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A Tinder Moment: Unlocking Value from Vendor Partnerships

value from vendor partnerships

At The Strategic CFO, we believe in the saying “You scratch our back, we scratch yours.” Everyone always sees other businesses as a competition; to some extent, they are. But sometimes, you just need to let people make money.

As we’ve become more focused on optimizing technology, we have started to outsource tasks/projects to outside vendors nationally and, depending on the task, internationally. I was talking to my associate the other day, when we asked our vendor partner to help complete a project. She was concerned about pricing, and whether or not it was worth the money to ask our vendor to do the engagement. They charge about $25 per hour of assistance, and we needed easily 3 or 4 hours of advice.

In the past, this vendor has always stepped up and helped us. That’s because we give him business. Let’s explore why this is important…

Cutting Costs and Unlocking Value

What happens when you need to cut costs while still maintaining the same value? Everyone knows that increasing revenue and cutting costs increases your bottom line. But are you actually maintaining that value or are you manipulating that?

Let’s say you’ve already cut as many costs as you can, but you still need to cut more. This is where you have to make financial decisionsWhat do you value most – your profit or your relationships? 

Cutting costs doesn’t mean you have to cut out the relationship forever. In fact, unless they do something unforgivable or you won’t ever need them again, you should keep that relationship open. For example, our vendor doesn’t work with us 24/7. However, we still maintain the relationship by giving him tasks once every couple of months. They act as an extension of our team.

 Are you ready to unlock real value in your business? Click here to access our three best tools to unlock value! 

Business Meets Tinder

Have you ever used (or heard of) Tinder? Chances are you’ve at least heard of Tinder, especially if you live in the United States. Tinder is a location-based, social search mobile app that connects individuals based on their interests. It’s all user-based, so if the user sees your pictures and swipes right, that means the user would like to meet. If not, then the user probably doesn’t want to meet you, and swipes left to move on to the next person. If both users swipe right, then they have a match! The process is fairly quick, and users on average swipe 30 times per day! (Good thing I’m already married, right?)  

Making the Connection

So how does Tinder connect to your business?

Everyone has that “Tinder” business where you swipe right when you want them, but swipe left and disregard them when you don’t need them. This is a major issue. If we all treated business relationships like Tinder, then we would not have a lot of value, would we? If my associate “swiped left” from the vendor and moved ovalue from vendor partnershipsn to another person, we would not receive the same value. Business would be done quickly and no relationships would be formed.

Keep in mind that conducting vendor relationships is critical for your success. Think about that time when you needed help immediately… If you had a good vendor relationship, they would be able to fix the problem immediately as they already know your business. But if you were a habitual left swiper, then the new vendor would have to get up to speed… Slowing down your progress and leaving money on the table.

Healthy Business = Healthy Business

Ultimately, when you treat vendors frivolously, you’re setting examples for other businesses. Soon enough, those vendors will go out of business because many businesses use the vendors inconsistently and constantly look for a “better deal.” And what happens when that business goes bankrupt? All of the value they put into your company is now gone.

(Keep in mind, you have your own set of vendors AND you are your customer’s vendor. Healthy business equals healthy business.)

What you should really be doing is investing your money, time, and trust in one vendor per task. My associate ended up using the vendor she was skeptical about, because she realized that if she found a new vendor, we would have had to spend the time to get the new vendor up to speed and we would always be looking for someone better and cheaper. It’s a waste of time and time is money.

3 Buckets of Value

There are 3 buckets of value: cheap, timely, and/or good quality. A business can expect to have two of the three when it comes to investing in something valuable, but not all three. This is where you come in as a leader… the best way to solve this problem is to find a compromise.

Pick which bucket(s) you find more valuable. Use that as your foundation or guide to making vendor decisions.

Cheap & Timely

When I first started The Strategic CFO, I wanted everything cheap and timely because I believed in investing in something to get quality work in return. I was young and naive. Customers eat at fast food restaurants because it is cheap and timely, but it isn’t the best quality.

Let’s even use the Tinder example… Constantly looking for new vendors is a cheaper and possibly faster. However, quality is built over time, and you won’t see consistent quality over time.

