Living the dream with the dream team! New Business Directions, LLC had an amazing opportunity to escape the cold New Hampshire winter for a few days in Puerto Rico. This was a great chance for the team to relax, refresh, and come together to create a better work experience.

The team was able to take full advantage of the beautiful Puerto Rican sunshine and catch a break from the everyday hustle and bustle of the office to get intentional with its efforts for the year ahead. While they were there, they were able to plan for the future, strengthen their team dynamic, and come up with creative solutions to improve processes and take advantage of individual strengths. This was an experience that the team will never forget, and they are already looking forward to doing it all again next year!

Are you looking for new ideas to market your business? Knowledge panels might be an excellent tactic to consider. If you haven’t heard of them, don’t worry; many people haven’t, but they are a Google invention widely used in search results daily.

Knowledge panels are the information panels that appear on the bottom right corner of your search results when you look up specific people or brands. They differ from the business profiles you see when you query a company, which Google Business Profile provides.

Knowledge panels display information that Google has collected in its Knowledge Graph, which is one of Google’s information databases. For example, search for a favorite author or your current Congressperson, and you can see an example of a knowledge panel. Famous historical figures and extremely popular entertainers may have a more robust page displaying all of the information about them, but there will typically also be a column of text to the right (you may have to scroll a bit to see it), which is the knowledge panel.

So, how can you use knowledge panels in your business? A knowledge panel representing your leadership or brand brings instant credibility and visibility to your organization. It boosts reputation and helps to build trust with all stakeholders.

Who typically has a knowledge panel? If you happen to be an author of a book with a formal ISBN (International Standard Book Number), you would automatically get one. If you are a leader of certain organizations, like Bob Iger of the Walt Disney Company, you will also get one. If your brand is well-known, it will have a knowledge panel.

You can’t create a knowledge panel, but you can claim it once it appears. Google determines who receives a knowledge panel. But you can “lobby” for one, and there are marketers you can hire to help you execute the steps it takes to get one. The main thing is to be active and visible online.

If you already have a knowledge panel, there are procedures documented on Google Help that you can follow to claim it. You can also make edit suggestions and submit them to Google. You can’t directly edit your knowledge panel, however; Google has final control over what is displayed.

After reading this article, we hope you now have a good jumping-off point to understanding and obtaining a Knowledge Panel. With so many marketing tactics available online to help promote your business, it’s essential to stay in the know about them!

A balance sheet is a financial statement showing a company’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time. It’s one of the foundational financial reports for your business. But did you know the equity section of the balance sheet looks different depending on a business’s legal structure? The most common entity types are corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietors. Recently, we discussed what equity looks like on a corporate balance sheet. This time, we’ll review what the equity section of the balance sheet looks like for sole proprietors.

The Equity Section
The equation Assets = Liabilities + Equity is true for all entities. For a sole proprietor, equity is called Owner’s Equity. There are typically two accounts listed: the Owner’s Capital Account and Owner’s Draw Account. We define both below.

Owner’s Capital Account. This balance represents how much money the owner has put into the business. Also included are cumulative business income or loss amounts from prior years.

Owner’s Draw Account. This balance represents how much money the owner has taken out of the business. Since a sole proprietor does not get a paycheck, taking money out of the business via a draw is how they receive their money.

A third account will show up if you run a balance sheet report in your accounting system on any date during the year: Current Year Earnings. This balance is the same as the net income on the year-to-date income statement. It represents the profit of the business.

On a formal balance sheet for external purposes, only one account will show: the Owner’s Capital Account. This is because the draw and the current year’s earnings will roll into that account.

Salary vs. Draw
It’s important to distinguish between the concepts of a salary and a draw. In corporations, owners receive salaries in the form of paychecks, where payroll taxes are deducted, and W-2s are issued at year-end. In the corporation’s income statement, the salary and taxes are deducted as expenses.

For a sole proprietor, this is not at all how it works. A sole proprietor has no salary. Therefore, there is no payroll expense or payroll taxes on the income statement for the owner. The owner could have employees, and those payroll expenses would be shown on the income statement, but there is nothing for the owner.

Instead, the owner takes draws, which are not an expense; they’re simply a reduction in equity. They do not affect profits or change taxes owed. An owner can take a great deal of money out of the business, and there is no impact on profits. There is undoubtedly an impact on cash flow, however!

