What Now?

You are facing a downturn in the economy and business. What do you need to be doing right now?

Do you keep people or let them go?

What about your vendors and suppliers?

And what about your customers?

Consider the airline oxygen mask concept. Put your mask on first so you can ensure you’ll be able to help someone else get theirs on. You know this drill.

Your highest priority as a business owner is to protect the life and health of the company. Do everything you ethically can to keep the company alive. It’s like the federal government whose number one priority is to defend the country. It doesn’t matter how the economy and other parts of society are doing. If a foreign adversary attacks us and the government isn’t ready to defend us, then we all lose! Defend your company first!

Not your salary. Not your assets. And, unfortunately, not your employees.

Once you’re committed to this first priority, the decisions on everything else become clear. Notice I didn’t say easier. It’s clear what you must do to keep the company alive. Also be clear on the benefits of this commitment to all concerned once the crisis has passed:

  • Employees have an opportunity to find another job or to file for unemployment.
  • Vendors have someone they can collaborate with and possibly provide some temporary relief to in hopes of saving a valued and long-term customer.
  • Your best customers will be much more understanding than you think and quite possibly be willing to help.

Once the downturn is over and the company has survived, you can:

  • Hire back the people you laid off or new people.
  • Perhaps earn a favored customer status with your vendors.
  • Have customers who have a new respect for you and the company.

The real secret sauce here is to communicate with each of these groups. Go beyond just communicating. You must implement what we call the Three C’s:

  • Communicate
  • Collaborate
  • Cooperate

These are part  of our Core Values here at New Paradigm Advisors. If you apply these three C’s to the situation, we can assure you that your stress level will go down. It won’t go away.  However, it will go down. Apply the three C’s with your people, your customers, your advisors, and your vendors. You will be shocked, yet pleased,  with the results.

Call or email us and let us know your experience. Let’s learn together.

Staying Focused in Turbulent Times

I woke up this morning thinking of what I can do to deal with the current market and societal changes that are seriously impacting my business. Since I’m an early morning person (meaning I am most creative and engaged in the morning), I am flooded with “great” ideas. Some of these I’ve thought of before and some are brand new. And, for sure, they are all great ideas! So many to choose from – and all of them are distractions from what should be my main focus: to stay faithful to my main business plan.

This is a case of: “For every mile of road, there’s two miles of ditch.”

There are so many times and reasons when we as business leaders get distracted with great new ideas. But we have to be careful that those new ideas don’t pull us into the ditch. Someone once likened this to a NASCAR race. This idea of staying focused on our main thing. In a NASCAR race the cars are racing around the track at speeds exceeding 200 mph. This requires the drivers to stay super focused on the track and the cars around them. If they ever so briefly glance away toward the wall, that nano second of distraction at 200 mph can drive them right into the wall.

For almost 3 years now, we’ve been racing around the track of this economy at over 200 mph. Now we have this yellow maybe even red flag waving at us called the Coronavirus. It seems that we’re going from 200mph down to almost zero. But are we really? Is this the time to take our eyes off the track ahead and start worrying about the wall? No! As tempting as it is, we can’t stop to worry about where the wall is, or where the other cars are around us. We can’t take the luxury of this worry. To survive and position ourselves to thrive in this and the next phase, we must stay in the race and run it with renewed focus. How do we do it? Here’s some ideas. These are designed to get our eyes back on the track and driving our own race car. Nothing new or super creative here. Just good old fashioned staying focused on The Main Thing:

  • Assemble your key leadership for a focused analysis of what is happening in your market:
    • What are your customers and vendors experiencing?
    • How can you and your team proactively impact them?
    • What are you currently reacting to that you can shift to a more proactive approach?
    • Review how you service your customers in this new situation: what can you do to help them?
  • Seek counsel from your key corporate advisors:
    • CPA
    • Banker
    • Insurance agent
    • Financial advisor
    • Attorney
    • Corporate consultant.
  • If you are project based, meet with each of your clients and explore with them everything about the project with a fresh eye.
    • What, if anything, needs to change?
    • What do you anticipate are going to be the challenges to complete?
  • If you are product based, meet with your vendors and explore with them what they see as impacting the supply chain. From those discussions:
    • What do you need to meet over with your primary customers?
  • In all cases, meet with your employees and let them know what the plan is! Their loyalty and commitment to you–and you to them– during this time is supremely important and critical.  Keep them informed.