So think about it… do you really want to compare your business to fast food or Tinder?

 If you like these stories and advice, we recommend you also check out our ultimate CFO resource! Unlock your value today! 

value from vendor partnershipsQuality & Cheap

I was talking to my associate and she told me that she bought a makeup palette from China for only $6, when the price in the United States is $52.00. The only downside is that it took 2 months to get it in the mail! When she finally received it, it looked as if she bought it here in the US. The same concept can be applied to outsourcing tasks internationally, because of the time and language barriers. Sometimes we don’t see the work for 2 weeks to a month. This is good for tasks that don’t need to be completed right away, such as graphics for a future project.

Timely & Quality

For this example, we can use salaries. If you look at your staff, they have to be timely and of good quality. That’s why salaries consume the majority of your expenses. This is because you invest in them for your company. If we started seeing vendor partner as valuably as we do staff, the timeliness and the quality of the work might actually pay off.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you can’t treat businesses like a commodity, because they will treat you like a commodity. You can have cheap, timely, or quality work. You can expect two out of the three, but not all three. If you want to unlock value from vendor partnerships in your business, they need to know they are valued. How can we do that? Let them make money!

If you want to learn more about how to add real value to your company, click here to access our 3 best tools AND learn more about The SCFO Lab.

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The Key to Having a Unique Business? Unique People!

Over the years of teaching in an entrepreneurship program, I realized a pattern. As expected, every entrepreneur thinks his business is unique. But in having a unique business, who works for you? What value do they bring to the table? Do they make your business “unique”? To some extent, they probably do! These are questions we will explore, but for now, let’s talk about what really makes a business unique.

Is your business really unique?

Every business or inhaving a unique businessdustry has nuances that are peculiar to that market. But is it necessary to restrict your hiring to employees with industry experience?

Business is business is business. Yes it’s different, but you don’t want to make decisions based on pride and skills you don’t have. They don’t make MBAs for each industry, after all. If all businesses were unique, they would make specific MBAs per skill per industry. That’s the beauty of the hiring process… seeing who has the talents and skills, and who doesn’t.

A few tips on having a unique business…

1. DiversifyEver thought about pivoting? Or changing your business model? When we say “diversify”, we really mean looking for something in your company that can be improved. How can you best optimize the assets you already have?

2. Innovate. This includes solving new problems, creating a new product, finding new business partners, and many other factors that go into making new plans for your business. But be careful not to introduce too many things at one time!

3. Hire unique people! Who else is going to implement these changes? Building a better team will help solve new problems that your company might not have seen before. You just have decide from there… will you hire based on degree or drive?

How do you build that unique team? Download our free whitepaper to learn how to recruit the perfect team for your business!

Degree vs. Drive

The term “degree” in this blog is a loose term. It generally means the typical employee who has gone to college, and worked 5-10 years in a job to acquire skills. If you think about it, who knows the nuances of the business better than anybody? It is the entrepreneur and his core team!

In the Strategic CFO, we work primarily with established companies rather than solely start-up companies. Although we don’t always work directly with the entrepreneur, we still see the patterns of pride within the company. Pride, in this context, means more than believing your company is the best and undeniably different than any other company.

Recently, I visited a client that wanted to recruit a CFO. They told me they wanted to hire someone with “industry experience.” How would you interpret this? “Industry experience” can mean one of two things: 1) years of experience in any given industry, 2) knowledge of the industry, or 3) both. Notice that I never mentioned talent or drive in this analysis.

Hiring for Degree

Advantages

having a unique businessNow don’t get me wrong, hiring for experience has its perks. Those with experience are familiar with the industry jargon, and understand the processes. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to train them for longer than a few weeks! Having a more tenured employee also appeals to customers and other partners, because not everyone trusts a young, fresh new hire.

Disadvantages

Experience is often short-sided. If hiring for experience was the main criteria for hiring new graduates, then there might be a lot of holes in the skill set of your company. Take the MBA, for example. You hire this person based on experience and their years of study in the industry. But what if there was a new skill set that not a lot of people have studied in? You’ll be paying a lot more to receive a lot less. Experienced employees tend to go by the book, and generally don’t go outside of what they know. After a while, tenured employees are less innovative, which is an essential part of diversifying your business and solving new problems.

