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Feature Story: Sean Manning, CPA, Contributing Author of Six Steps To Small Business Success

Sean Manning, CPA and Managing Partner of Manning and Company, is one of the sharpest blades I know when it comes to building a profitable business. He is also a collaborative author of a re-released book Six Steps To Small Business Success: How To Start, Manage and Sell Your Business. In my humble opinion, it’s a must-read for anyone running a business, whether large or small.

Recently, I had the opportunity to glean some great insights from Sean on how to launch, manage and create a legacy business amid today’s tax and regulatory complexities. So read on, and then share your thoughts and comments on this piece.

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Sean, why did you and your collaborators decide to write this book?

Michael, this book represents a culmination of nearly 100 years of experience among us, and it reflects the questions we get asked the most by our clients. By imparting the knowledge we’ve acquired from having worked with literally thousands of business owners, our goal was to summarize the key components and details that surface during the life cycle of a business. In a sense, it’s a “how-to” reference guide that’s applicable irrespective of where you are in your business.

So what sorts of issues are you hearing about most frequently from business owners these days?

There are three that I can discern for sure. First, there are the regulations and the expanded requirements that government is demanding of small businesses. That’s been a major concern, not only for emerging businesses but also for those that have existed for a number of years. This increased regulation has brought on quite a lot of angst.

Second, staffing and people-management issues are big. Again, much of this can be tied to increased regulation coupled with efforts on the part of business leaders to determine how to best leverage talent.

Finally, business development is a significant concern. This area has probably gone through one of the biggest transformations in the past 5 years because global economic factors,

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Major Tax Reform: A Good Idea or Fuel For Cataclysmic Upheaval?

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Tax expert and author of Tax-Free Wealth Tom Wheelwright has never been one to mince words about tax reform. And he certainly didn’t disappoint in a recent radio interview about a spate of ideas being bantered about by some of the 2016 Presidental candidates. So does Tom think that major tax reform, which would involve slicing and dicing through the 74,000 pages of tax code regulations that currently exists, is a good idea? Listen to this five minute video to find out more.

50 Free Tickets to Anthem Film Festival for Students

anthemfilmfestAs you may have heard before, Anthem Vault is sponsoring two categories at the Anthem Film Festival this year: Best Libertarian Values and Best Original Score. Winners will be receiving $500 towards an Anthem Vault account. Anthem Vault CEO, Anthem Blanchard, and Board Member, Cynthia Blanchard, will be on the distinguished panel of judges, taking part in the 3-day festival.

However, it’s not just the filmmakers that are benefiting from Anthem Vault’s participation. Film students in the Las Vegas area, and students at Freedom Fest will receive access to 50 free tickets. All you have to do is visit the Anthem Vault booth (202 &204) in the Freedom Fest exhibit hall and ask for your passes (student ID encouraged – to ensure we maximize student access to the film festival).

Is Apple Pay All Bark, No Bite?

 

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Alternative forms of money transaction are all the rage these days. Or are they?

By most accounts, Apple is the new trendsetter in this space. CEO Tim Cook made an audacious prediction at their January earnings call with investors, namely, that “2015 will be the Year of Apple Pay.”

With that, Apple has reportedly gone full tilt in its effort to attract new retailers to this transaction tool. Questions abound though about whether Cook’s prediction was overly optimistic amid quiet skepticim among retailers, analysts and even consumers. Among the concerns being voiced are lukewarm customer demand, retailers’ lack of access to back-end consumer data and the technological cost borne by retailers in facilitating payments.

Simply An Attention Getter?

Some see Apple Pay as nothing more than a well-orchestrated branding strategy, designed to build loyalty to their iPhone and smartwatch markets. But other industry experts see this as a brilliant move that will slowly take the proverbial bite out of retail transactions facilitated by the likes of Square and others. In the end, it’s apparent that the current buzz around Apple Pay has been less than remarkable, despite the company’s distinction as one of the most preeminent global consumer brands.

Still A Tiny Subset of U.S. Retail Transactions

According to a January 2015 online survey conducted by Verifone and Wakefield Research, mobile wallets account for only about 4% of in-store retail transaction payments in the U.S.

But hold your horses….

It’s still pretty early in the game for Apple. In fact, there are indications at the time of this writing that Apple Pay’s market share is starting to gain traction at a very healthy clip, and that it will demonstrate positive returns by year’s end.

But whether all the pontificating will indeed come to fruition is anyone’s guess. So being the opinionated writer I am, here is my best WAG -“Wild Ass Guess.”

