Tim Kinane

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Posts Tagged "Business Strategy"

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

Company Sales Rebounding Despite COVID-19

By: Patrick Ungashick

Navix check

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many aspects of US society and business activity to a halt in March of this year, including sales of small to mid-market companies. Yet already there are signs that mergers and acquisitions activity (M&A) is rebounding for small to mid-market companies, an encouraging development for business owners who seek to exit from their companies by way of sale to an outside buyer. The emerging increases in company sales come after deal value in the US fell by 20 percent in the first half of 2020 to according to PitchBook Data. Deal value declined by one-third in the second quarter alone.

Buyers and sellers are coming back into the market, after pumping the breaks when the pandemic first hit. First, many companies have been largely unaffected by the pandemic. Other companies have adjusted their operations and are returning to profitable growth despite the ongoing public health challenges. Additionally, the upcoming US elections have spurred many business owners to resume exit planning out of fear of tax increases in the future.

Overall, the volume of sales of small to mid-market companies remains below pre-pandemic levels. However, signs point to the need for business owners to be ready to sell as the “window” reopens. In response, we recently published a new whitepaper, “Top 10 Signs You are Not Ready to Sell Your Company,” to assist business owners during these uncertain and changing times. Download a free copy to review if you and your company are ready to sell, or what it takes to get you prepared.

 

Contact Tim 772-221-4499, to discuss strategies for your business.

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

How Leaders Inspire Even in a Time of Crisis

I’m sharing a recent Inc. Real Talk Business Reboot Webinar with Simon Sinek.

Learn how to embrace an infinite mindset and strategies to lead your team through these difficult times and into the new Abnormal.

Inc SS

 

Inc. Real Talk Business Reboot:
Leading  Through Times of Crisis and Change

Sinek teaches leaders unconventional ways of thinking, acting, and communicating to help inspire those around them. He believes great leaders are the ones who think long term rather than short term. In today’s ever-changing world, knowing the framework for leadership is more crucial than ever.

What tools and strategies are you using to lead your team through these challenging times?

Tim Kinane

Call 772-210-4499 to set up a time to talk about tools and strategies that will lead to better results.

Please share this with a friend/colleague

 

 

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

SBA PPP How to Maximize and Beyond

I was a guest speaker on the inaugural Small Talk online series for the Business Development Board on Martin county.  The interview is from late April and the key points remain valid as businesses transition back to a healthier economy.

The topic was How to Maximize Your Loan Funds.  Along with reviewing how to best use SBA PPP funds, we discussed what to consider moving forward.

 

 

Key take away points:

SBA PPP Funds:

Keep communication open with banker and CPA.

  • Be proactive
  • Review options
  • Ask questions
  • Document expenditures
  • Consider immediate and longer-term cash needs
  • Multiple cash flows

 

Keep communication open with vendors:

  • Terms
  • Vendors are partners- you want them to be there to get you back on track

 

Businesses are resilient.

Generally, businesses need to find a way to react quickly to an issue or problem.

  • How much money is needed
  • What is the best way to spend money now
  • How to make the next immediate decision

That is great during the time of crisis, but it is important to think future down the line.

Employees

They are the one who helped to build your business to where it is now, they will be vital  to re-build your business.

Keep in contact- keep communication open.

 

Opportunities in times like these

Resilience of people in general, Americans and Small Business

Small Business is the engine that runs this country- Small Business is what will bring the economy back.

  • Step back from the problem
  • Explore all new opportunities as you move forward
  • Challenge employees and help them find opportunities

Contact Tim 772-221-4499, to discuss strategies for your business.

Monday, June 8th, 2020

PPP Loan Forgiveness Just Got Easier

By: Patrick Ungashick

Sick Dollar

 

To help our clients and other business owners and leaders respond to the unprecedented leadership disruptions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the team at NAVIX offers the following crisis management information series.

Responding to Coronavirus: PPP Loan Forgiveness Just Got Easier

On June 5th, the new Payroll Protection Plan Flexibility Act (PPPFA) was signed into law, with the purpose of making it easier for companies with PPP loans to secure loan forgiveness. The new law was passed in response to widespread confusion and criticism surrounding the rules pertaining to loan forgiveness. The new PPPFA law is intended to provide greater flexibility to the loan forgiveness process, in order to help the millions of businesses and their owners survive the economic challenges created by the virus.

The important PPP loan forgiveness changes are:

1. More Time to Spend the PPP Loan Proceeds

The most significant change is that companies now have more time to spend the loan proceeds. Before the new PPPFA law, borrowers had only eight weeks (called the “covered period”) starting upon receipt of the loan to spend the funds. That pressured many companies to spend PPP funds more quickly than would best help them through the coronavirus crisis. Now, borrowers have until the earlier of either: (1) 24 weeks from the loan origination date, or (2) December 31, 2020, to spend PPP funds.

However, under the 24-week covered period, companies will have to maintain the number of FTE employees for about three times longer (24 weeks instead of eight weeks) to maximize loan forgiveness. To help employers address this, borrowers who received PPP funds before June 5th (when PPPFA was signed into law) can opt to remain with an eight-week covered period, if advantageous.

2. More Flexibility for How PPP Proceeds are Spent

The next important change is that the new PPPFA law reduces the amount that companies must spend on payroll costs to qualify for loan forgiveness. Previously, PPP borrowers had to spend at least 75% of the loan proceeds on eligible payroll costs. Under the new law, companies must spend at least 60%. This means that forgivable non-payroll expenses can now be up to 40% of spending, increasing from 25%. 

