemployment rate at 3.9% is near an 18 year low. Last week, the DOL announced the number of Americans applying for unemployment fell to a near 49 year low. By measure of most economists, we are at full employment; some say we are past that. Additionally, there is a growing mismatch between skills desired and skills available. In short, demand exceeds supply on several levels. Joe Gavin, Vistage chief research officer, offers these suggestions gleaned from experts he interviewed: Change how you retain talent - Quoting Fabiola Brumley, Southeast regional executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, "To hold on to your best people, try supplementing employee benefits with non-traditional benefits, such as financial counseling or a reward system that recognizes high performers. Additionally, Joseph Quinlan stresses that companies should be “much more flexible — not just for millennials, but for the aging cohort as well. There are a...
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Cost pressures broadening and growing stronger

The #1 concern noted in Vistage's recent report Decision Factors H2 2018, is rising costs. As we near the end of the current economic cycle, for the first time, in a long time, in addition to a typical cyclical tightening, we are also experiencing inflation. Wages are rising, the Fed is raising short term rates, and commodity prices are rising. Add to that the tariffs and businesses are under cost pressure that has not been with us for a long time. The resulting profit declines are a double-edged sword as the impact is on both you and your customers. What to do? Joe Gavin, Vistage chief research officer, offers these suggestions: Raise your prices - 56% of Vistage members are already saying they have, or plan to raise prices. Now is the time to get ahead of the expected continued pressure on price. Talk with customers about their long-term plans - A transparent conversation can lead to a strategic discussion of how you...
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