ACA Provisions Go Into Effect As of January 1, several key parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are now officially being implemented, with both individuals and businesses affected. Read Article
Although the so-called employer mandate – which requires firms with 50 or more workers to provide health insurance – has been delayed until 2015, there are still several changes for companies that the ACA has brought about.
The first involves a tax credit expansion for companies with fewer than 25 employees. Previously, these smaller businesses were offered tax credits worth as much as 35% of the cost of their health plans. Under the new rules, if employers purchase plans through government-run exchanges, the credits can cover as much as 50%.
Another difference restricts the criteria that insurers can use to price plans they offer. If a company employs 50 or fewer people, insurance providers cannot consider that firm's claim history, the gender of its workers or the industry the business is in. The ACA does still let insurance companies base rates on geography and whether or not a firm's workers use tobacco.
A third ACA effect on businesses is indirect, although still important, experts say. Starting now, the federal government is taxing carriers on each insurer's share of the fully-insured market. Weeding through the complexities, the end result will likely raise insurance rates for smaller businesses, because larger companies generally self-insure their staffs. Analysts say the tax will amount to $100 billion by 2024, forcing small business rates up by as much as 2.5%.
Gallup: Small Biz Expectations Mixed
A new survey released by Gallup and Wells Fargo shows small-business owners are about as optimistic headed into this year as they were going into 2013. Read Article
About 28% say they are less optimistic about their business' future, while 23% say they are more hopeful. Attitudes about the business climate for 2014 are similarly mixed, with about a quarter anticipating it will be worse and another 25% expecting it to be better. Compared to last year, more owners are positive now about the future business environment.
Asked about business challenges, owners frequently mentioned the direction of the economy, the potential effect of healthcare policy, government regulation and taxes. About as many small-business owners see internal issues as their biggest challenges, though. Attracting new customers, cash flow concerns, costs and fees associated with running a company, hiring and keeping competent staff and getting credit were also commonly listed as challenges.
"Some of small-business owners' lack of optimism may be borne out of their concern about factors over which they have little direct control, including the economy, the government, and the implications of the rollout of the new healthcare law," Gallup/Wells Fargo said. "Other concerns are more direct, including basic issues that are part of their competitive environment such as their ability to attract new customers and to find and retain good employees."
The Joe Show: New Year, New Product Ideas
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley gets you ready for 2014 in style, showcasing a host of fun products. Read Article
Looking for a unique desktop item? How about some trendy winter outerwear for women? On the hunt for a cool USB drive?
Click hereto watch this new-products episode of The Joe Show.
Counselor Commentary: Business Resolutions For 2014
It’s the beginning of a new year, which means more and more Americans aren’t really resolving to do anything. Read Article
Polls show just 30% of people in the U.S. are making New Year's resolutions, with just 15% likely to keep them. (Seriously, it's like we're not even pretending to try anymore.) Whatever your personal goals are for this year, don't forget to make a few business resolutions, too. Here are a handful of simple ones every distributor should keep.
1) Try a different tact – Instead of calling customers to pitch products, use a less direct approach. Call one client every day and just say thanks for his or her business. No expectations. No strings attached. It's a very disarming sales strategy and, if nothing else, it shows you're more than simply an order taker.
2) Give five minutes to Instagram – Now is a great time to start appealing to broader and more diverse groups – both for new hires and prospects. Pay special attention to Millennials, who love social media, especially Instagram. Post a picture every morning. It can be a photo of a cool product, a behind-the-scenes snapshot or something totally off the wall like a traffic jam. The key is to first relate and secondly to respond when people comment.
3) Turn to more suppliers – Sure, it's nice to have a group of go-to suppliers, but open up your network a bit. Find at least one new supplier to work with this year, giving the closest looks to companies that offer mobile, tech or multi-use items. That's where the trend lines are pointing.
4) Self-promote each season – One of the biggest mistakes distributors make is to forget to market themselves. Show your creativity by using promotional products in self-promotion campaigns. Suppliers are happy to help with ideas and will often grant price breaks to get their products in the hands of end-buyers.
