Tag Archives: investment

5 ‘Must Do’ New Year Resolutions!

It is almost 1 month into 2012 and things are already moving too fast. Hopefully you took a few moments and wrote out your goals for the next 12 months. Written targets and goals will insure you get what you want by keeping you focused. Less than 20% of all business owners actually write out their goals. And guess what? These top 20% are in the top 20% of the most successful business owners in their marketplace. A simple way to start is to write out these 5 goals:

1. Don’t be an island! 
Get involved with a group of like-minded business owners to seek advice, share challenges, get invigorated, and get accountable with on a regular basis. Personally, I made a decision to join a structured weekly group of men who discuss their personal and professional lives facilitated by a top business/life coach in our area. Consider looking into joining one of our BIZ-GROUPS or a local group in your area. Bottom-line – do it!

2. Take time to plan your plays!

Bill gates said that the best thing he did while building Microsoft was to take his management team away on a regular basis to plan for the future. At these regular retreats they discussed their strategy, options, new opportunities, what’s working, what’s not, and what they need to do to achieve their goals. When you don’t plan your future, you get what the market gives you instead of paving your own path.

3. Innovate or die!
Your business won’t work doing what you did when the economy was growing. In a flat economy, you have to change your business and evolve into a new kind of profit making machine. What new customers, markets, systems, technology, people, production methods, contract type, services, and products should you add or delete from your business to grow fast. Sit down and rate every part of your business as: keep doing, stop doing, start doing, or change how we do it.

4. Revamp your calendar!
Your calendar says it all. If you want to save money, your calendar is full of job meetings, ordering materials, scheduling crews, and doing take-offs. If you are focused on making money, it’s full of time with loyal customers, new customer targets, networking, mingling with potential customers, and building relationships. At least 33% of your time needs to be with customers having fun and enjoying each other. Make it your goal to revamp your calendar and pro-actively grow your business.

5. Put yourself first!
When I coach business owners, we always look at the income statements to see how they are doing. I almost always notice that business owner pay themselves way too little for the time, risk, and work they perform. In addition, their investments are often slim or none. When you put other people, employees, and customers ahead of yourself, you can’t do the best you are capable of. Customers want to do business with successful people, not poor struggling people. Make a commitment to pay yourself what you are worth and start an investment program starting now. Then spend the rest on overhead and expenses.

Re-View, Re-Do & Re-New

12 Steps To Re-Vive Your Business (Part 2 of 4) 
Re-Visit | Re-Tool | Re-Finance 

4. Re-Visit!
Football teams have evolved over time. Players have become more skilled, bigger, and faster. The plays coaches called twenty years ago won’t win many games today. The great coaches have had to learn to manage their team differently if they want to continue to produce winners. Now’s the time to take a hard look at how you do business and if your current strategy is viable today. I received an email from a construction company owner asking what they could do to win more work. He stated that because of the economy, there were fewer projects to bid on, and there were often twenty or more bidders on each bid opportunity. I was shocked. What was this business owner thinking?

How can you make any money competing against twenty other companies for jobs awarded based solely on the lowest price? Obviously he had been somewhat successful in the past when work was plentiful and there was enough business for everyone. But in a tighter economy, the old strategy won’t work. He needs to change how he does business big time and RE-VISIT his business plan and what he offers customers. Offering the same things every competitor does creates no competitive advantage and no profit large enough to build wealth or a sustainable company. Is your business strategy viable in today’s marketplace? Will it build a winning company that works for you? It’s the right time to take another look at how you do business and what you can do to offer something different than your competitors.

5. Re-Tool!
The business world is getting more and more competitive. Even professional sports teams are doing whatever they can to cut out the fat. As a season ticket holder to the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, I have observed their ticket renewal process becoming super streamlined and efficient. I get an email to renew my tickets with several automatic payment plan options. No phone calls or personal contact. Everything automatic. And if I can’t attend every game, they give me the option to email my tickets to friends, sell them on their website, or donate them to charity. All with a click of the keyboard online.

What should you do to RE-TOOL how you manage your business to save money and increase efficiency? To streamline your daily business activities, perhaps you should consider using your website, technology, emails, or the internet to pay your bills, invoice customers, post shop drawings, order supplies, send proposals, market your company, track deliveries, schedule employees, communicate with customers, maintain vehicles and equipment, or invest your money.

6. Re-Finance!
The best professional sports teams usually are also the best funded and financed. A strong financial foundation gives business owners the opportunity to hire the best players, market better than their competition, try new types of business models, and take advantage of opportunities. Now is the time to take a hard look at your finances, your financial systems, and your cash equity investment. I often see small companies struggle when they don’t focus on making their numbers, have good financial controls in place, and are under funded.

By installing excellent financial software managed by an experienced accounting manager, you will take a large step towards building a better company. With these tools in place, you’ll be poised and ready to seize opportunities like finding property at a reduced price or other companies in need of a cash infusion. But if you discover you are actually cash strapped, you’ll have the financials to present to another company you may want to join forces with. By merging your company with a stronger one, the joint effort will enhance the financial viability and strength of the total entity. Keep your eyes open for strategic alliances and joint ventures that will make your operation better. Look for ways to RE-FINANCE your company via mergers and acquisitions. And seek investors who will strengthen your balance sheet to negotiate tough times.

It’s Bonus Consideration Time!

I hate bonus time and figuring out how much extra to pay employees at year end. People today expect a year-end bonus or incentive compensation for their efforts. Plus they need the extra $$$ to pay for all their holiday shopping and expenditures. Sometimes bonuses even seem like an entitlement instead of compensation for extra effort and results. What should I do? I try to be generous but the economy is slow and profits are dwindling. Should I pay out lots of cash and hope there is enough to last the next year? Or should I tell everyone there just isn’t enough to go around this year? Or should I get everyone a turkey and tell them to have a great holiday? Here is an email I received from a reader of Construction Business Owner magazine. I write an “Ask The Expert” column every month.

