13 CEO Tips for 2013 from DataKey’s Expert Business Panel

Key AdvisorsAt a dynamic panel hosted by DataKey Consulting on December 11th, local area experts raised concerns about key factors that Westchester businesses need to consider when planning for a successful 2013.  Here are the 13 tips you need to know for the coming year:

1.       Now is the time to renegotiate your lease.

As Westchester occupancy rates continue to fall and lease rates drop, tenants have the negotiating power, which means property owners are willing to negotiate.  Take advantage while the market is in your favor.

2.       “Action hubs” are replacing the corporate campus.

A sleek corporate campus is no longer enough.  Companies need to provide amenities to employees to stay competitive, and to do this cost effectively, they’re seeking out mixed-use spaces with easy access to gyms, restaurants, culture, shopping, and transportation right in one place.  Is your business poised to capitalize on this trend?

3.       If you haven’t heard of Silicon Alley, you will.

Move over, Silicon Valley.  New York is the new hot spot for technology, so expect major growth in this sector in 2013.  As the financial services industry licks its wounds, technology and biotech companies are taking the reins.

4.       All companies with 50+ employees MUST provide health insurance by Jan 1st 2014.

In accordance with new regulations, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer affordable health coverage to those employees to avoid a possible tax penalty.  If you don’t already offer health care to employees, don’t get blindsided when the law goes into effect – you’ve got 365 days to prepare, so use them wisely.

5.       Think you have a lot of exempt employees?  Think again.

Many business owners don’t realize that non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime.  If your employee works over 8 hours in a day, NY state law says you’re technically liable for paying overtime, even if they don’t work over 40 hours that week.  In addition, many more employees are classified as non-exempt than you might realize.  Re-familiarize yourself with the labor laws to protect yourself.

6.       Know the laws if you have 10, 25, 50, or 100+ employees.

Different laws apply depending on how big your business is, and small/medium/large is not a valid classification.  Visit www.dol.gov/elaws/FirstStep.htm to understand which laws apply to your business and how the regulations change as your business grows.

7.       All employees must acknowledge receipt of a wage theft protection letter.  Have yours?

The Wage Theft Prevention Act requires that employers give written notice of wage rates to all employees by February 1st of each year, including the employee’s rates of pay (including overtime), pay frequency (by the hour, shift, day, week, commission, etc.), regular payday, and other information.  If you’re not already doing this, now is the time to start!

8.       Big Brother really is watching.

Government agencies are adding tens of thousands of auditors to focus on small and medium-sized businesses and ensure compliance with new legislation, not the least of which are the Obama health care bills.  Be proactive about making sure you’re following the new rules to avoid finding yourself in the hot seat.

9.       Like your tough managers?  They may need to soften up if the anti-workplace-bullying act passes.

The Healthy Workplace Bill was introduced to more precisely define an abusive work environment and give bullied workers – particularly those that are not protected under anti-discrimination laws – legal redress against bullying.  If your employees are toeing the line on bullying behavior, be proactive in addressing the situation before you become liable for their behavior.

10.   Tax requirements may expand depending on where you do work.

If you generate income outside of NY state, pretty soon you may have to pay income taxes on those wages.  In fact, laws about out-of-state revenue have been on the books for years, but many states were not enforcing them until the recent budget crises.  To be safe, make sure your accountant is paying attention to where your revenues originate, not just where your company is based.

11.   Surprise!  Taxes are going up in 2013.

We avoided the Fiscal Cliff, but the bad news is that the wealthiest earners in America (households making over $450,000) are looking at a tax rate increase, and those making $300,000 or more are losing some deductions and exemptions.  But even if your personal income tax isn’t going up, you’ll most likely be affected by payroll tax increases that are set to hit nearly every wage earner in the country.

12.   Be glad you’re not in Europe.

The silver lining: even with taxes going up, we’re still paying some of the lowest tax rates of all developed countries in the world.  In the long haul, countries without a strong middle class simply don’t make it.  Here in Westchester, we’ve built the foundation for lasting prosperity.

13.   Never lose focus on your fundamental business profit model.

There is no question, the business climate will remain tough in 2013. The economy remains in a precarious state with high unemployment, there’s an ever widening budget deficit, and the Obama administration has not exactly earned a reputation as business-friendly.  But regardless of all that, the responsibility of the business owner is to focus on what can be controlled. There are many ways to improve bottom line profits, and as CEO, you own keeping your eye on your fundamental business profit model.  Here’s to a bright and prosperous 2013!

Download “13 CEO Tips For 2013” (PDF)

Based on Discussion from DataKey’s 12/11/12 Key Advisors
Featured Panel of Experts

 ChrisOCallaghan Chris O’Callaghan, Managing Director, Jones Lang LaSalleWestchester Real Estate Trends & What They Mean for Your BusinessChris has more than 25 years of experience in commercial real estate and has negotiated some of the most significant real estate transactions in the region involving major companies.  He has negotiated lease and sale transactions valued at $500,000,000 involving over 15,000,000 square feet.  Prior to joining Jones Lang LaSalle, Chris served as a senior director with Cushman & Wakefield Inc. and is also the Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of The Business Council of Westchester County. 
 GregChartier Greg Chartier, PhD, Principal, The Office of Gregory J ChartierTechniques & Skills for Effective ManagementGreg is the Principal of The Office of Gregory J Chartier, a Human Resources Consulting firm, and a well-known management consultant, educator and speaker.  His practice specializes in the areas of Management Training and HR management/outsourcing for firms of less than 250 employees.  Through his management experience at multiple major firms including Pfizer, Chase, The Bank of New York and Johnson & Johnson, Greg has developed a simple training philosophy: management is a skill and you can be a better manager by developing your skills. 
 TonyJustic Anthony Justic, Partner, Maier Markey and Justic LLPSmart Financial Management for the New EconomyAnthony Justic is an audit, accounting and financial consulting partner at Maier Markey and Justic LLP.  Since 1987 Tony has been instrumental in growing his firm from 3 employees to 90 and has built expertise across a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, distribution, marketing and PR, catering, not-for-profit, healthcare, and legal services.  In 2012, he oversaw the successful merger of an information technology company into Maier Markey and Justic LLP. 
 TedMiller FACILITATED BY: Ted Miller, Founder & President, DataKey Consulting, LLCOver 20 years of National and International Management ExperiencePrior to founding DataKey, Ted held senior positions in worldwide service, marketing, engineering, operations and strategic planning at Fortune 500 companies. As the vice president and general manager of an international technology manufacturing company, he led a $150 million division to being ranked third in the world in customer satisfaction and expanded new business regions in China and Malaysia. Furthermore, Ted has a unique ability to translate those years of best-practice, operational expertise into practical and immediate customized applications for client specific needs.