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Your Employee Wants A Raise. Here Are 7 Ways You Can Afford It.

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Your employee is asking for a raise. And you can’t blame them. Inflation is running between 7-8%, and people need to, at the very least, keep up with the cost of living. This is now the norm in 2023. It’s happening everywhere. Payroll company ADP recently reported that employees received 7.3% more pay over the past months — with employees changing jobs seeing more than double that amount. And many experts say that trend will continue through this year.

But giving raises is certainly easier said than done. Big companies may be able to absorb the additional costs. But if you’re running a small or even mid-sized business doing so isn’t so simple. The good news is that there are options. So before handing out that raise and shouldering that extra expense, here are seven things you can do that may lessen the impact.

Related: ‘Ask For a Raise Now’: Salaries Aren’t Keeping Up With Inflation. Here’s What to Do.

1. Tie the increase to performance

Consider a profit a sharing plan for your employees or a bonus tied to achieving agreed-upon goals. When someone asks for a compensation increase, this can be viewed as a mutual opportunity. You can be the one to happily agree to pay that increase — perhaps even more than what’s being requested — as long as you receive something in return. People don’t have to be in sales to earn a commission. You can set specific job-related goals that either increase revenues and productivity or decrease expenses so that a specific return on investment can be achieved, with added profits shared.

2. Offer more PTO and flexibility

Instead of increasing pay, consider increasing paid time off. Or provide more flexible work hours. Or maybe this is the time to implement a four-day workweek program or expanded work-from-home benefits.

Compensation does not always have to be in cash. People value their time just as much. Flexibility is important, and one of the biggest benefits of working for a small business is the ability to have that flexibility without the bureaucratic oversight experienced by employees at larger companies. Yes, paying someone not to work is still an added cost to you. But if you both agree on job deliverables, you and your employee can together make sure the work gets done on a schedule that suits you both.

Related: Employers Need Workers. Now They’re Realizing The Untapped Talent of These People.

3. Pay more for health insurance

Many business owners forget that, in most cases, health insurance payments are both non-taxable to the employee while still being deductible for the employer. If you just give a salary increase, the employee gets taxed, and you have to pay employer payroll taxes. But if instead, you offer to pay more for health insurance, you both save money on taxes, and the employee gets more in their net paycheck. It’s a win-win. Of course, talk to your tax accountant to make sure there are no other factors that would impose on this benefit.

4. Pass through the cost to customers

If you increase your employee’s pay, you may consider passing that cost increase to your customers in the form of higher prices or fees. But be careful. You don’t have to pass on the full amount of a pay increase if you can find savings elsewhere. And if you spread the cost across your entire overhead so that it’s fully absorbed, you may find it easier to spread the price increase across many customers and products and therefore cushioning the impact.

5. Offer a long-term employment contract

When an employee asks for more compensation, you can also ask for something in return: a longer-term commitment. Although most employer/employee relationships are “at-will” which means that both can end things whenever they want, by entering into a longer-term contract you can not only set goals and include future benefits that can be earned, but also agree on a fixed compensation increase over the term of that contract that will enable you to better budget your future costs.

6. Do a 401(k) match

Instead of a salary increase, you can offer to increase your 401(k) retirement plan match for that employee. Not only does that employee receive that money on a pre-tax basis (which means that you can pay a lower amount to the employee). It also means more money in your employee’s 401(k) account, which they can put away for retirement. You also don’t fail any of the required “discrimination tests,” which limits your contributions as a higher-paid employee or owner. Also, thanks to the recently passed Secure 2.0 retirement legislation, some businesses will soon receive a tax credit of up to $1,000 per employee every year for five years when they contribute to a 401(k) plan. This means you can give your employee added compensation and the government will pay for it!

7. Finally, consider an ESOP

Thanks to an aging population, there has been a significant increase in interest in employee stock ownership plans or ESOPS. So rather than dolling out increased compensation to your existing workers, you can create an ESOP where you get paid for a portion of your equity that you sell to an entity owned by your employees, and then you receive significant future tax benefits on both your payback to the bank for financing the transaction and for the income allocated to that ESOP. A great resource to figure out whether an ESOP is right for your business is here.

You’re going to have to pay your employees more this year. That’s a given. But just because your employees request (and need) a raise doesn’t mean you have to bear the entire cost burden. There are options.

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Entrepreneurship

Your Company’s Responsible Guide to Staying Profitable in a Recession

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The recent trend of easy money and exorbitant valuations has skidded to a halt amid recent economic volatility. Understandably, many companies rode that wave as long as they could, but in doing so many prioritized growth over sustainability and sound leadership. Layoffs continue to ripple through the tech ecosystem, so employees both in this sector and elsewhere are feeling the consequences.

Having to let go of staff members is all but unavoidable in a company’s lifecycle, but there is always more that can be done to keep businesses afloat while preserving morale. Strategies can include responsible budgetary decision-making, thoughtful and prudent responses to external pressures and transparent dialogue with employees, to name a few. Such actions can help companies remain healthy, productive and profitable, even as they navigate challenging waters.

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This is What You Need in Your 5-Year Marketing Plan

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We’ve all heard the interview question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Marketers routinely take that question and apply it to their marketing strategies. They figure out what they want to achieve and then develop actionable steps to get there. Keep in mind, these plans aren’t designed to be all-encompassing. They serve as a guidebook for different scenarios while getting the team thinking about what they’d like to accomplish long-term.

Your five-year plan is a way to build an overarching metric for how you’re doing — or how you plan to do over the next half-decade. There are many things to consider when building your plan — here are a few to look at carefully:

The 3 key buckets

A successful five-year marketing plan should fixate on three main questions:

  1. What assumptions can you make about the next five years within your company?
  2. What goals do you want to achieve?
  3. What are the metrics you’ll use to measure those goals?