Hiring for Drive

Advantages

Harvard says, “hire for talent, train for skills.” When you have someone that’s talented, you can get that person up to speed in any industry. For example, the marketing specialists in the Strategic CFO staff weren’t always tech-savvy when I first hired them. However, I chose them from a pool of talented people with drive. Within months, they became digital marketing specialists. People with drive are also innovative. They won’t stop until they’ve finished a project or solved a problem. Finally, they’re affordable. If you think about it, they’re usually young hires. Young hires are cheap!

Disadvantages

Although young hires are cheap, they might take longer to train and familiarize with industry jargon. Additionally, you can’t always send millennials out on cold calls or familiarize them with regular clients.

“Teaching tall:” more on hiring for talent

In my opinion, I think hiring for talent is more valuable than hiring for experience. It’s an investment. John Wooden, the famous head basketball coach at UCLA and creator of the “Pyramid for Success,” had this saying… “I can teach anybody how to play basketball. I can’t teach tall.” Basketball players are known to be tall, muscular, and fast. John Wooden showed us that anyone can do something if they have the drive for it. The same can be applied to business and building your company.

Conclusion

So we explored the idea of having a unique business by having a unique team, what other things you can do to make your company unique, and the advantages/disadvantages of hiring for degree and drive. The key to having a unique business: hiring unique people! You can accomplish anything for your business if you have the right resources and make productive decisions. You can get there, it’s just a matter of how soon you and your team are willing to do it. Your business can be unique… and you definitely can’t do it alone.

Don’t do it alone. Download our free 5 Guiding Principles for Recruiting a Star-Quality team today!

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The Butterfly Effect: Planning with External Analysis

planning with external analysisEvery decision you make as a financial leader affects your business. Looking back on 2016 to now, a lot of events happened and changed the course of business. Often, there are events occurring in the world that either directly or indirectly impact your company. As a financial leader, it’s up to you to decide how to change your business, or if you should keep it the same.

How external factors destroy a business

Worst-case scenario, a company will collapse due to an event that occurs externally. Here are a few examples of why external factors might actually destroy your business:

Your company can’t keep up

It’s all about infrastructure. How does your company stay in the game? If you think about it, the core of the company requires a strong group of individuals to keep the company together. Without a strong team, the company will crumble. Analyze your internal situation as well as your external situation: be aware of bitterness, fatigue, and boredom within your staff.

Competitors fix the problem before you do

“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” If we really think about this phrase, it’s true.”The going gets tough” means the situations around you are getting increasingly more difficult. “The tough get going” means that the strongest people work through the problem as fast as possible. If your competitors can solve the problem before you can, then your company becomes irrelevant.

Customers adapt to the change

Like we discussed in last week’s blog, the number one reason for startups failing is creating a product that customers don’t need. This can also be applied to businesses that already exist. If a customer doesn’t need a product, they won’t buy it. For example, the hard drive market shrank rapidly after the creation of the cloud. The cloud solved the issue of limited storage. Since then, customers adapted to the change and the hard drive market continues to shrink. Now, it’s up to the hard drive companies to make their change in order to gain new or keep current customers.

Not used to change? Planning with External Analysis helps anticipate obstacles before they affect your business. Download now!

Planning Strategically

As you can see, it takes a lot of adaptation. Over the past year or so, we’ve been getting a lot of traffic from the middle east. Everyone at the Strategic CFO wondered, “Why is this happening?” We caught up on the news and realized that oil prices collapsed.

As a result, the people in the middle east have a renewed interest in all things financial because they wanted to take initiative and start their own companies. To adapt to this change, we shifted our focus and paid more attention to them in our blog and communication.

You, too, can adapt to change. It’s a matter of staying alert, and responding to a pattern. In this case, we took note of our target demographic, and shifted to cater to them.

Porter’s 5 Forces

planning with external analysisPorter’s 5 forces was created by Harvard Business School Professor, Michael Porter. The model exhibits 5 forces of competition within an industry, affected by multiple aspects of the industry and the environment. The 4 aspects that affect competition include the bargaining power of buyers, the bargaining power of suppliers, the threat of new entrants, and the threat of substitute products.