This is just a start. I’m sure you are already thinking along these lines and maybe beyond. My challenge to you remains: don’t get so creative that you lose your focus on the track ahead. Now is not the time to get distracted with a shiny thing.

Stay focused! You can do this!

Your Next Act: Where Do You Go From Here?

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

This is a question I asked a business owner, James, recently.

James has owned a very successful business for over 25 years and starts and ends everyday thinking of the business and what he needs to do to keep it successful. When I asked him where he saw himself 10 years from now, he was immediately stumped. His response to me was, he really hadn’t thought about it. He was just expecting to continue doing what he’d been doing – running the business. But when pressed, he admitted there would be some kind of transition out there in the future; but he just hadn’t put any real thought into it. So, what to do about this?

Immediately, there are four objectives for James:

  1. Consider that there really is a future transition event for him and the business.
  2. Determine an accurate value of the company as it is now.
  3. Determine what that value needs to be to support James’ retirement or what I like to call his next act.
  4. What can be done now to begin increasing the value of the company to meet objective three?

Let’s take these one at a time:

Is there really a future transition event? Understand that there really is a future transition. Pretty obvious but just because it’s obvious, it doesn’t mean we’ve developed a plan for it. Let’s be plain spoken here. You will exit your business one of two ways. Either horizontally, or vertically. It’s best that you do it and plan on it vertically.

Determine an accurate value of the company. There are a couple of ways to do this. One is to engage a formal valuation company who will do a review of your company and the market and derive a fair value of your company as it is viewed through similar companies and transactions in recent history. A second way to do this is through a less formal but still in-depth analysis and assessment of the business utilizing a business consultant experienced at growth and strategic planning.

Determine what that value needs to be. What do you need out of the company in order to fund your next act?  This is going to take some real personal reflection and planning. It will include collaboration with your spouse and all the other important influencers in your life.

What can be done now? Start now increasing the value of the company? The first thing to do is to change your paradigm from owner/operator to buyer. Step back from your position as the owner and take a look at your business the way a buyer would look at it. What would the buyer see as valuable and worth buying? What would he see as not worth buying? What would he have to invest in immediately to make his investment worth-while?

You’re at a crossroads. Continue on in the direction that you’ve been driving. Or begin looking at your business differently and begin to develop the strategies and tactics that will increase the value of your company so when you reach the major destination of your transition, you’ll be able to afford all the things you’ve always dreamed of.

Call us and let us help you with these next steps. Also, here’s a link to a great short article in Entrepreneur Magazine: entrepreneur – preparing to sell about this topic.  See what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

Shifting Your Paradigm

Just how good looking are you?

Sorry, I can’t help you with your personal look. That’s for another website. But, I can help you with your business look. And there’s good news and bad news here. First the good news.

The good news is there are just a few things you can do that will make a meaningful change in the way your company looks and performs and makes you more attractive to a buyer.

The bad news is it’s going to take effort. While it starts with you, it’s going to take your entire team pulling together to achieve these results. And it’s going to take some time. Another piece of good news, though, is that if you’ll just get these things started and rolling throughout your company, you’ll be leap years ahead of other companies.

First Things First. Let’s focus on the good news. What I consider the Main Thing:

Change your focus, your paradigm. Up until now you’ve been playing dual roles:

  • Owner
  • Leader/Manager

Now you need to shift to a new role:

  • Investor/Buyer

What’s the difference and why does it matter?

You’ve been in your role as Owner and Leader/Manager since you started the company. You’ve pretty much been doing the same thing – that thing that you love – all of this time. You’ve been happy, you’ve made good money and your employees and vendors and customers all love you. If they didn’t you wouldn’t be in business. But, in this paradigm, it’s more of the same – the status quo. To an outside buyer, there’s not nearly the excitement and fun and profit as you see it from the inside.

As a buyer, though, you can begin looking at your company entirely differently. You won’t see the same things that the owner does. You’ll be looking at things through a different lens. You’ll be critical and skeptical about everything. As a buyer, you’re going to want to test everything, making no assumptions and have no loyalties. Let’s run down a brief list of things you, the buyer is going to want to look at and think would be worth something:

  1. Financials. This is the biggest one. Everything starts and stops here.
    • How reliable and accurate are the financials?
    • Who maintains them and for how long and what are the internal controls?
  2. Revenue history and potential for growth?
    • A clear explanation of those times when revenue dipped?
  3. Customers – Who are they and is there too much concentration?
  4. Leadership – Who is leading and are they staying?
    • Employee retention plans – what’s to keep good employees here?
  5. What are the risks to the company?
    • Start with the Corporate Formation Docs. Lots to deal with here and you might not have looked in that dusty binder since you started. Probably ought to pull it out.
    • Legal issues?
    • Insurance coverage?
  6. Processes and Procedures?
    • Are these well-defined and followed by all? Written down?