Question: George, As I sit at my computer I’m reflecting on how blessed I am as an individual and business owner. I have been wrestling for some time with how to fairly compensate our senior management team comprised of 6 people: three senior guys including me and three young VP’s of Operations, Administration, and Business Development. These 3 attended your two day Profit Builder Circle boot camp recently in Atlanta which definitely reinforced my philosophies and mentoring of these 3 young men. You really do a great job.

Do you have any suggestions on incentives or bonuses for the management team? In the past, we have used a program that established a set percentage of net income for retained earnings; a set percentage for owners as a return on their ownership equity, and a certain percentage of net income as a bonus to the management team. But now, the older management team members are not putting forth nearly the effort they used to. They bring a lot to the table, but their interest and drive has waned. It is an entitlement problem in my opinion as they are financially secure. I have positioned the 3 younger VPs to run the company and they are doing great and progressing well, but I’m not quite ready to turn things over to them completely. I am still very involved as the CEO and mentor these young managers on the business side.

How do I compensate the 3 younger managers for running the company? How should the older managers be compensated for their ownership, even if they are not providing much on a daily basis as they are being paid a six figure salary now? And what percent is recommended for retained earnings?

I hope to back further away from this business this coming year and improve my golf handicap and want to be fair to everyone, old and new. We have built a very successful specialty service business and my goal is to continue to monitor our processes and procedures and continue to find new ways to improve while continuing to grow all our people. I know there is no magic formulas but I thought you might share your thoughts on this topic. Ken D. CEO -CES LLC

My Answer: Ken, as your older managers get more conservative and less enthusiastic about growing your company, it is time to make a positive change for everyone. First stop confusing compensation with return on equity. Everyone needs to be paid a fair salary and compensated for their contributions based on what the fair market value demands for the job they perform. If an employee is worth $50,000, that is their salary without exception. If they aren’t worth that amount, pay them less or more accordingly.

Profit is return on shareholder’s equity. Owners should share the profits based on their stock ownership less what you keep in the company as retained earnings before profit distribution. The older managers should be paid a salary based on exactly what they are worth to your company. If they only work a few days, they get paid less. As owners, they participate in the overall company profits. If you want to give them a little more like a car, health insurance, or extra pay, that is a gift for tenure and a result of your soft heart. But remember, the extra compensation you pay the older owners for not working a full load makes your overhead higher than it really is, makes you less competitive in the marketplace, and forces you to pay out profit before your really earn it. This actually reduces your company’s net profit and lowers the incentive potential for your younger managers.

The key managers who run your company should receive a healthy salary and benefits based on what they are worth as well. Plus give them a percentage of the pre-tax profit for their efforts and contributions. I recommend the first 15% return on equity stay in the company before any profit split takes place. If the 3 managers are 100% responsible for the company results, allow them to earn up to 35% of the profits as their incentive. Then the owners will receive the next 50% of profits as their return. – George

Well now it’s your turn to decide if company bonuses are in order for your employees. Good luck doing the right thing. If you have any good employee compensation ideas, email me please post them here or on our LinkedIN Group HardHat Biz Hub.

Be On Purpose! Be On Target!

FACE REALITY

I sent this email to the President of a company I am consulting with. See if it can help your thinking during the slow economy.

1. Whether or not the note comes due doesn’t change anything for the next few months. The money is still due and deserves a return. More investment money will only enable you to limp along longer without accountability.

2. The economy is not an excuse for 4 years of no growth and no profits. The purpose of every successful company is to grow and make a profit. The more sales and profit, the more valuable the company.

3. The sole purpose of a real company is not to sell it, but to grow it. Entrepreneurs grow companies. Small business owners own a company that barely makes them a living.

4. CEO’s of companies who don’t steadily increase the value of their stock and/or grow their revenue get replaced fast. No excuses. They make it happen or find another job.

5. The meeting we had was the same meeting we have had at least 4 times over two years:  

  • No growth and not profit.
  • No positive sales results.
  • Not enough sales activity or impact to attract new customers.
  • For whatever reason, you have not hired more sales people to close enough leads

As you know, I study entrepreneurs and small business owners. 95% of them get stuck and can’t grow beyond a certain level that leaves them short of successful. Good intentions, hard workers, work 80 hours / week, care about their product, and very convinced their way is the best and only way. But these 95% of all small businesses don’t move beyond the owner’s ability to control all the work. This keeps them stuck at a level they can’t get beyond. They don’t know what to do next except try to work harder themselves. They get frustrated when questioned because they value working hard over getting results. They never can find any good help they can afford. They are slow to hire new people who will help them grow the company. They don’t put strong people around themselves because they think they cost too much. They can’t let go, can’t delegate, and micro-mange everything that happens every day.

The only way to break the cycle is for the owner to change their habits or be replaced by another manager who knows how to manage instead of doing the work. For example, my friend has started 6 companies and eventually gets replaced or fired by the investors when the company gets stuck. With new direction and leadership, the company gets back on track.

Now what is your solution?
I DON’T want to Survive for another year. You have a great product that saves companies money. The economy is not the reason for the lack of sales. It is a lack of enough excellent and qualified people selling. You can’t do it alone with weak players surrounding yourself. You must reshuffle your staff to make way for at least 1 more fully qualified sales closer to get the revenue back on track. Time is too short to hope for a big deal or another loan to bail you out for another 6 months. I will close this rant with one of my quotes:

“The results you get are a direct indicator of the leader of an organization.”

It is time to face reality. What BIG change do YOU need to make (and your company) to get different results.