Apple Pay Might Have Bite

And here’s why….

1. Brand Awareness: Apple’s highly recognizable name and worldwide credibility will win out over time. Barring a public relations nightmare, they simply have too much momentum behind them to fail at this.

2. Convenience: Frankly, I am over having to carry all those plastic cards in a wallet that makes the back pocket of my pants bulge. Mobile is the hot ticket these days, and the innovations taking place with the iPhone in this space are too robust to ignore.

3. Security: I asked financial services expert Brett King, author of the book Breaking Banks, for his take on Apple Pay and mobile security. His response: “Hands down, far more secure than credit card transactions.” Okay Brett, we get it!

4. Declining Costs for Retailers: The history of “Moore’s Law” suggests that Apple’s technological advancements in this space will lead to a precipitous decline in costs to merchants and retailers. This will be the tipping point to widespread adoption among businesses and resultant consumer interest.

5. Speed, Efficiency, and Privacy: If they can pull off the triple trifecta of speed, efficiency and privacy, it’s a foregone conclusion that the world will be their oyster.

Now take a bite out of that!

Michael Scott is a libertarian oriented writer located in Denver. He is also a Book Marketing Content Expert for authors seeking to create collisions with readers one book at a time. His work can be found at http://allthatbookjazz.com

Where is the Inflation?

Money_falling_from_sky_inflationLegendary investor Warren Buffett recently admitted that he was wrong on interest rates, noting at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting, “It is so hard for me to believe that you can drop money from a helicopter and not have inflation, but we haven’t.” Many like Mr. Buffet are wondering the same thing. After dire predictions of the coming inflationary tsunami from sound money advocates, where is inflation?

When most people talk about inflation, they mean a general rise in the level of prices, usually measured by the CPI. After bouncing between 1-2% for the last few years, the CPI has recently made a dramatic downturn and has even posted a small negative year-over-year rate for March. But as many of our readers know, the true definition of inflation is literally inflating the money supply – the general rise in prices is merely a symptom or consequence of this.

Using this definition, we see that the money supply is indeed being inflated by a number of measures. The M1 money supply (cash and checking) continues its march upward, still growing around 10% per year; M2 (M1 plus savings deposits) shows similar constant growth, but growing around 6% per year. But if we have established that the money supply is growing, why haven’t general consumer prices risen?

If consumers did receive a “helicopter drop” of money in their front yard, we probably would see an almost immediate increase in prices as they would go out and bid up goods and services with their new money. But the growth in the money supply we have seen is done through a different channel. When the Fed engages in things like QE, it doesn’t send regular citizens a check in the mail; rather, it buys government bonds and lowers interest rates.

So if newly created money is going to financial assets, we would expect to see increases in those assets as well as interest-ratePicasso_inflation sensitive assets, not in the prices of consumer goods and services that the CPI measures. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what we find. Publically traded stock valuations are at all time highs, private company valuations are ballooning, and bonds yields are at record lows with forty-five percent of the world’s government bonds yielding less than one-percent, and many even showing negative yields (which means their prices are at record highs.) When he was chairman, Bernanke noted that higher stock prices will create a “wealth effect” as consumers will be wealthier, helping to increase confidence and therefore spending. Unfortunately, only fifty-five percent of Americans own stocks. As stocks and bond valuations get frothy for the wealthy, we would then expect money to start flowing into other assets to preserve wealth. Art is one example of this, which has recently been on a tear; this past week a Picasso sold for $179 million, a new world record. Real estate is also seeing a boom and price surge in the ultra-luxury markets.

So to see where the inflation is, one only needs to look at where the newly created money is going. Yes, general consumer prices aren’t running away (except for healthcare and tuition expenses, but that’s another topic); however, prices of assets that are affected by QE and low interest rates certainly are. Remember, the CPI didn’t go to the moon during the last housing bubble either, staying around 3% even though house prices and the stock market were bid up.

Finally, it is also helpful to remember the true definition of inflation because today’s definition can mask a lot of small but constant inflation. For example, if entrepreneurs can find a way to deliver a product to consumers for five percent less than the current price, the consumer benefits. Yet if inflation causes the price to increase back to its former price, the CPI will register 0% inflation, yet there is indeed a loss of purchasing power here.

Keeping the true definition of inflation in mind reminds us how and why asset bubbles can form and also why inflation will continue to erode standards of living and the need for personal wealth preservation.

Chris Kuiper, CFA is currently a student and researcher at George Mason University pursuing a Master’s of Economics. His previous experience includes asset management, investing and banking.