Ok. It should be obvious to you by now that this list could and will get really long. You can already see  there are  things I have not listed. But don’t go there! Getting dressed up for the dance does not have to be overly complicated. It starts with you, the owner, changing the way you look at your company. Stop looking at it like you always have. Set your personal pride aside and start really looking at it like a buyer. Make this your new paradigm. You’ll find you don’t need to be an expert at all of this to realize you need to start dressing things up.

If you need an expert, that’s what we’re here for. Call us – that’s another simple thing to do.

The Opposite of Servant Leadership: Power Leadership

We’ve discussed servant leadership at length, showed you examples and introduced you to experts.  But to truly understand the concept, we should really discuss the opposite of this leadership concept.

Meet power leadership.

Leaders who use power as their main motivator, usually rely on negativism, fear and misdirection to guide or direct an organization the way they see fit.  They typically are not collaborators or team players.

Power leaders tear down.  They thrive in economic downturns because cutting, not adding, is what they do to shape an organization. By cutting budgets, costs and employees, they destroy morale, drain resources and reduce organizations to shells of themselves.  They typically are short-term thinkers.

“Leadership is about vision and responsibility, not power.”—Seth Berkley

In the mirror, opposite the power leader, is a servant leader.  Servant leaders build up, see downturns as opportunities, and do things up front and in a transparent fashion.  To them, power is in the organization and its people and ideals, not in them.

The four elements of servant leadership are in direct opposition to power leadership:

  1. Servant leaders put service before leadership and are focused outwardly; power leaders are focused inwardly.
  2. Collaboration is central to servant leaders and relies on consideration of what others think; power leaders believe there is an “I” in team—them.
  3. Mentorship is important to servant leaders as it helps grow the team and the organization; power leaders believe all starts and ends with them.
  4. To be a servant leader, you must have foresight and that comes from listening; power leaders only listen to themselves.

Where do you begin to develop and build a culture of servant leadership? Start by looking within and taking stock of what you already have.  And then consider enlisting the aid of a partner.  We are here to help with skills assessments, systems and programs as well as one-on-one advice.

Call or contact us for more information on servant leadership.

The New Paradigm Advisors Team

Servant Leadership: Turning the Organizational Chart Upside Down

We all know or have lived the in the typical power structure of an organization. It is all about what you can do for the boss in the current quarter. That is, serving the boss and, in turn, the company.

If you haven’t heard the term “servant leadership,” or, better yet, worked and lived in a servant leadership environment, we want to take a few minutes and expose you to this concept. With roots in both Eastern and Western cultures as far back as the 5th century BC. In more modern times, Robert Greenleaf is credited with furthering the concept with a 1971 essay, “The Servant as Leader.”

One of the most visible 21st century companies to build their culture around the concept is Southwest Airlines. Founder Herb Kelleher put employees first and it paid off for the airline in a highly engaged workforce with low turnover and high profitability.

“Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that.”– Herb Kelleher

The “secret” is in putting the workforce first. That is, a leader serves his workers and they, in turn, serve the best interests of the company and the customers. By guiding instead of lording over employees, servant leaders gain an edge in performance.

It’s an active model of employee development rather than relying on the basic transactional model of employee-company.

Where do you begin to develop and build a culture of servant leadership? Start by looking within and taking stock of what you already have. And then consider enlisting the aid of a partner. We are here to help with skills assessments, systems and programs as well as one-on-one advice.

Call or contact us for more information on servant leadership.

The New Paradigm Advisors Team

Finish Strong: Measurement

While it isn’t necessarily popular, all things of note and import need to have some quantitative or qualitative measures.  Measuring success is that yardstick on anything that helps you put your arms around it and understand its relevance to your company.

So what kind of measurements will you put in place to help secure this finish strong initiative?

There are both quantitative and qualitative measure:

  • Quantitative are mathematical and usually rely upon hard numbers
  • Qualitative are more about the quality of an attribute an and can be measured as well

Let’s start with the pure sales numbers (usually quantitative):

  • An expectation of XX% increase in sales.
  • Acquisition of YY new clients.
  • Improve your close rate by WW%.

