Big News- We've Moved to Serve You Better!

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It’s with great pleasure that we’re writing to inform you that as of a few short weeks ago we officially opened our doors in a more spacious and comfortable space at 835 Georgia Avenue, Suite 301, Chattanooga, TN, 37402. Other than our address, no other contact information for us is changing. Our new location is in the Smart Bank Building across the street from Miller Plaza. 

 

Since we’ve opened our doors in 2016, our goal has been to service our valuable clients with the highest level of clarity and service anywhere in the accounting industry. We want to make sure that our office space allows us to convey that commitment as well through added convenience, better client meeting space, and more room to have a positive environment for our team members. We couldn’t be more pleased so far! 

While we're excited about what this means for the growth of our company, we intentionally delayed publicizing this announcement for a simple reason- it's not about us, it's about our clients. This is an important time of year for our clients, and we want you to know that our focus has been squarely on the work. While our move is fully focused on serving our clients better, we wanted to be sure that our actions followed our words and that our focus was on maintaining our process, not on shining the light on ourselves. 

Thank you to our team members who have made this move smoother than we could ever imagine. Thank you to our families who have supported our dream of creating a better accounting firm. More than anything, thank you to our clients for entrusting some of the most important things in your life with Market Street Partners. It's not a responsibility we take lightly, and we look forward to serving you even better in our new space! 

The MSP Leadership Team

What To Do When Your Competitor Fails

Business owners know that mistakes happen. We’ve all felt them and fear them within our own businesses, but often experience the opposite feelings when the tables are turned and hear of a public failure about a competitor. Perhaps you read the headlines in the morning and discover a big scandal or failure has befallen your rival or you hear about a negative experience with their products or recent their financial struggles, the first feeling is utter shock. The second is “this is my shot”. Before arriving to work that morning- heck, before the mistake even happens-  it is essential that you be prepared to handle the situation. How you conduct yourself in this moment not only says a lot about the character of you as a business owner, but the impression you’ll give your consumers. While the mistake likely presents an opportunity for your business to capitalize on, it can also be tempting to shift your focus away from your own business strategy. This could not only be a rare opportunity for your business to bring in new clients and earn more market share, but an opportunity to prove your integrity to potential customers. Your employees will follow your lead with handling the sudden shift in the market. This rare opportunity is one that could easily be squandered. Here are three things you that will help you prepare for when the inevitable happens.

1.      You Didn’t Succeed Because They Failed

Because we’ve all experienced our own failure, it sometimes feels good when you’re not the one who failed. When it is your competitor that failed, your first instinct may be to sing along to the tune of “Another One Bites the Dust”. However, your company still didn’t necessarily win- an opportunity has just presented itself. In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, the Hare’s laziness didn’t automatically mean that the Tortoise won. The Tortoise still had to put in the work, continue its slow and steady strategy, and finish the race to win. Just because your competitor has failed, their customers don’t automatically become your customers. Their failure does not automatically equal your success.

In the midst of Uber’s recent scandals, Lyft- their main competitor- has taken Uber’s failures at face value and recognized this principle. The two founders made a concerted effort to communicate this to their team members. They wrote a pointed email to all their employees noting, “the faults of our competition don’t do anything to deliver a better experience for our customers”. Uber’s failures have no impact on Lyft’s business operations or what consumers will think of Lyft. Lyft understands that the failures Uber is experiencing may provide them with more opportunity to improve in the market; but it doesn’t directly impact the performance of their company.

Keep your focus on the value you provide to your consumers. Lyft didn’t pour out marketing dollars into ads that highlight Uber’s failures, they remained diligent in communicating why they are the best ride-sharing option available. Simply being “better than the worst” opens up your company to new competition and consumers will seek new alternatives in place of you and your competitor.

2. Be a Reporter, Not a Scavenger

It’s important to understand why your competitor failed so you don’t make the same mistakes. For example, if they got involved with the wrong business partner, you better be sure that you don’t make the same mistake. If their employee made a mistake, for goodness sakes, don’t hire that person! By understanding what went wrong, you can take measures to make sure you do the right thing for your business and your consumers.

This is a rare opportunity for your company to learn from mistakes without suffering the consequences. Think back to when you would conduct experiments in chemistry class. If someone made a mistake and used the wrong ingredients that caused a negative reaction, you’re going to be sure you don’t use the same ingredients. Just like you did in class, your business can see the mistakes from your competitor and take proactive, rather than reactive, steps to avoid these pitfalls. This doesn’t happen often, so use your competitor’s mistakes or scandal as a chance to learn rather than simply a scavenging opportunity.

3. Learn From the Market

With Uber’s recent scandals, people have been outraged with the company. Uber’s app downloads have been decreasing, and they’ve dropped significantly in market share from 90% to 75%. Lyft was able to be in the perfect position to pick up the slack by understanding just why consumers were so upset with Uber. They were able to gain insights from the market about the value of a positive internal company culture, how to handle delicate political and social events, and how the market reacted to industry developments, such as self-driving cars.

Similarly, when you hear how consumers are reacting to your competitor’s failure, consider if you need to make adjustments to your current strategy. Were you about to launch a similar marketing campaign that now needs to be avoided? Do you need to shore up your compliance or human resources issues to avoid a regulatory punishment? Perhaps it’s as simple as telling your salespeople to avoid a certain topic of conversation with a group because of the way it was perceived.

