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.

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.

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

 

Exit Planning: Preparation

Preparation and planning are hallmarks of success.  Having a plan before taking action is preferable to not.

Imagine this: ready, fire, aim!

In the preparation phase of our value acceleration methodology, we take the data gathered in the discovery phase and put it through a “de-risking” process.  This phase is aimed at guiding the business owner to the transition phase over a period of two to six months.  By taking sufficient time assemble the data, apply it to personal and financial planning and aligning it with business improvements, an informed decision can be made.

The result of this exercise is an assembled “proof” and the beginnings of a master plan. The process as much as the final plan is important and useful.

Once this preparation phase is complete, can the business owner move on to the decision phase.

Each phase or step leads to the next and a final decision.  Should you have any specific questions, give us a call or drop us a line.

 The New Paradigm Advisors team

Exit Planning: Following a Process

Making the decision to keep or divest yourself of your business is a big step in a business owner’s life.  It might be because you are ready to retire or exit or you might want to be passing the business on to a new generation.  Or you’ve just outgrown the business.  Whatever the reason you should consider following a process.

As certified representatives of the Exit Planning Institute, we have a plethora of tools available to us that other consultants don’t have access to.  Add in our collective experience as business owners and managers and we are here to help you define and then guide you through a process.

This is the first post in a series outlining the steps and what to take to make this major change in your life and the life of your company. These aren’t the end-all-be-all, but, as with any process, it is a staring place that will help an individual make their specific decision.

Over the next few posts we will cover this process in more detail, following this basic outline and steps of coming to a decision about the future of you, the owner, and your business.  These steps follow a path of:

  • Discovery
  • Preparation
  • Decision

Each phase or step leads to the next and a final decision.  Follow along with us and let us know should you have any questions or feedback on our methodology.

 The New Paradigm Advisors team

Summarizing the Four Drivers

We’ve talked in this space individually about the four drivers of a successful transition.  Let’s finish this series up by putting the four all in one place and tying them together.

As you recall from earlier blogs and a recent workshop, the four drivers are:

  1. Creating a future vision for your company and you.
  2. Building a structured environment that is flexible.
  3. Detaching yourself from the organization and affirming that position.
  4. Fashioning a team environment.

The order is significant as well: create a vision, build an environment, detach yourself, and put the team in charge.  While there is some overlap and some of the work you do in each of these areas is concurrent, the outcomes should be the same if you pay attention to the specific sections and concentrate on the end result.

In fact, the vision is most likely an on-going refinement exercise, once you get the key elements down and in place.

Truthfully, the structured environment is most likely there, it just has to incorporate flexibility.  And, as we noted in that specific post, is an organic process that relies heavily on teamwork and simplicity.

The detachment piece is probably the hardest element of this process for the founder-owner-entrepreneur.  Letting go and watching “your baby” thrive without you usually takes some getting used to.  But countless business owners have done it and do it well.

And, finally, having the team in place to keep everything moving forward and into the future.  Remember the team includes not just your internal team (employees and staff), it includes your suppliers and partners and your customers.  The well-oiled machine has many moving parts.

Good luck with your transition.  Should you have any questions or would like to explore this topic further, contact us.

 

Fashioning a Team Environment

Before you get into too much of hurry to flee from your company, are things in place that will allow you to depart?

Delegated authority? Check.

Flat organization? Check.

Company sufficiently “you proofed?”

Created a team environment?  Wait a minute…

Oh, yeah.  Have you put the right team in place AND have you put the right, minimal structure in place for them to operate?  In other words, is it a TEAM environment?  Let’s look at the attributes you should have in place for your team:

  • Do they have a team mindset? That is, are they willing to give in for the right decision?
  • Can they agree to agree?
  • Are they respectful of one another and their roles?
  • Any slackers, willing or unwilling?
  • Do they not tolerate gossip?
  • Are the contributions of all team members recognized?

So the environment is possible.  Do you have the right people as team members?  Here are the attributes of a good team player?

  • Always reliable.
  • Communicates with confidence.
  • Does more than asked.
  • Adapts quickly and easily.
  • Displays genuine commitment.

That a good guide for team players.

OK, let’s review: a solid team in place with a team environment.  Check.  You should be in good shape. If you still have doubts, drop us a line or give us a call.  We can be part of your team, too.