Moving on to human resources, you might expect:

  • NN new hires.
  • Implementation of a new training program.
  • Creation of a retirement plan

Then there is operations:

  • Increased internal productivity of ZZ%.
  • Improved profitability of PP%.
  • Process improvement of MM%

On the qualitative side there are more “squishy” items:

  • Delays
  • Defects
  • Deviations

These do not have to be for a product or a manufacturing process.  Delays, defects and deviations happen in every business including service-based businesses.  Take an HVAC and plumbing company:

  • Delays can be late arrivals for appointments.
  • Defects could be dissatisfied customer visits or a problem not solved.
  • Deviations could be not following through on a standard customer interaction process.

Every one of these can be quantified and some level of over, or under, performance can correlate to a dollar or budget impact.

And so on.  You get the idea.  These are measurable goals.  The goal -setting process will help you better understand your company, too.

For more information about how to finish the year strong, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team

Finish Strong: Being Organized

Being able to finish strong starts with being organized.  If you don’t have an ordered way to do things, things might not happen.

Here is a checklist to help you shape up for the task at hand—finishing strong!

  • Create a to-do list.
  • Clean up your email in box
  • Keep your team small and empower them.
  • Clarify and adjust (if need be) your year-end goals.
  • Put your sales team to work.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize.

A list of what needs to happen is a powerful tool.  It becomes a key touchstone of what needs to be done.  Creating a list causes you to determine what needs to be done and, really, drives goal setting.

Cleaning up your email in box will give you room for new correspondence and weed out old stuff that really should have either been addressed already or needs to go. And it will cause you (and your team) to focus on the task at hand.

While, ideally, everyone in the company should play a role in this year-end push, that might be possible because of the sheer number of bodies involved.  Consider, if your company is large, having a hand-picked team to lead the charge.  Give each member an assignment and allow them to push back. By empowering them you give them the opportunity to help shape the goals and to actually reach them.

Goals and objectives should be flexible.  As you move forward you are going to learn things that will cause you to adjust the goal to reality—and, thereby, make it actually attainable.

The sales team plays a big role in this process—put them to work.  They can describe the landscape outside the company to your internal team and also tell you weak spots both in the external markets as well as your internal processes.  They are some of the few people who work for your company who have this perspective.

And, always, keep your eyes on the prize—remember why you are doing all of this.  It is about the health and future of the company.

For more information about how to finish the year strong, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team

Finish Strong: Our Next Workshop

While our theme through the end of the year in this space is finishing strong, we do have a real-time event coming up this week that builds on that theme and could be of real value to you.

Beside, hearing from a real, live person and interacting with others with similar challenges with their businesses might be a good use of your time, right?

On Wednesday, November 20, our team will assemble to present a 2-hour workshop on how to finish the year strong.  Taking pages from their experiences with EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System) and Strengths, Michael Visentine and Nancy Canada will walk attendees through a program that will result in a tangible plan.

In this session you will learn:

  • How to set goals that are both measurable and achievable.
  • What to assign to whom on your team once the goals are set.
  • Who on your team is going to be asked to do what.
  • How to determine the schedule of events and activities.
  • How to get buy-in from your team.

At the end of the session you will have a working set of tools that will allow you to set and manage your goals for the end of the year so you can finish strong.  And that in itself will make 2020 all that much brighter.

The workshop details:

For more information about how to finish the year strong, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team

Finish Strong: Being Aware of Time

Finishing the year in a strong fashion is a noble goal.  Yet, don’t forget about the element of time.

For example today is November 11.  That’s just about 7 weeks until the end of the year.  That’s 33 business days or 50 calendar days (including holidays).

OK, so now you have the schedule, a framework.  A few questions:

  • Are you going to work nights and weekends to get this done?
  • What are your major milestones and when do they fall?
  • What do you expect from your team by when?
  • What’s the end result look like and when should it be finished?
  • Who is participating?
  • Why are you doing this and for whom?

Knowing the schedule will help you build the other elements of a great plan:

  • The scope—what needs to be done and a description of what you are tryi ng to accomplish.
  • The budget and monetary component of this work—what are the costs to get it done and what are the sales goals (revenue expectations).

In upcoming posts we will delve into the details of how and why to finish the year strong.  Remember, it is about the health and welfare of your business.

For more information about how to finish the year strong, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team