By understanding the market’s reaction to your competitors’ failures, your company can build a strategy to capitalize on the opportunity. However, no matter the strategy you choose, insulting your competitor is a race to the bottom and rarely does anything to impress your consumers. While every business should certainly be ready to capitalize when the market presents such opportunities, your business will only grow if you communicate why you are the best option, not simply why people shouldn’t do business with your competitor.

 

Sources:

http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/22/technology/business/lyft-uber-gloating/index.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/06/13/uber-market-share-customer-image-hit-string-scandals/102795024/

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/consumers-lash-out-at-uber-and-turn-to-lyft-after-ubers-immigration-response-2017-01-29

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lyft-has-been-quietly-catching-up-to-uber-2017-06-13

http://labs.openviewpartners.com/the-single-worst-thing-a-salesperson-can-do/?referrer=exacttarget#.WV-0vjOZPow

 

Three Things Business Owners Should Remember About Vacation Time

Taking time off has been a significant topic of note and study among business thought leaders and coaches in recent years. We’ve all see the statistics about the benefits of recharging and giving your best “you” to the company that employs you. Innovative companies are rolling out parental leave policies and increasingly flexible work hours. It’s important to recognize the progress that Americans have made in their willingness to take time away from this office. For the second year in a row, the overall average of the number of days taken off by the average American has ticked up, from 16.2 to 16.8 according to Project: Time Off.

However, despite the extensive amounts of research and evidence of the benefits of taking time away and increase in time taken off from employees, managers and owners have remained unwilling to take their allotted number of days off per year. 61% of individuals at the management level or above admitted that they left paid time off on the table in the previous year, versus 52% of non-managers. This “do as I say, not as I do” mentality is doing companies no favors. Oxford Economics recently discovered $224 billion in liabilities on the books for American companies due to unused vacation days. Take it from a few CPAs- those are real dollars and should cause alarm among businesses of all sizes. Here are three things that all business owners and executives should keep in mind about taking time off to grow as a person and maintain a healthy company culture.

1.     Model What You Hope to See

80% of managers that are surveyed claim that they believe that employees taking their full time off is crucial for maintaining energy levels and employees to remain productive. However, if employees are seeing a constantly on-the-job, overworked owner, they’ll come to believe that it is the expectation. Guilt will be layered on top of taking this time off, along with increased resentment from fellow team members when time off is taken by someone. Empower your employees by setting clear expectations and being candid about time off. If there is a busy season in your industry, make sure that employees know well in advance that time off during this period might be challenging or require more advanced planning instead of wincing and growing frustrated after the request has been made. Showing your team by example that taking time off is valuable is the surest way to ensure they take it as well.

2.     Everyone’s time off looks different- and that’s ok.

In her role at her consultancy Whitespace at Work, Juliet Funt aims to help businesses battle against what she labels “reactive busyness” and aim toward finding “whitespace,” or a strategic pause in between your busyness. Even in small chunks, such as a five-minute window to reflect on the important points covered during a meeting or few minutes prior to an all hands meeting to think about what is truly important for your audience to gain, can be incredibly freeing to business leaders. Funt is careful to recommend avoiding “cognitive breaks” activities like checking social media, which still engage our mind and fail to allow the room to contemplate and think about solutions to problems.

This mindset translates well to extended rest for business owners. As owners ourselves, we fully understand that it’s nearly impossible to completely disengage from your company. If allowing yourself some grace during vacations, such as scheduled 30-minute window to check your email or to call your assistant, allows you to truly rest during the day, it really is ok. The goal of this time is to allow yourself to maximize your “whitespace,” so putting parameters up can take the pressure off during vacations and allow you to truly enjoy yourself.

3.     Taking Time Off Empowers Your Leaders

Do you remember when you were learning to drive as a teenager? If you were anything like us, you felt a significant amount of angst when your parent was in the car with you, ready to instruct or judge every detail of your journey. The same rule applies to management in your companies. Simply put, even when your leadership style is overwhelmingly positive, your management beneath you will never fully thrive if you are constantly present. Prepare them properly in advance of your departure and let them know the expectations, but empower them to prove themselves and show their added value to the company. Consider giving your team an additional challenge to accomplish, along with an incentive to allow the new leaders to flex their creative skills in motivating the team in your absence. Leaving gives you a chance to empower your team through showing that you have confidence in their leadership, talent, and ethical commitment to your company. If you can’t trust them when you’re gone, why are they there in the first place?

 

Sources:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/cindy-krischer-goodman/article25363132.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2017/05/25/millennial-women-arent-taking-the-vacations-theyve-earned/?utm_term=.a8581b19b3a3

http://www.whitespaceatwork.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Land Donation Deductions Attract Renewed Scrutiny

Conservation land easements may be the target of IRS reform before year’s end, according to a member of the agency’s chief counsel.
The main problem: Tax advisers who help landowners sell the tax deductions they get for land donations to other taxpayers. Such moves, called syndications, are typically done because a landowner doesn't have enough income to make full use of a sizable tax deduction.
Tax deductions cannot be legally sold to other taxpayers, so a structure such as a limited liability company is created, the land becomes an asset of that company, and shares are sold to others. When land is donated, each shareholder can apply any tax deductions to their personal taxes.

If you are involved in land conservation or have ever considered purchasing these syndications, this is an excellent read on the new pressure that is forthcoming from the IRS.