PPPFA also clarifies if borrowers are required to spend a minimum amount of loan proceeds. The new law clearly states that in order to be eligible for any forgiveness, a borrower must spend at least 60% of its total PPP loan proceeds towards payroll costs as defined under the CARES Act. Meaning, a borrower is not eligible for any loan forgiveness if it spends less than 60% of its total PPP loan amount.

3. More Time to Pay Back the PPP Loan

Another critical change is that borrowers now have five years, an increase from two years, to repay the PPP loan. The loan interest rate remains unchanged at 1.0%. 

4. Extended Safe Harbor to Preserve PPP Loan Forgiveness

The new PPPFA law expands the opportunities for employers who experience a reduction in employee headcount or wages/salaries to maximize loan forgiveness through several means:

  • Initially, PPP provided a “safe harbor” which permitted employers to avoid a reduction in loan forgiveness due to a significant decrease in employment and/or wage levels between February 15 and April 26, 2020, as long as the numbers of employees and employee wage levels are restored by June 30, 2020. The PPPFA extends this safe harbor restoration deadline from June 30 to December 31, 2020, giving employers six additional months to preserve loan forgiveness. 
  • PPPFA clarifies that loan forgiveness will not be reduced based on an inability to rehire employees if the borrower can document (1) written offers to rehire individuals who were employees of the organization on February 15, 2020; or (2) an inability to hire qualified employees for unfilled positions by December 31, 2020.
  • Loan forgiveness will not be reduced for borrowers who are able to document a failure to return to the level of business activity as existed prior to February 15, 2020, due to compliance with coronavirus-related guidance for sanitation, social distancing, or safety requirements from the Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) between March 1 and December 31, 2020.

5. Potential Longer Deferment of Loan Repayment

Additionally, PPPFA extends the loan deferment period for many borrowers. Under the previous rules, borrowers could defer loan interest and principal payments for six months (although interest does accrue during the deferment). Now, borrowers can defer payments until the SBA determines the loan amount forgiven for that borrower. Given the new 24-week covered period, and given that lenders have 60 days to act and the SBA has 90 days to determine loan forgiveness, this could significantly increase the deferment period for many companies. However, PPP borrowers cannot just stall filing their loan forgiveness application in order to extend the deferral period. If a PPP borrower fails to apply for forgiveness within ten months after the PPP loan forgiveness covered period (which is now the earlier of 24 weeks from origination or December 31, 2020), the deferment period ends, and the borrower must begin making loan repayments.

6. Payroll Tax Deferral Expanded

Previously, companies that secured PPP loan forgiveness could not defer their employer share of payroll taxes. The new PPPFA law now allows all borrowers that receive loan forgiveness to defer payment of employer payroll taxes under Section 2302 of the CARES Act. (The payroll taxes typically due between now and through December 31, 2020, may be deferred with 50% payable by December 31, 2021, and the other 50% payable by December 31, 2022. Similarly, a self-employed taxpayer can defer paying 50% of his or her self-employment tax that would be due from now through the end of 2020 until the end of 2021 [25%] and 2022 [25%].)

However, keep in mind that this payroll tax deferral is different from the CARES Act employee retention tax credit. The PPP and the employee retention credit are still mutually exclusive, and companies may not apply for one if they use the other.

PPP Loan Forgiveness Application

To secure loan forgiveness, borrowers must complete and submit to their PPP lender the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan forgiveness application. Borrowers should carefully review the 11-page application, and consider the various definitions and options under the loan forgiveness process. Business owners are encouraged to consult their tax and banking advisors. 

The NAVIX team has helped hundreds of business owners prepare for exit. We have also helped countless owners and leaders deal with recessions, liquidity crises, and economic upheaval. Our experience and perspective enable us to guide our clients through difficult times, such as these.

Contact Tim 772-221-4499, to discuss strategies for your business.

Friday, April 24th, 2020

PPP Funds Replenished – What You Need to Know

By: Patrick Ungashick

Sick Dollar

To help our clients and other business owners and leaders respond to the unprecedented leadership disruptions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the team at NAVIX offers the following crisis management information series.

Responding to Coronavirus: PPP Funds Replenished – What You Need to Know

April 24, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

US federal lawmakers today passed legislation that replenishes the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loan program, adding another $310 billion to the forgivable loan program created by the CARES Act in response to the coronavirus crisis. The first found of PPP funding, some $349 billion, was exhausted in 14 days as about 1.6 million US businesses rushed to secure a PPP loan.

Today’s legislation also restocks the SBA Economic Income Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs, adding $10 billion to the emergency grant program and $50 billion for disaster recovery loans. Both of those lending programs were fully exhausted, as US companies seek relief to help deal with the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis.

If your company did not secure a PPP loan during the first round of funding, consider contacting your SBA-approved bank or other lending organization and completing an application as quickly as possible. Demand for the second round of funding is expected to be even greater than the first round.

If you did successfully complete a PPP loan and either have received your funds or are waiting for the funds to be released, be sure to study carefully the guidelines on the proper use of the funds and how to maximize loan forgiveness.

The following free resources can assist you with PPP and other relief programs available through the CARES Act:

The NAVIX team has helped hundreds of business owners prepare for exit. We have also helped countless owners and leaders deal with recessions, liquidity crises, and economic upheaval. Our experience and perspective enable us to guide our clients through difficult times, such as these.

 

Contact Tim 772-221-4499, to discuss strategies for your business.