A sole proprietor does pay payroll taxes in the form of self-employment taxes. They simply do it on their IRS Form 1040 as opposed to payroll tax forms that a corporation would use.

The equity section can be the most challenging to understand on the balance sheet. Hopefully, the explanation above will provide more clarity so you can better understand how to read your business’s financial statements.

Running a business can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be incredibly exhausting. As a business owner or manager, it’s essential to take the time to slow down, recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and take proactive steps to reduce fatigue and burnout. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of sustainable business practices and how slowing down can help protect your physical and mental health while supporting organizational success.

1. Eliminate wasted time.
Take a thoughtful look at your to-do list. Are there any tasks that take significant time and resources to complete that don’t offer you the return on investment to make them worthwhile? What would happen if you eliminated them from your to-do list entirely? Would you still meet your desired destination? If yes, it may be time to axe that task. Consider this quote from The Four Disciplines of Execution: “The only reason you fight a battle is to win the war.” Is this task going to help you win it? Or does it just feel productive?

2. Get off electronics and social media.
Vision Direct polled 2,000 adults in the U.S. and found that the average person spent over 6,259 hours per year staring at screens. If that statistic is making you sweat, or if you feel like you don’t have any time to live the life you want to, your work-life balance could be lurking behind the electric glow of your devices. Instead of setting an ambiguous goal to use your cell phone less, try tactics like:

  • plugging your phone in overnight in a different room to prevent you from starting your day by doom scrolling
  • Setting an alarm at night to set the phone down and enjoy some ‘analog’ activities
  • Utilizing your phone’s screen time features to remind you when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on any one app.
  • Turning your phone off and putting it away for–gasp–an entire weekend day.

3. Get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your executive functioning abilities. If you are sleep-deprived, everything takes longer. Mistakes happen more frequently. Emotions become hard to regulate. Slowing down and getting enough sleep each night can make you more productive, reducing work hours. Plus, you feel more refreshed.

If getting to bed an hour earlier isn’t feasible for you, could you find time to rest your eyes for 15 minutes a few days a week? According to the Sleep Foundation, “A nap can improve cognitive functions such as memory, logical reasoning, and the ability to complete complex tasks.”

4. Zoom out to gain a new perspective.
It’s called the hamster wheel for a reason: you’re moving so fast you can’t see that you aren’t actually going anywhere. Slowing down your usual routine can help you gain perspective. Now that you’ve cut out superfluous tasks, cut down on screen time, and are getting more rest, use that extra bandwidth to reconnect with your mission, vision, and purpose. You might have been fighting fires in the trenches for so long that you’ve forgotten why you’re in business. Make sure your employees understand their grander goals as well.

5. Avoid multitasking.
By this point, we’ve all heard the data that multitasking doesn’t actually save time. But are you executing the discipline to work on tasks one at a time, or are you task-switching in rapid succession? Almost everyone thinks they are good at multitasking, but a study by Jason M. Watson and David L. Strayer concluded that only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively. 

Becoming self-aware of your habits related to multitasking is the first step. Next, consider batching your work by client or task type. Note when you’re feeling more energized throughout the day and when your attention seems to lag. Then plan your work accordingly. This process is called capacity planning or time batching, and we have an entire article dedicated to it here. The key is to continue experimenting within the framework and see what works best for you. 

6. Get better at managing distractions.
If you get interrupted every five minutes, you will feel drained of energy at the end of your work day. Get smart about managing interruptions so you can be more productive. You can try strategies like:

  • Setting your phone to “do not disturb.” 
  • Carving out time on your calendar as “unavailable” so teammates don’t have total access to your time.
  • Placing your phone somewhere you can’t mindlessly reach for it.
  • Turning email and chat notifications off.
  • Working during an off time. 
  • If you’re in a physical office space, close your door.

7. Stop worrying about billable hours (for service businesses) – at least for a while.
If you’re feeling fixated on billable hours as of late, it may be time to take a step back, even if it feels counterintuitive. Otherwise, this preoccupation could affect the quality of service you’re able to offer your customers, which could lead to a decrease in customer satisfaction and hurt your reputation.