Analysis of Porter’s 5 Forces

If you think about it, all four of those aspects affect the competition equally, and are affected by spontaneous events. Bargaining power of buyers means that the consumers create pressure for a business to change its product and overall model.

Supplier power refers to the amount of influence the supplier has over a business’s decisions. An example of supplier power is oil and gas pricing. Due to the events that happen in the oil reserves, the prices fluctuate.

Threat of new entrants is the threat that new competitors present in any given industry. In a profitable industry, competition will be saturated. One of our interns told us about an ice cream owner the other day, and he said he and his partner were going to open their shop in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, they couldn’t enter the market because of the competition. As a result, he moved to Houston, posing as a threat to the Houston ice cream market. His product is common with a unique twist, but he entered a less-saturated market.

Finally, the threat of substitutes is the threat of a new product replacing an existing industry’s product. Let’s use an airline as an example. If a new airline provided a better price and better experience, consumers would most likely choose that airline.

Dealing with competition is always tough. Download this External Analysis to beat your competition to the punch!

Planning with External Analysis

planning with external analysisSWOT analysis considers Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Opportunities and threats are the focus for external factors. These environmental changes are most likely variable, unpredictable, and out of your control.

Environmental changes are similar to “the butterfly effect” – the concept that small changes have large effects. What happens across the world may have a large impact on your company. Not all change is negative – it is possible that what happens halfway across the world might increase your revenues in some way. In that case, you’ll still have to prepare… even if it’s not for the worst.

“Plug In” as a financial leader

As a financial leader, you have to be plugged in. News isn’t always for entertainment! In a way, it’s an indication of what your next move is. When planning with external analysis, consider more than what is happening today. Consider what might happen 3-6 months in advance, based on what is happening and has been happening lately.

Conclusion

Some say that the flap of a butterfly’s wings control the tides on the other side of the world. This concept, although somewhat overstated, is a great metaphor for environmental changes. What happens in Saudi Arabia may not affect us now, but maybe it might 5-6 months from now. The best part of adapting: always preparing for the worst.

Prepare for the best… and the worst. Download the External Analysis to gear up your business for change.

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Why do most startups fail?

why most startups fail

Right now is the time of innovation – kickstarters and new types of marketing campaigns are popping up everywhere. You might have an idea yourself, regardless of whether you’re a Millennial, Generation X, or even a Baby Boomer! So how do you know if your idea is a good one?

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship. In one of our first classes, we discussed an interesting topic: the survival rate of a new business, and why most startups fail.

According to Fortune, 9 out of 10 new businesses fail. The number one reason for why most startups fail was not having a product that serves the market. I asked the students this question, and now I’ll ask you… Do you think a good product is enough to survive in the market?

Top 5 Reasons Why Most Startups Fail

The answer to that question is no. A number of factors play into why most startups fail. Here are a few:

#1: People don’t need it!

The number one reason for the failure of a business is creating a product for a market that doesn’t need it. The first thing you should do, before you spend all of your cash on producing and prototyping your product, is market research. Who is your customer? How many customers are out there? How much are they spending on a product that serves a similar function? If you can’t answer all of these questions about your idea immediately, then maybe this isn’t the best business to invest in.

 #2: Cash wasn’t King

Where are you spending your money? Research shows that 29% unfunded startups fail because they ran out of money. We can assume that they spent the money on research and development, marketing, salaries, and other overhead expenses. How did they run out of cash in the first place? Because the financial leaders overlooked important, and possibly tedious details.

Also consider that different businesses see profits at different times. You may go 5 years without seeing a dime. Or maybe it’s the other way around –  some startups might skyrocket after a couple of years. But do they have enough cash to keep them afloat? Looking ahead is always important when you manage your finances. Like gas in a jet, cash is the fuel to keep your business running. Cash is king.

Even if you aren’t starting a new business, taking a look at your company as a whole is always a good idea when making big decisions. Download our free Internal Analysis whitepaper to learn how!