 

Friday, April 10th, 2020

How to Maximize Your PPP Funds

By: Patrick Ungashick

Sick Dollar

To help our clients and other business owners and leaders respond to the unprecedented leadership disruptions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the team at NAVIX offers the following crisis management information series.

Responding to Coronavirus: How to Maximize Your PPP Funds

Despite widespread stories of a chaotic rollout of the CARES Act Payroll Protection Program (PPP), some of the first companies to apply have received their funds. With millions of eligible companies expected to apply for this forgivable loan program, it will be important to properly utilize any funds your company receives from PPP.

Review the following steps and tactics to comply with the program, maximize the loan forgiveness amount, and provide the greatest benefit to your company. (Note: The US Treasury Department changed several important provisions of PPP while the program was being rolled out, so it is possible that some of the information provided here may change, or that additional guidance may be provided. Business owners must consult their tax, legal, and exit advisors to discuss how this program applies to your specific situation.)

1.Have a plan for how your company intends to use the funds prior to actually receiving them. Once your company receives the funds, an 8-week clock starts ticking. What your company does during this 8-week period determines the loan forgiveness, so it is best to be prepared before the funds are received.

2.Be prepared to carefully document during the 8-week period the company expenses that qualify for loan forgiveness. Your lender will require that documentation to apply for loan forgiveness on your behalf.

3.Create a balance sheet account to keep track of the PPP loan and funds. 

4.Deposit the PPP funds into a dedicated bank account. Document as you draw down the funds for eligible expenses to help create a clean audit trail.

5.Carefully monitor how the funds are used, consistent with your plan. To qualify for loan forgiveness, you must use at least 75% of the funds for payroll costs, as defined by the CARES Act. That means you can use up to 25% of the funds for eligible non-payroll costs, which are: rent, interest payments on mortgages, interest on pre-existing loans, and utilities. (Note: For purposes of determining the percentage of use of proceeds for payroll costs, the amount of any Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) refinanced will be included.)

6.Loan forgiveness may be reduced if either of the following occurs:
      a)Employees who made less than $100,000 of compensation in 2019 have their compensation reduced by 25% or more; OR

        b)The number of full-time employee equivalents is less than the same number of employees during; either February 15, 2019, through June 30, 2019; OR January 1, 2020, through February 29, 2020—you choose the more favorable period to apply.

(Two important notes here. First, it is unclear at this time exactly how loan forgiveness will be reduced, and we expect further guidance providing some sliding scale. Second, if employee terminations have already occurred, you can hire employees back by June 30, 2020, to still qualify for loan forgiveness.)

7.Avoid utilizing other CARES Act relief programs that nullify participating in PPP, including:
         a)The Employee Retention Credit

          b)Deferral of Payroll Taxes

8.During the 8-week period that starts immediately after receiving PPP funds, maximize the payment of expenses that qualify for loan forgiveness, for example:
          a)Time payroll where possible to maximize payments during the 8-week period

          b)Consider paying bonuses to employees who have demonstrated superior job performance during the crisis (remember compensation above $100,000 does not count toward loan forgiveness)

          c)Make catch-up payroll payments to any employees whose compensation was reduced as a result of the COVID-19 crisis

         d)Make additional or early payments on rent, mortgage interest, or utilities (up to the 25% threshold)

9.Remember that any amount of the PPP funds not forgiven must be repaid within two years, but loan repayment may be deferred for up to six months. 

10.There is no penalty for early repayment, but do not rush to repay any loan balance that is not forgiven. Make sure your company’s cash position remains strong until the business crisis has clearly subsided. 

11.Avoid any misuse of the funds. Business owners using the funds for fraudulent purposes are subject to criminal charges.

For additional information, download our free C.A.R.E.S. Act Executive Summary, which contains actionable information on the PPP and ten additional major tax, stimulus, and business programs created in response to the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis.

Download Summary

The NAVIX team has helped hundreds of business owners prepare for exit. We have also helped countless owners and leaders deal with recessions, liquidity crises, and economic upheaval. Our experience and perspective enable us to guide our clients through difficult times, such as these.
Contact Tim 772-221-4499, to discuss strategies for your business.
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

Team Strength DISC

team_strength_logo

Team Strength DISC

 

Team Strength DISC is a simple, practical, powerful tool used to understand people. It focuses on individual patterns of external, observable behaviors and measures the intensity of characteristics using scales of directness and openness for each of the four styles:

Dominance
Influence
Steadiness
Conscientious

Using the Team Strength DISC model, it is easy to identify and understand our own style, recognize and cognitively adapt to different styles. The Team Strength charting app makes it easy to develop a process to communicate more effectively with others.

 

Word Art Team Strength

 

Team Strength DISC a tool to:

  • Demystify behaviors
  • Improve communications
  • Develop strong teams
  • Build better relationships
  • Facilitate conflict resolution
  • Self-growth

Team Strength DISC provides tools to help you become a better you – to develop and use more of your natural strengths while recognizing, improving upon, and modifying your limitations. Then, because we can easily see and hear these behaviors, we can quickly and accurately “read” other people and use our knowledge to enhance communication and grow our relationships.
Historical and contemporary research reveal more than a dozen various models of our behavioral differences, but many share one common thread: the grouping of behavior into four basic categories:

Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientious.

There is no “best” style. Each style has its unique strengths and opportunities for continuing improvement and growth.

BEHAVIORAL STYLES

Historical and contemporary research reveal more than a dozen various models of our behavioral differences, but many share one common thread: the grouping of behavior into four basic categories.

The Team Strength DISC styles are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientious. There is no “best” style. Each style has its unique strengths and opportunities for continuing improvement and growth.

