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Creating a Cloud Culture to Transform Your Company

How Creating an Engaging Cloud Culture Can Transform Your Company

Gone are the day when a mention of “the cloud” caused eyeballs to turn skyward. Today, the cloud is as essential a part of day-to-day business operations as face to face interactions. As increasing numbers of companies expand their workforce internationally, cloud-based culture has become an increasingly important factor in company-wide success.


Engaging Cloud Technology Culture

Engaging Cloud Technology Culture

Fostering Communication in the Cloud

A huge factor in the success of building a cloud-based culture that fosters innovation and idea haring is simply communication. What is your company doing to encourage employees connected only in the cloud to keep in touch? Here, apps like Chatter (a Salesforce tool) really earn their keep. Chatter works much like Twitter within a company network. Employees can post questions, share problems, ask for ideas and respond to requests from others.

One key to managing cloud-based communications is establishing guidelines. For instance, while positive communications benefit all, employees need to know when to use a company-wide tool like Chatter and when to use other channels.

Another key is finding ways to make daily communication part of every employee’s automatic routine. Ideas can include hosting question and answer sessions or department showcases, using the cloud for team-building exercises over a series of days, wrapping participation in with annual performance reviews, recognizing special achievements or dates and other events.


Company Mission

Company Mission

Ensuring Cloud Culture Mirrors Company Mission & Vision

Another critical factor for creating a positive, engaging cloud culture is ensuring that the company’s mission and vision is reinforced each day. This is especially important for an international employee group who may wake up each day to very different sets of problems and opportunities. By bringing every conversation, every brainstorming session, every problem-solving meeting, back to the company mission and vision, cloud culture also strengthens in-office work groups and vice versa.

Getting in the Trenches with the Troops

One real advantage to building an active and engaging cloud-based culture is that it brings unique opportunities for executive staff to engage with employees “in the trenches.” In a somewhat similar way as an “open door policy” helps in-office employees feel seen, heard and valued, engaging with employees in the cloud reinforces a “we are all in this together” mindset. This mindset encourages employees to present, discuss and solve problems as a team rather than ignoring or even hiding them.

Trench-based cloud culture also supports real-time problem resolution by quickly identifying when perhaps an executive staff member, or even the company CEO, is the best person to handle the issue that has arisen. When employees witness the executive staff’s responsiveness to problems and concerns, and see that resolution often quickly follows, it becomes increasingly easy to support a truly trust-based corporate culture in and out of the cloud.


Entrepreneurs and Technology

Entrepreneurs and Technology

Entrepreneurs and Cloud-Based Culture

Fostering an active and engaged cloud-based culture takes on a new level of importance for start-ups and entrepreneurs actively engaged in growing a new company. Typically these types of dynamic, organic organizations face opportunities and situations where the ability to turn on a dime is key. For international work groups, the only way to achieve this kind of team-based fluidity is through cloud-based communication.

For example, perhaps an unusually high volume order is received by the Tokyo office. But this requires CEO approval to purchase a correspondingly large order of parts – and take employees away from regular daily tasks to pitch in to get the order ready on time. By staying continually tuned in to intra-company cloud communications, the whole team is able to come together to fill this large order even across continents.


Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating Milestones in the Cloud

One surefire way to knit an international workforce together via the cloud is to celebrate milestones together. Examples might include when the company lands its 100th new client or when a brand new office opens its doors for the first time. By asking employees to share thoughts, offer congratulations, even post photos of where they were when that milestone occurred, everyone in the company remains emotionally connected across thousands of miles.


Leaders in Cloud Technology

Leaders in Cloud Technology

Following the Leaders into the Cloud

If there is one hard and fast rule of developing a successful, engaged cloud culture it is this – the employees follow where the executive staff leads. In other words, you can’t create this kind of remote culture by telling your staff “do what I say, not what I do.” You have to show up in the cloud, each and every day, and join in, participate, respond, take part.

When word begins to circulate that your company’s senior executive staff are making time to communicate via the cloud, you can bet they will find time to join in as well! Here, it is clear that the ultimate success of your cloud-based culture is up to you.


From the Author:

Cheers for looking at my post. I have fun with covering small business and management subjects. I’m an entrepreneur inside, and have fun with people who aspire to grow enterprises and contribute to the economy.