#3: Lack of a Quality Team

why most startups failObviously when you start a company, you want the best staff you can build. However, most startups can’t afford “the best of the best.” There may be certain skills that you need, tasks that need to be done quickly, but your staff simply cannot keep up.

Let’s say your team has all the skills you need, but they don’t communicate or work well with others. You’ve just invested your money in a team that could fall apart. It’s better to a have a team that learns the skills and has a positive attitude, versus a skillful team with a negative attitude. In this case, quality is defined by the talent in the person, not just the skills they bring.

#4: No Competitive Advantage

On top of marketing research, you also have to conduct competitive research when you start a business. What makes your company unique? In a way, a condensed competitive scope may indicate that your product is needed. What you have to figure out is how to make your brand more attractive than your competitor’s.

This means more than just “being the cheaper alternative.” The intellectual property itself has to have that secret sauce… which also means that you answer your customer’s problem better than your competition.

#5: Poor Pricing

Poor pricing is another reason why most startups fail, so don’t underestimate the power of smart pricing.

The Startup Roadmap

Solve a Problem > Build a Good Team > Research/Develop the Idea >

Financial Projections > Look for Funding > Develop Product >

Disrupt a market.

This is a general roadmap of a startup. Typically, it takes 3 years to be successful in an industry. Think about it – when you apply for a job, they look for people with 3+ years experience. Why? Because they have 3+ years experience in a skill set. The interviewee knows how to navigate a problem and has practiced solving it. Same goes for a business.

Why Banks Turn Startups Away

The research pwhy most startups failreviously mentioned shows data for companies that have been around 3-5 years. I like to think that after you pass the first three years, things get easier for your company. For example, banks need to see at least 3 years of financial statements. You may not need profits for all three years, but you should be trending upward by year three for banks to consider investing in your business.

Banks turn away companies less than three years old for multiple reasons. One is that new or small businesses are more risky than larger businesses. Post-recession, banks have to be more strict with who they lend to. Banks also earn less profit on smaller loans. If you think about it, banks underwrite a $5 million loan for the same cost of underwriting a $50,000 loan. It makes more sense to focus on the larger loans, with a less risky business.

Conclusion

Although it seems like everyone around you is looking for that next big idea, really think through your next venture. Do you have a market, cash, and a good team? What is your competition like? And finally, what is your pricing strategy? If you create a roadmap and make financially sound decisions, your startup should already look better than most.

Speaking of making financially sound decisions, check out our free Internal Analysis whitepaper to assist your leadership decisions and create the roadmap for your company’s success!

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Are you destroying your company?

Have you ever been in a position where you were considering selling your company only to find the value of the business falling quite short of your expectations? This is something that can easily happen without you noticing…

Destroying your Company

What do we mean by this? We mean that something, either suddenly or little-by-little, has gone so awry that the value of your company in the eyes of an investor has severely decreased. Out of all the possibilities, the most common reason value drops comes down to the leadership and the key team members that you have assembled.

To improve the value of your company, identify and find solutions to those “destroyers” of value. Click here to download your free “Top 10 Destroyers of Value“.

Who You Hire

Your team is one of the most vital assets in your company. Without people, you don’t really have a company. In the process of valuation, investors spend a lengthy amount of time assessing your leadership, key team members, and general staff.

Why though?

Productivity in a company heavily depends on the integration and relationships between the team members. Especially relevant in toxic environments, alliances begin to form, gossip boils, and separation between roles deepens, etc.

Are you the toxic person?

Take a deep breath and assess whether you are the toxic person in your company creating these divides. To do this effectively, you cannot go about it alone. If you are in a position of leadership, bring other fellow leaders in to provide honest feedback of your performance. Give them permission to be brutally honest because in critical times (such as selling your business), there’s no time to work through fluff.

You may be a value destroyer

When considering the value of your business, you need to take yourself out of the equation. Your business should be an asset you own, that generates cash, not an extension of yourself. It should be able to operate without your daily and direct motivation, involvement, or leadership.

If the business cannot function without you, that’s a problem.

When the business cannot function with you on an extended vacation, that’s a problem.

When no one else can fill your position or create the same results, that’s a problem.