The assessment examines external and easily observable behaviors and measures tendencies using scales of directness and openness that each style exhibits.

 

DISC directness

This is part one of the Team Strength DISC Profiles Series.

Knowledge builds better relationships and strong teams. Team Strength DISC profile is a cost-effective tool that gives powerful results that can be used for both personal and professional relationships. I have used Team Strength DISC profiles to help businesses and organizations develop strong teams and great leaders.

Tim Kinane

Call 772-210-4499 to set up a time to talk about tools and strategies that will lead to better results.

Please share this with a friend/colleague

 

 

Friday, September 27th, 2019

Book Review: E-Myth Revisited By: Michael Gerber

E-Myth Revisited

By: Michael Gerber

E Myth

Readitfor.me Book Summary Review

When you become an entrepreneur, there are many predictable frustrations you’ll run into:

  • Not having enough profit
  • Not enough personal income
  • Not enough customers
  • Can’t find good people
  • Don’t have enough time
  • The business depends too much on you

And the list goes on. Finding your way out of those predictable problems is difficult, if not impossible, without a system that predictably produces the opposite of those issues.

That’s where The E-Myth and the Entrepreneurial Model it promotes comes in. According to Michael Gerber, the solution involves thinking about your business like a franchise – which is a proprietary way of doing business that successfully differentiates every extraordinary business from their competitors.

This is the classic “work on your business rather than in it” advice you’ll hear repeated by business gurus. The difference is that Gerber has created step-by-step instructions on how you should get there.

Through this book and summary, you’ll find the answer to the following questions:

1.How can I get my business to work without me?

2.How can I get my people to work but without my constant interference?

3.How can I systematize my business in such a way that it could be replicated 5000 times, so the 5000th unit would run as smoothly as the first?

4.How can I own my business and still be free of it?

5.How can I spend my time doing the work I love to do rather than the work I have to do?

Understanding the Rules

Here are the rules you’ll need to follow in order to get your business running like a franchise that produces predictable results:

1.The model will provide consistent value to your customers, employees, suppliers, and lenders, beyond what they expect.

2.The model will be operated by people with the lowest possible level of skill.

3.The model will stand out as a place of impeccable order.

4.All work in the model will be documented in Operations Manuals.

5.The model will provide a uniformly predictable service to the customer.

6.The model will utilize a uniform color, dress, and facilities code.

There are 7 distinct steps to get there, which we’ll cover in turn.

1.Your Primary Aim

Every entrepreneur starts a business for themselves. But we often get so tied up in the business that we forget that the ultimate aim of the business is to serve ourselves.

Here are the questions you need to answer with 100% clarity if you want your business to serve you, and not the other way around.

  1. What do I wish my life to look like?
  2. How do I wish my life to be on a day-to-day basis?
  3. What would I like to be able to say I truly know in my life, about my life?
  4. How would I like to be with other people in my life – my family, friends, business associates, customers, employees, and community?
  5. How would I like people to think about me?
  6. What would I like to be doing two years from now? Ten years? Twenty years? When my life comes to a close?
  7. What specifically would I like to learn during my life – spiritually, physically, financially, technically, intellectually? About relationships?
  8. How much money will I need to do the things I wish to do? By when will I need it?

2.Your Strategic Objective

Your Strategic Objective is a clear statement of what your business ultimately has to do in order to achieve your Primary Aim.

It’s a list of standards you can use to measure your progress towards hyour ultimate goal.

There are many standards you could include, but Gerber suggests that the first two on the list should be as follows.

First, you need to be clear on how much money your company will make when it is ultimately “done.” Will it be a $1 million a year company? A $500 million a year company? Something else? How much after-tax profit will it make? That’s the money you are going to use to build the life that you want through your Primary Aim.

Second, you need to build a business that can fulfill the financial standards you’ve set with the first standards. It tells you what kind of business you are creating and defines who your customer will be.

From there, there are no specific number of standards that need to be created. But it will help if you answer some of the following questions:

  • When is the ultimate version of your company (Gerber calls this the prototype) going to be finished?
  • Where are you going to be in business? Locally? Regionally? Internationally?
  • What type of business are you going to be? Retail? Wholesale? Something else?

The standards that you create for your business will ultimately become the business you strive to create. Many entrepreneurs skip this step when they start, and never climb their way out of day-to-day operations of their business.

3.Your Organizational Strategy

Gerber reminds us that most companies organize themselves around personalities rather than around functions. And the result, he suggests, is almost always chaos.

The next logical step in building your business prototype is to determine the exact organizational structure you’ll need in order to execute on your strategic objective.

Here’s how you’ll do it.

  1. Build an organizational chart for what your business will ultimately look like. For instance, you might need a CEO (which may or may not be you), a COO, a VP of Sales, account managers, and so on.
  2. Put your name in all of the positions that you currently fill. When you are starting out, this will likely be all of them.
  3. Create very detailed descriptions of each one of the positions, which Gerber calls Position Contracts. This is a summary of the results that need to be achieved by each position in the company, the work the person is responsible for, a list of standards that the results are to be evaluated against, and a line for the signature of the person who agrees to fulfil those responsibilities.
  4. Sign your name to each of the contracts you currently fill.

The insight here is that you should create the system inside your business based on the standards you want to set, rather than letting other people do it for you.

In order to free yourself up to work on the strategic parts of the business, you need to rest easy knowing that the tactical parts of the business are being taken care of.

For instance, you don’t place an ad for a salesperson until you’ve created the Sales Operations Manual for the company.