In addition, that constant attention on billable hours might even be causing you unnecessary stress. It’s not sustainable for every season of your business to be one of exponential growth. Sometimes, holding fast for a quarter can give you time to reevaluate your priorities in your business and personal life. This, in turn, can allow you to step forward confidently when the time is right.

8. Do nothing.
It’s actually okay to do nothing sometimes when you’re the business owner. Your mind needs space to develop new ideas, think about creative solutions to complex issues, and even daydream. Does the act of doing nothing leave you feeling incredibly uncomfortable? Then it’s probably exactly what you need.

By implementing these new strategies to free up time, you’ll find you’re better able to take back control of your day and slow down. Slowing down in your business is essential for your mental and physical well-being. Taking the time to rest, recharge, and evaluate your goals will allow you to refocus and realign with your purpose. When you are in a state of balance, it becomes easier to make decisions that benefit your business and your life.

And just as importantly, slowing down allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, appreciate the moments of success, and celebrate the milestones you have achieved.

How do you arrive at a price for the products and services you sell? While it depends on what industry your business is in, a handful of foundational pricing methods will be useful regardless of your business model. We outline five: time and materials pricing, cost-plus pricing, market pricing, target pricing, and value pricing. Let’s dive into each one.  

Time and Materials Pricing

Time and Materials (or T&M) pricing is a method used by many service-based organizations. As you might have guessed, T&M pricing is based on the time spent performing the service. A few great examples of Time and Materials pricing include the hourly rate an attorney charges, the rate a massage therapist charges for a 50- or 80-minute service, or the minimum fee a plumber charges, plus a different rate for subsequent hours. It’s also a method typically used in construction and product development.

In some cases, time-based pricing may be loosely tied to the salary level of the person performing the service. Still, there must be a substantial markup to cover payroll taxes, health insurance, overhead, training, and any materials or tools that are included. While costs like hourly rates, materials, equipment use, and independent contractors are typically agreed upon by the provider and customer ahead of time, the customer won’t usually receive an estimate in advance.

Cost-Plus Pricing

Cost-Plus pricing (also referred to as Markup pricing) is typically used in the retail industry. Retailers select inventory from a manufacturer or wholesaler and then make those products available to the public for purchase. This method is based on unit cost plus a markup. A typical example is keystone pricing, when an item is marked up to twice the purchase price plus one dollar.

Other industries that use cost-plus include groceries and auto dealers, but the pricing approach would also be relevant to businesses like a bakery, which purchases inventory in the form of ingredients and transforms them into a new product, like a pie.

Market Pricing

 Market pricing is the act of establishing the price for your goods or services based on the rates your competitors are currently offering. It is dependent on fluctuating market conditions and allows the seller to stay competitive with other providers. Commodities are the best example of Market pricing: Crops, oil and gas, and metals are all priced by the market.

Target Pricing

Target pricing is the process of beginning with a price that you feel customers will be willing to pay, and then designing a service or product around it. It’s commonly used in the SaaS, or Software as a Service, industry.

For example, let’s say you develop a concept for a subscription-based application that you believe consumers will pay a competitive rate of $29/month for–note that this price will be based on market research, not a ‘gut feeling.’ You would then build your application (and the resources required to support it) around a budget driven by the target price. If an organization can’t create the application build within the budget, it scraps the project.

When an organization takes the Target pricing approach, it can be more confident of a reasonable profit because the price is already consistent with market demand.

Value Pricing

Value pricing is based on the price a customer is willing to pay and what they value, rather than the direct cost of the product. For example, a customer with more to gain from employing your services is likely willing to pay more than a customer of smaller means with less to gain. This is because, while both customers may receive the same services, their perceived value of your services is different. Thus, they’re willing to pay different prices. For project-based work, Value pricing can be based on the customer’s expected return on investment (ROI) and is used in digital marketing and for some professional services.

Pricing in Action

In business, determining a product or service’s price is part math and part art. It may even be a combination of two or more methods listed above. There are many factors and considerations that will inevitably go into your pricing decisions. New Business Directions can help you determine if your prices are adequate for the profit margins you want, competitive with your industry’s standards, and more. We can also help with if-then scenarios. For example, if you raised your rates by $100 an hour, but demand went down five percent, what would your profit margins look like? Please reach out to us to schedule a paid consultation if you would like us to help you with your pricing process.