The Proven Process: A Map for Business Success

From it, you’re able to distill a documented path – the recipe – your customer will take when they use your product or service.

Why does Epicurious – a bastion of gastronomic journalism – declare the best cookbook ever written to be none other than the 85-year-old Joy of Cooking? It’s sold more than 18 million copies.

Irma Rombaurer, the cookbook’s creator, knew her audience. She created no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase cooking instructions yielding dishes that could be successfully replicated by anybody who placed their faith in her expertise. Irma literally created a recipe for success, a proven process that put people at ease. A similar type of proven process is a key component of the Vision/Traction Organizer exercise we take our clients through. Here’s why it’s crucial.

Failure versus starting over

Failure has its benefits. It may derail you, but at least it deposits you further along the path. But starting over brings you back to the beginning; you sacrifice to progress. It’s why the Vision/Traction Organizer spends so much time prompting you to distill a documented path – the recipe – your customer will take when they use your product or service. You’re able to show that previous customers have used this recipe and gotten successful results.

A powerful sales and marketing tool

Successful organizations take the time to know and understand the customer experience. It helps them to find ways to overcome prospects’ objections. When you’re able to document the customer experience and turn it into a map, you take the concept of your solution and transform it into a recipe they can follow. Here are the ingredients necessary. Here’s what you’ll do first, and what will happen.

It creates a psychological attachment to your solution and invokes a customer’s need to make progress, and finish what they start. Your proven process fits into their worldview. It builds trust and certainty and helps prospects feel that they have vastly reduced their exposure to risk.

The hidden benefit

Identifying and documenting your proven process has other highly-beneficial consequences. Before you can communicate this process to your customers, you have to hack away at it to make sure it really is a recipe for success. It can be repeatedly baked with predictable results.

This exercise challenges you to remove unnecessary ingredients and refine each step. Consistency improves. Efficiency is increased. The organization is able to validate your value proposition with even higher levels of confidence because you have a track record that speaks for itself.

Going around in circles

What does a proven process look like? That depends on the documented path outlining your customer experience. Successful cookbook recipes going all the way back to the first publication of Joy of Cooking in 1936 to follow a general format. Your proven process will follow suit in terms of the end of the process.

This is where you will illustrate that the last steps of the process are circular in nature. It’s an important communication because it demonstrates that the customer experience is actually an ongoing relationship. You’re partners in the process, and while it is specific, it will evolve along with the specific needs of the customer and evaluations that will take place along the way.

“You’re not the guinea pig.”

Relationships – professional or otherwise – seldom come with roadmaps. Providing customers with your proven process shows them that they’re not a test case or a guinea pig. It’s a documentation that shows them what the journey’s going to be like.

Think about how this sets you up for interaction and engagement throughout the customer journey. You’re able to show what’s been accomplished, where you are now, and what’s left to work on. And the proven process also helps you confidently offer your guarantee of a specific level of service.

A proven process makes a strong argument that there is little chance of failure if you follow it.

Discover how we can help you define your proven process and strategize business growth while minimizing your taxes. And yes … we have a proven process for helping businesses find theirs.

What is Your Business’s Guarantee?

Customers want to trust you. They need to be convinced. That’s the job of your guarantee.

One marketing strategy element you’ll tackle as you put together the Vision Traction Organizer (VTO) is your organization’s guarantee. You’ve spent time digging deep into visualizing your target customers, and you’ve identified the three things that make you unique. You’ve likely also documented a proven process of how you’ve successfully delivered your product or service to customers.

There’s another step before your marketing strategy is complete. What will you say to prospects to proactively reduce the risk of working with you? This is your guarantee.

It’s got to be meaningful. Approach it as an action.

Beyond money back

Let’s examine what a guarantee represents from a psychological standpoint. There’s a game of tug-of-war in your prospective customer’s mind. Your marketing strategy attracts them, but natural skepticism and doubt are pulling them in the other direction. They want to trust you, but they need to be convinced.

You can help them win that game of tug-of-war by removing the perceived risk of doing business with you. Offering to give them their money back is a step towards convincing them, but it’s still a risk. If they’re not satisfied with your performance, or if you fail to deliver what’s promised, their problem still isn’t solved. And they’ve got to start all over again.

Managing expectations

Money back guarantees have always been an effective way to reduce risk and increase customer confidence. They are not the only way to ease concerns, however, and money-back guarantees should stand out by being specific and powerful. Think of the ancillary frustrations attached to having to start all over again. Time was wasted; it’s a ding to somebody’s reputation, and commitments made to others might not be kept.

A successful guarantee which separates you from competitors can be far more powerful when it is specifically related to the value proposition you offer. Create a promise of performance that tips the risk balance in the customers’ favor by transforming it into the statement that sets expectations – and explains why and how you can remove risk.

Our guarantee is an example of this active approach. We guarantee Provident’s Strategic Blueprint will find five times what a client pays for it in tax savings in the first year. We identify these savings in the plan of action we create for you, which is the blueprint. Our clients don’t have to figure out how we’ll live up to our value proposition – and therefore, our guarantee has authority.

This guarantee is synced with the “Three Uniques” on our Vision Traction Organizer. Because we are proactive and holistic with our business advice, offering concierge level service and a customized membership model, we’re confident in our ability to return five times the value invested in a Strategic Blueprint. And we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is.

Back up a step

Where do you find more elements to back up a guarantee and inspire confidence? You’ve already got them – that is if you’ve successfully created the proven process portion of your marketing strategy.

