General Business

What 1 Question Gets You the Right Consultant

Hiring the most relevant consultant to your business or industry is key to making changes within your company and making them efficiently. Turning processes around, creating relevant data and formulating meaningful financial information lie at the core of any business change.

The most important question is “What is your experience?”

It’s not just about consulting experience, but also hands-on, real practical experience doing what they will do for you. While the consultant

may have extensive experience, the people he sends you must as well. Experience is a result of years doing the work, the management or the financial control of a company. If the consultant they send looks like he or she is 26, the chance of their having years of experience greatly diminish. On the other hand, if you hire an IT consultant, that could be an advantage.

Bonus Questions

So here’s the rub.  If you hire an experienced consultant, will they know the current trends in business? What a great question to ask! How about, “What strategies have you recommended to businesses who are challenged with rapid growth?” “What fast track strategies have you suggested for the business office trying to keep up with uncontrolled growth?” Or to be more specific, “What software changes have you suggested when invoicing falls too far behind?”

These are questions specific to your goals. An experienced consultant who has kept up with current products and trends will more likely be able to help you resolve this.

Your savings will come in time (money) saved by the consultant and your business. The quicker you can resolve your situation, the quicker you’ll be saving. Remember as well, you need to dedicate a team of employees to work through this.

Consultants save you money in the short or long term.

In Business with Children – a Succession Story

Now that people are living longer, healthier lives, they are no longer willing to give up the reins of the family business sometimes even into their 80’s. That puts the next generation into their 50’s and 60’s. How do they plan for their retirement?

Jeff and his sister want to take over the family business from mom & dad who are in their 70’s. Mom & dad show no signs of letting go. Jeff is in his 50’s and wants to move the business along into the 21st century, increase revenues and provide for his own future. So, how does he fire mom & dad? People talking

Jeff is sensitive to the fact that his parents founded the business and are just as emotionally attached to it as they are
financially. They never set money aside for retirement and even though they take 8 weeks off in the winter to warmer climates, they still run the show from southern latitudes. Jeff feels like he can never assume full control. His sister is marginally interested in the future but deep down expects Jeff to take care of that. Another brother who is not involved with the business  lives on the west coast.

This scenario plays itself out too often. There have been few to no conversations about the ‘when mom & dad get older’; they’ve never initiated the conversation because they are living day to day until some outside force imposes a change. Many times, the younger generation doesn’t want to offend the parents and create a morbid discussion about “when you die”. So it is left untouched until it is too late. What is the best option in these cases?

It’s time for a talk around the campfire. A skilled business coach with the gift of sensitivity can bring this discussion to light with the entire family involved. In the scenario above, all members of the family, even the one not involved in the business, must participate in the conversation. After all, he is set to inherit a part of the net worth even if the other two siblings buy the business. ‘Ouch!’ Really? He’s ever done anything for the business. But, he is an equal sibling. You may think he deserves none of it, but he thinks differently. It may not be an equal share, but it’s still a share.

If this is being handled when it’s too late (death of a parent or both), this can get ugly. But if it is handled while they are still around, they can have input. The screaming can happen before the will is executed instead of after and normally it is split on a more even keel. There’s something about the parents not being around that elevates the conversation and settlement to an ugly level.

When the succession planning is done ahead with a third party leading the discussion, it is easier to discuss with a business consultant in the room. A good business consultant will regulate the conversation and bring the greed and control levers to a neutral position with thoughtfulness. All parties need to benefit in some form. Telling your parents that it is “time to step aside and let us take over” is usually realized by parents during the course of the conversations, making the end result easier.

So don’t wait until it’s too late. Find someone with the gift of compassion and start thinking of this 5 years ahead, make that 10 years ahead. Begin preparing the business for the change and for mom & dad to step aside. They’ll feel respected and appreciated for how it was done and will be prepared to make the move much easier.

Leading Edge Business Strategies, LLC is a consulting firm for small business. Paul Beaudette is the President and has over 30 years of successful business experience leading companies to sustainable profits, new growth strategies and business sustainability.

What Will Your Profit Margin Be This Year?

Did you predict an end of year profit in January?

If you didn’t, why not? What are you afraid of? What do you fear will happen if you throw a number at it and don’t achieve it? Or, what if you surpass it?

Every year we hesitate to forecast the numbers for the next year. Why? Let’s look at it:

  1. Do we feel the whole process is out of our control?
  2. Are we dependent on the economy?
  3. Are we dependent on the stock market performance?
  4. Does it depend on how certain employees will perform?
  5. Does it depend on how you’ll perform?
  6. Will the government shut down and affect your business?
  7. Are you vulnerable to a supplier on the brink of a buyout or failure?
  8. How about your biggest customer, are they on the fence with switching to another company?
  9. Is global competition going to price you out?
  10. Are you unable to find qualified help?

These are all very valid concerns that all businesses face. The question is, should they affect our outcomes? Sure, they make affect our volume in revenues, but depending on how much control you have over your company, they should minimally affect it. Your profitability is controllable. You just need to ask yourself the right questions, contemplate different scenarios and develop strategies for each that protect your profitability.

Leading Edge Business Strategies is offering a 15% discount for any company that wants to guarantee their bottom line for 2017. This package includes coaching for budget development, scenario creation and strategy formation. You’ll be provided with a monthly budget that you can use as a road map for your business throughout the year. You’ll have predictable monthly profits to use as benchmarks and be able to make adjustments as you work through.