Assumptions are what you think won’t change in the business over the next five years. For example, you might assume that you will continue using particular vendors or that packaging costs will remain stable. From there, you can determine your goals — like boosting sales by 50% or converting 10,000 new customers. The metrics that measure your progress might be units sold or your company’s market share. It’s essential to include both readily-accessible metrics — such as website views — and brand metrics that might be a bit harder to come by, such as the associations your customers have made with your products or company.

Importantly, there’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to answering these questions. Every business has its own vision, resources and position, which all influence its marketing strategy. The aim is to develop a plan that will produce the most desirable outcome for you, rather than worrying about what other businesses have the capacity to do.

Related: Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

Narrowing your focus

Just like consumer preferences, marketing tactics are constantly shifting. Social media demonstrates this well. Because social media platforms have skyrocketed over the past two decades, marketers no longer rely solely on traditional platforms such as print or television ads. And even within social media, things aren’t constant. TikTok has become one of the fastest-growing platforms, quickly overtaking Facebook.

With so many options, your marketing plan must keep a narrow focus. For some companies, TikTok doesn’t matter. They can’t yet measure the return they’re getting from the platform, so this isn’t exactly a feasible opportunity. Don’t be tempted to try everything or be everywhere. It’s a matter of isolating what you practically can use to give you the insights that will help you.

Two questions will help focus your strategy:

  • How do your goals compare to last year?
  • What are you striving for (e.g., enhancing the brand vs. increasing brand awareness)?

How you answer those questions will help you identify where and how to focus your efforts so you don’t get lost in a bunch of small, irrelevant tactics.

Using your budget

Most people think of budgets as being stable or hard data — but almost all companies work with unknowns. In reality, the best they can do is come up with an educated guess that seems to make sense – a ballpark range. Because nobody can plan with certainty for every scenario — and because it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with an infinite range of outcomes — it’s advisable to lean on a few key financial assumptions and build a strategy around those.

Once you have a budget figure to work with, create high and low projections for everything you want to do. Let’s say the aim is to get to 50% brand awareness. What would your plan look like if you exceeded that and got to 75%? Alternatively, what would you do if awareness went down to 25%? Creating these high and low projections will let you design a more flexible approach and avoid being caught too off guard.

As you come up with your main scenarios and high-low projections, think about the key internal drivers you’ll need to address next year. Consider the risks, and assess whether you’ll have the data, technology and skills to develop and maintain what you expect to put forward. Keep in mind that it’s more important to pivot when issues come up than to predict what’s going to happen accurately.

Related: 4 Tips for Developing a Marketing Plan That Will Actually Grow Your Business

Paint flexibly within your broad strokes

A five-year marketing plan paints a broad, long-term picture of how you’ll communicate with your audience while giving details about your projected products or services. It includes assumptions and factors that aren’t necessarily static, so you have to approach it with a grain of salt and be ready to shift gears if the plan doesn’t work.

Even so, if you stick to three key buckets (assumptions, goals and metrics), keep your tactical focus narrow and incorporate multiple projections in your budget, you should end up with a strategy that blends the data and flexibility needed to strive in a changing world. Because annual marketing plans need to connect to your long-term marketing vision, let the annual marketing meetings serve as check-in points to keep your longer-term marketing plan relevant and viable.

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Lauren Sánchez Is Heading to Space on a Girls Trip

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Sorry, Jeff — this one is for the girls.


Jeff Spicer / Stringer I Getty Images

The Amazon executive chairman’s girlfriend, a former journalist who collaborates with him on philanthropy, is bringing a girl gang to space

Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sánchez, said in a new interview with the Wall Street Journal that she planned to take an all-female trip to space with the Amazon founder’s space manufacturing company, Blue Origin.

Five women will join her on the journey.

“It’s going to be women who are making a difference in the world and who are impactful and have a message to send,” she told the outlet.

The mission is set for early 2024, and the passengers’ names will be announced at a later date.

The WSJ’s report was Sánchez’s first solo interview, the outlet noted, since her relationship with Bezos went public in 2019, shortly after his divorce announcement from now ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott.

The interview also talks about Sánchez’s relationship with Bezos and the business advice he’s given her (keeping meetings under an hour, speaking last as a boss).

Sánchez is a former broadcast journalist and a helicopter pilot who founded her own filming company Black Ops Aviation, per Insider.

“Right now, I’m immersing myself in philanthropy and strategic giving,” she told the outlet. She also has a new production company, Adventure & Fellowship.

Bezos and Sánchez also work together on picking the winner for the Bezos Award for Courage & Civility, which was awarded to Dolly Parton in 2022, giving her $100 million to dole out to charities as she pleased.

But don’t expect Bezos to crash the girls’ trip. “He’ll be cheering us all on from the sidelines,” Sánchez said, adding that Bezos is “excited to make this happen with all of these women… He’s very encouraging and excited, and he’s thrilled we’re putting this group together.”

Sánchez’s nonprofit work includes This Is About Humanity, which helps give supplies to kids separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, supporting the Bezos Earth Fund, which fights climate change, and working with the Bezos Academy, a system of free Montessori schools.

Bezos told CNN in an exclusive that aired in mid-November that, like many other billionaires have pledged to do, he would give away most of his money.

Ex-wife Scott, meanwhile, has donated over $14 billion since 2019, much of it coming from the settlement with Bezos.

Bezos has always planned on giving his money away, Sánchez told the outlet.

“Jeff has always told me since I’ve known him that he’s going to give the majority of his money to philanthropy,” she said.

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