This is a powerful sales and marketing tool. It communicates the customer experience, taking them on a highly detailed journey that tells the story of what’s going to happen while setting expectations along the way, from start to finish.

Being able to demonstrate this journey, documented by the experiences of previous customers, allows you to build a high level of trust and certainty before the sale is completed. If you master the creation of your proven process, your guarantee will be the item that ensures that they’ll get what they signed up for. The proven process says, “This is the way we do business. Should you engage with us in an activity, this is what it would look like.”

The guarantee instills authority and confidence in this process – and in your business.

Discover how we can help you strategize business growth while we minimize your taxes.

Structure Your Business Properly to Significantly Lower Your Taxes

The new tax code offers substantial breaks to small business owners – who know how to take advantage

Finding ways to legitimately lower your tax burden is an attainable goal for business owners. But too many continue to overpay by overlooking deductions or structuring their businesses and retirement savings in ways that aren’t efficient for tax purposes.

It’s easy to understand why: navigating the thousands of pages that comprise the complex U.S. tax code is bound to cause headaches for even the savviest business owners. The path to lower taxes is littered with complicated issues, but the right strategies will enable you to keep more of your hard-earned business income in your pocket instead of Uncle Sam’s.

An experienced tax advisor can help you take advantage of all the new breaks and opportunities that are out there – while avoiding mistakes that can lead to hefty penalties.

Through a series of closed and open-ended questions that help them understand your business and personal goals, a professional advisor who thinks strategically and long-term will assess your situation and suggest a strategy that saves you a significant amount of money.

Step One: Transform your S-corp into an operating company

An important decision small business owners face in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is whether incorporating as an S-corporation or a C-corporation will offer the greatest reduction in their tax burden.

The IRS starts out classifying every corporation as a C-corp, which pays taxes on its income. But if the company meets certain requirements of the tax code – and any shareholders desire – it can file to become an S-corp. In that case, taxes are not paid by the company because profits “pass through” to the shareholders, who are taxed under individual income rates.

The TCJA created advantages for both types of companies: tax rates for C-corps were slashed from 35 to 21 percent, although dividends are taxed again at the individual level, which makes them subject to double taxation. S-corp owners may benefit from a 20 percent deduction of pass-through income – the most significant tax break for small business owners in decades – within rules and limitations, of course.

But what many business owners don’t understand is that a multi-tiered structure can enable the business as a whole to take advantage of the tax benefits that both types of entities offer.

The Internal Revenue Service reports that nearly 62 percent of American businesses operate as S-corps. They are the most popular corporate structure in America and the cornerstone of the small business community.

S-corp owners avoid the double taxation that plagues C-corps by paying themselves a small but reasonable salary and then taking out the rest of the money as a distribution of profits. Paying less salary also significantly reduces the amount of FICA and Medicare tax S-corp business owners must pay.

Step two: Create a C-corp that provides a good or service

Here’s where the creative tax benefits start: Business owners can transform their S-corp into an operating company, only taking income up to the minimum amount that they need for their living expenses.

The rest of the company’s profit – within limits – is moved to a C-corp that’s formed to provide a specific, legitimate good or service for the S-corp; for instance, management, human resources, or consulting services. Since C-corps are now taxed at a flat 21 percent rate, that means business owners can experience substantial savings on potential taxable income that would have flowed through their personal return, where rates can run as high as 37 percent.

Business owners can also extract money from the C-corp by taking advantage of an array of tax-free benefits that are not available in S-corps, such as providing health insurance, healthcare reimbursement, dependent care assistance, or educational assistance.

In a C-corp, these benefits are paid with pre-tax dollars; in an S-corp, individuals pay taxes on their income before paying for benefits. In fact, benefits costs are treated as wages for S-corp owners so they don’t interfere with their ability to claim the self-employment deduction on their personal returns.

Step three: Create a consulting LLC

Business owners can also vastly reduce their tax liability by splitting their company into a third entity: a consulting limited liability corporation (LLC).

This LLC can be paid for various services, and here’s one great example: The TJCA made it quite advantageous for business owners to employ their minor children, who can each receive up to $12,000 – the standard deduction they are entitled to on their personal tax returns – in wages tax-free. That’s up from $6,350 in 2017.

The business owner can then move funds from the S-corp or C-corp by establishing a consulting relationship with the LLC, which in turn pays the children a W2 for their services.

Children can be legitimately used to perform routine office work such as filing, cleaning, or internet research. They can be hired as models and used in advertising campaigns, on your company website, or as a picture on your business cards. Teenagers are perfect to manage or start your social media marketing.

In essence, you can shelter up to $12,000 of W2 income by putting your child on the payroll. Even better, hiring your children does not prevent you from claiming them on your tax return and taking the tax credit.

Step four: Consult a professional tax advisor for more ways to lower your taxes

The majority of American business owners operate their companies as S-corps, but many don’t realize the significant tax benefits they can enjoy by expanding their business into a three-tiered business structure.

Of course, that’s just one way that an experienced tax advisor can help business owners restructure their company and their income to minimize their tax burden. The skilled professionals at Provident CPA & Business Advisors can help you devise a strategy that’s the best fit for your business and its growth plans.

Provident CPA & Business Advisors serves successful professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors who want to get more out of their business and work less, so they can make a positive impact on their lives and communities. Typically, our clients reduce their taxes by 20 percent or more and create tax-free wealth for life. Contact us for expert advice on the new tax code, and to find out how we can help your business exceed your expectations.