Once you’ve created the position contracts for each of the roles in the company, you’ll know exactly which standards you need to be hiring against.

4.Your Management Strategy

Now that you have your organizational strategy created, you can move on to your management strategy.

Gerber suggests that our management strategy is the system we create for the business. It shouldn’t and can’t rely on expensive and talented people. The more automatic and specific your system is, the more effective it will be.

At its core, it is a series of checklists for everything that needs to be done inside the business.

For example, a hotel would have a series of checklists for the people who clean the rooms. And another series of checklists for the people responsible for checking guests in. And so on.

Finally, you should have a mechanism built into your system for following up on making sure that the work in the checklists is done properly.

For instance, you could have your people sign a checklist at the end of each job letting the company know that the work had been completed based on the steps required. And then make it a fireable offence for signing off on work that hadn’t been completed.

The benefits of a system like this are clear. You’ll be able to hire and train new people so that they’ll quickly be performing the tasks and producing identical results to people who have been doing them for a long time.

5.Your People Strategy

At the heart of your people strategy is creating an environment where “doing it” is more important to them than not doing it.

One of the key parts to making this happen is to ensure that the people you hire understand the reason behind the work they are being asked to do.

As Gerber points out, people do not simply want to work for exciting people. They want to work for people who have created a clearly defined structure for acting in the world. A structure through which they can test themselves and be tested.

In short, a game. The key, of course, is to make sure you are creating a game worth playing.

Gerber describes the “game” a hotel owner had created where his hotel become a world in which the sensory experiences of his customer were greeted by a profound dedication to cleanliness, beauty and order.

This went beyond the commercial justification and extended into the worldview the owner of the hotel had. It was then communicated to his employees in both words and actions.

He communicated his idea through the systems they documented for running the business, and through his warm, caring manner.

Importantly, he set the tone for this game at the beginning of his relationship with his employees – before they were hired.

There were 5 distinct components to the hiring process:

A scripted presentation communicating the Boss’ idea in a group meeting to all the applicants at the same time. It described his idea, but also the history of the business and their success in implementing the idea, and what would be required for the successful candidate for the position.

Then he met with each applicant individually to discuss their reactions to his idea, and ask them why they thought they would be a good fit to implement the idea.

He notified the successful candidate by phone with a scripted presentation.

He notified the unsuccessful applicants, thanking them for their interest.

On the first day of training, the boss did the following:

    • Reviewed the boss’ idea;
    • Summarized the system through which the entire business brings that idea to reality;
    • Took the new employee on a tour of the facility, highlighting the people and systems that bring the idea to life;
    • Answered the employee’s questions clearly and fully;
    • Reviewed the Operations Manual with the employee, including the Strategic Objective, the Organization Strategy, and the Position Contract for the employee’s position.
    • Completed the employment papers.

This is how you bring the core values of your business to life.

6.Your Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy lives and dies with what your customer wants, and how you deliver it to them.

And understanding what your customer wants depends on you understanding the two pillars of a successful marketing strategy – the demographics and psychographics of your customers.

When you first start your business, you’ll already have defined the demographics of your customers. Your next job is to figure out as much of the psychographics for that segment of the market as possible.

What other brands do they buy? How are those companies – who are already successfully selling to those people – sell to them? What colors do they use? What messages are they sending? What values do they seem to be promoting?

Then, you’ll take all of that information and figure out what your business must be in the mind of those customers in order for them to choose you over everybody else.

Finally, you’ll make a promise your customer wants to hear, and then align your entire organization around delivering on that promise better than anyone else on the block.

Of course, as your company continues to grow, you’ll continue to learn about the demographics and psychographics of your customers, and continue to iterate on your marketing strategy over time.

7.Systems Strategy

The last piece of the puzzle in building your business is your systems strategy. There are 3 kinds of systems.

Hard systems are inanimate, unliving things. Soft systems are either living things, or ideas. The core of the book and summary so far have been a combination of those two systems.

The third system is the information system, which provides us with information about the interaction between the other two.

As an example, if you have a sales system that tracks the sales steps from beginning to end (you should), you would be tracking some or all of the following items:

  • How many calls were made?
  • How many prospects were reached?
  • How many appointments were scheduled?
  • How many appointments were confirmed?
  • How many appointments were held?
  • How many Needs Analysis Presentations were scheduled?
  • How many Needs Analyses were confirmed?
  • How many Needs Analyses completed?
  • How many Solutions Presentations were scheduled?
  • How many Solutions Presentations were confirmed?
  • How many Solutions Presentations were completed?
  • How many solutions were sold?
  • What was the average dollar value?

In short, the information system should tell you everything you need to know about how your people are performing, so that you can meet your strategic objectives, so that you can meet your primary aim.

Conclusion

Successful businesses are not built on myths. The right organization, people, management, marketing and systems build a business capable of producing the desired, predicable results.

Tim Kinane

Call 772-210-4499 to set up a time to talk about tools and strategies that will lead to better results.

Please share this with a friend/colleague

Friday, September 27th, 2019

10 Questions to Answer Before Replying to an Inquiry to Buy Your Company

By: Patrick Ungashick

Question heads

 

If you are like most business owners, you probably receive a steady flow of emails and phone calls seemingly offering to buy your company. As you know, many of these inquiries are junk, coming from somebody on a fishing expedition—and you don’t want to end up on that hook. But, how do you know if an inquiry is legitimate and you should consider replying? You could miss a golden opportunity. Then, if you should reply, what’s the right way to respond without appearing too eager, or without revealing sensitive information to a competitor? The wrong move here could ruin a potential deal, or put your company at risk, or waste much time.

