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Growing Your Business in 2013: Advice from Our Expert Panel

While uncertainty has become a business buzz word heading into the new year, leading U.S. business analysts predict strong growth opportunities in 2013, including a potential resurgence in U.S. manufacturing. If growth potential is there for the taking next year, how can your company seize the opportunity? We’ve asked our dream team of experts to share their top tips for growth in 2013 in the areas of commercial banking, business insurance, accounting, legal consultation, HR and staffing.

Staffing and Recruiting

As baby boomers continue to retire and the economy heats up, maintaining a competitive edge in the staffing race is increasingly important points out Mark Turpin, CEO/co-founder, HT Staffing.

“First and foremost: examine your company staff  retention rate,” Turpin says. “The right talent makes your business succeed. If you are deficient in this area, talk to a staffing/HR consultant to uncover why your retention rate falls short.  It’s much easier and cost-effective to retain great talent than it is to be forced to find new talent when one of your superstars decides to move on.”

Turpin also recommends finding a good recruiting and staffing partner to help with your temporary staffing, technical staffing and executive search recruiting needs.  “Competition for talent is fierce and you need someone who plays the game on a daily basis,” he adds. “A great staffing partner will add value to your organization.”

Commercial Banking

The upcoming changes in taxes and the looming “fiscal cliff” present a set of great financial challenges for business owners. But April Fossey, business banker, Capital One® Bank, cautions against letting uncertainty become a stopping point.

“Don’t allow fear to keep you from making decisions on expansions or growth, which can lead to a holding pattern,” she explains. She suggests taking advantage of low interest rates in 2013 by taking a good, hard look at current debt held with your commercial lender to see if a rate reduction and restructure is beneficial.  “Consider investing in commercial real estate over paying a monthly lease,” she adds. “And have a liquid asset in place in case of emergency or for potential hard times.  I recommend both a cash nest egg and a line of credit for emergency use only.”

Business Insurance

Coye Irons, commercial/personal lines agent at Watkins Insurance Group, sees several trends in place that make business insurance planning in 2013 a must.

“Due to the erratic economy heading into the new year, companies are being more diligent in protecting their assets and, in doing so, are purchasing more insurance and requiring more insurance from sub-contractors or vendors,” Irons explains.

At the same time, he points out, insurance carriers are raising rates in order to maintain profitability. Irons recommends confronting these changes by asking your insurance agent to “shop” your coverage. “Insurance carriers often change their appetite for risk. Every year at renewal, take a look at making adjustments that could take advantage of these changes,” he says. “And don’t overpay. Make sure that you are covered adequately but are not paying for coverage that you don’t need.”

Accounting and Taxes

Many tax law changes will take place in 2013, and Congress will likely make even more before year’s end. Mike A. Herbert, CPA, MBA, of Freemon, Shapard & Story, identifies several areas of change for both small and large businesses. Owners of small businesses operating as “pass through” entities may be subject to a new 3.8 percent Medicare contribution tax on net investment income, while employers with 250 or more employees must report the value of employee health insurance coverage on 2012 W-2’s issued in 2013. What’s more, the IRS, Department of Labor, and the Texas Workforce Commission are increasing audits of businesses to find instances of improperly classifying employees.

“Many small business owners in particular will likely be facing higher income taxes in 2013,” Herbert says.  “To lessen the impact, consider accelerating income into 2012, and deferring expenses to 2013.”

Herbert also recommends business owners consider purchasing office equipment, furniture, machinery and other fixed assets now to take advantage of favorable “bonus” depreciation and tax deductions available before the current year is over.

And keep a close watch on new tax legislation. “Over the next few months, Congress will consider the fate of a number of corporate tax preferences for various industries, including oil and gas, manufacturing and U.S. companies with overseas divisions or subsidiaries,” Herbert points out.

Legal Consultation

As with any year following national elections, federal regulations are likely changing. In addition, the Texas state legislature will be in session in 2013 (as will the legislatures in other states).  J. Bradley Compere, partner, Hay Compere PLLC, Attorneys at Law, recommends companies closely monitor changes affecting their industries throughout the year, and put in place internal processes to ensure compliance with any new federal or state regulatory laws which might surface.

“Doing this can help you avoid potential penalties and fines as well as substantial legal bills,” he explains. “Also, make sure your company has properly planned for likely changes in the tax code and that, as your business grows, you re-evaluate your insurance coverage.”

HR & Benefits

“Never before have we seen such sweeping changes occur in healthcare and at the same time not have clear answers about the future,” says Tony McAlister, commercial health insurance broker, BRIA Insurance & Risk Consultants. “Businesses have the unique challenge of providing health care in this environment, but also communicating changes in healthcare due to PPACA [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] and how it affects their employees.”

Health insurance is an important issue, but McAlister points out another area that is perhaps the most important HR concern in 2013: risk management.

“Insurance itself cannot prevent an illness, a property loss, a workplace injury, nor a liability lawsuit,” he explains. “True risk management develops strategies and processes to reduce a company’s exposure and ultimately reduces the risk profile of that business. What happens? Risk management ends up being a profit center for the business.”

Bring It All Together By Reaching Outward

It takes many moving parts to poise a company for optimal growth and cost savings in 2013. Don’t try to go it alone. Do you have a New Years’ resolution for business growth in 2013?