There is always controversy when it comes to the topic of whether your company should have a "logo" or not. Some people firmly believe that you have to have one, while others say it's not necessary at all. But who's right?
I took this question to a variety of firms that have company logos. I personally conducted a survey by asking presidents, vice presidents and owners of companies using them why a company logo was necessary to their business image.
In summary, it is NOT necessary for your business to have a company logo UNLESS your particular company is in a class that demands one. According to an article in "Income Opportunities," Jay Lander, founder of Lander Design in Metuchen, New Jersey, states: "Logos make sense for real estate firms and others who have lots of competition as well as for those with opportunities to 'show off' a logo -- on lawn signs, print advertisements, stationery and business cards. Restaurants, which typically need to distinguish themselves from the pack, put logos on matchbooks and usually carry the design on their menus."
Lander further states: "The size of an organization is not a good measure by which to decide in favor of a logo. Many businesses prod along fine without any."
What's the Real Purpose For One?
Two "real" reasons: (1) for customer identification, and (2) for prestige. Wendy's restaurant, for example, has a logo of a little red-haired girl in pigtails. If you're driving down Route 66, you normally can recognize a Wendy's restaurant several miles away because of the shape of the company's logo on their sign. Also, you don't have to read the words "McDonald's" to know it's a McDonald's restaurant. Instead, you recognize it by the golden arches.
But does a regular mail order business need one? Probably not. The reason I use the word "probably" is because a company logo is only necessary if your market demands it. Any good business, after they have had time to grow enough to have a customer base of repeat customers, will get to know them on a more personal basis. We do this to learn our customers' needs and wants so we can sell them the proper products and services. When that time comes, as a mail order business you can make the decision whether or not to have a company logo.
How will you know? Because your dedicated customer base of repeat customers will demand it. However, if your customer base is comprised mainly of small businesses on the same level as yourself, it probably won't be necessary to have a logo.
What About Prestige?
If you want to make your company appear like a professional organization because you want to attract business from other professional organizations, it may be necessary to adapt a company logo regardless of whether you need one or not. This is called "prestige." Established multi-level marketing firms use company logos to provide their distributors with company recognition as well as prestige. Other smaller companies use them solely because the owner believes it makes him or her appear more established in business. Whatever the reason, it basically boils down to what you want to do.
The Benefits of Lifetime Giving.
A number of techniques are available, but it is significant to point out most of them are based on lifetime gift programs, often including using trusts created during your lifetime! After a person is deceased, the planning opportunities are much more limited. Significantly, gift taxes paid during your lifetime are generally not included in your gross estate, but the gift tax is not a deduction in determining the estate tax after your death. In other words, you receive an estate tax reduction of up to 60% of the gift taxes you pay for transfers during your lifetime.
If you need to keep your assets in order to maintain your standard of living and to provide for contingencies such as long-term car, you probably shouldn't pursue an aggressive lifetime giving "wealth preservation" program.
In some cases, receiving significant gifts can corrupt the beneficiaries, eliminating their motivation to work. Don't let the "tax tail" wag the dog! Maybe a charitable giving program makes sense in this situation. (Outright bequests to charities are not subject to estate or gift taxes.)
Family Wealth Planning Using The Family Business.
In the situation where the beneficiaries are compatible and have an interest in maintaining the assets of the family, particularly real estate or a family business, significant estate (and, in some cases, income) tax benefits may be secured using a family business structure. The most popular structures right now are the family limited partnership and the family limited liability company, principally because the permit the donor(s) to retain management control of the assets that are given during his, her, or their life and have significant operational flexibility compared to a corporate structure.
The principle on which the estate tax reduction is based is that a minority interest has a disproportionately lower value than a majority interest in the whole. For example, suppose a partnership's business could be sold as a whole for $1,000,000. An investor might only be willing to pay about $150,000 for a 25% interest in the partnership, because he or she would be unable to control the partnership or easily sell the partnership interest. We call the difference between the amount a buyer would pay for a fractional interest (in the example, $150,000) and the proportionate value of the interest based on the whole (in the example, $250,000) a valuation adjustment. Valuation adjustments (reductions) of 35% and up have been defended for partnership interests where there was a lack of control and a lack of marketability.
A donor may make annual fractional gifts to use his or her annual gift exclusion ($10,000 per donor, per donee, per year) and lifetime credit exclusion ($600,000 for 1997, increasing to $1 million in 2006), thus securing the valuation adjustments for the gifts. If the donor retains less than a 50% interest at his or her death, that interest should also qualify for a valuation adjustment.
Using Entity Fractionalization For Investment Assets.
Should a family limited partnership or limited liability company be used to hold liquid investments, such as securities, cash and life insurance policies? Such entities may be defended if a legitimate purpose can be established for them, but expect an especially vigorous attack by the IRS. This strategy has been targeted as vulnerable.
What The IRS Doesn't Want You To Know.
The IRS hates these programs, and has attacked them vigorously. They have mostly failed in their efforts, except in the case where the transfers were made shortly before death. When the plan is done properly, the IRS will almost always capitulate or make a significant concession in settling the issue.
Properly Implementing A Family Wealth Plan Is A Worthwhile Investment.