To know what to do when a potential buyer contacts you, you must first verify if the inquiry is legitimate. Then, you need to make sure that you are ready for the stream of questions that will immediately come your way.

Step One – Determine if the inquiry is legitimate.

If you already know the party contacting you, and you know they are a legitimate buyer (or represent one), then you can skip this step. Otherwise, you have to determine who the inquiry is from to evaluate its legitimacy. If the inquirer is vague or guarded about their identity, then it is a waste of your time. For example, be wary of obscure phrases such as “I am working with several buyers…” or “I represent a buyer looking to make acquisitions in your industry…” As long as the inquirer will not disclose who they are (or whom they represent), you probably should not respond.

However, if the person or company contacting you openly discloses their identity, usually you can quickly determine the inquiry’s quality with a little online research in three ways:

  • Visit their website(s) to learn about who they are
  • Google the person and/or organization to see if any recent events have occurred regarding this person or company, most helpfully if they have been involved with any recent transactions
  • Look up the person(s) in LinkedIn to read their credentials and background

Generally, you want to make sure that this person and/or company is established and credible. For example, if their website is “Under Construction,” then probably you should delete the inquiry and go back to work. Or, if they have a website but it hypes only transactions they have done in an industry totally different from yours, then delete and go back to work. Or, if the person who contacted you has a LinkedIn page featuring the bright shining face of somebody fresh off a college campus, then probably delete and go back to work.

If you do not uncover anything that concerns you, proceed to the following ten essential questions to know if you are prepared to talk to a potential buyer.

(Disclaimer: At this point, you should enlist the help of professional advisors who have experience in these situations—people like us. Your company is too valuable and important not to have the best team working for you. However, at NAVIX, we genuinely want to help all business owners, so here are the remaining steps if you intend to do this yourself.)

Step Two – Evaluate if you and your company are ready for this conversation.

There are many risks associated with responding to an inquiry if you and your company are not ready. One is lost time and focus. Potential buyers are notorious for chewing up business owners’ time with ever-expanding information requests. Today, they only want your financials. Next week, they’ll be asking for your customer lists and pricing model. Many buyers look at dozens of companies for each one they seek to buy. So, there is a high probability that you will expend a lot of effort and achieve nothing. A second risk is revealing sensitive information to a potential competitor. Even providing your company’s basic financial information tells a competing organization a lot about your operations, strengths, and weaknesses.

Unfortunately, many business owners wing it when responding to unsolicited inquiries. This practice rarely leads to a successful outcome. To be ready to respond to an unsolicited inquiry, at a minimum, you must know the answers to the following 10 questions. There are many more steps involved to get you and your company ready for sale, but these ten are “go or no-go” issues. Meaning, you must know the answer to these ten questions to consider replying to one of those emails or returning one of those phone calls. If you don’t know the answer to even one of these questions, you will likely reveal to a potential buyer that you are inexperienced (and thus vulnerable) or disorganized (and therefore either not worth pursuing, or not worth top dollar). The ten questions are:

  • Do you know your company’s adjusted EBITDA for the prior three years and year-to-date? Most transactions are valued at a multiple of adjusted EBITDA. You could be significantly understating the value of your company if you are talking to potential buyers without having properly adjusted (or “normalized”) your EBITDA.
  • Do you have a feel for what multiples companies in your industry are currently selling for, beyond rumors and boastful country club talk? If you talk to a potential buyer but don’t know the current multiples in your industry, you don’t know if your buyer is offering you a strong price or bottom fishing.
  • Regarding multiples, do you know specifically what drives value in your industry? Have you addressed the things that position some companies to trade at premium EBITDA multiples relative to their peers, while others sell at discounts? The answers can vary across different industries and company sizes.
  • Do you know the post-tax amount you would need to sell to achieve financial freedom? Bad guesstimates on that front can lead to passing on reasonable offers, or worse, needing to find post-exit employment. We call this your Exit Magic Number™.
  • Are your financial statements bullet-proof? Are your income statements, balance sheets, budgets, and projections readable, credible, formatted to industry specifications, and optimized to maximize value? Many are not. It’s not sufficient that you understand your financials—will a buyer understand and accept them?
  • Have you identified all the critical sales, operations, and financial metrics that could potentially scare off a buyer? Are they all trending positively?
  • Are all your legal documents current and aligned with a potential sale? That is especially relevant if you have business partners. Just because you own a majority of the stock does not necessarily mean you have authority to sell the entire company. You don’t want to open up the discussion with a potential buyer only to learn your partnership and/or operation agreements don’t address a company sale, which many do not.
  • Do you know the information that a buyer will likely request? Buyers initially start with a few documents they ask to see upfront, and then quickly expand to asking for a few dozen and more. Are they organized and readily available? Does your team have the bandwidth to respond to these requests promptly?
  • Speaking of your team, if you start talking with a potential buyer, are you prepared to tell the key people on your team? The process with a potential buyer will usually not get very far without help from key managers. Also, buyers will see an increased risk if you are avoiding to include key managers in the process.
  • Are you comfortable flying blind? In other words, are you willing to give up the leverage and knowledge that is lost when you deal with a single buyer? Most business owners understand the loss of leverage, and you may decide that you retain the ultimate advantage by being able to walk away from a deal. However, the loss of knowledge can be more problematic. Specifically, how will you know if you should walk away from this buyer? If, after a few discussions, the buyer offers $25 million, how do you know if that’s the best you could do, or if it is even a fair offer? By going down the path with a single buyer, you don’t know if another buyer would have offered you $20 million, or $30 million, or $50 million.