Google Introduces New Display Ad Tracking
In an effort to help marketers better measure their display ad audience, Google has unveiled a new way to track potential online viewers. Google has introduced technology that can track whether or not a display ad is actually viewable, based largely on the ad's page position. That means if an ad is at the bottom of a webpage, it will many times not be considered realistically viewable. According to Google, advertisers will benefit by only paying for an ad if at least 50% of it is viewable for one second or more.
"A big focus for us is making digital ads work for brand advertisers," said Andrea Faville, a PR executive at Google.
The Internet firm – which has a display network of about two million websites – still won't be able to confirm if someone saw an online ad. In that way, the new tracking won't be much different than television, radio or print media that offer ads that can be flipped past or tuned out. Still, Google believes this technology is a positive step as marketers try to get more data about the effectiveness of online ads.
"This is just one model advertisers can choose," Faville said. "Our goal is to help make digital work as well for brands as it has for performance advertisers."
While traditional advertising, especially print, has struggled to produce revenue in recent years, display advertising has grown rapidly. In the last four years, the market for online display ads has increased from $14 billion to $24 billion worldwide.
ASI Radio: A Plan For What’s Ahead
On this week's Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts invited listeners to call in with their business resolutions for the New Year. The hosts, of course, offered up their thoughts as well on ways companies can be successful in 2014. What are the most effective strategies for upselling? How about prospecting? How can you smartly target self-promotional campaigns?
Click here to listen to the complete segment. If you missed any part of the radio show, a recording is now available at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, remember to join us on Tuesday, January 7, for our next broadcast. Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show and hear your voice on the air.
Counselor Success Strategies: Avoiding The Q1 Blues
Why do many businesspeople experience a first-quarter lull following strong end-of-year sales? Because they believe they're powerless to stop the trend – and they're a little tired, too.
"Salespeople are often deadline-driven," says Norm Trainor, president and CEO of The Covenant Group and author of The 8 Best Practices of High-Performing Salespeople. "The closer you get to the goal line, the more intensity there is. What that leads to is exhaustion when they reach the goal line, and that translates into less activity in January, and usually a slower start to the year. The cycle repeats itself, and over time, it can become self-defeating."
So what can be done to ward off that post-holiday letdown? Click here to see a 2013 Counselor feature flashback and read a list of ways to energize your first-quarter sales.
Podcast: Corcoran and O'Leary Of Shark Tank
Recently, ASI's Tuesday morning radio crew welcomed to the show special guests Barbara Corcoran and Kevin O'Leary of the ABC reality show Shark Tank. The duo discussed business ideas and execution, the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make and how to reduce risk. Plus,
Corcoran and O'Leary explained exactly what they look for in identifying products to invest in.
Click here to listen to the complete interview podcast. Also, don't forget that next month Corcoran and O'Leary will be keynoters at ASI Orlando on Tuesday, January 7.
In The News
Fame Fabrics (asi/51204) has announced the addition of a mesh back chef coat to its chef apparel line. The new coat, which features a breathable mesh back made of moisture wicking fabric, includes 10 color-matched pearl buttons, a left arm thermometer pocket, a reversible front closure and a left chest pocket.
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FIND THE CITY CLOSEST TO YOU And, mark your calendar…
The 2014 Advantages Roadshow schedule is now available. With minimal time out of the office, the Advantages Roadshow – the ad specialty industry's most popular traveling show – is the perfect way to stay on the cutting edge. Featuring an intimate tabletop environment, you'll leave with new product ideas and creative solutions for your clients' biggest challenges.
Northwest, January 20-24 • Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose
S. California,January 27-31 • Van Nuys, Ontario, Orange County, San Diego, Phoenix
Northeast, February 24-28 • Boston, Long Island, Greater NY/NJ, Philadelphia, Baltimore
Midwest I, March 10-14 • Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee
Canada East, April 29-May 2 • Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Burlington
Southeast, May 13-16 • Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Nashville
Florida, May 19-22 • Orlando, Tampa, Sarasota, Ft. Lauderdale
Canada West, June 2-5 • Vancouver, Travel Day, Calgary, Edmonton
Promotions Southwest, August 11• Irving Convention Center
Midwest II, October 13-17 • Minneapolis, Des Moines, Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis
All distributors are invited to attend for FREE. The morning schedule features ASI Education from 7:45 a.m.-9 a.m., followed by tabletop exhibits from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. For more information, visit www.advantagesroadshow.com.