When you are seeking significant tax benefits from this type of plan, it doesn't make sense to "cut corners." A competent attorney should prepare the documents. Valuations should be prepared by a qualified appraiser who is educated in this area. You should use a qualified tax advisor, such as a CPA, to assist in assuring the entity is operated properly, including setting up a separate bank account, setting up sparate books and records, properly paying proportionate benefits to partners/members, and preparing income tax returns. The up-front investment will pay dividends to your beneficiaries in tax benefits and avoided litigation costs.
When Does Entity Fractionalization Make Sense?
As you can see from the above discussion, the entity fractionalization strategy can require a significant investment in professional fees and potential litigation costs. There are three situations where the strategy makes sense. 1) There are assets of significant value to be transferred. ($1 million is worth thinking about. $2 million requires more serious consideration.) 2) The business has a potential for significant growth in value. (Such as a high technology start up.) 3) The business is generating significant income.
Starting a franchise can be a really profitable venture and a decision you will be glad you made. However, starting a franchise can be disastrous as well if you do not know exactly what you are getting into beforehand. So, if you want to start a franchise then do some research to find out all of the plus and minuses of franchises as well as the specific one you are interested in. It will be worth the time and effort to find out all of the information before you invest your many thousands of dollars. There are, however, several things you will want to now upfront. These include the different franchise opportunities currently available, market saturation, and the like. Once a particular franchise is determined on, or several are, then you will need to compare more specific information.
First, do some research to find out what companies franchise. Once you know all of the franchise options, you will be able to pick out the ones you like best and are most interested in. After that, you can narrow those down based on your investment ability and the demand for this particular franchise in your proposed market. The best thing to do is find a market that had a high demand for a particular franchise and then buy that one. All franchises will be more successful in a market with a high demand for the product.
Also, when considering a franchise you need to consider the market significantly. What franchises currently exist, what demand is there for your proposed franchise, are there plans for other similar franchise in the works by competitors, and the like. Evaluate the market as best as possible. By doing this you educate yourself on the market which means you will be able to match a franchise to the needs of the market. That is really important.
Finally, when you have narrowed down the franchises available that meet the demands of a particular market, then you can compare the statistics of the various franchises to find the one that best fits your management style, investment ability, projected profits and loss, advertising, and market. You will also need to ensure that the franchiser supports the franchise significantly, especially at first in order to ensure a successful start and continued business. If the franchiser is not interested in helping the franchise get started, then you probably want to look for one that does.
Once you have decided on a particular franchise, then it will be after considerable research. Because of this, you will pick the best franchise for you and the market, which means you have a better chance at being successful and enjoying your business.
Let’s make business reporting simple again. In the age of information, many of us are experiencing information overload. There is such a thing as gathering and presenting too much data, and the business world struggles to present information in a rich, powerful, and stimulating manner without crossing the information overload threshold. Remember when you were young and just conquering the skill of reading. Sure reading was fun, and our minds processed a lot of information from the words that we read, but didn’t the illustrations in the books have a more lasting affect? The old saying reminds us a picture is worth a thousands words. We can use words to describe a situation, but a picture really encapsulates the ideas we are trying to get across.
We can apply this lesson to the business world. When presenting information to a conference room full of business professionals we are eager to first obtain, and then retain their attention. This can be achieved through pictures. Now, I am not suggesting that you take your doodling and add it to your presentation, but what I am sbar graphs and bar charts in your presentation. Business graphs are an essential tool to good presentations.
Various types of business graphs, such as bar charts and bar graphs can offer a simple, but meaningful representation of the information you are trying to relay to your audience. Bar graphs can leave a more lasting impression in the minds of your audience members than a slide offering a comparison of quantified data. For instance, when you see a bar chart, what jumps out at you first? For most people the tallest bar is the bar that is noticed first. You might also notice the shortest bar rather quickly as it stands out as well. In all likelihood, as a presenter you are hoping the eyes of your audience members will gravitate to the extreme ends of the spectrum, either the tall bar or the short bar on the bar chart. Now that you have captured the audiences’ attention and directed it towards the information you wanted to discuss, you are free to continue with your presentation.
Or perhaps you want to use your bar graphs in another manner. Rather than emphasize really high sales or really low variable costs, you wish to show an increasing sales trend. In this scenario, your bar chart would represent your monthly sales across a certain time period. Upon presenting the bar chart, it would be clear to the audience that sales had increased substantially each month from January to August. Again, by using bar graphs you have painlessly grabbed the attention of the audience, directed it toward the topic you wanted to discuss and now you can make the points that are important to you.
When using business graphs in your presentation be sure to keep a few things in mind. Label the bar chart clearly so the audience doesn’t spend all its time trying to figure out what the bars represent. Make your bar charts vibrant – use strong colors to make bars of interest standout and soft subdued colors to make the other bars less conspicuous. Keep the information represented by the bar graphs as relevant as possible. Just because you have a beautiful bar chart doesn’t mean it should be used in your presentation. If you have created bar charts that will enhance your presentation then incorporate them into the presentation, otherwise leave them alone. Most importantly, be creative with your visualizations and have fun. Your audience will enjoy your presentation more and come away having learned everything you hoped they would thanks to your great business graphs.