The lack of knowledge is not just about price. Maybe halfway through due-diligence, you are not so excited about this buyer’s plans for your company or your people. If you are talking with only one buyer, you don’t have another buyer to compare their plans for the company. Leverage is essential, but knowledge is power. You will give up that power when they follow through on unsolicited offers.

If you can answer affirmatively to these ten questions—actively, clearly, and unequivocally—then it may make sense to respond to an unsolicited inquiry which you believe to be legitimate. You will still have dozens of more things to do from here, but you should at least be off to a solid start. However, if you cannot answer affirmatively any one of the ten questions presented above, it may be too risky, and it may cost you too much lost time to reply to any of these emails or phone calls. Instead, use your time to get you and your company ready, so that you can properly reply to a future inquiry. To do this, contact us to learn how we can help you as we have helped many hundreds of other business owners achieve successful and happy exits.

 

If you have a quick question coming out of this article or, if you want to discuss your situation in more detail, we can set up a confidential and complimentary phone consultation at your convenience contact Tim 772-221-4499.

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Monday, August 5th, 2019

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Book Review

Learn the habits that highly successful, fast growing companies embed in their business.

 

By: Verne Harnish

What tools do you uses to run and grow your business?

Periodically, I share a favorite book review from Readitfor.me. There is never enough time to read all the latest books – this tool is a great way to learn and to stay on top of the latest topics and new ideas.

Mastering The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish provides a how to on mastering a one-page strategic plan. Read this review to see if this a tool you can use to run and grow your business.

 

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits

 

Readitfor.me Book Review:

Verne Harnish is the founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 210 partners on six continents.

He’s been at it for three decades, and his book Mastering The Rockefeller Habits has been used by thousands of companies world-wide to learn and apply the tools they need in order to profitably run a fast-growing company.

This book is heavy on “how-to”, which means we have a lot of ground to cover.

Let’s get started.

The Three Decisions and Three Habits

Over many years of working with successful entrepreneurs, and studying the life of John D. Rockefeller, Harnish boiled down their success into three simple habits and decisions.

The first habit is priorities. These are a handful of rules – some of which change, and some of which don’t (like your BHAG, for instance). You should have some for the company as a whole, and for each individual who works there.

The second habit is data. This is ensuring that the organization has sufficient data on a daily and weekly basis to provide insight into how the organization is running, and for what the market is demanding. Ensuring that everybody has at least one key daily or weekly metric driving their performance.

The third and final habit is rhythm – which are the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings to make sure that everybody is aligned with the short and long term goals with the business.

The decisions you need to make boil down into the following three questions:

Do we have the Right People? Are we doing the Right Things? Are we doing those Things Right?

Priorities: Mastering a One-Page Strategic Plan

As your company grows, it gets harder and harder to keep your team on the same page. The best way to do this, Harnish tells us, is to boil all of the most important things your company is focussing on into one page.

To follow along, you can download a copy of the plan here: https://gazelles.com/static/resources/tools/en/OPSP.pdf

It should cover the following items, most of which will be covered in more detail in the following sections.

Opportunities and Threats – list the five biggest opportunities and threats facing your organization over the time frame you are considering.

Core Values – these are the five to eight statements that define the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” that inform all decisions made at your company.

Purpose – this is the reason your company is in business. Why you do what you do. As an example, Wal-Mart’s purpose is “To give ordinary folks the chance to buy the same things as rich people.”

Actions and BHAG – this is your 10 – 25 year lofty goal, similar to Kennedy’s legendary goal to put a man on the moon.

Targets and Sandbox – the target is where you want your company to be in 3 to 5 years. The Sandbox is basically your market – where you’ll play, the product/service you’ll provide, and your expected market share in 3 to 5 years.

Brand Promise – this is the key need you satisfy for your customers. It should be measurable.

Key Thrusts/Capabilities – these are the 5 or 6 things you need in order to reach 3 to 5 year targets.

Goals and Key Initiatives – this is what your company needs to achieve this year, and the 5 or 6 key initiatives that will help you get there.

Critical Numbers – this is where you should have one or two numbers – ideally one from the balance sheet and one from the income statement. It should represent a key weakness in your economic model or operations, that if addressed, will have a significant impact on the business.

Actions and Rocks – these are your quarterly action steps.

Theme, Scoreboard Design and Celebration – create a quarterly or annual theme to bring focus to the year, and post your scoreboard where everybody can track your progress on the plan.

Schedules – determine when things need to happen. Unless activities show up on somebody’s weekly todo list, nothing gets done.

Accountability – this is where you identify which person is accountable for which particular activity on your plan.

Now that we’ve figured out what we need to be focussed on, let’s take a deeper dive into the most important areas of this plan.

Priorities: Mastering the Use of Core Values

Having a few rules, repeating them until everybody is sick of hearing you repeat them, and then making sure everybody acts in accordance with them, is how you create a strong culture.

It makes leading people much easier, and generally leads to better performance, higher employee retention, and better alignment across the company.

Once you have those core values, you should translate them into the quarterly Individual Performance Plan of each person on your team. For each core value that you have, each employee (and you) should be able to identify actions you’ll take to live it out.

Other things you can do include creating recognition awards for people who live out your core values, communicate examples of people living them out regularly, and make them a large part of your quarterly and year themes for the company.

Priorities: Mastering Organisational Alignment and Focus

Having too many priorities is the same as having no priorities.