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Tax Planning Is Becoming A Vital Component of Estate Plans

Income Tax Planning Is Becoming A Critical Part Of Estate Planning

American Taxpayer Relief Act

American Taxpayer Relief Act

ATRA or American Taxpayer Relief Act was enacted 2 years ago by the Congress. Because of ATRA and its effect on estate and gift tax exemptions and individual income tax rates, the focus of estate planning has shifted towards tax planning as well.

ATRA’s Effect on GST and Gift and Estate Tax

ATRA, soon after it was introduced, affected the GST tax rates by increasing it from 35% to 40% and the exemption amounts of gift tax and federal estate tax by increasing the same to $5 million. In the year 2015, the estate and gift tax’s exemption comes up to $5.43 million for individuals and $10.86 million was married couples, after taking the inflation indexation into account.



ATRA’s Effect on 2010’s Portability Feature

The portability feature from 2010 was also made permanent by the ATRA which allowed married couples to utilize their complete exemptions and let a surviving spouse use their own exemption with their deceased spouse’s unused exemption.

ATRA’s Effect on Federal Income Tax Act and ObamaCare

The top income tax for individuals was increased to 39.6% from 35% by the ATRA and the capital gains tax was increased to 20% from 15% by the same act. Also, the act previously known as ObamaCare added an income tax of 3.8% to the NII and this rate, combined with the income tax rate for individuals comes up to 43.4% while long term capital gains and dividends reach up to 23.8%. It should be mentioned that the 3.8% rate would only apply to taxpayers who are – individuals who have their modified gross adjusted income increasing $200,000 or, in case of joint filing by married couples, $250,000, and trusts whose gross income is more than $12,150.

Estate Tax

Estate Tax

Closing of the Gap Between Estate Tax and Income Tax

Traditionally speaking, the income tax was considerably lower than estate tax but because of ATRA, this gap is closing. This is why individuals are turning towards tax strategies and planning. There are two major approaches to consider in this area – shifting higher tax income to lower tax brackets and avoiding itemized deduction phase out.

Strategy I: Shifting Higher Tax Income to Lower Tax Bracket

This involves assigning income from a high tax bracket taxpayer to a low tax bracket taxpayer. For instance, a complex trust gifting certain assets that produce income to trust beneficiaries would shift the tax burden to the beneficiary who belongs in a lower bracket. While complex trusts would have to be 39.6% of tax plus 3.8% on their NII, when they shift the burden to beneficiaries, latter would not apply to them. Also, distribution of income by a complex trust earns the said trust a deduction on the distributed income and the incomes gets shifted towards the beneficiary.

The income would retain its character and in case the beneficiary falls in the higher tax bracket, the 3.8% rate may still not apply to them.

Itemized deductions

Itemized deductions

Strategy II: Avoiding Itemized Deduction Phase Out

The phase out of personal exemptions and itemized deductions can be avoided by lowering the income. Generally, these deductions are based on the gross adjusted income’s set percentage. For instance, the limit on these deductions is reduced by the phase out of 3% and the miscellaneous deductions would be allowed for the amount that exceeds 2% of their gross adjusted income. If the income of the taxpayer was reduced in some way, then the phase out of deductions could be eliminated or reduced, and this includes charitable deductions.

For example, a CLAT (non-grantor) can be created by those taxpayers who are in the habit of making regular and fixed donations every year because such a creation would lead to their charitable deduction getting completely utilized. Since the said CLAT is considered to be a separate taxpayer from the settlor, the asset contributed to the CLAT and the income generated from it would shift to the CLAT and lead to a deduction from the settlor’s gross adjusted income. At the same time, the CLAT would get deductions that do not phase out or are subjected to % limitations for its yearly donations to charity.

Estate planning

Estate planning

Shift in Estate Tax Planning

Traditionally, the goal of professionals of estate planning has been to shift the gross estate as much as possible to limit estate tax exposure. But, because of increased federal tax rate, the new focus has shifted towards the asset type that the client owns and every asset’s tax basis is now being inquired upon. Because of this review, professionals could determine the assets that should remain in the estate of the client and those that should be shifted for receiving the death based step-up.

ATRA’s enactment has, thus, inflated the importance that individual income tax planning has in respect to estate planning and this is the reason why many individuals are seeking advice from professionals in this arena.

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