Some nice news from the oh-so-kind people at the IRS. Shoot, I probably should have told you this sooner, so you could EAT BETTER.

The “meals” deduction is back!

Per the guidance released earlier this month, we can once again deduct MEALS for business. (Entertainment is still gone.)

So keep eating out with those prospects, clients, associates and friends.

Do it to generate business, thank top clients and referrers, and enjoy some tax-deductible food. Oh, and keep the receipts. 😉

But another way you can help your business is by getting clear on three points of leverage in your business.

Brand Leverage: How to Maximize your Small Business’ Strengths

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

In my observation, many entrepreneurs struggle with the same problem: lack of focus. It’s hard to say no to good ideas. It’s even harder to say no to great ideas.

But when you don’t realize that there are some basic points of leverage in your business, you can begin to make better decisions, and more easily turn down the distractions that so readily come at you as a business owner.

Here are 3 areas of potential brand leverage for your Inland Empire business, about which you need to be crystal clear…

Your Main Marketing Message

This is something many businesses get wrong. The key to a successful marketing message is to present one clear, concise message that’s easy for prospects to understand. There are so many great benefits to your product or service, but when you don’t say “no” to communicating some of them, the key thing gets lost. The prospect loses and ultimately, you lose.

Nail down ONE great message and then say no to all the great ideas that follow.

Your Company Image

This is closely linked to your marketing message — and, often, can be seen as one and the same. But, for larger businesses, the company image is larger than just their product’s benefits. The “brand” is what I’m referring to here. For smaller companies, this should be less of a concern … but if you have any kind of size, you need to be the one who says “no” to certain things here, too.

To create a lasting brand that is recognizable to prospects and customers, and invokes loyalty, you need to define the brand in clean, simple terms, and then lock it down. If the brand is always shape-shifting, your audience won’t be able to keep up and they’ll give up trying.

Your Core Products or Services

This might be the most important of the three. Whether it’s a product you ship to your customers, or a service that you provide, your product is how you deliver on your marketing message and brand promise. If messaging and branding tend to get disrupted by all the “good” ideas out there, there’s a good chance your product is all over the place as well.

Let’s take the photography industry as an example — but instructive for any business:

A photographer goes into business and defines her particular niche, let’s say black and white baby photography. If she sticks to her guns and focuses on that niche, there’s a good chance she can become an expert in that area and people will come flocking to get baby photos with her.

But, what usually happens is as soon as a slow month passes, she begins to take on work outside of her area of expertise. Someone requests wedding photos, and she does it out of desperation. Someone else needs a family portrait. Pretty soon, she’s no longer an expert. She’s an average photographer that has no specialty.

Learn to see YOUR points of brand leverage, and lock them down. Get them clear, and don’t allow yourself to chase after daisies. Your business will thank you.

Feel very free to forward this article to a I business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.



Ursula Garrett

(951) 679-2610

Garrett & Associates, CPA