In order to get your organization aligned with your long term goals, you need to identify the top 5 priorities in your company, and also clearly identify which of the 5 is the most important.

There are seven common leading priorities in fast-growing companies:

  1. Not big enough to compete in the market;
  2. Lacking a key player in a key role;
  3. Your economic engine is broken;
  4. Somebody else is controlling your destiny;
  5. You need a war chest to compete;
  6. You can’t raise money until you grow;
  7. You need to scale back or you won’t survive.

Once you’ve identified your top priorities, you should put them into your Management Accountability Plan. This will ensure that each priority is assigned to somebody, that you identify the actions that need to be taken, and when they need to be taken.

Priorities: Mastering the Quarterly Theme

Now we start to focus on the nitty gritty of getting the plans into motion. You’ve probably been in a work environment where goals and priorities are set, and then promptly forgotten.

One of the antidotes to this is to make sure your team has an emotional connection to the goals so that you generate commitment to them.

There are many ways to do this.

You could do it in a big and flashy way like Mark Moses of Platinum Capital, who once rode an elephant into a company meeting because they were launching an expansion campaign and he wanted his employees to “think big.”

Or you could do it in a more conservative way like one CEO who handed out watches to his executive team that had their three Critical Numbers engraved on them. Every time his executives looked at the time, they were reminded of the priorities and that “time was ticking.”

You can also create rewards for your employees to help further motivate them to reach the most important goals. As long as the goals are clear, and they can see progress being made towards the goals, these types of group incentives work well.

Data: Mastering employee feedback

Hassles that continue to come over and over again cost your employees a lot of time. This is the kind of work that makes people hate their jobs. It’s also likely that these issues cost you a lot of customers and revenues.

The answer is to create a system of employee feedback to figure out exactly what these problems are, and a systematic process to deal with them.

To get started, ask your team a three-part question: what should we start doing, what should we stop doing, and what should we continue doing? Ask them to think about these questions from both their perspective and from the perspective of your customers.

Then, ensure that you are responsive to the feedback. Find some quick wins and cross them off the list. Make sure that your team sees progress being made on them so that they continue to provide input. It’s not enough to just make progress, they have to be able to see it.

Here are 6 guidelines to keep in mind as you continue to work through your employee feedback.

  1. Relevancy – is this an important issue for us to tackle?
  2. Be Specific – make sure to capture the details of each issue.
  3. Address the Root – look at the root issue, not just the symptoms.
  4. Focus on the What, Not the Who – focus on eliminating process issues. 95% of the time it’s a process problem.
  5. Involve All Those Affected – get everybody into one room to discuss and resolve the issue.
  6. Never Backstab – never talk poorly of somebody that isn’t present.

Follow those rules for gathering and dealing with employee feedback and you’ll be well on your way to eliminating your thorniest recurring problems.

Rhythm: Mastering the Daily and Weekly Executive Meeting

At the heart of Harnish’s system for growth are tightly run daily, weekly, monthly quarterly and annual huddles and meetings. He suggests that these meetings should all have specific agendas, and should happen without fail.

Here are the meetings he suggests you should have:

The Daily Meeting

In a growing company, everybody should participate in a 5-15 minute huddle, daily. These huddles utilize three of the most powerful tools you have as a leader in getting team performance – peer pressure, collective intelligence, and clear communication.

You should hold the meeting at the same time every day, and hold it standing up which helps to keep the meeting short and to the point.

Your agenda should include three things – what’s up, daily measurements (data), and where are you stuck?

The Weekly Meeting

The weekly meeting has a different purpose and agenda. You should be focussing on strategic issues, and it should last approximately an hour for executives.

The first 5 minutes should focus on good news stories from everybody.

The next 10 minutes should focus on the critical numbers in your business.

The next 10 minutes should be customer and employee feedback. Focus on the issues that continue to pop up.

The last 30 minutes should be a focus on a single big issue. It should be one of your large priorities for the month or quarter.

Finally, close with “one-phrase closes”: ask each attendee to sum up with a word or phrase of reaction.

The Monthly Meeting

The focus of the monthly meeting is learning. It’s a 2 to 4 hour meeting for the management to review progress on priorities, review the monthly P&L in detail, to discuss what’s working or not from a process standpoint, and finally to do some training.

The Quarterly and Annual Meetings

Finally, the purpose of the quarterly and annual meetings is to review the progress made on the One-Page Strategic Plan.

The X Factor: Mastering the Brand Promise

The brand promise is the key factor that sets you apart from your competition. It’s the reason that your customers keep returning to you year after year.

This is the starting point for every other executive decision. Make the right call and execute on it, and you’ll win. Choose the wrong one and you won’t.

The key here is to focus on customer needs. Not their wants, but their needs. And you need to fulfill their needs in a way that is different than the competition.

After you’ve chosen that brand promise, you need to make sure that you do everything in your power to execute on it, and ensure that you can remove any bottlenecks or chokepoints that might get in your way.

It goes without saying that doing all of this is incredibly hard. It should cause you to sweat a little just by thinking about it.

Lastly, realize that everything changes with time, including your brand promise. If the market changes, or your customers needs shift, you need to be ready to respond with a new brand promise that fills that void.

Conclusion

There is a lot to take in with the Rockefeller Habits. Most of the information you’ll have heard before, somewhere. But putting it all together and executing on ALL of it is where the magic is.

Get started building your One-Page Strategic Plan, and you’ll be well on your way to building a scalable, profitable business.

 

Tim Kinane

Call 772-210-4499 to set up a time to talk about tools and strategies that will lead to better results.

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