If you have a company that is not worth much without you, no one will pay you much for it. If you’re not careful, you could be the destroyer that is impacting your company’s value. Perfectionism, lack of reinvestment, and plain old bad habits could mean you’re in big trouble.

Perfectionism

One of the most frustrating things about entrepreneurs and business owners is that they often forget to take themselves out of the company. What does that mean exactly?

In the “E-Myth,” Michael Gerber states,

“If you cannot separate yourself from the business, then you have a job not a company.” 

Perfectionists are professionals at not separating themselves from the business. By having accountability partners or top managers there to advise you if you begin to slip into perfectionist tendencies, you will be able to continually take a 40,000 foot view.

Don’t Work a Job

The #1 thing to remember is when you create a company, is don’t work a job. Your company should work for you; it should generate revenue and operate independently for the most part.

So, how can you ensure that a business can continue to operate and flourish without your involvement? Hire strong people, create valuable content and procedures, develop a brand that is not synonymous with you. If you do all of these things, it will help you create an asset, not a liability.

Lack of Reinvestment

Sometimes, those at the top can get “greedy”. I always say “greed lowers IQ”. When CFOs, CEOs, COOs or any other person in a financial leadership position finds success, they often reward themselves generously.

While that is not necessarily bad, it is a bad idea when you neglect to financially lead your company by not reinvesting back into the company. Not only is this neglecting your responsibility to the shareholders, it risks a major cash crunch.

Are you in the process of selling your company? The first thing to do is to identify “destroyers” that can impact your company’s value. Click here to download your free “Top 10 Destroyers of Value“.

Bad Habits

A financial leader can have bad habits that destroy companies. Some of these bad habits include:

1. Wasting time with frivolous tasks

Prioritize using an action plan what tasks will add value to your company. If there is someone who can do a frivolous task at a lower rate, delegate it. It’s not worth your time.

2. Over-rewarding yourself

Consider investing that extra bonus into the company. Check the reasonableness of your bonus.

3. Only acting in the accounting function

As a financial leader, you are more than just the leader of the accounting function. You have a responsibility to provide financial leadership to the sales and operations functions as well.

4. Be only reactive, rather than proactive

Most accounting-types are reactive. Instead, think like the entrepreneur or owner of your company. Proactively make decisions that put your company ahead of competitors.

5. Scorekeeping

This bad habit leads to more than just financial issues. Professional and personal scorekeeping pits people against each other, resulting in workplace animosity. Watch your words and the thoughts that measure and compare one’s performance.

6. Resistance to take any risk

Take calculated risks; measure the downside of the risk in comparison to the upside. Be sure to factor in the  payback period it will take to see if you can afford to take the risk.

As a result of having 1 or more of these bad habits, you could be destroying your company.

Who is actually in control?

Figure out who is in financial control of your company. If it’s you, then start analyzing whether you are the destroyer. Regardless of your conclusion, there is an opportunity to take control of the situation. To truly maximize value, control all value centers in your company. The first order of business is learn the Top 10 Destroyers of Value. Download your free guide to avoid letting the destroyers take value away from you.

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A Tale of Two Bank Accounts

technology substitutes bank accounts

Do you ever have those thoughts that haunt you in the middle of the night? Well, for me, it was 2 AM one night and I thought to myself, “Why on earth do I have two bank accounts?!”

As time passes and technology progresses, the need for multiple bank accounts seems irrelevant. Think about it – you have twice, maybe three times the burden of maintaining, tracking, and paying for multiple bank accounts. There are many reasons someone would want to, so let me share mine with you.

Reasons for having a separate payroll account

Security

Assuming you hand out physical checks to your employees, having a separate payroll account can keep employees from having access to your operating bank account number.  Since most payroll accounts are only funded at the time of a payroll run, the company’s dollar exposure to theft is limited.

Separate accounts for payroll and accounts payable enhances internal controls and enables the company to choose which individuals within the company have access to the bank accounts.  The person processing A/P checks might not be the person you want having access to your payroll account.

Hacking is also a major issue, especially in finance. Many people believe that a second bank account will make sure payment is available only when needed. In case of a frozen bank account, lost credit cards, or stolen identity, a separate bank account is a good fallback.