Make this year a year of predicted success. Call today for a free consultation and quote.

(207) 577-1948 or email: paul@leadingedgebusinessstrategies.com .

Quotes are based on company size, number of employees, revenues and sales structure. All quotes are written showing fee, discounts and net payable amount.

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Sneak a peek at my answers to the questions above on page 2.

Suggested answers to questions from page 1:

  1. No. The process of developing a budget should be completely in your control. You have the reins of everything about your business. If you don’t, who the heck does? It does not  just happen. You make it happen.
  2. No. When the economy improves, our revenues go up and vice versa. Our profitability can remain the same when we take those reins and control the horses. With enough planning, your profitability should improve when the economy improves, but profits should not go down when the reverse happens.
  3. No. The stock market affects investors. It influences how people think about the economy. It scares people when it nose dives and makes people happy when it skyrockets. But pay attention to what you do best in your business and your customers will keep coming.
  4. No. If it does, sell them the company. They should not have that type of control over your bottom line.
  5. Yes. You are in charge and have the power to affect your bottom line.
  6. Yes. It’ll affect your revenues (income) but you still have control of your profitability. Make adjustments. I know that’s not easy.
  7. No. You should know your supplier well enough if that will happen. Make a decision if that should be your supplier going forward if that is the case.
  8. No. Just like your biggest supplier, know your biggest customers as well. You should know most of your customers well, but know them like family.
  9. Probably. What is your strategy ‘in case’ that happens? Be prepared for your competition making changes.
  10. No. Treat your help fairly and pay then well, offer them good benefits and they’ll take care of 1 through 9 by default.

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Cash Flow – the lifeblood of your business.

SMALL BUSINESS SPECIAL

Is cash flowing through your company like a river? Comes in fast and goes out faster?

Are your expenses under control or are there too many hands in the pot?

Are you making the best use of your cash and line of credit?

Are you forever surprised at the end of the year over money you have left (or don’t have left)?

Here’s your chance to get your business organized at the halfway point of 2017. Start off on the right foot with a cash flow projection that shows you real numbers that you can run your company and lowering your stress level by taking action six weeks before your cash and expenses become unbalanced. Always be prepared.

Call us today, get 8 hours consultation on a business channel, department or overall company process you need help on and you’ll get a free cash flow analysis that will help you finish 2017 with a real time view of the cash flowing through your company.

Create opportunities for adjusting prices.

Enable your ability to set money aside.

Pay bills on time.

Pay down that line of credit.

Know when to buy that new equipment.

Take advantage of discounted buying opportunities.

Don’t wait until its too late, call or email us today.

5 Strategies to Get Through Election Week

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And Beyond

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here. Have you been saying, “If we can get through this election, we’ll be able to __________.” Fill in the blanks.

This is not a forecast of things to come, but rather a thoughtful look at the controls you can prepare for as a result of things not in your control.

Wait no more…

  1. Strategy – stop waiting to see what will happen. You have more control over your business’ success and direction than you think you have. Successful companies are just that because they develop strategies around current climates. Take the time to look at a high elevation view of your company. What are its strengths? Weaknesses? List them, study them and engage your managers and other employees to help resolve the profit eating bugs.
  2. Strategy – Research potential outcomes. Read trusted news sources that are least bias about election outcomes. Listen to candidates, most are pretty transparent when it comes to honesty. Find a source that delivers facts. That is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you have to read multiple sources from opposing viewpoints and deduce your own conclusions. The key is to take the time to digest such information and align it with your own goals, beliefs and moral compass. Then take action.
  3. Strategy – Spend some time with trusted advisors about what potential strategies you could take basedhappy-customer-dog-licking-face on different scenarios. Prepare your company around possible “if…then” scenarios. If you have managers, get their input. Throw some ‘what ifs’ at them. Write down the responses for your review later. ‘If, then’ scenarios force you to look at potential outcomes of elections and will drive recoveries for your business should they be needed.
  4. Strategy – Reduce the “what if’s to “thens”. Draw your worst case scenarios and what you would need to do to keep your business thriving, or at least surviving. (I recommend thriving). If the anticipated outcome is for an increase in business, then develop your best case scenarios and write your strategies for growth. In the case of an election, you may end up with multiples of one or the other. Start with the worst case and work your way down the list. Don’t leave any possibilities. No one likes to lay people off because of a downturn in business. But the potential outcome of not doing could eventually lay everyone off. Better a few than all.
  5. Strategy – After the election, pay attention to the business climate. Watch your production, billings and financials daily, weekly at the most. Talk with other business owners and leaders and get a feel for the general mood. Avoid knee jerk reactions but rather try to temper your actions over time. Be flexible and enlist your employees help in making things happen for the benefit of the company. Chances are, if you’re scared, they are too. If you’re positive, they’ll follow. Stay the part of the leader. Show your ability to keep things moving in the right direction.

While the mood after an election can be good or bad, your ability to stay ahead of the curve will greatly enhance the success of your business. Your main goal after the election is to stay positive, hopeful and communicate with your staff to give them confidence.

You may not be able to control the general economy, but you can be ready to make course corrections along the way because you thought about it ahead of time.

What is your chief strategy for the post-election economy?

 

Leading Edge Business Strategies, LLC is a consulting firm for small business. Paul Beaudette is the President and has over 30 years of successful business experience managing companies to sustainable profits and leading employees to greater productivity.

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.”  -General Norman Schwarzkokpf