management

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.

5 Strategies to Get Through Election Week

CS_Dist_Sales

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

 

Leadership from Gratitude

Not Management by Ego

by Paul Beaudette

The presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat, have all demonstrated one thing in common. An oversized ego is prevalent when you run for president.

After all, what are you selling? YOU! You are selling yourself to the people of the United States. How you go about it determines how much of a narcissist you are. We have seen extreme levels of narcissism, ego-centricity, pomposity and vanity, and these came from one candidate.

In business, managers, leaders and office holders often have the ego-driven need to attain such a position and then bask in the glory of “I’m in charge”. To a new manager, what may have formerly been co-workers, are now employees and the responsibility of this new manager. The transition has to be handled carefully and responsibly to maintain a working relationship, yet achieve the level of respect and allegiance that the manager seeks from the employee and vice versa.

egomaniac

Strong manager egos often displace the actual message being transmitted. Your title isn’t your role, your role is your title.

If the manager’s ego takes over, the relationship becomes one of title, not role. Too often, you’ll see people promoted to positions that they are not trained for because they are family, or a friend of the big boss and feel they are ‘owed’ that position. The damage potential that this has to the workers will begin to trickle down to customers and diminish customer loyalty. Employees begin feeling used, threatened and hurt. Turnover increases and the constant flow of new people begins to affect the bottom line. Morale is destroyed and theft and misuse of company property appears. Customers vanish.

How do you keep this from happening? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Hire right. Don’t take your hiring process for granted. It’s not filling in vacant positions with bodies. Look at it from a standpoint of the customer. The customer wants a friendly personality, someone who can answer product/service/process questions and someone who can be expedient and accurate.
    1. When there is no direct contact with the customer, use the same scenario as in #1, but change the customer to a co-worker, team leader or anyone else within the company.
    2. Depending on the position being filled, you may choose to have a personality survey performed. These give you the traits of the applicant against the traits you are looking for. They provide a good indicator if a match is possible. They are also useful after hire to coach the employee to success.
  2. For Pete’s sake, don’t promote people just because they are related or a friend. Promote them because they are leaders or have the potential to become leaders. Whenever you want to fill a leadership position, interview the candidates (including internal candidates) and ask them the tough questions. Find out how they have handled stress in the past, what examples they have of conflict they have encountered in the past and what they did about it. Those experiential answers will go a long way in your decision.
  3. When the candidate’s questions revolve only around pay, company car, benefits and such; question whether they are only looking at status versus the interests of your business. Ask why the position is important to them. Question how they would change an unproductive behavior in an employee. How would they handle an irate customer with a legitimate complaint?
  4. Get a fellow team member to interview the candidate. They know what it takes to do the job and can ask pertinent questions.
  5. The ideal candidate will be someone who will do the job because he/she wants to be a part of a better business. This person will want the customers to better themselves through the interaction with your company. They will be happier, feel good and be personally productive within their own business. The manager (leader) you are looking for is someone who is personally grateful for having improved the lives of employees or customers. Their primary goal is not make themselves look better and boost their ego. It is to serve others.

The fifth concept is not common in business. In fact, it’s rare. But the end product is a person who is rewarded for having created an outstanding team of employees and extremely satisfied customers. Steven Covey would always say, “Start with then end in mind”. Well, here it is. The customer is the end and if you work your way backwards from there, you’ll find that this personality type creates the environment and attitude you need to succeed.

Paul Beaudette is a business coach and consultant. With over 30 years of ‘boots on the ground’ experience, he has made businesses successful through his leadership, controlled management style and financial acumen. “Don’t just survive, Thrive”

Leading Edge Business Strategies

A River Runs Through Your Business

 Are you controlling your (cash) flow?

I’m always amazed at how many businesses don’t pay attention to cash flow. It is your financial river that keeps your kayak on smooth water. It allows you to either sleep better knowing you are securely operating a profitable business or keeps you awake because you’re not!

Cash flow is the management of your receivables, money coming into your business, and your payables, money going out of your business. You control how you pay your bills and when you receive payments for invoices and cash from counter sales.Money wave

Your ability to see weeks ahead also allows you to make purchasing decisions based on cash availability. If you know your cash on hand is $7,000.00, you may elect to purchase an office computer or revenue producing item for your business. Setting benchmarks for cash on hand, cash to move to interest bearing products, issue bonuses, hire more people; all these decisions become clearer and easier when you control your cash.

Cash flow is also dependent on your marketing & advertising efforts. If you know from experience you’ll be entering a slow period, you may beef up advertising with a promotional discount or giveaway to incentivize customers to buy. This practice can improve your revenue stream in a time that is normally slow. While the margins may be lower, the revenue dollars will increase providing you with operating capital.

What if you are a startup and don’t know your peaks and valleys yet? All the more reason to keep your cash flow current. (Ironically, both definitions of this word apply here. Current as in up-to-date and current as in flow both have meaning to the need in this case.) Reserving cash for unanticipated slow times gives you cash to keep paying bills. To what degree, depends entirely on the cash on hand and the business type. This is where you start making gut decisions.

Cash Flow - Weekly

Click image for full cash flow sample.

Cash flows should be looked at for the short term and the long term. Establishing a worksheet with daily, weekly and/or monthly receivables along with weekly payment schedules gives more insight into how your business is doing.

I helped a client create a cash flow that we monitored on a weekly basis. Based on their predictable income stream from invoicing due dates, we knew what money would come in and when. We added in the payroll, loan payments and expenses as they were due weekly. This generated predictable cash on hand, anticipated the need to dig into a line of credit when necessary and was completely adjustable on a weekly basis for unforeseen income and surprise expenses.

The unexpected advantages are the psychological benefits of taking action when the cash flows dip and you have the luxury of time to do something about it. Maybe it’s a matter of calling a customer who is 30 days past due, delaying a payment or postponing an expense. In extreme cases, it may tell you to increase or reduce your payroll. Predictability is the key. Another psychological benefit is the reduction in stress when you can see the road far enough ahead to act rather than react.

Cash flows should become your best friend when you review them every Monday or Friday. Their accuracy grows as you discover new lines to add to them. Moving from weekly to monthly shows signs of maturity and progress. Forecasting cash flows in annual budgets can drive your goals each year.

In Summary:

  1. Create a cash flow statement if you don’t have one.
  2. Monitor your cash flow at least weekly with your financial & key manager(s).
  3. Set specific actions to be taken when flow is disrupted such as expense controls, receivables policy, what expenses or payments can be delayed and what sales are missing the mark.
  4. Set benchmark revenue ratios for sales/employee, sales per cost center, etc.
  5. Monitor your results against your budget, last year figures and rolling 12 month results.

Paul Beaudette is President of Leading Edge Business Strategies LLC, a business consulting firm that helps small businesses achieve their goals through proven business practices and his 34 years of successful business experience.