Organizing tasks

If you have many employees and many vendors, reconciling one account with all transactions can be messy.  Having separate accounts for payroll and operating expenses can streamline the reconciliation process.

Having a separate payroll account also makes it easier to locate lost, stolen or forged payroll checks.

Having trouble figuring out how to become a better financial leader? Take your business to the next level with our 3 most powerful tools!

Our thoughts…

A business may have good reasons for separate bank accounts, but here are a couple of reasons why you might reconsider.

1. Electronic payroll processing

In the old days, you only put enough in payroll to prevent fraud, make the bank reconciliation easier, and limit authority. You can do this all electronically now. There are apps and websites available to help with payroll. Additionally, they include fraud prevention and aid with taxes. The need for a separate bank account with manual tracking is obsolete, because technology has your back!

2. Apps to deal with operating expenses

technology substitutes bank accountsYour operating account generally handles customer deposits and vendor payments. Businesses
may also use this separate account to pay for other overhead expenses such as sales dinners, store purchases, etc.

But again, technology has simplified this process. I attended a conference a couple of months ago, and one of the vendors focused on automating day-to-day transactions within companies. Many vendors offer auto-draft and many customers pay via ACH.

Accounting software such as Quickbooks interfaces directly with your credit card account allowing you to automatically upload, code and approve transactions in minutes rather than the hours it took just a few short years ago.

There are many more reasons to have multiple bank accounts, but many more reasons not to. For every new bank account created, there are hundreds of apps and websites to serve the same purpose.

Embracing Change

Speaking of change, you should reconsider the way you’re doing things since times are changing. Are your business habits the best practice? I’m 60 years old. There, I said it. Yet I work with young entrepreneurs every year. Why am I 60 years old and thinking like a baby entrepreneur? Because I made the conscious decision to adapt and change. You can, too.

“That’s cute, but don’t tell anyone about it.”

Ever heard of Kodak, and how it failed? Kodak is a perfect example of how missing your technology window might destroy you in the long run. In 1975, Steve Sasson invented the first digital camera. However, management replied, “That’s cute, but don’t tell anyone about it” (via The New York Times). Not long after, Sony came out with the first digital camera to be sold.

What might have happened, if Kodak actually supported the new digital movement? Could they have avoided bankruptcy and held onto their status as an industry leader? They might have been the company to look to for more technologies, but instead, the management of Kodak was in denial. We can all learn from this, and trust technology to handle some of our business.

Don’t be a Luddite

In my experience, many financial leaders are late adopters of technology. If there is a new and easier way to implement a task, the financial leaders are the last to get on board. Imagine how that trickles down throughout the business – the managers are the last to implement the change, the employees, and then the customers. Pretty soon, you’ll be irrelevant compared to the competition. How do we stay relevant in our industries? By adapting to change.

As we explained in our blog, “Are you a Luddite?” technology is not stealing jobs, it is creating new roles. Technology can eliminate the need for multiple bank accounts and make things easier for you. Don’t make things more complicated for your business than you need to!

Conclusion

The technology movement is a hot button topic – even when discussing multiple bank accounts. This is because there are so many technologies for so many purposes.

Depending on your business, you may need to open another bank account. Whether you have another location, or if you have a separate entity under your business, you may consider this option. However, you’ll be paying extra bank fees, manually tracking double the account activity, and reconciling twice as many accounts. Your business should grow, not the number of accounts you have to fund it.

Take a chance, make a change. Download our 3 most powerful tools and help advance your business! 

technology substitutes bank accounts

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Improving Profitability – Fuel for Growth

How do you focus on improving profitability instead of just boosting sales? 2016 wasn’t the best year for some of us, but the new year provides a perfect opportunity to reassess goals. An entrepreneur’s natural tendency is to increase sales in order to balance out last year’s financials. But what many entrepreneurs fail to consider is are those sales actually profitable?

There’s Only So Much Cash

Why is improving profitability instead of simply increasing sales so important? Because, believe it or not, you can actually grow yourself into bankruptcy.

Huh?

