CONSULTING seeing a time of increasing divisions of values and political viewpoints. How do you, within an organization, gather everyone together to unify around a set of goals and core values?” Within this cohort, Douglas says there is an increased focus on environmental- ism, social justice issues and awareness of marginalized groups within the workforce. Businesses need a way to monitor prog- ress with these initiatives. He warns against leadership allowing themselves to get so distracted by the day-to-day happenings of their business that they lose track of em- ployee and business growth strategies. A portfolio, so their insurance costs are going to reflect that,” Schuler says. “Sometimes costs may climb year over year along with growth of an individual’s enterprise. Things aren’t always rate-driven on the insurance side — the increased costs of premium ar- en’t always rate-driven — a lot of the time they are exposure-driven.” Expsoures are units which measure the extent of the potential loss the insurer may have to cover. Examples of exposure driven costs include payroll increases, employee expansion and growth in the business — key factors that Schuler advises businesses look to as businesses grow this year. “EXERCISING THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF PREVENTION IS WORTH MORE OF A POUND OF THE CURE.” - Scott Alexander, managing partner, Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld consultant can relieve the CEO and other decision-making bodies of the pressure to closely track progress on various initiatives. INSURANCE Keith Schuler, CEO of Sacramento-based InterWest Insurance Services, says that the region’s economy is on a trajectory which may lead to more investments in infrastructure and jobs, which will con- tinue to strengthen over the next 18 to 24 months. Companies are more likely to take risks with their investment portfolio when they believe there is financial stabil- ity. Therefore, there is an influx in growth strategies and the need for insurance re- evaluation. “If they are expecting growth in payroll by adding more staff or increasing the fleets of vehicles they use, they know they have financial contracts for 2018, ‘19 and into ‘20, that are going to impact their overall 64 comstocksmag.com | January 2019 FINANCIAL “We always recommend meeting with your CPA on a regular basis, not just when you are preparing for your tax returns,” says Angie Papendick, owner of AP Group. Papendick says that financial statement rules are changing. She advises business- es to check in with their CPA on a regular basis for specialized assistance to under- stand these changes so they will be better equipped to run their businesses. Dave Ljung, president and CEO at Gil- bert Associates accounting firm with offices in Sacramento and Folsom, says updates to pass-through entities through the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are particularly worth noting. Per the package’s pass-through de- duction, owners of sole proprietorships, S corporations, or partnerships can deduct up to 20 percent of the income earned by the business. But the provision has been noted for its murky limitations. “The biggest thing to look at, regardless of whether [business owners] expect the economy to continue to maintain the way it is, is to check out if they are one of the pass- through entities — that will afford business- es opportunities,” Ljung says, emphasizing the need to check in with proper counsel regarding eligibility for these deductions. MARKETING Businesses that understand Twitter, Ins- tagram, Facebook and other social media applications have a leg up on competitors in terms of targeting potential clients or customers. Jeff Randle, president and CEO of Sac- ramento-based Randle Communications, says that while technology “will help you to do your business more effectively and communicate more cleanly,” it also poses a hurdle because “people are inundated with information.” The solution, according to Randle, is careful consideration of your target audience “Know your clients,” he says. “Who are they? Who are you commu- nicating with? How are you going to get to them? What message are you going to get to them? What is the platform that you are going to use to get that message to them? Use the right platform, target the right audi- ence and use an effective message.” Scot Crocker, president and CEO of Crocker Branding & Communications, cau- tions against soft-balling the marketing por- tion of your strategic plan. “All it takes is one crack in that image, and the company goes south — whether it’s real or perceived,” he says. “If [consumers] perceive something wrong, that affects their consumer behavior. In the day of social me- dia and everyone being able to blog, post, comment — perception can often outweigh reality.” Customer satisfaction surveys work great for data-driven projects, Crocker ex- plains, but for more insight into whether a business’s branding is working, he says a conversation with customers is essential.