Many are quick to say that more sales is the solution – however, there are a lot of factors you have to consider before you start selling everything. One of the most important metrics you must know is your cash conversion cycle. The cash conversion cycle is the length of time it takes a company to convert resource inputs into cash flows.

Cash Conversion Cycle Formula:

Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC) =Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) + Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO) – Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)

– or –

CCC = DSO + DIO – DPO

improving profitability instead of salesDaily Sales Outstanding (DSO): This metric measures the number of days it takes to convert your receivables into cash. Ideally, the faster you can collect, the faster you can use the cash to fuel growth.

Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO): This is an indicator of how quickly you can turn your inventory into cash. Reducing DIO is good. If all of your cash is tied up in inventory that isn’t moving, then you might have a problem.

Days Payable Outstanding (DPO): This measures how quickly you are paying your vendors. If you are consistently paying your vendors more quickly than you are getting paid by your customers, then you risk running out of cash. If your vendors aren’t giving you a discount for paying early, then why are you paying early? If you have 30 days to pay, then why pay on the second day? Use that cash for the other 28 days you have for other vendors who offer you discounts or to fuel growth.

Managing the cash conversion cycle is a key way you can enable your company to grow.  And we all know how fond entrepreneurs are of growth…

(Click here to learn How to be a Wingman and be the trusted advisor to your team.)

Cash is like Jet Fuel

Often, entrepreneurs (especially those from a sales background) focus on improving sales. What many fail to realize is you can actually sell yourself into bankruptcy.

Let’s compare a business to a jet. If a jet is moving at a constant pace, then the fuel used to power the jet runs out at a constant pace. From a business perspective, if the sales in a company are constant, then the cash and assets required to fuel the company is also constant and predictable.
improving profitability instead of salesHowever, if a company decides to increase sales, then this requires more “fuel” or cash.

But if an entrepreneur decides to increase sales to a greater degree than cash flow, almost vertically, then the business may run out of fuel (cash) and can ultimately crash and burn.
improving profitability instead of sales

The quicker you grow, the quicker you burn cash.

improving profitability instead of sales

Sustainability is Key

The sustainable growth rate of a company is a measure of how much a company can grow based upon its current return on assets. The sustainable growth rate of a company is like the wind turbine of a jet. Naturally, the wind turbine gives the jet a 5-10% incline. But what if you want to grow to 25%? Or 50%?

To grow faster than your return on assets, you’ll need to take on additional debt or seek equity financing. Either you pay for it, or someone else does. To avoid increasing debt or giving up control, it’s important to maximize your current asset velocity (think managing CCC) and make sure your sales are profitable.

(Be more than overhead. Be the wingman to your CEO by increasing cash flow!)

How to Grow Your Business

If you want to grow your business, there are a couple of things you can do:

(1) Increase your profitable sales. This means deciding which projects have the lowest risk, but highest reward for your business. Time is money, so which customers are worth your time? In exploring this, you might have to conduct some market research for your target market.

For example, if you have some customers who are slow to pay, they’re straining your liquidity. Although it may be difficult, you might have to fire some customers and focus your resources on customers that aren’t such a drain.

(2) Increase capital. Capital is the funding you need to grow the business. Capital can be an investment from an outsider, or it can be cash generated internally by increasing cash flows and maximizing profitability.

Internally: A company can increase cash flow by managing the cash conversion cycle. Collect your receivables faster and manage inventory levels and payables. It is a good idea for a company to grow as organically as possible, meaning growing cash internally.

Externally: If you’ve tightened up your CCC as much as possible, it might be necessary to look for outside sources of cash. However, having external sources of cash is a trade-off; you’ll have debt with a bank, and you might have to give up part of your company to investors (depending on the terms).

Conclusion

So when your business owner says, “let’s increase sales!”, remember focus on making profitable sales. Look at improving the Cash Conversion Cycle to make the most of your internal resources.  Consider outside financing when/if your existing return on assets won’t get you where you want to be.

Don’t crash and burn – make sure your company has the fuel it needs. Your business owner is looking to you to help them grow their business. To learn how to do it, access the free How to be a Wingman whitepaper here.

improving profitability instead of sales

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Strategic Pricing Model Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to set your prices to maximize profits.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

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